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Web-based e-mail - Contacts & How They Work - Gmail as Example


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#1 britechguy

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 04:01 PM

There is another thread on another forum that has gotten rather heated regarding the topic of Outlook.com and how contacts are handled.  Since I believe the individual who is upset would really like to know more, but is not aware about the usual behavior of "contact harvesting" from all received and sent e-mail, whether one puts said addresses into one's own personal contacts (or even has removed them from one's own personal contacts) I thought I'd start a thread here, in the appropriate place.

 

Very few people realize that most web-based e-mail interfaces have a "contact harvesting" feature.  Every e-mail you receive or sent has it's respective "From:" or "To:" address harvested to a contacts pool most people generally never see or know exists unless they seek it out to purge it.  You can even have added and deleted a contact from your personal contacts but this will not result in its removal from the "harvested contacts pool" unless you also explicitly go there and purge it.  The "harvested contacts pool" is pulled from, in addition to your own personal contacts, when you start typing an e-mail address to create the dropdown list of possible addresses that matches what you've typed so far.

 

I am going to use some screen shots from one of my Gmail accounts to illustrate what I'm talking about.  Stuff that could be considered personal to specific individuals who are in my "harvested contacts pool", which Gmail calls its Other Contacts category has been redacted.  I will stick with business contacts from my personal groupings since these addresses are for businesses that share their e-mail addresses via a number of public media.

 

For some reason I don't have any of the capability to attach images at the moment.  I'll try posting this and seeing if I can follow on with what I'd intended to add next.

 

 


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

      Memory is a crazy woman that hoards rags and throws away food.

                    ~ Austin O'Malley

 

 

 

              

 


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#2 britechguy

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 04:37 PM

Am posting on the Announcements, Comments, & Suggestions forum asking about the sudden disappearance of the attach image buttons that had appeared at the bottom of the text entry area for posts.  Mine are gone and it doesn't matter what browser I'm using.

 


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

      Memory is a crazy woman that hoards rags and throws away food.

                    ~ Austin O'Malley

 

 

 

              

 


#3 britechguy

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 06:15 PM

OK, I'm back after digging around and have learned, to my surprise, that only a certain subset of BC forums allow direct upload and posting of pictures in posts.  You also can't use the image button to directly embed images stored on Google Drive or OneDrive since their notation conventions don't include the image extension.  So, I'll just include the links for you all to click.

 

Back to Contacts, and specifically Gmail Contacts via their web interface:

 

                   https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=2EB6BCFCA483D174!582&authkey=!AKhbBH1O3TZbgE4&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

 

You'll notice that this is a subset of private contacts that I've entered either by hand or by direct and intentional snagging from an e-mail.  You'll also notice that I have an array of categories of contacts for which I've done intentional entries.   These are not, by a long shot, the only contacts Gmail knows about.

 

Gmail, like virtually any web-based e-mail interface I've ever dealt with, harvests e-mail addresses from each and every incoming or outgoing e-mail messages and saves them somewhere.  In the case of Gmail, that somewhere is their Other Contacts category.  On this particular e-mail account I have been doing fairly regular purging of that category, so there are only 41 in there at the moment, however when I went to do my first purge there were hundreds of e-mail addresses in this category.

 

                   https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=2EB6BCFCA483D174!583&authkey=!AND-iWIewnDJw54&v=3&ithint=photo%2cjpg

 

When you delete a contact from any of the categories that you've intentionally created that has no effect whatsoever on the "harvested contacts pool."  If you want something removed entirely from your e-mail client's collective memory you must make certain to go to that pool and intentionally delete the address there as well.

 

If you don't delete addresses from the pool, and your webmail is allied with other services (for example, Google+ here) you are almost certain to get occasional "nags" from these allied services asking things like, "Do you know . . .?," where an e-mail address in your pool happens to match one in the allied service.

 

In the end, you have to be more thorough than you'd presume in order to obliterate any given e-mail address entirely from "memory" in your webmail interface.

 

Also remember, if someone else sends you an e-mail message at a later time with addresses you'd previously removed from the harvested pool, they will reappear there again.

 

I know of no way to turn off this feature on any web based e-mail service I've ever used, and they all had it in some form or another.

 


Brian  AKA  Bri the Tech Guy (website in my user profile) - Windows 10 Home, 64-Bit, Version 1803, Build 17134 

      Memory is a crazy woman that hoards rags and throws away food.

                    ~ Austin O'Malley

 

 

 

              

 


#4 leithanne

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Posted 27 October 2015 - 07:39 PM

Interesting. Gmail and I took an walk down Memory Lane. I saw lots of folks I've corresponded with, but never entered into my address book, and some who I deleted when they passed away. I wish I'd have known about this feature, in the past, when I'd wanted to write to a person whose addy I hadn't kept.






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