What Your Email Domain Says About You

Maybe you've been a Gmail user from the moment the very first invites for accounts went out or maybe you're still hanging on to your old AOL email address. Either way, your email domain reveals something about you—and the folks from Hunch can explain exactly what that something is.

Spoiler alert: if you lean towards visual images, check out the interactive version of this report. For details and graphs and context, though, keep reading!

I generally keep the volume on my work computer on mute, only turning it on when my career calls for it… However, sometimes I forget to turn the volume down again, and this has, on occasion, led to the embarrassment of "You've got mail!" being shouted by my computer at the entire office.

That's right; I still use AOL as my personal email provider. I know. I can feel you looking at me with pity, thinking, "Oh my God, what century does this guy come from?" (The same one as Buster Keaton.)

-Sam Barry, "The Daily Sam Confessional: I Still Use AOL"

Admit it. You stereotype people by their email addresses. See a 69 at the end, and you're guaranteed to roll your eyes. (Well, unless you're 14.) Purposely misspelled words are perceived as juvenile. A series of numbers or an homage to a favorite band can be either hard to remember or something the email user will never live down.

Career advice books and websites encourage job seekers to use not only their own names in an email address, but to choose domains wisely. Unless you have a custom domain connected to an elite alma mater or a professional website that hiring managers will find irresistible, Gmail is preferred.

But job hunting with an AOL address? Leave that back in 1998.

Even if you're not job hunting, I only slightly kid when I say that people are suspicious of address ending in @aol.com. Frequent spam from Hotmail and Yahoo! accounts doesn't boost credibility with these domains, either.

The majority of Hunchers use Gmail, followed by "Other." In this case, "Other" could refer to those custom domains we previously mentioned, specific company or university domains, or less mainstream domains, like Comcast or NetZero. There are a few steadfast AOL users, though. For their sake, let's hope they're not exploring Hunch on a screeching dial-up connection.

So what would you guess about these aberrant AOL users? Would you assume they're old-school, because they're, well, older? You'd be right.

But let's not forget Yahoo! and Hotmail, the other elders of the free email market. People are still loyal to these services, and they're obviously not total Luddites. In fact, there are nearly 24,000 Facebook users who are proud fans of AOL Mail. (Yahoo! Mail significantly lags with only a little over 5,000 fans. Hotmail's most devoted Facebook fans - 42,202 of them - all seem to speak French.)

But Hunchers who don't use Gmail aren't gadget-loving early adopters, either. They're more likely than Gmail users to resent having to keep up with innovation.

Non-Gmail users subscribe to the belief that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it," especially if the new fix is cost-prohibitive.

Gmail's free, but it still has room to prove itself. I mean, it doesn't know how to prepare breakfast for its users yet. And when will it be able to read minds and write emails for us? Get on it, Google.

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With an abundance of older people using AOL and the like, we wondered if the Hunch users we consider outdated were actually the original early adopters of email. Perhaps the idea of transferring thousands of emails and contacts to Gmail scares them from making the switch. Or maybe they're just nostalgic about keeping their first email accounts.

It looks like might be the case for AOL users, but notice that Gmail users weren't born - or logged-in - yesterday. They're most likely to have started using email before 1996. (Remember: As indispensable as it is for most of us now, Gmail wasn't widely available until 2007).

Alas, we don't know if these non-Gmail users are using the same accounts as they did in the olden days.

Look where the least-experienced email users are setting up accounts. They're mostly on Hotmail and Yahoo! What gives?

We're guessing younger people aren't necessarily committed to maintaining an email account. They might even start accounts just so they can use other sites, like Facebook. Research has also shown a large demographic split in email usage. It appears younger people prefer the instant contact of texting, IM, and social networking over email. Hotmail seems to recognize this high churn and has made its accounts more disposable - they become inactive after 270 days without access and permanently deleted after 360 days.

Of course, some people maintain multiple email accounts to keep their main in-box from being cluttered. Hotmail, Yahoo!, and AOL accounts might be used as "fun" accounts for personal endeavors, online dating, or Internet mischief. Or they might just be a sort of email slush pile.

This Oatmeal infographic may not have used an algorithm to deduce correlations between email domains and a users' computer skills, but it seems right on. What else does Hunch know about email users by domain?

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