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I Now Have a Robot Editing All My Emails to Avoid Snafus

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Gizmodo Reviews Editor Sean Hollister and I have a problem: we’re long time friends but we totally suck at communicating over email. We misunderstand each other and fight a lot. It’s terrible. Today I found a web app called “Crystal” that promises to fix that. It’s editing this post right now.

According to Crystal, my pal (and boss) responds well to a “logical, detailed, thoughtful message with a friendly tone and some expressive language.” Yeah, that’ sounds about right. I asked a Crystal representative how it knew so much about my peers. Is the app reading my email? Thankfully, no.


The company could only tell me that Crystal “essentially does the equivalent of Googling,” and builds a picture out of public information written by or about a particular person. This data matches you to one 64 different personality types that Crystal uses to guess how you might communicate or behave. It’s not completely accurate—I looked myself up and I definitely don’t read instruction manuals or “like spreadsheets.”

How much the app actually changes my emails seems to vary from person to person. The app’s integrated gmail button reminds me to “be logical” with Sean and “be interesting” with Gizmodo Editor In Chief Annalee Newitz, but offers me few suggestions for either. When it did offer me tweaks, my options were hit or miss:


Limiting exclamation points and being precise about time? Good advice. Replacing “my favorite” with an incredibly obtuse phrase like “the one that has given me the best results?” Awful.

So far, Crystal’s Chrome app is telling me Sean Hollister will like this post just fine, but its matrix does have some good ideas for avoiding future communication snafus: “Admit that you might be wrong,” it tells me. Avoid flatly saying “I disagree,” and give him “lots of detail.” Seems like sound advice. I’ll let you guys know if does me any good. [Crystal]