Everyday, I wake up feeling snowed in by emails, and I work at a company (Zapier), that makes every effort to reduce email congestion by favoring other forms of remote communication. Still, the emails are too many, which is why I set out to both filter the signal from the noise, and then send that signal straight to Slack.

Signal, over here. Noise, over there.

I use the following Gmail filters to delineate emails I care about from... the rest. I know that 9 out of 10 relevant emails are from GitHub, so I focus there.

First, I created two labels, GitHub, and GitHub (Mentions).

Then, I added these three filters to route all email from GitHub:

Gmail labels


You can see there that if I'm cc'd or @-mentioned, the email goes into the high priority folder. If neither of those states are true, it goes into the GitHub slush pile.

Ping me in Slack

I'm also famously bad at actually checking my email, but I'm not famously bad at responding to pokes directly to my ribs. Getting high priority emails to Slack puts them in front of my eyeballs with zero effort, and my response rate in GitHub has gone through the roof.

As a Zapier employee, I obviously used Zapier to accomplish this.

Gmail's "New Labeled Email" Trigger

First, in Zapier's new multi-step editor, select the New Labeled Email trigger. It mentions a 2-day limit on applying the label, but of course we've set that up to happen right away.

Zap Trigger


Parse the Email

The contents of that email are just plain text -- we're not hooking into an API call with meta data all spaced out in a block of JSON. The emails look something like this:

Comment content here!

---
Reply to this email directly or view it on GitHub.

Enter in Zapier's custom code step and it's suddenly pretty easy to parse that out. Here's what my Zap's code step looks like:

Zapier Code step


Obviously this will break if GitHub changes the formatting of their emails, but if they do then I'll just hop back in and update accordingly.

Ping Slack

And now for the last huzzah! All of this is for naught if I don't magically get poked in the ribs only when important emails come in.

Here's my Zap's final step:

Zap Action


And voila! Slack lights up every time there's activity on a GitHub issue or pull request with which I've participated. As I said above, my response and involvement rate in on-going conversations has gone way up!


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