Gmail does not recognize an email address

I was sending an email. When I hit Send, I got this modal error message:

Error

The address xxx@xxx.org. om the “To” field was not recognized. Please make sure that all addresses are properly formed.

OK

It took me some time to figure out what was wrong with the email address. It was the dot at the end. I have copied the address from somewhere and with it came the dot. The address must have been at the end of a sentence.

This is a relatively good message. Note that it does not state that the address is invalid but uses the much more milder framing “not recognized”. This way the designer is not blaming the user for providing invalid data but shifting the responsibility to the product that cannot recognize the user input.

Problems

  1. The instruction to please make sure that all addresses are properly formed is not really helpful. In my case, there were no other email addresses, so the sentence was not necessary. Unless, we assume that the designer wanted to teach me about future messages. If there are several addresses and only one is unrecognizable, the sentence will be misleading. It might make me think that there are other email addresses I need to change. This happens when designers and developers reuse the same message text for different situations – it is not necessarily bad, but is quite a common practice.
  2. The advice for properly formed addresses might be OK for people who know how an email address needs to be formed properly. I think that’s what the designer expected or else would have provided at least an example of a properly formed email address. (If curious, see what Wikipedia says about Email address.)
  3. Gmail already knows what the problem with the address is; otherwise, it would have not shown the message. Then the message could have stated that there was an extra dot after the “org” part of the domain.
  4. It is a modal message, so there is no direct connection between the message and the place where the email address is entered. It takes some time to figure out.
  5. The message says Error. Is that really needed? Might be better to state “Email address check” or something so that I can faster understand that it is email addresses I have to look at.
  6. It is not evident who is giving this error message. It is mostly evident from the context that it must be Gmail. Still it better be explicitly stated.

Fix

There is always room for improvement – maybe stating the criterion that was violated will have the biggest impact. Showing an example will be helpful as well.

30 July 2016 | Gmail

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