Getting in touch...

The best way to communicate with me is electronic mail. My preference goes to (in order): electronic mail, physical meeting, phone call, chat (by appointment), paper letter.

I read the most of the mail I can, so if you sent me an email, you can assume that I will read it.

Yes, but when? I use to do other things than reading emails. So, I have no whistle to tell me that an email has arrived. I fetch my mail whenever I feel it is time to do it. I usually do this everyday, but it can happen that I do not fetch it for several days (even more than a week) or that I have not read it though I fetched it because I am in a hurry doing something else. I never install a vacation notice.

I answer each email which I think needs an answer. So if you send an email and do not get an answer, this may mean two things: either I did not found it worth an answer, or I had not found the time to answer it (sometimes answering requires thinking).

For quite a while, I had been able to handle all my pending mails within a week. This is not true anymore and with time I tend to feel less and less guilty about it. It has happened that I answer or follow up on an email after 6 months.

<!-- Here is a placeholder for the number of mails in my inbox. It is a good indicator of my degree of business. Thank to who can provide me with this for Thunderbird. Meanwhile, here is the level of my inbox for (roughly) the last 15 days. These mails are waiting for an action from me, most often answering but sometimes simply classifying them. These are not the truth since they depend on when my mail client compresses the mailbox. This gives an idea.-->

If you want to improve the chances to be read and replied, there are a couple of rules that you should follow for effective communication:

I do not display the "priority status" of messages. Prioritizing messages is my job, not that of mail senders.


I can read easily French and English (in most flavours). It is possible for me to read Spanish, guess Italian, Portuguese and maybe German if I really feel it worth.

I will indulge your typos as well as I expect you to indulge mines. I will certainly have trouble decifering SMS spelling (definitely avoid it for an application).

I prefer mails written in plain text, not HTML or pseudo HTML. Likewise, I appreciate that the material worth an email be within the body of the email and not in a separate attachement. A text attachment is usually not advised.

When necessary you can send attachements or chosse to provide a URL to your document. I prefer documents in the following formats: PDF, HTML, LaTeX (Ziped), PNG, SVG, JPeg, GIF... I can also read open formats (ODF) and will do my best to open Office formats, but I do not have Office installed in my machines. So, if I do not have to modify them, please convert them to PDF, if I have to modify them, they may come back in ODF (ask your tool providers to read open formats) or under a corrupted Office format. I also will reject any documents that require macro processing (Visual basic is not installed on my machine). Take the time to convert PostScript documents in PDF. I can uncompress the most common formats. Avoid compressing PDF files without good reasons, they are usually compressed.

Please try to have these documents in separate attachement, and not inlined in the mail. Check that they have a proper extension as well.

If you want to score better in my opinion, then avoid sending files with generic names like CV.pdf, or document.doc.

A new point is that I will not go and fetch any document that is on a web site asking me to log in when it comes from a corporation looking for tracking people on the internet. Hence, anyone is free to think that google docs is the best innovation since sliced bread, but I will not input an account id in (nearly) any such service. Feel free to put an URL to an open web site or, far better, a site that you master yourself.

You do not have to know which email client, operating system or hardware I use, just use standards and I'll take care of reading them.


Nowadays, your email will arrive together with thousands fellow emails. So, it will certainly go through spam filters from my provider, my employer and ultimately my mail client. I have no time anymore to review these mails that are caught by filters (I am still able to dig there if I feel it is necessary but the record length is now shorter).

(archival, was true by the end of the 90's): There are two particular categories of anti-spam procedures that are not compatible. They result in lost email without notice. If you are in this case, your best bet is to try to find an alternative address of mines so that the mail does not go through these anti-spam procedures. (tip: try to use a third person to relay the mail to me, this is usually effective).

On review requests considered as a kind of spam

As an associate editor for journals, I know how painful it is to find researchers who accept to review manuscripts in due time. Hence, I try my best to honour, or at least answer, timely to review requests. However, I noticed an increase in the amount of irrelevant review requests, i.e., requests to review papers for which I have no particular competence. I am usually sent the request because some publisher database suggested my name and the editor picked it up out of despair. This is not a good reason: please, as an editor, try to do your job and select relevant reviewers. Otherwise, be ready to be asked to justify your choice, or to receive no answer.

No answer

To your request for notification: I never honour these. By principle.

To your message: You can try to send it again and make sure I find it worth answering (see rules above). You should be able to judge what is a decent delay, I never complain of receiving a reminder within a decent delay. Decent delay depends on the importance and urgent character of the message. A few hours is not a decent delay between an email and a phone call.

Alternatively, if it is really important and/or urgent you can try another mean of communication.

Social networks

I do not have account on most of the social networking sites. So, if you send me an invitation to a site to which I have not subscribed, it will likely remain unanswered.

Harsh answers

Sometimes, my answers may seem agressive or rude. Do not take it personally, it is very unlikely that I send a message to offend you. I usually do not try to be so, but I try to be sharp. If I send a message which seems like this, it is because I think it is useful for something, usually to make you aware that your mail may be annoying or unappropriate to someone, and that you would better know this and possibly adapt your messages.

It is unfortunately more and more the case with disturbing administrative request which, because they are part of a "system", are sent like if everybody's goal was to fullfil administrative tasks. Fortunately, this is not yet the case and count on me for resisting to this as strongly as I can.


I realise that my mails usually start relatively positively but do not end with some polite words. I always have trouble choosing them and I am affraid that I time out before.

Moreover, it occured to me that I do not anymore acknowledge receipts and thank people for sending me what they promised to send me. I also noticed that I am not the only one in this case. I wish I had more time to do it, but it seems that we prefer to use our time to get the job done instead.

I also usually send seasonal greetings during the month of January, but only "en passant" when I have a mail with actual content to send. I never answer email containing only greetings (for whatever occasion).

Finally, concerning your mails, you can assume that I operate by Crocker's rules and that very short reply (are) expected when it make sense (and, of course, I welcome those).

I hope you can live with this...