Aether vs Email groups

Email groups are a free (if you choose Google Groups) or relatively cheap (other providers) option for getting an email alias that distributes email to multiple people. If your needs are extremely basic, you have a few people, and an enthusiastic group admin that loves to spend time managing and servicing email groups, they might be a good option for you.

However, they do have a few disadvantages. With the caveat that we are biased (we make Aether Pro because we believe it is genuinely better, after all), here are a few issues with email groups.

Issues with email groups

  • Email groups require active moderation, and that moderation can only be provided by only one person, the admin. Other users don’t have a control on all content. That means if someone posts something accidentally, they cannot even delete it themselves. The admin has to delete it. This makes it so that the admin is full-time job keeping a watchful eye at all times.

  • Discussions are hard to follow. The discussion becomes hard to follow if too many people join, or if you have people commenting in-line to messages. The conversations split when someone responds to a message that is not the latest. They contain all the drawbacks of email, but also add their own.

  • It’s hard to create new email groups as needed. Creating one email group using it for your main team email is fine, but once you start to get too much traffic there, or you want to create groups based on topic (for example, one for your engineers and one for your contractors), this is hard. Most email group providers assume that you’re going to be using one email group, and that’s it.

  • Email groups require ongoing maintenance from a technical person to continue working. If you’re hosting them on your own or using one of the free providers, there is a lot of configuration that you need to do to make sure that your email domain works correctly, does not get flagged as spam, and this is an ongoing process to keep it right as your domain provider changes nameservers, and deal with DKIF and SPF to not end up having your whole company email blacklisted. A significant portion of the work of a sysadmin is to keep your email infrastructure working correctly. If you self host, all of this is on you. If you use a third-party host, ongoing integration of that third party host into your email domain is on you.

  • It’s hard to control access like who sees the content and who can post. Email groups don’t have access control. You cannot have some email groups that are open to the public, such as the email your customers email into to solve their issues, and some private, like your internal production group. In public groups, everything is public, so if your team member accidentally posts into a support group, that goes to the customer, big mistake. It’s like sitting on a live grenade. Email groups don’t have the notion of limited or controlled access, they are either all public or all private.

How Aether is better

  • Moderation. In Aether, content is voted on by participants. This makes it so that the content that is not so useful is pushed down, and not seen by most users. Everyone participates in this, so it acts as a group admin on its own without needing an admin.

  • Discussions are easy to follow. Aether has smart threading that can keep discussions readable even when there are a lot of participants. This, combined with sorting based on user signals like votes allow Aether to enable high-throughput mailing lists

  • You can create an infinite amount of groups as you need. Every Aether channel is an email group and a shared inbox. You can create as many email groups with unique emails as you need, and they’ll be ready to use instantly.

  • Aether is zero-maintenance. We take care of the maintenance of email groups and our service. We run an individual virtual machine for each of your customers so that you are fully isolated from other customers.

  • Aether offers granular access control. You can add guests to your channels, and those guests only have access to that email group, not the rest. You can make your groups accept emails from the public as a public receiving box, but the discussions within the group can still remain private to your team. You can also create email groups where only certain members can post but everyone can read. (Upcoming feature).

Price comparison

Email group services (or self-hosting) tend to be free, assuming your time is also free.

Let’s take a look at a comparison of using Aether versus old-style email, and figure out how much money or time investment is involved.

Alice the CTO

Alice is the CTO of a 17-person company. This is the inbox as for Wednesday morning. Acme has a lot of software engineers and some of them are remote.

Regular email

  • 36 emails in 5 threads
  • Sorted in time order by your mail client
  • Each of 36 posts has their reply chain underneath them, hidden by the mail client.
Action Time
Assuming an average of 30 seconds reading a message. 36 x 30 seconds. 18m
A big thread has branched into two different conversations, Alice has to look a little closer to a few stragglers. 4m
Responses to 3 threads. Average of 2 minutes writing a response. 6m
Of 3 responses, 1 needs to be to a post that is not the latest post in an email thread, so the thread has branched into multiple conversations. The hunt for the specific reply in the collapsed threads of the Gmail inbox. 3m
Total 32 minutes

Aether threads in your email

  • 5 emails, each of them is a thread, which contains 36 posts
  • Sorted in order of importance based on votes and other signals
  • In each post, there are all messages that would otherwise be individual emails, and side conversations are kept in the same thread

Alice can now choose to only read the most important emails.

Action Time
At an average of 30 seconds, that’s 5 threads, and the top post in them. 10 x 30 seconds. 5m
Responses to 3 threads. Average of 2 minutes per response. 6m
Total 11 minutes

As a result, this is what we get:

Tool Time per day per person
Classic email 32 minutes
Aether email 11 minutes
Time saved per day per person 21 minutes

Alice saves 21 minutes per day, with no change in her behaviour, no training needed, just by sending emails to a different email address — instead of CC’ing people one by one, she now sends emails to eng@acme.mail.aether.app, and that is all she needs to save time.

This also assumes Alice checks her email just once per day, while in reality, most people check their email at least two times a day. In that case, the time savings are even more, but let’s go with the most conservative estimate.

How much time would my team save?

Alice is the CTO, plus there are 17 engineers. That’s 18 people — every one of which will have to do the same thing as Alice every morning.

21 minutes saved x 18 = 378 minutes
= 6.3 hours per day for a team of 18 people

A team of 18 people using Aether saves 6.3 hours every day, and 31.5 hours every week.

That's nearly one full-time additional person for your team, for free.

How much money would my team save?

Assuming your average teammate costs about 60$ USD per hour*, saving 31.5 hours per week means a team of 18 people would save:

31.5 x 60
= $1890 per week for a team of 18 people

Converted to monthly:

$1890 x 4 =
$7560 per month for a team of 18 people.

* This is the average in Silicon Valley, feel free to insert your own value as necessary.

Aether makes everyone in your team 10% more efficient, so your team is 10% more efficient. 10% more efficiency from one person is good, but 10% more efficiency out of a team is an astonishing increase in output, almost akin to increasing your profits by 10%.

Have questions? We’re friendly

You can reach out to us at support@getaether.net or through live chat. We’d be happy to give you a demo or talk about your team’s individual situation.

Or, if you’re ready to get started, you can do so below.