Email titles

A simple ready-to-run scheme that tweaks the bit before the @ to distinguish between person, role and other details. For example
Read full article here : PDF 42Kb


Syntax can be introduced into the hitherto free-form local part (bit before the @) of an email address in order to indicate role or qualification. The man-in-the-street can more easily configure this parameter than other aspects of their email setup. Five types of 'title' are specified which reflect different ways in which titles of various sorts are awarded and policed.

Split by =

The 'mailbox' bit of the address can be split using the = character to add on
  • Role : me=inventor@...
  • Formal qualification : me=-BSc@...
  • Honour : me=!OBE@...
Also membership, semi-formal titles and indication that the recipient in the first instance is a machine.

This means you can send an email to =salesdept@... or Mary=salesmanager@... or Mary@...


  • Being able to differentiate the role from the person.
  • Being able to identify a person's role
  • Being able to indicate status
  • Being able to clearly identify a process as recipient rather than a person. This might be a server that distributes mail to a committee.

Implications and opportunities

The article goes on to discuss
  • Various authorities for allocation and policing roles and titles. (There's an interesting issue of the use of titles controlled by legislation across borders.)
  • Otherwise domain owners would control roles and membersip titles
  • Controlling the use of outgoing mail
  • Parsing the address to give more sophisticated handling of incoming mail
Read the article for a full description and discussion.
  1. Are you old enough to remember when your phone belonged to the phone company and there was no such thing as extension sockets and only companies had clunky buttons to allow calls to be taken on another phone? Email clients are a bit like that nowadays. But why not put in a diverter, filter, server, archiver, spam learner. So where's the email plumbing kit that allows me to join up (I suggest graphically) these bits? (...Err And the bits)
  1. Everyone could start using this scheme today and benefit from the person/role split.
  2. Mechanical manipulation probably needs a de-facto standard before being generally implemented. However all matters are in the hands of the recipient - if they want to implement a home-grown hack they're in complete control of the addresses so let them get on and do it.

Contact details are in the article