How many people in the USA have email addresses?
March 23, 2007 10:06 AM   Subscribe

Is there any way to find out what percentage of the population of the USA has an e-mail address?

I need this to convince a work colleague that having a field on a form requesting an e-mail address needs to be mandatory. He steadfastly maintains that a sizable portion of the total population of the USA does not have an email address, but of course neither of us has figures to back up our assertion.
posted by worker_bee to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
there are some statistics on internet usage in north america that suggest 67% of people are online.

do you have a good reason for making it mandatory though? i generally don't want to get emails from companies unless it's regarding a purchase i've made or a mailing list that i explicitly signed up for.
posted by noloveforned at 10:18 AM on March 23, 2007

Is the form online? If so, expecting the person filling out the form to have an email address is reasonable. If not, it's not.
posted by mcstayinskool at 10:32 AM on March 23, 2007

You'll get push-back from people like me who protect their email address from needless emails and questionable harvesters. Unless this somehow ties into the web or a mailing list then expect a lot of in our database.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:32 AM on March 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Whether it needs to be mandatory is independent of the percentage of people who have email addresses. If you are right and it needs to be mandatory, then you can only serve those who have email addresses, percentage be damned.

If it does not need to be mandatory, then you are debating whether it should be mandatory. That's going to depend on how you use the field and who is filling out the form, which you haven't told us. Selling wine online--probably most of your customers will have one. Services for the homeless--probably most of them won't.
posted by DU at 10:34 AM on March 23, 2007

That link from noloveforned is North America. I would expect the actual US number is higher.

But I also agree that making it mandatory better have a damn good reason. Either you need to verify or it's integral to the service.

PDF showing Pew/Internet adoption information thru 4/06

Demographics on usage in US through 12/06
posted by FlamingBore at 10:46 AM on March 23, 2007

DU: "Whether it needs to be mandatory is independent of the percentage of people who have email addresses. If you are right and it needs to be mandatory, then you can only serve those who have email addresses, percentage be damned."

If it actually needed to be mandatory, you wouldn't be having this debate. Expect to get lots of sign-ups from
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:18 AM on March 23, 2007

i'm with mr. gunn, if you have to convince someone that it should be mandatory, then it probably shouldn't.

however, on one of the websites i run my registration process is very simple: username and password. then i started getting emails about login issues and password resets, so i'm started thinking that an email field should be mandatory. i'll probably ask for an email once, after registration, with a note about getting your password reset. if you choose to forgo the email, i won't bother you about it, but getting back into your account if you forget your password will be dependent on my free time.
posted by sxtxixtxcxh at 11:36 AM on March 23, 2007

hey damn dirty ape, quit posting my email address on public forums!!!
posted by thilmony at 1:22 PM on March 23, 2007

*Deep sigh*
Yes it is needed. The form in question is part of the registration for a Learning Management System. The participants are only accessing it from their place of work, however not all of the end-users have business email addresses associated with their jobs (low-level staff). The thought process is that if these low-level staff do not have work email, then they may not have personal email address. The email field is mandatory because it is the way that the LMS communicates with the students.

I maintain the field must remain mandatory, a colleague says it should be optional and tough if they miss a course update email.

This will probably go unread, but I wanted to let all the helpful posters know that is very unlikely to happen as we can trace the user that enters that very easily.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 5:34 PM on March 23, 2007

I can't answer your original question, but my gut feeling is that employees are actually more likely to have a work email account than a personal one. Especially if you're referring to low-level staff, who aren't paid as much and hence are less likely to have internet access at home, in order to set up a personal email account. (And I'm UK based so I accept that things may be different across the pond...)

If it needs to be mandatory, maybe you need to look at (a) encouraging the employers who are using the system to provide work email accounts for all staff who are accessing it (I'm assuming that use of a Learning Management System is implemented by the employer), and/or (b) providing instructions to users on how to set up a webmail account such as yahoo or googlemail that they can use.
posted by finding.perdita at 6:49 PM on March 23, 2007

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