I’m a very guilty procrastinator: The oldest e-mail in my inbox, currently, is May 27 and all it requires is a print out and mail a simple letter. Thankfully, I’m not alone. On MuckRock, we date the updates we get as following:

  • If they’re sent via e-mail, we date them the day we receive them, which is almost always the day they were sent.
  • If they’re sent via mail and the there is a postmark date, we use the postmark date.
  • If they’re sent via mail and there is no postmark date, we use the date at the top of the response.
  • If they’re sent via mail and there is no postmark date and no date at the top of the response (very rare), we use the day we receive it.
  • If it looks like something has gone horribly wrong in the delivery process, either an e-mail was bounced back, a letter come in without a response and they resend the response, etc., we make a judgement call but err in favor of giving what we think was the date the response was originally sent out.

So we rarely compare postmark dates to letter-sent dates, but it’s fairly easy for you to do as a MuckRock user. Above I just stumbled on one epistle that apparently took 11 days to go from writing to stamped and mailed. Makes me feel slightly better about my own inbox.

If you’re curious, that letter was from the Department of State.

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