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There are categories of e-mails messages, that are not spam, but which loose relevance after certain date. Examples:

  • promotions from bestbuy valid on black friday only
  • invitations for events that can be deletede after the event

Is there a mechanism for handling that sort of e-mails (maybe a field in the e-mail "expires after" I am not aware of), or auto-detect such e-mails?

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No, there is no such mechanism, and if there were, it isn't being used by mailers as described. – user3463 Dec 8 '10 at 16:24
@Randolph Potter: your comment is a perfectly valid answer. – akira Dec 8 '10 at 16:52
I've made it a perfectly valid answer :-). – user3463 Dec 8 '10 at 16:54
and i gave you a perfectly valid +1 :) – akira Dec 8 '10 at 20:04
up vote 3 down vote accepted

According to RFC 2076 Section 3.8 there is no standard way to send the expiration date.

Expires and Expiry-date -headers exist but, as said, they are not standardized. Quick look through some newsletters in my inbox confirmed that these are not commonplace.

Some e-mail clients can send this header with the email. I just tested it with Outlook 2007 and the expiration-related part in the message header looks like this:

Expiry-Date: Fri, 10 Dec 2010 18:00:00 +0200

(It is funny to notice that the used header is Expiry-Date which was tentatively designed (in 1997 ie. 13 years ago) to be replaced with Expires header. But this just shows how obsolete its usage is)

It might be in use in some corporate environments where it is known that every e-mail client can use the expiration header, in Outlook to Outlook type of messaging for example.

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No, there is no such mechanism, and if there were, it isn't being used by mailers as described.

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I can't think of anything that would work in the general case as you'd need to be able to parse the e-mail and recognise "end dates".

The only thing I can think of is that you add the expiry date as a "property" or flag on the e-mail and then have a process that runs daily checking for dates earlier than today and delete the message.

However, I don't know how you'd go about coding that in your e-mail client (even if you'd said which one it was!).

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