When to Push and Pull Relevant* information
(*Note that the information should be “relevant” in some way. If information outside the pressing issues then we might want to ask why we want to share it in the first place!)
Red Hat employees often get a lot of information sent to their Inboxes, and managing and organizing the messages can be difficult. Many organizations, especially in the software industry, face the same problem. On one hand, we can end up sending too many emails and clogging each other’s Inboxes… but at the same time, if we fail to email information then our colleagues might never see it. It can be a double-edged sword that can be managed by rethinking the kind of information to email (“push” to us ) and the kind of information that is best directly requested through other sources (“pulled” by us ).
When should we push information, and when should it be pulled?  Here are some suggestions from a corporate setting, such as Red Hat, which uses the Open Decision Framework to create a transparent and meritocracy-based mode of participation among its associates.
PUSH (e.g. send an email, use of notification setting)
Push information when it is:
- urgent and / or time-based information related to a role or work (e.g. product release information, or deadlines for annual health care sign-up)
- important for awareness – often people need to be informed of the basics of idea or change. Sometimes people need to be made aware of the availability of content but will need more time for discussion or consideration.
PULL (e.g. share in Mojo or other community software, websites, blogs, forums and used by direct request)
Pull info when it is:
- aAn ongoing / lengthy discussion
- intended for debate or discussion (where awareness of it was pushed to the larger audience. This gives a place for the awareness to come to for the discussion itself.)
An example of Push information that should be Pull
Often, we push information thinking that it’ll be more effective. One example of this is sending a question to a mailing list. At first glance, it appears to be a good idea — we want discussion and Q&A, and emailing a list is a good way to foster this, until we realize that every group does this. Our Inbox becomes full and we can’t keep up! Another downside is that the discussion, and all its related details, are not stored in a central place for others to search and benefit from at a later time.
Appendices / Footnotes
 “Information push” is a term used to mean that an audience (or reader) is receiving information that it did not directly request — often from an outside source and often “pushed” anticipating a need (e.g. we sign up to receive text message notifications on our cell phones).
 “Information pull” is a term that means that a specific request for data is initiated by the audience (or reader) (e.g. we load a webpage).
 There are many ways to “push” and “pull” information — for this post, “push” is limited to sending email, and “pull” is limited to web-based technologies such as forums, community software, or websites.
Image “Push” by Steve Snodgrass used under CC BY 2.0