How do you deal with the Dirty R?

The Dirty R
By Simon Sage on 2 Jul 2013 04:15 pm EDT

The Dirty R is the little green icon in BlackBerry Messenger that shows your message has been read, but you never get a reply. It’s easy to take this personally, depending on the message; “Why are you ignoring me? Was what I said not important? Not interesting? Are you too busy to deal with me? What is it that takes precedent over me?” Sure, those questions might seem like clingy and oversensitive, but they’re entirely natural reactions, especially if your message prompted some kind of reply.

BlackBerry has long been an enabler for the “always on, always connected” lifestyle, and that has drastically changed our expectations for responsiveness. This spans well beyond innocuous chats over BBM, and into corporate employees that are effectively on-call late into the evening thanks to BlackBerry devices. When communicating regularly with people that are equally tied to their phones, a ten minute delay in a response can feel like an eternity.

Read receipt is a feature that has proliferated throughout instant messaging clients across the mobile sphere, and shaping the way everybody deals with instant messages. As we’ve gone over in today’s Talk Mobile conversation, turning off notifications and realizing that expectation doesn’t equate to obligation can help cope with these relatively new situations, but they don’t solve them by any means. Voluntarily unplugging oneself may be a necessity to keep focus, but it also defuses the whole point of instant messaging - we're on the messaging platforms to increase our availability, not decrease it. You can keep your own expectations for responsiveness lower and reasonable, but all you’re doing there is hoping that others reciprocate.

How do you guys deal with the Dirty R? Do you skip reading your BBM messages to avoid leaving one? Do you keep needling people for a response when they give you one? How much will BBM going cross-platform affect people’s expectations for responsiveness? Is there a way read receipts could be tweaked to avoid this issue altogether?

Reader comments

How do you deal with the Dirty R?


I'm an equal opportunity ignorer.  Unless you got $$ for me, I'll get around to ya lol.

PS: Kevin is real bad... He'll read your messages and answer you two days later.

On the legacy device I used to use the "chat history " tab to read the message without having to deal with the "Dirty R" but this isn't the case with the Z10 seeing it is been lagging this feature. Not that I care.

Posted via CB10

This is the only gripe when sending messages to the GF/wife. You read a message but don't respond... hell will be raised.

I miss when it was just SMS...

Wait, this is what I got myself into buying BB devices for both of us????  LOL she knows I get pulled into meetings randomly where I can't respond... but yeah this could be bad for some.

Then I'm just like Kevin. It's not meant to be rude or make anyone feel unimportant, and to be fair I would not expect to be treated any different. If its life or death, I'll respond promptly. When it's actual person to person, I would not prod someone to respond, as their issues are more important to them than mine are (and myself likewise).

Sent from the future on my Z10.

That's easy Bla1ze. Just do what I do with my wife and tell them that you'll be at their every beck and call when they start paying your phone bill. LOL

And how well does that go over? If you are not yet there, consider yourself lucky that you are not sleeping in the couch!

Love it Bla1ze.

I guess it comes down to "horses for courses".....and really no different to MS Outlook (message shown as opened, but you haven't responded). I reply when I have time to reply, in a manner that the sender would appreciate. Common courtesy abounds, but simply, the inbound message may be of low importance in the whole scheme of things (in my little part of the world) at the time it is received, so literally it just has to wait.

The majority of my BBM connections seem to understand & accept this.


What's Blackberry Messenger? Back when I used it, it definitely made me respond more quickly, which I think is a good thing personally. (overall)

This is so true. When someone asks a question to you in real life, you wouldn't let them sit there and ignore them. Why is it all of a sudden okay when it is typed?

I personally despise iMessage. It is set to default to just say "delivered" and not "read". It is optional to set the "read" notification. That is bad because most people don't do it. I used to, but since others don't I turned mine off. If everyone is going to play by poor communication rules, there is no sense in leading the pack with excellent communication skills. I try to respond to emails quickly and texts quicker. That is me though. To each their own.

I yearn for the day I could use a BBM type service where everyone is universally on it (like my iMessage) and the "read" notification is not optional (or at least set to "read" so that people don't take the time to figure it out.)

I try to respond to everything in a reasonable amount of time, however, I've left a few Dirty Rs in my day.

I don't take it personal if the message is read but not responded. It depends on who you're talking to. If the person is extremely busy and you know that they're busy, then you just wait for them to respond at their earliest convenience. I just wait; and if it's that serious that they must respond, I let it be made known.

Posted via CB10

Same here. I have one friend who I know that she might read it (either accidentally or purposely), but she ALWAYS messages me later. So it really doesn't bother me

Posted via CB10

Cosign. If it's that important, that's what calling is for and, if remotely important, I just follow up. The important thing to me is that I know the person got the message.

Posted via CB10

If it is Kris expect a read in a second and a reply in a week.. Deleted that bastard from my BBM. LOL I still love you though (no homo)

Posted via CB10

I just respond, that's how I deal with it, if you don't want to talk just say so, or be nice and say you're busy, people will understand, there's no reason to be a bitch and not answer when somebody is talking to you.

I do this and forget to reply at times. The recipient tends to think I'm being rude.

Posted via my CB Q10

When they people don't read my messages and its urgent, I PING them :p My parents hate it lol

Posted via CB10

Nooo. Bad. My brother in law does this to me if I don't read and respond in 10 seconds or less. If I don't respond to the ping he calls me and is angry. Don't be a slave to those little letters, people will start hiding from you.

Posted via CB10

Hahahaha. I do it when we're having a conversation and take long to answer. 3 minutes is the limit of how long I'll wait for an answer before I PING lol

Posted via CB10

The "R's" aren't so much of a problem for me. My biggest gripe is with "Text talk" as in , "Hi, how R U? I C U R 2 busy 2 read my txt." - Look, you have an effing BlackBerry, and more than likely a QWERTY BlackBerry, if you can't be bothered to text me with actual words and sentences, I couldn't care less if your, or my "R" goes unanswered.

I respond when I can. I expect the same from others. But sending me a msg doesn't automatically put me on a clock... sorry, too busy for that

Posted via CB10

Agreed! Just because someone has a bit of free time on their hands doesn't mean that I do. Of course, if it is something I consider to be urgent, then I will make the exception.

I get lost in a fit of rage, constantly thinking to myself "what if I'm being ignored? " stricken with fear, I turn to alcohol, only to find myself in a death spiral to which I can never escape. My heart starts pounding - thump....thump....THUMP... and then... silence. I finally calm my nerves. I look down at my phone, patiently waiting for a response. The bitter seconds chew away at my sanity. I am now deeply entrenched in stage 4. The depression is setting in. "I have no friends", I think to myself. I must be the loneliest person to ever exist. But it's Ok, I don't need friends. Who really needs friends anyway? I begin to accept my fate. This is the end.Goodbye, cruel world! Oh wait... I just got a text... Apparently bbm is down. thank god! They do like me!

Posted via CB10

ask a question, get an answer...if you don't you ask again or ping...of still no answer I'd call because sometimes all this messaging is BS

The R is better than the "this user was last seen on" feature for Whatsapp which you can't get around AT ALL. There are ways around the R like reading the heading in the message hub. Just don't click on the message itself and problem solved. No one know that you read the BBM message.

Shhhh! Don't let my BBM buddies know that. I'm guilty of that cheat now and then. :) Works well for short messages, not long ones.

Posted via CB10

Is this seriously all crackberry can come up with to discuss! Please ignite an atomic bomb under Thor's a**hole! Time to get sh*t done around this mother f*#@er!

They need to add a setting to disable read receipts. Many people will choose not to use BBM because they don't want to send read receipts. Make it an option BlackBerry. It should be one anyways.

Posted via CB10

no they dont that is what makes blackberry so unique and so awesome its your choice to respond or not to respond man up

depending on the person, i tend to get offended haha. I also try not to read a message and not respond. I'll only read it if I know i'll respond, I just feel bad if i make them wait.

Believe me, it isn't that simple. Like I tell my friends, sometimes it is easier to take a call than it is to make one.

No I could not care less, I am busy and expect people to be busy too, if my staff don't bbm me back then I ping a few times. But no its fine I like to see the displays, can't wait for cross platform.

Posted via CB10

I just don't open the BBM's if I know I won't be able to answer it or don't wanna answer such person

Posted via CB10

If you open the bbm chat in the hub and not using the app. When a message comes through, and you then open BlackBerry hub, as long as you don't click on the screen the message will not be read. To go back to what ever it is you were doing, just swipe up from the bottom. The only downside you can't use the hub till you mark the message as received.

Posted via CB10

This is funny. My teenage son has a BlackBerry phone (my old one after I upgraded to Z10 . He has become quite the BBM addict (should I be proud??). I was on the phone with BlackBerry giving feedback on channels when I used the term "R bomb" which is what teenagers call it when the R is showing but there has been no reply. Even BlackBerry rep had not heard of this. But apparently that's their term. Even can be used in a sentence when my son wrote to me when I didn't answer 'Why are you R-bombing me?'. BTW je loves BlackBerry after sweating he would want another brand.

Posted from my Z10 via CB10

I try to respond to my BBM messages quickly. But, sometimes, just sometimes it takes me a moment to get back to it. Most of the time if I know I'm busy and I receive a BBM, I don't even bother to read it till I know that I can reply...

If people use _instant_ messaging I assume they will answer instantly. If I see the R I pretend to get an answer in a couple of minutes. If not, I'll ping them. But if it is really important for me to get an answer I'd give them a call.

I'll only send a text or call right after I see the R with no reply if it's an emergency. Other than that I just go hitman on the person and get an answer. Death threats work nicely!

Posted from Q10 and CB10.

The Dirty R doesn't really bother me. I know I can't always answer immediately and I also know that I sometimes forget to reply later once I've seen the message. I know the same goes for my friends. If you know what to expect from each other there's no issue.

When I know I don't have time to reply anytime soon I do leave the message unread or I take a sneak peak in the hub so the message remains marked unread, not to keep up pretense but because I'm less likely to forget to reply.

i dont have super important contacts in my BBM so i'll respond when im ready. on legacy BBOS there was once a way to pretty much read the message without marking it with an R. I forget exactly how i was doing that. I wonder if that is possible on my Q10.

I think that it can be good in more ways then not, knowing when some1 has read your message can keep you immersed in the conversation, its more personal when you see the dirty R and then you see them writing back. That can obviously go the other way and I know seeing the dirty R with no reply can be annoying but I see that as people are busy and I don't think any further into it. Gf is the exception haha

Via my Z10/ Channel pin: C000EE4F7

IMHO, the (R)ead receipt has always been the WORST feature in a consumer messaging client. I myself couldn't care less if people don't respond to me in a timely manner, since I well understand that my timetable may not coincide with theirs. But it really grinds my gears when somebody sends me a message, I read it, make a mental note (or may even set a reminder) to respond later, only to get bombarded with several more messages questioning why I haven't responded in accordance with their self entitled expectations.

Read receipts should only be used in the enterprise arena. Outside of important business correspondence... the Read receipt can bite me.

It's not BBRY's fault if your friends are assholes. The read receipt is very useful and it is my favorite feature of BBM. Whether it's an important business-related message, or just making sure my buddy knows what time to meet for a movie, why wouldn't you want to know that your recipient got your message? In the military, users on the radio say "How copy" or "Please acknowledge" to ensure that their message was received. Communication is not one way, and a message sent and not received is as good as no message at all.

Which is why I specifically distinguished the difference between Enterprise and Consumer. If it's important correspondence, a Read receipt is fine. It confirms that critical messages have been sent. However, casual consumer messages like "Whassup?", "How 'bout dem Yankees!", "Any plans for <insert random date 3 weeks ahead here>", "I miss you SugarBritches!" etc.. do not merit an immediate response, nor do they merit a read confirmation.

Every communication is important in one way or another, and a read receipt is useful in every single instance. If a message is so truly inconsequential that you genuinely don't care when or even if the sender has read it, then it probably should not have been sent in the first place. Wield words wisely.

The flaw there, is that not every communication is important to both parties. The read receipt is only useful 100% of the time to the sender.

Sure, "Wield words wisely" is sound advice. However that only applies to the sender. You can't choose when or what a contact will send you. As the recipient, you shouldn't be held responsible for that.

I only get mad if it is a beautiful girl that I'm talking to or if it is something I really need in that moment, otherwise no problem. I still think we need that "Chat History " tab so we can go trough it! (without having to deal with the dirty R)

P.s bring it to the 10 OS. It help us remember what we talked with someone. Etc

Posted via CB10

I keep tabs on everybody I know, the R works great as part of that. Psyche, I have no bbm friends at all. I simply have 2 BlackBerry ID's and 2 BlackBerry 10 phones, so I can often be found messaging, voice chatting, and video chatting with my other personality.

Posted via CB10

BBM without the 'dirty R' would be just another social chat app. I can leave a few. At least the sender knows I read it.
Or visa versa.

Ping let's me declare I am really looking for a reply. If that is ignored then depending on who I am pinging - I know they are busy or there is something bothering them. Which is all value added in my opinion.


This is not a problem for me anymore, since nobody uses BBM. Even my friends who have BBs (the two that are left) usually just text. Very sad because I love BBM. I'm goddamn furious that they took this long to make it cross-platform because it's so late now that it's laughable. Not a single iOS/Android user I've spoken to (and I've spoken to many) has expressed even the slightest interest in using BBM, instead saying "I'll use Whatsapp" or "texting is good enough" or "doesn't iChat do that already?" Five years ago BBM was king, and everyone wanted it. People were literally willing to pay for it- many bought BBs just to have BBM. Had they done this back then, BBM would be the reigning (if not only) mobile chat service. Now, it's already dead. I do not expect going cross-platform to revive BBM or help BBRY in the slightest.

Hopefully it does come. It is one of those "killer apps". Think if TurboTax, Photoshop, or the hottest PC game were unsure if they were going to bring their software to Windows. Yeah, some people might not use TurboTax or Chrome and use alternatives or alternate ways to use those (i.e sideloading) but for the majority of people, those pieces of software are examples of killer apps that make people use a platform.

Getting the R shows a person has read my BBM, I don't need a response unless it's a question, request for help/advice etc.
If I need a response and it's not one of the above, I ask for a response.

Posted from The Force wielding tap-dancing mouse on secret pantless missions (hiding in Jaydee's backseat) :p

the R's ROCK!

ping ping ping if I need attention, other wise who cares? I (and YOU) are not as important as I think I am, and neither are my BBMs. I have confidence in myself outside of how quickly others respond to my messages.

Most of the time buddies at work or busy etc to not get back right away but the dirty R does entice me to spam them just to be annoying :D as for myself if I'm busy I'll just say so but all friends are the same as me so I'll get spammed right back.

Posted via the Batcave

I deal with it, because at any given time I might have read it but was so tied up and let it slip my mind and forgot to get back, it happens when your a busy subscribe to my channel and I will check your channel out

RedroomMedia animated display pics

Posted via CB10

I just ignore the needy, whiny people. I'll always get back to you, when I have time, go cry somewhere else.

If BBM is the last thing you used in your hub then you can "peek" without triggering the "Dirty R" ;)

Posted via Q10RR

I think it's a unique feature of BBM that most people actually like.
We am try to add similar features to emails and texts with read receipts and delivery reports.
What I would like to get back is the ability to read my chat history like in legacy BBOS

Posted via CB10 from my Z10

I allow a few days for people to respond. Then I send again. Then I get nasty. Then I send the BBM hitmen and if that doesn't work. Well I dunno I've never reached that stage. Lol usually by second message they reply. :D. Ps. I'm really bad I take weeks to reply sometimes :).

Posted via CB10

I like the read receipts. Most of my BBM contacts are personal, so they so get attention faster than pretty much anyone else.

I don't like the pings or follow ups if I don't respond immediately, that is annoying.

I do wish people would make better use of the status feature -and not just in bnm - maybe check it once in a while? I'm pretty diligent about setting my status if I'm going to be heads down working on something, or unavailable for some time - like watching a movie for example. I always change my status if I won't be responding immediately and don't feel bad about not responding even if i did read the measage.

If I can't reply to it, I leave it unread. Saves me and the person the hassle of the lonely R!

BlackBerry Z10, CB10.

The ability to read the message without the R showing is one of the things I missed in my old phone. Now, I ignore it depending on the person.

Posted via CB10 ~ visit my portrait channel C0011B779

Try to get back as soon as I can. Or disregard it until I know that I can. Mostly like to know that a message was received by the other person so that I don't get to work next day and get the old I didn't get it like I hear from the I users.


Posted via CB10

Always avoid the dirty R. I either ignore the message or reply after reading.

Posted via CB10 on my BlackBerry Z10 on Rogers.

I don't take it that seriously. I text my wife and, now and then, a client with job updates. The 'R' is no biggy.

This is my cat's phone. She lets me use it.

I've had accidental dirty R's in the past, where I had multiple conversations going on at the same time, the R appeared on my gf's phone, but I really hadn't read the message... and didn't get back to it in time... ouch!

In today's busy and hectic lifestyle, it is common to have missed out on replies unintentionally. We could be reading a BBM while queing for coffee and suddenly, it's our turn to order so we order and put the phone in the pocket to free up our hand to pull out some money for coffee and then a phone call comes in and we need to swipe to get into notes to check something and after the call, the BBM is entirely forgotten until we get another... :-) sounds like an excuse ??? ;-)

You can read the last sentence in the Hub without people seeing that. I just do that..

Posted via CB10

On older devices there were apps that owed one to peek without having the R appear.......

Posted via CB10

On the one hand, sometimes I don't open a message because I don't want to have an issue with someone seeing that I have read, but not responded to the message. Sometimes I'm busy and I have the ability to read and acknowledge the message, but not type out a response.

I do like having the ability to see if someone has read the message I sent though, even if they haven't responded. If I ask the spouse "Hey can you pick up milk on your way home?" It's nice to know whether or not he hasn't responded because he never checks his phone or if he was too busy or driving or something. If I see he's not read the message, I can act accordingly and go get milk myself. If I see he's read it, then I can assume he's going to do so if he doesn't respond back.

That's my philosophy. I see the R as an acknowledgement that my message was acknowledged and understood so I don't need an affirmative message.


It doesn't really bother me.

With my wife, she works at a hospital. Sometimes it can be hours before the D turns to an R, depending on the medical procedures they are involved with. Half the time, she doesn't get a signal in their department and it can take a while for the D to appear. I know that she'll respond once she has a moment.

With other people, if they don't respond right away, it doesn't both me. My thinking is that if it really is important, it's just another click to actually call the person. I actually have one friend where we will carry on the same conversation across several days. The beauty of IM chat is that the conversation doesn't end at any specific time.

I get an idea of what the message is about from the preview and will refrain from opening it rather than leave the so called dirty R (if I have no intention of replying immediately).

My partner and myself however will 'ping the sh*t' out of each other if there's the slightest delay in responses, regardless of any dirty R or not.

Posted via CB10

If it's business or loved ones I have to answer, unless I'm in a meeting in which case they get back the clock emoticon.

If it's just someone who wants to just chat I will wait until it's convenient for me to answer. By convenient I mean I'm not in a meeting, or in the middle of something that requires full attention, or busy catching a train or such.

I will be the first to admit that i have left some friends hanging with the dirty R. My philosophy if your message requires a response i will respond. if not i wont. i am not gonna respond just to respond. if i truly miss a question or something that i respond to. I apologize and continue the conversation. With that being said. if i send someone a message or a question and they leave me hanging i would send a couple of pings...depending on who it is that would be followed by a phone call and a few choice words. if you are not special enough to get cursed out over the phone you are ignored until you message me back.

this is the very reason I refuse to use BBM. I have been a BB user since about '98 I think, and i can proudly say i have never used BBM, not for anything.

What I read and when i read it is MY BUSINESS and no one else's.

Does not effect me. It is what it is. I don't get emotions involved. U have no idea what the other person is going through and his or her surroundings when you a text message

Posted via CB10

The people I care about know that whether email or bbm or sms or fb messages, I read them all very very frequently. So with or without the "dirty R" they know I did read their message. And I reply when I feel like replying. Usually I don't have to think much to reply to IM messages so I do it right away.

I sometimes just peek the last sentence then let it be unopened so the other party dont get that dirty r, then reply it later when i had a clue on what to answer.. dirty game to play with the dirty r.. lol..

Posted via CB10