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I sometimes spend a chunk of time (lets say 30 minutes) composing an email which, when I've checked it, I send. My next step is almost always to re-check the inbox. Occasionally I discover that whilst I was composing the email, the situation to which the email relates has moved on and the email I sent is now inaccurate.

The same word might also apply to a scientist who spends perhaps years doing research and then publishes, without checking that the assumptions his work is based on are still correct.

The upshot of the situation would be the need to issue a rapid update to the email/work to correct it.

UPDATE: Thanks for the answers so far. I think that 'obsolete' describes the situation that the work (or email) finds itself it. Could also be 'superceded'. Also liked E-moot.

However, I think that 'scooped' comes closest to what I was after. I'm really looking for a word which describes the experience of the person having done the work that is now obsolete (superceded or E-moot). As in "Jack was left feeling ?????? on realising his carefully constructed email was rendered obsolete by Tim's reply sent 5 minutes earlier".

Something that combines 'scooped' with 'deflated' might fit the bill.

It's probably adding to much to say that the feeling of deflatedness is caused in no small part by the knowledge that if less time had been spent on spelling, grammar and formatting, the work could have been sent/published whilst still relevant.

UPDATE 4/4/14: Got to say that "Ninja'd" comes closest to what I'm after. It combines the notion that I was beaten by someone with superior speed with the feeling of being phyiscally assaulted. If this does have a basis in internet culture then all the better. Nuts to the scientists. "Ninja'd" also addresses the 'too much time spent on formatting etc.' requirement since it suggests whoever Ninja'd me was possible more efficient or focussed.

Really enjoying this SE site - thanks everyone.

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A scientist (or journalist) who is second-to-the-punch has been scooped. If their work addresses a special case of some more general case that has since been investigated fully then it has been subsumed by the latter work. –  j_random_hacker Apr 3 at 1:26
    
The idea of time being an essential key factor, I might use Drat/Dang Tim (Tim's email) beat me to it –  Mari-Lou A Apr 3 at 7:33
    
@j_random_hacker you should post your comment as an answer, including any references to back up your suggestion. –  Mari-Lou A Apr 3 at 7:37
    
For me, 30 minutes is not a long time to spend on an email at all! –  Mr Lister Apr 3 at 8:07
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I have seen the neologism "Ninja'd" for a similar situation applied to Internet forums, on several forums. But this certainly doesn't describe what one may feel in reaction, it only describes the action. –  Medinoc Apr 3 at 13:40

11 Answers 11

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I have seen the neologism "Ninja'd" for a similar situation applied to Internet forums, on several forums. But this certainly doesn't describe what one may feel in reaction, it only describes the action.

Where I've seen it:

  • I've first seen it on Keenspot webcomic discussion forums.
  • I see it most notably on the TV Tropes forum (which adds a tendency, on threads dedicated to works containing a ninja character, to use that character's name instead). The administrators recently added a ninja smiley to the forum just for this purpose.
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Thanks for this, it fits the bill nicely. I'm almost looking forward to the next time I get Ninja'd by email so I can use my new word. –  andyb Apr 4 at 11:04

Obsolete

Please delete my obsolete response

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Moot comes to mind. I say this in the sense that your work up to now has been purely academic with no practical application anymore.

After all the work composing that email, it wound up being moot.

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Fitting the context: E-moot? –  mjsqu Apr 2 at 23:17
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I do like E-moot :) –  andyb Apr 3 at 5:11

Stale

I replied, but my email was stale.

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I think the word belated is applicable here also

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A scientist (or journalist) who is second-to-the-punch has been scooped. If their work addresses a special case of some more general case that has since been investigated fully then it has been subsumed by the latter work.

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Links, references? –  Mari-Lou A Apr 3 at 10:54
    
@Mari-LouA: Done. –  j_random_hacker Apr 3 at 10:57
    
second link gives me a "whoops" page! I'm sorry :))) –  Mari-Lou A Apr 3 at 11:20
    
@Mari-LouA: Hmmm... Just tried it myself and it works (goes to the Merriam-Webster definition page for "subsume") for me... And don't feel you're pestering me, I should apologise for needing so much pestering :) –  j_random_hacker Apr 3 at 18:06

The idiom miss the boat comes to mind.

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"mortified" means feeling very embarrassed and foolish, so you could say you were mortified to find that you had sent a moot email, though you might need something stronger for the research scenario.

"gutted" is a great slang word in BrE (though I can't attest for how widespread it is outside of Australia and NZ) meaning Bitterly disappointed or upset. It is likely related to gutting an animal, thus describing the feeling as if your insides have been figuratively wrenched out.

"devastated", to feel extreme emotional pain, is a much stronger word, and thus better suited to the research example than the email example.

In either case, you might feel "defeated" - frustrated by nullification or by prevention of success.

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OP's not trying to explain his feelings or state of mind here. He's just trying to qualify the outdated nature of the email –  kolossus Apr 3 at 13:37
    
OP says "I'm really looking for a word which describes the experience of the person having done the work that is now obsolete (superceded or E-moot). As in 'Jack was left feeling ??????'" –  nxx Apr 3 at 14:17
    
Ah, sorry, that's an update to the original question that I missed –  kolossus Apr 3 at 14:57
    
Yep, they can sneak up on you! And I just realised this scenario relates very much to the question... –  nxx Apr 3 at 17:47
    
Like 'defeated' but it hints at a competitive element that is not necessarily part of the equation. This might work for some people though - upvote. –  andyb Apr 4 at 2:26

Jack was left feeling needlessly exhausted on realising his carefully constructed email was rendered obsolete by Tim's reply sent 5 minutes earlier

Maybe bitterly exhausted to give it that sense of "if only I spent less time grammar-checking, my work wouldn't be for waste"

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The OP was asking for a single word, but these are good suggestions for a phrase. As they don't answer the OP's question, I hope this will be preserved as a comment. –  medica Apr 3 at 22:36
    
Agree - these sum up the feeling and situation. Really need a single word though. It must be out there... Something that would be in the Meaning of Liff –  andyb Apr 4 at 2:23
    
@andyb What about shattered? As in "broken to pieces (after hard work)", and at the same time "devastated by the outcome." –  Slav Apr 4 at 3:10

All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Day late and a dollar short.

Close the barn door after the horse ran off.

All these idiomatic phrases, which long predate the cyber age, express the chagrin one feels when effort has been expended toward some end that is no longer attainable.

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'Nugatory' describes the work involved

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it appears this answer has been banished to the nugatory –  Brady Trainor Apr 3 at 18:13
    
@jksemple - don't you feel Ninja'd ?? –  andyb Apr 4 at 6:29
    
Can't fathom why my first (and perfectly reasonable) post here was down voted twice without an explanation. Won't bother again –  jksemple Apr 4 at 8:46

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