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Phone tag

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Title: Phone tag  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Telephony, Paul D. Etienne, Misdialed call, Telephone call, Submarine communications cable
Collection: Telephony
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Phone tag

Phone tag can occur when people leave one another messages on answering machines

Phone tag is a phenomenon in which two parties attempt to contact each other by telephone, but neither is able to get a hold of the other for a conversation. Both parties may leave a message on the answering machine or voicemail of the other, and request a call back. This continues for a period of time, often with the two parties exchanging attempts to have a real-time conversation.[1] The name derives from the playground game tag, where players chase one another in turn.

Phone tag became common in the 1980s with the advent of messaging technologies and caller ID. It was seen as having advantages in that people can leave and receive messages at their convenience rather than having to find a common time with the other party to have a conversation.[2]

With phone tag being possible, people have a choice of when they want to return calls they have received. They may also decide which calls they wish to return and which to not (similar to call screening). Many recipients of messages simply choose to not return certain calls.[3]


  1. ^ People and computers XIV: usability or else! : proceedings of HCI 2000; By Yvonne Wærn, Sharon McDonald, Gilbert Cockton; page 18
  2. ^ The Irwin handbook of telecommunications management; By James Harry Green; Chapter 16: Why Phone Tag Occurs; pages 325-26
  3. ^ Career Quest for College Students; By Robert T Uda; page 55
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