Is it time for an email purge?

I have a bit of an email dilemma as my life marches on, goose-stepping faster than I can actually process the messages coming in. it’s not my inbox, though: I have things neatly organized in my mail folders so my inbox only has about 50 messages at this point, and when I can sit and really work through it I can easily chop that down to 25 or so messages that require more attention.
The problem is the email folder on the other side of the Ask Dave Taylor Query Form. That folder? Well, let’s just say that at this moment in time it shows 4594 unread messages (let alone the 50 or so that I’ve peeked at)…


The question I have is that when I have messages that are literally four or five months old, messages going back as far as May of this year (I admit with some embarrassment!) should I just jettison them and chalk it up as “too busy, sorry”, or should I spend the few days it’d take to really slog through them and try to at least answer the interesting ones?
I can see pro’s and con’s of either of these approaches, because one of the things my readers appreciate about the AskDaveTaylor site is that they do get a response from me (usually) unlike sending a query in to, say, HP or Sony Corporate, where their message vanishes into the ether.
But is a response that’s five months late worse than no response at all, especially when the response is most likely “sorry I don’t have time to help you out: here are some tips on how to do a Google search to find a solution to your problem” rather than a specific answer to their query?
From experience, most of the questions are going to be about PSP Internet connectivity, connecting to MySpace while at school and recovering lost or hacked passwords, all of which I’ve covered extensively on my blog. For those, I can respond in just a few seconds with a canned message pointing them to useful resources, but, again, is five months too long? Too late?
If you were stuck with a folder stacked with almost 5000 messages from your customers, what would you do?

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