I've been recently researching about Northern Ireland and the Belfast Agreement. Naturally, I've sent out probably 17 gazillion emails to governments, professors, individuals, and everything in between. One pattern has been that they've all responded crazy fast.
In the U.S., if I send an email to the French consulate in Los Angeles, they can get back to me at some point in the day. If I write the State department or DHS about Global Entry or U.S. travel documents, it takes a day or so. If I try to write anything hyperlocal, it's either a response within the week or never. Hell, I've written my own teachers and they still take a couple days to respond sometimes.
Maybe it's because I wrote many of the emails at 6 or 7 in the morning (Pacific time) and it's usually 13 or 14 UTC time (Ireland is 0 or +1 UTC). But, a lot of emails got lightning fast responses. I wrote to a professor about their book and got a response back in less than 15 minutes. I wrote the Northern Ireland Assembly and got a response back in less than 15 minutes. I wrote the Northern Ireland Library Authority and got an email, albeit forwarding mine, in less than a day.
It's insane. I never expect anyone to respond to my emails that quickly. I'm used to the consulate taking some of the day, which is fair. They're usually open around 8h45, so it makes sense that it might take them awhile into being open to respond to any questions I might have for them. I can still imagine that out of (a number that I didn't bother to keep looking for but found the data that should have the number for the Los Angeles consulat), there's a lot of requests to sieve through. Times a bazillion fo the State department and the DHS, naturally.
There's something to be said about how charming it is that Northern Ireland and the individuals I've written to on Ireland (the Island, not the Republic of or Northern). Hopefully it's a pattern that sticks, because not only is it more convenient to be able to reach out to people quickly an get responses swiftly if and when it's urgent, but it also relieves a lot of stress with waiting for resources to be sent back to you that could mean the difference between a good paper or a summer retakes.
Obviously: respond in the time you need to respond best. If that's 15 minutes, that's fine. If that's 15 days, that's fine. Naturally, don't take centuries without letting the other person know you need more time to give them a response that they need and that fits what you want to say.
To those who I've written to researching about this: thank you for being so awesome.