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[P]
The email hoax madness must end

By ttfkam in Op-Ed
Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:22:30 AM EST
Tags: Internet (all tags)
Internet

It's that season again: family and friends are huddled up next to the computer warning everyone they know that an email virus is coming that will turn your electronic gadgetry to a smoking pile of ruin.

Unfortunately, that season last three hundred sixty-five days a year.


Without fail, the least technically literate among us, in a vain attempt to protect us from the evils of the world, send volumes upon volumes of email hoaxes and chain letters to everyone with whom they have ever had contact. More often than not, these tend to be the exact same people who click on that attachment bringing love and good cheer.

Those who know better, who recognize this scourge for what it is, who automatically view with skepticism any dire warning of gloom and doom sent over email, can do nothing to stop it once that email has hit your inbox. The damage is already done. No amount of written or verbal abuse will cause the email to suck back into the sender's email client. In fact, it quite seems that no amount of education you provide to that misguided soul will make any difference whatsoever as it is that same person who will send the message again next week.

An all-to-common refrain:

Geek: How often have we had this conversation?
Newbie: It's better to be safe than sorry, right?
Geek: No, sending that email to everyone you know is the problem. It was a hoax; There was no problem until you forwarded the email.
Newbie: Well, I didn't know.
Geek: Yes you did. I just told you about those email hoaxes last week -- the last time you sent out an email to everyone you knew.
Newbie: But that was different.
Geek: How so?
Newbie: That one was about a World Trade Center survivor.

What we've been doing so far hasn't been working. This berating of one person at a time after the fact is counter-productive. We're making the sender feel foolish so that they are either prone to stop emailing altogether for a while or inclined to make up for their previous guffaw by making sure the next email virus warning is real -- something at which they never seem to succeed. And it does nothing to stem the tide of people encountering email for the first time and making the same mistakes their predecessors made.

It's time the geeks stepped up to the plate. It's time the disgruntled few step out from behind their Exchange, Sendmail, and qmail servers. The server-side solution isn't working. It's time to invade the clients.

By default, if someone tries to send a large, forwarded message, a very large and scary-looking dialog box needs to pop up explaining chain letters and email hoaxes. This dialog box needs to scroll so that the "OK" button is disabled until they reach the bottom of the text -- they must read the text to continue. There needs to be a link to a hoax debunking site somewhere in the text. Of course, there can be a checkbox that disables the monstrous dialog box similar to browser warnings the first time you try to fill out a form. However, subsequent attempts to send such a message should still bring up a simple "OK/Cancel" box that asks if the user is sure that he/she is not sending a chain letter or email hoax.

The complete disabling of all warning messages and dialog boxes can only happen through the editing of client preferences. This is something that anyone who has used a browser or email client for longer than a year or so can do without any difficulty but prohibitively complex for many individuals new to computers and the Internet. This is the goal. This also requires that the computer saavy make a serious effort to fix this oversight in the various email clients. It also requires that those in the know encourage and help their friend and family upgrade to the better clients when they are available.

With any luck, the amount of detritus from friends and family will be decreased. At the very worst, we won't be getting that same set of stale jokes year after year. Personally, I'm willing to take the risk.

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Poll
How do we stop hoaxes?
o More dialog boxes! 9%
o Computer privileges taken away: three strikes 47%
o It's not that big of a deal 31%
o But what if the viruses are real? 10%

Votes: 155
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o volumes upon volumes of email hoaxes and chain letters
o that attachment bringing love and good cheer
o World Trade Center survivor
o hoax debunking site
o Also by ttfkam


Display: Sort:
The email hoax madness must end | 95 comments (81 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Hello (4.33 / 12) (#3)
by egg troll on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 06:06:44 PM EST

I rate this +1 in order to have your advice.

He's a bondage fan, a gastronome, a sensualist
Unparalleled for sinister lasciviousness.

In my BBS days... (3.66 / 3) (#4)
by pdw on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 06:22:46 PM EST

In my BBS days, the off-line mailer I used (Blue wave? I can't remember) refused to send mails that consisted of more than 50% quoted text. It enforced various other etiquette rules too. It would be nice if that feature was added to modern programs, but I doubt it will ever happen. (Can you imagine the support calls it would cause?)

50% (5.00 / 2) (#8)
by holdfast on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 06:58:19 PM EST

refused to send mails that consisted of more than 50% quoted text
I think that should be a standard fitting in email programmes now.

"Holy war is an oxymoron."
Lazarus Long
[ Parent ]
You'd be in trouble (none / 0) (#48)
by QuickFox on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:10:58 AM EST

If that's your opinion, then how come your comment is more than 50% quoted text?

(Not counting the sig of course.)

Give a man a fish and he eats for one day. Teach him how to fish, and though he'll eat for a lifetime, he'll call you a miser for not giving him your fi
[ Parent ]

Once more for the humor impaired... (none / 0) (#61)
by nlaporte on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:40:11 AM EST

If that's your opinion, then how come your comment is more than 50% quoted text?

'Cause it's a joke.


--
John Shydoubie. Shydoubie. John Shydoubie. John Shydoubie.
[ Parent ]
Blue Wave... (OT) (none / 0) (#13)
by Farq Q. Fenderson on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 07:54:02 PM EST

I believe your memory serves you - if mine serves me.

farq will not be coming back
[ Parent ]
You're both right -NT (none / 0) (#21)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 10:26:51 PM EST



--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
lame (none / 0) (#14)
by jjayson on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 08:14:38 PM EST

The only correct soltuion is on a social and personal level. Many times questions can be answered quickly or you really do want to forward a message.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
Priorities (4.50 / 10) (#6)
by DarkZero on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 06:37:12 PM EST

You're talking about the sort of people that can't be bothered to download a security patch, which they are told over and over is an absolute necessity. They're still using the first email client that they ever found, they haven't patched it, and anything else is "too complicated" for them. Why the fuck would they take the time out to download the absolutely crucial "Some Condescending Geek Thinks I'm A Fucking Moron" patch, "training_wheels_for_adults.exe".

In the year 2130, when we live in a computerized utopia that has used sorcery or some such to annihilate all of the security holes in every computer system on the planet, your idea will be a priority. Until then, it ranks somewhere slightly below the creation of newer, prettier screen savers.

Won't work (4.75 / 8) (#7)
by AmberEyes on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 06:41:23 PM EST

By default, if someone tries to send a large, forwarded message, a very large and scary-looking dialog box needs to pop up explaining chain letters and email hoaxes. This dialog box needs to scroll so that the "OK" button is disabled until they reach the bottom of the text -- they must read the text to continue.

The type of person to forward huge chain letters to people isn't the type of person who reads things that their computer tells them anyway, and you know that. What's more, what's to stop them from simply scrolling all the way to the bottom without reading and clicking OK.

I mean, the reason that the person is forwarding emails is because they obviously have been fooled and think it's important. They don't care about warning about viruses or hoaxes or scams or whatever, because they don't think it applies to them.

There needs to be a link to a hoax debunking site somewhere in the text.

Which will solve nothing because the user won't take the time to search the site.

Of course, there can be a checkbox that disables the monstrous dialog box similar to browser warnings the first time you try to fill out a form.

Which completely negates the point of the scary looking dialogue box. But as I said, that wouldn't work anyway, so it's a moot point.

If you want to stop this, period, this is what you do.

First, for the work environment, if you recieve an forwarded hoax email, or someone in the company forwards one, it's obviously not work related, and the sender should be fired. Period. Business email is for business use. Draconian? Maybe. But, it stops the problem. Think it's too harsh? Then let them send hoaxes, but quit whining about it.

For the home environment, simply blacklist anyone that sends you a hoax email. If they complain later on about it, you can say "You sent me a hoax email, and I don't accept email from people who abuse email by sending out false hoax information. Either cease sending me hoax emails, in which case I will de-blacklist you, or don't bother writing emails to me anymore. Draconian? Maybe. But, it stops the problem. Again, think it's too harsh? Then let them send hoaxes, but quit whining about it.

As for me, I enjoy replying to them with google links, directly to the articles that dehoax a hoax. About 5 or 6 links will do, along with the sentence "A smart person would have found these".

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
One option (3.00 / 1) (#18)
by skim123 on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 08:37:18 PM EST

Make someone wait for 60 seconds before they can click OK on that big dialog box (and make it a modal dialog box so they can't send/check email while waiting). Damn, that would be annoying, so annoying that perhaps people would stop sending those annoying emails.

The concept sounds fair to me - if you want to annoy me, you must first endure some annoyances yourself.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Are you nuts? (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by AmberEyes on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:33:17 AM EST

So, what happens when I want to send you a legit email? I have to wait 60 seconds? Don't you this might be a bit discouraging to the whole concept of the internet, which is a fast flow of information, easily accessible?

And you want to make me wait a minute, staring at my monitor, to prevent Elma Thurwood (who neither of us have ever met) from East Buttfuck, Iowa, from spamming her Mah Jong club with an email hoax? Are you nuts? Jesus, you sound just as bad as kitten.

Why should you or I be punished for what Elma does? It's Elmas problem -- you deal with Elma. And you do that by firing her ass if she does this nonsense at work, or by blacklisting her if she sends crap to you.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
I am not nuts. (4.00 / 1) (#68)
by skim123 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:16:27 PM EST

If you read the original story, the guy proposed that there would be an option to turn off these annoying features, so advanced users could bypass this crap. So that means you, or anyone who'd take 15 minutes to peck through the settings, would not have to put up with the 60-second modal dialog box. Just Edna. Unless of course she was sent an email chain explaining how to disable this "feature."

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Right. (4.00 / 2) (#73)
by AmberEyes on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 03:02:09 PM EST

As I said, if there is a way to disable it, they will disable it. It's kind of like airbags. Common sense might say "It's a good idea to have something in the way of your head so it doesn't impact itself on the steering wheel", but people disable them anyway because (humorously enough, like a hoax email) a friend of a friend in East Buttfuck died from one this one time, nicely ignoring all the people who suddenly found part of a steering wheel lodged in their brain.

And this is why that setting is completely pointless if your goal is to make Edna's screen pop-up with a 60 second window. Eventually, she's either going to call tech support because "her email is broken and she wants it fixed", or her grandson or someone else will come over and disable it so she quits whining. Or, she'll find it out herself somehow.

Remember, she's got WTC survivor emails she wants to send, and finding the solution to how to quickly send those off is more important to her than reading a huge dialogue box full of reasons why she shouldn't.

So yes. The people who are suggesting that we somehow force Edna to reada dialogue box she has no intention of reading and probably wouldn't understand anyway are nuts. They're trying to use technology to solve a social problem, when all you need to do is either fire her, or bounce any emails from her if she keeps it up. We don't need to code more complicated email clients that lookup servers and search through them for hoax reports or looks for a percentage of quoted text or blah blah blah whatever.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
How about this (4.50 / 2) (#81)
by skim123 on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:56:26 PM EST

When you want to send an annoying email, your email client will ask you to justify why it should allow you to do it. That would be a neat experiment, to see what people typed in.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
The Ticket! (4.00 / 1) (#54)
by Ranieri on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 07:35:20 AM EST

Which will solve nothing because the user won't take the time to search the site.

That's the solution! Have the program automatically search a database of hoaxes WHEN THE EMAIL IS RECEIVED, and tell the user that it is a wellknown hoax with all the additional information required.

Care should of course be taken not to leak information about the emails you receive to the database site, but I'm confident we can think of something to alleviate this.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]

Sounds good at first (4.00 / 1) (#57)
by AmberEyes on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:57:53 AM EST

But you still can't force them to read the site, just like you can't force them to read a stupid 60 second waiting script message. "Oh look", says Edna, "another pop-up window that's getting in the way of sending this very important email about a WTC survivor out to my Mah Jong club! I sure hate pop-ups!" *click*

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
It's even easier than that. (5.00 / 2) (#75)
by NFW on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 04:09:25 PM EST

Just look for a regular expression like:

"(send|forward) this (message|email) to everyone (you know|in your address (list|book))"

Or better yet, look for groupings of words like those which statistically correlate very strongly with hoaxes. I probabilistic hoax detector should be pretty easy to come up with, and I bet it would work extremely well.

I mean, every last one of these hoax messages contains some directive like, "send this to everyone you know." That phrase is to a hoax what a missile is to a nuclear warhead. It's how they get around. That, and that alone, is all it takes to identify a hoax. The content doesn't really matter, if a missile is detected it oughtta be shot down.

Sure, you might shoot down a legit message that happens to have that phrase attached, but it's still a valid kill. Due to that hoax-propogation directive, the message is absolutely guaranteed to continue circulating until decades after the topic has ceased to be relevant. Craig Shergold's cancer has been in remission for close to ten years...he doesn't want your business cards.


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Neat. (none / 0) (#80)
by Ranieri on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:21:47 PM EST

I bet you could base it off the "flame detection plugin" Eudora and other mailers have. It does not have to be intrusive. You could just put a tiny icon next to the message that delivers information when clicked/hovered upon, and let the user's curiousity take care of the rest.
--
Taste cold steel, feeble cannon restraint rope!
[ Parent ]
SPAM is bad, mmm'kay? (3.75 / 4) (#15)
by jabber on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 08:24:36 PM EST

All SPAM.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Well, yeah (none / 0) (#20)
by CaptainSuperBoy on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 10:23:52 PM EST

I'm not allowed to kill people with missiles either, but my government is allowed.

--
jimmysquid.com - I take pictures.
[ Parent ]
Is this for real? o.O (2.33 / 3) (#22)
by Bringa on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 01:04:13 AM EST

Oh my god. First I thought this was one of these hoaxes were poorly programmed content management systems allow you to include a foreign URL.. but going to the CNN.com homepage and making a search for that story actually returns this story.. this is for real? Come on.. if the onion wrote this, I'd laugh my ass off and mentally gratulate them on a story well done. This is about as incredible and pathetic as attaching propaganda to food packages.. oh wait..

[ Parent ]
Quote from the article: (none / 0) (#74)
by NFW on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 04:01:21 PM EST

The official says "this is just the beginning of a psychological warfare campaign"

There must be some way to use this reasoning to make Alan Ralsky the next target in the "war on terror."

I mean, he's had an ongoing psychowarfare campaign for YEARS now, he's right here at home, and he's affected millions of American citizens. Go get 'im, dubbya!


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

It's possibly a viable angle (none / 0) (#79)
by jabber on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 07:14:59 PM EST

If it can be shown that SPAM is "denial of service", and that DOS is a cyber-terrorism tactic, then this is a possible avenue at killing SPAM, pop-up ads, and a wide range of other annoyances.

But if intent and result are lumped together, then all those college kids clogging up their school networks with p2p are going bye-bye.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

One thing that works well for me... (5.00 / 5) (#16)
by RareHeintz on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 08:27:09 PM EST

My favorite method is not to berate the offender privately, but publicly. I craft a harshly (but not cruelly) worded response with links to debunking sites like Snopes, explaining what the problem is, why random emails about such threats are not worth responding to, where to go for such information if they care. This gets sent to everyone that was in the "To:" section of the original email - and they're always in the "To:" header, since people inexperienced enough to propagate a hoax email haven't figured out "Bcc:" yet.

Now, if the problem with the hoax emails is bandwidth-hogging, this may seem counterproductive, but I never get hoax emails again from the same person, so I call it a net gain.

The final analysis: It is impossible to educate most people. They either forgot how to learn somewhere in early childhood, or their egos prevent them from taking corrective advice, or they simply don't give a fuck. Publicly shaming someone, though, is usually pretty effective - unless you're dealing with someone who can't be shamed by looking dumb in front of his peers. Those people are pretty rare, though. Most people are more concerned about whether they look like dumbasses than about whether they actually are dumbasses.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

Replying to everyone (5.00 / 1) (#52)
by Gndlf on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:45:09 AM EST

This gets sent to everyone that was in the "To:" section of the original email - and they're always in the "To:" header, since people inexperienced enough to propagate a hoax email haven't figured out "Bcc:" yet.

Yeah, but don't forget to include the 44,424,536 people who is listed in the body of the mail. Hoax-forwarders never delete those.

I used to reply to people that way - It reduced my amount of hoaxes/silly jokes/.ppt files from 5-10 a week to perhaps 2-3 a year. Of course, it also made my cousin so angry that she stopped mailing me. Fine with me, 95% of her mails were forwarded junk anyway.

[ Parent ]

Replying to everyone (none / 0) (#66)
by Grady Gunn on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:04:45 PM EST

Even better, when you reply to everyone, half of the people you don't know but your forwarding friend does email you asking, "Who are you and how the hell did you get my email address?" Then you:

A) Explain to them that their forwarding friend is dumb for forwarding spam
B) Explain to them that their forwarding friend is dumb for broadcasting everyone's email addresses to everyone else
-or-
C) Tell them you're an evil hacker and you stole their address from your forwarding friend who insecurely sent email to everyone

It's great. I never get that crap anymore, though I noticed that the people who send it just take me off their list of people to forward crap to, they don't stop sending it. They generally have to get smartass email from close to half of the people on their list before they begin to change their ways.

Grady :: Read CoffeeBlog!
[ Parent ]
Lucky you... that doesn't work for me (none / 0) (#89)
by janra on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 11:43:13 PM EST

Publicly shaming someone, though, is usually pretty effective [...] I never get hoax emails again from the same person

Too bad the only thing I ever get out of publicly (and politely) pointing out the logical and factual errors in the email is more junk from the same person, and the occasional "who are you and how did you get my email?" message. One girl even replied back and argued with me about it, hitting reply-all with her argument that she was a medical student so even though this hoax had been around for a few years (according to snopes) she was right and I was just taking some random website at face value, and why should she trust snopes over her reliable source she couldn't name because it was some made up clerk in Hawaii anyway?

Although with one guy, after I noticed that publicly pointing out how wrong the content of the forwards were didn't work, I privately sent him a mild flame. Haven't gotten any forwards from him in a while, and I'm crossing my fingers that it's because I got through to him and he stopped sending them altogether, and not just stopped sending them to me.


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
My solution (4.25 / 4) (#17)
by darkonc on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 08:35:11 PM EST

Whenever I get a message like this, I reply -- not only to the poster, but to everybody that they sent the email to (these people rarely know to use bcc:).

I point them to things like CERT and the McAffee/Norton sites and even some hoax sites. I presume that, given enough data, they have enough intelligence to discern a real threat from a hoax.
This seems to have proven itself true. I almost never get a hoax warning, these days.
Killing a person is hard. Killing a dream is murder. : : : ($3.75 hosting)

I did that once (4.00 / 2) (#46)
by fraise on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:00:55 AM EST

My sister-in-law is a repeat offender. I did exactly that with one of her mass forwards of a hoax - the one where "you can get AIDS from sitting on old needles in movie theaters" - and y'know what happened? She yelled at me for A. trying to tell her she was wrong; B. spreading what she called "a sense of false security" (because she was "right" in sending the original email, remember); and C. she didn't read any of the debunking sites or explanations I sent, because according to her, "it's the same thing you say I'm doing". The following day she sent out another hoax for a website petition that had been quite obviously, and badly, copy-pasted from a legit site, asking for everyone's full contact details (home address, telephone number, DOB, email address...). Then I got to go through it all over again, PLUS this time she mass emailed everyone saying that I was an emotionless drone who obviously cared nothing about poor helpless people who could be helped by please signing this petition and send it to everyone you know! However, she read my debunking sites this time, but "they say that it's only a hoax 99% of the time, which means I AM RIGHT because THIS is a clear case of the 1% exception!" x_x;; Swear to $DEITY I'm not kidding.

She still sends hoax emails to everyone - except for me. Really, some people are simply too stupid and self-important to ever question their first reaction to something. It's unfortunate.

[ Parent ]
Works for bullshit, too (none / 0) (#69)
by unDees on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:04:05 PM EST

I used the public-reply approach to someone who had indignantly forwarded around some pile of crap about how the evil Harry Potter movie promoted witchcraft and Satanism, you know the drill. I held off on the witchcraft-ain't-evil-and-neither-is-Satanism lecture, for I fear no one would have understood it. But I did blast 'em for their foolish reasoning: "This movie is so evil, I'm not going to see it, and I'm not going to take my kids to see it. Here's a bunch of evil stuff I somehow think I know about the movie, even though I've never seen so much as ten seconds of it...."

I doubt my reply opened any minds, but at least I don't get crap like that forwarded to me any more. Now if I could just get rid of all those herbal Viagra advertisements (I don't need it, honest!).

Your account balance is $0.02; to continue receiving our quality opinions, please remit payment as soon as possible.
[ Parent ]

People who send chain letters (4.00 / 6) (#19)
by Talez on Sun Jan 12, 2003 at 08:51:06 PM EST

Should be added to a realtime black hole for a day. Any mail they send should be bounced with a message explaining to them what they've done, why they shouldn't do it and to not do it again. Also anyone sending mail to this address should have it bounced explaining that this person is a gullible dumbass for sending stupid hoaxes without verifying them.

Should they break this rule they should be readded to the hole for two days with the same action.

Progressively double the amount of time until the person gets the fucking picture.

Si in Googlis non est, ergo non est

That's dumb (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by K5 Demon on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:00:43 AM EST

That's quite possibly the dumbest idea I've ever heard for ending internet hoaxes. No, I don't have a better one, but that's not going to stop me from criticizing your bone-headed idea.

[ Parent ]
Nah, it's good. Mine is better tho. (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by uXs on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:15:13 AM EST

I usually reply with an e-mail stating that stuff like that is a hoax, explain it a bit, and then that if they send me ONE more e-mail like that, I'm blacklisting them. I hardly ever get chain letters and hoaxes any more.

--
What our ancestors would really be thinking, if they were alive today, is: "Why is it so dark in here?" -- (Terry Pratchett, Pyramids)
[ Parent ]
hmm (none / 0) (#62)
by LittleLui on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 10:02:51 AM EST

I hardly ever get chain letters and hoaxes any more.
Let me guess: you blacklisted everyone?
This sig will self destruct in ten nanoseconds.
[ Parent ]
I must be lucky! (4.50 / 4) (#23)
by TheBobby on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 03:37:29 AM EST

After the first few times I replied to a hoax with the URL of a site debunking it, my friend stopped sending these emails out to everyone, instead sending them to just me so I can check them first.

While not as good as checking herself, at least this means that they don't get spread when I do debunk them for her.

-- Gimmie the future with a modern girl!

This works. (5.00 / 1) (#35)
by graal on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:09:26 AM EST

I have a relative who was a serious offender. After a few replies with references to Snopes, he started to sort of get it.

Haven't gotten any hoax messages in about a year, and awhile back he sent me a mail on a real e-mail worm that was making the rounds that day. He passed the message on after checking it out and seeing that it was legit. I'd already heard about it on one of the mail lists, but was pleased anyway.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

Maybe... (none / 0) (#78)
by Bios_Hakr on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:50:25 PM EST

...She just figured out what bcc: does...


[ Parent ]
Put them in the trash can (where they belong) (3.33 / 3) (#24)
by Nesian on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 04:54:33 AM EST

My girlfriend sends me a ton of these fucking things and I have never read any of them as I refuse to feed the great evil that is the chain letter. But seriously just delete them and convince your friends and family (as i have found these people are the cause of this problem) to do so as well.
I haven't as yet managed to get my girlfriend to stop sending me them but I'm sure I will get there someday...maybe
~After all, if you stockpile a massive nuclear arsenal, it's only natural that people are going to want to go in and have a look around, maybe see what all those buttons marked 'detonate' and 'code red' mean.~
Take the advice of another k5 poster and.... (3.50 / 2) (#37)
by Elkor on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:39:57 AM EST

Dump her.

That'll most likely stop her from sending you messages.

Do it publicly and in an embarassing fashion so that she really hates you. That'll get it so she never wants to talk to you again.

Admittedly, she won't talk to you about other things, and you might miss her company, but there are trade-offs to any solution. :)

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
[ Parent ]
Missing poll option (4.70 / 10) (#25)
by edo on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 06:48:55 AM EST

Q: How do we stop hoaxes?

A: We can't. People are almost infinitely gullible.

(Send me $5 to find out why.)

-- 
Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
 - Oscar Wilde

Made me laugh! (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by IslandApe on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 07:35:36 AM EST



O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae monie a blunder free us, An' foolish notion;
[ Parent ]
maybe by default (3.00 / 2) (#29)
by Tom Brett on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:16:34 AM EST

(until they figure out how to disable it) forwarding full stop should be disabled or an annoying nag screen put in place to deter them. If FW: = true, annoy with nag screen = true. the reason this crap is so wide spread is because it's so damned easy to do. even by mistake. we know this is happening, we suffer the ills of this stupidity, but no-one is willing to make a stand? That's the problem. Security or ease of use, which comes first? where do you draw the line? will some idea obscure as this one not just damage the good natured use of e-mail on the whole? Do we protect the few that shoot themself in the head with a shotgun by outlawing all guns, or do we just do the best we can and get on with things? Put this into the propper perspective for goodness sake, shit happens, get over it.


Outwar thugbuilder! get 500+ thugs a day! click here
What about virus/spam scanners? (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by LaundroMat on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:18:06 AM EST

As spam scanners are able to recognise spam pretty reliably, wouldn't a combination of AV and anti-spam technology work to block these hoaxes?
---

"These innocent fun-games of the hallucination generation"

SpamBouncer (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by Gndlf on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:35:49 AM EST

As spam scanners are able to recognise spam pretty reliably, wouldn't a combination of AV and anti-spam technology work to block these hoaxes?

It's been a while since I looked at procmail and SpamBouncer, but I think SpamBouncer detects hoaxes as well as spam. And if it doesn't, it should be easy to set it up.

[ Parent ]

My son will help me sort out these hoax viruses. (1.50 / 2) (#31)
by it certainly is on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 08:51:51 AM EST

I've been reading this email list I was forwarded, and it looks suspiciously like my son is a computer hacker, so he's bound to know how to get rid of them.

kur0shin.org -- it certainly is

Godwin's law [...] is impossible to violate except with an infinitely long thread that doesn't mention nazis.

Interesting idea (4.50 / 10) (#33)
by Elkor on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 09:44:56 AM EST

Everyone should be sure to forward this story to everyone you know.

Regards,
Elkor


"I won't tell you how to love God if you don't tell me how to love myself."
-Margo Eve
Gullibility virus and Trojan. (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by I am Jack's username on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 11:39:15 AM EST

See a hysterical Trojan email, and Robert Harris' classic response to hoaxes.
--
Inoshiro for president!
"War does not determine who is right - only who is left." - Bertrand Russell
best chain-mail block (3.66 / 3) (#40)
by ryochiji on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 05:02:11 PM EST

I used to have friends and I used to get chain mail and hoaxes from them all the time. Now that I have no friends, I don't get any junk mail either. Works great, all the time. (Well, I still have friends...except they're all relatively intelligent geeks.)

---
IlohaMail: Webmail that works.
; ) hmmm (none / 0) (#76)
by dirvish on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 04:17:24 PM EST

relatively intelligent

Thanks, I think I will send you some chain mail now!

Technical Certification Blog, Anti Spam Blog
[ Parent ]
Learn to love the hoax.. (3.50 / 2) (#41)
by ignatiusst on Mon Jan 13, 2003 at 10:43:11 PM EST

I'm not sure what I like more, the hoax viruses or the response they elicit.

I will be the first to admit, in my younger days of over-eager zealousness, I have been guilty of forwarding these hoax warnings (well, at least once or twice, anyway). Now that I am older and (presumably) wiser (and, I should add as my final aside, responsible - both at work and at home - for catching real viruses before they do any damage), I thoroughly enjoy a good hoax virus.

Why? I think the admonition from the above-referenced link, The World Trade Center Survivor, from about.com says it all:

Remember, hoaxes cost companies - and people - time and money. Please do not forward them to others.
I suppose I will have to leave it to someone with better skills of articulation to name the particular feeling of joy and amusement I get whenever someone gets this worked-up about being made a fool of, but I am sure some of you will get my point just the same.. Regardless, it is just that attitude and response that I enjoy so much. When you are on the "in" of a joke, however baseless that joke may be, it does provide a certain amount of entertainment that make an otherwise boring day move just a little bit faster. Does that make me an unmitigated asshole? Well, sure, I guess.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

it won't work... (3.33 / 3) (#45)
by Baldwin atomic on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 04:58:46 AM EST

too bad most of the chain-letter forwarding 'people' use hotmail and/or outlook express...

Do you think anyone can get microsoft to change their interfaces? Especially not if its going to annoy their customers.

Maybe we need to have licences to use a computer, like licences to drive....


just kidding, please don't flame me...



=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+
Opinions not necessarily those of the author.
fine idea (none / 0) (#53)
by adequate nathan on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 07:30:32 AM EST

I couldn't agree more. Unlicensed computer use is a very destructive fad in today's dangerous world. This idea could prove a little controversial, though.

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

This is the one email chain letter worth reading (4.58 / 12) (#47)
by Baldwin atomic on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 05:06:58 AM EST

Apologies for the insane length of this thing, but it is very funny. I have no idea who the author is...

Hello, my name is Basmati Kasaar. I am suffering from rare and deadly diseases, poor scores on final exams, extreme virginity, fear of being kidnapped and executed by anal electrocution, and guilt for not forwarding fifty billion fucking chain letters sent to me by people who actually believe that if you send them on, then that poor fucking six-year-old girl in Arkansas with a breast on her forehead will be able to raise enough money to have it removed before her redneck parents sell her off to the travelling freak show.

Do you honestly believe that Bill Gates is going to give you and everyone you send his email to $1000? How stupid are you? Ooooh, looky here! If I scroll down this page and make a wish,I'll get laid by every Playboy Bunny in the magazine! What a bunch of fucking bullshit. So basically, this message is a big "FUCK YOU!" to all the people out there who have nothing better to do than to send me stupid chain mail forwards.

Maybe the evil chain letter leprechauns will come into my apartment and sodomize me in my sleep for not continuing the chain which was started by Jesus in 5A.D. and was brought to this country by midget pilgrims on the Mayflower and if it makes it to the year 2000, it'll be in the Guinness Book of World Records for longest continuous streak of blatant stupidity. Fuck them.

If you're going to forward something, at least send me something mildly fucking amusing. I've seen all the 'send this to fifty of your closest friends, and this poor, wretched excuse for a human being will somehow receive a nickel from some omniscient being forwards about ninety times. I don't fucking care. Show a little intelligence and think about what you're actually contributing to by sending out forwards.
Chances are it's your own unpopularity.

THE FOUR BASIC TYPES OF CHAIN LETTERS:

Chain Letter Type 1: (scroll down) Make a wish!!!



Keep Scrolling



No, really, go on and make one!!!



Oh please, they'll never go out with you!!!



Wish something else!!!



Not that, you pervert!!



STOP!!!

Wasn't that fun? :) Hope you made a great wish :) Now, to make you feel guilty, here's what I'll do. First of all, if you don't send this to 5096 people in the next 5 seconds, you will be raped by a mad goat and thrown off a high building into a pile of manure. It's true! Because, THIS letter isn't like those fake ones, THIS one is TRUE!! Really!!!

Here's how it goes:
*Send this to 1 person: One person will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.
*Send this to 2-5 people: 2-5 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter.
*Send this to 5-10 people: 5-10 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter, and may form a plot on your life.
*Send this to 10-20 people: 10-20 people will be pissed off at you for sending them a stupid chain letter and will napalm your house.

Thanks!!! Good Luck!!!

---------------------------------------------
Chain Letter Type 2:

Hello, and thank you for reading this letter. You see, there is a starving little boy in Baklaliviatatlaglooshen who has no arms, no legs, no parents, and no goats. This little boy's life could be saved, because for every time you pass this on, a dollar will be donated to the Little Starving Legless Armless Goatless Boy from Baklaliviatatlaglooshen Fund. Oh, and remember, we have absolutely no way of counting the e-mails sent and this is all a complete load of bullshit. So go on, reach out. Send this to 5 people in the next 47 seconds. Oh, and a reminder - if you send this to 4 or 6 people, you will die instantly. Thanks again!!

---------------------------------------------

Chain Letter Type 3:

Hi there!! This chain letter has been in existence since 1897. This is absolutely incredible because there was no email then and probably not as many sad pricks with nothing better to do. So this is how it works...pass this on to 15 067 people in the next 7 minutes or something horrible will happen to you like:
Bizarre Horror Story #1
Miranda Pinsley was walking home from school on Saturday. She had recently received this letter and ignored it. She then tripped in a crack in the sidewalk, fell into the sewer, was gushed down a drain pipe in a flood of shit, and went flying out over a waterfall. Not only did she smell nasty, she died. This Could Happen To You!!!
Bizarre Horror Story #2
Dexter Bip, a 13 year old boy, got a chain letter in his mail and ignored it. Later that day, he was hit by a car and so was his boyfriend (hey, some people swing that way). They both died and went to hell and were cursed to eat adorable kittens every day for eternity. This Could Happen To You Too!!!

Remember, you could end up just like Pinsley and Bip. Just send this letter to all of your loser friends, and everything will be okay.

----------------------------------------------

Chain Letter Type 4

As if you care, here is a poem that I wrote. Send it to all your friends.
FRIENDS: A friend is someone who is always at your side.
A friend is someone who likes you even though you stink of shit, and your breath smells like you've been eating cat food.
A friend is someone who likes you even though you're as ugly as a hat full of assholes.
A friend is someone who cleans up for you after you've soiled yourself.
A friend is someone who stays with you all night while you cry about your sad, sad life.
A friend is someone who pretends they like you when they really think you should be raped by mad gorillas, then thrown to vicious dogs.
A friend is someone who scrubs your toilet, vacuums and then gets the check and leaves and doesn't speak much English...no, sorry that's the cleaning lady.
A friend is not someone who sends you chain letters because he wants his wish of being rich to come true.
Now pass this on! If you don't, you'll never have sex ever again!

--------------------------------------------

The point being? If you get some chain letter that's threatening to leave you shagless or luckless for the rest of your life, delete it. If it's funny, send it on. Don't piss people off by making them feel guilty about a leper in Botswana with no teeth, who's been tied to a dead elephant for 27 years, whose only savior is the 5 cents per letter he'll receive if you forward this mail, otherwise you'll end up like Miranda. Right?

Now forward this to everyone that you know otherwise you'll find all your undies missing tomorrow morning.




=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+
Opinions not necessarily those of the author.
re: (4.50 / 2) (#60)
by stinkwrinkle on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:35:24 AM EST

<TROI>I sense... hostility!</TROI>

[ Parent ]
a hat full of assholes? (5.00 / 1) (#65)
by jt on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 11:11:55 AM EST

A friend is someone who likes you even though you're as ugly as a hat full of assholes.

It's an asshat!

[ Parent ]

What about those ppt's? (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by krishy on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:17:03 AM EST

And then there are those power point slides promising that "A friend is a flower with ..."<goes on for 10 slides with similiar rants> and then says forward this to <substitute fav number here>;)!!
Are there companies out there that manufacture this crap stuff?. Duh!

My favourite sort of chain mail (3.50 / 2) (#50)
by davidmb on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 06:29:41 AM EST

The ones that promise that once you forward this email to 5 people and wait a further 10 minutes, a wonderful animation will popup on your screen!

I've received these mails, then twenty minutes later received a follow-up saying "I haven't seen the dancing santa yet, have any of you seen it yet?" You have to exercise some self-control in these situations...
־‮־

Self control? (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by NFW on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:34:08 PM EST

You have to exercise some self-control in these situations...

Says who?


--
Got birds?


[ Parent ]

Great post! (4.00 / 7) (#55)
by tgibbs on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:41:18 AM EST

I'm going to send a copy to everybody I know!

Sorry, I missed the editorial review period (4.00 / 3) (#56)
by Karmakaze on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 08:48:37 AM EST

This needed to be an editorial comment, but I am too late. I see this:

...or inclined to make up for their previous guffaw by making sure the next email virus warning is real...

Are you quite sure you do not mean gaffe?

My dictionary says

guf-faw (n.)
A hearty, boisterous burst of laughter.
gaffe (n.)
1. A clumsy social error; a faux pas
2. A blatant mistake or misjudgment.

--
Karmakaze
The worst thing about chain email...(slightly OT?) (4.20 / 5) (#59)
by Nursie on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 09:34:53 AM EST

The worst (read: most annoying) thing about chain letters via email, has got to be something I just discovered this morning.
Over the last day or so I've received five or six copies of the same chain mail. Each of these was thoughtfully headed, by the individual who decided my inbox was looking a little empty, with a short note of apology:

"sorry to all but i think i got ten now"
"sorry I hate sending these and I know it's a pile of bull****, but you know...."
"sorry guys, but I just can't take the risk :-)"

If you're sorry, why send the damn things?

Meta Sigs suck.

That's easy (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by typo on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:18:10 PM EST

There's an easy way to solve this. Forward the mail back to them. If they really "just can't take the risk" they'll learn pretty fast not to mail you these things.

[ Parent ]
Why stop there? (3.80 / 5) (#63)
by avdi on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 10:13:11 AM EST


By default, if someone tries to send a large, forwarded message, a very large and scary-looking dialog box needs to pop up explaining chain letters and email hoaxes. This dialog box needs to scroll so that the "OK" button is disabled until they reach the bottom of the text -- they must read the text to continue.

That's great!  Hell, while were at it, how about these ideas:

  • A cute little animated paper clip that periodically pops up in front of whatever you're doing to say "It looks like you're writing chain-mail spam! Can I help?"
  • Make sure the user knows what she/he is doing by popping up three separate "Are you really sure?" messages before completing any action.
  • Email clients should all have silent, automatic spell-checking.  The right spelling should be quietly substituted for whatever the author wrote, because software always knows best.
  • All HTML email should be rendered in full, blinking, flash-animated color.  Any boring old-school text email should be spruced up with lots of flashy HTML and maybe have a few ads thrown in.
Because the users just aren't pissed off enough as it is!

--
Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir
Not a surprise (none / 0) (#67)
by AmberEyes on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 12:07:03 PM EST

People look for technology to solve a social problem. Sad, really.

-AmberEyes


"But you [AmberEyes] have never admitted defeat your entire life, so why should you start now. It seems the only perfect human being since Jesus Christ himself is in our presence." -my Uncle Dean
[ Parent ]
Fair enough (none / 0) (#94)
by ttfkam on Fri Jan 17, 2003 at 10:32:54 PM EST

What's your "social" solution?  I'm all ears.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Some client (2.50 / 2) (#64)
by snowmoon on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 10:48:55 AM EST

Some mail clients will altomaticly warn when a new message comtains more than 90% forwarded content.  The warning just needs to be more harsh based on the length of the forward and I think that can take care of most of the problems.

Cheers,

It's not the chain letters that bother me... (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by curunir on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 02:38:20 PM EST

...It's the SPAM that follows.

Ever wonder why people originate the virus hoaxes and other messages that encourage people to forward them on to their friends?

It's the headers that get included in forwarded messages. The message goes out into the world and eventually comes back to the original sender or someone like him/her. When it comes back, it's got hundereds or thousands of email addresses in the headers. Run the email through a simple perl program and you've got a list of valid email addresses to send "get rich quick!" and "herbal viagra" emails to.

The biggest piece of advice that I give to all of my friends who continually send these things out is to "always use the bcc" field. I tell them to send out whatever they want, but that I'll be pissed at them if my email address ends up being visible in the email anywhere. I even give them a bogus email address to put in the to field so that they can put every recipient in as a bcc.

This also has the side effect of making filtering a breeze.

My Approach (4.33 / 6) (#77)
by KWillets on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 04:31:15 PM EST

Some woman that I worked with used to send those around. She finally sent me a version of the knife and the briefcase story:
...(something about a guy asking a woman for a ride at the mall, but she has to leave)...

The husband went out to look at the tire and saw that the man had inadvertently left his briefcase in the trunk of the vehicle. The husband brought it into the livingroom and he and his wife opened it to see if they could find the man's name and phone number.

Upon opening the briefcase, they found only five items: a rag, chloroform, duct tape, a body bag and an icepick (which was probably used to cause the flat tire).

When I sent her back a note thanking her because I'd been looking everywhere for that briefcase, the messages stopped.

Simple solution... (3.00 / 1) (#82)
by pla on Tue Jan 14, 2003 at 11:53:40 PM EST

1) You should already have a mail filter to block the string "> > >". Anything forwarded more than three times, you don't want.

2) If something still gets through, just add the subject to your filter for a few weeks. You won't see it a second time.

Problem not necessarily "solved", but it at least you won't have to see it anymore.


Doesn't work for mailing lists (none / 0) (#93)
by ttfkam on Fri Jan 17, 2003 at 10:22:24 PM EST

...where many legitimate discussion threads run at least three levels deep.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Easy... (none / 0) (#95)
by ralmeida on Sun Jan 26, 2003 at 02:14:58 PM EST

Filter the e-mails from the mailing lists first, and then filter any remaining e-mail with ">>>".

[ Parent ]
My work has a good solution to this: (3.00 / 1) (#83)
by fink on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 12:52:41 AM EST

It's a modification to the age-old three strikes policy.

Basically, three strikes against a well-defined policy, but in addition to losing privileges, you Are Made An Example Of.

It ain't pretty.


----

how ? (none / 0) (#87)
by F a l c o n on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 05:17:25 PM EST

If you can detail how the Made Example part works, I'd like to propose this in my workplace. Too many idiots.
--
Back in Beta (too many new features added): BattleMaster
[ Parent ]
here we go then... (none / 0) (#90)
by fink on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 04:47:35 AM EST

  1. Have a well defined policy of what is acceptable, and what is not - and including the various levels of "punishment" (e.g. access denied and so on).
  2. Use this consistently. Improve it if you have to (of course).
  3. When a particular punishment e.g. access to email blocked for x days, or account revoked, is invoked, set an out-of-office for them detailing why they're "away" and when they'll be back.
  4. Combine with a "swear jar" (optional, harder to do unless everyone's fairly literate already), and presto: no more problems. :-)
The trick is consistency, and constant (fair) enforcement.

----
[ Parent ]

easy solution (4.50 / 2) (#84)
by CaptainZapp on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 04:56:55 AM EST

just copy/paste and forward to everybody in your address book:

Greetings

There is a terrible, terrible nuisance going around on the internet and you my friend should be part of the solution:

It is not spam

It is not the fact, that the folks in the call center of your internet provider are speech trained monkeys

It is not a streaming video of Jerry Fallwell

No, it's email hoaxes and chain letters!

If you forward this message to everybody in your address book, to Miss Abacha in Nigeria and to 65472asfdhksdf@hotmail.com then everything is fine and well, If you don't heed to this advise your computer will turn into a pile of rubble, your hard disk will explode and the milk in your fridge will turn sour.

So I beg you: do it! And while you're at it you can order some herbal viagra by email and park 23 gazillion $ on your bank account (25% of it are yours to keep).

Thank you for being a good net citizen. Money, wealth, a happy life and a longer penis are all years for the cheap, cheap price of a few key clicks on your computer.

Thank you for your attention.

I think I'm going to. It's just too tempting. [nt] (none / 0) (#85)
by explodingheadboy on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 03:47:19 PM EST



---
Q: If you're paddling upstream in a canoe and a wheel falls off, how many pancakes fit in a doghouse?
A: None! Ice cream doesn't have bones!!!

[*rmg is dying]
[ Parent ]

well, (none / 0) (#91)
by CaptainZapp on Thu Jan 16, 2003 at 09:22:33 AM EST

you're very welcome to it.

just note, that there's a typo (years should be yours) in the second last line of the body.

Any results are apreciated ---> HERE

[ Parent ]

Computers are magic to these people (none / 0) (#86)
by DonWallace on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 04:31:06 PM EST

The sort of people who forward the latest virus hoax chain letter, or who forward messages that claim that the sender will be sent money by Microsoft, who has the power to track all email everywhere... these people are from the vast proletariat using computers who have NO CLUE that there could ever exist scientific means by which to determine the truth of these claims.

I'm sorry... my intellectual snobbery is showing through. The kind of person duped by this sort of thing doesn't have the mental firepower to understand the explanation nor to apply it to similar cases in the future.

If you tell them it's a hoax, they don't, can't, won't, ever ever ever *understand*. Someone tossing a personal endorsement in an email, or attributing the "fact" to a professional such as a lawyer, confuses them into belief. They will believe that a random piece of bullshit arriving in their mailbox has the veracity of a court document if it has just the right "hook".

If you show them www.symantec.com and say LOOK, THIS IS A REPUTABLE COMPANY THAT TRACKS VIRUSES your voice will sound to them sort of like the teacher's voice in the old "Peanuts" cartoons: "wah wah wah bla wahwahwahhh wah wah wah wah..."

This is the intelligent person's lot - to have to explain things repeatedly to those of much lesser intellect, and to have that person look back like a deer in the headlights. It happens, it's unavoidable, it's life.

I don't even TRY to correct these people anymore. It's absolutely hopeless. I save my energy for things with a payoff, and this isn't one of them.

Isn't that what I wrote? (none / 0) (#92)
by ttfkam on Fri Jan 17, 2003 at 10:20:24 PM EST

Make bad behavior painful.  Big, fat, obtrusive, annoying confirmation boxes.  Don't leave it up to the ones who regard it as a magic box.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
This is your final warning (4.00 / 2) (#88)
by nooper on Wed Jan 15, 2003 at 11:28:39 PM EST

This is your final warning

The email hoax madness must end | 95 comments (81 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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