Tuesday, August 10, 2004

How NOT to Send a Group Email

I get this email. It's from a real person's name (that I did not recognize) and had a real-sounding email address.

And the subject line was 'Tina's Memorial Service.'

I couldn't think of anyone I know named Tina. Well, I mean I could, but we're talking about someone I worked with for a few months over 8 years ago and didn't keep in touch with, and someone who did nails briefly in the salon where I go, again some years ago, but who never did mine.

I open the email, and there's nothing in there but a word document, with the file name Tina_memorial_service.doc.

That's it. No signature. No body text. No nothing.

I stared at it for some time.

I mean most viruses aren't sent via word docs. So I was actually more convinced it would be some sick pornographic thing. But I was kind of haunted, thinking perhaps there was someone, somewhere I knew, that I wasn't thinking of, maybe I knew them as Christina, who had died.

So, I went to the trouble to view the file via Apple's text editor application. And even then, it simply said: join us for a webcast memorial service at a particular date and time. Now, that was weird too and didn't help me much. Finally, some little bell rang in the back of my head and I went and looked at the URL of the domain name of the From: email address.

Turns out that it was an animal welfare organization I had donated to weeks ago because someone sent me an email about the plight of these abused elephants from a circus or something that were rescued. The organization had been trying to raise enough money to house the elephants permanently at some sanctuary. I guess one of the animals died from its injuries. And they were going to do some kind of online action to commemorate the poor animal.

OK, weird idea anyway, but really, I honestly thought that spammers had found some new subject line that they figured people couldn't help but read and open the email.

So, I did these people what I consider to be a favor, and replied to their email, telling them that next time they really should include some kind of identifying information in the body of the email or many many people will delete that email unread, attachment unopened.

They haven't answered me, so maybe they didn't take it as the productive suggestion I intended.

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