Things to remember while e-mailing

This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on January 17, 2001). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

Note: This is another of the very few random e-mails I received that did not get immediately nuked…and I think not only is worth sharing, but should be the default new message in every freshly installed e-mail client across the internet. Consider this my version of ‘required reading.’

Things to remember while e-mailing:

  1. Big companies don’t do business via chain letters. Bill Gates is not giving you $1000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation. There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. Proctor and Gamble is not part of a satanic cult or scheme, and its logo is not satanic.
    MTV will not give you backstage passes if you forward something to the most people. The Gap is not giving away free clothes. You can relax, there is no need to pass it on “just in case it’s true.” There is no such thing as ‘tracking software’ that can tell how many people you sent something to.

  2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it happened to their cousin. If you are hell-bent on believing the kidney-theft-ring stories, see this page. I quote:

    > The National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories.

    None have. That’s ‘none’ as in ‘zero.’ Not even your friend’s cousin.

  3. Neiman Marcus doesn’t really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even if they do, we all have it. And even if you don’t, you can get a copy at this page. Then, if you make the recipe and decide that the cookies are that awesome, feel free to pass the recipe on.

  4. If the latest NASA rocket disaster(s) did contain plutonium that went to particulate over the eastern seaboard, do you really think that this information would reach the public via an AOL chain letter?

  5. There is no “Good Times” virus. In fact, you should never, ever, ever forward any email containing any virus warning unless you first confirm it with an actual site of an actual company that actually deals with viruses. Try Norton. And even then, don’t forward it. We don’t care. And you cannot get a virus from a flashing IM or email, you have to download it…you know, like, a file!

    (Sadly, this last sentence has become false in the past few years, as vulnerabilities in IM programs and some e-mail clients [usually Microsoft Outlook] have introduced new problems. However, in the majority of circumstances, this is still correct.)

  6. There is no gang initiation plot to murder any motorist who flashes their headlights at another car driving at night without lights.

  7. If you’re using Outlook, IE, or Netscape to write e-mail, turn off the ‘HTML encoding.’ Those of us on UNIX shells can’t read it, and don’t care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a browser since you’re probably forwarding us another copy of the Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway.

  8. If you still absolutely must forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing everyone else who’s received it over the last 6 months. It sure wouldn’t hurt to get rid of all the “>” that begin each line either. Besides, if it has gone around that many times we’ve probably already seen it.

  9. Craig Shergold (or Sherwood, or Sherman, etc.) in England is not dying of cancer at anything else at this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their business cards. He apparently is no longer a ‘little boy’ either.

  10. The “Make A Wish” foundation is a real organization doing fine work, but they have had to establish a special toll free hot line in response to the large number of Internet hoaxes using their good name and reputation. It is distracting them from the important work they do.

  11. If you are one of those insufferable idots who forwards anything that ‘promises’ something bad will happen if you ‘don’t’ — then something bad will happen to you if I ever meet you in a dark alley.

  12. Women really are suffering in Afghanistan, but forwarding an email won’t help their cause in the least. If you want to help, contact your local legislative representative, or get in touch with Amnesty International or the Red Cross.

  13. As a general rule, e-mail signatures are easily faked and mean nothing to anyone with any power to do anything about whatever the competition is complaining about.

  14. KFC really does use real chickens with feathers and beaks and feet. No, they really do. Why did they change their name? In this health conscious world, what was KFC’s name? Kentucky Fried Chicken. ‘Fried’ is not healthy. So with the help of a focus group, they changed the name to KFC. It’s short, doesn’t offend dieters and it’s easy to remember.

  15. Another thing, just because someone said in a message, four generations back, that “we checked it out and it’s legit,” does not actually make it true.

    PS: There is no bill pending before Congress that will allow long distance companies to charge you for using the Internet.

  16. No women have ever died after having kinky sex with a lobster, or been caught with a crotch full of peanut butter calling their dog at a surprise party. I know someone you used to work with swears he was there, but come on….

  17. There never was a charred scuba diver found in a forest fire, Neil Armstrong never said “Good luck Mr. Gorsky“, no one has ever sent the Smithsonian a Barbie claiming it to be an ‘archeological find‘, and no one has ever crashed a jet powered car or an old car with a stolen jet engine strapped to it to the side of a cliff (except maybe Wiley E. Coyote).

  18. There are no cockroach eggs in Taco Bell’s food or rat urine in the tops of Coke cans, and no one has ever gotten AIDS from a needle in a ball pit at McDonalds or the coin slot of a pay phone.

Bottom line — composing email or posting something on the ‘net is as easy as writing on the walls of a public restroom. Don’t automatically believe it until it’s proven false, rather, assume it’s false unless there is proof that it’s true. You can de-bunk 90% of the garbage you receive by going to the Urban Legends Reference Pages.

Lastly, here’s a text file of the above entry that you are free to download, save, and e-mail off to those who might need it. Share and enjoy!

3 thoughts on “Things to remember while e-mailing”

  1. Ever since Microsoft installed Service Pak 2 one night without my being around to approve my e-mail file attachments are being refused. Since I am a historian working with the American Historical Collection in Manila, this is a serious obstacle to my submitting articles to its editor for use in that quarterly. I have used Norton Anti Virus 2004 and now 2005 to scan incoming and outgoing files.
    I frequently check it. Would I be safe to uninstall Service Pak 2?

  2. hey we need a kfc in bideford or barnstaple in north devon! because we have to go all the way to exeter to have kfc and that aint very offten we go! so plz take this in mind bye bye jo

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