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E-Mail Snafu Sparks Spam Attack On Journalists

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the we-need-to-come dept.

Spam 153

TFGeditor writes "According to an article at Editor & Publisher an e-mail mistake by the Casey Journalism Center at the University of Maryland wrongly invited hundreds of journalists nationwide to the university's prestigious 'Casey Medals' awards. The goof also launched a perpetual e-mail whirlwind as those who responded to the incorrect note unwittingly sent their feedback to everyone else on the recipient list. The e-mail was an electronic invitation to attend the organization's annual board meeting and awards lunch in Washington, D.C. on Aug, 8, according to Carrie Rowell, conference coordinator. She said it was meant only to reach the center's 11 board members, who are invited to the event where 18 journalists will be honored with the press-related awards. Rowell said she did not know how many people were affected, but did not dispute that it was likely hundreds."

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But what about it? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151674)

Last night was halloween, as I'm sure you celebrated -- I went as a french maid. 4.5" platform stilletto heels, red fishnets, the werks. I scared alot of people. especially with the fake bolld capsules. Anyway -- as for last nights dancing (& trying not to break my ankles in the process) the fresh anus piercing held up unusually well. If you have ever examined that area of your body, youve noticed the "fleshyness" of the skin about the 'pucker'. It was extremely easy & painless to pierce. No blood- or very little at that. And honestly no real discomfort. The absolute most difficult stage in the process is placing the jewelry (ESPECIALLY IF YOURE DOING IT YOURSELF.!!!) I have actually tried this particular area of the body for piercing before, about 3 years ago. It worked, but eventually wanted to grow out. This time, its got a good 3/4" asshole-skin to get through. I apologize for the graphic nature of my diction. Today, prior to its morning cleaning- consisting of Dial anti-bacterial liquid soap, a shower, etc- i noticed I wasnt able to see [and/or find]the top of the barbell ball. Aye de Mi! The holes were both still there, fresh and stretched to about a 14ga, just enough 'inhale' the barbell ends. I decided the barbell was a wee bit too short in length, and replaced it with a 5/8 14ga SScurved barbell. Sitting is even more pleasurable than before. It is a surprisingly protected area of the body. Not much gets to it. So you get the picture. Lets say youre on your knees, ass in the air. the top of the anal opening is where I placed my jewelry: //{(*)}\\ Initially, it was easyenough to use a 14ga needle with a 16ga 1/2" BB in the back of the needle, as trying to insert jewelry in that type of extreemly fleshy skin is & can be, literally, a pain in the ass. So i used the needle for both the piercing & an insertion tube. Mushy butt-flesh IS hard to manage. The Vertical nature of the piercing is just fine. I was concerned that bathroom issure might present a problem. But excrement from your own body is initially sterile, however funky. Pooing has not presented a problem. Wiping has become the tricky part. Some advice- wipe gently, almost dabbing where possible. Im not into scat, and think crap is rather nasty. Im also not one to judge, so I keep my ass as clean as possible. Especially in recent times. So far, the only noticible aftereffect, is that the skin between eentry & exit points has had some swelling, nothing like inflation, but definately noticible. It has become an eye-catching, interestingly pierced "butt-nub". And I adore it. I am planning to get a disposible camera or something in the very near future so I can send up some pictures, in about 2-3 weeks. They will be sent though. I have decided that the final jewelry for this piercing will be an L-bar of 14-12 ga. One last thing: I did not pierce through the sphincter muscle itself- only the skins which cover & protect it- the butt-nub area. To find out exactly what a butt-nub is, get a porno with chicks who have had ALOT of anal experience. They say a butt-nub is the first step to "trunk-butt". We will see. In anycase, mine's pierced. Of all the piercings Ive had & have, the anus piercing oozes a bit differently that the rest. Above all, keep keep the jewelrey clean. If it gets krusty, it will most likely lead to an infection. Anus piercing infections smell noticibly worse than others. for the obvious reasons. Other than that, I cant say much more. Coughing & Sneezing, though, have taken on a whole new perspective...:) I will be sure to let you know how all goes. And dont forget the picures! they're comming.

Re:But what about it? (1, Troll)

Goonface (556639) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151808)

Mod the parent up. When front page stories this banal are posted, I welcome even the worst of troll posts.

Not sure this is news (4, Insightful)

AEton (654737) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151681)

Somebody accidentally chose the wrong group in their address book. Also, a bunch of technically illiterate people hit 'reply to all' instead of 'reply to'.

The illiterates in question were journalists, and the content of the email was bland but interesting to journalists. So the Editor and Publisher publication picked up on it...

I'm not sure how this qualifies as 'news for nerds'.

Re:Not sure this is news (2, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151706)

No kidding. Like this doesn't happen in every corporation every day? It happens to a bunch of journalists who are full of themselves and suddenly it's newsworthy?

How long until Slashdot starts linking to Page 6 celebrity gossip articles?

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

peculiarmethod (301094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151970)

Well it seems the logical deduction here, then, is that at least one of the submitors and editors agree with the media in the opinion that software writers like yourselfs have malproduced the functions and GUI's to the point where a spam event occured accidentally. Yes, trhough ignorance, but we don't give out lighters with every bottle of 151, now do we? Perhaps it is just a piece that talks to the opinion of those now in control of the culture machine.. they are bored and dissatisfied with the current version of their information plug-in experience.

Re:Not sure this is news (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152118)

Let's see.

And exactly what brilliant software solution would you develop that would prevent someone from sending a message to the wrong people? An email client's job is to send email to the people you tell it to. If you send it to all@mycompany.com - that's not the email client's fault. That's your own stupidity.

There's a REPLY button. There's a REPLY ALL button. That solves the 300 pointless replies that resulted.

There are very simple mail filters in almost every client. That solves the "I kept getting copies of all these replies in my mailbox that were interrupting my day" problem.

Let me guess, you blame crappy driving on the car manufacturer, too?

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

peculiarmethod (301094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152246)

I did not say I agree, if you will refer to the previous statement.

But since you have such interest, why not offer even a silly idea or fix instead of reducing every problem to stupidity on the users part. Circumstances are usually quite different in bugs like this. I personally think the situation was funny, and I merely thought it interesting to play the devil advocate. You, however, seem to be a bit hostile and quick with your reply. Hope you lose some of that some day.

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152279)

Sending email to the wrong person is a "software bug"?

What you're suggesting is like stating "How can we fix sharp objects so that people won't stab themselves with them?".

Re:Not sure this is news (3, Funny)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152347)

"It looks like you want to send this email to somebody! Are you really, really, 100% absolutely certain that you're sending it to the right people?"

"Are you really sure?"

"Have you double checked?"

"Are you still sure?"

"Just a final check, you do want to send this don't you?"

And so on.

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

peculiarmethod (301094) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152430)

well, we fixed solder guns so that they may not burn our flesh without light of metal.

why not, then, some simple energy into safe-guarding against comfusion by employing better design such as spatial distancing of similair options and possibly the use of shapes, colors, and shades to prevent accidental misrecognition? After all, humans in excited states make similiar mistakes. Do you want things to be a bit more immediately obvious or as hard as was originally designed to be when you're in a state of emergency?

Anyway, as I said, I think its all funny that people make these mistakes.. but in the end, my friend, we all do. Such is life, and I doth protest that not.

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152236)

Dunno, but us nerds could use some links to Page 3!

Re:Not sure this is news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152954)

I agree. This article is about as informative as finding out that a Slashdot reader clicked on a goatse link [goatse.ca] and was grossed out.

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

rlbond86 (874974) | more than 9 years ago | (#13153388)

How long until Slashdot starts linking to Page 6 celebrity gossip articles?

Five hours, 27 minutes, and 10 seconds. [handbag.com]

Probably not news - definitely not spam (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151747)


Also, a bunch of technically illiterate people hit 'reply to all' instead of 'reply to'.

Yep, this is the crux of the matter. One might think that the denizens of /. *looks at submitter* would know and be inclined to point out the difference. We certainly nitpick about everything else. :-)

Re:Probably not news - definitely not spam (1)

Tim Browse (9263) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152238)

That's what I thought, but given the way the senders screwed it up, it's possible that the Reply-To address was set to the same alias (or a different one) that included all the journalists' email addresses.

i.e. hitting a normal reply button would actually reply to everyone (a bit like a mailing list, really...)

Re:Probably not news - definitely not spam (1)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152667)

"One might think that the denizens of /. *looks at submitter* would know and be inclined to point out the difference."

Yeah, well, I thought it was funny that a bunch of intelligent (to hear them tell it) journalists engaged in an email cluster-f**k without realizing what was up.

Maybe I should have submitted as "Laugh, It's Funny."

Re:Probably not news - definitely not spam (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152768)


Yeah, well, I thought it was funny that a bunch of intelligent (to hear them tell it) journalists engaged in an email cluster-f**k without realizing what was up.

True - that is pretty amusing. Perhaps my funny detector was on the fritz.

Silly anecdote: ~6 years ago I was the sole Sun server admin at a large scientific research facility. I got a call one day from a Ph.D (Physics) who was having trouble with his SPARC20 desktop machine. I had some free time and went along to help him. When I got there he said it wasn't recognizing the tape drive. When I asked what he had done previously, he said "Well, it was configured like this..." and proceeded to disassemble a chain of about four SCSI devices while everything was powered on and running.

The moral of the story: some people may be brilliant in their specialties but completely useless in other areas. :-)

Re:Probably not news - definitely not spam (1)

TFGeditor (737839) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152858)

Heh, "back in the day," an IT support tech at one of my client companies told me about this executive secretary who kept having problems with floppies going corrupt (this was a LONG time ago, and floppies were "it"). One day, he went to her office yet again and asked for the corrupted floppy itself, since all diagnostics indicated the drive was fine (he'd even gone so far as to install a 24-hour chart recorder on the AC power in her office to check for spikes/brownouts). She reached up on the side of a filing cabinet and retrieved the floppy, which was held in place with a refrigerator magnet.

Re:Not sure this is news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151752)

I think the reason for this being "news" is that there was "a perpetual whirlwind of emails" bouncing around...

We've had a similar problem recently, when a mailshot was sent out by a sales muppet, and he put ~500 email addresses in the "to" field. If any of those email addresses are invalid, or not set up correctly for a MS Exchange server, the email is bounced back to ALL RECIPIENTS. This obviously can cause a bit of a problem :)

Also a lot of users may just be hitting the reply-to-all button for no reason I can think of.

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

Luke-Jr (574047) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152374)

Last I checked, mail servers were written to comply with the SMTP standard, not to some stupid M$ Exchange server. If Exchange can't handle standard protocols properly, it's their problem.

Re:Not sure this is news (4, Funny)

BlueTooth (102363) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151784)

yeah and this one time, in college, the RA sent an email to all the people on my floor, and then some guy replied to everyone and so some other guy replied to him saying "hey, don't send it to the list," but he was a total idiot because he replied to everyone too...

Re:Not sure this is news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151965)

hehe mod up!

Re:Not sure this is news (1, Redundant)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152055)

yeah and this one time, at band camp... oh never mind

Re:Not sure this is news (3, Funny)

Linus Torvaalds (876626) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152088)

Oh my god! Did you submit the story to Slashdot?

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

Lt.Hawkins (17467) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152754)

I saw that happen at Cornell, but only with the entire population of the student body.

After about 60 "reply to alls" sent to everyone, I did the math, and realized that that was 7.28 x 10^9 bytes of text, every character of which was spam.

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151812)

Man, I feel sorry for their mail admin. That has *got* to hurt.

30 years out of date? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151827)

I agree. It has to be around 30 years now since this sort of thing started happening. Since email and mailing lists have existed.

Maybe it's news about how dumb journalists are, but if you go into any newsagents and have a look at what they're writing you can see that for yourself anyway. For gods sake don't buy anything, it only encourages them.

Address book? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151939)

Somebody accidentally chose the wrong group in their address book.


Address book? What for? I only know 2 people, you insensitve clod!

Re:Address book? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152550)

yeah, your Mom and Dad...in whose basement you're living now.

Agreed (3, Insightful)

Got Laid, Can't Code (897495) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152033)

I've seen this happen many times with tech illiterates. It's only of interest to journalists, and of no interest to us. Incidently, doesn't it get frustrating to see journalists misreport things over and over because they have journalism training but no science training, computer training, medical training, [fill in the blank]?

Re:Not sure this is news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152781)

Don't you get it?
They must have used m1rc0$h4f7 softwares!
OSS would never allow this sort of thing! /pruod bsd usar since 30 year

Re:Not sure this is news (1)

punky (207913) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152878)

This reminds me of another snafu where "reply all" wasn't the culprit. A few years ago, I (and a lot of other people) received an email about some legislative point of interest from Congressman Joe Baca. (I have no idea how I got on this list).

As expected, everyone started replying to the sending email to say "remove me." The interesting part is that it turns out for convenience in sending, the mail admins had created the sending email address in such a way that any emails sent to the address automatically mailed the entire list again.

You can see where this is leading... Even those conscientious people who checked to not send as "reply all" where emailing the whole list en masse, and everyone started to get pissed off and emailing more responses to the originating address, which created more email...

After having enough of the flood of a good fifty emails, I figured out that the admins had set up the catch-all email that spammed the list upon receipt and contacted the department at UC Irvine to shut down the damn email. They apparently had never considered that having a publicly available email address that automatically forwards to a list of unsolicited addresses was a bad thing. But, at least they shut it down.

But my was the flame / response war funny when the emails turned to "don't hit reply all!", "I'm not using reply all!", etc.

information technology? (0)

blueboy31 (822804) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151682)

Shouldn't this fall under the 'humor' category?

Re:information technology? (0, Troll)

Haydn Fenton (752330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151900)

Nah, I think a more fitting place would be the "Null" or "Garbage" categories. Yunno, the ones where anything sent to them just gets nullified and whoever submitted the article gets their slashdot account deleted and their IP is permanently banned.

People fuck up with emails, text, etc. all the time. Seriously, WHO FUCKING CARES (apart the people who are about to mod me troll)?

This seems to happen too often (3, Insightful)

Whafro (193881) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151683)

Doesn't anyone else get a bit nervous before sending an e-mail to a list and make sure that everything is set up correctly? I mean, I'd at least have glanced at my mailing list's address list seven or eight times (consecutively) before hitting send.

It's one thing if you read like an idiot in a personal message. It's far more damning when you do it en masse. Then again, maybe it's just far more accurate when you do it en masse.

Re:This seems to happen too often (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151793)

It's one thing if you read like an idiot in a personal message. It's far more damning when you do it en masse. Then again, maybe it's just far more accurate when you do it en masse.

For me it's pretty accurate in either case...

Re:This seems to happen too often (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151874)

No. When I want to reply to email, I hit the first button I see as fast as I can, then I write my email as fast as I can, and then I hit the send button. If I did silly things like a "spell check" or making sure I didn't hit "reply to all" it would imply that my time is less valuable than the recipients. So yeah..It's a status thing. Only losers and lackeys are careful with email.

Re:This seems to happen too often (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151971)

While you may be correct in how most people approach list emails, that neglects the particulars of this case. The recipients were not members of the list nor were they expecting this invitation. It was probably interpreted as a personal invitation and so all the alarms and bells that might go off when list posting would not have been activated. Coupled with some excitement I'm sure, if you're a hack journalist and just got an invitation to an important awards ceremony, you might act hastily as well.

But then this scenario doesn't give you much of an opportunity to call people idiots does it, so perhaps you as well can be forgiven for overlooking some of the facts to feed into your own fantasy and desires.

Bahhhhh (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151693)

This is not newsworthy or even interesting. This is more for the Fark crowd or even worse Digg.

Article text (4, Informative)

Joey Patterson (547891) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151709)

E-Mail Snafu By Awards Group Sparks Spam Attack On Journalists

By Joe Strupp

Published: July 20, 2005 7:00 AM ET

NEW YORK -- An e-mail mistake by the Casey Journalism Center at the University of Maryland wrongly invited hundreds of journalists nationwide to the university's prestigious "Casey Medals" awards. The goof also launched a perpetual e-mail whirlwind as those who responded to the incorrect note unwittingly sent their feedback to everyone else on the recipient list.

The back-and-forth sparked a circle of never-ending responses that, in some cases, kept hundreds of e-mails filling electronic mailboxes over several hours on Tuesday and Wednesday morning. But, in an unexpected surprise, it also brought many journalists in touch with old colleagues, while forging a number of new industry connections through something of an online cocktail party.

"People started chit-chatting back and forth and inviting themselves to the awards," said Kim Platicha, editor and publisher of Parentwise Austin magazine in Austin, Texas. "It really evolved from there, it was hysterical. I have already started an e-mail conversation with a couple of folks."

The e-mail was an electronic invitation to attend the organization's annual board meeting and awards lunch in Washington, D.C. on Aug, 8, according to Carrie Rowell, conference coordinator. She said it was meant only to reach the center's 11 board members, who are invited to the event where 18 journalists will be honored with the press-related awards.

But, due to a mistake, the e-mail apparently went to hundreds of people on the Center's e-mail list of journalists, according to many who received the message and wrongly thought they may have won a medal. Rowell said she did not know how many people were affected, but did not dispute that it was likely hundreds.

"We unintentionally sent an e-mail intended for our 11 board members to a large number of the journalists in our database, who in turn started receiving mass e-mail replies from puzzled recipients," Rowell said in a statement, which also was posted on the center's Web site. "The database error has been corrected. We apologize for the miscommunication and for any inconvenience it caused."

That inconvenience was limited, for some, to just the original wrong e-mail and a follow-up sent by Rowell that explained the mistake. But for most, the first e-mail was just the beginning. When many of those who received the mistaken note responded to alert Rowell that they had received it, their responses went to every recipient on the list.

"It must have been 300, 400 e-mails," said Michael Marizco, a reporter at The Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, who said he got the mistaken announcement Tuesday afternoon. "It annoyed me, but it is funny."

Rowell said she could not explain why so many responses, which were meant for her alone, would be sent to each person on the original message list. Because of that, some recipients ended up getting hundreds of copies, over several hours.

"It was a headache to deal with when I was working on a story," said Mark Luckie, a reporter at the Daytona Beach [Fl.] News-Journal. "I sent an e-mail back and they kept coming." Susan Keaton, a suburban editor at the Chicago Tribune, thought the incident was over when she closed the original e-mail. But a flood of e-mail came in about 20 minute later. "People were just sending to 'Reply All,'" she said. "Hundreds of them and a lot of out-of-office automatic responses and unable-to-delivers. It was hundreds of people."

"You are in the middle of working and you keep getting flooded on your computer," said Richard Bilotti, publisher of The Times of Trenton, N.J. "It was very annoying." But not everyone took it as a hardship, as some respondents said side e-mail chats developed among some recipients, while others acknowledged getting in touch with old colleagues and friends.

Marcos Martinez, program director at KUNM public radio in Albuquerque, said that the massive mistake ended up being a surprise link between those affected. "I saw a note from a colleague that I had lost touch with and that was interesting," he said.

At least one recipient, a freelance photographer, used the instant access to hundreds of journalists to publicize his work, while others joked about the mistake. "I don't think they'll have enough medals to go around," one note quipped.

"It was the first time I got e-mail from Ellen Goodman," said Kevin Fagan, a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, who was caught up in the mess. "And some old pals popped up, too"

As of Wednesday, the e-mails had slowed, according to those involved, although a few reported still receiving replies and online conversations. "I ended up chit-chatting with some people from national newspapers," Marizco noted. "Hell, I must have met five or six new people."

Joe Strupp (jstrupp@editorandpublisher.com) is a senior editor at E&P.

"Reply All"? (1)

DahGhostfacedFiddlah (470393) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152269)

From the symptoms, it sounds more like people were replying to the mailing list address, which was set to forward the mail to everyone else.

Rowell said she could not explain why so many responses, which were meant for her alone, would be sent to each person on the original message list.

That's not a "Reply All" problem, that's a system setup problem. I wouldn't blame this on the users.

Re:Article text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13153278)

"...kept hundreds of e-mails filling electronic mailboxes over several hours on Tuesday and Wednesday morning."

Oh, my god! Hundreds of emails? Several hours? Tuesday and Wednesday? What's to stop this terrible accident from happening to one of us? I was always a little suspicious and afraid of my email program, and now I know why. We need a temporary ban on email until we can find a solution to this terrifying problem.

Rowell is computer illiterate (0, Offtopic)

Zweideutig (900045) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151724)

I will probably get modded down for this, but I think Rowell was not properly trained to be in her position. In this time, computers have become relevent in many areas (especially publishing and journal) and anyone in a relevent field should be reasonable educated technically. Perhaps a CS course? Computers are becoming as essential as automobiles in jobs. Would you hire a mail carrier that is not a licensed driver? He would likely crash the truck, just as many thousands of stupid users in important fields make stupid mistakes like installing spyware, or sending an e-mail to the wrong parties.

Re:Rowell is computer illiterate (2, Insightful)

s20451 (410424) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151857)

I agree completely! People with licenses never get into accidents. And taking a CS course means you never hit "Reply All" when you mean to hit "Reply".

I will probably get modded down for this, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151930)

I will probably get modded down for this, but please don't start posts with 'I will probably get modded down for this'. It just looks like you are begging.

Re:I will probably get modded down for this, but.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152534)

No, it looks like KARMA WHORING.

But they're all friends so it's okay! (4, Funny)

Whafro (193881) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151726)

I didn't expect to RTFA and find that people actually thought it was funny/beneficial.

I mean, it might have been news (or at least interesting) if people were pissed. Then they "rekindled friendships" and all sung campfire songs, and I ceased to care.

In other news, I left my vacuum cleaner in the hallway and my brother stubbed his toe. He was going to be pissed, but decided not to be, so it was all good. He actually thought it was funny eventually. Just so you all know.

Observations (0, Offtopic)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151869)

In other news, I left my vacuum cleaner in the hallway and my brother stubbed his toe. He was going to be pissed, but decided not to be, so it was all good. He actually thought it was funny eventually. Just so you all know.

1. You have your own vacuum cleaner.
2. You talk of this fact very casually. Thus, it seems likely that each member of your family has their own vacuum cleaner.
3. You keep this vacuum cleaner somewhere other than your room.
4. Each member of your family likely keeps their vacuum cleaners outside of their rooms.
5. This would cause for centralization. e.g. Each member of the family has their own vacuum cleaner in what is refered to as The Vacuum Cleaner Closet.
6. You are old enough to have your own vacuum cleaner, or at least you were raised to do chores at a very young age.
7. Your brother decides on his emotional state.
8. Your brother thought that stubbing his toe was funny.
9. You post on Slashdot.


Ergo, your family is likely known as The Crazy Family. You and your brother are in your mid-40s and live with your parents, who are deceased and stuffed and left on the couch. Mother's penetrating stare still nags you to clean the house furiously. You clean yourself even more vigourously. After all, you need to be clean for when you kiss Mother goodnight. She so hates the dust and dirt foul boys bring with them. Your brother and you fight often, but usually you give it up "for mom's sake." You and your brother take turns moving Mother and Father's vacuum cleaners around in the vacuum cleaner closet so it seems like they are still alive. You and your brother do not work, but manage to pay the bills by selling a part of Father's skin every week.

Re:Observations (1)

Whafro (193881) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152048)

well-played, but I'm a college student and the house is currently a pig-sty.

but, yeah, I like where you're going...

Re:Observations (1)

The Amazing Fish Boy (863897) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152102)

well-played, but I'm a college student and the house is currently a pig-sty. but, yeah, I like where you're going...

That's exactly what an obsessively cleanly Oedipussical skin-selling psychopath would say!

It's time to change your e-mail client (2, Interesting)

gunpowda (825571) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151736)

...When you use one that places 'Reply to All' right next to 'Reply'.

Of course the best solution would be to stop and think about what you're about to do - nowadays shifting that mouse cursor slightly and clicking the wrong button can be hazardous. You'd think they could come up with some confirmation dialogue.

Re:It's time to change your e-mail client (3, Funny)

Takara (711260) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151761)

You'd think they could come up with some confirmation dialogue.

Yea, yea. So you work at Microsoft. We don't want to hear about it anymore!

Re:It's time to change your e-mail client (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151811)

There is an open bug in Bugzilla to have configurable toolbars, including options to remove items like "Reply to All". Unfortunately, it seems the coders don't understand the relevance and it remains open for several years now.

That bug should be closed, then. (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152150)

A bug for what program?

I can rearrange and remove toolbar buttons in Thunderbird just fine. You just right click on the toolbar, choose "Customize..." and you get a palatte. You can drag a button down to the palatte to remove it from the bar.

Re:It's time to change your e-mail client (1)

vsync64 (155958) | more than 9 years ago | (#13153180)

remove items like "Reply to All"
That's one of the more foolish ideas I've heard. I personally have the opposite problem where I work... people have a bad habit of using "reply one" instead of "reply all" and stripping everyone but the replyee out of the thread. And they wonder why there are communications issues in the company.

One of the reasons (aside from CYA protection) that I prefer to have anything related to tasks go through our Cerberus Helpdesk [cerberusweb.com] installation: it munges the Reply-To header (normally a terrible idea, but in an office of Outlook-breathers there's not really a lot of choice) meaning that no matter how hard they try, all involved are kept apprised of the progress of relevant issues.

Face it... in most cases replying to the group is appropriate. There are 2 reasons people tend to have a problem with this:

  • They use an extremely unprofessional tone and make personal remarks, and don't like to take their audience into account (even I, never known for my interpersonal skills, am very deliberate when using the corporate email; sometimes not always politic, but always deliberate).
  • They don't like having to think, even for a split second, before pouncing on that button. Hence the spate of "sent to someone with a similar-seeming name" problems, as well.
I guess I should count my blessings that not everyone in the corporate environment is completely functionally illiterate. Yet.

Re:It's time to change your e-mail client (1)

tulare (244053) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151963)

I'm thinking it was probably a function of the group that received the email. You know, the classic mailinglist Reply-to-group default. Drove people batshit at my last job, too. Plenty of personal information leakage due to that function, including such gems as the fact that one lady needed something appropriate for an upcoming event in a size 14.

Re:It's time to change your e-mail client (1)

Fishstick (150821) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152023)

Apparently this is a big problem with Lotus Notes -- this kind of thing happens often at my office.

Note will go out to some notes group/list with at least a couple dolts who really shouldn't be on the list, but reply-to-all asking to be removed. Pretty soon, the other dolts come out of the woodwork and also reply to the entire list asking to be removed. Then people on the list start complaining that they don't want to get all these messages, please take me off too.

This will go on for quite a while, with a couple people asking everyone to stop replying to the entire list, please contact so and so to have your name removed, sorry for the inconvenience, etc, etc. At least once they had to just delete the list from public notes groups (and then re-create it later) to stop the morons who never figured out that when they his reply-to-all they were sending mail to a couple hundred people.

Re:It's time to change your e-mail client (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152165)

...When you use one that places 'Reply to All' right next to 'Reply'.

Or you could just move the button to a different location...

Re:It's time to change your e-mail client (1)

mwilli (725214) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152555)

Or you could use Thunderbird! You could move or remove the 'Reply To All' button so that you can't accidentally click it when just replying. Any yahoo or "Illiterate Journalist" should be able to figure out that trick, or they should be shot.

This is only news... (0)

ZSpade (812879) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151739)

This is only news because it happened to Journalist. The very keepers of the news.

To them this seemed like a big deal, so they thought it might to us. Well, it doesn't. I wonder how it got past our vigorous screening process here at Slashdot...

Nothing new... (0, Redundant)

Korbinus (589005) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151743)

Under the sun, but it's always funny to read. Category Humor may be more appropriate. Cheers Korbinus

E-Mail Snafu Sparks Spam...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151763)

Uhm... English please?

I'm growing tired for this crap. "Spam" .. bah! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151798)

Okay, I'm growing tired of the misuse of the word "Spam". I know that a lot of people consider all unwanted or wrongly sent email "spam" - but this certainly isn't.

An email was sent to more people than intended. That is not SPAM.

The reply-address was an email list. That is not SPAM.

A lot of unwitting journalist morons continued to reply the list, generating more emails. It's not spam - it's stupidity on the part of the journalists.

It's not spam! Of course it was an error to send out the email to a lot of people - but it's the same fucking receipients that generated the flurry of unwanted emails... and for each fucking 'get me of this list' - everyone got more crap into their inboxes.

I'll say most of the blame is on the journalists that coulnd't keep their fingers of the 'reply' buttons.

This is news? (1, Insightful)

slashname3 (739398) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151813)

This is what passes for news on slashdot now? A group of people don't follow basic email practices and cause a minor flurry of emails in their own group and you think this is news?

Can't wait for the dupes to show up in a few days.

Breaking News! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151820)

This just in: somebody made an email snafu! Can you believe it!?

Coming up after the break: pornography breaches the Internet, a heated debate breaks out in comp.os.vms, and somebody's grandmother installs "the America Inline" from a floppy disk.

Re:Breaking News! (1)

Got Laid, Can't Code (897495) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152047)

Speaking of "inline", the AOL email client actually screws up the inline reply format (just as Outlook does), making conversations on mailing lists very hard to follow.

Re:Breaking News! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152377)

And why do people from New York always say they're waiting "online" when they're actually in a line.

Spam? (2, Insightful)

krray (605395) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151845)

I have to agree with you -- a bunch of [most likely Outlook] users click on Reply-To-All and 1) this is worthy /. news? 2) how in the heck is this SPAM?

Of course -- with their address now added to a couple of hundred recipients computers ... with any number of them about to be re-infected again ... they will soon learn what SPAM really is all about.

In the context it happened though -- that certainly wasn't spam. Not even close.

Re:Spam? (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151969)

Er. Go back to the origin of spam before it became a synonym for commercial mass-mailing. Try "Any large, annoying, quantity of output". Yeah, it's spam.

Spam [catb.org] from the Jargon File.

Re:Spam? (1)

Luke-Jr (574047) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152415)

I thought it was some kind of food...

Re:Spam? (1)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152492)

Now that's a bit of an overstatement.

Re:Spam? (1)

slappyjack (196918) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152662)

Well, in the tradition of referring to unsolicited commercial email as SPAM, the definition the journalists are trying to whip up FUD with is the one that counts, Mr PickyPants.

And theyre basically wrong.

So really, its:
- a non-story
- not SPAM in the FUD sense hat journalists refer to it as
- a fantastic thing sor nerds like us to feel smug about
- a more fantastic thing for nerds like us to get all semantic about
- another NOT front page worthy /. article.
- a total waste of time, but hey - its Sunday. ENJOY!

Feature of Microsoft POP3 connector (5, Informative)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151866)

There is an interesting feature in the Microsoft POP3 connector included with SBS 2003 that can also cause such a flurry of mails.

When the original sender is stupid enough to include all addresses a mail is sent to in the To: header, and two or more readers of mail have their mailbox at an ISP and copy it to their Exchange server using the abovementioned Microsoft POP3 connector, mail can really start bouncing around.

Why? Because of a bug in the Microsoft POP3 connector, mail that it retrieves from a POP3 box is sent to all addresses in the To: line. So the mailserver of every user of this crap will re-send a copy of the mail to all recepients, even those outside his or her own domain.
When two or more users receive the message, they start sending more and more copies around.

A while ago we received the same message from someone several thousand times. It took me a while to figure out what was really happening (we are not using those MS products ourselves), and the only way to kill it off was to reject all mail from the original sender.

It seems that KB835734 offers a fix for this fatal bug, but MS does not consider it critical so I presume most admins have not applied it. Those SBS systems are a ticking bomb in the e-mail system.

Re:Feature of Microsoft POP3 connector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152041)

*ROTFL*

This proves my point that you better don't dig around in Microsoft "solutions" and run from them as far as you can.

Re:Feature of Microsoft POP3 connector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152108)

First thing I thought of when I read the summary.
We still get mass mailings like this from sbs machines about once a month.

I really should at least filter out anything with mspop3connector in the To: field.
But it's kind of fun to go point the finger a someone else's system.

Re:Feature of Microsoft POP3 connector (1)

ewen (218843) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152825)

Thank you for the explanation and KB article number. I've seen this happen several times with various organistaions using some Microsoft mail product, but had never managed to identify exactly which Microsoft product was causing it. (Typically those involved in creating such forwarding loops have little clue about email and don't know what products they're using, so the only clue is the Microsoft SMTPSVC listed repeatedly in the Received: headers.)

Given fast enough connections, and if not caught quickly enough, you can end up with tens of thousands of messages in a matter of hours. And if, as happened last time I saw it,there's some expansion going on at some other point in the cycle (eg, one of the addresses forwards to several people), then it can get (literally) exponentially bad very quickly. (It soon overwhelms one or more of the MTAs in the loop which limits the exponential growth.)

Ewen

Re:Feature of Microsoft POP3 connector (1)

gonaddespammed.com (550312) | more than 9 years ago | (#13153061)

It's not the fault of the original sender, so why call them stupid?

Welcome to the club! (1)

glasn0st (564873) | more than 9 years ago | (#13153201)

Ha! Ha! I have seen this bug in action too.

A hosting customer sent a press release to major dutch media, of course with everybody, role accounts, some personal addresses, in the To. Then the mailserver of some publishing company started looping on the message, resending it thousands of times to all recipients. It took the administrator of the borked server DAYS to resolve this!

Meanwhile, recipients' mailboxes were overflowing, bounces clogged our virus scanner, and press people were constantly calling in threatening the author and us (hoster of the domain in 'From') with legal action and blacklisting if WE wouldn't stop sending these damn messages. I understand the massive mail bomb did quite some damage to the message author's credibility.

Nice to see I'm not alone in my experience with this great product!

Re:Feature of Microsoft POP3 connector (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 9 years ago | (#13153228)

A while ago we received the same message from someone several thousand times. It took me a while to figure out what was really happening (we are not using those MS products ourselves), and the only way to kill it off was to reject all mail from the original sender.

Or, alternatively, to reject all mail from the broken MS software...

That is not how it works (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151878)

I got caught on this years ago. Replying to replys to the entire list there is no reply to all option. The only way to stop it is send a unsubscribe before you send a mail with the list server as the return address so it melts down under the load. Oh and after you add all the boneheads address that run the e-mail server to the subscribe list. I had this happen on a long weekend years ago and I bet if people had guns they would have killed each other.
Millions of very angry mails. I bet there still cleaning up there inboxes.

The "so what?" factor (2, Insightful)

ketilf (114215) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151880)

Also in the news today, Michael Jackson is not vegetarian.

I have a suggestion for the moderators of slashdot. There's something called the "so what?" factor, and if you can't answer that question about an article, then don't post it.

Canadian Articling (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13151912)

One of the not least prestigious Canadian law firms (*ahem*Lang Michener*ahem*) recently sent a blank email to 342 law students who were applying for articling jobs.

Not only did this reveal the names and email addresses of all the applicants, it was followed up by two "Recall" emails, similarly addressed.

Retards abound. The power to really do stupid things has become all too easy and accessible. That or the average intelligence has kicked the bucket, so to speak.

Re:Canadian Articling (1)

Luke-Jr (574047) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152447)

The 'average intelligence' is somewhere nearing none at all these days.

As a former IT manager turned journalist... (1)

rmckeethen (130580) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151918)


I think this is an amazingly funny story. It's a standing joke in the newspaper business that all journalists tend to be a little inept when it comes to anything technical, like adding two numbers together for example, so I'm not at all surprised to see that this happened. However, I am pleased to note that many of my colleagues turned an adverse situation into an opportunity to reconnect with long lost friends and coworkers. That's journalism for you -- it's all about the gab.

Reminds me of this story (1)

MRSLASHDOTRTTR (902325) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151937)

This girls [overheardintheuk.com] cousin informed the entire family of her love affair. WTG reply-all!

Funny... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#13151993)

Didn't I see a Microsoft Office magazine ad that said the "Reply Everyone" era is over? I guess you need to upgrade for that feature.

Re:Funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152132)

"Magazine"? I think you meant "paper blog."

You keep using the word SPAM (1)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152098)

I don't think it means what you think it means.

Sidetracked. (1)

derubergeek (594673) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152137)

I've been trying to finish my ZPE (Zero Point Energy) perpetual motion machine for months now, and every time I really start to make some headway, a fascinating, must-read story such as this sidetracks me.

I mean, on the one hand I could usher the world into the Star Trek era, where energy and material goods are abundant and world peace miraculously ensues, but on the other, these absolutely imperative diversions present themselves. I mean - wow! - someone accidentally sent email to too many people and other people responded. Damn. I've never seen that before.

Glad to see the /. editors are picking and choosing the most delectable morsels for our consumption.

Did Timothy steal Zonk's password? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13152226)

I ask because this seems like the kind of dumb shit that that fucking retard usually posts.

Yup... (1)

andreyw (798182) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152270)

Yup, I got the email too. Does this mean I am not invited?

This is Front Page News? (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152326)

I'm sorry. I'm gonna have to... I hung in there as long as I could, but you long since passed the point when I stopped caring. If you're curious, it was right around raisin muffin.

-

Why the hell was this approved? (1)

Ignorant Aardvark (632408) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152341)

Yeah, I go to the University of Maryland, and this is kind of embarrassing for us, but ... why exactly is this news? It's not as if this kind of thing doesn't happen hundreds of times a day. Is it a VERY slow news day?

Re:Why the hell was this approved? (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152846)

It's only news because it was a bunch of journalists who saw it, and so, a few of them who had nothing interesting, but had a deadline for an article, decided to write an article which should have been called 'the stupid thing that happened to me that no one else cares about'. (actually -- Romensko [poynter.org] might care, as he posts news about journalists, but he doesn't post stuff over the weekend typically)

In other news, someone clicked 'approve article' when they should've hit 'reject'.

stupidity (2, Insightful)

cahiha (873942) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152342)

This sort of thing is stupidity, not an attack. Unfortunately, it's stupidity that happens again and again.

As a rule of thumb, never set the return address for a mailing list or a group mailing to the group.

As a rule of thumb, never put more than a handful of people in the To/Cc lines of an Email.

Stick to those two rules, and you'll be doing OK. Break them only if you have a really, really good reason.

Who fricking cares (1)

PepeGSay (847429) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152426)

*Hundreds* of people. GASP! It was an accident. Send out an apology and forget it.

Accidental article (3, Funny)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152478)

This wasn't really news for nerds, but TFGeditor accidently hit reply-to-all instead of reply when including this article in an email to a coworker, and Zonk's email addy happened to be oin there, and it was mistaken as an article submission.

Feeling proud, virus writers? (1)

QuickFox (311231) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152507)

Hey, virus writers, do you finally understand that you're wasting your time? I mean this must be the ultimate virus writer humiliation. Creating an email-flood virus is so easy that even totally clueless people do it by accident.

-- The price of eternal vigilance is a dollar a day and half an hour of your time.
Carefully choose a responsible newspaper. Support it, read it, write to it.
Do your part.

Snafu (1)

PhotoGuy (189467) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152795)

This is a fairly common and unremarkable occurrence, really; I guess the fact journalists were involved might make it silghtly more newsworthy. Maybe.

What is far more interesting is the history of the word Snafu [wikipedia.org] and it's related kin.

Amazing! (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 9 years ago | (#13152884)

Nobody has ever sent an e-mail to the wrong address before, especially an address that was actually an alias for a large mailing list. And nobody has ever put that address in the To: field, allowing other people to inadvertently reply to it.

Simply fascinating!

At least, it would have been fascinating 30 years ago.

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