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Letters to the World

16-Jan-2003

E-mail Forwarding 101

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 8:58 pm

Oh my.

One of Mercer’s students just sent out one of those (in)famous e-mail hoaxes involving the merger of two prominent technology companies. You know the one, right? Forward this to x number of people and a “tracking algorithm” (obviously very secret, since it doesn’t exist!) will be used to award you some amount of money…

Apparently the student in question didn’t realize that sending out a message to approximately one tenth of the entire Mercer population (only the surnames A through C would fit into the recipient list), using Mercer’s address book server, was not, in fact, a good idea. The list of recipients was over 70kb in size— larger, in fact, than the actual text of the message!

Yes, the list of recipients included, among others, several members of the technical support staff, several computer science and engineering professors, and even the editor of the school newspaper. Ouch.

And if that weren’t enough, all Mercer user names are in the format lastname_f. Which means that it’s very obvious who the sender was from the username alone, and as a result, very easy for students and faculty to find the sender’s room number and phone number in the campus phone directory.

What was this person thinking, exactly? The only thing she’s won is the enmity of numerous computer-savvy students and faculty…

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