Things, stuff, and other items of interest

October 27, 2009

Complexities of the Interwebotron

BEHOLD! I, your humble blog-writing-host-guy, will ASTOUND & AMAZE you with a tale of adventure and danger, of excitement and ...... and ..... errr... well..... uhhmm....

Ok, so "astound & amaze" may be a little optimistic. If I were to be completely honest with you, I'd settle for 'mildly amused for a few brief moments'. At the very least, my bare minimum goal is to avoid sending you into a violent and destructive rage, in which you destroy your immediate surroundings and ultimately must be brought under control by the local constabulary through the use of liberally applied tazers & tranquiliser darts. But I digress...

I recently had an opportunity to take part in something special. Through a myriad of individual efforts, by an elite selection of "internet communication experts", I had, what can only be described as a (hopefully) once in a lifetime opportunity to watch as a very real internet phenomenon unraveled all around me.

I was sitting at my desk, muddling about diligently, when I noticed that I'd received an email.
 "Yay!" I thought to myself, "someone has taken the time to offer me a missive that I might use as a form of external validation. Huzzah!"
I started reading the email, and became slightly confused. It was from someone I didn't know, and I wasn't entirely clear on what the gist of the message was. I was immediately struck by a sense of panic and experienced what is best described as an auditory flashback of Celine Dion strangling an abnormally large cat singing one of her mega hits.

Thankfully that moment passed quickly and I realized that the email didn't seem to be a personal note, but rather it seemed distinctly business related. That struck me as odd, as it came in on my email address that I normally reserve for personal communiqués.

While I sat there befuddled by the situation, I was once more blessed by the technological miracle that is electronic mail. Another letter from another unknown source, which itself was followed by yet another. Within moments, a few minutes at most, I was the recipient of twenty-three different emails. All of which seem to be relating to the same topic.

It was then I realised that I was in the middle of a veritable techno-maelstrom of "reply-alls". In fact, I later learned that I was technically incorrect, though the symptoms were nearly identical. I was experiencing something even worse... the dreaded "Rogue ListServ"!

Through what I can only assume was earth-shattering incompetence, some knuckle dragging, mouth breathing luddite had managed to royally pooch the administration settings of an email list server. An email list server that belonged to a previously well-regarded institution of higher learning. I will not reveal the institute in question, but suffice it to say that this is a scholastic destination of many a young ambitious Canadian, one which charges a pretty penny for the honour of reaping it's academic offerings. An institute that I have never had any occasion to interact with previously.

Do I seem harsh? A tad insensitive perhaps? Unforgiving and unnecessarily cruel maybe? I suppose it's possible. I suppose I could be reacting arrogantly and boorishly. I would ask you to consider that within a two hour period, I was deluged by over one hundred and seventy emails. The problem as it turned out, originated with the an email sent out by the institute in question... but was made infinitely worse by my fellow victims when they, in their blind rage took umbrance at being technologically assaulted and replied, en masse in an effort to give voice to their frustration and anger.

What follows, is what I consider to be a selection of the cream of the crop of responses. Scaling in annoyance & anger as we progress. I would take this opportunity to point out that I have removed all the names, signatures & email addresses to protect everyone's anonymity. That is to say, the anonymity of the academics, administrators from both public and private sectors, faculty members, and private sector uppity-ups that seemed to make up the membership of this distribution list.

How my email address ever got included in such a lofty ensemble I can't begin to imagine, but suffice it to say this crowd seemed considerably better heeled than my normal compatriots and chums. I'm judging this based solely on the titles and signatures that were included in the emails, so it is entirely possible I have misconstrued the status level society has granted these luminaries. If nothing else, it illustrates quite adeptly that status does not directly relate to performance




To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Unsubscribe, I don't even know who you are?




To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Unsubscribe me NOW.



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Hey!  Nothing works....please remove the "free world" from this list.  It is a bit annoying.



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Please also unsubscribe me.  Geez!



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

HEY, FOLKS, I KNOW THIS IS FUN BUT HITTING REPLY-ALL ISN'T GOING TO GET YOU OFF THE LIST! CONTACT [SENDER] IT IS THEIR LIST THAT IS GENERATING ALL THIS.



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

So Would I. This is a bullshit waste of time. Nobody wants it. Take me off.



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Please stop sending your "unsuscribe" messages to the complete list!
Please only send them to the original sender, otherwise you are
spamifying everybody's mailboxes.
Thanks!



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Il s'agit sûrement d'un virus. Même un francophone du Québec reçoit ces courriels! 14 depuis 3 heures!  :-)



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Dear [SENDER],

There is a multi-recipient message being generated by you
[SENDER] regarding '[TOPIC REMOVED]" that is causing seeming endless copies of junk mail arriving in email in-boxes all over the place, including mine. It is very annoying.
People are responding saying "please delete me' "please delete me" but it just keeps coming and coming. Can you please look into this and stop it at the source.

Thanks



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

GET ME OFF THIS LIST... or perhaps is a virus from _____??????



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

I appreciate the irony in sending this, which only adds to the mass of emails we're all getting, but hopefully by putting the message in the subject line people will clue in. Sigh... if only the internet worked magically like so many seem to think it does. YELLING IN ALL CAPS isn't going to make the internet fairy solve your problems any better than replying to all, which only perpetuates the snake-swallowing-its-own-tail farce that this has become.



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

HELLO EVERYONE.  DO NOT REPLY TO ANY OF THESE EMAILS!!!  ANY REPLY - REPLY ALL OR NOT - GETS SENT TO EVERYONE!!!

IF EVERYONE STOPPED REPLYING, WE WOULD END ALL THIS NONSENSE.

SO DON'T SEND BACK AN "UNSUBSCRIBE ME" EMAIL, OR ANYTHING FOR THAT MATTER.  BEST THING TO DO IF YOU ARE REALLY UPSET IS TO CALL [SENDER].  CONTACT INFO IS IN THE FIRST EMAIL SENT OUT.

SORRY TO SEND OUT YET ANOTHER EMAIL...HOPEFULLY EVERYONE WILL READ THIS BEFORE SENDING OUT MORE REPLIES.



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

Dear all, this clearly is a virus. If everybody stops reacting then this probably is the last we all ver hear from it. Otherwise we will all be getting mail from people who want to unsubscribe for days on end. Not reacting is the best option.

Kind regards. [RECIPIENT]



To: [SENDER]
From: [RECIPIENT]

This is just epic.

I hope this is being documented as a sociological experiment regarding  the intrusive of technology.


The ones who are simply annoyed and asking to be unsubscribed, I understand them. I know precisely where they're coming from. The others however, the ones who feel only they have the powers of perception capable of fully discerning the situation, and advise everyone not to reply, while they themselves reply, instructing the rest not to. Those are the ones that make my jaw drop.

Again, I'll point out that this distribution list was compromised of professionals, administrators, academics, from all walks of life, from every province, from outside the country even. These folks are the products of higher education. I'll wager that each of them have a degree. A degree produced by an institution of higher learning. Probably an institute that charges a pretty penny for the honour of taking advantage of it's academic offerings. Just like the one that so badly bungled a piece of technology that was just being introduced into wide use right about the same time that the Grateful Dead started touring.

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