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Chain Letters - Ed's journal
Chain Letters
I hate chain letters.
The are evil.
I've just had one from someone, who's forwarded it to everyone in the company.
About a little girl in phuket who can't remember anything, and has lost her parents, with a photo attachment

I felt the need to reply:

"Tragic though it is, chain letters really don't help matters much. After all, this little girl has already been re-united with her family.


Then if you take a 60kb chain letter, and multiply it by all the users in $COMPANY, being 55,000, you use up 3.5Gb of disk space, and the bandwidth necessary to transmit it.
The disk space (including backups) costs us around £600 per year.
The bandwidth would tie up the entirety of a 2Mb site internet connection for about 5 hours, slowing down all our other network traffic in the meantime.
This is leaving aside the cost of 55,000 employees each taking 30 seconds to stop and read this email, which works out at about 450 man-hours.
If they then send it on, then the problem multiplies."

Grr. Where's my LART.


Have now had a response

"I'm sorry for wasting your time, this only came to me this morning and I didn't know she had been reunited with her family. But I would rather waste people's time than think it wasn't my problem.

14 comments or Leave a comment
eithnepdb From: eithnepdb Date: January 17th, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
See that response burns me a bit. I don't think creating more problems while trying to solve one is the answer. If folks would just take two seconds to check online for the validity of a story before swallowing it like some Pavlovian breakfast roll we'd all be better off for it.
wolflady26 From: wolflady26 Date: January 17th, 2005 01:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
If it's their problem, why don't they _do_ something about it? The problem with chain letters is that they are a way of absolving responsibility. "I felt bad and reacted, and that is enough. My reaction didn't have any noticable effect, but hey, at least I didn't do _nothing_!"

More help would be to organize a company bake sale to raise money for the victims, or set aside a portion of their paycheck every pay period to help people who are hungry or suffering, even when once-every-seven-hundred-year tidal waves _don't_ strike.

Of course, your coworker might volunteer every week at a soup kitchen and donate their entire check to charity for all I know. ;)
jambon_gris From: jambon_gris Date: January 17th, 2005 01:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ditto from me, a vary big spiky LART is the tool for the job I feel.
Granated i did start a an e-snowball fightr that mamage to bring down a university e-mail system but that another story.
The worst one i had was clearly a hoax (who writes these things and why?) about microsoft tracking software that had $10 Billion in prises attached to it.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: January 17th, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh I can see why. It's for the inner smirk when you see a chain letter that you started circulating still 6 years later. (And yes, there are a fair few that still do - I remember seeing a missing person chain mail that was nearly 8 years old, making the missing 12 year old, now 20)
From: feanelwa Date: January 17th, 2005 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
A chain letter like this one irritates me a lot. The reason people who work at information desks in public buildings read out what the parent's name is and not what the lost child's name is, is so that some random person doesn't come to the desk and abduct the child by pretending to be its parent. In hospitals across the tsunami region there are already reports of many children being claimed by people who then try to sell them to the sex trade. Sending a picture of a little blonde girl who doesn't speak across the internet is a very unhelpful thing to do indeed. I'm glad the damned chain letter was a fake, because if it would true she would be in living hell by now.
From: feanelwa Date: January 17th, 2005 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
If it *were* true, I mean, not would. Bah.
zaitan From: zaitan Date: January 17th, 2005 03:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
Somebody at our site received a similar one about a small boy, they then decided that it would be a good idea to send it to the list for all staff in the institution. Fortunately I am the moderator for the list so it did not go out.

On a related note, how are you supposed to educate your family about netiquette. My sister sent an email to several people (without using BCC) with a story attached. 80 lines of text in a word document, that had been pasted from an email that had been forwarded several times. This bloated it to 140 lines with little sodding chevrons all over the shop with some lines having just one word on them. Grr.
the_wood_gnome From: the_wood_gnome Date: January 17th, 2005 05:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
big stick with a nail in it?
zaitan From: zaitan Date: January 17th, 2005 10:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Not quite as subtle as I had in mind, I think I may go with the next suggestion.
From: feanelwa Date: January 17th, 2005 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
The next time you talk to your sister in person, you need to keep leaping around, waving your hands in the air and making little clicky noises between words. When she asks you what you're doing, tell her that's what her email sounded like when you read it in your head, and that clearly she wants everybody to sound like this otherwise she would have taken out the chevrons and spare lines.
zaitan From: zaitan Date: January 17th, 2005 10:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very good plan, I will have to give it a go. Although I have this terriable fear of offending people, I already have it reformatted but I have not sent it to her yet. It is ironic that I manage an email server at work, but I do not like email as a form of communication that much.
paulw From: paulw Date: January 17th, 2005 03:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I trust your reply didn't go to all staff! ;)
sobrique From: sobrique Date: January 17th, 2005 03:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
It didn't. Although I was tempted, just to make the point.
nuala From: nuala Date: January 17th, 2005 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's when you respond: Research the info before spamming your friends with useless emails. That's what Google is for. Regards.

14 comments or Leave a comment