Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Don't be a zero case for a social virus!

Many of you won’t know what I am referring to when I say a social virus in relation to the Internet. Essentially a social virus is an email that by itself is totally harmless but because of its content it inspires good meaning people to send it out to a group of other good meaning people.

Now maybe this doesn’t sound so bad, a nice social thing to do. But let’s do the math. Joe sends out the email to 10 folks. Three of the ten send it out to an additional 10 folks and so forth, essentially we have what is known as a power equation here, at each branch of the power equation the number of emails doubles or triples, maybe worse. This is how one little neutron turns in to an atomic blast. Now imagine this happening thousands of times every day all over the world. While the Internet is a wonderful thing it wasn’t really designed for this type of base loading. Many times the emails that become social virus may have started out a good thing, a fund raising effort, an attempt to raise consciousness or awareness. However they soon morph into a bad thing, unfortunately they don’t come with an expiration date. I have seen most of the social virus varieties multiple times, sometimes the names are different, and sometimes the bill number, but essentially they are the same emails. One persistent problem with social virus is that the senders don't master the art of using a bcc send, a bcc (I believe it is blank-carbon-copy) allows you to send to a list of folks without exposing their emails to everyone else on the list. Using bcc helps prevent spammers from getting email addresses and also helps reduce the email traffic.

Perhaps the ones I have the greatest difficulty with are those that admonish you that you aren’t a good Christian if you don’t pass it on to everyone on your email list. When I examine the email lists that are attached to these messages of faith invariably they are being sent out to family and friends. In my environment virtually all of my contacts are business related and while I won’t debate whether it is a good thing or a bad thing, my company would frown on me sending such messages to my clients. Of course in these situations I remember the biblical quote (sorry, can’t remember chapter and verse) that basically says: “Do not stand on the street corner and pray as the hypocrites do, seeking recognition for their piousness, for they will have received their reward. Instead go into your closet and pray” My relationship with God is private. I have made it clear I believe (go to a book store, find one of my books and look at the dedication page.) I have never denied Jesus or God and will never deny him. Refusing to pass along a social virus, clothed as a message of faith, is not denying God; it is showing good Internet manners.

The Internet for me is a work place and a place I do research. Just as someone standing up in the middle of a library and preaching the word of God would be frowned on, so are the religious emails that seem to go around and around the internet. It isn’t the inspirational stories I mind, but I do mind the ones that tell me I am a bad Christian if I don’t immediately pass it along.

Many times we are duped into passing these along because it sounds like a good cause, rescue so-and-so, prevent this bill from becoming law, help so-and-so reach this goal, etc. However, before you pass them along to all and sundry on your mailing list, do a simple search at www.google.com for the names, bill numbers or other details. If your message or one very similar shows up on one of the hoax sites, do not pass it on. I would actually prefer a personal note once in while telling me how you are and what’s happening in your life.

It hasn’t happened yet, maybe because the real virus writers feel they are above (or are) God, but I am waiting for one of these inspirational stories to have attached a dangerous worm or other virus that is quickly spread by well meaning people. Social virus emails are the chain letters of this millennium, do yourself and all the rest of us a favor, and break the chain. Do not pass this on to all your friends. You will have bad luck if you do so. Joe Stromworthy passed this on to 10 of his friends and I punched him in the nose….

Oh, and I don't care what country you are from, how much money you are trying to steal, sneak out, get out of a bank, transfer to a US account, don't email me, I want nothing to do with it...

My .02 worth,

Mike Ault

10 comments:

David Aldridge said...

"you aren’t a good Christian if you don’t pass it on to everyone on your email list"

... or you are going to get a horrible disease, or you're not a good American, or some child kidnapping will go unsolved ...

These idiots who forward the emails need a good slapping, and their internet privileges removed.

Tim... said...

The sad truth is that spam works. I read that 14% of spam messages result in a reply/click. Sending spam is very cheap and with that sort of return it's going to carry on until people learn to stop clicking. As soon as there is no money to be made by it, spam will stop.

Mike said...

Sad but true Tim. Like P.T. Barnum said, "there is one born every minute".

It is funny how if the same person received the spam in the regular mail (snail mail) they would not hesitate to pitch it, but somehow receiving it on the internet enobles it...

David Aldridge said...

I find real junk mail more irritating than spam myself -- the Yahoo filters do a pretty good job with spam so I rarely get bothered with it, but the chances of getting the amount of paper delivered to my door reduced are zero, since the government's USPS makes a profit out of bothering me with it.

Bill S. said...

Wholeheartedly agree, Mike. I too am tired of the chain letters I get via e-mail. I just hit the delete key when I see them. (BTW, bcc stands for blind carbon copy, as the recipients can't see the other recipients' e-mail addresses). It is truly a shame that the technology that gives us the most freedom (being able to be in touch with people from across the globe at a moment's notice) can also be the most annoying. Thank God for spam filters!

David Aldridge wrote
"the chances of getting the amount of paper delivered to my door reduced are zero".

David, I just take their garbage, stuff it into their pre-paid envelopes, and mail it right back to them with DO NOT SEND ME ANYMORE OF YOUR JUNK in big black marker on the front of their stuff. Doesn't always work, but I get the satisfaction of knowing the louses paid for it!

Jeff Hunter said...

bcc (I believe it is blank-carbon-copy)
Not trying to be a D*ck or anything, but it's blind carbon copy.

you aren’t a good Christian if you don’t pass it on to everyone on your email list ...or a proud american or support our troops or ...

Oh, and I don't care what country you are from, how much money you are trying to steal, sneak out, get out of a bank, transfer to a US account, don't email me, I want nothing to do with it...
Actually, I love egging these guys on. I reply "oh, please tell me more" and then "Please call me at this number" and give them Don's number ;)

DaPi said...

Jeff, you'll enjoy this
http://www.419eater.com/html/joe_eboh.htm

Jeff Hunter said...

I never went that far, but was dying laughing when I read it!!!

Mike said...

Excellent! Would love to do that some of them myself...surprized we haven't seen more from Iraq talking about Sadams missing money...

Deity said...

Plunder and Flee Incorporated?
Has anyone done the math on how much space is wasted by these 'forward if you're a good Christian' etc etc letters? Or better yet, email petitions? And then that info could be put into a letter and mass-mailed to everyone as a social virus.. :]