Is nothing more entertaining than irony?

imageLast night some enterprising spammer started sending mail to a distribution list (DL) at Microsoft. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue since most DLs don’t accept mail from addresses outside the company. Older DLs, however, often haven’t had this setting turned on. Now, there’s nothing especially remarkable about spam email, but when it occurs with a large DL, it arms one of the most entertaining corporate behaviors… the "me too" mail bomb.

There a few things you can do when getting an unwanted email:

  1. Delete it, move on
  2. Contact the DL owner, ask them to fix the issue
  3. Point out the problem by sending a mail to everyone on the alias

The first option is easy, but unsatisfying for most. The second option is effective, but requires work (and work is hard). The third option is useless, since most everyone else on the DL is in the same boat as you.

While it’s useless, the third option, when it happens on a big DL, is also frequently hilarious.

Here’s the basic sequence of events:

  1. Someone sends an off topic mail to a large alias
  2. Other members of the alias reply-all to the mail to commiserate, or offer a helpful solution
    And then the fun starts
  3. A different set of alias members get upset about the off topic mail, and they reply-all… telling people not to reply-all

Once a DL reaches a critical size it will have a good cross section of the employee population. This is important because you need enough personality types to play the roles in the three steps above. I’d really like to know the threshold for list size… but the alias last night was plenty big.

The spam mails last night were sent to a mail list with over 28 thousand employees.

Sure, I wasted some time watching the mails go by. But they were all small, I knew I didn’t have to do any work, and best of all, I got to read statements like this:




Yes. All of those mails were sent with reply all. That tickles my funny bone and jabs my irony spleen.

Communication Software

Proximity-based chat

Trepia™ is an interesting twist on chat clients.  Instead of having a buddy list of friends, Trepia™ searches for buddies based on proximity.  People in your buddy list won’t be friends you already know, they will be the people logged in who are physically closest to you.

Here’s how Trepia™ describes their technology:

Trepia™ performs a Progressive Proximity search for nearby people using known geographical information about the networks you use. It searches from the inside out, first adding people local to you, then branching out to others.

Sounds cool, right?  All I want to know is: how do they plan to make money?

(Thanks Steve for the pointer to the cool software.)