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The E-Mail Facts Of Life

1. Big companies don't do business via chain letter. Bill Gates is
not giving you $1,000, and Disney is not giving you a free vacation.
There is no baby food company issuing class-action checks. You can
relax; there is no need to pass it on ``just in case it's true.''
Furthermore, just because someone said in the message, four
generations back, that ``we checked it out and it's legit,'' that
does not actually make it true. 

2. There is no kidney theft ring in New Orleans. No one is waking up 
in a bathtub full of ice, even if a friend of a friend swears it 
happened to their cousin. If you are hell-bent on believing the 
kidney-theft ring stories, please see: And I quote: ``The 
National Kidney Foundation has repeatedly issued requests for actual 
victims of organ thieves to come forward and tell their stories. None 
have.'' That's ``none'' as in ``zero.'' Not even your friend's 

3. Neiman Marcus doesn't really sell a $200 cookie recipe. And even 
if they do, we all have it. And even if you don't, you can get a copy 
at Then, if you make the recipe and 
decide that the cookies are that awesome, feel free to pass the 
recipe on. 

4. We all know 500 ways to drive roommates crazy, irritate co-workers 
and creep out people on an elevator. We also know exactly how many 
engineers, college students, Usenet posters and people from each and 
every world ethnicity it takes to change a lightbulb. 

latest NASA rocket disaster(s) DID contain plutonium that went 
particulate over the Eastern seaboard, do you REALLY think this 
information would reach the public via an AOL chain letter? 

6. There is no ``Good Times'' virus. In fact, you should never, ever, 
ever forward any e-mail containing any virus warning unless you first 
confirm it at an actual site of an actual company that actually deals 
with virii. Try And even then, don't forward it. We 
don't care. 

7. If your CC: list is regularly longer than the actual content of 
your message, you're probably going to hell. 

8. If you're using Outlook, IE or Netscape to write e-mail, turn off 
the ``HTML encoding.'' Those of us on UNIX shells can't read it and 
don't care enough to save the attachment and then view it with a Web 
browser, since you're probably forwarding us a copy of the goddamned 
Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe anyway. 

absolutely must forward that 10th-generation message from a friend, 
at least have the decency to trim the eight miles of headers showing 
everyone else who's received it over the last six months. It sure 
wouldn't hurt to get rid of all the ``)'' that begin each line. 
Besides, if it has gone around that many times -- I've probably 
already seen it. 

10. Craig Shergold in England is not dying of cancer or anything else 
at this time and would like everyone to stop sending him their 
business cards. He apparently is also no longer a ``little boy'' 

11. Big Bird has been saved already. Maybe the date 1995 should have 
tipped you off, or the mention of Robert Mapplethorpe, who died in 
1989. If that doesn't do it, consider how long it takes to circulate 
a petition at one signature per e-mail, and you're No. 485. In any 
event -- enough already. 

12. In many mail programs, the capital R (for respond) replies to 
just the sender, while a small r replies to everyone on the list. (In 
one program, alas, it's just the reverse.) In any event, please 
consider whether everyone needs to read your ``Thanks for sending 
that along'' or ``Cool!'' before replying. 

More about e-mail
From a column by Jon Carroll
Ramon's Kingdom
My Home Page

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