Teaching newbie's the ropes when sending email!

Question

I am tired of being sent old hoaxes and jokes from newbies that don't yet have a clue. Can you please teach these new users some common sense!!!

- John

Answer

This question was answered on September 17, 2003. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

AN OPEN LETTER TO NEW E-MAIL USERS:

The Government is not going to put a 5-cent tax on e-mails, Bill Gates and Disney are not going to pay you outrageous sums of money for forwarding an e-mail message and the Red Cross is not going to donate 10-cents to a dying child for each e-mail that gets forwarded.

There is no dangerous ‘Teddy Bear’ virus and in fact, both ‘jdbgmgr.exe’ and ‘sulfnbk.exe’ are actual Windows files (which is why so many people find it on their computers and fall for the hoax!).

For some reason, normally even keeled, rational people become mindless robots when it comes to e-mail messages In our off-line life, we generally don’t spread rumors unless we have been able to, in some way, verify the information and we certainly don’t get on the phone and call everyone that we know to spread the news.

The very thing that makes e-mail so useful is also what makes it so dangerous With little less than a couple of mouse clicks, we can send ‘valuable’ news that will save the world to everyone in our address books.

But, the danger in this practice is that you can unwittingly take part in a worldwide hoax that can actually cause your friends and family to damage their own computers as in the case of the ‘jdbgmgr.exe’ and ‘sulfnbk.exe’ hoaxes.

It has been coined everything from ‘hysterical non-expert advice’ to ‘false authority syndrome’ by Vmyths.com, a site devoted to debunking the plethora of hoaxes circulating around the Internet.

Mindless forwarding of e-mail is very risky If you send a hoax to 25 people and they in turn each send it to 25 people and this goes through 5 cycles, you will have been responsible for fooling almost 2 million people!

Viruses are a real threat and should be taken seriously, but no new virus is going to be discovered first by your landscaper’s son’s dental hygienist’s dog sitter.

The anti-virus companies are always a good resource for learning about any new virus strains (remember, they make money convincing people that they are in need of their protection) The one I refer to most frequently is SARC.com (Symantec Antivirus Research Center).

Before sending any kind of a ‘warning’ to anyone, first ask yourself why you are qualified to do so and always verify the information at a trusted web site so you don’t look like a fool.

If you are sent a hoax, take the time to educate the sender by replying to them with a link to a web site that debunks their warning This may help get them in the practice of checking these sites in the future.

The other, more irritating (to me) practice of sending lame jokes to everyone in your address book is not only a waste of time, but a great way to expose lots of valid e-mail addresses to spammers.

If you are one of those well meaning senders of jokes to a large number of people, make sure to get the recipients blessings first and always put all the addresses in the BCC: (Blind Carbon Copy) section so that every address is not exposed to every recipient.

If you don’t know how to use the BCC: portion of your e-mail program, as a courtesy to others, learn ‘how-to’ before sending anything to a large number of people.

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Author

Posted by Ken of Data Doctors on September 17, 2003