Forwards: The Other Unwanted Email Category

One of the most annoying types of unwanted email is the mass forward. You know, the kind where one of your “friends” sends a heart-warming story about a dog or a list of interesting “facts” about bananas to everyone in their email address book. (More often than not that friend also sends everyone’s address to everyone else too but that’s another story.)

The reason this stuff is so annoying is that you can’t just block the person sending it because, most likely, they are a friend and might actually send you something you’re interested in at some point. On the other hand you really don’t care about an amber alert notice that was proven false five years ago. So, if you can’t block them, what can you do?

This is one of those things where you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution.

If you’re one of the people who reads these things and thinks “OMG I have to send this to everyone I know!” without verifying them first, you are part of the problem. Please stop.

If you read them over quickly and delete them, you are helping, but you could do more. Still, as busy as we all are sometimes this is all we can do. If the chain ends with you that means a lot less people are having their time wasted so you’re performing a huge public service.

If you have the time and you really want to make a difference there is a third option. You can reply back up the chain with corrections (and possibly gentle chastisement for the sender). Since most of the people who send this kind of stuff are unaware of the Bcc option in their email clients, they frequently expose the entire list of addresses they forwarded to. Thus, by using “Reply To All”, you can respond and reach all of their victims.

You should suppress your first response which will probably be to flame them with something like “STFU and stop wasting my time with this BS!” This might feel good for a minute but it doesn’t improve your relationship with the sender and just wastes everybody else’s time.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Politely ask the person sending the message to stop. Maybe they don’t realize how annoying these things are. They probably think they’re helping you.
  2. For things like amber alerts and pictures of giant cats you can go to snopes.com and debunk them. More often than not, if you search on the subject of the message, you’ll find an article that explains the origins of the myth. You can then send a link to this article to everybody in the reply list and disabuse them of the false information.
  3. For political messages you can use factcheck.org. They do a pretty good job of tempering extremism on both ends of the political spectrum without injecting an agenda of their own.
  4. For jokes, you might want to respond “Ha ha” and refer back to the first item in this list.
  5. Finally, you could include a link to this article in all of your responses. This will do two things: first,  it will help to educate all of the recipients about this issue; second, it will get us more traffic and we’ll really appreciate it:)

If we all work together we can rid the Internet of the scourge of unwanted forwards. Please do your part.

This has been a public service announcement provided by OnlyMyEmail.

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OnlyMyEmail is an award winning hosted spam filtering service and business email hosting provider. Our enterprise cloud computing anti-spam solution, the MX-Defender, has the highest capture rate of any spam filter ever tested in the VBSpam Challenge, blocking a record setting 99.9993% of all malicious and junk email.

Our Personal spam filtering system is also a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and has won both the PC World "World Class Award" and also the PC Magazine "Editor's Choice Award."

OME-Kids is a webmail solution that protects children from spam and other harmful emails. OME-Kids offers unique Parental Controls that allow you to choose the level of security and oversight that's right for your child.

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