Internet Users Under Pressure

I subscribe to a few email lists. One of them, a low traffic affair, is Sky and Telescope Magazine’s comet bulletins. When a new comet is discovered, they’re right there with information… often more than I want or can comprehend for comets too dim to be seen by anything I’ll ever get my hands on.

However, just seeing this stuff interests me, and from time-to-time gives me something extra to talk about on TV. Martha would say, “It’s a good thing.”

Somehow today, this list opened up and began spewing virus and mail bounce information. That was it. Before long dozens of people were sending messages which said, “unsubscribe” to the list, and those messages were getting forwarded to everyone.

There are instructions on how to unsubscribe, but that seemed too challenging. Within a few hours, out came the do-gooders, telling people that every message they sent was another that everyone got.

More unsubscribes based on that.

Then came the loudmouths who berated the unsubscribers.

More unsunscribe notes followed that.

Now, it’s a mix… but a larger quantity of email than I’ve gotten since the list began! In fact, I’ve now gotten over 200 emails from this mess-up. Here’s as typical message at this stage:

1. Thanks for ADDING to the mayhem aj. Smart.

—–Original Message—–

From: Kayla Folkins []

Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 11:48 AM

To: Aristotle Jones; Karban, James W.


Subject: Re: today’s foolishness

Actually, I’m finding the whole thing rather amusing…

—– Original Message —–

From: Aristotle Jones

To: Karban, James W.


Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 9:18 AM

Subject: Re: today’s foolishness

All Right, Everybody out of the Gene-Pool!

1. It is NEVER possible to unsubscribe by posting on the mailing list you

are subscribed to.

2. Complaining about the volume of messages during this incident only ADDS

to the volume.

3. This is a perfect example of the fundamental difference between a

democracy and a constitutional republic.

4. Maybe there should be an intellectual means test when subscribing.

5. The sad part is that most of you people are supposed to be educated.


—– Original Message —–

From: “Karban, James W.”


Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 8:35 AM

> Unsubscribe


I’ve yet to see anyone from Sky and Telescope chime in, or shut it all off. It’s funny to watch, but a royal pain in the butt to deal with.

Blogger’s note: On May 3 I received an email explaining the whole affair. Read on for what actually happened.

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