FROM THE ARCHIVES: Phantom E-Mails

This is a post I'm pulling from the essentially defunct journ.com, a site that me and my friend bri hacked at for awhile. I always enjoyed this story. It's from a time just before spam overwhelmed the email system, and the occasional random email might actually seem interesting, not annoying.

Everyone gets their fair share of junk email - some more than others. Personally, I get alot more junk than I do good stuff. As you might expect, we get quite a bit of junk here at journ. The funny thing is - quite a bit of it is addressed to people who don't exist. The day that we registered the domain, the junk started piling in.

A quick sampling of what I get every morning:

  • reports on basketball leagues in Europe
  • Seed catalogs
  • Religious humor

All of this email presented a bit of a mystery. No one owned the domain before us, at least not to our knowledge. And we've thought about grabbing the name for a long while now, and it's always been available. So why were people getting email at our domain?

The mystery didn't get really interesting until this arrived a few days ago (names changed to protect the guilty):

Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000 From: "Bill Smith" <bill@xxxx.xxx> To: <john@journ.com> Subject: Sayonara John, I just wanted to say this note, if only to make myself feel better.

I still can't believe you would stoop to such a low-class move as practiced last week with Steve. You tried to take advantage of a fellow - and a truly nice fellow - who was just starting a high-stress job, and your denial of your promised feature is truly extortion. I've been a journalist for 21 years and never have I seen such a selfish act. We could have worked something out, had you even been willing to compromise 1 percent. But your true colors have shown, and you will forever be tagged as a pompous prima donna.

You left Steve in a difficult position, but we have already dealt with replacing your lost feature quite capably. Quitely frankly, it wasn't as hard as we thought. Consider your reputation ruined within ABCD: You will never again get one piece of cooperation from me on retrieving old data from W_________ Technology. You did decent work for us, but the publication also helped bring your name into the limelight, a fact that clearly escaped your selfish mind.

Now go and find new bosses to torment. We are unanimously pleased at this point to rid you farewell. And please take the moniker "journalist" off your e-mail address No proper journalist would have pulled such a stunt. John@jerk.com would be more appropriate.

I don't plan to dignify reading any response from you. A "delete" button is all you're worth.

Bill Smith

So what am I supposed to do at this point? When I got this email, I laughed. Then I started to thinkā€¦ I have no idea who this john@journ.com is, so why the hell is he using my domain in his email address? I wonder what he did. I wonder how Bill was involved, and what kind of work these people do.

There's a whole group of people out there, wondering why they never get their email. Maybe I'm one of those people.

Some other fine examples of emails I've received include:

This fine Flash movie:

Cryptic emails like this one:

If you get a chance keep in touch!!

This audio ad for a WWF event.

Anyone who wants to claim some missing email can contact colin at thisdomain.com

Filed under: random