Engineering E-Mail War
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Here at the University of Michigan, the Women in Engineering office had created two e-mail groups, "Stars.Module.Minority@umich.edu" and "Stars.Module.Female@umich.edu," each of which contained approximately 1000 students, for a one-time mailing. Normally, these groups are deleted after the one-time mailing, but the office forgot to do that this time. The office had made another mistake by making these groups unmoderated.
Last night around 10:30PM, a student (who was probably updating his directory information) discovered that he was on the Stars minority and female mailing lists. He did not recall signing up for these lists, so he sent the following e-mail to both lists:
hi, i would like to know who you are and why i am on these lists. thank you.
Little did he know, what he was about to start. In the next half hour, six more messages were sent out to the whole list by various people (who never knew they were on it in the first place) also asking why they were on the list, and asking to be removed. One person said in their message that they were neither a female nor a minority, so they weren't sure why they were on the minority and female e-mail lists in the first place. In response to that, another person e-mailed the following to the list:
good for you jackass. i hope white privilidge is going well for you.
After twenty-three more "take me off this list" and "stop replying to the whole list" e-mails, someone decided to respond to the white privilege e-mail with the following:
White priviledge? I may be white and from the suburbs, but I face adversity on a daily basis. Just today, I was in Starbucks and they were all out of carmel frappuccino mix, and so I had to have a vanilla frap, and it wasn't blended well at all, it was horrible. I mean, all through high school, do you think it's easy that I drove a car that was over a year and a half old? It had almost 20,000 miles on it when I got it. Who are you to judge and suggest that being white makes it easy? Listen to Biggie, mo' money... mo' problems.
Thirteen more random e-mails later, someone decides to send a 2-megabyte MP3 of Frank Sinatra singing Jingle Bells to both lists. It's a good thing that most people aren't on srvr5 anymore, or there would have been some major downtime! The music inspired one engineer to wax poetic:
There once was an engineering school.
And in it, there were many a fool.
The e-mails kept coming,
And the people kept dumbing.
They all were acting like hearded cattle.
And some reacting like we were in battle.
You would think since this happens 2 or 3 times a year,
That all would be deleted with nary a fear.
And, although I've actually found it amusing,
Apparently you all find it very confusing.
And because I've laughed at so much of your mail,
And it keeps coming without fail,
And my efforts to study have started to roam,
I decided that I should write this poem.
Thank you Mrs. [xxxxx] for flooding my inbox many a time
For it has now inspired me to rhyme.
And now I wish you all a good night
Hopefully by morning this will all be out of sight.
Soon after this, a student-employee of the College of Engineering's I.T. department who has absolutely no authority in the matter whatsoever (and who shall remain nameless), decided to add his two cents to the mix by sending the following message to everyone:
[name of list owner] has been ordered to delete her groups by 8 am tomorrow morning. ITD is currently investigating her use of all of your names illegally. I just left a message with the online consulting team, they should get this fixed by early tomorrow morning.
IF YOU FEEL THAT YOUR NAME WAS USED WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT:
Please email the ITD offices at firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as cc the message to [name of list owner] at [listowner]@umich.edu, and let them know that you are rather angered about [listowner]'s actions.
Do not email the Stars.Modules groups...they'll be deleted soon enough.
Computer Technician II
Engineering Research Center
This, combined with the increasing flood of messages seemed to rile everyone up pretty well, so people started doing all kinds of bizarre stuff like signing the mailing lists up for pornographic e-mails, sending the list owner's home phone number and address (which is publicly available information, but still...) to everyone, proposing that an angry mob form at the Diag in ten minutes, and other various things. Unfortunately some people went over the line and started threatening and harrassing the list owner, but there was also a lot of fun and bizarre stuff like people e-mailing the list to say, "I don't know how my name got taken off the list, but could you please make sure to put it back on?" and whatnot.
The crowning moment of this fight was when a student sent out the following e-mail,
please see attached stupidity analysis.
note, this is a 4-point moving average filter.
to which the following Matlab-generated plot was attached:
(Shiningc was the name of the user who accidentally started the whole thing by asking why he was on the list.)
Soon it was 8:00AM, time for work, and Brian and I mentioned the incident to our boss, who promptly deleted the offending groups (to which over 150 e-mails were sent) and began laying the smackdown upon those individuals to whom one was owed.
That's really about all that happened, but I guess it just goes to show what happens when a group of 3,000 engineers who are stressed out due to finals reach the last straw. I found it quite interesting to see peoples' widely-varying responses to the whole thing.