Recently I’ve noticed something of a resurgance of hoax emails, warning of various scams, old jokes and other detritus. I’m not sure if this is because I’ve been on the Internet for a long time and there is just actually no new content or if it’s simply a consequence of eternal September.

Either way, as far as I am concerned, chain letters are still forbidden on the Internet as per RFC 1855, section 2.1.1, paragraph five.

To try and stem the tide, I’ve outlined a five step plan below that you can send to all of your friends who forward things to you1.

Step one:
Pause. Do not hit forward immediately. Lives do not depend on you sending an email on to your friends as quickly as possible.

Step two:
Think. Does this email make sense? Can Microsoft actually check how many people I forward this email to? Is Baklaliviatatlaglooshen actually a place? Would Neiman Marcus actually sell their cookie recipe for $250? Just how much do you believe in fate, karma and evil spirits?

Step three:
Research. If you’re still unsure if you should pass the email on to all and sundry then try a search on a key sentence of the email. More than likely you’ll end up at a website (like for example) which documents urban legends and exposes their fallacy or, very occasionally, truthfulness.

Step four:
Pause again. If you can’t verify the email is actually true then don’t automatically forward it. Would your friends find the email useful or informative? Would they appreciate the sentiment or humour?

Step five:
Delete the email.

1 That was a joke. Please don’t.

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