Date Added: Sept. 30, 2003
E-mail gives us new ways to interact with one another. Unfortunately, most of these 'new' ways are just recycled old ways. What we have below is an old study hall 'boredom buster' transformed into a popular class project chain letter.
One of our(?) teachers is doing this survey for her daughter. DON'T ASK JUST PLAY! Copy and paste this letter into a new email (PLEASE do NOT hit "Forward"). Then read the list of names. If your name is on the list, put a star* next to it. If not, then add your name (in alphabetical order, but no star). Send it to ten people and send it back to the person who sent it to you. Put your name in the subject box! You'll see what happens to you......its kind of cool! Please keep this going. Don't MESS it up!
[And so on...]
A version that surfaced in 2004 removes the reference to the teacher's daughter and replaces it with the assertion that this is "for a science fair project."
This is for a science fair project. If you could do this I would appreciate it! DON'T ASK, JUST PLAY...it's for kids! Copy and paste this letter into a new email (PLEASE do NOT hit "Forward"), then read the list of names. If your name is on the list, put a star * next to it. If not, then add your name (in alphabetical order, put no star.) Send it to ten people and send it back to the person who sent it to you. Put your name in the subject box! You'll see what happens - it's kind of cool! Please keep this going. Don't MESS it up, please!
The "name game" chain letter reminds me of all the note-passing that used to take place in junior high school study hall. To fight boredom, someone would start the note and see how far it could get before the bell rings or the teacher confiscated it.
The e-mail version of this game was popular online long before the prefaces about the teacher and her daughter or the science fair project were added. Unfortunately, those additions changed this relatively harmless time-waster into an exceptionally popular class project chain letter.
We're not sure how the teacher and her daughter became associated with this one. It could be that either of them received the chain letter name game and thought that it would make a good project. Of course, the teacher and the daughter could also be completely fictional, added only to give the chain more appeal and make your participation seem more crucial.
Likewise, the science fair could be totally made up, or some misguided soul might have received this chain and thought it would make a good project.
Class project chains mistakenly assume that e-mail can be reliably tracked. Each fall and spring, we see a proliferation of chain letters that claim that some elementary school class wants to see how far and wide a message will spread. They tell you to send it to as many people as possible and send a reply back to the teacher's e-mail account, so they can track it on a map. Unfortunately, they underestimate the reach and appeal of these letters and most of these projects are shut down within days because the class and the school's e-mail server are unable to handle the volume of mail they generate.
However, since the note above started out as a worthless time-waster, it is even less traceable. There is no address to send it back to, and no way anybody can collect all the different versions of it floating around.
While this name game seems harmless, it poses a very real hazard that many people fail to notice. Even though it tells you to copy the text into a new message, few people do, and versions of it I have seen contained hundreds of e-mail addresses in old headers. It takes only a few minutes with a word processor to compile these into a list that spammers and scammers pay dearly for. When you spread junk, you get junk. Break this chain.