Monday, April 7, 2008


The website for the paper I work for has a design flaw that results in staff members sometimes getting emails that were not intended to go to them. Allow me to explain. If you're reading an article, you can click on the byline to open up a form to contact that person. For example, the form for contacting me looks like this. If you click the link, you'll see that you merely need to put a return email address, type your message and click send, and you'd have every reason to believe that the email would reach me.

This doesn't work, however, if the person being written to lacks a email address at the paper. Basically, any editor or longtime staff member would have one. A free lancer, especially a new one, would lack this, and any emails sent to these people go to a general address that defaults to everybody at the paper, though the website would fails to tell you this. Thus, we occasionally get emails to free lancers praising or criticizing a given article, or maybe asking questions about it. Most of the time, these emails are rather benign. Occasionally, they're awkward and every now and then they're outright hilarious. Whenever one of this accidental mass emails shows in my inbox, I try to find the correct personal email address for the given recipient and put it into the website, so as to prevent this from ever happening again.

In late January, the majority of us at the paper received the below email.

I'm not sure if this was a prank or an honest-to-God email intended for some part-time staffer with a rather tumultuous personal life. Either way, it totally made my day. It's also a rather unsolvable situation, as the sender doesn't specify who he was writing — after all, you wouldn't necessarily include a salutation if you thought an email was going to one specific person — and I feel like anyone who received this would have felt awkward about telling the sender that the details of his failed romance were exposed for everyone at the paper.

I didn't post this for a long time, for fear that it could embarrass someone, but as time passed, I've become more and more convinced that it was, in fact, a joke, perhaps done in an effort to bring the paper staff's attention to this problem.

Now I'm sharing it with you all. If you wrote this, please tell me. In regards to your last question, I think you'd be a fantastic addition to my paper's staff.

No comments:

Post a Comment