Inbox plaque

Someone forwarded me an email today, one of those "If you send this to 10 more people, other than the 5 that you already have to send to, something major that you've been wanting will happen.  However, if you don't send this to 5 people in 5 minutes, you will have bad luck for years!!"  A couple of minutes later, I got the darned thing again, as one of my fellow recipients forwarded it.

Look at the math, it's a geometric progression.  Assuming every person forwards it to five new people, who do likewise ad nauseum, this is what would happen:

Step Number of forwards this step Total number of recipients
1 1 1
2 5 6
3 25 31
4 125 156
5 625 781
6 3,125 3,906
7 15,625 19,531
8 78,125 97,656
9 390,625 488,281
10 1,953,125 2,441,406
11 9,765,625 12,207,031
12 48,828,125 61,035,156
14 244,140,625 305,175,781
15 1,220,703,125 1,525,878,906
16 6,103,515,625 7,629,394,531

Given that the original email was 40kb, you've got 6Mb of trash floating around by step 4 alone.  By step 10, it's eaten 93 Gb of bandwidth.  By step 16, you'd be up to seven billion recipients were it not for people who delete the thing on sight, people who see the "If you send this to 10 more people" and shudder.

These emails are not harmless little forwards.  They're eating up bandwidth, money, and time.  They are the plaque that builds up on our inboxes.  Don't forward crud at me.  Don't sling it anyone else.  Educate those who send it to you.  Show them the Urban Legends reference pages, especially the Inboxer Rebellion section.  They list several emails currently in circulation.

You'll never get a free anything from forwarding an email.  Forwarding an email won't make you lucky, or make your wish of the day come true.  Failure to forward an email will not result in bad luck.  Emails offering to give you large amounts of money, in return for your bank account number, are from lying fraudsters.

Think for a moment before forwarding an email, then delete it.

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