It happens probably once a week or so.

I will sit down and check my email, and suddenly I hear John Madden's voice in my head yelling "BOOM!" as my eyes catch yet another subject line saying "FW: I hope this works" or "FW: Worth a shot" or something of the like.

I immediately place my face in my palms and sigh. Another new internet user.

Sure enough, I open the message and what follows is something similar to the one I got this morning (you do not have to read it. If you've been on the net for longer than a week, you've seen this one or one like it. But I'm including it in full because I'm a writer and I feel the need to fill the space with as much as I can so I feel like I've actually done something this morning):
Subject: May as well give it a go!

THIS TOOK TWO PAGES OF THE TUESDAY USA TODAY - IT IS FOR REAL To all of my friends, I do not usually forward messages, But this is from my friend Pearlas Sandborn and she really is an attorney. If she says that this will work - It will work.

After all,What have you got to lose?

attorney, And I know the law. This thing is for real. Rest
assured AOL and &nbs p; Intel will follow through with their
promises for fear of facing a multimillion-dollar class action
suit similar to the one filed by PepsiCo against General
Electric not too long ago.
Dear Friends; Please do not take this for a junk letter.
Bill Gates sharing his fortune. If you ignore this, You will repent later.

Microsoft and AOL are now the largest Internet companies and in an effort to make sure that Internet Explorer remains the most widely used program, Microsoft and AOL are running an e-mail beta test.

When you forward this e-mail to friends, Microsoft can and will track it (If you are a Microsoft Windows user) For a two weeks time period.

For every person that you forward this e-mail to, Microsoft will pay you $245.00 For every person that you sent it to that forwards it on, Microsoft will pay you $243.00 and for every third person that receives it, You will be paid $241.00. Within two weeks, Microsoft will contact you for your address and then send you a check.

Regards. Charles S Bailey General Manager Field Operations
1-800-842-2332 Ext. 1085 or 904-1085 or RNX

thought this was a scam myself, But two weeks after receiving this e-mail and forwarding it on. Microsoft contacted me for my address and within days, I received a check for $24,800.00. You need to respond before the beta testing is over. If anyone can affoard this, Bill gates is the man.

It's all marketing expense to him. Please forward this to as many people as possible. You are bound to get at least $10,000.00 We're not going to help them out with their e-mail beta test without getting a little something for our time. My brother's girlfriend got in on this a few months ago. When i went to visit him for the Baylor/UT Pgame. She showed me her check. It was for the sum of $4,324.44 and was stamped "Paid in full"

Yup. Another one of THOSE.

So, I opened up my "goddammit_not_this_crap_again" folder in Outlook and fired up my template for responding to these messages. I made sure to include not only the person who sent it to me, but everyone he/she emailed it to, as well as everyone that was still left in the stupid forwarding header of the 12-time forwarded email. In all, about 1,000 kids, I wager. And this is what I said:
From: Joe The Peacock
Sent: Friday, April 28, 2006 11:17 AM
To: <A whole lot of kids>
Subject: RE: hope this works!!

Dear new internet user,

Welcome to the internet. We hope you enjoy your stay here, and we understand that - the first time you log on - you might be a little timid, scared, or anxious. And you might be excited to try new and interesting things. However, there are these things out there - we oldbies call them "Hoaxes" - which might prey upon your lack of experience with this massive technological marvel and attempt to get you to do things that might possibly a) harm you, b) deceive you out of money and/or goods, or c) - the case of this email - make you look just plain silly.

I have decided to use all capital letters for the more technical aspects of why this email isn't true:


MICROSOFT AND AOL (and Intel and Coke and Disney and [insert your own large, bajillion-dollar company ere] ) ARE NOT GOING TO GIVE YOU A FREE *ANYTHING* FOR PASSING ALONG AN EMAIL.


Now, how do I know this? Well, two reasons:

First, I've seen this email no fewer than 26844 times. Yes, that's twenty-six thousand, eight hundred and forty-four times - the precise number of people who I've communicated over the internet with since 1994. Because they all have sent it to me, and not one has ever reported back claiming to have received a free trip to Disneyworld, a case of Coke, a cheque for any amount ranging from $1.00 to $10,000 USD, a free belt sander, or even a concussion (the last one wasn't really offered, but it's very much what they deserve for polluting my inbox with such rubbish YET AGAIN).

Second, there is a resource for finding out if things are real or not. Snopes.com has taken the liberty of becoming the internet's foremost authority on hoaxes, urban legends, and other such silly cultural phenomenon. Here is the entry for this particular gem:


Now, I am glad that you have found your way onto the internet. It's a pleasure to have you here. And I appreciate your attempt to foster your own greed by passing along a chance for me to do the same. However, I - and all the other "oldbie" internet users (we all chat in a chat room together called #oldFartsOnTheNet and I asked them, and yes - all 2 billion of them agreed) - would appreciate it if you would refer to Snopes when thinking about passing along any emails which offer free items or benefits simply for passing them on.

We also caution you to check when confronted with emails that offer you a chance to benefit monitarily from any person in the countries of Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Costa Rica, Guatemala, or any other country that might contain a king or prince who's name you could never possibly remember and who may or may not have mysteriously died, leaving millions of dollars in benefits to someone who needs you to be an off-shore fence for the funds.

And lastly, we ask that you please quit using "ZOMG" in chat rooms. We understand "OMG," even though we don't really agree with or approve of it's use (we all hate acryonyms), but "ZOMG" is just plain stupid. We understand that you are attempting to do a variation on "here's my clever way to do exclamation points !!1!!!one!!!" or whatever with "ZOMG". But the Z key is nowhere NEAR the O, M, or G keys. It's totally manufactured, just like a song by Everclear, and we ask that you cut it right out.

Thank you, and enjoy your stay here on the internet.

Your good friend and welcoming ambassador,

Joe Peacock

Feel free to copy my template and use it as your own.