"Ladies Bible Study- tonight!" was a 'mail storm' that was created on September 11, 2006 and has still not abated. The original message was sent by Alice Michele Morris to almost every student organization email list at the University of Michigan. It can prove to be an interesting study of email abuse or flaming.
The original spam message had started several parallel threads: hate mail, comical parody, debate on first amendment rights, science vs. humanities, and even entrepreneurship.
The original message that innocently started it all:
Date: 2006-09-11 2:12 PM Subject: Ladies Bible Study- tonight! Come out to the League Rm D @ 7pm for Women of Proverbs 31 bible study Much Love and God Bless, University of Michigan Ann Arbor 3rd Yr Communications/Sociology Major Women of Proverbs 31 President Michigan Gospel Chorale --Who Can find a virtuous woman for her price is far above rubies? Proverbs 31:10
As is the case with unsolicited email, a number of people were upset and wrote back either saying,
- "Please remove me from this email list".
- "I am a male"
- "I am not a Christian"
Unfortunately a number of these people decided to exercise the "reply-all" option and thus precipated the crisis. Soon, the snowballed into a mail-storm as everybody started sending messages to the whole list.
One examination of the data on 12:29 PM, 2006-09-13 found that a total of 72 people had asked to be removed from the mailing list. At that time, the over/under for 12:00 PM 2006-09-15 was 120 emails.
The email was sent to the different listserv groups and hence there wasn't any list from which receipients could be removed. A solution to this problem is to create listservs that can get emails from only subscribed members.
Soon it became a free-for-all and people started posting humorous responses.
- I would like to invite all the ladies to my house for bible study and beer.
- Do *NOT* take me off this list! I don't want to miss out on future ladies' bible study announcements.
- Keep in mind that all this may be a social psych experiment to see how folks respond to a variety of provocative cues.
- Many of my friends have received the bible study invitation, but I have not. Is my soul not worth redeeming? Why have I been intentionally left out of this? I will pay in rubies if required for membership.
On 2006-09-12 10:34, an email was sent to the list:
Oh joy, another self righteous Christian group feel the need to convert other people to Chrisitanity. Keep your religion to yourself, thank you very much.
which got the following response:
If you don't like what they have to say-don't listen. Simple as that. (It's what makes the First Amendment so great.) You're no better saying things like that. Thank you very much.
One email in particular sparked a furious debate:
Subject: Why are you Sociologists and Fine Arts Majors SO UNINTELLIGENT? Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 14:02:25 From: email@example.com Seriously..I want to know? This whole thing was started by a doctoral student in sociology and then some other geniuses in Sociology, Fine Arts etc. chime in causing this to snowball out of control insanely.... Every time a mass email like this is sent out, the grad. students in these peculiar fields like Culture Studies, Sociology and the other humanities start spamming everyone because they can't seem to get it into their skulls not to hit reply to all??!!! Humanities majors+computers == disaster. At least in the sciences etc. its undergraduates that are behaving this unintelligently... Isn't it bad enough folks, that in general unfortunately for you, most people have a general sense (an unspoken bias) that these fields are rather pointless and exist merely to provide a career path to people who were too bad at Math and Science to major in any field that is actually difficult or has any actual relevance to the real world? Do you have to help these prejudices along with such illogical and senseless actions. PLEASE humanities majors-learn to use common sense...I beg of you... At least now I know why the cognate 500 level Math/Statistics class I took in Sociology was so ridiculously trivial ;-/ ! It was math intended for sociologists...figures... Please umich admins if you are listening, isn't there some way whereby you could NOT have a common mail sent out to both these humanities majors-(sociology, fine arts etc.) as well as the real fields (like Engineering, Medicine, Physics, Math, Chemistry, Biology etc). I dread being included in emails sent out to sociologists/fine arts people etc. Maybe Lawrence Summers had a point when he said Economists are smarter than Political Scientists who are smarter than Sociologists....Almost anyone seems to be smarter than a sociologist no ;-/? No wonder they come up with "studies" saying women are happier when they are not working etc. STOP SPAMMING NOW... yes I spammed you all too but seriously you humanities majors need to realise how to use email at the very least..... Have a nice day and remember when you spam everyone you make them think your field is even dumber than they already thought it was :P !
On September 12, 2006, Jim Sweeton of the University of Michigan Information Technology Central Services contributed to the spamming. In his failed attempt to stop the mail storm, Mr. Sweeton openly placed blame on the victims themselves and then threatened administrative action against certain contributors. His requests that people stop sending emails regarding this 'email abuse' to the 'abuse center' is indicative of University administrators' impotence and hyprocrisy.
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 17:36:21 -0400 Subject: From firstname.lastname@example.org--PLEASE READ N.B. You are receiving this message because your email address is involved in a "mail storm" precipitated by the "Ladies - Bible Study tonight" announcement". This mail storm must stop. All of you who have done a "reply to all" are guilty of exacerbating this mess, especially those of you who are sending advice about what to do or not do. There is no "mailing list" per se here. You received the message because either your individual email address or the address of an email group of which you are a member was in the "cc" field. The person sending out the disrespectful reply-to-all regarding the intelligence of certain classes of students will be identified and a complaint with the appropriate campus judiciary will be filed. So, please NO MORE REPLIES-TO-ALL and please don't send any more complaints to email@example.com. Also please don't send messages thanking us, or posing solutions to the problem. We are dealing with the situation as best as we can. We DO NOT block email and that would be ineffective here anyway. --Jim Sweeton Info Tech User Advocate -- ================== Information Technology User Advocate Team Information Technology Central Services (formerly ITD) University of Michigan firstname.lastname@example.org
Not to be left behind certain entrepreneurs came up with a T-shirt to commemorate the whole episode: http://www.cafepress.com/michbible
Thousands of "REMOVE ME" messages in one day? Your inbox simply can't take anymore of this REPLY TO ALL insanity? Don't vent! (and DON'T REPLY ALL!) Wear your frustrations with our new "Ladies' Bible Study of U Mich" tee shirts and buttons and "Spam Your Way To Heaven!" Commemorate the "Ladies' Bible Study" Spam-Fest of 2006! Heavenly tees in Maroon and Black! Pins for your backpack! Tees with "DO NOT REPLY ALL!" printed on the back shoulders! Look great while cleaning out your inbox! http://www.cafepress.com/michbible