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Urban Legend Bot

Generates automated replies to annoying urban legend emails
  (+18)(+18)
(+18)
  [vote for,
against]

From time to time I find my inbox polluted with emails from well meaning but misguided friends. I'm sure others have recieved glurge about a nationwide petrol strike or a petition for a Lithuanian child who needs an urgent transplant. These almost invariably prove to be total rubbish.

I'd be great if someone could write a bot which could check snopes.com, urbanlegends.com etc and draft an automated reply to such inane emails. It could chastise the sender for not checking their facts, and refer them to the appropriate page(s).

nb: I've been awake for ~30 hours and I'm running on caffeine and willpower, so apologies if this is a crap idea

madradish, Jan 06 2002

(?) snopes.com Inboxer Rebellion http://www.snopes2....inboxer/inboxer.htm
Dedicated to refuting ill-formed emails. [pottedstu, Jan 06 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Straight Dope http://www.straightdope.com
Another good source of refutations, but a little less scholarly. [pottedstu, Jan 06 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Firediving certification http://www.firediving.com/
[normzone, Jul 01 2009]

[link]






       I always enjoy checking out snopes, urbanlegends.com, Straight Dope, etc, to refute people's stupidity and read the entertaining writing therein. But I guess there's a limit to it. snopes seems to devote a lot of effort to refuting precisely this sort of email forwarding. It shouldn't be that much of a stretch for someone to add something to their site to match a received message against their list, or just to keep a central database of emails and their refutations.
pottedstu, Jan 06 2002
  

       I'm on a mailing list where someone just posted a virus warning. Had the poster done even the most basic reserch of googling for the virus name, he would have found that it is a hoax, and that the "remedy" actually cripples Windows (more than it is already, I mean.)   

       I'll vote for this if it's added to email clients in a similar way as the spell checker -- i.e., when you send an outbound email it checks it against snopes.com, urbanlegends.com, and straightdope.com, and warns you if you are sending out something that appears to be a known UL.
mwburden, Jan 06 2002
  

       Another way for this to work would be for a company to offer a service that for every suspicious email you receive, you forward to the company, which checks it and reports back on its genuineness if it's true, or if it's false sends a refutation to the original sender.
pottedstu, Jan 06 2002
  

       It's an old urban legend that people stay up for ~30 hours running on caffeine and willpower.
bristolz, Jan 06 2002
  

       or absinthe and wallpaper
po, Jan 06 2002
  

       [bristolz]: :p
[mwburden] - good idea! I wonder if we could persuade AOL to incorporate it (seeing as that's where many of these UL emails originate).
  

       The platinum UL bot could also include a feature that combats chain emails. eg, checks for lines such as "send this to x friends" and then sends x copies of the email back to the originating address with a subject line of "don't forward chain mail".   

       That'd learn 'em
madradish, Jan 07 2002
  

       *X*Newsflash*X* Man found dead with whipped cream, hundreds and thousands, custard and cherries on his head...police believe he topped himself.
gizmo_man, Aug 15 2002
  

       pottedstu, there are programs like SpamAssasin that flag email according to how likely it is to be spam (eg it picks the Nigerian letters at max probability) so I guess it could be modded to cover urban legends, if not already.
pfperry, Aug 15 2002
  

       // I received an email of this type once //   

       ONCE! How often do you change email addresses then?
PeterSilly, Aug 16 2002
  

       First string in the filter list: "please forward this". Always a red flag. (WTAGIPBAN)
krelnik, Nov 24 2002
  

       I am all for this. I usually cut and paste the snopes writeup and send it back to the sender. (I am ashamed to admit, it is usually a family member). This would save me the effort. I like this Idea so much I am going to send it to everyone in my address book and tell them all terrible things will happen to them if they don't forward it.
marymalibu, Feb 26 2003
  

       this could be a nice add on to spam filters/ or a plugin to Thunderbird etc. Bun (+).
neilp, Aug 04 2005
  

       Great Idea! Although, instead of just a reply, send them the whole forum worth of crap for every insignificant subject the even touch... sold [+]
Gryph, Aug 04 2005
  

       Then again, you could also: Hunt down every spam artist that does this, take him out to the desert, strip him down, blow out his knee caps at point blank with a 12 guage, then cover him in honey and let the red ants finish him off. .....just a suggestion.
Gryph, Aug 04 2005
  

       Is it the forwarded crap that has kept you up 30 hours?   

       Could somebody cash a nigerian check for me?   

       Oh yeah..send this annotation to 15 of your friends and you will become enlightened. Or at least become dressed in SCUBA gear..
moPuddin, Aug 05 2005
  

       Hey, that SCUBA thing is for real, I've got my certification (link).
normzone, Jul 01 2009
  

       Inspired by normzone's link, I'd like a site devoted to providing 'independent' evidence, cunningly cobbled together from 'credible' sources, that the preposterous claims made in the circulars are actually true, so that you can quickly send a response that will persuade whoever it was the forwarded the thing to you that yes, they have actually stumbled upon some remarkable truth.
DrBob, Jul 01 2009
  

       Too funny. Reminds me of an idea I had today to tweak my republican cohorts.   

       Take one of those "If you care about your country, read this and forward it to everybody you know" emails that get sent out regardless of who's in power.   

       But choose one from the previous administration, and just substitute "Obama" wherever it previously said "Bush", "liberal" for "conservative", etcetera, but leave the rest of the body of the email intact.
normzone, Jul 01 2009
  

       A better implementation of this might be on the sender's side.   

       You receive the forward about Bill Gates giving you a free Disney vacation, hit forward, and a dialog box pops up and says "It appears that you are forwarding an urban legend (with links). Do you wish to send anyway?"
cowtamer, Jul 01 2009
  

       Ooh, I like that one.
normzone, Jul 01 2009
  
      
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