Viral eMail

What is Viral eMail? Viral eMail is the email that gets forwarded around the Internet. This is an Internet tradition that goes back to the early days of the web and email.

The introduction to the viral email entry in Wikipedia states:

A viral email (also known as a “pass-along email”) is a certain kind of email which rapidly propagates from person to person, generally in a word-of-mouth manner. This is an example of a viral phenomenon, which is used for profit in viral marketing, but can also contribute to the propagation of Internet memes like viral videos.

The Wikipedia article mentions an archive site called ViralBank. I did a search in Google and found a link. I clicked on the link but the site did not load, as if the server were overloaded or down. I checked the Internet Archive and did find some further information as well as some information through WhoIs. The WhoIs information shows that the domain was registered toward the end of the year 2000 and that the domain name registration has been kept current. The first page indexed by the Internet Archive was in April of 2002 and the peak number of indexed pages was in 2005. The last update shown was in 2007. I don’t know if the site is still active, but there are some conclusions that we can draw from the information.

Since domain name chosen was ViralBank it would appear that the purpose of the site was to display viral emails. This domain was registered in the year 2000 which means that the viral email phenomenon was taking place at that time. Email actually predates the Internet itself, but wide spread use of the Internet did not happen until the mid 90’s.

From Wikipedia on the history of email:

E-mail is often called the killer application of the Internet. However, it actually predates the Internet and was a crucial tool in creating it. E-mail started in 1965 as a way for multiple users of a time-sharing mainframe computer to communicate. Although the history is unclear, among the first systems to have such a facility were SDC’s Q32 and MIT’s CTSS.

Commercial restrictions on the Internet ended in 1995 and YaHoo was founded in that year. While there were probably some viral eMails in the earlier days we can guess that the tradition did not come into full swing until there was relatively wide spread use of the Internet. I bought my first computer and began using the Internet in 2000 and the emails were flying by that time. Today, many people have a short list in their email contacts list to whom they forward the viral eMails.

The proper way to forward these emails is to send out to your list by bcc (Blind Carbon Copy). The previous senders addresses should be deleted from the emails you forward. Some email clients send forwards as attachments, so this may not be possible. It should be possible, in most cases, to copy the content of the email and paste it into a new email to send on. It is polite to use the bcc function because you do not expose all the other email address on your list when you forward the email. It is also polite to delete the previous sender’s email address so as not to propagate it across the ‘net and expose those senders to possible spam or threats.

The main site here goes back to the spring of 2008. I became interested in building websites and thought that a site of this type would be fun. I posted a lot of content on the main site, but building new pages for each email was a bit time consuming. I began using WordPress blogs and it occurred to me that posting these emails to a blog would be much easier than building a new page for each entry. I put up this blog earlier this year and have been adding some content most days. I hope that you have had a little fun visiting!

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