A year ago, I discussed stupid email disclaimers in, “If I Screw Up, It’s Your Fault!” This week, Brian Krebs of the Washington Post comes over the same issue, indirectly, in his “They Told You Not To Reply.”
Krebs tells the story of Chet Faliszek, who owns the domain donotreply.com, which he bought in 2000 as a lark. The interesting situation is that many otherwise sane people will send broadcast messages with a return address that has donotreply.com in it. And of course, people reply. When they reply, he gets the mail.
He gets customer service mail from Charbroil grills; financial service from Capital One and Merrill Lynch; network diagrams and vulnerabity data from Yardville National Bank; faxes from Iraq contractor and former subsidiary of Halliburton, Kellog Brown & Root; and of late very interesting mail from the Department of Homeland Security.
Krebs quotes Faliszek:
“I’ve had people yell at me, saying these e-mails are marked private and that I shouldn’t read them.”
“They get all frantic like I’ve done something to them, particularly when you talk to the non-technical people at these companies.”
The most delicious emails end up on his blog. He will remove them if you show proof of a donation to an animal protection league or humane society.
Note that if you send your email to Mr Faliszek, it becomes his email. No one suggests that there is anything untoward in owning donotreply.com. No one suggests that the disclaimer has any standing. No one suggests that there is anything wrong with his letting you ransom those emails through good works.
Certainly, it’s stupid to use a domain like donotreply.com. It’s a legal domain. There are some reserved domain names, and they are documented in RFC 2606. For Heaven’s sake, use donotreply@yourdomain! However, it’s worse to have the disclaimer. Non-expert, non-technical people might think that it has standing. Note what Mr Faliszek said, that people think that because they’re marked private, he shouldn’t read what’s delivered to his domain. I have every sympathy with these people. They think they’re protected, and they’re not. Fortunately for us all, Mr Faliszek is a nice guy who loves animals. Take it away, bandleader.