Throwing away good email accounts May 25, 2010 8:53 PM   Subscribe

Is anyone else concerned about using nice, otherwise usable gmail usernames for throwaway email accounts?

Sorry if this has already been addressed -- I couldn't find anything in a search. Every time I see a funny, witty and non-metafilter-referential email set up as a throwaway account for an anonymous askme --like "brokenheartontheinternet@gmail.com," for this recent question -- I feel a quiet grief inside. That seems like an address with a lot of other great possibilities, and now it has been limited to one purpose and a lifespan only as long as the question itself. Do most people delete the accounts when the question is answered? Is it responsible internet usage to keep using generic account names from a good service like gmail, which is sort of prime email real estate (as opposed to hotmail, for example)? Some people add "mefi" to the end of the account name, which seems like a good solution; but most of the names I've seen today don't have it.

Or am I completely overthinking it.
posted by ramenopres to MetaFilter-Related at 8:53 PM (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I was all Oh god, won't someone please think of the email addresses and then I came here and wow.
posted by sanko at 8:59 PM on May 25, 2010 [14 favorites]


I think you're overthinking it. There are skillions of ways to tweak a throwaway address if the first one you try is taken. If "brokenheartontheinternet" is taken, I could always try "brokenheartontheweb", "brokenheartedontheinternet", "lovelornontheinternet", and so forth.

That said: would it be possible to add a MefiMail feature that would allow private messages to be forwarded to anonymous question-posters? Or is there a strong firewall between anonymous questions and those who post them that we don't want to make any holes in? Or is this just a pony in search of a problem?
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:00 PM on May 25, 2010


It's funny that you bring this up. I've been having a long-running discussion about this between many of my fake gmail accounts. Worrying.mefite@gmail agrees with you, while sock.puppet@gmail disagrees. Bean.plater@gmail thinks this whole answer is a contrivance, but nobody listens to him. If you want to chime in, send me a shout out at shout.out.meta.meta.meta@gmail.com
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:00 PM on May 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty surprised that every email that doesn't look like ZebRA15SHIFTY1OGDEN0000008 hasn't been mined by robots by now.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:02 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I agree with ramenopres. Just because you can graze your sheep on the common pasture all the time, doesn't mean you should.
posted by amtho at 9:10 PM on May 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Just the other day I was trying to register "shavingmygoatsballsgivesitanastyrash@gmail.com" for online bill payments and other impersonal business but I was thwarted. Damn you, Anonymous!
posted by Burhanistan at 9:11 PM on May 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Or is there a strong firewall between anonymous questions and those who post them that we don't want to make any holes in?

Right now, this. This is always one of the things that comes up and we think "Yeah that would be good, but really difficult to implement securely and the workarounds mostly work for now" and then we leave it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:13 PM on May 25, 2010


Could limited, question-linked accounts be created for anonymous posters, requiring log-in through the question page and just providing the private messaging service? A password could be assigned or approved with approval of the question.
posted by ramenopres at 9:20 PM on May 25, 2010


If there's anything that "ought" to happen with anonymous questions, I would vote for anonymous replies. Besides, if folks feel all that guilty, they can close the accounts after a month or so.
posted by adipocere at 9:24 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


ramenopres: “Or am I completely overthinking it.”

Well, I don't think you're overthinking it. I don't know if there is such a thing.

The situation here, though, is that this is Google's problem. And Google is clearly well aware of the fact that people are likely to register all sorts of throwaway email addresses. Believe me, they've got @google.com and @gweb.com and @bigbrother.com and @we.know.everything.about.you.yes.that.too.com all staked out and ready to go, should they ever run out of @gmail.com addresses. And if they weren't prepared for that eventuality, I have a feeling they would never have brought the service out of beta and allowed people to sign up dozens of accounts if they want to.
posted by koeselitz at 9:30 PM on May 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


If I think of a clever or omgcool e-mail address, I snag it before anyone else can. Solves the problem of, "Wish I'd thought of that!"

FYI, even if the person deletes the account afterward, google still considers the name unusable.
posted by biochemist at 9:36 PM on May 25, 2010


koeselitz: "Believe me, they've got @google.com and @gweb.com and @bigbrother.com and @we.know.everything.about.you.yes.that.too.com all staked out and ready to go, should they ever run out of @gmail.com addresses. "

You forgot @googlemail.com, which until recently was where British Gmail addresses resided. The fact that Google is consolidating British and US domains onto @gmail.com suggests there's no concern about running out anytime soon. I think most people are still interested in registering some variation of firstname.lastname.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:44 PM on May 25, 2010


I've had this nick @yahoomail for over ten freaking years and this nick @gmail ever since the google started emailing. Just last week I wondered if anybody had ever taken it @hotmail and was shocked and delighted to find it available. Well, not anymore! I am on my way to cornering the market on this nick!
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:51 PM on May 25, 2010


"brokenheartontheinternet" is 24 letters. By the time you're at that length, there are so many combinations of user names that it's pretty silly to think of it as a resource that could be depleted. Now, if people were somehow registering "steve@gmail.com" as a single-serving throwaway address, then you might have a point. But the fact that those are snatched up in the first 5 minutes of gmail's existence pretty much goes hand in hand with their rarity -- the fact that those 24 letter throwaway addresses are still available is proof that they are plentiful and not in demand.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:11 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know if it's still true, but you used to be able to sign up for a free 90-day trial with Apple's DotMac service to reserve a handle. And then another, and another, and another. You could sit in front of the computer all day registering every name and permutation you could think of. And then Apple would preserve all of them, as if they were legitimate accounts, forever. (At least, they said "forever.") And if some actual paying customer came along and wanted to fork over $99 a year for the handle that you had registered but never used three years ago...well, that was just too bad for him.

I always thought that was lame. So I tend to agree. Maybe if I were going to create a one-off email account, I'd pick something random ("TH73K4MM5N623D@gmail.com"). But then, if somebody chooses something catchy like "BrokenHeartOnTheInternet," maybe they get so much good advice in-thread that they decide to start a blog about heartbreak and that becomes their email address, and then eventually the title of their book. "TH73K4MM5N623D" would not make a good book title.
posted by cribcage at 10:16 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


You folks know about the trick with gmail where you can use

thisisafakeaddress@gmail.com
this.isafakeaddress@gmail.com
thisis.afakeaddress@gmail.com
thisisafa.keaddress@gmail.com
thisisafake.address@gmail.com

or any of the other variations for . locations, and despite the fact that they are 'unique', they will all go to the same, undotted address?

I don't use that, but it seems like if someone was actually concerned about the issue raised (which think is pretty silly, to be honest), that would be a way around it, as long as you remembered which version of the address you used where.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:25 PM on May 25, 2010


On a related note, I noticed awhile back that a partial sign-up on Mefi (registering an account but failing to pay the $5 fee) permanently reserves the chosen username, even if it's never activated. The throwaway Gmail thing doesn't seem like a problem, since the email address is usually problem-specific, but with usernames I'd expect all kinds of good names to be taken this way, especially when the majority of sign-ups aren't completed. Kind of a drag, since they're being reserved for nothing in the vast majority of cases.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:30 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


You're overthinking it, yes. Heart in the right place, but you're underestimating just how explosively large the namespace is for email handles; in raw terms we get into the realm of literally billions of possibilities in the first six character, even just considering [a-z0-9]. The intelligible subset of that's smaller, but, as Rhomboid notes, we're not looking at steve@gmail, so that's kind of a moot point.

Aside from which, random spammers do far more damage to that (again, ridiculously large) namespace every hour of every day than anonymous askers have in the lifetime of the site.

And, yeah, as Jessamyn noted, the way the site works right now in terms of pointedly refusing to know who asked what anonymous question makes engineering a direct anony-followup solution problematic. Standard operating procedure on that front is for askers—and answerers—who want to follow up anonymously to just drop the mod team a line and we'll post a comment for you by proxy.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:40 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


but with usernames I'd expect all kinds of good names to be taken this way, especially when the majority of sign-ups aren't completed. Kind of a drag, since they're being reserved for nothing in the vast majority of cases.

It's a bummer if the specific username you want is already taken, but, again, the actual namespace is gigantic. Especially in the context of a relatively small site with fairly generous limits on username length. Sucks to be "rob" or "john" and to show up late to the party, but I can assure you that the vast majority of camped, never-finished-off usernames are not strings anyone is likely to be fighting over.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:43 PM on May 25, 2010


I am kind of confused. I did not think email addresses had some minimum usage requirement or minimum time requirement. I own about 10 domains all that are email administered through google. I can have any nick I want at any of my domains. Yet I still have the 5 or 7 variations to my name that I could think of at gmail. And a few others for the odd off email I want to send or receive. It also got me about 5 different google voice numbers. I have one for where I live now, one for where I used to live, one for where my cabin is and another for locally that I give out to any business that asks for a number. Is that not good either?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:53 PM on May 25, 2010


Forget Rob & John - Shifty Ogden really got the shaft here.
posted by mintcake! at 10:53 PM on May 25, 2010


If you'd like to do your part at conserving Gmail addresses, you can use a service like GishPuppy that will give you an address@gishpuppy.com that will forward to your real mail account. You can't reply without revealing your real email address, but it's a start.
posted by IndigoRain at 10:57 PM on May 25, 2010


I was inspired by the Butterfield FPP we just had. I think I'm going to grab throwawayemailaddress@gmail.com right now.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:56 PM on May 25, 2010


You folks know about the trick with gmail where you can use

thisisafakeaddress@gmail.com
this.isafakeaddress@gmail.com
thisis.afakeaddress@gmail.com
thisisafa.keaddress@gmail.com
thisisafake.address@gmail.com


I did not know that. I'm going to put dots throughout my email addresses to exact revenge on CSRs and administrators that annoy me.

g.e.t.f.u.c.k.e.d.f.o.r.p.u.t.t.i.n.g.m.e.o.n.h.o.l.d.f.o.r.t.e.n.m.i.n.u.t.e.s@gmail.com

It's important that you put that dot in after "m", otherwise I won't get your email! Thanks!
posted by doublehappy at 5:11 AM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Aside from which, random spammers do far more damage to that (again, ridiculously large) namespace every hour of every day than anonymous askers have in the lifetime of the site.

Yes, but anonymous spammers don't necessarily appreciate the subtleties of language.

brokenheartontheinternet@gmail.com really works for me. twis_enl4rgeP3nIS_44@gmail.com doesn't.
posted by doublehappy at 5:16 AM on May 26, 2010


Ha, I had that thought too. Something like brokenheartontheinternet.mefi would be one way around it, I guess, but the odds of it catching on are slim.
posted by mail at 5:17 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, gmail may close accounts that haven't been logged into in nine months. I'm unsure how often they actually do this, but they say that they might.
posted by Plutor at 5:23 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's important that you put that dot in after "m", otherwise I won't get your email! Thanks!

You can tell them that to torture them, but of course the way it works is that no matter where they put the dots or how many, the email will get to your inbox!

Pregnant with potential for delicious evil.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:23 AM on May 26, 2010


Ah, I almost forgot the other excellent gmail trick.

You can use an address like mystupidemailaddress+askmefi@gmail.com, and email sent to that address (which is, of course, uniquely identified in the Sendto as coming from the email you exposed for AskMetafilter, the one with the +askmefi bit) will show up in your mystupidemailaddress@gmail.com account. Use +whatever for other sites as you like.

Now just put those two tips I offer together, and you've got FUN AND PROFIT.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:27 AM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


Do you guys know about mailinator.com? You don't have to register. You just make up a mailinator.com e-mail address, e.g. fakeaddress@mailinator.com. Then you can go check the mailbox whenever -- there is no password.

There are limitations -- mail is automatically deleted after a few hours, a mailbox will only hold ten or so messages, anyone can see messages sent to the address (no password) -- but it might be worth a go sometimes.
posted by amtho at 5:54 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


And using stavros' tips, you can create a loop of several automatically forwarding gmail addresses. As the emails get forwarded from one address to the next, they build up speed like the Large Hadron Collider. Once they reach terminal velocity, you can change the forwarding of one of the gmail addresses to another address, thus slingshotting a superfast email at it. It's like a railgun firing. The resulting email explosion will totally obliterate most* email addresses, making this a good weapon to use in an internet flamewar.

* Some addresses are more robust than you think, especially known CEO addresses like sjobs@mac and so on. On the plus side, you can then pick through the pieces of your shattered email to learn about the building blocks of the internet.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:01 AM on May 26, 2010 [8 favorites]


Mailinator sounds like a shitty solution. At least some of the people emailing an anonymous OP are doing so because they want to share something in a private space. Using a public email that anyone can access betrays that completely.
posted by 6550 at 6:07 AM on May 26, 2010


Yeah, you're right, 6550. I didn't think it through.
posted by amtho at 6:16 AM on May 26, 2010


I am wondering if a solution would be an integration with the Mefi Mail system, something like this:

1) Post generates an internal address, for example askme100000@mefi (with the number corresponding to the post number) which forwards to the user's mefi mail;
2) If the user chooses to reply, it is sent from the same post-generated email address only if it's a reply to another message (to prevent, say, anonymous spamming or hate mail being sent).
3) When the post closes, the email is deactivated automatically.

This seems like a lot of programming to solve a non-mefi problem, though.
posted by Hiker at 6:18 AM on May 26, 2010


I would suggest that people sign up for fake Google Wave names instead. That way no one would care.
posted by jefeweiss at 6:20 AM on May 26, 2010


This is why I generate my throwaway emails on Hotmail -- GMail addresses are just too valuable!
posted by Xoder at 6:34 AM on May 26, 2010


Why do you hate our freedoms?
posted by briank at 7:13 AM on May 26, 2010


Do you guys know about mailinator.com?

Mailinator links are a problem actually as 6550 says. It looks like they changed the way their system works at some point so that you can give them an actual alternate inbox name instead of a "hey anyone check this address" email address, but we've had to remove mailinator addresses from AskMe questions in the past because it was unclear whether the answers people sent in could be read by everyone and if it's not clear to me it's definitely not clear to the average MeFite.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:31 AM on May 26, 2010


Yeah, mailinator is kind of a nightmare that way; we've had a few cases where folks have gotten ahold of us after the fact to say "oh god I didn't understand my throwaway mailinator mail would be world-readable!" and we've had to fix something up.

That said, I think I remember Jessamyn saying she had done a little research and found that mailinator has some kind of private-account option or something. But that's kind of aside the point if folks don't use it.

This seems like a lot of programming to solve a non-mefi problem, though.

That's generally what we bump up against when we think about it, yeah. It'd take a lot more effort than I think it's probably worth to both try and enable communication between the accounts and anonymity AND preserve that lack-of-connection anonymity within the db, and it's a problem that we have a less elegant but very simple solution for already: email us.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:39 AM on May 26, 2010


New Cultural Touchstones: The Deepwater Horizon rig sitting at a downtown New Orleans table with the Upper Big Branch mine. They are drinking Pimm's Cups and arguing about the iPad.
posted by BeerFilter at 8:00 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is always one of the things that comes up and we think "Yeah that would be good, but really difficult to implement securely and the workarounds mostly work for now" and then we leave it.


Warning the following is totally hyperbolic and not meant to imply the end of the world, or even harsh criticism, just an observation:

Yeah, this is pretty much the societal attitude about all resources once they become mainstream. Breaking our dependence on oil? "Yeah that would be good, but really difficult to implement securely and the workarounds mostly work for now and then we leave it."
posted by edgeways at 8:07 AM on May 26, 2010


I know you didn't mean that to sound like a dick comment, but it really sort of did.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:30 AM on May 26, 2010


Let's turn over a new leaf with resource management and acquisition right now! It will be straight line from email namespace to ending our dependence on fossil fuels!
posted by Burhanistan at 8:39 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


Something about this question kind of reminds me of the cell phone commercial with the parent nagging the whole family about throwing away their perfectly good leftover minutes.
posted by juliplease at 8:51 AM on May 26, 2010


Not to hijack the question here, but how completely anonymous is the current anonymous architecture? I assume since a mod has to approve that a question is at least not entirely anonymous until after the mod has approved. Does the mod then still have access to track down who asked a given anonymous question? If yes, is this something that could conceivably be accessed by a non-mod with sufficient knowledge / resources to hack the site? If I have a question about what I want to do with a plate of beans and this crate of semi-tamed weasels I've gotten my hands on, but it absolutely needs to remain completely anonymous at all costs, should AskMe not be considered a resource for such a question? I know the form says "When it is posted it will have no connection whatsoever to your account" but is that entirely accurate?

hurry please the weasels are waking up and I just warmed the cheezwhiz
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:52 AM on May 26, 2010


We have answered this question often, maybe we need to add it to the FAQ but it seems a little overly detailed

- What you ask an anonymous question, two things happen, a question is added to the mefi db and the anony queue, and an email goes to me/matt saying "user XXXX asked a question, approve it in the queue" with a link to the queue, not the question
- the anony queue usually has a few questions in it at a time and I check it usually a few times a day and approve/disapprove based on a few things. When I'm doing this I do not know who asked the question, but I could dig and figure it out if I needed to [suicide questions are usually the only time we do this regularly]
- the question in the db does not have any link to user information, it's linked to the anonymous user account
- the question in the queue has no link to the originally asking user
- the email we get has the username but no link to the actual question

Ways to triangulate these things to try to make a link include checking timestamps of the email we get against the timestamp of the queued question (not the time the question was posted) and/or checking IP addresses and making a guess. There may be more sophisticated ways to do it but those are the only ones I know how to do. Without hacking into our email AND the admin interface to the site, there is no way to do this. And if people are hacking into these things, anonymous questions are sort of on a long list of "shit to worry about" as far as I'm concerned.

We have been clear, very clear, that mods have access to who asked anonymous questions and that if you need to ask a question that is anonymous to everyone, you need to not do it here. If you need a question to not have the mods know who asked it, you need to not do it here.

We've had people historically, rarely, try to create elaborately anonymous accounts for the purpose of asking very high security types of anonymous questions and this system is really not designed for that sort of thing and we're not interested in doing that sort of thing with it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:03 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


I know you didn't mean that to sound like a dick comment, but it really sort of did.

Aye, and I apologize for that. I heartily recognize that you and cortex (and the others) do a good job here, full stop. And yes, absolutely it is "just" a gmail account. But, for me, that is endemic of something larger.

It does seem like the anonymous Ask feature is kinda held together with duct tape and bailing wire so to speak. Yes it works, but it could work better, more anonymous, an in-site anonymous response/follow up, more self-contained and on-site rather than 3rd party or direct mod intervention... but the unified response to questions like this is that it is too hard to fix.

It seems like (and I acknowledge this might be conformation bias) the majority of responses to site suggestions in recent memory have been, too hard, too much work, or (paraphrasing) too disruptive to the membership.

I... respect that, but it seems pretty limiting and indicates that site evolution is static with the exception of adding on sub-sites or small tweaks.

*shrug* At the end of the day Metafilter is what Metafilter is. I enjoy it, it is a good online community the moderators do a better job than on most sites.
posted by edgeways at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2010


-hug-
posted by edgeways at 9:13 AM on May 26, 2010


OK, sorry this has been answered often and I missed it, but at least *I* won't ask again. Also I think your last line kind of assumes that my weasels aren't high-security weasels. Hmph.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:19 AM on May 26, 2010


It does seem like the anonymous Ask feature is kinda held together with duct tape and bailing wire so to speak.

You're totally right. And I should maybe be clearer, it's a combination of it being complicated to fix and at the same time not really wanting to add utility to a feature that is gaining in popularity and really intended as a once-in-a-while thing for people on the site who occasionally need to ask something anonymously.

So, maybe we haven't been clear about that aspect of it. The percentage of anonymous questions relative to all questions overall is creeping up [it hovers at around 10% now] and we don't want to see that number getting much higher. There's a slight ding to the community aspect of the site when questions are asked anonymously. We really want people to be able to do it, but we don't want people to think of the site as a place to go ask questions anonymously. So there are some hurdles built in.

They're also labor intensive from a mod perspective. Iffy questions [like suicide or other really problematic questions], unapproved questions that require explanation, follow-ups to questions, community response to anonymous questions [from "why is this anonymous" to "you are a fucking asshole"] and my favorite: anonymous question as perv writing exercise.

I know it's a little weird to be like "hey this thing is popular but we don't want to make it more popular!" but it's more like "hey we don't see this thing as a core mission of the site and so we don't want to spend mod-admin-programmer time on it at the expense of improving other thigns that do serve the core mission.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:31 AM on May 26, 2010


It does seem like the anonymous Ask feature is kinda held together with duct tape and bailing wire so to speak. Yes it works, but it could work better, more anonymous

Really, the core anony feature is pretty solid and self-contained. The core question-asking functionality is as anonymous as it can be as far as the site is concerned: it takes effort for us to ever find out who asked what in any given case, which is good for folks wanting a sense of privacy by default; that cannot be determined, period, by examining the content of the db, which is good for folks worried about a server breach; and because it's possible for us to indirectly track down the identity of an asker, it leaves us able to do the necessary ground work for the rare cases of abuse of the feature or someone trying to ask about suicide or so on.

What's a bit bailing-wire about the process if anything is the anonymous-followup procedure, and while we readily acknowledge that it's a bit of speedbump and a bit manual to have to go through the mods to do that, it does also provide a level of accountability to those followups that a purely anonymous channel for followups would not. Which, duct tape and all, is helpful in practice as we sometimes have to talk anony respondents through the "this is why we will not post your followup as specified" regarding like angry retorts and so on. Setting aside the question of implementation, being able to do some moderation on not-purely-anonymous followup stuff is important.

but the unified response to questions like this is that it is too hard to fix.

It's hard to fix in a way that preserves the current balance of on-site/in-db anonymity for anonyquestions with our need to be able to moderate stuff and make sure the site isn't being abused. Building a much more complicated toolset to essentially recreate the current system but with less capacity for us to moderate it is not a particularly attractive proposition even if the motivation for it from userland is understandable, basically.

The anony feature exists on askme because people wanted it; what is there now does a pretty excellent job of solving most of that basic problem, in that people can ask questions anonymously and they're anonymous start-to-finish even to us if we don't have some specific reason to get forensic about the whole thing. Ultimately, it's just a feature on AskMe and not the site's core purpose, and given that we're opting on the side of minimal instead of zero moderator capacity to connect the dots it should not be used by someone who has hardcore mission-critical needs for bulletproof anonymity.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:37 AM on May 26, 2010


zero moderator capacity

Goddamn I need railguns NOW.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:45 AM on May 26, 2010


too niche?
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:45 AM on May 26, 2010


I wish we could drop the anonymous "I'm looking for XYZ type porn" questions. It's not just that they seem a bit trivial, although they do, but it's the odd mix of "I don't want anyone to know I like porn" and "But tell me all about the porn you like."

Meh. I'm boring myself so.
posted by 6550 at 10:27 AM on May 26, 2010


You can use an address like mystupidemailaddress+askmefi@gmail.com, and email sent to that address (which is, of course, uniquely identified in the Sendto as coming from the email you exposed for AskMetafilter, the one with the +askmefi bit) will show up in your mystupidemailaddress@gmail.com account. Use +whatever for other sites as you like.

This is what I try to do anytime I enter my email address, but there are way too many sites out there that tell me it's not valid. Stupid programmers using stupider parsers....
posted by inigo2 at 10:57 AM on May 26, 2010


I'm not reading the whole thread, but it's always annoyed me for some reason. I think it's from back when gmail was hard to get an invite to. That, and the seeming permanence. I'm a big fan of mailinator addresses (and temporary CC card numbers) for things that I don't need after X number of months, and anony mefi is one of those things.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:24 PM on May 26, 2010


We're getting to the point where we won't accept anonyme questions with mailinator addresses, so you might want to go back and read some of this thread.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:29 PM on May 26, 2010


Now, if people were somehow registering "steve@gmail.com" as a single-serving throwaway address, then you might have a point. But the fact that those are snatched up in the first 5 minutes of gmail's existence pretty much goes hand in hand with their rarity

I have a ridiculously common first+last name, and a buddy that was working at google back when gmail was opened for beta. I thought I was getting a sweet deal when I got my first.initial+last.name@gmail.com.

It is the worst thing ever. There are literally millions of people with my first initial + last name, and they all think it's their address, or they give out some variation of it to friends that get it wrong. But I get dozens of mis-sent emails, hundreds of newsletters, at least 3-4 password reset attempts a day. I get people's late homework, their resum├ęs, all manner of obnoxious forwards from relatives that aren't even mine, nudie pics sent from cellphones, angry breakup letters from strangers, then angry follow-up emails from their parents asking me why I'm stalking their teenagers and they are calling the FBI. I've also gotten some really alarming stuff from .mil addresses that I am pretty sure I shouldn't be seeing. I get people's bank statements, order receipts, you name it.

Some day I'm going to get sick of wading through it and register ajsdf7623j4jsdf9asdf@gmail.com.
posted by cj_ at 2:43 PM on May 26, 2010 [4 favorites]


I get email for other jessamyns fairly frequently because they're jessamynbla@gmail and I'm jessamyn@gmail. Also in the past two days I have gotten two emails from different jessamyns who were sending stuff to themselves and sent it to me by accident.

I amuse myself with the emails I send in response. "This baby is lovely. Unfortunately I do not know any of you, though you all seem very nice. You might want to check your address book and make sure these photos get sent to the jessamyn who knows the parents of this baby. Thanks and mazel tov on the new arrival."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:58 PM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


Anonymous questions are for basic privacy, not for hiding from Interpol.
posted by theora55 at 3:18 PM on May 26, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have added that the the faq, it's a decent one-liner that sums up our feelings about it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:20 PM on May 26, 2010


first.initial+last.name@gmail.com

I'm not sure what you're representing there, but that email address is just, assuming your first initial is 'c', c@gmail.com

I didn't think single letter addresses were possible with gmail.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:40 PM on May 26, 2010


I don't think he meant a literal +, I'm pretty sure he was saying that he got jsmith@gmail or bjohnson@gmail or dwilliams@gmail or whatever.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:24 PM on May 26, 2010


Ah. In case it wasn't clear, then, the '+' signs in that stupid gmail tip I talked about above are literal, actual '+' signs...

That is, stavros+thewonderchicken@gmail.com (literal string) would direct to stavros@gmail.com. Which is not an address I own.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:30 PM on May 26, 2010


I tried using the '+' feature a few times back in the day and the online forms I was trying to fill out rejected the '+' as not a real character in email addresses.
posted by aniola at 7:01 PM on May 26, 2010


Yeah, that happens. I still run in to email forms sometimes that have character limits on them, which is the stupidest. freaking. thing.

And also username character limits of 20, which makes stavrosthewonderchicken 3 characters too long. Damn their eyes.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:59 PM on May 26, 2010


You know, mefimail.com is still available. Somebody could register that, set it up with Google Apps for Domains, and we could use that.
posted by etoile at 4:34 AM on June 7, 2010


50 users max, unless you want to pay.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:34 AM on June 7, 2010


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