Government lab unites science journalists

Earlier this week, I and several other editorial staffers here at __The Scientist__ started receiving Emails titled ?User Quarantine Release Notification? from an ?inel.gov? address, presumably from the Idaho National Laboratory. Nothing terribly unusual about such spam, which requested that we click on a link to view a list of all of our quarantined messages. Someone had been attacked by a virus. What happened after that, however, was more unusual: __The New York Times?__ George Johnson respo

Ivan Oransky
Aug 15, 2006
Earlier this week, I and several other editorial staffers here at __The Scientist__ started receiving Emails titled ?User Quarantine Release Notification? from an ?inel.gov? address, presumably from the Idaho National Laboratory. Nothing terribly unusual about such spam, which requested that we click on a link to view a list of all of our quarantined messages. Someone had been attacked by a virus. What happened after that, however, was more unusual: __The New York Times?__ George Johnson responded to the message with a message of his own, saying he was puzzled to be getting the Emails. That made it clear that the original address was actually a group mail address for some kind of list. That list, it turned out, included a number of prominent science writers, some of whom responded to George (and everyone else) and began an electronic conversation: __Time?s__ Michael Lemonick, __The Wall Street Journal?s__ Marilyn Chase, Johnson?s...
ion? from an ?inel.gov? address, presumably from the Idaho National Laboratory. Nothing terribly unusual about such spam, which requested that we click on a link to view a list of all of our quarantined messages. Someone had been attacked by a virus. What happened after that, however, was more unusual: __The New York Times?__ George Johnson responded to the message with a message of his own, saying he was puzzled to be getting the Emails. That made it clear that the original address was actually a group mail address for some kind of list. That list, it turned out, included a number of prominent science writers, some of whom responded to George (and everyone else) and began an electronic conversation: __Time?s__ Michael Lemonick, __The Wall Street Journal?s__ Marilyn Chase, Johnson?s __Times__ colleague Claudia Deutsch, __and Natural History?s__ Peter Brown, among others. ?Nice to meet you? was mixed in with ?We should get matching bowling shirts? and ?WE ARE ALL BEING SPAMMED, SO LET'S PLEASE GET OVER IT AND STOP THE CHAIN OF REPLIES.? One correspondent said he had tried to contact the Idaho lab?s system administrator, to no avail. Government spam, it turns out, can bring together even the most hard-charging reporter competitors.

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