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DON'T DELETE THIS MESSAGE

DON'T DELETE THIS MESSAGE

Background

DON'T DELETE THIS MESSAGE -- FOLDER INTERNAL DATA.
This text is part of the internal format of your mail folder, and is not a real message. It is created automatically by the mail system software. If deleted, important folder data will be lost, and it will be re-created with the data reset to initial values.

This is what the Pine email client -- a text-based email program for UNIX -- sticks in the top of a user's mail spool. Pine won't actually display this message. In fact, most of our users never used Pine - it was something we ran on the servers that a sysadmin or helpdesk tech could use to help a customer with a problematic email message. The "important folder data" simply referred to Pine-specific information, such as whether a message had been read or not in Pine. It would create that message, which the drooling Outlook-Express using customer would subsequently download later. Most of the time, the customer was warned that this would happen, and was told to just delete it and forget about it.

Not every time, though. Certainly not every time after we upgraded one server from ipop3d, which was written by the same folks who made Pine and would refrain from displaying this message when users downloaded their mail, to Qpopper, which at the time treated it like any other message and delivered it on to the users. Suddenly every user who had ever had Pine used on their mail spool in the history of that server was getting these things, which turned out to be a blue shitload of users. I was handling the postmaster, mailer-daemon, and root accounts at the time. Here are some of the best idiot replies from our users, real names elided out of undeserved courtesy, presented as proof that: a.) Even people who can read often don't, b.) People cannot spell, c.) People often attempt to conceal their illiteracy with excessive punctuation, and d.) People are dumb.

Most people were curious for a little more information:

What Is this
what the hell is this?
What is this bullshit?
explanation, please. never heard of this before.
I am concerned about the message I recieved from you today. Please give me further details.
Explain to me what the hell this is !!!!!!!!!!!!! NOW!!!!!!!!!!!
please explain, I don't understand the why's and wherefor's of your msg. ths

Others were also curious, but a little more on the paranoid side:

I have never heard of such a message. Please respond with more details. It is my understanding that this format can be used to transmit viruses, monitor individual's personal computer use and steal passwords.
What is this and where do I put it if I can't delete it? who are you and what are you doing hacking my PC ? please explain !!!!!! Tammy X,

Many wanted to know more about who sent it:

What company are you with. IIf I don't here from you I will delete
who are you? how did you get my email address?
need more information before I delete this message. Why not to delete? Who are you?
who the heel are you?

Then you have the private eyes and vigilantes, trying to protect themeselves from the evil MAILER-DAEMON menace:

Please identify self and or company before action is taken.
Look Im deleting what you sent me. If I get a message from you again, I will take action to report you. If my system crashes, I'll also have my ISP provider track you down and I'll take legal action. Do you understand? Thanks.
What is the meaning of this message. My inter-net provider Gibralter/Coastalnet told me they did not send this message.
what is this and who are you? we are fwding this to our server to have it investigated.
Who are you I belong to gibralter.net not pollux. I will have to report this if I do not recieve an adequite response asap. I want a phone # so I can contact a real person this is supicious e-mail.
WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS THIS? I HAVEN'T HAD ANY PROBLEMS WITH MY MAIL AS IT WAS. REPLY PLEASE.

Some people think it's actually a joke:

Can you explain to me, what is this? I am hoping it's a joke, right? How did you get my address, and who are you?
Is this an April Fool's Joke or what? You really expect me to keep this FOREVER?
What are you tyring to pull?
Yeah right....don't delete this! how can you send something like that?

A few were only concerned with clutter in their inbox:

Can it be saved to a folder or must it stay in the inbox?
what exactly is this and do i need to keep it in my in-box, a little more info. would have been nice.
What am I supposed to do with this message? Keep it here forever??! It's taking up space. WHEN can I delete it!!!!????
To Whoever
Hello, I would like to know how long I have to leave this message in my mail box?

People who would rather do something else with this message, if they could only think of something:

What am I suppose to do with this!!!!
Why? What am I supposed to do? Keep it forever? C'mon there has to be a better way to deal with this.

Some people just get downright hostile:

Dont send me this stupid shit.
No... it's not. And I'm going to delete it anyways.
Nice try asshole
What kind of hocus pocus #@%*@ is this? I don't want this thing sittin' in my mailbox or folder.....Who the @$%# are you anyway?
who the hell are you.do repond to this you jerk
is this a message or is this a joke,jerk

From my reply to that one:

It is neither a message nor a joke; and the mailer-daemon is not a jerk, it is simply the program that delivers your email.

This guy types with a Southern accent:

why caint i delete this and what if i forget its their and delete it???what will really happen?????

A reply as only a lawyer could:

Excuse me, but we must have some way to verify your authority and clarify your purpose for such action. Please provide us with a phone number and person in charge. As well as a name of the entity that is overseeing and initiating these actions. Your quick response is important and appreciated.

Sincerely,
Edward XXXXXXX YYYYYY
Attorney at Law

From the lonely, reaching out to touch MAILER-DAEMON:

WHO SENT THIS MESSAGE? I WOULD LIKE TO SPEAK WITH YOU ON THE PHONE AND DISCUSS THIS MESSAGE. THANK YOU.

From somebody who apparently speaks computerese!

Reply to this or this message will be deleated automatially!
Reason: Original message doesnt contain enough information for user understanding.
Any of the following E-Mail sites will be suffice:
myname@gibralter.com
myname@hotmail.com
mynameenterprises@hotmail.com
mynameenterprises@yahoo.com

Finally, there's complete emotional breakdown:

WHY!WHY!
WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!
WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!
WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!
WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHY!WHYWHY!WHY!WHYWHY!
WHY!
WHY!
WHY!
WHY!
WHY!

My stock reply to all of these:

This message is generated on the mailserver when a program called "Pine" is used to read your mail. If you have never used Pine, then it is most likely that a technician at Gibralter has used it to perform maintenance on your email account. Most likely, this occured some time ago; you are receiving it now as an indirect result of a recent upgrade to the mailserver.

It is perfectly safe to delete this message from your computer.

We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience.

Regards
--
CoastalNet System Administration

Also, see a collection of messages to mailer-daemon put together by Ben "Obi-Wan" Hollingsworth of Internet Nebraska for more luser stupidity.