A couple weeks ago an email arrived in my inbox with the subject, “hi all.” I didn’t immediately recognize the sender’s name, but figured he might be someone I knew from my years working on the jQuery team, a notion made all the more likely by the other 228 people on the recipient list, many of whom I had collaborated with on the open source software project. When I opened the message, I was expecting to read a nice little note reminiscing about the good old days of hacking on code or writing documentation or hosting conferences. What I found instead was a single question: “do you not regret what you have done?”
I was flummoxed. What could we have done that would be cause for such regret? And what could possibly justify this email? Granted, it wasn’t the first time I’d received a menacing message about jQuery. A few years ago a guy sent me a Facebook message accusing me of infecting his website with malware. One of the scripts the site was using had some code that I had authored, and he found my name in the file. I tried to explain to him how this sort of thing could happen, but he was convinced that I was some nefarious hacker who was trying to damage his site. He gave me an ultimatum: remove the malware within 36 hours, or he would report me to the FBI. I can’t say I called the man’s bluff, exactly, but I didn’t remove the malware. I couldn’t have, even if I’d wanted to. A few days later I remembered the message and smiled at the now silly thought of the feds breaking down my door.
Almost as quickly as I had processed the aggression of the first email, a second one arrived, just as terse though more conciliatory, from the same sender. All it said was, “sorry, typo, meant to send to someone else.”
I wonder if he did not regret what he had done. Hilarious. What surprised me most about this whole situation was that not a single recipient sent a “reply all.” I was waiting for a witty response—or at least a reference to the infamous “No Ragrets” tattoo. But instead, not a word. Radio silence. Maybe people don’t have time for that kind of thing anymore. I used to get a lot of chain emails—almost all of them unwanted, of course—but not anymore. I guess people would rather waste their time on social media.