back to article Somebody is destined for somewhere hot, and definitely not Coventry

Welcome to Who, Me?, where hallowed ground gets trampled as a reader inadvertently cleans up the collective act of the senior staff. Our story, told to us by "Susan" takes us back a quarter of a century to her time working for a well-known seller of mortgages in the UK (a firm that, for reasons that will become clear, will …

  1. Admiral Grace Hopper

    The Usual Suspects

    We had issues with all the usual postal addresses in Scunthorpe, Penistone, Chorlton cum Hardy and so on. Oddly, it didn't find Clitheroe to be a problem.

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: The Usual Suspects

      It couldn't fine the last one...?

      When I put our companies first mail filter in back in the late 90's it would send the whole email when it found some keywords to another - in this case shared - mailbox for us to review. Not sure in hindsight how they get away with it because there wasn't such a thing as an acceptable use/monitoring agreement policy in place back then.

      I had a rather stern female colleague from sales come badgering us aggressively because she wasn't getting emails through from a colleague (if filtered on all emails both internal and external).

      I pulled up the shared mailbox they went into and the first one she hadn't received was pure filth. As was the first one from her that was blocked.

      She was outraged that it was interfering with her love life (oh - they were married as well, just not to each other). I tried to explain that whilst I really didn't care one way or the other, maybe sending pornographic emails to one another via their corporate accounts wasn't a good idea but she was adamant she was going to report us to the IT Director... as far as I know she never was that daft, but maybe he just laughed her out of his office.

      We still got the odd email flagged from them with the same explicit descriptions of what they planned to do to one another so some people just don't learn.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The Usual Suspects

          Accidental use of "forward" rather than "reply" can also yield results. Particularly if you're careful who it gets forwarded too.

          We all know the right destination. The person who, if loose lips really sank ships, would ensure there'd be nothing left afloat in the world.

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: The Usual Suspects

        Huh, I thought you said "We still get the odd e-mail flagged from them" - twenty plus years later. A little inspiring... like the couple in "Last of the Summer Wine" who pursued adultery on bicycles, for many years...

    2. PhoenixKebab

      Re: The Usual Suspects

      "Oddly, it didn't find Clitheroe to be a problem."

      Apparently it is like Guitar Hero, but with only one button.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: The Usual Suspects

        You need to press and fiddle with it in time to music?

        I have no idea what the people of Wetwang would make of that...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Usual Suspects

      Also "Derwentwater".

      I don't know about email filters, but just try to set up your own race in Forza Horizon 4 at that location, and using that in the name...

    4. Nursing A Semi

      Re: The Usual Suspects

      I lived in Acocks Green, hardly anything I sent that included my address made it through.

      1. Admiral Grace Hopper

        Re: The Usual Suspects

        I was driving through Acocks Green with a Filipino friend when she said, "This reminds me of Manila!"

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: The Usual Suspects

          I've been to Acocks Green, and I've been to Manila. They have virtually nothing in common.

          I think you forgot the punchline ... Or I somehow missed the setup.

    5. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: The Usual Suspects

      Yep, I worked in a council back from 2004-2006 and we regularly had to review the filters in Lotus Notes. To be honest, there wasn't any filth (or at least not that I saw - although it being fully open plan may have helped there), but we regularly had to release e-mails mentioning Scunthorpe and the likes. The rest were mainly silly videos and picture memes. I built up a bit of a collection of the best ones if I recall...

  2. Wally Dug

    Firewall Police

    Probably round about the same time and despite me being in the same team has him, the guy who was "administering" (i.e. snooping at the logs of) our newly-installed firewall proclaimed in a loud voice that I was the person who spent most time on t'Internet at the website of Sun. At first, I was adamant - "I've never been to the website of The Sun newspaper as far as I kno... oh, Sun, as in Sun Microsystems? Well, I am the Solaris sysadmin, so..."

  3. Potty Professor


    Please see my recent post regarding - it was supposed to be, the website of an engineering company that I regularly dealt with, but when I accidentally misspelt the URL, I was somewhat surprised to be deposited in the lap of Dangerous to Know, a BDSM supplies site. Management were, surprisingly, highly amused at my blunder.

    (Oh! and yes, we were also cursed with a Coventy postcode).

    1. Coastal cutie

      Re: Oops!

      Years ago, I was doing some risk management exams and an essay scenario was fire protection for a furniture factory. I naively put "sprinklers" into a well known search engine and the first 20 entries were definitely NSFW

      1. Stork

        Re: Oops!

        I once searched for how to make a whipping to prevent rope unwinding. A lot of the images were not very helpful for that

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Oops!

          Might want to look at those whips a trifle closer. The finishing and other fine details make that kind of work an art form.

          Not my cuppa, but I have friends who insist that unwinding often involves a good whipping.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: Oops!

      > Please see my recent post regarding


      > (Oh! and yes, we were also cursed with a Coventy postcode).

      Did your Coventry postcode get you blocked under the CV blocker as well?

    3. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

      Re: Oops!

      Ahh, we'd all done it back in the day :)

    4. Shalghar

      Re: Oops!

      Around the 1990ies, a bit before the phoebe disaster, i searched the naughty words:"Acorn RiscPC Verkäufer Westdeutschland" in that wonderfully new search engine named goggle or suchlike.

      What i got was not adresses of Acorn hardware vendors in west germany but entries like a BDSM gay club in Hamburg and similar, not necessarily IT related information.

      No wonder the phoebe was never produced. Think of the cauldrons or something like that.

      Search engines... maybe they really search but a find engine might be better once in a while. ;)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An inquiry from a friend who wasn't a native English speaker about 'dogging' and me sending back a link to him to get on with his education had ended up with him chatting to HR about what links are appropriate to open in the office and what aren't.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Having access to the system logs ...

    ... at Stanford and Berkeley in the early.mid-90s, I had a handy list of seditious, lewd &etc addresses to filter on, which I happily sold on for the purpose of corporate firewall stocking. It wasn't just the new kids going to iffy sites, it was professors and grad students, too.

    Daft thing is that officially the schools did NOT monitor which USENET groups were subscribed to, nor which posts a user "read". It was a privacy/freedom of speech thing. We even told the users that up front, it was part of the "using USENET" package. But for some reason, the PTB insisted that we had to log all WWW activity ... and we told them THAT, too.

    So they knew that USENET use was unlogged, but the WWW was logged ... and (essentially) the same content was available on both. The vast majority chose the pointy-clicky-thingy anyway, at which point we knew society was fucked.

    It's all been downhill from there.

    1. Eclectic Man Silver badge

      Re: Having access to the system logs ...

      Jake: "It wasn't just the new kids going to iffy sites, it was professors and grad students, too."

      As the great Tom Lehrer* called Grad School:

      'That hotbed of celibacy'

      *He claimed that one of his favourite reviews said "Mr Lehrer's muse is not fettered by such inhibiting factors as, taste." If you are not familiar with is work, you are in for a treat.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

        Re: Having access to the system logs ...

        Tom Lehrer references always get an upvote.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: Having access to the system logs ...

          I yearn for the touch of your lips, dear, but more for the touch of your whips, dear...

          1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Having access to the system logs ...

            I guess someone here really doesn't like Tom Lehrer.

            That, or it’s just my "fan club" downvoting again.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Having access to the system logs ...

              Well, to be fair you were seemingly advocating (or at least condoning) abuse as a choice ... not that there's anything wrong with that, of course.

              Personally, if I were prone to such things as thumbs, I'd down vote you for using that tired old hoary meme of an icon.

              "Sticks and stone may break my bones, but whips and chains excite me." —Unknown, mid-20thC

              1. stiine Silver badge

                Re: Having access to the system logs ...

                I thought that refrain was an alternate version of 'little lambs eat ivy'.

              2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

                Re: Having access to the system logs ...

                I would have thought that any sensible person reading the thread would have seen that the previous two posts referred to Tom Lehrer. Even if the reader had never heard of him (and if not, why not?), I think that a basic level of reading comprehension would suggest that that was a quote.

                Edit - just to add; not that it's my thing, but there's a world of difference between whatever consensual (and legal) activity gets you off, and abuse. Conflating the two is just stigmatising the sexual preferences of others, which is a course of behaviour that everyone should steer clear of, under the adage of "mind your own business".

              3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge


                "Vote my post down,

                Make your emoji frown,

                As we dance on the Masochism Kanban."

  6. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    Hot Stuff

    We had similar issues - biggest problem was that we wrote industrial control systems for large foundries, but our emails addressing the issues on hot strip mills kept getting silently blocked.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Hot Stuff

      Were these gay steel mills ?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        Re: Hot Stuff

        I thought the Simpsons had already shown us that they all are.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah, I once wrote a very explicit email explaining to my girlfriend what I planned to do to her at the weekend.

    Unfortunately I sent it to my manager's PA by mistake.

    I got fired.

    Posting anonymously, for obvious reasons.

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Freudian slip?

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Freudian slip? ... or maybe just a Boris slip?

      2. mdubash

        Do women still wear slips?

        1. Plest Bronze badge

          They do if you're married to them and beg nicely!

        2. jake Silver badge

          The ElReg Oracle has pondered deeply upon your question "Do women still wear slips?" and replies:

          If you are old enough to reach the keybr0ad and still have to ask, the Oracle must regretfully inform you that you'll probably never know.

          You owe the Oracle a pint and a smile.

          Emily Postnews' two-bits: "A gentleman would never ask."

        3. Aussie Doc Bronze badge



          A Freudian slip is usually worn under a see-through blouse.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Re:

            Sad that no one came up with the bit about a "Freudian slit"...

      3. Imhotep Silver badge

        We call it a pink slip here.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      In the middle of a silly but not especially pornographic chat with a colleague I sent an email offering to be her toyboy, but I had a brain fade & sent it to my manager instead.

      Fortunately he had done something similar to me a few weeks previously, so the only response I got was "I think that makes us even."

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dont use corporate emails for this sort of thing

      I know of one manager who was having an affair with his manager, and were having an torrid exchange through email.

      The 2nd line should have realised that her secretary had full control over all the emails. The secretary told me, and I had "a quiet hint" to him. I knew what was going on, because going out for a run one day I found them walking in the woods, "discussing the salary plan" as they guiltily said. At the end of the year he got "an outstanding performer". She got one "excellent manager" and 9 "terrible manager" feedback from her team.

      Anonymously because they know where I Iive.

      1. GroovyLama

        Re: Dont use corporate emails for this sort of thing

        Smart to stay anonymous. Not only do they know where you live, they know where to find you in the woods!

    4. jake Silver badge

      I once sent a rather steamy love letter to my Boss, and a system status report to my girlfriend (now Wife). Thankfully, they both found it hysterical. No harm, no foul. An extra pint that evening helped :-)

    5. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Posting anonymously, for obvious reasons."

      For some odd reason, I read that as "Posting posthumously, for obvious reasons." :-)

  8. sitta_europea Silver badge

    Once upon a time I wanted to know about looking after a fox, which was living in the woods at the back of our industrial estate and had just had a litter. She looked like a young one and seemed to be having some trouble feeding the kits.

    So rather naively I typed

    nursing vixen

    into the Google search box.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Foxes are members of the Canidae family. They are canines. So clearly, you were using the wrong search term. What you should have looked for was "lactating bitch".

      HTH, HAND

      If you need a NSFW disclaimer here, you should probably stop reading EReg immediately.

  9. Eclectic Man Silver badge


    Watching TV a couple of nights ago there was a 'short documentary' (an advertisement ) and the contact website is, I kid you not, ""

    It is totally innocuous and completely safe for work.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: FFS

      What is the world coming to? Back in my day, when you went to a web site you knew exactly what you were getting into by the name alone. Nice, holesome places like ...

      If you think that's a misspleling, you're too wholesome for words ...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Works the other way as well

    Check Point training at the turn of the millennium yielded some fantastic tips about sites for curious gentlemen under the banner of 'URL's you'll want to filter out'.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Works the other way as well

      Depending on how much your employer is willing to pay, you can get monthly updates to the list too.

    2. Plest Bronze badge

      Re: Works the other way as well

      I was once given one morning special dispensation to go looking for anything unsavory I wanted on the company internet connection for the purposes of building some testing scripts to make sure the "grot filters" worked correctly!

      Interesting conversation down the pub that lunchtime...

      "So what you been doing all morning locked in that conference room on your own?"

      "You know, work stuff."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Works the other way as well

        Back in the late 90s I worked at a midsized manufacturing facility. Since PCs with Internet access were largely replacing PCs, they decided Internet monitoring software was in order. Some sites were clearly NSFW, others weren't obvious. A PFY from the IT dept. was assigned the task of "verifying" a list of sites.

        The PFY reacted with a combination of bemusememt and horror. "You want me to do WHAT?". Probably didn't help that his workstation was in a common work area.

    3. Andy Taylor

      Re: Works the other way as well

      Sounds like my local paper, every few months they run a story on the area's dogging problem and proceed to list all the locations and times where such activities occur.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Works the other way as well

        Might be a poke at the useless local police. Back in the late 1980s a small newspaper here in the Bay Area used to run an article on Fridays listing the best places to buy whatever, from drugs to stolen property to hookers to tax-free booze and tobacco, name it. With addresses, prices, and rough operating hours.

        The police, instead of shutting down the illegal activity, decided to sue the newspaper to put a stop to it. Until the paper hinted that in an upcoming issue they'd include cops, judges and politicians for sale. With prices. The (obvious) illegal activity stopped practically overnight. Imagine that.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Protecting yourselves

    Arrived at a small web firm early 00s, CEO proudly pointed at the rack and told me they had an internal network, external network with prod on it and a firewall. IT hardware person had left under a cloud. I spent a day in that flipping freezing server room labelling spaghetti wires but not unplugging anything. Found that the firewall was connected to the internal network, not the external/rest of the world. Don't think it was deliberate but the room was such a state that I wasn't surprised it had happened.

    1. The First Dave

      Re: Protecting yourselves

      Surely ALL firewalls are connected to the internal network??

      1. General Purpose Bronze badge

        Re: Protecting yourselves


      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: Protecting yourselves

        My air-gapped internal network is not connected to my firewall.

  12. ColinPa

    How not to filter

    I was involved in some international games, and they email accounts provided had filters on the emails.

    The speed skater someone-le-bomb didnt get any mail.

    "we have your daughter" seems harmless - but is a major threat!

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: How not to filter

      Wasn't she in Allo Allo?

  13. GrahamRJ

    Microchip microcontrollers

    I remember when word-of-mouth got round that NCSA Mosaic (I never figured out how to drive it) on our Solaris network had been supplemented with Netscape Navigator (then still unversioned, because v1), and you could use Yahoo! or Lycos to search for stuff. Links to the US averaged 50 *bytes* per second at busy times during the day, but you could get as fast as 1MB per second at night.

    But even in those early days, smut was pretty front and centre. As an electronic engineering student in the mid-90s, I inevitably used Microchip PIC microcontrollers for projects because they were cheap and fairly well supported by the community. So of course I went looking for other people's source code I could reuse - and I brought up a search engine and typed in "pics". Let's just say the page titles that came up were not what you want shown on a large screen in a busy computer lab.

  14. chivo243 Silver badge

    Looking forward to senility

    With the things I've cleaned off some computers, and found in logs, or witnessed someone else witnessing, I'll be happy to go senile... I'm afraid that mind bleach will rot my brain.

  15. WolfFan Silver badge

    The pic

    Ahem. That’s not Sister Mary Peter. She’s too short, doesn’t have a mustache, and doesn’t have a steel 18” ruler.

    Yes, I was in Catholic school all the way to undergraduate level. Though the nuns mostly roamed at elementary level. At higher level were Jesuits. They didn’t use steel rulers, they used words, and were much more cutting. They were also, mostly, smaller than Sister Mary Peter. Or Sister Mary Hildegarde, who could probably have played on an NFL offensive line.

  16. Nursing A Semi

    Time was

    I investigated the logs to see why I wasn't receiving peoples CVs, turns out some genious had enabled a filter to block anything with the word "Sex" in it.

    So Age: 25 Sex: Male etc etc was a no no.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time was


      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Time was

        Good thing you posted AC ... using words like that in these hyper-PC times might see you become a victim of character buttbuttination.

  17. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

    Not all that long ago, one of the mail filtering services had an option where mail with rude words was not only blocked, but deleted from the logs. When the client wasn't getting emails from Mr Cockson, we had to ask for the rejected email headers to have any evidence the mail hit the filter at all.

    1. david 12

      Do the right thing

      For the rest of is, it was often the case that IT couldn't or wouldn't tell us what was banned. Our salesman was trying to communicate with an acquaintance as a client, and d'd if they could work out why his email had been deleted. By cunning testing of small parts of the message, they worked out that "a large international cigarette company" had decided to block and discard any email containing the magic phrase:

      Just do the right thing

    2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Reminds me of the Kafkaesque situation at a previous workplace

      One of my colleagues received a severe and formal dressing-down for his email use.

      "Fair enough," you might say, "he's obviously been sending inappropriate emails to people."

      Not quite. He received the dressing-down for incoming emails addressed to him. Which were filtered out before he saw them. The IT manager also wouldn't tell him who had sent the mails to him, or what they contained. Which probably tells you all you need to know about how much that particular IT manager actually understood his remit.

  18. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

    Didn't they anticipate a problem?

    I've been told that when the US HQ of a well-known* pharmaceutical company introduced email filtering to their UK subsidiary, they instantly lost contact with the Middlesex division.

    * Their most famous product at the time was a certain blue rhombus pill.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Didn't they anticipate a problem?

      Unlikely. Middlesex is a fairly common place name in the North Eastern corner of the United States, where Pfizer's HQ is located.

  19. Nick London

    Structural Engineer Here

    All our emails regarding the erection of steel work suddenly failed to arrive, intercepted by our mail hosting company.

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