How can I make my email class into an alternate reality game for my students?
June 1, 2011 10:52 AM   Subscribe

How can I make my email class into an alternate reality game for my students?

I have a rough concept of what I'd like to do, but I'm not sure how to execute it. I'm going to be teaching a class to people here in my organization about how to use our new webmail system. I want to build a light alternate reality game to teach the concepts like attaching files, replying, forwarding, and so on. I want to setup some email addresses that look for certain things (e.g. correct file is attached to email, email is a reply, etc.) and auto-reply based on that input.

What's the best way to do this? I thought I might be able to do it with just my email client and some clever filters, but that doesn't really seem to be a robust solution. I have some light programming experience (JavaScript, VB, starting to learn Python). I can devote some time, but I'm looking not to spend 100 hours on it.

Also, if you have any ideas for elements to include in my game, post those too!
posted by raddevon to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Perl rocks for this sort of thing. Mail::POP3Client makes it easy to retrieve messages from a mail server (on a Un*x system it's usually trivial to send mail directly to a program, but you probably don't have admin access to your mail s4erver). Mail::Sendmail or Net::SMTP will let you send mail easily.

There are modules to look for MIME attachments, it's easy to look for phrases within email bodies or headers, and you can do all sorts of fancy stuff with that.
posted by straw at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2011

Response by poster: @straw Sounds great! Any suggestions where I should begin?
posted by raddevon at 11:04 AM on June 1, 2011

Are you on a Windows machine? If so, I'd use the ActiveState install to get Perl on it, and then use PPM (I think that's their package management tool) to install Mail::POP3Client and Net::SMTP.

I don't know of any particularly good "learn Perl for total programming newbies" because by the time I got around to Perl I was pretty experienced, but I'm sure there's stuff out there. I'm on a deadline today, but if you wanna memail me to remind me later this week if nobody else has given you answers maybe I can help you through the first steps...
posted by straw at 11:17 AM on June 1, 2011

Best answer: If you have Python experience, I'd stick with that. poplib, imaplib, and smtplib are your friends.

Are you teaching users with email experience how to use a new client or first-time emailers?
posted by djb at 1:09 PM on June 1, 2011

Response by poster: @djb: I'm teaching users with email experience to use a new web-based client.
posted by raddevon at 2:03 PM on June 1, 2011

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