wrong emails, with a twist!
August 31, 2016 6:53 AM   Subscribe

A school thinks I'm one of their students and email replies come to me instead of her despite the fact that they are (apparently?) replying to her email address.

For reasons I don't entirely understand, emails from a school district are being sent to me. A different person with my name (and an entirely different email address, this is not a question of typos) sends emails to her teachers, and their reply comes to me, so I receive something like:

------------------
Re: Supplies

Teacher wrote:
Please bring a protractor.


On Aug 30, 2016 8:10 PM, "First Last" <> wrote:
What supplies do I need?

------------------

Why are the replies coming to me instead of [student'sactualemailaddress at gmail dot com]? I responded to the teachers asking them to reply to [student'sactualemailaddress] instead of me and they still come to me, which leads me to believe it's something with the way their email is set up? Or something?

How can this be resolved with the minimum burden to the student and her teachers? She sounds like a good kid and I don't want to cause problems for her or her teachers.

Basically: how do I describe this problem as clearly as possible, so when I respond again to the teachers and/or student they understand what is going on and how to fix it on their end.

I am not going to just forward all of the emails to her for two reasons: one, there might be personal information contained in these, and two, I would feel terrible if she missed something because I didn't forward it in time.

I have an extremely common name and have first.last at gmail. I get oodles of wrong emails every day. This is not just someone not knowing their own email address, or something involving the dot between my first and last names. Yes, I can just ignore these like all the other emails, but as I said above she sounds like a good kid and this should be an easily fixable problem if I can figure out a less confusing way to describe it.

Thanks!
posted by everybody had matching towels to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
whoops the thing I receive should read:

Teacher [teacher at district dot com] wrote:
Please bring a protractor.


On Aug 30, 2016 8:10 PM, "First Last" [student'sactualemailaddress at gmail dot com] wrote:
What supplies do I need?


---------

makes more sense that way, I hope
posted by everybody had matching towels at 6:56 AM on August 31, 2016


My guess, just based on what my students do, is that she set her school email to forward to her gmail address, and then she made a mistake when typing in her gmail address. You could email the student and ask her to fix it, or you could email the school's IT department, since this is probably a FERPA violation that they would like to avoid.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:01 AM on August 31, 2016 [11 favorites]


You could email the teacher and put it on them: "Until you resolve this problem, assume that your messages are not reaching Student. I recommend you find other ways to confirm your communication has gone through."

And do the same for the student. "Assume your teacher's replies aren't reaching you." Maybe this will inspire them to find another way to communicate. It takes any burden off of you--not that it's your burden anyway, but you mentioned you want to be nice.

Or, to be super nice, can you find a way to automatically forward emails to the student's account, or at least have them go to a folder from which you forward a bunch at a time? You can base the filter on the teacher's email address or name. Just don't read the emails when you forward them. And perhaps tell them this is your plan and for how long you'll do it.
posted by ramenopres at 7:04 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


Arbitrary's explanation sounds plausible to me.
posted by mekily at 7:14 AM on August 31, 2016


she set her school email to forward to her gmail address, and then she made a mistake when typing in her gmail address

To confirm this, forward at least one message to the student's gmail address and put in a line "Somehow this got to me." If it comes back to you, you know there is some kind of forwarding happening.
posted by soelo at 7:24 AM on August 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


It doesn't sound like this is case of poor forwarding, since the students email address (as described in the first comment) is a gmail address rather than a school address. Is it possible the student, when setting up their email, set their "Reply To" address as different from their actually address? This may be listed in the headers of the email (I'm not sure if that's how Reply To works), but it might be something to suggest.
posted by Betelgeuse at 7:25 AM on August 31, 2016 [3 favorites]


My guess, just based on what my students do, is that she set her school email to forward to her gmail address, and then she made a mistake when typing in her gmail address.

Yeah, this. Never underestimate people's ability to be idiots when typing their own email address into something. I once had someone use my email address as the rsvp address on their wedding invites.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:33 AM on August 31, 2016 [4 favorites]


Is it possible the student, when setting up their email, set their "Reply To" address as different from their actually address?

Doesn't Gmail require verification of the Reply address to allow this? Otherwise it would be easy to use it for spam/mischief.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:34 AM on August 31, 2016


uh, weird update here - I emailed the student (at ArbitraryAndCapricious's suggestion), she responded very nicely, and when I tried to reply to her, my email address populates the To: field even though I am replying to [student'sactualemailaddress at gmail dot com].

WHAT

I do get a lot of emails from gmail asking to make my account a recovery email (for people who don't know their own email address apparently) but [student'sactualemailaddress at gmail dot com] has never been one of them, so I don't think that's the issue.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:54 AM on August 31, 2016


OK, it sounds like maybe she's set her Reply to to your address in Gmail. To check and make sure, go look at the headers. (Go to "More" in her message, that little triangle in the right corner, then select "Show original.")

At about the third line, does it say "Reply-To:[Your email]"?

If so, she needs to go fix that in her Gmail settings. I assume she knows how, since she had to have done it in the first place.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:17 AM on August 31, 2016 [5 favorites]


That's totally it! How annoying. Thanks for your help, everyone!
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:33 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]


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