Same email, same attachment, but
April 14, 2019 12:21 AM   Subscribe

I reopened an email sent to me via Craiglist relay (through personals) in 2014. The person in the attached photo is the same as in the one I remember, but everything else is different. It's most likely that I'm misrembering or that I conflated his original photo with a different email, but is there any chance I'm not?

In 2014, I was very taken with this man's photo, and in my reply to him I commented on his eyes and his sweater. That's still part of the message thread.

But the photo is nothing like what I remember aside from them both being 30something white guys with long brown ponytails and wearing sweaters. I remember a b/w photo of him in a coffee shop. This one is a color photo of him in a recording studio. It is the only photo he sent, and my response is a direct reply to his message.

I'm not seeking him out or anything. I'm just confused and wondering if there is any technological explanation for this, however remote. My only theory involves him using the same filename for a different file and craigslist replacing the old one during our anonymized exchange. But that may be irrelevant--is it at all possible that the photo changed since I last looked at it?
posted by mermaidcafe to Technology (2 answers total)
Where is the image stored? If it's a file attached to the email message, then that file is saved in your email inbox directly. I have difficulty imagining a situation where an attached image would be changed by anyone, since that file lives on your email provider's server (if SMTP or web email, like gmail) or in your email client's inbox on your computer (if POP3). There's no way the sender or Craigslist could've changed the attachment after sending it.

If it's a link to an image on a website (or an image from an external website embedded with the <img> tag in an html email), whoever controls that website could have uploaded a different image with the same filename. So maybe this guy sent you a message with an inline image linked to DSC_0003.jpg on his personal website, and then later uploaded a different DSC_0003.jpg from a different photo shoot, manually overwriting the old file. I'd guess it would have to be a pretty manual process, though, since most automated photo gallery services generate unique URLs rather than just use the uploaded file name, and wouldn't allow a name collision like that. Maybe some image hosts have the option to replace a file without modifying the URL? Without knowing where it's hosted I can only guess.
posted by Alterscape at 2:01 AM on April 14 [4 favorites]

Back when bandwidth wasn't nearly as cheap as it is now, hotlinking to an image hosted on someone else's server was a faux pas, and if the sysop of that server was of a certain type, the image that the url in question directed to would be changed, sometimes to a "This jerk is stealing my bandwidth" message, other times goatse or similar. Given that we are talking about Craigslist personals here, I wonder if this wasn't an auto-generated html email that is designed to cycle through a series of images over time...
posted by Rock Steady at 9:47 AM on April 15 [1 favorite]

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