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Google Businesses The Internet Communications

Gmail Mis.delivered? 321

An anonymous reader writes "Google doesn't make many mistakes but when it does, boy, are they doozies! The latest is that Gmail doesn't care about periods in usernames. So mail sent to is also delivered to, even though these are two separate mail accounts. Google admits Gmail doesn't see periods, but no word on a fix yet." Update: As may users have pointed out Ars has since corrected the story, stating that the original submitter was mistaken and the email was just improperly addressed.
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Gmail Mis.delivered?

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  • by biocute ( 936687 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:23PM (#14534134) Homepage
    I can't believe Google is disrespecting users with periods.

    Since there is no word on a fix yet, it would be interesting if Microsoft rolls out a 3rd party patch which warns Gmail users when the recipient email address has periods in it.
    • by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:35PM (#14534208) Journal
      can't believe Google is disrespecting users with periods.
      Women have been disrespected for thousands of years.

      Just the other day, I was overjoyed that Google was fighting for my rights, now I'm dissapointed to learn that they're not fighting for women's rights too.

      I can only imagine what Condoleezza Rice & Hillary Clinton will have to say about this.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I can only imagine what Condoleezza Rice & Hillary Clinton will have to say about this.

        Why do they care? They don't have periods.
    • Since there is no word on a fix yet, it would be interesting if Microsoft rolls out a 3rd party patch which warns Gmail users when the recipient email address has periods in it.

      I've said this before on /., but perhaps you should really put down the bong. Nobody really needs periods in their email address if they can fill out an SMTP "From" line properly. Your period-less email address can be the hash key and the plaintext value you put in quotes before the address would be the value. So nobody who didn't

  • Shame really (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:25PM (#14534140) Homepage Journal
    This couldv been a really neat feature.
    I could signup a generic type account and then pass around multiple variations to different sites.
    Depending upon the variation received I could determine which site leaked my mail.

    I think the only way to rectify this is to start accounting for the period.
    The cat is out of the bag so to speak.
    • Re:Shame really (Score:5, Informative)

      by StonedRat ( 837378 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:36PM (#14534212) Homepage Journal
      Gmail already has this feature if you own you can also use
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#14534225)
      Headline here should be corrected; this isn't a huge gmail flaw; seasoned users know it as a feature.

      Secret gmail feature #1: you can add and remove periods from your username with no change in mail routing. There is no collision with other accounts since only one account (stripped of periods) is allowed to exist.

      Scret gmail feature #2: you can append a plus and any string to your account name and it will still be routed to you. Try creating filters by giving out your address this way: eg will be delivered to username 'example'

  • Not two accounts (Score:5, Informative)

    by rritterson ( 588983 ) * on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:25PM (#14534144)
    From what I understand, it's not two seperate accounts (i.e. and are only one account and you can't register both, and you get mail that comes to either).

    In addition, you can use it as a feature to filter mail. (i.e. if I'm I can give out to friends and to random websites, then filter the incoming mail automatically).

    Feature, not a bug, in my opinion.
    • Re:Not two accounts (Score:5, Informative)

      by qbwiz ( 87077 ) * <john&baumanfamily,com> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:28PM (#14534163) Homepage
      That's the way it is now, but you used to be able to register both at the same time. I guess they fixed it now. I know that this is a problem, as I'm getting email for someone else who's got my email address without the dot in it.
      • Ok, I just asked a friend of mine who uses gmail and this is the conversation:

        me: you use gmail, right?
        her: yep
        me: is there a dot in the left half of your address?
        her: yes
        her: and i have had problems with that particular dot.
        me: what kind of problems?
        her: getting mail that is meant for someone with the same gmail address, only minus the dot
        her: because apparently, when you create the account, and log in thereafter, gmail distinguishes between dot and no-dot
        me: yeah, it seems to be a widespread problem.
    • You can already use The plus sign is a deliminator that allows anything before it. You can then add rules based on plus sign included emails.
    • Re:Not two accounts (Score:2, Informative)

      by bearclaw ( 217359 )
      I have a period in my gmail email address and I just confirmed this. However, when you log into gmail, you still need to use the account with the period. I could not log into the non-period account with my period-account's password.

      If that makes any sense.
  • by Incadenza ( 560402 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:26PM (#14534152)
    Bloopers like this make me check the calender, sounds like perfect April 1st Slashdot news.
  • Yep (Score:4, Informative)

    by BitterAndDrunk ( 799378 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:26PM (#14534155) Homepage Journal
    I addressed this w/Gmail a long time ago. I have two first names (e.g. Mike Roger) and was taken. . . so I grabbed

    It's a damn shame mikeroger doesn't have a racier life, it would be awesome.

    Google's response, btw, was that I'd secured both and and could switch between the two as I wanted. Obviously, this is incorrect.

    The bright side is I seem to have blown the original email user away w/volume; he used to receive about 1 email every 3 days as opposed to my 20-30 (not including spam).

    The down-side is he subscribed to XM ENTERTAINMENT's porn newsletter.

    • Re:Yep (Score:2, Funny)

      by bfdhud ( 947470 )
      so uhm BaD. Can I have my email address back? I miss my newsletter.
    • Re:Yep (Score:5, Funny)

      by strobexii ( 601986 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:35PM (#14534203)
      The down-side is he subscribed to XM ENTERTAINMENT's porn newsletter.

      Don't worry, I just got him back big time! I subscribed you to about a dozen porn newsletters. He'll be completely inundated with porn spam in no time! No need to thank me, helping other people is its own reward.
    • You are a filthy liar, sir.

      Either that or Gmail behaves differently with me. I had originally registered but when I just tried registering,, and, it gave me an 'address already registered' error. Try it out for yourself.

      I guess it's also possible that Google has recently corrected the flaw and it was indeed possible to register both firstnamelastname and firstname.lastname at some point. I want
      • Re:Yep (Score:3, Informative)

        by elmegil ( 12001 ) *
        I guess it's also possible that Google has recently corrected the flaw

        From what others have said here that seems the most likely circumstance.

        • Re:Yep (Score:3, Interesting)

          by starwed ( 735423 )
          No, look at this blog post [] about the issue. It's from a while ago, and describes the behavior people are discussing. It's not a recent fix, it's been this way all along! (In other words, the "controversy" here is completely bogus.)
      • Yes, I made up a complete fabrication to improve on my already excellent karma. Soon I will have more points than the rest of you losers! Take that, nerds!

        I may be a filthy liar, but it ain't for this post. You should read my status reports. Then you'll know filthy lying.

    • Re:Yep (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 )
      Yep. Verified this myself. my podcast e-mail address has dots in it. Sent one to it without the dots and it came to the one with the dots. Tried to sign in to the accounts without using the .'s and it did not work. Google need sot fix this. The story may have a correction, but it DOES happen.
    • It could be worse. You could travel to New York on business a lot. THere could be another person with the same name but without the dots. That person lives in new york, and has lots of friends visiting him.

      Of course, theyre all talking about how they can't wait to hook up.

      More power too him, except I don't swing that way. They're all guys, I'm into girls. Should be fun explaining that to the wife. I've replied to the first few that there seems to be a mistake but not sure what they think, because t
  • Update? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Parham ( 892904 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:29PM (#14534167)
    There is an update at the top of the article:

    Update: Ryan Coleman has since admitted he was mistaken, and that the e-mails he received addressed to were misaddressed.
    • So basicly, never mind? Nothing to see here, move along?
    • Re:Update? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by earnest murderer ( 888716 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:39PM (#14534527)
      In other news, a gentleman by the name of Due Diligence was found dead on a downtown street, apparently trampled to death.

      When asked about it Angry Mob (currently confined at replied "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story".

      Seriously, this was a pretty big fuckup regurgitating some random assholes blog entry without checking *anything*. I expect this at where inflamitory and baseless rule the day. Slashdot can claim to merely be a discussion of "news" and not necessarily journalism itself. Ars, I expected more.
  • Identity theft? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SuperDuG ( 134989 ) <> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:29PM (#14534170) Homepage Journal
    Since in its infinite wisdom most webservices allow password resets to happen via email. Wouldn't it just be a matter of time to find out soemone's email address and then have the "oops I lost my password" feature on a number of websites utilized?

    I wonder how many slashdot accounts, internet domains, and amazon accounts are linked via an address.

    This is most certainly not a "little" problem by any means...

  • Old news! (Score:5, Informative)

    by travail_jgd ( 80602 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:30PM (#14534173)
    This has been known for a while in the user community. In fact, this tutorial [] is 18 months old, and demonstrates the "feature".
  • by njord ( 548740 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:31PM (#14534184)

    I don't see the problem with that, I thought it was common knowledge. The way I see it, how often is a period essential, or dangerous? I don't think there are many domains with say, and pointing to different people. I see the period as a way of reducing typing errors.

    Also, you can do things like this: r=12096&topic=1564 []

    I don't want to sound trollish, but this hardly sounds like story material to me.


  • by bennomatic ( 691188 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:32PM (#14534188) Homepage
    I was wondering why I get so much spam. My email address is *.*


  • Old news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:33PM (#14534194)
    This has been the case since day 1. The only problem is if Google has been allowing people to register addresses that differ only because of the position of periods. Certainly they generally don't - I've tried to register several variations of my gmail address without success. It looks like the case discussed in this article is a isolated incident.
  • This is all wrong (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lanzaa ( 761994 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:34PM (#14534199) Journal
    The person made a mistake. He was getting someone elses mail for a different reason. You cannot make two account that are the same.

    Here is his blog post saying he made the mistake. found-in-my-inbox-odd.html []
  • Fixed? (Score:5, Informative)

    by broothal ( 186066 ) <> on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:34PM (#14534201) Homepage Journal
    Uhm... I just tried this. It doesn't work - you can't register username if is taken, nor can you register if username is taken.
    • Re:Fixed? (Score:2, Informative)

      by MooUK ( 905450 )
      You cannot now. Apparently, it used to be possible. Presumably they got wind of what was happening and actually did something to prevent it getting worse.
  • aha! (Score:4, Funny)

    by bazorg ( 911295 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:35PM (#14534206) Homepage
    they turned evil! It had to happen!
  • Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by LeeTax0r ( 933146 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:37PM (#14534214)
    This explains why I've been getting email from some guy telling me I'm his lab partner in some class and that I need to contact him to get info on the final assignment. I wrote to him, "Who do you think I am and what class are you talking about?". He says, "I'm Quincy. I set next to you in IST 326. We have an assignment due soon!" I say, "Uh. I don't think so, since I'm not in any IST program. Are you sure you have the right email?" The guy: "Yes,, right?" Me: "No, not at all." I thought all this time that the guy just didn't know how to use email. Boy, was I wrong.
    • People get e-mailaddresses wrong, that's just life...

      I've got a 3 character username @ (and msn), I get A LOT of e-mails simply because people make misstakes; not as many misstakes as spam, but still, misstakes have been made.
  • by jbarr ( 2233 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:39PM (#14534228) Homepage
    This is absolutely not mis-delivery or a mistake on Google's part!

    See Gmail's Help page on this at: r=10313&query=dot&topic=0&type=f []

    (You may need to be logged into Gmail account to see this.)

    Simply put, the period only matters when logging in. Gmail considers and as the same when delivering email, but if the account was oopened as some.user, then you have to use some.user as the login--someuser will not work. Send an email to,, or, and it'll get delivered to the same account, but you will only be able to login as

    Google's intent was to cut down on addressing mistakes as well as spam.

    From the user's perspective, actually a good thing because it means that you "lock in" similar addresses so some.user and someuser aren't two different accounts. It also means that the actual number of accounts is less because of this.

    -Jim []
    • I just sent myself a test email without my usual period between my first and last names, and it never arrived back.
      • Re:WRONG (Score:3, Informative)

        by frdmfghtr ( 603968 )
        I tried it first as one message to two recipients, and it didn't work either.

        Try sending it from an email account other that your gmail account, and don't send to both addresses from the same message (i.e. two recipients.) I send one message from my university account to then a second separate message to and both arrived.

    • Gmail considers and as the same when delivering email,

      I understand the period thing, but why would Google want to eliminate the letter 'e'? That truly is evil. 'e' is a nice, friendly letter, that has never hurt anyone. What did 'e' do to Google to deserve this.


  • by rfernand79 ( 643913 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:41PM (#14534235)
    I read your Email [].
  • For example, can I create and get a copy of all email sent to
  • by ral8158 ( 947954 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:47PM (#14534273)
    Someone must have a version of my G-Mail account with a period in it. Apparently, they're very into penis enlargement...
  • Well, I suppose this is what "BETA" in Gmail logo stands for. Good thing all current Gmail users are hence beta-testers, otherwise they would've had a serious reason to complain.
  • I use my first name, a period, then last name.

    Oh well - if someone has the other one, they are getting a LOT of email (I'm on a lot of listservs)

  • by bdwoolman ( 561635 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:55PM (#14534307) Homepage
    It is a G spot.

    • It's not a period...
      It is a G spot.

      Son, they may be located in similar places, but they are not to be confused!

      Now go upstairs and tell your mother it's time for that talk she's been meaning to have with you. =)

  • by null etc. ( 524767 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @04:58PM (#14534329)
    Remove this story, as it's total b.s. BTW it was posted on digg 3 days ago, by which time it had been identified as b.s. Way to go slashdot!
  • by ErnieD ( 19277 )
    I had gotten a few strange non-spam emails on one of my gmail accounts, and basically wrote back to the person explaining that I'm not who they thought I was.

    But now that I look back on those emails, I notice that they were addressed to, while my address is

  • by SquareOfS ( 578820 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:06PM (#14534366)
    I don't know what this story is talking about, but the dot-ignoring delivery has been publicly known from day 1, and I just conducted the experiment of attempting to register a whole bunch of stupidly dotted variations on my username, and Gmail wouldn't let me register them.

    So apparently they're doing the smart thing, and not including the dots when they do a uniqueness test on new usernames.

    Maybe once upon a time in the very beginning they didn't, but I don't think that's the case now.
  • Reading about this makes me really glad I don't have the gmail account:
  • by FishandChips ( 695645 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:12PM (#14534406) Journal
    Google doesn't make many mistakes but when it does, boy, are they doozies

    I'm not American and I'm not sure I understand. What is a "doozy" and should I be worried if I have one? I'm hoping it isn't the kind of thing I can catch just from using the internet.
  • by Heembo ( 916647 )
    Google *very responsibly* referes to a great deal of their software as Beta. Because it is still in Beta. You can read more about the concept of Beta *testing* at [] - again, Google, unlike most software companies, takes this concept seriously.

    From Wiki: "beta build ... is tested through a limited roll-out to a production environment using live data and real users. The beta test is closely monitored by the software testers."

    It's right on the GMail logo. http []
  • This is a FEATURE... (Score:3, Informative)

    by ares284 ( 782465 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:23PM (#14534454)
    Uh, as long as I've had Gmail (a few months since it came out), I have known about this, and it was said to be a FEATURE. You want to know how? Well, I created a filter that sends all email TO: to a spam label, and this way only people who email (notice the period) will go to my inbox. It's a feature, much like the Some sites don't accept the +tag part though. So, in other words, sign up to websites that may spam you by using and it will be filtered to a spam label (if you set it up that way) but tell your friends your address is You could also do it vice-versa. Accept email only as but if an address has, it is then marked as spam. If they "fix" this, I will be quite upset. I've been using it extensively. -Ares
  • by angryLNX ( 679691 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:29PM (#14534477) Homepage
    Why is this article being left on the front page? It has been seen to be completely invalid, and is giving people the wrong idea. Great, you put a correction up, but the correction negates everything the article contains. Get rid of it.
  • But when they do, it's a doozy!
  • by waytoomuchcoffee ( 263275 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @05:45PM (#14534551)
    Anything sent to my email address with dots added NEVER gets to me.

    My wife too. We both have very early gmail accounts (within the first month or so). Back in the early days, were different people allowed to sign up for different dot-variation names? If so, the obvious fix would have been to remove the dot functionality on those combinations to avoid having email sent to the wrong accounts. Which may be what happened with our accounts. That would suck if true, as missing this functionality is a big loss.
  • by Shemus Lowrie ( 935625 ) on Sunday January 22, 2006 @06:11PM (#14534666) Homepage
    I experienced this first-hand. I was surprised to see a registration confirmation in my inbox for Lavalife when I have never even been to the site and already have a girlfriend. Awkward, to say the least. It let me log on to his acccount information, and it turns out he's a married guy in Australia looking for a little "fun" on the side. If I were as sneaky as him, he'd be in the doghouse for a few months...
  • For those of you who are trying to "test" this by e-mailing yourself: That may not work.

    GMail attempts to remove duplicate e-mails in your mail box. This is very useful, for instance, with mailing lists: You don't want to receive a copy of the e-mail you sent, since GMail is already smart enough to aggregate the sent copy with the rest of the "conversation". Also, when people use "reply-all" to reply to both you and to the mailing list, you probably would rather not receive two copies of the reply, so a

New systems generate new problems.