From Gawker's own article:
"Shiva Ayyadurai didn't invent email—he created "EMAIL," an electronic mail system implemented at the University of Medicine and Dentistry in Newark, New Jersey. "
The question becomes - was this the first full-fledged implementation of the RFCs and was it the first to be commonly referred to that way? It seems dubious, but this guy is not patent trolling. He's merely trying to make sure his place in history is noted.
Honestly I don't feel good about him getting a settlement because I think you should generally be too busy to care what is written about you by professional bloggers and by all accounts he's gotten plenty of recognition from other sources, such as the Smithsonian.
At least no one's trying to take away from Eric Allman, who wrote delivermail (on which sendmail is based).
You don't think that attitude leads to even worse user behavior?
Don't get me wrong. Qubes would be on my list if I made it time to write it, but if it were strictly a security list and there were prizes to be had, I'd vote something more likely to wind up Joe America's hands, like the Tor Browser or Tox.im.
UX nightmare combined with false sense of security, I wouldn't say it wins for 2015.
I think the real winner is the Tor project itself, which has made great gains in the "get everyone interested in cryptography" sector.
I agree that RTFM is a great way to learn, but so is searching the web and learning things in context. Those who don't RTFM are probably just looking to patch something, rather than build out whole applications, so I don't think it's a major concern. I think the best coders will be those who maintain their curiosity and continue to try to improve things, not those who just rip snippets off the web and cobble them into some barely-functioning thing.