My dad forwarded me an opinion piece from the eWeek newsletter called Idiocy Imperils the Web. Jim Rapoza argues that – especially by now – people should really have figured out not to click on unknown attachments. My favorite quote: “Most people figure out that if they keep grabbing the electric fence, they’ll get a shock every time.”

I’ve thought along these lines for several years now. Once the first two waves of high-profile email viruses hit, it was time for people to wise up. Instead we have a variation on the classic joke:

Three guys walk into a bar. You’d think the third one would have ducked.

Except it’s more like “Ten guys walk into a bar. You’d think the third, fourth, fifth…”

Although I’m also reminded of a quote from Jakob Neilsen’s “Alertbox” usability column from April 1996:

The fact that the Internet doubles every year implies that at any time half of the users will have been on the net for less than a year. In other words, we are doomed to have 50 percent novice users for the foreseeable future.

This has, of course, slowed down since 1996 – recent statistics show Internet growth in the US has dropped to 5% – but it seems very unlikely that newbies can account for all – or even most – of the virus spreaders.

Yes, the responsibility rests ultimately on the jerks who write these things – but they wouldn’t be able to get anywhere without the idiots who click on them.

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