6 Aug
2009

Gmail not-so-Fail

I have had a Gmail account for a long time at tony.rasa from Gmail.  Since I moved everything over to a Google Apps Domain a while back, I don’t use the Gmail account anymore – but I still have a forwarding rule sending any stray messages to my “new” domain.

It turns out that my name is not a globally unique identifier.  There is another of me.  I have a Doppelgänger, and he has the gmail address TonyRasa (no dot).  His friends email him in Spanish, and he uses an online service for payroll matters (happily these emails don’t reveal anything that they shouldn’t).  Also, he’s [attempted to?] reset his gmail password a few times, as I get those emails as well.  Presumably if I had any interesting email arriving at my defunct Gmail account, he’d be getting those too.

It seems that Gmail is very forgiving about email addresses – two email addresses that look the same, even if one goes to google.com and the other to gmail.com, or have differences in punctuation, = the same accounts.

Has this problem been around for a long time?  Anybody know who to talk to to fix it?   I’d delete my gmail account, but will that delete this other’s guys account too?  That would not be very nice… I’ve sent an email to support / gmail and have only gotten  a form letter back saying check [various online sources that gave no help].

UPDATED: Since as pointed out in the comments, this is expected behavior, I’ve updated the title to flip the Fail bit.

5 thoughts on “Gmail not-so-Fail

  1. This is the way that Gmail is supposed to work. I expect that TonyRasa actually has a number added to his real gmail, and that he (probably unknowingly) misinforms his friends.
    I have an email account with an old ISP, and I have had multiple people use it as “their” email address (some of them buy some interesting things)
    I suspect that if you tried to sign up to gmail with the name tonyras.a it would say that the username was already in use (unlikely though that is)

    Hope that helps

  2. Andy is right. This a feature, not a bug. Dots are ignored and in some countries they use @googlemail.com (because of legal issues) so you can use both @gmail and @googlemail (just tested it and it works with my account).

    I frequently get email addressed to people with my same name. I’m assuming they forget the numbers for the actual John Sheehan they want. If its a personal email, I just respond “wrong email” and it tends not to happen again from that source.

  3. Interesting! I’m not sure if I agree with the feature, or not – first thought is that it is counter to how we know email addressees are “supposed” to work. Principle of Least Surprise, etc. But maybe the common knowledge way isn’t so perfect and this is an important improvement. More of a “do what I mean” thing.

    I went back and looked at the previous ‘mis-delivered’ emails to see if there was a hint of what the correct address should be; nothing obvious turns up. So I still can’t contact the intended recipient.

    So, if my alter-self reads this, send me, or, us, whatever? an email…

  4. I don’t think this is counter to how we know email addresses are supposed to work. Email aliases are a very common practice, particularly for business email addresses, so “fredbloggs@myco.com”, “fred.bloggs@myco.com” and “fbloggs@myco.com” all go to the same place. When you sign up to gmail as “tony.rasa@gmail.com” you automatically inherit all the aliases with the dot in a different place, or without the dot at all. No one else can subsquently sign up to Gmail with your email address or any of the aliases.

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