Taxonomy of Email Chains

Family Pyramides

This family is named for the pyramid scheme structure common to all members of the family. Each specimen in this family will include a list of addresses of its last 4 to 10 hosts, and instructs the current host to alter this list by adding his or her address to this list and removing the oldest address from it. Hosts are also directed to send a small sum of money to each name on the list.

Family Petitiones

Members of this family are characterized by the additional behaviours induced in the infected host apart from simply replicating them. In general they call for a message to be sent to a fixed address, though some may call for postcards, letters or phone calls.

Family Superstitiones

The oldest group of chain letters, Superstitiones rely on a the power of a bribe or a threat (often both) to induce their hosts to replicate them. Unlike Pyramides, there is no actual mechanism to deliver the threat or reward. The oldest members of the family are those claiming that bad luck will befall those who fail to pass them along.

Family Notifera

This very large and diverse family relies on the perceived utility of its content for replication. There are two main subfamilies.


Food for thought in considering a taxonomy of memes.

Folksonomies: memetics taxonomy classification

/education/alumni and reunions (0.607284)
/law, govt and politics/legal issues/legislation/family laws (0.463164)
/shopping/resources/loyalty programs (0.399037)

family (0.995747 (negative:-0.641362)), Email Chains Food (0.987250 (neutral:0.000000)), pyramid scheme structure (0.934636 (neutral:0.000000)), Family Pyramides (0.770096 (neutral:0.000000)), main subfamilies (0.607727 (neutral:0.000000)), additional behaviours (0.602579 (negative:-0.820514)), small sum (0.601206 (neutral:0.000000)), Family Petitiones (0.583356 (neutral:0.000000)), current host (0.572622 (neutral:0.000000)), infected host (0.571949 (negative:-0.820514)), phone calls (0.566059 (neutral:0.000000)), actual mechanism (0.564806 (negative:-0.528874)), bad luck (0.555132 (negative:-0.763365)), Family Superstitiones (0.551124 (neutral:0.000000)), diverse family (0.546684 (negative:-0.340208)), oldest address (0.545392 (neutral:0.000000)), Family Notifera (0.545339 (neutral:0.000000)), chain letters (0.542241 (neutral:0.000000)), oldest group (0.539103 (neutral:0.000000)), oldest members (0.509019 (negative:-0.763365)), list (0.446266 (neutral:0.000000)), hosts (0.411431 (negative:-0.383275)), taxonomy (0.361701 (neutral:0.000000)), threat (0.352013 (negative:-0.389393)), memes (0.313199 (neutral:0.000000)), specimen (0.284137 (neutral:0.000000)), reward (0.280978 (negative:-0.528874)), thought (0.273661 (neutral:0.000000)), replication (0.270940 (negative:-0.340208)), addresses (0.269893 (neutral:0.000000))

Pyramides:Person (0.786904 (neutral:0.000000)), Superstitiones:Person (0.588599 (negative:-0.316593)), pyramid scheme:FieldTerminology (0.477207 (neutral:0.000000))

Replication (0.929381): dbpedia
Luck (0.840561): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Addition (0.807269): dbpedia | freebase
Summation (0.780762): dbpedia | freebase
Taxonomic rank (0.763560): dbpedia | freebase
Biology (0.711236): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
Nothing Compares 2 U (0.661685): dbpedia | freebase | yago | musicBrainz
American films (0.660080): dbpedia

 A Memetic Taxonomy of Chain Letters
Electronic/World Wide Web>Internet Article:  Cantine, Tom (February 7, 2001), A Memetic Taxonomy of Chain Letters, Retrieved on 2013-11-08
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: memetics humor