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International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

I Am Key Anonymous

I Am Key Anonymous

Dear Class of 2019,

On Thursday, October 25th, I leave my house at 6:47 A.M. on the dot, and drive to school in the freezing dawn while the sun rises. By 7:05, I’ve pulled up in front of the mansion and run to the slounge carrying a Harris Teeter bag full of random candy and cookies I found in my basement the night before, and a small brass key my little sister had gotten as a party favor.

I throw everything onto a table, place the key somewhere I hope people will see it, and speed walk back to my car at 7:11. At 7:15, I’m parked, at the same time as Christian gets to school. For twenty minutes, I nap in my car, until Hailey and Claudia both park, and only then do I walk up the stairs, back to the slounge.

Upon entering, the first thing I do is ask, “What’s all the candy for?” A conversation sparks up, the key is found, and by 8:15 most people know that Key Anonymous left the candy in the slounge as the ‘thanks for playing gift’. Mission accomplished. It was a little bit more special and a bit more fun than an average morning, for me, and hopefully everyone else as well.

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Sourced from: Parade Magazine

I started the game in 11th grade on a whim. It was something I had played before at camp in Poland when I was younger, a game for people to get to know each other. I can’t remember exactly why I decided to do it at WIS then, but I do remember being surprised when people started to play it.

For the non-seniors reading this, the game consisted of an email with a name being sent to everyone in 12th grade, and the goal was to get that person “out”, either by handing them something, borrowing something from them, or getting them to read something out loud. Once a person was out, they had to tell the student who got them out the name of the person they were supposed to eliminate. In theory, the game would continue until there was only one person left.

Creating an anonymous Gmail account is incredibly easy, as the people who created fake Key accounts this year probably now know. It did take forever to send an email to the whole grade because the [email protected] group doesn’t work with emails outside of the WIS server. So I had to copy and paste each email in individually to send an email to the group.

Distributing the names to people was actually easier; the game basically works as a loop. For example, if four people named John, Mary, Michael, and Julie were playing, every person would have the next name on the list. John would have Mary and so on, and the last person, Julie, would have John. Because it’s a closed loop, two people aren’t able to have each other unless they are the only two remaining.

But I wasn’t really confident that the game would work in the beginning, despite the logic behind the loop. So Zaman’s emails gave me the biggest scare in 11th grade. She wrote to me a couple of days into the game, saying that she had won. I immediately started to freak out. That wasn’t supposed to be possible, but how could I be sure that she didn’t win? It wasn’t like I was able to track who was getting who out, and something could have gone wrong.

I replied saying that it was impossible, but I was far from certain, at least until I heard her talking about the email in advisory. I overheard her say that she was trying to figure out who Key was and to trip me up, and that she had already gotten out the day before. After that, I kept insisting that it was impossible to win without everybody else out of the game with confidence.

When I recently talked to Zaman about the emails from last year and asked if she had any suspicions back then about who Key might be, she replied, “I thought Ms.Beck. But then when I was emailing back and forth with you – part of the reason I did that was just to see if I could get any slips – I couldn’t think of anyone. But I definitely did not think it was a teacher.”

Conversations popped up throughout the day after I sent the first email last year, about who Key was, or who was out and who was still playing. I speculated along with everyone else while trying not to laugh. Whenever anyone asked me who I thought it was, I would just say Ms.Beck, which who most of the grade suspected anyway.

Sourced from: Quick Tips

At some point, a few people started to try to hack into the email somehow, getting to the phone number attached to the account and comparing it to their contacts and the WIS directory. I saw this happen a lot this year as well. I actually never thought that anyone would be able to get to the phone number while making the account for Key Anonymous, so originally I was just going to use my phone number.

However, I already had my phone number attached to the Gmail account that I use for spam, so it wouldn’t let me enter it in. Instead, I used my little sister’s number, which isn’t in any directory or on any contact list attached to WIS. Therefore, I just got lucky in that nobody was able to figure out who set up the email that way.

Eventually, the first game fizzled out. Everyone knew who had them, and it was impossible to get anyone out. When I tried to send a follow-up email, explaining that the game was over, I found that the Gmail account I had made – [email protected] – was blocked from sending messages to the WIS server. So I gave it up. It was fun while it lasted, and it wasn’t like anyone was keeping me accountable for making sure somebody won.

Sourced from: Camp Manitoqua

It was the senior retreat this year that inspired me to do the game again. I really enjoyed it, and I thought it might be nice to keep the grade bonding going, as cheesy as that sounds. I tried to eliminate the problem from last year by adding more ways to get a person out. (In 11th grade you could only knock a person out by handing them something, but this year I added the borrowing and reading out loud) I also added the component that if anyone could guess who I was, they would automatically win, thinking that might help put an end to the game at some point.

The guessing part of the game didn’t end up helping at all. If I had stuck to the original rule, the game would have been over the night I sent out the first email. At 10:28 P.M., a few hours after I sent the message saying that the game was happening again, Zaman guessed who I was correctly.

I saw Zaman’s email the next day, among the dozens of emails saying it was Ms.Beck. (Really? There was no way it could be someone that obvious, or giving everyone the opportunity to guess would make no sense.) My mind was blown. I thought Zaman had hacked into my email or something, because how else could she have guessed me out of everyone in the grade? I didn’t think I had said anything that might make people think it was me. Not only had I not given anything away, but it was on the same night as I had sent out the email! I hadn’t even talked to anyone about it yet when she had guessed.

When I later asked what had made her suspect me, she replied, “I was thinking of people who used class and grade interchangeably, because I found that really weird. And I thought: in Germany, they’re used equivalently.” When I replied that it would have made more sense of guess Elena based off of that observation, she said, “See, I just didn’t think of her. I thought it would be someone who spent quite a bit of time anywhere that is not the US. The only two names I could come up with were Marta and Marisa. And I didn’t think it would be Marisa. That’s the story,” she continued “I got lucky.”

As soon as I saw Zaman’s reply, I emailed her explaining the game, offered the gift card, and asked her to please keep who I was a secret until later on, because I wanted to see if the game would end this year. On top of promising not to tell anyone, she was nice enough to say that she’d rather the gift card go to the person who wins the game if anyone ever does. So the problem that had popped up right off the bat ended up not really being a problem at all. Throughout the course of the first week, I emailed her a few more times, mainly addressing the fake accounts. So she was kind of my accomplice.

Speaking of accomplices, I actually had two others as well. I told both Holden and Lucy that I was Key back in 11th grade, and this year they were both super supportive in helping me keep the secret and send emails throughout the game. Holden was my closest confidant because we have so many classes together. She’d eavesdrop on conversations where people were trying to figure out who Key was, relay them to me, and then we’d laugh for a solid ten minutes about it.

When I asked Holden about the most interesting conversation she had heard about Key, she replied that it was “hearing Claudia say she was sure, 100% sure that it was Sophia Azimi.” Lucy recounted seeing people try to hack into my account, saying that “they tried to put your phone number in a server that pinpoints where the phone is from” and following up with, “Just having people try to figure out who it was, like hacking into your email and stuff, was really funny.”

Holden also helped keep my secret by deflecting any suspicions that people had towards me, sometimes even indicating that people should suspect her. She told me that she hadn’t denied being Key during an economics class, and later in the day, I checked to see that Thomas had sent an email guessing her. Good deflection. Other guesses over the first week included Ms.Beck (four guesses), Lulu (three guesses), Marcos, Katrine, Claudia, Ms. Nomdedeu, Ms. Chao, and Ms. Eaton.

In some cases, it seemed like some people were more interested in figuring out who Key was than actually playing the game, and that was probably the most entertaining thing for me. I was a bit worried when Ananmay said in TOK that he was going to try to hack into the email in Hack Club, but it was generally really fun to listen to everyone speculate and comb through the directories.

Sourced from: Visual Studio Magazine

During one math class, we weren’t doing any work for some reason, so a lot of people started to try to find out who I was. This was all well and good until they figured out that I made a really stupid mistake: sending the emails in the message to the whole grade in the same order as I organized the loop. After that, I spent the rest of class thinking about how careless it was, and that was when I came up with the idea of reshuffling the names of the people who were still in the game, which I did later on. This period also led to the creation of the first fake Key Anonymous email account.

[email protected] was created by Becca and Amr under the name Key Anonymous, and they sent out an email saying that the game was over as Remi had guessed who I was correctly (Remi didn’t even attempt to guess!) and that a new game was starting: the cheese touch. That I asked Becca about the fake account later, she explained, “After math, Amr and I ran back to the slounge to figure out who it was. So then we started joking, and we were like, wow, what if the game were the cheese touch?”

“So then we just sent it because we thought no one was going to believe us anyway. And then people did believe it, which we were like really surprised about. It’s a different email, and it’s like the cheese touch. It was like so obvious that it was fake to us, but I guess it wasn’t to everyone else. We thought it was pretty funny.”

The message was informal. It was a different email account (which Holden immediately pointed out). There were emojis. I didn’t think anyone would take it seriously either. But a lot of people thought it was for real. I didn’t want everyone to know I was a student, so I couldn’t send a follow-up. That problem was solved when Claudia emailed me for clarification, after which I had an excuse for knowing about the fake account. After I clarified that the game was still going, no one took the fake emails seriously. It was great that people were interested in the game enough to go through the effort of creating an email.

So that’s about all that happened. Currently, there are three people who aren’t out yet. We’ll see if it narrows down to one this year or not. I’m really happy that everyone seemed to like the game so much. When I asked what people thought of it around the slounge, Max Roman replied, “I thought it was a good idea, I think we should have more games.” Similarly, Marianna said, “I thought it was fun. It brought the grade low-key together.”

I loved watching everyone get into the game and have a lot of fun with it. I loved listening to people try to guess who Key Anonymous was even more. So thank you to everyone who played. I owe you one.



By: Marta Maliszewska

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