Herein lies the story of the dastardly case of “reply all.”
This past Tuesday at work someone accidently CC’d a global email option into a personal email chain about a minor business issue (nothing major). This automatically copied thousands of people that make up the Strategic Business Unit (SBU) I work under as part of a really large corporation.
What resulted was madness.
Within a few minutes, dozens of people responded to the email chain with question like “I think you made a mistake.” “Why am I on this email?” “What is this?” And many more….
This is a dumb move because rather than reply to just the sender and let that individual know of the error, these people hit “reply all.” That meant that the same thousands of people who got the first email also got their ensuing replies.
After a while people began replying with variations of “Please stop hitting reply all. This was obviously an error.” In order to make sure their obvious display of intelligence stood out among others, these people changed font size, color, boldness, underline and so on. Some even added quite a few exclamation points to drive the point home.
Oddly enough, these same people were doing what? Hitting “reply all.” Again, thousands of people got these emails.
Some people realized their hypocrisy and would add a tag line to the end of their “For the love of god, stop hitting reply all” emails that said “Yes, I know I did it too, but really you guys need to stop.”
Some people started arguing back and forth about their use of “reply all” by . . . continuing to use the “reply all” feature. Therefore, thousands of people saw further proof of their idiocy.
During this time, there were still some people continuing to respond to the original email with “I think this was sent to me by mistake.” “Can someone remove me from this email chain?”
You would think that with several hundred emails in their inbox (all with the same subject line), these people might want to pause and see what was going on before replying at all to the first email.
The best response during this two-hour study of absurdity was one person who didn’t write a single word. He just responded with the picture below.
Admittedly, I thought that was actually a good use of “Reply All.”
This went on for several hours and since I work for a large GLOBAL company several of the emails were in other languages such as Spanish, German, Swedish, etc.
In the end, 270+ unnecessary emails were sent to an entire SBU simply because people didn’t think before responding and most importantly, did not understand that the “reply all” function should only be used with the utmost discretion.
Please don’t ever make this mistake yourselves.