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Stopping the Horror of 'Reply All' 256

Posted by samzenpus
from the slip-of-the-thumb dept.
theodp writes "The WSJ's Elizabeth Bernstein reports that Reply All is still the button everyone loves to hate. 'This shouldn't still be happening,' Bernstein says of those heart-stopping moments (YouTube) when one realizes that he or she's hit 'reply all' and fired off a rant for all to see. 'After almost two decades of constant, grinding email use, we should all be too tech-savvy to keep making the same mortifying mistake, too careful to keep putting our relationships and careers on the line because of sloppiness.' Vendors have made some attempts to stop people from shooting themselves in the foot and perhaps even starting a Reply All email storm. Outlook allows users to elect to get a warning if they try to email to more than 50 people. Gmail offers an Undo Send button, which can be enabled by setting a delay in your out-bound emails, from 5-30 seconds, after which you're SOL. And AOL is considering showing faces, rather than just names, in the To field in a new email product. 'I wonder if the Reply All problem would occur if you saw 100 faces in the email,' AOL's Bill Wetherell says."
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Stopping the Horror of 'Reply All'

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  • Re:Tales of old. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Whatsisname (891214) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:04PM (#35430858) Homepage

    People would occasionally do that in my University classes of several hundred. I couldn't resist a reply-all with a simple "what", or better yet, "hey josh, what did you get for problem 7", then the ensuing storm of people reply-all messages saying not to do that, etc.

    I love reply-all, I have gmail setup to use it by default. In my opinion it's a lot easier to avoid accidentally sending messages to everyone if your default behavior is to reply to everyone.

  • by C_amiga_fan (1960858) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:08PM (#35430922)

    Like if I'm sending "free books" or whatever to friends, I just click reply-all on an older email, trim out the 2-3 non relevant persons, and send off the email to all ~50 friends.

    I've been fortunate never to have a "reply all" mistake at work or other embarrassing place. If anything I tend to hit "reply" by mistake, when I meant to include "all" the participants.

  • Re:Tales of old. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ByOhTek (1181381) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#35430944) Journal

    I like the solution in K-9 Mail (android app) better.

    The on screen menu has 'reply', you actually have to tap another button to get to 'reply-all'. It can be tedious, but it has prevented the reply-all issues in my case.

  • by medlefsen (995255) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:15PM (#35431046)
    Do you use email as part of your job? I am always a part of at least a dozen or so email conversations between groups of people. Reply-All is my default since I usually want to be talking to everyone in the conversation.
  • Re:Tales of old. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chameleon3 (801105) <thishastobeafake@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:24PM (#35431192)
    agreed. I use 'reply all' every time, mostly because it's imperative to not leave people out of important emails. If my boss was CCed on an email to me, say, if I don't CC him on the reply, it looks like I'm avoiding him or didn't want him to have this information.
  • by idontgno (624372) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:25PM (#35431216) Journal

    That's like arguing we should be attracting dinosaur-killer meteor strikes to weed out the weak and unfit. A reply-all storm that size obliterates communication for the affected infrastructure for days. That's followed up by a fair bit of forensics, trying to backtrack the crapstorm to its initiating email, THEN followed by executing the guilty. Or not. If it's an executive secretary, it's probably just a mild talking-to.

    OTOH, I've forgotten how many lulz there are to be had trolling in such a mailstorm, if you can get away with it.

    Oh, BTW, epic fail DHS, but good work flushing out the Iranian spy*. Not that he was that good of a spy; if surreptitiously monitoring a DHS email list is equivalent to the Monty Python "How Not to be Seen [wikipedia.org] sketch, asking the group "'Is this being a joke?" while signing your email with your real-world credentials ("Amir Ferdosi Sazeman-e Sana'et-e Defa' Qom Iran") is the same as the guy at the beginning of the aforementioned sketch who stands up from behind cover when asked to (and gets shot).

    *Yeah, I know, he's probably not really a spy. But seriously, Homeland Security, why are you letting foreign nationals from adversary nations subscribe to your email lists? WTF?

  • Low tech equivalents (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RogueyWon (735973) * on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:35PM (#35431400) Journal

    "Reply to all" is great for career-imperilling fun, but you can replicate the effect perfectly well with good old dead tree and snail-mail. Indeed, the closest thing I've had to a genuinely career-ending moment so far happened during my first year in work and was entirely down to a dead tree circulation mistake. Even now I still look back on it and cringe, even though I've since changed employers.

    I needed to send two documents to different recipients in the (large) organisation I worked in, both of whom were based in different buildings in different parts of London. One was a routine, dull minute of a meeting. The other was a sensitive personnel-related document (relating to a staff disciplinary matter - I was in HR at the time). I decided to deal with the former first. I printed it out, put it in an envelope and put it in the out-tray for our internal delivery service (which had multiple collections daily and moved dead tree around our sites within about 30-60 minutes, depending on traffic). I then went back to find a secure mail pouch for the the personnel letter - only to find that the piece of paper I still had on my desk was the meeting minute. I look around and see the delivery guy vanishing into the lift with all of the internal mail.

    Cue a 30 minute dash (and I do mean dash - literally running) across central London to beat the delivery van to our other site and intercept the envelope before the addressee could open it. I made it - by the skin of my teeth. Had I failed to, my career could have... well... turned out very differently - and not in a good sense. In a way, it was a good learning experience - I've been incredibly careful about what I put into envelopes ever since.

    But it just goes to show that you don't need fancy new-fangled modern technology in order to ruin your career with a mis-addressed mail.

  • by satch89450 (186046) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:45PM (#35431550) Homepage

    After reading a couple of standard SlashDot "shoulda do this" comments, I pulled up my mail program, Thunderbird, and customized my toolbar so that "reply all" is to the right of the Thunderbird "search" bar. Far away from "reply". 15 seconds to do, 10 seconds to check that it was "sticky."

    Stop bellyaching. Start fixing.

    Oh, way, this is SlashDot...

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