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Stopping the Horror of 'Reply All' 256

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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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:00PM (#35430802) Homepage Journal

    That's a nice email storm infographic they have. One time back in the 90s at Indiana University when people were mostly still using pine, a secretary at the College of Arts and Sciences sent out an email to several thousand students and put all their addresses in the two line. The headers themselves were a megabyte alone and it took a minute to open the message. Several people started replying to all and asking to be removed. It culminated with UCS terminating the mail in the queues and inboxes and suspending several user accounts. One guy replied saying something like "I just wanted everyone to know that Jim Smith takes it in the rear".

  • by Lord Grey ( 463613 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:03PM (#35430840)

    Just think of it as an opportunity for Darwinism.

  • by ByOhTek ( 1181381 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:10PM (#35430964) Journal

    damnit. That was supposed to go to Whatsisname, not all of Slashdot!

  • by wheeda ( 520016 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:12PM (#35431006)
    I love the reply all button. When vendors send advertising to everyone without out using BCC, I reply all. The vendors usually stop doing that. I've even replied all with contact information for competitors.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:18PM (#35431102)

    Just think of it as an opportunity for Darwinism.

    Yeah, yeah, yeah - only stupid people do this - right.

    When you've been working hard, crunch time, 12+ hour days and longer, you're tired, a little loopy, concentrating on something that just isn't going your way and all of a sudden, you get one of those emails addressed to the whole crew. It's something not that important but someone decides that now is a good time and it's that you respond to just the get the fucker out of the way so you can go back to getting your work done and on time - something probably from HR about benefits or whatever that HAS to be decided NOW because THEY think it's important or because they've procrastinated with some "team" building mumbo jumbo horseshit.

    So, you bring up "Thunderbird" and with blurry eyes click on the first "Reply" button you see - they ARE right next to each other - and compose your email. It's late, you're tired, and this email is just yet another not-so-important distraction in your work life. You fire it off and maybe with a little snarky comment about how you're under a crunch period and don't they realize it and couldn't they just fucking wait another goddamn week?!

    Ta-da! You just made a corporate faux-pas that will result in a weeks worth of "sensitivity" training from 9 to 5 and then from 5 to 11 every night getting your shit done.

  • by GC ( 19160 ) <> on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:24PM (#35431196)

    Our CEO at a company I used to work for sent out an all-employee mail detailing a salary freeze for all employees and voluntary redundancies. Moments later the CFO sent out an email to his accounts team detailing that their pay-rise would not be affected and that they should not consider redundancy... needless to say, the hapless git hit reply-all...

  • by anyGould ( 1295481 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:20PM (#35432098)

    My favorite reply-to-all story (which is 100% true; I was there, I participated, and I got in trouble for it at the end).

    My high school had just got "email" (in the "you can email your teacher and other students" sense - they didn't trust us with outside links, or didn't trust the outside with us, one or the other). First Class, if you know the software. A few interesting facts:

    • You could see everyone who was online at the moment (and select the name(s) to send them an email).
    • When you recieved email, it made a nice loud "ping" (and since everything was internal, it was near instant from "send" to "ping").
    • From one of the walkways (that had computers for homework-use), you had a clear view/hearing to three different labs. (Just a quirk of the layout).
    • This was '94, and the first experience most of these kids had with email.

    Combine these facts, and you can mess with an entire school at once:

    1. Pull up the list of everyone online, select all, send an email saying "Hi!"

    2. Listen to the near-synchronous "ping" sound from three labs as they all receive the email.

    3. Wait about ten seconds - at least two people will hit reply-all and say "who is this?" or similar.

    4. Listen to a double-dose of "pings".

    Wash, rinse, repeat - our best day we managed to have a continual storm of pings as emails whizzed back and forth. It only stopped when they sent teachers to the labs to instruct everyone to hit delete and leave it. (Which lead to getting in trouble part - although I think we got in more trouble for bogging the server down than for disrupting three classes *shrug*.)

    The only better story I have is using Waterloo MacJanet's inability to delete a message without opening it first, combined with the ability to use alias to send an email to the same guy twenty times (as in, I hit send once, he gets twenty copies), to completely bury a friend's email account.

  • by SBrach ( 1073190 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:24PM (#35432162)
    Please remove me from this distribution list.
  • by Rhaban ( 987410 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @02:03PM (#35432756)

    Please stop woooshing to all.

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev