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Software Communications The Internet Technology

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

    by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:09PM (#35430950)

    Occasionally someone at my place of business somehow manages to send an email out to everyone in the department, or division, or even the whole company. Even on modern hardware the network will struggle if you send an email out to several hundreds or even thousands of recipients. But that wouldn't be so bad, what really finishes off the network are the several dozen people who feel the need to Reply All just to say "please remove me from this email last". Of course, after a dozen or so of those go out, you end up with two or three people sending a Reply All just to say "please stop sending your removal requests Reply All" The last one went out to 500 employees and I ended up with 40+ copies of the email in my inbox because of people being absolutely stupid.

  • The only reply in Facebook is "Reply all." You can't escape.


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

    by Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:52PM (#35431656) Homepage Journal

    You need to understand that mistakes can and do happen, and it's a very simple UI fix to prevent. As reply-all is something that should only rarely be used, it shouldn't be as easy to click as the single reply button, something that is probably used 99% of the time instead of reply-all, that's simply poor user interface design to do so. There is no need to have one rarely needed button with possibly serious consequences directly adjacent to the more benign button that most people intend to click anyway.

  • by data2 ( 1382587 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:05PM (#35431852)

    Please stop doing this. Hitting reply-all on old emails destroys threading on pretty much all clients that support it. Your email client might have an address book and groups as an alternative.

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

    by Eevee ( 535658 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:07PM (#35431890)

    As reply-all is something that should only rarely be used

    There's a difference between "should only rarely be used" and "I rarely use." Just because it's not part of your way of doing business doesn't make it wrong. I find reply all essential for keeping a team of people together, particularly when there needs to be coordination of tasks.

    The real problem is people don't use BCC [] more for mass distributions. If you don't have the addresses, you can't spam them back with a reply all.

  • PEBCAK (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neurovish ( 315867 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @01:15PM (#35432012)

    Or you could try not being an asshole at work and keeping all of your correspondence in line with how you should present yourself. It is not the software vendor's fault if you are a moron or never evolved socially past middle school.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @04:24PM (#35434728) Journal

    I'm pretty sure there are entire tomes of email etiquette books that universally advise against the use of "reply all".

    And if so they're tomes full of something else as well.

    "Reply All" allows the instant creation of a task-based "mailing list" in a business setting, without the overhead of setting up a mailing list and tearing it down after the task is done.

    If the mail tools didn't have it, participations in a flash crew would require copying all the addresses every time. That's a job for a computer, not a busy worker with a mouse and incipient carpal tunnel syndrome. And accidentally dropping one address can not only disrupt the operation but offend the lost worker.

    Imagine the effect on office productivity of doubling (or more) the time to communicate. It can dwarf the time spent in deleting the occasional emails from being improperly added to the Cc: list on mail exchanges that are one-shot or will peter out in short order.

    Sure "Reply All" can cause problems. So can fire, or virtually any other powerful tool when improperly used.

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