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Companies Getting Rid of Reply-all 248

An anonymous reader writes "An article at BusinessWeek highlights an issue most corporate workers are familiar with: the flood of useless reply-all emails endemic to any big organization. Companies are beginning to realize how much time these emails can waste in aggregate across an entire company, and some are looking for ways to outright block reply-all. 'A company that's come close to abolishing Reply All is the global information and measurement firm Nielsen. On its screens, the button is visible but inactive, covered with a fuzzy gray. It can be reactivated with an override function on the keyboard. Chief Information Officer Andrew Cawood explained in a memo to 35,000 employees the reason behind Nielsen's decision: eliminating "bureaucracy and inefficiency."' Software developers are starting to react to this need as well, creating plugins or monitors that restrict the reply-all button or at least alert the user, so they can take a moment to consider their action more carefully. In addition to getting rid of the annoying 'Thanks!' and 'Welcome!' emails, this has implications for law firms and military organizations, where an errant reply-all could have serious repercussions."
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Companies Getting Rid of Reply-all

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  • errant reply-alls (Score:5, Informative)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <> on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:12PM (#42082345)

    Here's [] last year's attempt to do something about it. Maybe something is happening this time?

    Oh and,

    this has implications for law firms and military organizations

    Not to mention for terrorist organizations []...

  • by BlackPignouf ( 1017012 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:13PM (#42082347)

    Person A sends you an email.
    You reply.
    You forgot something, and reply again.

    With Gmail, it will reply to A.
    With Outlook, it will reply to yourself.

    The broken solution is to use "Reply to all", which will only reply to A and not to yourself.
    If you remove "Reply to all", please fix "Reply" first.

  • by bramankp ( 1774866 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:23PM (#42082405)
    Through domain policy, they were able to disable the button in Windows XP but when folks switched to Windows 7 it was back again. Plus, it doesn't affect Mac or Linus users. Regardless, most people just learned to use the keyboard shortcut instead of clicking the button and it's as easy to Reply-All as ever. Mostly we still get the same amount of spam as usual and whomever got paid to come up with that suggestion should be let go. What a complete waste of a paycheck.
  • Re:Mailing lists (Score:5, Informative)

    by jgrahn ( 181062 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:26PM (#42082427)

    The majority of reply-alls can be replaced by using mailing lists.

    +1. The lack of real (archived, opt-in) mailing lists is part of what drives useless reply-all usage. Let workers who are interested in topic Foo look at the archives for the Foo mailing list, decide if they like it, and sign up if they do.

    At my workplace we're going even more retro. On Monday I'm going to sign up on the internal IRC network, and try to convince others to do the same. Our Enterprisey IM software simply doesn't support the way we work (when it works at all, that is).

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:39PM (#42082511) Journal

    Can we also get rid of excessively long sigs, embedded graphics, comic sans and outlook stationary too? Or at least made them more difficult to automate.

    I'd love to, but corporate policy requires that we include our name, all relevant phone numbers (desk, mobile, fax), company name (in company font and color, naturally), a trite environmental statement, and the 2-paragraph automated legalese BS that gets latched onto each and every outbound (outside the company) email.

  • bcc to the rescue (Score:5, Informative)

    by Salo2112 ( 628590 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @02:41PM (#42082533)
    If you put the distribution list in the bcc field, the only person inundated with stupid replies is the sender, which serves them right. It's also a way of saving idiots from themselves when the reply is....inappropriate.
  • Re:Mailing lists (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 24, 2012 @03:21PM (#42082747)

    Nonsense. Unless you want to generate an ad-hoc mailing list for each list of half a dozen people who care about issue $x. It really depends on how matrixed and flexible your workplace is. If you're part of a team that works on a few projects, then a team mailing list, and a mailing list for each project, will probably satisfy your needs.

    Many of the emails I send are addressed to 4-6 people, and say things like "I want to make this change - it might impact your system. Give me an opinion." A group discussion is the right format for that answer, rather than individual emails to me, but there's no way I want to ask the question on an integration mailing list which might go to 50-60 people, half of whom will chime in with comments which are either asinine or reveal that they didn't understand the question.

    Next week, it'll be a different set of 4-6 people.

  • by erp_consultant ( 2614861 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @03:58PM (#42082937)

    How about making it mandatory to mute everyone on a conference call? It never get on some big call with maybe 100 people and there are kids screaming or dogs barking in the background. The moderator asks people to mute their lines (#6 or some such) and most people do...except for the idiot with the screaming kids and barking dogs. Then we all sit around waiting until finally the moderator puts everyone on mute. Huge waste of everyone's time.

    At the beginning of the call just mute all the lines. Tell people how to un-mute the line if they have a question or comment. Problem solved, time saved, happy day.

  • by godrik ( 1287354 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @04:03PM (#42082957)

    I think you misunderstood the article. They are not talking of removing the reply-all button entirely. They are mainly talking about putting a security to make sure people don't reply to everybody without realizing it. In other word, they want to make reply all more difficult than reply. It is the office equivalent of --i-understand-that-glxgears-is-not-a-benchmarking-tool

  • Re:please (Score:5, Informative)

    by xclr8r ( 658786 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @04:06PM (#42082985)
    One of the things that can be done is restrict who can send to certain distribution lists. i.e. If you have something important enough to send to the entire student body or staff you have to basically send the original e-mail to a designated person and they send it "on behalf of x"
  • Re:Mailing lists (Score:5, Informative)

    by Natales ( 182136 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @04:30PM (#42083119)
    The majority of mailing lists can now be replaced by internal company-only social engines. My company (14K people approximately) switched to Socialcast and the amount of email lists related traffic and reply-all problems virtually disappeared. I generally HATE social networking, but this particular system when properly implemented can really be a game changer in the dynamics of internal communications.
  • Re:Mailing lists (Score:5, Informative)

    by machine321 ( 458769 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @04:47PM (#42083221)

    With Microsoft's NoReplyAll [] add-in with Exchange a user can disable reply-all (or forward) on a per-message basis. That page has links to the documentation on how to do it.

  • by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Saturday November 24, 2012 @09:14PM (#42084433)
    The fact that the most recent information is posted at the top means you can easily disregard the information further down. Bottom-posting forces the reader to scroll to the bottom and makes it harder to find where the most recent information begins. We are communicating here, not writing a novel. There is no need for the most recent information to come after older information. Only a crazy person could argue that putting the most recent nfrmation at the bottom of an email is appropriate.

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