Reply-to-All Madness

This morning, a seemingly innocent email was sent at work, with an email distribution group in the “CC:” line. This meant that thousands and thousands of people inadvertently received the email.

And then, the seemingly neverending series of reply-to-all messages began. And all Hell broke loose.

I received 185 emails from 8:40 AM – 9:11 AM. That’s right, in 31 minutes, 185 emails… or an average of almost six emails a minute, or one every ten seconds, for more than half an hour. It started out as “please remove me from this distribution” and then quickly became a barrage of “stop replying to all!” (often in angry capital letters.)

And some of them even acknowledged in their email that they were aware that they were replying to all to send the “stop replying to all” message… but then they went ahead and did so anyway.

My favorite response was from a clever gentleman who wanted to drive home the point, visually, that this was a ridiculous waste of time. He’s one of the few that didn’t annoy me with his reply-to-all response, because I got a good laugh out of it. His message included this helpful image:

Fortunately, after 31 minutes of madness, some clever person went in and locked down the distribution group so that random people couldn’t send messages to it anymore. It’s sad that it took so long for some leader to pull that trigger — and even sadder that it never occurred to anyone to set it up that way to begin with.

When you factor in the time spent reading (and eventually, barely skimming) these, deleting them, shaking your fist angrily at the heavens, and commiserating with teammates via Instant Message about how godawful frustrating that was… It’s a whole clusterfuck of unproductive time.

Speaking of wasted time… I can’t justify devoting any more than the six multitasked minutes I’ve already spent on this blog post. But if it stops just one of you from replying-to-all when you shouldn’t, I’ll consider it time well spent.

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