The Rampant “Reply All” Abuse

I work for the State of Tennessee, implementing a Federal Program. There are offices all over the country that do the same kind of work we do. Some time back, we all received a test email from a particular office to see if they had everyone on their email list. It worked and they specifically stated to disregard the message.

That is not what happened.

People from all over the country began to reply to the test message. At first, it was those clueless souls that honestly don’t realize that they are not supposed to press “Reply All.” They responded with questions like, “What is this about?” and “Is this for me?” Pray for them, they do not know what they do.

After about 20 or 30 of those types of messages, the “comedians” started getting involved. I use the term “comedian” loosely. These class clowns started pressing “Reply All” and sending little shout outs to all their friends in the DDS family. The rest of us were not amused.  30+ of these messages poured in to my email account in a matter of seconds.

Then the fun really started.

The final group of “Reply All” button pushers takes this whole situation to a new, previously unexplored level. These are the cream of the crop. These people understand the situation and they know exactly how to fix things. Their solution: Send an email to thousands of other employees telling everyone to stop pressing “Reply All” when they respond to the test message. These wunderkinds sent this brilliant email by pressing “Reply All.” I’m choking on the irony.  Here are a few of their informative and helpful messages:

The “Angry and Serious” Response:
Stop responding to this. It’s sending messages to several THOUSAND people all over the US. They sent a test message to a blanket of DHS sites including the lists of all their employees. It was just a test. Please stop trying to be clever. Try to be professional and stop filling thousands of people’s inboxes with repeated replies.

The “Unhelpful Helpful” Response:
Please do not hit reply ALL (just reply to *****if you wish) with your comments. They are clogging every one’s in box.
Thank you.

The “Dictionary Definition” Response:
Disregard definition:  to pay no attention to:  treat as unworthy of regard or notice

And my favorite, The “I’m a Total Moron Response”:
I think my head just asploded.

I’m going to do my best to incorporate “asploded” into my daily vernacular. I don’t really know what it means but it has to be something totally amazing.  In conclusion, when you get an email that is sent to hundreds, thousands, or even just a handful of people, don’t press “Reply All” unless the all in “ALL” really need to get your input. If not, you might cause many heads to asplode. And that can’t be good for anyone.

Phill Lytle

I love Jesus, my wife, my kids, my family, my friends, my church, J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, 80s rock, the Tennessee Titans, Brandon Sanderson books, Band of Brothers, Thai food, music, books, movies, TV, writing, pizza, vacation, etc...

5 thoughts on “The Rampant “Reply All” Abuse

  • July 13, 2016 at 11:51 am

    One part of this reminds me of all the times I was a student in middle high school or a volunteer in a middle school and all the kids were loud and every time some pea brain thought yelling “SHUT UP!!” was going to solve the problem.

    • July 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      That is pretty much the same thing as this. This is just a more technological version of that.

  • July 13, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Gotta love it! So here’s true story, from when I worked at a previous employer, a multinational corporation with about 80K employees at that time. They had been largely a Macintosh company up until then, but the new CEO decreed that everyone would migrate to Windows (95), and they would be happy and productive at it, cotton pickin’ it! This involved a new email system, which soon became clogged and choked for many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that people were creating beautiful multicolor PowerPoint presentations consisting of one elaborate slide to announce that ABC department was having a party, or something of that sort. Plus, many people quickly developed horrible email habits.

    So the CIO sent out an email explaining why the email system was clogged, what IT was doing about it, and what every employee could do to help. His email went on for four or five pages of single-spaced text. Among his recommendations: “Do not forward emails to people who were already on the original email’s distribution list.” Sounds logical enough. And the distribution list for the CIO’s message? “All XYZCorp employees worldwide.”

    So, just as I finished reading the long message, I received another message. It was from our department’s director. He forwarded the CIO’s email, with his own exhortation: “Please comply.” It was then that I knew: Dilbert lives, and so does the pointy-haired boss.

    • July 13, 2016 at 5:28 pm

      Great story! It’s an epidemic in the professional world.

  • July 13, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    A reminder of the world we now live in, and one in which I quite frankly don’t do so well.


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