We had a person send a happy birthday email to a coworker, and they somehow included a massive distribution list.
We are now seeing hundreds of reply-all responses. Some are “please remove me from this distribution list”, some are “I think you copied the wrong person”. The most eye-rolling are the “Please do not reply-all!” sent using reply-all.
Last time this happened, our entire email system got so bogged down it was unusable for most of the day. We’ll see what happens as more employees start their workday.
“Reply all” is the bane of email existence. For a while at my firm we had a pop-up that would alert us, “You have chosen to send this message via ‘reply all.’ Are you sure?” or words to that effect. We had to remove that for some reason, but I sure wish we still had it.
One time when we were moving offices, myself and a co-worker went into one of the conference rooms and labeled all the chairs with another co-workers cubicle number. So when the move took place, the movers put all of the conference room chairs into this guys cubicle.
While the reply all is a bane to organizations, this type of thing is quite entertaining to me. Even if I did get into trouble using the reply all one time in a QA thread questioning the brilliance of someone on the QA team.
In my naive youth I once accidentally used “reply all” when I ripped into someone for being selfish and not a team player. That person was on the reply all list. The e-mail was appropriate for the one person I intended to send it to, but not for 12 people. Hard lesson learned.
It’s probably 20+ years ago but there was a Dilbert strip where he sees on his screen, “To: All Employees, Please refrain from sending extraneous emails. It bogs down the network.” He replies to all, “I agree.”
When my sister worked for HP (or maybe it was Agilent by then), there was a mass invite for someone’s going away party at a local pub. Someone made a reply to all saying they looked forward to being there and seeing someone with another person’s “dick in their hand.” That didn’t go over too well.
The best work stunt out at the Rocket Ranch still must have been Dr. Truth’s email concerning PhotoCop. I know it’s my favorite. Here’s how it went down.
It’s in the early 1990s. WVC’s PhotoCop experiment had a lot of people pissed and we’d just been through letting about 2/3 of the work force go over the past five years. A really funny guy out there figured out that you could send emails on the old WordPerfect email system we used then as a guest, and easily spoof the sender’s name. So he’d write up these fake emails and send to a limited number of of recipients that he knew would get the joke, they’d all laugh at “Dr. Truth,” and that would be the end of it.
One day he drafts and sends an email from the “head of Security” saying that we’d been having trouble with people breaking the on-plant speed limit in their personal cars. In order to deal with this problem we were buying a PhotoCop unit and would be placing it around the plant to catch the perps. In perfect HR-language he laid out the progressive disciplinary steps up to and including termination that would occur for violations. I got it forwarded to me, realized it was Dr. Truth, and thought it was hilarious.
Unfortunately, some others got the email forwarded to them and flipped out. The real head of Security started getting calls from people asking how we could be spending money on this crap while we’re cutting staff, and other angry complaints. This guy had no idea what was going on. They ended up tracing the email forwarding string and questioning people, including one guy who told Security he didn’t have to tell them anything, until they reminded him they might have a big say on whether or not he remained employed there, at which point he ratted out the identity of Dr. Truth.
Dr. Truth got called in and quizzed by management and Security. The Security guy was actually quite good about it, saying what he really wanted to know was how he did it. By the next day the ability to send emails as a guest was gone, and that was the last Dr. Truth letter ever, which I thought was a huge hit to morale, at least mine.
I’ve seen this happen before. The “stop replying all!” reply-all’ers started getting called out by other reply-alls for the stupidity and irony their replies represented, thus creating multiple levels of irony. And it just kept devolving further and further. The whole thing served as a fascinating study in human psychology and social behavior.
Last year I was doing a consulting gig for the IRS, and one of these firestorms started up. After pages and pages of replies volleying between "stop hitting ‘reply all’ " and "stop using ‘reply all’ to tell everyone to not use ‘reply all’ " I was getting more and more amused. Then one guy chimes in and says something like this:
“After 30 years as a federal employee - and I am probably in the minority here - I am kinda going to miss this type of email thread when I retire next month. They are an endless source of stupidity and overwhelming arrogance, and leave me laughing about it for days”.
20+ years ago I worked for Allied Signal, before they merged with Honeywell. We were about 80,000 employees. I had just finished upgrading 120 computers in the cube farm and they all came with (new at the time) sound cards and speakers. They’d been in place less than a week and so everyone had the speakers turned on and so when company wide emails came out you’d have 120 desktops all make the Microsoft Outlook “You’ve got mail” bong within the same 30 seconds. I didn’t happen all that frequently, but when it did you couldn’t miss it. I’m a cube or two away from mine talking to someone when we get the bong chorus indicating a message from HQ. Like most, I figured I’d look later. About 5 minutes later we get another set of bongs indicating another company wide email. This was unusual so I strolled over to my desktop to investigate. The first email was indeed from Morristown, announcing a new Vice President in the Sales Organization. The second email was from a fellow employee who’d intended to vent to a coworker how messed up the Sales Organization was and how “yet another *#!&#( stuffed shirt who didn’t know his head from a hole in the ground” to a buddy and had instead chosen the Reply All button. He went on in great detail, listing other leaders who could be included in his blanket statements of their uselessness. We all laughed and even wen far enough to look him up in the company directory to see where he worked.
We were still laughing about it a few hours later when someone else asked who he reported to and so we looked him up again, but this time he was no where to be found. The assumption was that he’d been frog walked out the door and erased from every Allied Signal system in those 2 hours. Shortly after that, emails from HQ showed up without the ability to do a Reply All.