I’m in an office where everyone uses reply-all on everything — do I have to too?

A reader writes:

I have a new job! I haven’t worked in a setting involving use of computers in a few years (this is still possible in my field), and now I do, once again. However, my job is not a desk job, at all, nor is it 9-5. At my new job, there’s some face time, but not very much. In my mid-30s, I am likely on the younger side of the people that I work with.

They have the strangest thing with email at this new job. They reply-all to EVERYTHING. Like, yesterday, someone announced that some people got a promotion. Then, nearly every single person on the announcement used reply-all to congratulate the person getting the promotion.

It almost feels like if I don’t do this, it will look like I don’t read the emails or am not engaged in the things happening at work. Yet, these emails are totally pointless and I know no one wants to read them…. how could they?!

What do you think about this? It boggles my mind.

Well, of course I think it’s silly and inefficient and weird. But I suspect that does not surprise you.

The interesting question here is that the one you raise about whether you have to pick up the same habit or risk looking disengaged.

I noticed, though, that you wrote that “nearly everyone” does this … which means not everyone? So who are the people who don’t? And what do the people who you respect most in the office do? If you see that there are people who never do it, or who do it only occasionally, and who are still perceived as engaged in their work and appropriately friendly to others, that’s probably your answer.

Or you might just resign yourself to sending the occasional, judiciously selected reply-all, if there’s no role model for the alternative.

Or you could go hog-wild and join the others in a frenzied bacchanal of reply-all madness — drop your inhibitions and your well-ingrained polite email behavior, and let loose. Enjoy the casting off of restraint and see how it feels. (And as long as you don’t carry the habit with you to your next job, I might vote for this option.)

{ 111 comments… read them below }

  1. LBK

    I love the phrasing of the last paragraph. You’d think Alison was advocating for not wearing pants at your desk or something. Free your inhibitions! Live in the moment! SUCCUMB TO YOUR BASEST REPLY ALL DESIRES!

    1. JMegan

      I was just going to say the same thing. Come join the frenzied bacchanal of reply-all madness, everybody!!!

    2. Ann O'Nemity

      Hilarious! I couldn’t help but imagine the everyone in the office ripping off their (tear-away) clothing, doing keg stands, and chanting “reply-all” until the sun came up.

    3. Hermione

      I came to write the same thing. I’m so uplifted by that last paragraph, as though we all secretly want to be the person who just replies all, and gollygeegoshdarnit OP you get to live out that dream without fear of repercussion or major side-eyes directed your way! GO! BE FREE! FROLIC IN THE FIELDS OF REPLY-ALL, LITTLE BUTTERFLY!

    4. Lizabeth

      And I picture Alison laughing malevolently in the background as everyone hits “reply all”

    5. Allison

      “You’d think Alison was advocating for not wearing pants at your desk or something.”

      Wait, is this not normal? I pretty much never wear pants to work.

      1. LBK

        I’m going to guess that a) you work from home, b) you wear dresses/skirts to work, or c) you’re an exotic dancer. Or d) you just have an extraordinarily lax dress code.

    6. ZSD

      I would be so sad if the only bacchanal I’d ever participated in was email-related.

  2. Anony-moose

    Ugh. The worst. I worked at a school for several years, in the administration. We had a good core of teachers and administrators who would use reply all with no abandon. Company email “There will be cookies in the break room.” Reply all ensues. “Thank you!” “So generous” “cookies!” and so on and so forth.

    I just ignored it. I didn’t want to be yet another voice in the crowd. If I did want my voice to be heard I’d choose my Reply All moments carefully. If I wanted a select group to hear me, I’d just pull them out and respond.

    “Ooh, cookies!”

    1. Sara

      There are a bunch of people in my district who do the same thing (including on district-wide emails), and it drives me nuts! Fine, if you must, appreciate the cookies, share a memory of a former coworker who died, or acknowledge that you got the email about health insurance enrollment…just don’t send your message to everyone who works here!

    2. Elizabeth West

      We have a group that does the same thing. Everybody hits reply all. I just delete them. It drives me nuts, though, because I have the alert on in the corner of my desktop so I don’t miss scheduling emails.

  3. Stephen King's Constant Reader

    On the flip side, people who don’t reply-all but REALLY need to (because of time-sensitive or confidential information) grinds my gears. I know it’s because the default is to just “reply”, but take a second to think about who needs your response, please!

    1. Stranger than fiction

      Yes indeed I think it depends largely on your audience/clientele. This was not an issue at old jobs but here our clientele clearly has no clue how to reply all (90% of them anyway)

    2. INTP

      Yes yes yes! I’m in a “reply all” work culture. We’re instructed to reply all or at least add my manager and team lead on all correspondence, so people just wind up doing it for every email. (I don’t think anyone would care if you didn’t reply all on social emails or thank yous though.) But there are some people in another department who do not reply all, and I then have to manually add my boss and team lead on every single reply (because I add the CCs, and then they reply to just me, every time). It almost makes me question if they’re trying to keep things on the DL from my management, and then I get paranoid that I’m going to look like a tattler for CCing my boss. I think most of the time it’s just carelessness or habit, but it’s still annoying that they don’t get the hint when I say, “Looping in Jane and Fenix” and add them to the CC list and the person STILL replies to just me, while I’m getting emails from my boss to make sure everything is still on schedule.

      1. Stephen King's Constant Reader

        This is my life! I’m surprised at the amount of people who blatantly ignore it when it when the email clearly says “Please reply all.” Just lets me know who’s paying attention and who’s not, especially when I see those repeat offenders.

    3. Windchime

      Yeah, this is the flip side of the Reply All controversy. If I send an email to a select group of people and that email needs a reply, PLEASE reply all! Stop cutting people out; I’m just going to add them back in. They are on the email for a reason.

    4. SadieCatie

      I think I may have been one of the reply-all adverse at old job, and it was to my detriment.

      I am curious, as I had two big bosses and one regularly headed the reply all bacchanal, one constantly asked to be taken off of the invite.

      Is there a happy medium if you know you are in a reply all culture?

      1. Stephen King's Constant Reader

        I suppose it would really depend on what you’re being included on. In regards to that person asking to be taken off, sometimes it’s literally not possible or you’ll be losing key information (or others will have to take extra time to fill you in later, which may not be feasible to ask unless you’re the Big Boss or something like that).

        1. SadieCatie

          Thank you!
          I really struggled with this, but this makes sense.
          Most times what caused my confusion was being included on emails about items people had been assigned to employee X or Y that they did not feel they should handle (in their ideal role at the company) but was not a part of my job, like scheduling, training, gifts etc.
          I thought this was small company behavior, and always assumed this would be an issue wherever I went.

          Thank you again, love the name.
          Nightmares & Dreamscapes is so worn on my shelf, it’s almost soggy pulp.

  4. AMT

    My office is like that. Coworker spam galore. My solution was to create an Outlook filter that checks whether my name is in the “To” or “Cc” field and, if not, sends it to a separate inbox. I skim it occasionally for important stuff, but I don’t get constant notifications that there’s cold pizza in the lunchroom anymore.

      1. AMT

        Glad you found it useful! So far, it’s made a huge impact on my email productivity. For anyone wondering how to do this in Outlook 2013, click File –> Rules and Alerts –> New rule.

        1. CAsey

          I love this. I have also made my boss’ text hot pink when it hits my inbox so it’s always the first thing I see when I dive in. Best decisions ever as I never miss anything time sensitive – and it’s pink which makes me happy, even if I hate the content of the email. :D

    1. Cat

      I know someone who directs all +LAN Current Users emails (and similar lists) into a separate folder too.

    2. nona

      I do something like this, too – email that was sent to me, not to one of four general office addresses, goes in a special “personal” folder.

      My carefully filtered inbox is a beautiful thing tbh.

    3. Elizabeth West

      That’s brilliant, but I can’t do that because some important emails come to me in that field. Grr. I’ll remember it for crap ones, though. Thanks!

    4. Jaydee

      I did something similar and set a filter to automatically send any emails that have “Fwd: Fwd:” in the subject line to my archives folder.

  5. Original Poster

    thanks a bunch, I’m stifling giggles while sitting in a meeting about my reply-all orgy that will be ensuing!

  6. Amber Rose

    Funny story: two jobs ago, I was assigned a government email, though I was employed by a company. After one of many system updates, a strange glitch caused everyone with a government email to be copied on everything sent by a government email. Everything.

    So after an overload of likely personal or sensitive emails (I am polite and read almost none of them), cue a couple thousand “please stop using reply all”, “we aren’t it’s a glitch”, “then stop emailing” conversations. I ended up with several thousand emails by the time it was fixed because people would. Not. Stop. And all my work came in by email, so I had to go through them all.

    Anyways, I hate reply all with a passion. I barely ever copy anyone on anything because they almost always reply all back and then I’m fielding nonsense from all sides.

    1. Jennifer

      I think this happens at every job now, mine included. I’m surprised this kind of complaining hasn’t happened at the OP’s office yet.

    2. A Bug!

      Yet another excellent reason not to use your work e-mail for personal stuff that you want to keep personal!

    1. HigherEd Admin

      I did this for large, overly chatty group texts before iOS made the “leave this group chat” feature.

    2. Afiendishthingy

      I considered doing this to a higher up who kept emailing the entire department the latest draft of a document that has absolutely nothing to do with me, but was too chicken. Found out later a coworker tried in a nicer way (“This doesn’t really apply to me since I’m not a coordinator, could you please take me off the list?”) and got a huffy “well I would think you would want to SUPPORT YOUR COWORKERS” response and continued to receive the emails. Sigh.

    3. AW

      I have a friend who advised me to Reply All with “Please remove me from this list” when I complained about this happening at a prior job.

      1. I make the computers go

        Please don’t reply all with that request. Reply to the sender, or send it on to IT.

        Often when I see this it’s an official group for a department, and taking someone out would mean they miss legitimate emails, so it’s not always an option.

  7. Student

    If you want to congratulate someone via reply instead of reply-all, go ahead. Who is going to notice? The only person who has an opinion that matters is the person you’d send the congratulatory email to anyway. I sincerely doubt that your other co-workers are keeping tabs on who congratulates whom publicly via reply-all.

    If it’s actual work email on a project, ask your boss or a co-worker you respect what the convention is. I’d encourage asking the primary relevant stakeholder – probably the boss, project manager, or your task lead – what is preferred or conventional. There might be a reason that people do reply-all for business purposes, though I also dislike it. Some people in my office operate primarily on the basis of keeping informed via reply-all emails. Many others are more sensible and send email only to those who should actually care. Many others keep email lists too restrictive – I “miss” about 2-3 important emails each week because someone neglected to put me on the email recipient list. This annoys the crap out of me, because my co-workers seldom bother to check who got an email and forward it on to me, but still expect me to do the work requested in the email.

    1. Stranger than fiction

      Agreed and same here. I don’t mind the group Welcome the New Employee type thing, were only about 50 people here so we’d get maybe 10-20 replies in a few minutes and then it’s generally done, maybe a few stragglers later in the day no biggie. But for every-everything? That would drive me nutso.

  8. Katie the Fed

    We’re a reply-all office in general and it takes some getting used to – mainly because of the volume of email you get in a day. But it gets easy to triage it after a while. I think it’s important in our context because there are things everyone needs to know, and conversations everyone needs to be tracking. But I don’t usually reply-all with comments that don’t add value.

    1. Matt

      I’d strongly prefer an email-reply-all office to my no-email-always-phone-and-if-you-email-I’ll-call-you-anyway office …

  9. Chickaletta

    The reply-all doesn’t bother me, I’m used to it by now. It’s the one person who decides that in the midst of all the fluff replies to reply with actual important information, or something that’s completely unrelated to the original subject.

    me: “Donuts in the break room!”
    A: “Thanks!”
    B: “Donuts!!”
    C: “Nom nom!”
    D: “Hi, here’s my article for the June newsletter. Please edit and let me know if there’s any corrections”.

    1. Ann O'Nemity

      This would drive me crazy. I ignore replies on the donut threads and would never see yours!

      1. MegEB

        I despise the phrase “nom nom”, or it’s even more hideous sibling, “nommies!” I fully realize that my reaction to it is disproportionate to the offense being made, but I don’t care. I REALLY HATE that phrase.

    2. Allison

      “nom nom” bothers me, it’s too short! it needs to be 3 words, either 3 “nom”‘s or “om nom nom!”

    3. A Bug!

      When I’m Dictator-For-Life, hiding substantial information in an existing e-mail chain on another topic will be punishable by exile. (I thought about “death” but I think maybe I’ll be a kinder, gentler Dictator-For-Life than I might have been in my younger days.)

    4. Pennalynn Lott

      Pretty much everybody on my neighborhood Google group does that. So I miss news about, say, a house on fire at one end of the subdivision because someone reported it as a reply to the “Adorable Kittens for Adoption” subject header. Drives me effing nuts.

      1. MeUnplugged

        I had a few direct reports that would either a) use an old email (from yesterday/last week/last month) to discuss new/non-related to the original email topics or b) use ‘hi’ as the subject line on every email. I’m pretty sure A was used because they didn’t know how to start an email so when they needed a new one they could only reply to an existing email. Yes, more than one person. And yes I did show them multiple times how to do it. And double yes they were very computer illiterate, and it WAS detrimental to their work. ( and no, I was only the supervisor and could not take any disciplinary action in any form, and my boss never dealt with any lack of skills issues.). So frustrating!!!

  10. Observer

    Allison’s advice is good, but I really doubt it’s that big of a deal. The only thing I would NOT do is tell other people to stop doing it, ESPECIALLY in the context of congratulatory messages. People often do actually notice who sends those, although they may not care. They ALL notice the person who complains about them, though.

    1. Colette

      I always notice who replies all when congratulating someone – it makes me think the sender was more interested in being seen congratulating the recipient than in congratulating them.

      1. John

        To me, it suggests that they think their congratulations hold special weight. Drives me bonkers.

        The other week I was in the midst of a serious work crunch when I found myself caught up in a frivolous reply-all frenzy. Someone sent a goofy note and it led to increasingly jocular responses and LOLs. The pop-up notification came coming up as I was racing aginst the clock, and the nature of the messages were extraordinarily aggravating. I wanted to respond to all, “Some of us have actual work to do!!!”

      2. Observer

        Of course, sometimes it’s just someone not thinking before hitting reply all. But sometimes it’s people who think that it’s a “fun” conversation. Other times, it’s a way to add to the congratulations. For instance, Jane wins an award and Sue chimes in “Wow! that award is really hard to win! I’m impressed!” Doing this in public is a way to let everyone else know that this really IS a big deal.

        With email, interest in being seen to congratulate, and interest in congratulating, are not mutually exclusive. It doesn’t even need to be “more than”. After all, it’s just as easy to do it this way as that. And, sometimes there are some good reasons for wanting to be seen congratulating. (And anyone who thinks that public congratulations will make up for private backstabbing will eventually learn that it doesn’t.)

  11. some1

    Most of the time I think it’s innapropriate, but I have done it for promotion announcements or good news emails — assuming I’m not the 16th person and I have something new to add.

    I should add, though, that I work for an org that really empahasizes publically recognizing accomplishments.

  12. AnotherAlison

    We had a couple incidents where someone sent out an all-company email, apparently by accident. Then, of course, there were a few people who cluelessly responded. (Like, the email subject said “Test,” and someone replied-all, “I received it.”) Then, there were the jackasses who replied all to say, “Stop replying all!” or, “Take me off this distribution.”

    In Outlook, you can easily hit “ignore” on an out-of-hand conversation or set up a rule to manage these emails. That’s the easiest way to handle this.

    1. Katie the Fed

      That happens every few months here – and it’s agency wide. Then some senior has to step in with a “this is a misuse of government resources” and everyone slinks away

      1. Connie-Lynne

        We had this happen three times in a week … Until I stepped in and made it a moderated list.

        Now I and my fellow moderators are the only ones who see the replies-all. I silently judge.

      2. AW

        At one place I worked at one of these incidents actually brought down the mail server because the “Everyone stop replying all” folks started complaining about each other replying all to tell everyone else to stop replying all.

    2. JMegan

      There’s an “Ignore” function in Outlook? You have just made my entire day with this tidbit of information. Thanks!!

    3. The IT Manager

      Brilliant! Oddly enough it never occurred for me to use it that way, but I will start using on the first misdirected group email which always results in complaining emails. Mostly I find that feature worrisome because I have only ever accidentally hit it on threads I don’t want to ignore; thankfully it gives you an “are you sure?”

    4. EvilQueenRegina

      Ugh, this. Not that long ago my team distribution list got copied in on some random email in error, and an awful lot of people replied all saying things like “Sorry, don’t understand, don’t think I was meant to have this”.

  13. Lisa

    My boss and I hate that our corp company does this, replay all to about 300 people with roughly 50 replies back to everyone with congrats or way to go! It’s all very much kissing up to us, but we joke that we need to create an Outlook button that randomizes responses to this sort of thing, but also auto-sorts similar responses away in a folder so you don’t have to see them all come in one by one.

  14. luna

    I use it often in business context where there are many people who may not have direct input on an issue but need to know it’s happening.

    I really dislike the reply all congratulations. At my workplace, it feels like sucking up. VP sends an email about a promotion, and people reply all congratulations so that the VP sees them congratulating the person (never mind the hundreds of people shuffling through the emails).

  15. Digigirl

    Where I work, they are big on reply all. However, when I send e-mails to a group or all staff, I receive several that are only replies to me. I reply all, if the input affects the entire group, and reply to the sender if that is all I think is necessary. So far, no one has ever mentioned any issues with my engagement. But, where I am, my engagement is more than just via the group e-mails. Create your own narrative of the kind of employee you are, and most people will get to know you outside of the norms of the office’s culture.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      Great point. I mean, if there were a bunch of people in a room and a promotion was announced, most people would probably just shout or at least say within earshot of others “Hey, congratulations, Wakeen!” On the other hand, if someone in the room brought up how the Spout Redesign was delayed past its intended deadline, you would probably try to catch the project manager alone or even in their office to remind them that your part in that project was delayed by the report that Apollo kept saying he would complete two weeks ago.

      There’s a context and a level of sharing that can vary depending on the information being conveyed, so Reply All isn’t always as horrible as it’s made out to be, even if it’s just used as a kind of social bonding. Now, I dislike using it that way myself, but I also work hard to manage my incoming information flow with automated filters and such.

    2. EvilQueenRegina

      Someone included me on a mass email by mistake once and I replied just to him explaining, but didn’t copy anyone else in. Some of the recipients hadn’t realised I had been included in error and replied all, so I still got the email chain. In that circumstance was I right to just contact the original sender or should I also have replied all?

      1. Sunshine

        This is always the catch-22, right? Either you add to the chaos with another reply-all asking to be removed, or be subjected to the time sucking threads for all eternity.

        I would do the same as you did – reply only to the sender, then delete any subsequent messages.

  16. Blamange

    Everything at my work gets conversed through Facebook groups. We have to ‘important work info’ and ‘Dream Team’. It pisses me off – pardon my language -because staff members get told off by the manager in the chat rooms.

    So similar dilemma I guess. I work in retail. I don’t like when staff get reprimanded through the chartrooms on facebook in front of all team members. I will not reply to the conversation or acknowledge it, which frustrates my manager. I don’t think it’s professional.

    1. puddin

      I read your name as ‘Blamanage’; as in a management style that employs blaming others for your mistakes. So essentially, you just helped me create a new portmanteau. I shall credit you when the royalties start coming in :)

      1. Blamange

        Good idea pudding XD. Hope that is not reflective of me. I just spelt Blancmange phonetically for my accent :( I think I’ll stick with it though it fits with the site lol!

        It’s a delicious desert lol.

      2. Ann O'Nemity

        Totally going to start using blamanage, along with its variants blamanagement and blamanager. Can’t wait.

  17. Dasha

    One of the best cures I’ve found for this is Bcc everyone and put the To as you. Mwahaha- try and reply all now!

    1. Connie-Lynne

      Yes!

      TO: People who should receive a reply-all
      BCC: people who need it as an FYI

      First line of body: “bcc list-of-folks-who-were-Bcced”

  18. Mike C.

    When you reply, be sure to randomly add some people or even a whole distribution list.

    If you want to be extra sneaky, BCC them instead.

  19. Dana

    I only know a couple people from their MANY Reply Alls and it became bitch eating crackers with whatever they say.

  20. Have The Town

    That last paragraph is probably my favourite use of word choice I’ve ever seen in any written form.

  21. JW

    I was actually just on the receiving end of a congratulatory reply all email this past week (I just finished grad school) and while 20 people replied all, I also got almost the same amount of private emails. The the person that receives them they all are of equal importance, so if you feel more comfortable not replying all- then do that.

    In normal email settings though (when the content of the email is work related) I like reply all because the way I see it, it’s always better to be slightly more in the loop than out of the loop.

  22. Rebecca

    We have group emails, and when someone doesn’t know who handles what widget, they send the message to the group email. What really irritates me is when Sally is the one handling the particular widget, and she replies to all. Then we endure endless back and forth emails about which color of widget, how many are in stock, when the next shipment is coming, and on and on. ENOUGH ALREADY! If you’re the one handling something in a group email, when you reply, at least have the courtesy to remove the group email address so the other 30 or 40 people don’t have to delete the next 10 exchanges.

    I suspect years of work per year are wasted in this country doing this very thing – deleting unnecessary reply all email chains.

    1. Sunshine

      Yes! But then you have the question of “did someone answer this email? Do I need to follow up?” because you didn’t see the reply . There really is no winning.

      1. Connie-Lynne

        That’s when Sally should move everyone else to Bcc and note it in the first line of the b

  23. AnonymousaurusRex

    We use Gmail for business, so reply-alls are automatically nested into a single thread. If that thread isn’t of importance, it’s no big deal not to look at it at all.

    That said, I fanned the flames of reply-all bacchanalia just today! I sent out a congratulatory message with some celebratory GIFs to my manager this morning, as she had a baby last night. I copied my entire team, who immediately jumped on the bandwagon and added their own congratulatory GIFs to the email thread. Then one of my colleagues added 5 of our former colleagues to the thread. As of this afternoon, there are at least 10 replies to this email, but it’s all contained in a single thread, so it doesn’t clog up the inbox with lots of separate messages. (And I’m not talking about a huge number of people here, there are only 6 people on my team, and we are pretty close.)

  24. John

    If everyone in your office is using Reply All, do the same or leave.

    I work at a contract company where you only reply to the people who need replying to, and CCing anyone who isn’t directly related to the topic, especially management, is a clear signal that You Done Screwed Up Bad. I think this is the way to go – when I wasn’t a manager, it reduced unnecessary e-mails, and when I was, I knew when there was a fire instead of an FYI.

    Enter a new contract into the mix.

    With the new contract, we get e-mail addresses with their domain names. We get all kinds of e-mails that aren’t even Reply All, they’re Initially Send to All, even if it has nothing to do with your role (a principal sending a school field trip attendee list to the entire district, for example).

    The person I work most closely with at this contract has a tendency to dodge me when I e-mail him, even though we’re working on some systems that I need to train over a hundred people in using, and was supposed to train them a month previously (we didn’t because we didn’t see a point in training on a system that wasn’t ready to use). When matters were particularly urgent, I CC’d his supervisor, but when they were routine (well, as routine as this contract got – there were a lot of other problems), I didn’t.

    After a month, we have our first check-in meeting with our primary contact with the contract (this guy’s supervisor). Our management staff, including me, and the central office staff we’ve been working with, including my contact, are present. Primary Contact asks us why my system isn’t running and why staff haven’t been trained. We point out that it isn’t worth training staff until the system’s ready, and we haven’t gotten the responses we need on their end to get things ready. My Contact tells his supervisor that we haven’t responded to e-mails. I reply that I have all the e-mails I’ve sent and received from him, and that he hasn’t replied to a number of my e-mails (something we’d asked to add to the agenda because it was a problem a number of people on my side were having with My Contact).

    Primary Contact responds that since she wasn’t CC’d on the e-mails I sent, they weren’t properly documented and we can’t blame My Contact for not replying or acting.

    At this point, I start looking through my e-mails. Sure enough, My Contact replied to every e-mail I CC’d Primary Contact on – and *only* those e-mails. The district we were working with had set up a system so dysfunctional, that if you didn’t CC someone’s supervisor when e-mailing them, they could safely ignore everything you sent, knowing that they wouldn’t be held accountable for it later *even if it was brought to their supervisor’s attention when their nonresponse had become a problem*.

    Suffice to say, we started using Reply All and CC All a lot more in the hopes that it would increase accountability when we weren’t given access to the resources we needed to fulfill our responsibilities.

    Those of you with experience with toxic contracts can probably guess that it didn’t work. But when they involved lawyers to try to claim we were in breach of contract for not completing tasks, damn were our asses covered by our extensive CCing of e-mails (and offsite archiving of those e-mails, which were kept on the district’s servers)

  25. allthatremains

    A bit off topic, but this made me remember my favorite “reply all” story, which comes from a university e-mail. We were having an unusually tough winter (well, at least by the standards of the specific region) and my university was closed for several days. After one of the first e-mails letting folks know the campus was closed, an undergraduate student replied all and the response was “THANK YOU?!??!!!!” Some how it actually went through to every single person in the university wide e-mail list, which included the undergraduate college and all of the affiliated professional schools (don’t know how it made it through!) This response became an instant classic, and friends will still periodically text/e-mail “THANK YOU?!!??!” at random times.

  26. Marie C.

    I used to work for a company where this would happen periodically:

    1. Company-wide email about something
    2. Someone replies-all with an email that may or may not be related to the original email
    3. Multiple people reply-all to THAT email saying things along the lines of “I don’t think I was supposed to be included in this?”
    4. Several other people reply-all with things along the lines of “Stop hitting reply-all; it was just a mistake!”
    5. A few more people send out joke replies of varying quality, usually pretending that they don’t understand what’s going on.

    1. EvilQueenRegina

      That just reminded me of the time someone emailed the entire building (I don’t think it was meant to go to everyone) saying “The password to X is now *insert name of local nightclub here*”. Someone else replied all saying ” Wakeen is obviously a secret head banger!” He tried to recall it once he realised what he’d done but most people had seen it.

      But yes, I see that happening often.

  27. I make the computers go

    I was feeling bad because I use Reply All like crazy. Now I realize my company is wonderful and we only put people on emails who need to be on them.

    We have some pretty strict policies on our big email groups though. Emails to all_users are actually sent to three people, they decide if it can go out to the entire company and if so, send it on through bcc’ing the secret group.

  28. A Definite Beta Guy

    Random question: How many emails a day do y’all get? Letters like this confuse me. I hear constant complaints, but I read literally every single email that comes through my inbox (except system-generated ones, of which I read 1/2), and my inbox is kept pretty clean most of the time. Reply all doesn’t bother me.

    I wonder if I just have an absurdly low volume compared to the average working person. Obviously something I would want to know, if true.

    Thanks in advance….BTW, bake sale downstairs!

    1. DMented Kitty

      I used to get hundreds in a day, not to mention different people replying to different threads of the same topic (ugh!) that I have to read otherwise I miss what someone else has just said, or if an idiot starts up another topic in an old, unrelated email. Add to that I had to perform my standard day-to-day tasks (IT support), so I typically wasn’t able to go through my email queue in a day.

      Nowadays, I have a low number of these, so I could go through all my emails in a day. Add to that I set up auto-filters for system notifications that really don’t need my action on and drop them in a different folder, so it’s easy to look through unread stuff.

      And if I go on PTO for a few days, I typically set up auto-filters to filter emails by date (e.g. drop emails to ‘PTO – To’ or ‘PTO – CC’ if I’m on the ‘To’ or ‘CC’ from [start of PTO] to [end of PTO]). That way when I return I have the freshest emails in my Inbox that I could go through first, then muddle through the ones in the ‘PTO’ folders to check through which ones that still need action vs. which ones people have already resolved without me.

  29. Jane

    I’ve had experiences like this, too. If the email is about a favor or gift to a group, it drives me nuts when everyone who thanks the person hits “reply all.” You can thank him/her, but I don’t need to know or care whether you did. So “reply to,” like I do. Don’t (please, thank you) reply all!!!

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