the burnt bagel, the excessive candor, and other reply-all email catastrophes

It’s the day before a long weekend and I expect traffic to plummet, so to send you off into the holiday with something fun, here are 10 11 reply-all horror stories that have been shared here over the years.

1. The burnt bagel

My first or two week at a new job, someone burned a bagel in the toaster, which resulted in the firm alarm going off. Those toasters really needed to be watched closely, because things would barely toast at all some days, and on others, it would burn (settings were not toggled different ways, it was just an old POS) so it really didn’t take a lot. Food burning in either the microwave or toaster and fire alarms going off happened at least once a month, so that in of itself was nothing special.

However, for some reason, someone got really invested in knowing who burned the bagel. They sent a company-wide email (100+ people) titled “Who burned the bagel?” and included a picture they googled of a burned bagel and a description of how badly it stunk up their space. Before long, there were dozens of responses speculating on who burned the bagel, how many times bagels had been burned, plenty of “OMG LOL” type of replies, and comments on the smell. It got so bad a manager finally replied all, “These emails are immature and need to stop. Thank you.”

2. The resignation

An employee emailed their resignation to the entire company (over 10,000 people) with a bullet point list of all the ways they hated their job, their boss, management, and the company.

It was hilarious – we received thousands of reply-all emails and servers were crashing. Upper management was sent around each floor to tell people to stop and that they would be fired for responding at this point.

A coworker kept a printed copy of that email on his wall for years.

3. The candor

My two favorite reply-all incidents happened when I worked at a large university. It used to send out all-staff update emails each evening at about 10pm. One Friday evening, one particular member of staff had clearly been drinking heavily at the point that these emails started arriving, and replied all saying, “You don’t pay me enough to give a f*ck about this.”

The other was on a global researchers mailing list where someone thought they were sending a message to a friend but accidentally included the whole list saying, “Personally, I’ve never thought much of Jane Doe.” Obviously Jane Doe was on the list, as were many of her friends and colleagues. There quickly followed a desperate follow-up email saying, “When I said I’ve never thought much of her, I mean I’ve never thought about her much because our research areas don’t coincide.” We all knew the truth though.

4. The robes

When I was a student, an email got sent out to the entire graduating year (at least 6,000 students) about the deadline to order academic robes for graduation. One student missed the deadline and replied to all 6,000 explaining that he had been busy with his job but please please could they make an exception to let him get his robes. The result was a reply-all campaign where half the student body pitched in to convince the organisers to let him get his robes. There was a hashtag and everything. In the end, he was allowed to order them and during the graduation ceremony when his name was announced he got a special cheer from all the students who recognised the name.

5. The accident

My favorite involved an embarrassing email that the sender (a woman) meant to send to just one friend, but accidentally sent to the entire listserv. She mentioned in the email that she needed to get “a bit of ass” that weekend.

Hilariously, in addition to all the “remove me from this list” and “stop replying all” comments, there were also many replies from people who were offended by the raunchiness of the email and demanded to unsubscribe … as if this poor woman had sent it on purpose!! lol

6. The latecomer

This happened at my workplace about a year ago! I would wager that around 2,000 people were involved with this reply-all and it went through the usual 3-4 days of “This isn’t for me,” then “Stop replying all,” then “Stop replying to tell people to stop replying all,” and then finally died down.

Cue two weeks later, some guy known to be kind of a self-important douche replies all saying he just returned from vacation and noticed this in his inbox and that while the matter was almost certainly resolved by now, the person who sent it should feel consolation that we’ve all made this mistake before (as an aside, no … we haven’t) and he’s sure their reputation will heal in time. Immediately, a partner replies back “DO NOT REPLY TO THIS.”

7. The oil painting

We had a rash of these events, several in the course of a few weeks; some sensors covering medicine storage areas were being updated one by one, and occasionally an “incorrect data” notification went out to the thousands of people in the temp-monitoring group. The third time this happened, a doctor of rheumatology in the group immediately responded with a beautiful, AI-rendered, oil-paint-style image of an office flooded by emails.

Water was pouring into an office area, but that water was carrying a tide of little white “new email” envelope icons. Haggard-looking office workers try to bail out their cubicles, tossing buckets of envelopes back into the sea whilst their monitors all mock them by displaying that same icon, blown up to fit each screen. One employee hunches over in a rowboat, attempting to stay afloat atop the unstable surface. Rather ominously, some kind of rudimentary face, with red, glowing eyes and mouth, watches in apparent satisfaction from the stormy clouds above.

It’s now my desktop background. His email didn’t stop the flood, but by George, it was a good effort.

8. The legal threat

The best I encountered recently was on a mailing list for a volunteer group. Tons of people replying all imploring others not to reply all; a couple brave souls pointing out that this was a mailing list and there was no reply all option, so the only way to kill the thread was for people to just stop replying; and one person threatening legal action (!!) if people didn’t stop emailing her.

9. The karma

When we got a mass email once, I sent a response to my work-friend: “Oh great, a mass email. Now all our inboxes are going to get inundated with reply-all’s. Just you wait.”

The kicker: I’d accidentally hit “reply-all.”

*hangs head in shame*

10. The hero

I once intentionally created a reply-all nightmare because, sometimes, you just gotta do what you gotta do. I work in a field which is overwhelmingly lead by white men, even though the majority of college graduates are women. Women don’t make it to the top. The firm sent out a “culture survey” to the only predominately female department, seeking input on ways to improve the department culture, with suggestions like (I. Kid. You. Not.) book clubs, knitting clubs, cooking clubs … all after hours, unpaid labor in order to “improve culture.”

My reply-all: “We are professionals, and therefore improving culture should be through professional channels such as: appropriate (i.e. equal) pay, benefits, professional development opportunities, supportive management, interesting work assignments, etc. If the culture of the department needs improvement, asking us to put in more unpaid time to read books and watch movies together will not fix it.”

The replies went on for about an hour and a half and I regret nothing.

11. The pot pie (a late-breaking addition!)

In the early days of email, my roommate worked at a global company–thousands of employees with offices all over the world. Someone’s pot pie was stolen from the freezer in the DC office and naturally, he was furious about it. So he sent an all-company rant demanding to be reimbursed. To every office around the world. The reply-alls flooded in.

Some people had never heard of a pot pie; luckily folks stepped in, eager to explain the magic of the pot pie and share recipes. Some missed the pot pies of their youth and wondered if anyone knew where to find them in their region. Some thought the dollar amount requested was outrageous for a pot pie. Some couldn’t believe he would eat a frozen pot pie instead of making one from scratch. And why on earth did he get turkey instead of chicken?!

Entire conversations grew from this pot pie. Friendships and alliances were formed, enemies were made. My roommate would forward updates throughout the day and we would spend the evening rehashing the top pot pie stories. This was at least 20 years ago and we still laugh about it.

Best part? Weeks after the flurry had died down and the pot pie had been forgotten, someone came back from vacation and replied-all to let everyone know how unhealthy pot pies are. Which reminded the victim that he had still not been reimbursed. And so it began again.

{ 258 comments… read them below }

    1. postdooc*

      Way to go #10! It takes bravery to be the first person to call out the problem in the room, but clearly it opened the floodgates for others to support the same message.

    2. WellRed*

      I will cheer no. 10 every time it runs! Much better than motivational posters in the ladies.

    3. Jill Swinburne*

      Brilliant! I took about 10 seconds to try to figure out what field it might have been, then realised it could have been so many it was a bit depressing.

      Smash the patriarchy!

      1. AJ*

        Her and the woman a few stories back who copied-all to the entire board over not getting family leave.

    1. TJ Morrison*

      Same. I tried getting an AI to recreate a similar picture, but I couldn’t get any near as good as the one described here.

    2. Dhaskoi*

      I hate to be the fun police, but if you hadn’t already heard of the issue, google ‘AI water use’.

    3. Artist*

      This one was actually not “something fun” for me at all. I am a visual artist and all praises for genAI are automatically anxiety-inducing.

      1. Good Lord Ratty*

        Not an artist, but I agree. It was extremely funny and the image sounds hilariously evocative, but all AI that attempts to supplant and replace human creative labour is a big no from me.

  1. Cardboard Marmalade*

    How do we get a link to see the email deluge oil painting? I will do anything.

        1. LW #7*

          It is beautiful! But now I’m too embarrassed to share it: it really is my desktop background, but I seem to have hallucinated a few extra details into it that weren’t there! It is best left to the imagination, or perhaps an artist among us can bring it into reality as it should have been.

  2. Blue Spoon*

    #10 is my heroine!!

    Also, was anyone else waiting to see if the old pot pie reply all-pocalypse was going to be on this list?

      1. Blue Spoon*

        Yay, I love that one! The resurgence weeks later gets me cackling every time.

    1. But maybe not*

      This is my first time seeing it, so thank you for resurrecting it!

      I’m letting myself believe it was one of those Banquet pot pies, which cost $1.00 in today’s money, but 20 years ago you could get for less than .50.

        1. But maybe not*

          Oh yes, the sodium/dollar ratio is tremendous.

          Ate a lot of them growing up though… we were poor, but not poor enough for assistance.

          1. Hannah Lee*


            Plus there were 6 kids in my family, and I think sometimes my mother would declare “pot pie night!” when we were being particularly fractious, so that she could just point to the freezer and say “Pick what flavor you want” so she wouldn’t have to listen to anyone complain about how they didn’t like turkey or argue about portions, etc

      1. jtr*

        OMG, I lived on those (stockpiled when on sale for 10 for $1) and day-old Winchell’s donuts (free, cuz I worked there) after my teen-marriage divorce.

        1. Aunttora*

          Costco for a while had a frozen “slab pie” (Martha Stewart brand) that was Michelin-star worthy. The best chicken pot pie ever. It’s probably been 15 years and I still mourn it!

  3. Czech Mate*

    I work for a university that happens to have a 50 MBA program. A prospective student emails my office (note: I do not work in admissions, nor do I work directly with the MBA program) asking whether his admissions fee can be waived. He sent the same email to similar offices at some of the top universities in the US (Harvard, Yale, MIT, Stanford, etc.) I know this because he cc’ed EVERY SINGLE ONE on the same email.

    I suppose it could have been a reply-all disaster, but fortunately a rep from Clemson University (shouting them out for being MVPs here) replied-all to say, “Hello [student], Please contact the admission office in which you applied to request an application fee waiver. This office has no role in the admission process and only works with students after they have been accepted to Clemson University.”

    Whether they knew it or not, the response spoke for my school and probably every single one on the list. I do often wonder where that student ended up going to grad school.

    1. Alex*

      Sadly, I also monitor a public-facing email, but for a very specific function, at a university. The number of emails I get saying “How can I apply to your university?” is astonishing. My department has nothing whatsoever to do with admissions.

      Also, if you can’t figure out how to apply, I’m baffled at how you think you are going to succeed in university! Emailing a random email address is NOT going to do it for you!

      1. Anna*

        Same! I get one student who sends a panicked, ungrammatical, rife-with-misspellings email about what they need to do to enroll in classes every semester – it’s my 6th semester checking this email address, which has nothing to do with admissions or enrollment. What gets me is, this student never actually gets to the point of paying tuition, and is always dropped from their classes and so has to reapply the next semester. They have received instructions on who to contact to enroll at least FIVE times and continue to email a random unrelated address every semester.

        Unfortunately my program’s got some diploma mill elements, so the university keeps admitting this student.

        1. Martin Blackwood*

          Wait, at first i though you meant you got a different student finding your email and emailing you every semester. The same student keeps fucking up the enrolling process and emailing you—for two-three years?
          Jeez. Makes me feel better at how i navigate bureacracy.

          1. Dog momma*

            That’s what I thought too, Martin, till I read the end.. wouldn’t that be illegal.. taking classes without paying & dropping them just before you’re caught?

      2. Good Lord Ratty*

        I used to work at an academic library and would sometimes be on email monitoring duty – the email I monitored was for students to request reference assistance and research help. I would reliably get several emails a week from randos asking me for tuition waivers.

    2. Sociology Rocks!*

      I do some inbox wrangling for our program director at my university and the number of emails asking about fee waivers, application requirements and other such information is immense, and she isn’t the contact for admissions questions! Often they surge a month or two after admission close anyways, so no of course you can’t be admitted for this school year now! People also just throw their resumes and cvs and a brief description of themselves at her email in the hopes they can work on a project without even being admitted to a university program or any other connections! Most of them are oddly worded, being both weirdly formal and weirdly direct/blunt/presumptive, and given we do a lot of international work, I figure somewhere they got some very bad advice to cold email people, or that norms in their home country are different.

    3. alle*

      I also work at a University. Not an email, but I just got a call from a student asking about enrolling for classes in Autumn. I kept saying that I am not in university administration, but they kept talking over me. I asked them if they had a name they actually wanted to talk too but they had no answer. No idea how they got my number.

    4. Cat Tree*

      There could be an entire separate post about weird misdirected emails at universities (or anything public-facing, I suppose). These stories are wild.

    1. Elan Morin Tedronai*

      I copy-pasted the whole paragraph into Gemini. The results are worth a look. ;)

  4. UnCivilServant*

    *hits Reply-All*

    “Please remove me from this mailing list.”

    That aught to stop these emails.

      1. Enai*

        No, “augh” is pretty much the perfect reaction to a mailstorm. The “t” at the end is superfluous, though.

    1. Seamyst*

      The professional listserv I’m on gets those occasionally, and it always kills me because a) my field is one in close attention to detail (not to mention reading comprehension) is especially important, and b) unsubscribe instructions are automatically appended to every email that goes out!

  5. Mostly Managing*

    These are spectacular, and the reason I always BCC on things to more than 3-4 people.

    Also, happy long weekend to the US contingent who are about to vanish! Those of us in other places will miss you. (seriously. I totally understand why Alison takes the stat holidays of the place she lives, and I really do miss the bright spots in my day that new posts bring.)

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Tomorrow happens to be election day in the UK, though unfortunately it’s not a holiday. Enjoy your holiday weekend, US folks!

      1. Freelance Historian*

        Good luck with the election. At least yours will be over before ours (US).

      2. Tradd*

        I’m in international transportation (customs broker) and we are open on Friday. I actually had to bring two air freight clearances home with me to do tomorrow.

        And I’m a regular BBC Radio listener (Radio and 5 Live and the Newscast podcast) online from here in the States, so very aware of your election tomorrow.

      3. Csethiro Ceredin*

        l’m half Brit and I have a bottle of bubbly in the fridge In Hopes.

        Good luck!

    2. NoTurnOnReddit*

      I do the same (bcc), especially when the list of recipients is in the dozens, but – interestingly enough – I receive complaints nearly every time (from the C-suite, no less) that they can’t see the full list of people who are getting the email. Mind you, thieve more often than not emails containing the agendas for upcoming meetings, so all they would have to do is… look at the list of invitees.

    3. MMR*

      Same. I always thought this was considered common sense that you’re expected to learn in your first year or two at an office job.

      Also shocked by how many of these huge companies have all company emails that anyone can use. Everywhere I’ve ever worked that was bigger than a small startup, those have been restricted.

  6. Commenter 505*

    #1 – Same kind of POS toaster at my old workplace, you never know when it’s gonna go wild. Our fire alarm system automatically notified the fire department, so when I burnt a bagel, we evacuated and watched as two fire engines came roaring up to the building.

    A higher-up from another floor started getting accusatory and wanted to know who to blame. Before I could answer, my grandboss piped up with, “We ALL burnt the bagel.” She was an utter gem of a person.

      1. tangerineRose*

        Somehow the song “I shot the sheriff” seems to go along with “We burnt the bagel”.

          1. Dog momma*

            We’d burn the coffee pots..not often but still. I worked an extremely busy CT ICU, coffee always on. Well, if we got busy admitting open heart surgery patients, or someone coded, or we just forgot, the the alarm went off and the fire department showed up.. bc… hospital. After the 3rd, time, the fire chief read us the riot act
            ( big fine I’m sure). So the chief of CT asked what we wanted for Xmas.. back then it was a thing, probably not now. We got a catalogue and ordered the biggest, most expensive Bunn coffeemaker they made. Never set the alarms off Win, win.

          2. Reluctant Mezzo*

            I did that to the popcorn…(though my microwave is bravely entering its 43rd year, no joke, while the machine which burned the popcorn at work died long time ago).

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Fuenteovejuna lo ha hecho.

      (Play by Lope de Vega from the golden age of Spain. A village called Fuenteovejuna employs the collective-guilt defense successfully.)

    2. Everything Bagel*

      My current workplace also has a danger toaster – turn the knob one way to turn it off, keep turning to set it to STAY ON. More than once, someone has accidentally set the toaster to Stay On, and since we’re a small department it can be a while before the next person goes in the break room and notices. It’s a wonder the thing hasn’t caught fire (knock on wood).

      1. Fierce Jindo*

        A new toaster that doesn’t risk burning the place down is a very small expense for even a small organization…

    3. Goldenrod*

      “Before I could answer, my grandboss piped up with, “We ALL burnt the bagel.””

      She was an utter gem of a person.Ha ha! What a lovely manager.

      I worked in a much LESS nice office where one of my work pals was the bagel burner. The fire department came, the whole nine yards, but my friend totally owned it and thought it was funny.

      Later, one of the guys from Facilities nailed the burned bagel to an official-looking plaque which he ceremoniously gave to her, and which she proudly displayed on her desk.

      1. Festively Dressed Earl*

        Someone will nab Spartacus Bagel as a username. Start the countdown.

    4. Laura*

      My old workplace had someone with very…odd eating habits and you could set your watch to the smell of burnt bread that wafted out of the breakroom every afternoon.

      (He also once tried to cook eggs using the toaster – had it on its side and the eggs in a pan on top. It didn’t go well. He “didn’t trust” microwaves.)

      1. MigraineMonth*

        I once had a conversation with someone in my church where she explained that she wouldn’t use a microwave because she was against nuclear weapons.

      2. Bananapantsfeelings*

        I’m sorry, he tried to cook eggs on a toaster, by putting it on its side and trying to cook a pan of raw eggs on the unheated part?!

        I mean, literally every part of that is bonkers.

      3. Wired Wolf*

        What the–cooking eggs with a toaster?! That actually sounds like something an ex-boyfriend of mine would have done.

  7. Lorna*

    #7: I really really really really want …no.. NEED to see this epic picture. Just from the description alone it sounds marvelous!

  8. Thegs*

    As your friendly woodland systems administrator, I wish to remind all admins who were stuck with the task of managing the mail server (despite it not being their background) to disable sending to the org_all distro list, or at least require approval to send; and for all emailers to put the distro list in the BCC fiend when replies are not necessary :)

    Happy long weekend to those who will have it, and may good databases and no reply-all storms come your way.

    1. Blarg*

      I used to work for the state of Alaska, and we had a 7.1 earthquake on Fri, Nov 30, 2018. An important date because, also, the new governor takes office on Dec 1. Which is just what you want during a state of emergency: everyone in leadership positions coming in fresh. So come Sunday night, we start getting emails about whether we are reporting to our offices the next day. The first comes from the brand new commissioner of our department: if you don’t work in x building, go to work. The next comes from the brand new commissioner of the dept of admin — who is actually the one to make the decision. That message used the “all employees in the state” distro email address, and did not BCC it. It said no, anyone in Anchorage was NOT to go to work the next day.

      Since there was no slew of reply-alls, I figured IT did its job by restricting use of the address, even when not properly BCC’d.

        1. Bananapantsfeelings*

          I haven’t seen distro lists that aren’t locked down in decades. Interesting that it still happens!

          1. Mongrel*

            I imagine that the amount of admins who haven’t learnt the hard is is vanishingly small.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        As someone who managed email for a large local government, I salute the email wallahs of Alaska for taking the few minutes to lock those puppies down.

        Presumably the commish had access to do the mailing in the first place. But yours truly did actually send out a lot of the All-County mails so they were properly BCC’d and had an appropriate Reply-To set.

    2. Turquoisecow*

      Apparently back before I was hired, an all-staff email was sent out (to I wanna say like 500 people) about something innocuous like a casual dress code day in advance of a long weekend or something, I forget, and someone replied to the all staff email with a long rant about how dressing appropriately would be easier if everyone was paid better or something – it was only tangentially related to the topic of the email. Anyway according to my boss that person was quietly fired (or at least never heard from again), they were in a different department on another floor, and IT disabled the ability of all but a few people to email the all staff distribution list.

      My current company is smaller but anyone can email the all staff list, so around Christmas a few managers and such will email everyone with something like “have a happy holiday and enjoy your time off,” and then various people reply back stuff like “thanks Jim, you too!” and sometimes they CC their outside vendors as well so you get “happy holidays to the (company) family from (vendor)” as well.

    3. Berkeleyfarm*

      I am also an experienced email professional and locking down the big dist lists is one of those “it doesn’t take long and gives you major bang for your buck” tasks.

      I do, however, tell the story of the determined county employee who got around the “can’t send to all-dept/all-building/all county employees” restrictions by painstakingly selecting every individual recipient in a 10,000 user address book to send out either her fancy retirement flyer or ye olde chain letter (“send to everyone in your address book”)

      (We had not limited total # of recipients. It … hadn’t come up to that point. Ooops)

      I just hope she was as determined and diligent in her regular work. But that message did a number on our creaky servers.

  9. VaguelySpecific*

    My coworker is the process owner for a piece of software basically the entire company uses. We periodically have to send mass emails to all users of the system to alert them of downtime or significant changes to the system. The mailing list we use is directly tied to the list of users that have access to this software.

    Inevitably, after each email to this distribution, my coworker gets at least one replay of “remove me from this list”. Except, if we do that, they will lose access to the system….i may or may not have encouraged her to use malicious compliance in response to these messages. :)

  10. Multilingual Email*

    I was in a language immersion school once (there’s one big one in the US, offers programs in 10 languages and graduate degrees). The Spanish school accidentally sent a message to all ten schools — but people had pledged to only use their language, I didn’t even know what my cohort sounded like in English — so people started responding “remove me from the email list” and “don’t respond!!11!” in ten different languages. People started sending recipes. Ultimately, the school had to release a formal notice.

    1. Princess Sparklepony*

      People started sending recipes… how does that happen?

      And I see a new book made up of emailed recipes sent in response to a reply all error.

  11. DefinitiveAnn*

    Years ago, my employer started a listserv for a specific segment of our industry. A subscriber to the listserv, Jane McDonald, had set up an out of office that was not set to “reply once,” so every single message to the listserv generated an OOO reply from her, with the not-unexpected “stop replying all” and “take me off this message” which would then generate another OOO reply for her. Hundreds of messages later, the tech person unsubscribed her from the listserv, and all was quiet for a few days. Then, somebody sent a message, “I wonder how Jane McDonald is doing? I miss her.” Many laughed, but others were MAD. “This is for professional discussions, not jokes.” People can be SO uptight.

    1. Georgia Carolyn Mason*

      Years ago a family member of mine had a bounce-back situation where he sent an email to someone and then left for a holiday and turned on his OOO reply, managing to hit the other person’s inbox the minute they turned on their OOO reply, so they each got 500 or something. This was 20+ years ago in the wild west of email, though!

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        Yep, I managed to mailbomb myself back in the last century with a badly set up OOO reply. Fortunately my colleagues noted the issue and fixed it for me.

      1. Berkeleyfarm*

        WOW. I’m pouring it out for those admins!

        I was in email support around the turn of the century when “macro viruses” that mailed themselves to your whole address book were all the rage. One of them got into our system (10,000 addresses) and we had both autoresponders and the folks who receipted all the mail they sent.

        Nowadays I would write a rule to send whatever subject line to the bit bucket.

        1. Jordan*

          I initially parsed “I was in email support” as a “support group”

          As in, ‘you in this situation are not alone, there is help. Are you suffering with email? Has email affected your life in new or unexpected ways? It’s not the end, join us Tuesday nights in the basement of the server building’

          1. Berkeleyfarm*


            We do have newsgroups and other groups. Although being tech support does involve being a lot of emotional support to people!

            I still vividly remember the day that I found on one of my tech support groups that MS announced a zero day, actively being exploited vulnerability for Exchange and we all had to patch it NOW. I rolled into my bed at 3 am and people in other time zones had to pull all nighters. A lot of people hadn’t patched their mail servers (they’d probably inherited them) before so those of us with more experience in the process were talking them through it and there was a lot of camaraderie.

            On a professional note I was grateful to that newsgroup because I heard about it before my tech-savvy management did and was able to inform them of the issue and the plan.

  12. HBJ*

    I feel like #7 is already so detailed, you would not be doxxing yourself any further by sharing the actual image. Please, we must see it!

    1. LW #7*

      Maybe I will. I do love it! It’s my desktop image and I enjoy it every day. It… just doesn’t have all the details I remembered when I was describing it!

  13. Cici*

    The worst reply all incident I ever encountered was in an office job where another part of our organization moved to our floor. The folks in that organization were not as…conscious about their cleanliness in a shared space and regularly left rotting food in the refrigerators and left messes in our shared kitchen. The problem got really bad when our forks started disappearing and so management sent out an email to our entire floor asking for the forks to please be returned.

    Someone responded via reply all about how the cleanliness in the bathrooms had also been deteriorating and to ask everyone to please be more conscious of that. And then it turned into a free for all. As the day went on, all of us learned specific details about the bathrooms not being kept up to standards, especially the men’s room, how the men should ‘practice using Cheerios in the toilet,’ specifics of bodily fluids being smeared on bathroom surfaces, and more.

    Management put a stop to it but, wow. I still think about that e-mail chain and how it spiraled out of control.

      1. Ose*

        I’m going to make a WAG that it refers to using cheerios as an aim-training device? Happy to be disabused if there is a better explanation.

        1. whimbrel*

          Nope that’s exactly what it is. It’s one of the ways you can help kids learning to pee standing up to aim properly.

          Source: am a parent, fortunately my kid has good aim.

    1. Great Frogs of Literature*

      Me too! “Unexpectedly heartwarming” was not what I thought I was going to get in this post.

  14. bamcheeks*

    It is not a long weekend in the UK but it IS an election weekend, so who knows who’ll be in charge by Monday?

          1. Mr. Mousebender*

            Only Sir Terry could have taken a line from The Who, turned it into something that could pass for Latin (if you squint a bit), and use it in a novel.

            I miss him very much.

      1. Zeus*

        That show is scarily similar to how the public service still works, today, in my country on the other side of the world from the UK.

        It’s accurate, though. Bureaucracy will always win.

  15. PropJoe*

    Boggles my mind that there are IT departments out there which haven’t heavily restricted who has the ability to email large company-wide distribution lists.

  16. EJR*

    I was on a listserv several years ago that I believe was still based in Yahoo. A member of the listserv set up an out of office reply so that when an email went out to the list, his OOO reply was also sent to the entire list, including him… which triggered an out of office reply… which triggered another email, which triggered another out of office reply… this went on for HOURS. We were getting hundreds if not thousands of these emails. Servers were crashing. Someone was finally able to track the guy down on vacation and get someone back in his office to shut off the OOO but it was quite hilarious looking back on it, especially because interspersed would be emails like WHAT IS HAPPENING – TURN OFF YOUR OOO – WHAT IS GOING ON?? Just mass hysteria.

    1. UnCivilServant*

      I’m confused as to why there wasn’t a configuration set in the listserv to not send the message to the originator.

    2. Bilateralrope*

      I’m surprised there wasn’t anything to limit how fast someone could send emails via the list, just as a spam mitigation measure.

      One OOO reply responding to everything shouldn’t be crashing servers. That should require at least two so exponential growth kicks in

  17. buddleia*

    Robes, pot pie and the hero are my faves. Now I’m imagining the hero in graduation robes ready to hand out delicious frozen pot pie from DC to anyone who receives a reply-all email

  18. Harriet Vane*

    Many years ago, at the PR agency where I worked, a woman on our largest team sent a recap about a key client event to the appropriate internal team alias. Her boyfriend, who also worked there, replied with the message “You’re sexy hot.” Of course, he didn’t mean to reply all. He was generally well-liked and a lovely person, so the ensuing chaos was all highly amused and good-natured. The kicker: He was in IT, so in fact it was his job to know better. He soon sent a gracious, embarrassed apology, though the follow-ups continued for at least another few hours. The following week, at our company holiday party, I saw that he’d filled out his nametag as “Sexy Hot.”

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I remember once getting something along the lines of “The new password for the scanner is *insert name of nightclub that was popular locally at the time*”. Someone replied to that with “Wakeen is obviously a secret head banger!” I think that was only meant for specific people, but he ended up replying all. In this case he managed to recall that, so there weren’t too many reply alls about it “not being meant for me”.

      The best of it was that we weren’t even in that building and had no need to know that password in the first place. It was the building that had previously been that team’s main office, but we’d all moved in to one of our satellite offices long since and just never been taken off the old building’s mailing list (people were even getting added to it if they started after the move and had never worked in that one, but that’s a whole other story).

  19. Tau*

    Anyone remember the great NHS reply-all apocalypse some years back? The NHS mail servers are locked down to prevent anyone from sending to all, but apparently there was some loophole or bug somewhere that resulted in one hospital’s test e-mail for trying to set up an internal mailing list getting sent to the entire NHS with reply-alls open.

    Which is to say. Around a million people.

    I wasn’t working in the NHS at the time, but my company was working closely with some NHS staff. They called us to let us know that they would probably not be able to send or receive e-mails for a few days, because the reply-all explosion had pretty much melted their e-mail servers.

    1. Water girl*

      Yes, I received those! It was so frustrating with all the ‘take me off this list’ reply-alls.

  20. But maybe not*

    We just had a very tame reply-to-listserv email chain last week, complete with instructions on how to remove the listserv from the reply and explanations on the difference between reply-all and replying to a listserv. Only around 20 replies, though (but I don’t know how big the listserv was). I did get to learn who else was delinquent in renewing their parking pass, though (besides me).

  21. RabbitRabbit*

    Regarding #6 “latecomer”: The best late reply-all response I personally saw was one where the delayed reply was not aware of it, but the “unsubscribe me” request was a few months later, headed off with a statement to the effect of that the person was catching up with their inbox. I hoped that whoever handled supervising their work saw that come through before our IT group nuked the email chain (again).

  22. i drink too much coffee*

    I work in local government and there are very, very few people who have the ability to email all of our employees. I happen to be one of them and it goes through an approval process — sure, I can be my own approver, but the reply-all function does not work thank goodness.

    Although they can reply-all to all of the people who have the ability to send that email, which is just a handful of people in my office specifically, so we just laugh at their attempt in our office and don’t respond lol

  23. Ann O'Nemity*

    Not a reply-all disaster, but the worst email mistake I ever made involved incorrectly setting up an out-of-office in Apple Mail. After creating the message, a pop-up asked if I wanted to apply the rule to messages in the selected mailbox. Yes, I thought, that sounds right.

    But in fact, no! That was not what I wanted to do. Because the result was sending an out-of-office email to everyone who had ever emailed me, ever. Every boss, coworker, teacher, student, customer, mailing list, etc, etc, etc. that had ever emailed me received an email letting them know that I would be out of the office for a few days. Queue the bewildered responses. “Why are sending me this?” “Did you mean to send me this?” “Have fun on your trip!” “Who are you?” Not to mention the out-of-office responses I received, which triggered another wave of my out-of-office messages. Ugh, the shame.

    1. The Prettiest Curse*

      Oh no, what an absolute nightmare! The idea of duelling email auto responses auto responding to each other unto infinity is pretty hilarious, though.

      1. Unkempt Flatware*

        My current partner became said partner because, when meeting online, I told him I was about to delete my account due to the unsolicited dick pics from men. So he emailed me a picture of a dik dik deer with a caption of Dick Pick.

    1. linger*

      Lack of visible ass may just mean more ass-covering.
      Which is to say: there may have been a few such responses, but maybe those responsible had just enough sense of self-preservation to switch off reply-all. Sending a message in kind to the originator might grant some degree of CYA for HR purposes; but sending it company-wide, not so much.

    2. Princess Sparklepony*

      Yes, I have had to scroll down way to far to find this.

      I am wondering if the writer got some responses and were any of a sufficient quality to follow up on.

  24. Temp-O-Rary Handle*

    I work in a large-ish school district with several high schools, and one of the high school drama teachers can be somewhat …indiscriminate in sending out promotions about her upcoming drama productions. (Official process for this kind of thing is to send an announcement to district comms dept. to then have it added to district newsletter when you want things advertised outside of your own school, usual unofficial process would be to email your fellow subject-area teachers or fellow leaders of similar clubs at the other schools for more niche things that you wanted to target to a smaller subgroup of students.)

    Anyway, she sends out an email to each high school’s all-staff lists and all-student lists, and each middle school’s all-staff and all-student lists. This is mildly annoying, but not even close to the most annoying email I’ll receive in a typical week, and would have been quickly forgotten except for one exciting discovery shortly made: not only can any teacher in the district send an email out to any building’s staff or student email list, so can any student.

    We’d had one or two “donuts are in the breakroom” “not in my building” “why I am getting this I don’t eat donuts” level reply-all messes a year pretty much the whole time I’ve worked in this district when someone mistakes the all staff email for the their building staff email or similar, so I’m used to a somewhat annoying hour or two while the reply-all types among the adults get it out of their system, but I had no idea that, in 2023, our district IT thought we needed to let middle school students send emails to the distribution lists for entirely different middle schools.

    This is particular impressive after they’d had to temporarily shut down student access to email, recall a sent email, and send out an announcement to families after an elementary student sent out a vaguely threatening announcement to the all district email list about 5 years ago. Apparently their definition of “fixed the problem going forward” was to disallow students from sending to that one email list rather than look at things more holistically.

    On the bright side, we learned that some middle school students do, in fact, still check their school email accounts regularly. Small victories, I guess.

  25. Tubbs*

    A previous boss set up a mailing list for a professional group she led. Every member was added. (Pre-GDPR). The list didn’t have a digest option, an opt out function or filter any of out offices. The first anyone knew about it was when everyone’s in-boxes exploded. It was like a company-wide reply all on steroids.

    They couldn’t see what the problem was until several other members of the committee – and their IT departments – enlightened them. (I don’t think the actually understood. It was more about wanting the yelling to stop).

  26. BigBird*

    Once I edited a middle school newsletter in the early days of email. A mother meant to forward our email about an extracurricular activity to a friend. Instead, she replied to all the members of the middle school parent association board. It started off by asking whether the friend’s children were attending the activity, but then went on to asking if the friend’s cleaning people were still available because she has HAD IT with her family’s messiness. which was described in great and hilarious detail. It ended by reporting that she was going to confiscate everyone’s video games (including the husband’s) until they took her seriously. To this day I can’t look at her without thinking of it.

    My second is not quite a reply-all disaster but still funny. Two of my son’s close elementary school friends were having a little tiff. The mom of the allegedly aggrieved boy was a helicopter parent and the other was a social worker. Emails were sent. Social Worker Mom sent the email thread to a work colleague seeking his professional evaluation of Helicopter Mom’s recent behavior and general parenting skills. Unfortunately, she also sent it to Helicopter Mom and the parents of the other 4 boys in the friend group. I am sure hilarity ensued but I refrained from reading it all–and it took all my strength.

  27. hiptobesquare*

    A VP at my old company – not huge, maybe 150 office employees total – decided to send out a photo of his new boat to all of us. IT had to recall the message because it was such a high-quality shot it was about to cause all email in the company to shut down.

      1. Wolf*

        Yeah, it certainly reminds me of that old joke “if you work really hard and sell lots of product, your boss can buy another boat”.

  28. McFizzle*

    I am on a multi-statewide listserve for a well recognized educational software system. Mostly it’s people asking for assistance / resources, etc from other school districts, but we’re also allowed to post niche / “hard to find skillset” job offerings for their districts.

    Probably about 7 years ago, a district posted an available position. A lovely woman replied all with “Oh, I would be so interested in applying for this – would have a few minutes to answer some questions? Also – please, please do NOT tell anyone I am looking. It would set off a firestorm!”

    Then, as we’re all horrified for her, our first instinct is to alert her. HUNDREDS of emails immediately pour in. “YOU REPLIED ALL!! OH NO!!”

    I hope she was able to get the job, or at least somehow her boss didn’t find out. I felt so badly for her.

  29. Emily of New Moon*

    I’m reminded of a similar incident from about 20 years ago when email was still a relatively new thing.
    However, this incident wasn’t catastrophic, just funny.

    Someone sent an all-staff email asking if we had seen the black dolly anywhere (it was a small office of about only 40 employees).
    The assistant director replied back to all saying, “I think you should ask Polly and Holly if they have the dolly.” (Needless to say, Polly and Holly were the names of two employees.)
    Holly replied to all saying, “Oh, that’s bad. It’s really bad!”
    The next day when I came to work and opened my email, there was another reply to all from another employee saying, “All can be jolly: we have found the dolly. It was not Holly nor was it Polly.” Then she went on to say where she had found the dolly.
    I decided to get into the fun and replied to all saying, “Hello, dolly!”
    Someone else replied, “Dolly, it’s so nice to have you back where you belong!”

    A few months later, someone else couldn’t find the dolly, and sent all staff an email which began, “I don’t want to start another chain of Hello Dolly emails, but..”

      1. Emily of New Moon*

        For what? Emailing “Hello, Dolly” to my entire office?
        Or did you mean to reply to someone else?

    1. Bananapantsfeelings*

      Is a dolly a British term for something other than a stuffed baby doll for babies?

      Because I’m really wondering about the business need for a doll of any color.

      1. Emily of New Moon*

        No, in America, a dolly (sometimes spelled dolley) is a kind of wagon-like equipment that has wheels, and is used to carry heavy objects.

        1. Bananapantsfeelings*

          Ohhhhhhh right. (Facepalm)

          I’m so glad I didn’t ask that question in a reply-all with my actual name attached!

    1. Princess Sparklepony*

      I dunno – Billy Joel seems like he’s pretty invested in that fire. He says he didn’t start it but he could be protesting a bit too much about it…

  30. Half a Cupcake*

    Now I want a reply-all to go out about the girlboss art in the women’s bathrooms.


    1. Brain the Brian*

      I was among those saying I wouldn’t personally bother raising bathroom art… but if someone’s going to do it, PLEASE do it via reply-all. That makes it much harder to ignore and creates a good story to tell later on to boot.

    2. linger*

      I do not need art in my loo.
      I just come here to pee or pooh,
      And empty mottos don’t improve
      Our work or wages. Please remove.

  31. Spiders Everywhere*

    I used to work in video game QA, a chaotic and grueling environment. At one company we had email lists where we could post images of strange and funny bugs we’d run into, along with other discussion and chit-chat.

    Well, while testing I discovered a very specific series of actions would cause the game engine (licensed from another company) to produce the error “Operation failed: Programmer too stupid.” So obviously that had to go on the thread! I posted a screenshot with the caption “No comment.”

    Now as usual this project was kind of a mess, and the QA lead, who worked closely with the programming team, was pretty stressed out. He saw the screenshot and jumped to the conclusion that I had faked it, and immediately replied to the thread dressing me down, how dare I insult our hard working developers etc etc. Confusion reigned. No one was sure what was going on but everyone had something to say. Eventually the facts percolated through and the lead had to come all the way down to our floor and apologize. When my bug report was eventually closed out, it was with the comment “Finally got rid of that goddamn error message.”

  32. Feral FatCat*

    Any other sociologists here who were part of the Great Reply-All of 2023? A professor wanted to spread word about his new book and made a listserv… of just about every sociologist in the country, I think?

    I first heard about it on Twitter, where fellow sociologists were talking about having to close their emails and leave their desks because of the constant new email ping as people asked to unsubscribe, told everyone that that’s not how you unsubscribe, people saying they aren’t interested in his book, and using the gaff to make more jokes about “how many PhDs does it take.” I have never been more delighted to get back to my desk and realize I had been included on the subscriber list. I read through every one of the the 411 emails I got in about 6 hours. I was crying I was laughing so hard. This poor professor had no idea how it happened or how to stop it, and the higher ups at his university IT had to be called in to shut down the listserv.

    It was glorious. What a day.

  33. Loredena*

    Decades ago at an international technical firm that used a mainframe based email program I saw an absolutely amazing email explosion

    A programmer wrote a short program that read his entire contacts list and sent a holiday greetings in the form of an ascii tree to each It was written in such a manner that the entire program was embedded – so when the recipient received it they would of course run it to see the greeting Whereupon it would then read through their contact list and send itself out…,

    I was the first virus adjacent event I ever saw, and took hours to clean up given the worldwide contact lists!

    1. Loredena*

      Found it in Wikipedia! I saw the original in 1987 and always assumed it was written by an employee but apparently not.

      December: Christmas Tree EXEC was the first widely disruptive replicating network program, which paralyzed several international computer networks in December 1987. It was written in Rexx on the VM/CMS operating system and originated in West Germany. It re-emerged in 1990.

  34. Deborah*

    Alison, we really, really need the reply-all-pocalpyse painting. Actually, you could print one out high-quality and auction it for charity. Bidding would go very high.

    1. Artist*

      Please don’t auction or sell AI pieces. I know it’s probably pointless to try to change people’s minds about it right now, but the technology is both extremely damaging to the environment and basically built on stealing from real creatives. I’d hate for Alison to promote it.

  35. Brain the Brian*

    As hilarious as reply-all email disasters are, I can’t help but think we’ve all shared so many stories about them that we’ve collectively traumatized Gen Z into never replying all, even when it’s appropriate. I work with a lot of high school and college students in my job, and they are constantly single-replying to me when only two or three other people are on the email chain and everyone needs the information being discussed. I don’t usually like generational generalizations, but there really seems to be a cutoff for this trend somewhere around the first year of kids who hadn’t yet entered college when the pandemic began.

    1. Katie Impact*

      I haven’t experienced it being a generation-specific thing. My fiancee and I are planning a wedding, which involves interacting with a whole lot of professionals of varying ages and fields, and it’s very common for any of them to only reply to one of us even if we’ve included the other in the recipient list and signed it off from both of us. I think a lot of people just default to not using reply-all.

      1. Brain the Brian*

        Fascinating! In my work, there’s a definite age cutoff — interesting that it’s not universal. :)

  36. fmail*

    Fellow alumns will probably know exactly which college this is. Up until sophomore year of undergrad, my alma mater allowed anyone in the community to send emails to google groups containing the entire student body. Usually it just meant a constant deluge of advertisements for random club events––which were literally referred to as ‘spam’ (i.e. “don’t forget to send spam for tomorrow’s concert”), but there were some reply-all incidents that live on in infamy, including but not limited to:
    (1) Emails from students who had lost their ID cards. One time a reply-all about how replacements cards were ‘only’ $10 spiraled into a long argument about classism and economic privilege.
    (2) Debates about America’s military-industrial complex in the replies for an ROTC recruitment email. (I’ll admit I had a great time watching my roommate draft one of those emails at 10pm).
    (3) My personal favorite: the Trader Joes Inner Peas. Which was an email sent to the entire school about how someone had dropped a single bag of Trader Joes Inner Peas outside one dorm (out of thirteen !) and they could recover them from the sender. People were Not Amused.
    (4) When they finally retired the all-school listserv, we celebrated with a 103-long chain on the eve of its closing, featuring memes, cat photos, and the entire Bee Movie script.

  37. Inkognyto*

    I laugh and I also groan, as I was one of the people that usually had the rights 10+ years ago to fix these ‘problems’. Whether it be to kill the email at the source or manually delete it in the server etc.
    The best method was to limit who could send to them, but that was a ‘find a solution to a problem’. Doesn’t work well after the event. It was most fun though when they crashed early mail servers.

    The best email server crash for me wasn’t a reply to all but in forwarding.

    A Doctor in a hospital I worked in IT at, decades ago forward his work email to his home email. Said home email had a small like 5-10MB limit.
    When that filled up, it bounced the email back to the source, the hospital email, which then forwarded the bounce back to the personal email.

    This was an infinite loop, for each email. It crashed our exchange server when it peaked after enough emails (circa 2000-2002), The exchange email Admin was so pissed he turned off the ability to forward. Upper mgmt complained but he used the event as to why, and that shut them up.

    There are probably methods now to detect it and stop it automatically but it’s still hilarious why our ’email stopped working’

    1. Berkeleyfarm*

      There are a lot of great reasons to cut that sort of behavior off, and that loop is one of them.

      (Exchange is easier to write rules for these days. I have one that redirects any autoforwards like this to a mailbox we control. I’m happy to hear anyone’s business case, but management 100% backs me up about the dangers of exfiltration.)

  38. Oaktree*

    I love 9 and 10.

    These are hilarious, but I hold the rather controversial opinion that more work problems are caused by people NOT using reply all. They take people off threads and suddenly, they’re out of the loop and I have to add them back in.

  39. I’ve heard one “dun” and I’m just waiting for the other one to drop*

    When I was a military accountant we had a chain of reply-all emails that ranged from “stop replying all”, “take me off this list”, “hi everyone”, to “have a blessed day Marines”. It was a mailing list that went to every single Marine in our occupation and half the people replying all with absolute nonsense were Staff or higher. It’s pretty funny to think back to an industry where it was perfectly acceptable to start an email with “good afternoon devil dogs”

  40. Zeus*

    This inspired me to look back at the (deleted) emails from the last reply-all hellhole I ended up in a couple of years ago. I was in the first cohort of staff about to receive a particular update to our computers, and they sent a heads up out to all of us (about 1,000 – a fraction of the 10,000 plus in my org, but still a lot of people). It quickly went downhill with:
    – some people saying “this shouldn’t apply to me because I don’t use the computer in this way” (it did apply, they hadn’t read the message properly)
    – several others saying “please remove me from this mailing list” (not how reply-all works)
    – a few “stop replying you fools” and responses to that saying “I’m offended at how you worded the request for people to stop replying all”
    – some people showing support for their favourite sports team for the upcoming weekend (“up the Wahs” for those in the know)
    – and one absolute legend who explained (with screenshots) how to “ignore” a thread in Outlook so that any more emails that came through would go straight to the bin.

    You could tell who in my office was on the list because every few minutes another one would show up, followed by a fit of giggles a few desks over. It was…an interesting time.

    1. Audrey Puffins*

      I didn’t realise just how much I had internalised the few NZ podcasts I listen to until I heard the word “warriors” in a completely non-sporting context recently and automatically responded “up the Wahs”

  41. Wolf*

    I was once the source of a replyallpocalypse, but not at fault.

    I was hired, an email account was set up for me and added to the institute list. But it wasn’t active yet. So when a newsletter came in that evening, the list sent it to everyone, my account returned a “could not be delivered to Wolf” autoreply, which automatically got redistributed to the entire list, triggering another “could not be delivered to Wolf” autoreply… some time in the night, the server overloaded and crashed.

    1. whimbrel*

      Years and years (and YEARS) ago, I was on a mailing list for a popular fantasy movie that experienced a similar situation. It was a very old-school list in that you subscribed by emailing a particular listserv address, and somehow the list got subscribed to itself.

      It was CHAOS. And worse, it was DIALUP chaos. It would take half an hour for my emails to load (using pine, lol). The tsunami of inadvertent reply all-type emails took days to die down once one of the admin was able to unsub the list from itself.

      1. Hroethvitnir*

        lolsob I’m so used to the modern internet that imagining this on dial-up was starting. Yikes.

  42. Not All Heroes Wear Capes*

    These are amazing, especially the oil painting, pot pies, and of course the weaponized reply all in #10.

    I’d like to pay forward this moment of enlightenment from a former coworker. If you are initiating a mass email and want to prevent reply all’s on the front end, send your email with recipients on the Bcc line.

    1. Wired Wolf*

      The district specialist for my department in the company will occasionally send the ‘weekly roundup’ emails (mainly an excuse to call out any stores they think aren’t meeting certain vague metrics, and dumb ‘action items’ that we’re already doing) with both individual department heads as well as all store-manager lists (probably a couple thousand people all told) in the To field. Sometimes I’ll get duplicate emails because department heads are also on the manager lists. Each time he does this someone will point out what he did, he’ll Bcc correctly for a month or so and then it starts again.

  43. Dragon_Dreamer*

    I’m still amused about what happened when someone put a BUTTERED bagel into the toaster at my high school. The day after the fire (which was thankfully limited to the toaster), a posterboard appeared in the cafeteria. On it were attached the charred bagel halves and the words, “Bagel, bagel, burning bright…”

    The cafeteria staff were Not Amused.

    1. Wolf*

      In my dorm, it was someone who tried to fit a cinnamon roll into a toast-sized toaster slot. It got stuck and burned.

    2. N C Kiddle*

      A couple of years ago my teenager and I were staying in a hotel and were rudely awakened at 0650 by the most effective fire alarm ever created. It stopped soon afterwards, and at breakfast I casually asked the staff what caused it. Apparently a couple of early breakfasters found the butter wasn’t soft enough to spread on their toast and decided the solution was to put the toast back through the toaster butter and all.

  44. lotty*

    I work for a theatre box office in London. A major ticket agent had set up a mailing list so they could email all London box offices about events like train strikes or snow. It was a very generic email, think

    One day a box office agent sent a reply to one of their customers about a ticket transfer, cc’ing in their general box office email. Only it wasn’t their email, it was the mailing list.

    After a few “not sure why I got this” and “stop replying” someone sent “I’m loving hearing from all the other Box Offices round town! Makes a Saturday less lonely “and then people started to used it to say hi to one another and wish everyone a lovely Saturday.

  45. EvilQueenRegina*

    Replying to one just now made me think of my favourite email fail of all time, which was the temp who sent out a goodbye email to the whole office distribution list…containing lots of old baby photos of himself. No idea why, but they totally clogged it up (this was around 2008 I think).

    The best of it was that my team had never even met this guy. He was temping in the building that used to be our main office, but we’d all moved into one of our satellite offices the year before and therefore had had no reason to have any dealings with this temp.

  46. Miette*

    I’d like to throw a kiss to the pot(pie) stirrer who replied all in #11. A true legend.

  47. Molly Coddler*

    OP #4. i have to admit i’m sad the student go his regalia/robes after all. i’m an admin in academia and i can’t tell you the COUNTLESS times a student (and with grads it’s usually a pattern from when they were first admitted) where students want something because they were too busy to do it by the deadline (including reminders for the deadline, and i’d bet there were reminders for this since everyone else managed to do it on time) – it creates SO MUCH extra labor for quite a few people. i don’t know the details, i just know how one student’s lack of responsibility and then demanding to have what they want anyway is a perfect opportunity for someone to learn how real life works instead of having 5 different people add to their labor just to get that student the robe. it’s pretty gross IMHO. sadly, here, we coddle them to the hilt. i don’t see it being a good thing. they just expect it from everyone – i can do what i want and still get what i want type thing. can you tell this is a huge pet peeve of mine. selfish grads. sorry not sorry.

    1. Lab Snep*

      I have severe ADHD, it was undiagnosed when I was in college. I can tell you that while some people are definitely just ignoring the deadlines, there are a lot of people like me with severe timeblindness.

    2. Wolf*

      > a perfect opportunity for someone to learn how real life works

      I was told this over and over in school. Turns out in real life, people are very helpful and kind wen you admit you made a mistake and ask for help.

      I agree that the student should learn to stick to deadlines, but miss me with that “the real world is unforgiving” trope.

  48. Veryanon*

    Many years ago (1999 to be exact), I was working as a contract recruiter at a computer reseller. I accidentally started a reply-all email issue that eventually took down the company’s email server by clicking on a phishing link that replicated itself to the entire company’s email list. :(
    In my defense, email was still relatively new to the corporate world, and we were all still learning the ins and outs of using it. I still cringe when I think about it, though.

  49. Dr. Rebecca*

    I’m about at the level of the “you don’t pay me enough” in #3’s candor, so I took myself off a meeting today so I don’t tip over that edge.

  50. Pink Geek*

    LW#9 I would have laughed so hard to receive your reply all. It was the perfect troll even if it was unintentional.

  51. Outlook never closes on the British Empire!*

    Years ago, I worked for a very large and prestigious professional services firm, which had four offices in my country. We had thousands of employees. It may be relevant to note that I am located in a Commonwealth country.

    The firm’s a managing partner sent out an email related to our national day sent to all staff in the organization. It had a throwaway line about our country’s relationship to the British colonial legacy (which, the email put forward implicitly, had not been a good institution on the whole). I remember the email was pretty anodyne and I skimmed it briefly and then closed it without thinking about it much further.

    However, one person was evidently thinking about it: a partner who was known to be in the last few months of his tenure before retirement. In response to the managing partner’s email about the national day, this guy sent out, via reply all, to a distribution list of hundreds, an email that can only be described as a tongue-bath for British colonialism and how he had so enjoyed his childhood among the upper crust of Indian society during the waning days of British India. It was rather in the manner of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past, but here the madeleines were apparently the British Raj. Shortly after this email went out, there was another email from HR, begging everyone to just delete the email from Senior Partner and pretend it had never happened. The senior partner retired a few months early, in the event.

    1. Wolf*

      Ah yes, the good old “This situation can’t have been that bad, I benefitted from it and I don’t understand why others say it was bad” history talk.

  52. COHikerGirl*

    I’m an accountant. Part of that job is making sure info is secure. One day we received an email from one of our customers saying they’d either changed banks or were finally able to pay by ACH, so they needed banking info to set that up. A super common thing. Except this was to 400+ people. All in the To: field (not even CC:!). It looked like a mix of accounting people and non-accounting people (we had some crossover and I recognized some of the names).

    At least 7 other companies used Reply All to send their banking info. Luckily people’s email programs weren’t doing the Reply All to everyone, but 100-200 people got banking info who shouldn’t have with each email.

    The original sender eventually sent out a (BCC’d this time!) email requesting all emails in the thread be deleted and to email back confirming they’d been deleted.

  53. Berkeleyfarm*

    As much as I love reading about other peoples’ reply-all storms, I will note that it is hell being on the IT Support side of them.

    I can guarantee that there are multiple people screaming at the support staff about this, including their own senior management.

    I used to work for local government so when the dumbasses who “managed their own antivirus” didn’t and a macro virus ping ponged around for a few days including auto replies and the folks who sent out delivered/read reciepts on anything, we got in the papers and it wasn’t good.

    Hopefully there are fewer these days – Microsoft even managed to do a default recipient cap over 20 years into email programming – but I will urge anyone caught in it to just write a rule to send everything to a folder and resist temptation to joke along.

    We had some other incidents that were caused by people hand selecting all the recipients (we had our dist lists locked down) and people being “humorous” or “snippy” only got shut down by management sending out a message threatening disciplinary action.

    1. Hroethvitnir*

      My sympathies. I find it extremely funny to witness when it’s a rare event, but I am capable of refraining from contributing.

  54. Ann*

    We had a great one last year where as far as we know, the entire company (over 100,000 employees) ended up on a distribution list for one small office’s local potluck. They were supposed to reply to all with what they were bringing so the emails of side dishes went on for two days, as did the “for the love of everything that is holy, stop replying to all” messages haha.

  55. DivergentStitches*

    In my current role, it’s actually required that everyone reply to emails or Teams messages that include information we need for our role, with a “got it thanks!” or “understood” or similar. The manager apparently tracks who responds. IDK if “reply all” is required or just a reply to him – I reply just to him when it’s email.

    I’ve also asked my manager if we can stop with the reply-all nature of these because it’s a huge distraction to me to have dozens of emails pop into my inbox or all the messages coming through in Teams, but he didn’t respond.

Comments are closed.