This is what happens when Watson sends Thatcher a reply all email. Just kidding. This just happens every day for no apparent reason other than a need to create chaos. No dogs were injured during this wrestling match.
Did y'all see this story last week about "Reply Allpocalypse," where an NYU student (computer science major, which makes this that much more spectacularly hysterical) accidentally hit reply all ... on an email distribution list to 40,000 students? Lucky for him, it was an innocuous note back to his mom, but it set off a firestorm of delightful additional reply all emails (like, "Hey, NYU, can I borrow a pencil?") until the university shut down the list 24 hours later. (Read the full story here.)
This kid's reply all was clearly an error, but how many reply all emails do you receive that you didn't really need to read (and, frankly, probably deleted before you even opened?) I receive approximately 1 billion daily (as I mentioned here.)
This may be a slight exaggeration, but it sure seems like that many. Which distresses me not only from a time-wasting perspective, but also because I miss information I really need to see because it is buried in a pile of needless reply all emails.
I think the majority of needless reply all emails happen for three reasons:
1. The sender doesn't realize they are replying to the entire list
2. The sender is feeling a need to cover their bums, and enjoys the support of a crowd
3. The sender is all-inclusive, and wants everyone to feel their love and support
For the record, I don't think anyone is trying to be a pain when they pop the reply all button. Heck, sometimes I am a proponent of a good reply all (particularly when planning a trip with college friends. The BEST stuff comes from these emails.) I honestly believe some folks aren't sure how to proceed when they need to reply.
I have a simple solution: before you hit reply all, ask yourself:
"if I couldn't send this via email, which of the people on this distribution list would I pick up the phone and call to deliver this information?"
Chances are it's only one or two people, not all 40.
Also, check your email settings -- there's a chance your email is set to reply all automatically. This is an easy fix. In most email programs you have the choice to choose "Reply" or "Reply All" when you respond.
Choose wisely. The world will love you for it.
PS: I am considering having a standard reply all when someone sends a "Jimmy will be there!" to 175 people (I swear this happened just the other day for a school function.) I'm thinking about "How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood." Thoughts?)