Reply All

The reply all email can be quite handy...except when it is an accident. How about when it is a worldwide accident? (A friend) works for a local division of one of the largest ad agencies in the world. It operates 450 offices in 120 countries with approximately 18,000 employees.

I happened to be with (my friend) when a string of emails came through from around the world. 120 to be exact. All with the same subject line.

(The sender) wrote a one line email asking a colleague for someone’s contact information. And accidentally copied the entire company. All. Over. The. World. The first few responses came through as you’d think...

“Sorry, I don’t think I was supposed to be on this email”

But those people also hit reply all. They were in France. You get a few more emails from another country like this...

Please do not hit reply all.”

Then you get the e-yellers...


(yes, they hit reply all as well)

Then you get the person who starts having fun...

“Headed for coffee, anyone want some?”

Then you get the know-it-all, who literally takes the time to type step by step instructions on how to remove the shortcut email for the entire company list serve. Thanks for that productive move.

Now here is the moment of truth. This is an opportunity beyond belief - to build and strengthen a world wide culture. What would happen if this email just ran it's course? Imagine the CEO sends out a 30 second iPhone video in response to the email chain. Imagine the President of that particular office gives an award to the guy who made the mistake, and then every other division gives out that award to a person who makes an epic (non-damaging) mistake. Imagine this day becomes know as “reply all” day, or just think of how funny it will be in two weeks when someone opens the email and replies to everyone and restarts the fun.

But instead? *sigh* The following email from the desk of the messaging manager:


First of all let me apologise for the full inboxes you've experienced this morning from a bulk internal email. It was sent as a simple human error to you all. We've put filters in place to stop the delivery of these messages so things should now have calmed down for you.

Could I insist that you all refrain from replying to all should anything like this happen in the future? Replying to everyone asking people not to reply-to-all is only exacerbating the problem and completely counter-intuitive. Doing so puts a huge strain on our email servers and delays important client communications. Continued abuse will result in you being locked from (our company's) mail system.

Please report any future incident to you local IT department and they will escalate to the relevant parties.

Many thanks.