Companies Disabling 'Reply-All' Button, Rather Than Dealing With Inane Email Threads

from the one-way-to-deal-with-the-problem dept

Last month, the US State Department made plenty of news for threatening to punish employees who misused the “reply-all” button on their email clients. That, by itself, seemed a bit extreme, but Jeremy Wagstaff alerts us to the fact that some organizations are going a step further and figuring out ways to disable the reply-all button entirely. The latest to do so is Nielsen, which did so with a cheery memo to staff explaining why this would “reduce non-essential messages in mailboxes, freeing up our time as well as server space.” That’s one way to think about it.

Filed Under: ,
Companies: nielsen

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Companies Disabling 'Reply-All' Button, Rather Than Dealing With Inane Email Threads”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Oh, the stupid people I have seen.

In 15 years+ of doing IT support I have seen too many times when people just can’t seem to get that reply all is not good. But then again there have been ways for years and years to prevent people from replying to an email with x amount of recipients. Sorry but IT is at fault more than they are, why? Because we should know better than allow it.

ehrichweiss says:

Re: Re: Oh, the stupid people I have seen.

You obviously have never worked in IT. I can safely say that 97% of all people in any office are completely and totally willfully ignorant about security issues of any sort.

At a firm I used to work for there was an employee who could not keep from opening every attachment that was sent her way despite being told not to open anything that didn’t come directly from us or one of our clients(this was before spam got really tricky).

Our solution? We setup the mailserver to send the mail to us first to be approved and then we’d have the server resend it to her. There was simply no other solution short of firing her. These days, I’d have recommended the latter and been done with it.

Joseph Durnal (user link) says:

Problems and solutions

90% of my career has been centered around e-mail systems. Yes, when used improperly, the reply to all button can be trouble. But imagine a complex e-mail thread involving several people from different teams all working together, and how much time will be wasted when each person has to re-enter all of those e-mail addresses.

Sure, it would be better done via a multi party IM session, but seriously, do you think that an IT department that takes away the reply to all button would have a decent instant message strategy, especially one that is accessible to everyone involved?

The best thing to do would be to higher smarter employees and make sure that they don’t have all this extra time on their hands to worry about an erroneous e-mail that would take far less time to ignore than to reply to. Then have your IT department implement instant messaging, presence, and online meeting spaces.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Problems and solutions

I agree; I use reply to all extensively for this reason. But every once in a while some moron hits “reply to all” on an email sent to the global address list (over 25,000 addresses), and then the chain reaction starts. Dumber morons reply to all saying “stop replying to all!”, and even dumber ones reply to all saying “stop it!” The last time it happened, I set up a filter to send anything with the subject to my deleted items and mark them as read. I had over 400 by the end of the day.

GGUY says:

Try MS Groove

We’ve been trying to get in the habit of using Groove for MULTIPERSONAL communications involving our projects. Granted I don’t work for a large company and the program has it’s fall backs. But a few of tools, and the ongoing chat feature, can potentionally eliminate many interoffice email messages altogether. Then again people may just start mis-using Groove; nevermind.

Overcast says:

If you really need to “reply-all” that critically for REAL WORK, then you need to learn about something called a “Mailing List Manager”.

Not really. I’m working on a rather large project at work now, sometimes we have members of many different teams working in tandem to get a task done. It can be three people or 30 people…

When some messages come in, it’s important to use ‘reply to all’ so that all the people in the message get the reply. It certainly saves me time, that way I don’t have to CTRL-C and CTRL-V…. plus it helps to eliminate missing people on the list, etc…

As parts of the project are in different areas of the country and/or support personnel change, there’s no way to really do a distribution list – since it would change almost daily.

Speaking of which, the employees will soon learn to be adept at copying and pasting – which would make all the time wasted on eliminating the ‘reply to all’ button a huge waste.

It’s really a matter of user training; not the email applications – they only ‘reply to all’ when you tell them to.

Joe Smith says:

Lots of stupid people in the world

It should be harder to send widely distributed emails just to protect the idiots and everyone around them.

I work with one a*****e who regularly sends to everyone in the firm emails attaching articles that he thinks we should all read to make us better people.

I was involved in a transaction where an email went out laying out in a matter of fact way some problems that had been encountered in negotiating a deal and one of the recipients immediately sent a reply all that started “tell those a*****es” that …” not realizing that the other side had been included in the original email.

Anonymous Coward says:

Reply All doesn’t annoy me as much as idiots who can’t strip hundreds or even thousands of email addresses and headers out of a forwarded message before sending it. I get emails all the time on my blackberry that are nothing but forwarded headers that cause the message to be truncated. And then it’s usually a one or two sentence message that wasn’t worth scrolling down for in the first place.

Mark Rosedale (profile) says:

Reply All is essential to work

I work in IT, but even if I didn’t there are many times (and I mean many) where reply all is essential to work. I think the problem would be when people reply all to a distribution list that includes most, if not all, of the workers for that organization. This is simple to fix you make the list private and those using it include it in the BC and have their own address in the to. Then if someone replies all it will go to the original sender. Beyond that it is well within an organizations rights to send out memo or require user training to avert such behavior.

I would be annoyed when someone cc’s a bunch of people who will all want the reply and I have to hand enter every email address. Clearly this company is only looking at the problem and forgetting that the solution may be worse than the initial problem. You would think someone in their IT department would tell them a better way or of the values of reply all.

Brian Carnell (user link) says:

The Real Problem Is With Mass E-mail Distribution Lists

“that is why global lists should be sent blind copy. the problem there is with the people creating the email just as much as the people hitting reply to all.”

I’d go further and say it is *entirely* on the folks who insist on e-mailing dozens or hundreds of people in the CC field.

In many cases not only is this annoying but it is downright stupid because it reveals information that the recipients don’t need to know about the rest of the recipients.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...