State has hard words for 'reply to all'

I have pleaded in the past for people to be more cautious about using the “reply to all” function in their e-mail. It’s bad enough to be stuck on a distribution list and be the recipient of correspondence in which you have no interest, but it is even worse that you have to wade through the scores of responses and exchanges by people who automatically hit “reply to all,” either through habit or with the mistaken impression that what they have to say is of interest to anyone else.

Finally, somebody is doing something about it. According to news reports, the State Department is making indiscriminate use of “reply to all” a punishable offense.

It seems that messages sent to large distribution lists were generating e-mail storms and overwhelming the department’s e-mail system when too many of the recipients replied to the entire list. From now on, staffers who unthinkingly do this could be subject to some kind of punishment.

The memo apparently does not specify the punishment. People might think me extreme if I suggested the death penalty, so I’d settle for thumb screws. That would still reduce recidivism.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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Reader Comments

Wed, Jan 28, 2009

Perhaps if they had IQ testing, and limited job offers to those with an IQ above 80, the problem would disappear.

Wed, Jan 28, 2009 Becky

If you create a form before you send out the email you can take any of those buttons off and the receiver "cannot" reply to all, only the sender or not be able to reply at all. We are a gov agency (the VA) and we take the bottons off an email before we send because we do not want to reply to all. We have also implemented RMS and when you set the permissions the receiver cannot forward the message either.

Tue, Jan 27, 2009 alexa

couldn't agree with you more....

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