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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