Why “Reply All” should require a user’s license

There are certain things at work that really aggravate me, I mean really, really aggravate me.  I’m not yet fifty but sometimes I act and feel like I’m that mean old seventy year old who sits on her porch and yells at the kids to get off her lawn.  Today, for example, we experienced extremely sluggish server issues.  The main program that our revenue-generators use to track their time and that my staff use to make sure we get paid for that time went on the fritz.  IT, in their wisdom sent regular status emails to all 200 employees.  Regular also meant many.

The last email they sent was addressed to every single employee with the head honcho of the IT department cc’d for political reasons.  Contained within the note were the usual IT-speak phrases–things like, recycling servers, slow response times, regression testing, all designed to make them feel smart and useful and us grateful.  The final phrase of the email said, “Please let us know if you continue to experience slow response times.”

An hour later, one of our more aggravating rainmakers, we’ll call him John, responded with his own personal news bulletin that said, “I’ve been slow all day!”  While this response in and of itself was enough to be annoying, the worst part was that he did a “reply all”.  Everyone in the entire company was notified that John had experienced slow times all day and, dammit, we should all be aware of this!  I deleted it after muttering an oath under my breath.

Five minutes later, a second email arrived, this one from Suzie saying, “I get an error message saying ‘page cannot be displayed’.”  Thank-you Suzie for telling EVERYONE in the company that you too were having issues.  If IT can’t fix it surely one of your 199 co-workers can wrestle up a slew of bright ideas to solve the problem.

The floodgates now opened, Ronnie, James, Madison and Heather all shared their particular tales of woe.  I was ready to throttle the IT department by this point for not making it clear that ONLY the IT department needed to know about any continued issues.  But did they?  Of course not.  I did, finally, when I could no longer stand it.  In my own “reply all” to that last “reply all” that guaranteed that those who had sent in their individual tales of woe now got two copies, I wrote:

“If I might be so bold as to suggest that we use “REPLY” instead of “REPLY ALL”.  Thank you.”

Another email with the same subject title immediately arrived, this time addressed only to me.  I opened it to read:

“Thank you for sending that email.”

It was followed by at least ten emails, all sent only to me, that basically said any of the following types of things:

“Thank you!”

“I was hoping someone would say something.  Thanks”

“Oh, finally.”

“I second that suggestion.”

The coup de grace was the email sent by the head IT honcho who was just an FYI cc from the beginning.  He wrote only to me and said:

“Thank you!”

I gathered up every personal email thanking me and forwarded them en masse as attachments to my reply (only) to the head IT honcho and wrote, “This is my thanks!  Why did I bother?”

Just as no good deed should ever go unpunished, the “reply all” feature should only be given to those who are responsible enough to understand the power they wield when they use it.

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7 thoughts on “Why “Reply All” should require a user’s license

  1. There is a gadget which attaches via USB which checks the alcohol level in your blood before bringing up a screen, so if some bright spark could manage to link it in to e-mail it would prevent drunken messages being sent as well. I have never felt the need to use ‘reply all’ and can’t see the need for it to still be a feature unless there are special circumstances.

    IT departments are normally staffed by people who aren’t quite smart enough to get jobs in dev, which may be harsh but it is true. The last three companies I have been with used small freelance companies to handle their tech problems, and I have nothing but contempt for the idiots who feel that IT is their sole responsibility. If I can fix a problem on my own, I will.

  2. Amen to the self-service on the IT part. Over the years, I’ve become pretty literate to the point to where the IT department groans when I get involved in their embroglios. What’s even funnier is that I’m often right. Now they say things like “We don’t think that’s the problem, Claire, but you could be right…you usually are.” Ha! They love me and hate me at the same time.

  3. That’s hilarious, Claire! I see the same stuff at my company all the time. *rolls eyes* You’ve certainly got balls for sending out that email. Not sure if I could’ve done it. 🙂

  4. I’m senior management. I grew some a few years back. They all know I’m a curmudgeon and tolerate me…or let me be the heavy / bad cop. LOL

  5. Julie, Julie, Julie–LOL. I’ve been party to a few of those AV pickles before–both in the CEO’s spot as well as in the leather chair you sat in. The leather chair is much more fun.

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