Ever get into one of those e-mail exchanges with everybody in your entire organization?
You know: when one person e-mails a giant list (the wrong giant list) and then the cc list, down to the last e-mail account, replies all with the message “This is not for me” or “Remove me,” until, eventually, a crazy person replies (to all, mind you) “STOP REPLYING ALL”?
It happened to me (noted here). And it happened to (yes, believe it) the U.S. State Department, where so many people replied all “you got it wrong” and “stop replying all” that it crashed the State Department’s servers and now anyone abusing reply all will be subject to unspecified “disciplinary actions” (read: Kabul embassy transfer).
Rather than a vague governmental threat of “disciplinary actions,” my company is cutting off the problem at the source:
The [My Company] Executive Council ([MC]EC) reviewed suggestions that would eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency. Beginning Thursday, January 29, we will remove the “Reply to All” functionality from Microsoft Outlook.
I hope they mean remove the functionality from Microsoft Outlook on machines within our company, unless they have a hot phone that directly rings Bill Gates.
And moreover: we have an “Executive Council”? Like the Jedi? And moreover still: we have an Executive Council dedicated to removing bureaucracy? Isn’t than a Zen koan? “First order of business: disband Executive Council!” Poof.
In more cutting-nose/spiting-face fashion, the Executive Council goes on to explain:
We have noticed that the “Reply to All” functionality results in unnecessary inbox clutter. Responders who want to copy all can do so by selecting the names or using a distribution list.
Yes, we will now reduce inefficiency by copying and pasting enormous lists one e-mail at a time, or creating spreadsheets of distribution lists. You know what else causes unnecessary inbox clutter? Inboxes. If everybody had to write e-mails by hand, and buy a stamp, well, they’d damn well think twice before replying all! I’ll get the Executive Council to call Bill Gates.