the scourge of “reply all”


We had a little email drama at my school recently.  Okay, it was only a little email drama to me and one other person, Miss Reply All.

A little background:  although we are not a primarily aged teaching staff, we are a primarily middle-aged teaching staff, and many of us have been rather sloooow to adapt to email.  Yes, I know, it’s 2008 and many people are talking about web 2.0, but some of us are still learning about the web circa 1998.  Anyway, in the past year the Prince has made it clear that most information and announcements will be circulated via email, and that everyone is responsible for reading their emails.

Finally, we are making progress.  And in the last year, we have started some email conversations as a staff, which have been useful.  For example, one teacher will send an email about the graffiti problems in the bathroom to the whole staff, or another will post an announcement about an upcoming concert, and many of us will hit reply all to add to the discussion.

Reply all does have its uses.

Miss Reply All, however, thinks that reply all should be used in all circumstances.  She hits reply all to say “thank you.”  Or “sounds great!”  Or “Sorry, I don’t have the thing you’re looking for.”  Or “I’m in!”

This drives me insane.  I once emailed her and asked her if she realized that she had hit reply all, and maybe could she use reply instead?  She ignored me.  The inane reply all emails from her continued to fill my inbox.

Finally this fall another teacher sent out a carefully worded email about reply all, clarifying when to use it — or not.  Miss Reply All replied to his email….using reply all!  Twice!

So I sent out a reply all further clarifying what the first teacher had said, and then yes, Miss Reply All sent out TWO MORE reply alls, both of which contained only about three words.  I thought I would have a heart attack (ever notice that I don’t handle stress well?) but couldn’t figure out what to do next.

Yesterday I saw her and for once she did not greet me in the halls, the way she always does.  And I realized that it has been TWO WEEKS since I got any reply all emails from her.  So she is, at last, silent. 

But perhaps a little resentful.


5 thoughts on “the scourge of “reply all”

  1. That just chaps my chilies. We have over 200 people on our staff and we’ve had to put a serious lid on needless emails. I spent my first year stamping out stupid forwarded emails using trusty old to debunk most of that stuff. Our new principal has knocked out most of the rest. People would email everyone with things like, “I need a stamp!” They’ve been directed to actually ask someone in person or only email their grade level.

    The other email crime was huge attachments and videos. Those would crash the whole system, so I’ve been teaching people how to post those elsewhere and just send links.

    My favorite new email tool is As a public school, we’re subject to the Freedom of Info. act and if someone wanted, they could ask for print outs of all your emails and post them in the newspaper (it’s been done). Privnote is an easy dodge when you want to send personal comments to a friend with no worries of “unprofessionalism.”

  2. You only have ONE of them? What are you complaining about? But I agree, and the other thing that annoys the hell out of me are the ones that don’t necessarily reply everyone, but send useless little things like, “Oh, thanks grade three teachers for the delicious lunch!!” Just send it to the grade three teachers. There’s like 5 or 6 of them that race to see if they can get the first thank you in, like it’s a contest or something. YUCK.

  3. Okay, you guys have it worse than I do.

    So far no one is sending out those horrible chain emails that do, indeed, require for debunking. And no one is racing to be the first to send out pointless emails, nor is anyone sending out video files that crash our servers.

    So I guess I should feel lucky, especially since Miss Reply All has finally stopped!

  4. i love it best when people “reply all” not to just the school, but to something that is DISTRICT WIDE. we have also had people send out CONFIDENTIAL emails to the entire district, as opposed to their school. i could go on…at least people don’t send attachments that crash the system, not that it would be hard.

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