Last week, there was an email "reply all" brouhaha that got a lot of attention from advertising & public relations blogs and on Twitter, which inspired this week's column:
Do you know the difference between ``reply'' and ``reply all'' on e-mail?
We ask because many just don't seem to get it. For the record, hitting ``reply'' sends an e-mail just to the sender. When you select ``reply all,'' it goes to every person the e-mail was sent to.
We all get tons of junk e-mail all day, but deleting the reply all chains is especially annoying. Last week, one incident hit a nerve across the country when New Jersey public relations consultant Beth Brody sent out an e-mail about a new social media guide for small businesses.
Brody sent out her e-mail at around 8:45 a.m. Later, in an e-mail to us, she said she inadvertently copied and pasted all the addresses she meant to send the e-mail as a list in the ``CC'' field, rather than the ``BCC'' (blind carbon copy) field, which hides the addresses of others who got the e-mail. That meant people who hit Reply All sent their messages to everyone.
By noon, I had more than 30 messages to her inbox from people -- many of whom simply said, ``Please take me off this e-mail list,'' before I also asked to be removed from the e-mail chain. (Which I did by hitting ``reply,'' rather than ``reply all.'')
Bridget was out of the office, but on her return came across some pretty ignorant messages. Someone joked that people who reply all should be stoned at an upcoming Online Media, Marketing & Advertising Conference, and one person used the F-word toward Brody.
No matter how annoyed you are, never hit ``reply all'' to a group using swear words or writing in an angry tone when you don't know which business associates or colleagues could be seeing those messages.
What we couldn't figure out was why people -- especially a few who had e-mail signatures that claimed they were social media experts -- kept hitting the ``reply all'' button and adding to the problem. This is 2009: Don't people understand by now how ``reply all'' works?
It wasn't a technical glitch. Niala was able to respond directly to remove herself from the list, as well as e-mail AdAge's Ken Wheaton, who threatened to blog about every person who hit ``reply all'' on the chain.
Beth Brody said in an e-mail interview with us that she started her own blog as a result -- the first entry apologizes for the e-mail. She said she's learned that when you make a mistake like this, ``social media is the easiest way to get your apology out quickly.''
This was an extreme case involving 350 people. But it's still annoying in smaller doses, when co-workers "reply all'' for unnecessary messages. In a work email, it just adds to the clutter, and makes you look like a fool.
So do us and your coworkers a favor, and forward this on them -- individually, please.