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Reply-all loop

I didn’t think this still happened in 2018 . . . I opened my email to see 50 emails, from 50 different people, all with the same meaningless subject line. (In case you’re curious, it was “Re: Clerkships team.”)

There was no initial email: All 50 of the messages were of the form, “Hey, this email is a mistake. Please remove me from the list.”

You’d think that after the 40th person or so on the list had sent this email to everyone, the remaining people would know to just sit tight.

I was really, really tempted to go all retro on them and reply to the entire list with an all-caps message like this:

HEY! DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO REPLY-ALL TO THESE MESSAGES???

That would be the next logical step, followed of course by someone replying:

HEY YOU FOOL! WHY DID YOU REPLY-ALL WHEN TELLING PEOPLE NOT TO REPLY-ALL?

And then, of course:

I WISH EVERYONE WOULD JUST STOP EMAILING THE ENTIRE LIST LIKE THIS. CAN’T YOU ALL JUST STOP? I WISH I’D NEVER SUBSCRIBED TO THIS LIST IN THE FIRST PLACE!!

Back in the day, these exchanges could go on forever. Indeed, I’m feeling a bit of nostalgia right now, just thinking about it.

P.S. Hey! While writing this post, another email arrived:

And another. And another.

Didn’t anyone ever teach these people not to Reply All??

P.P.S. And 6 more in the last five minutes. It’s no big deal, it’s no problem at all to delete these. It’s just funny.

P.P.P.S. Yessss . . . at last, we have a winner:

P.P.P.P.S. A correspondent sent me a similar thread that happened at her university a few months ago which included this priceless reply (nested eight deep in the thread):

P.P.P.P.P.S. ALL-CAPS has finally arrived:

11 Comments

  1. Carlos Ungil says:

    It’s even more funny when the CEO of the company replies (to all) “Stop!”.

  2. I remember one of these at USC, they used to print out letters on letterhead and then scan them in. Maybe a 25 MB scan and then send it to all 20000 people affiliated (500 gigabytes of email right there) then people would start the reply all thing, some of which would quote the email, with attachment. I bet within the afternoon a hundred terabytes of total crap was generated.

    • Anonymous says:

      I imagine something like this is what a lot of people are thinking that bitcoin mining entails. Its somehow generated by people doing “net work” on the internet which consists of pdfs, emails, forums, etc… Then in the end you have somehow created money by using electricity to send each other files.

      And if that makes you wonder where dollars come from, how many there are, or whatever, you find out about federal reserve and fractional reserve and how money that doesnt yet exist needs to be created to pay back a loan, which is all even more confusing so you just leave it at that.

  3. Zad Chow says:

    I feel sad for the person who has push notifications enabled on their phone for mail.

  4. Anon says:

    I love reading those reply all emails, and watching how many people hate the sender. And half a day later the sender with an apology. It’s wrongfully satisfying, I love it. I’m sure the sender will check it three times before sending the next time.

  5. Nice touch to live blog my live spam loop. At least I’m not in the hell Zad Chow (above) imagines where it’s pushing notifications to my phone (or even desktop).

    Serioulsy, another “me too” since this reply started. I could spam filter it like Mitzi did, but I’m just too fascinated.

    I really wonder how many people the original mail went out to. The source of the nasty reply-all appears to be some kind of bot on the reply line—it’s not like these people are replying all to a cc list of hundreds or thousands of people. Whoever manages that thing should turn it off! Please. Because once someone evil finds it, the fun will really start.

    And there it is. One more.

  6. Zach Hafen says:

    I’m very fond of the term “Reply Allpocalypse”.

  7. Jeff says:

    Ha! By gum, it’s been a while.

    My favorite part comes when the volume of “unsubscribe me” messages and “please stop replying” replies crosses some threshold, and people start chiming in with jokes. A sure winner: “Hey, I’ve been tied up all morning. Any news on the clerkships team?”

    [kisses fingertips]

  8. I remember one of those from a few years ago. Just an hour into it, messages of hate and messages of mercy both reached a feverish pitch. It felt vaguely apocalyptic, and then it somehow fizzled out.

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