Here is the hazard of owning an e-mail address: increased exposure to stupidity. Mass e-mails are terrible, but those who respond to mass e-mails with “reply all” are the worst. Without exception, when one person uses “reply all”, he is inviting others to respond in kind to complain, question and otherwise perpetuate the mutant e-mail chain over several hours until it has grown to 20+ new e-mails; each message more loathsome than the last.

This has to stop.

Being included in a bad “reply all” e-mail chain is like trying to swim the backstroke through a sea of drowning cats. Don’t get sad. These cats won’t die; they refuse to die. They just keep dragging you back into a mess of claws and FWD:Re:RE:re: messages as you struggle to swim beyond them. This clumsy, mixed metaphor is my way of saying that “reply all” buttons are dangerous and should be erased from every e-mail program on earth and in space.

When just one person uses the “reply all” button to share information that doesn’t specifically apply to each recipient, we all lose; e-mail inboxes become bloated, people get angry and confused, and it probably even makes orphans cry. Like those really sad orphans from the 1930s? The ones in black and white pictures who didn’t have shoes? Yeah, I bet “reply all” probably even hurts them. I’m not clear on the specifics of how, but I think it has something to do with a flux capacitor. Why would anyone want to make orphans from the past cry? Why are you ruining time travel for the rest of us? What kind of monster are you?

Because I want to be part of the solution, I’ve created the simple instructions below to help eradicate “reply all” abuse.

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22 Responses to if you like making orphans cry, then “reply all” is for you (a user’s guide)

  1. Alex@LateEnough says:

    I’m currently trapped in a reply-all email chain where someone sent their opinions WITH A BIO AND HEADSHOT. Thank you for this life-saving device. NOTE: The lives you saved is theirs because I’m one more email away from DESTROYING THE ENTIRE REPLY-ALL EMAIL CHAIN one-by-one in a I Know What You Did Last Summer kinda way.

  2. I think I’ve managed to escape this annoyance of stupidity BUT the one that gets me is the mass email through feckin’ facebook. I try to LEAVE the conversation, as it’s listed as now, but I still get everyone’s stupid, pointless reply. I don’t care. I don’t know you. LET ME OUT OF HERE. I can’t escape!!

    That is the best diagram I’ve seen since Sheldon Cooper’s Friendship Algorithm.
    x

  3. My pet peeve! I need to save that chart and REPLY ALL next time someone replies all. Thank you Kendall.

  4. Sarah says:

    I am beginning to realize how sheltered and lovely my life has been thus far! I only get reply-alls at work, and nine times out of ten, they are important!

    Please, please, please do not start replying-all to my personal email account to get me up to speed! I will take you word for it.

  5. Handflapper says:

    Once again, darling Kendall, you have blown me away with your genius. Your precocity amazes and frightens me.

  6. Alexandra says:

    Woman, why are you posting for FREE??

    I would pay you 10 paypal dollars a month to come here.

    Put up a button, see what happens.

    Better yet! Get on kindle. 99c a subscription. And you can do it in 3 seconds.

    Cost you nothing.

  7. Bill says:

    I don’t have this issue too much, thank god. but what I DO have a problem with is when you’ll comment on someone’s status on facebook, and then every subsequent comment gets spammed to my e-mail box with people saying crap like, “me too!” three days after the person did that thing, and you are stuck trying to remember what that comment was in response to for the rest of the day.

    which is why i’m slowly becoming a facebook recluse.

  8. I second Alexandra!

    I will now go dig up my printer, print this off and mail it to my mother because apparently my emails only get read if sent as a mass email. My mother is your worst nightmare!

  9. I can count on zero fingers how many times a reply to all message has been worth the 10 seconds of my life it took to read it. THANK YOU FOR SAVING THE ORPHANS.

  10. Lisa says:

    The best ones are the ‘reply all’ complaints about the the ‘reply all’ emails. Those bad boys usually last longer than the original conversation. Usually along the lines of pointless emails saying

    ‘stop ‘reply all-ing’ to this email’
    ‘I agree’
    ‘It’s really annoying’
    ‘Why would anyone do this?’
    ‘It obviously means people have too much time on their hands’
    ‘Well I’m far too busy to have time for that.’

    etc etc…. you see where I’m going with this irony shizzle right?

  11. Sharyn says:

    “I wish you weren’t a liar.” But I’m not, really. Honest. Trust me.

  12. KAREN says:

    This is why I usually just delete most emails – most don’t pertain to me because of the FUCKING REPLY TO ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GRRRR! Even supposed professionals I work with that we have explained the concept to time and time again can’t seem to grasp the meaning.

    Thank you for your brilliance!

  13. HeathRobots says:

    I don’t know if I can say it any better than you did….RFLMAOLOLMNOP!!!

  14. Suniverse says:

    Oh, sweet hell.

    People are dumbity dumb dumb.

    You are brilliant. Every time.

    XO!

    PS I agree with Alexandra – GET PAID, bitches.

  15. Ameena says:

    You are my hero for bringing this serious problem to everyone’s attention and also for creating a fantastic diagram. I love diagrams!!

  16. Kelley says:

    You are so hilarious and talented! I loved this! My favorite was the flux capacitator comment AND “I wish you weren’t a liar”. Ha!

  17. If you are very boring or my grandmother, this is probably a pretty exciting day for you.

    Oh. Poor grandma.

    (But ohmygod I’m dying…)

  18. MommaKiss says:

    My favorite is when some douche reply-all with “I don’t know why I’m receiving this, is this meant for me?” And then 15 other people do the same. To All. For fuck’s sake.

  19. Lala says:

    I adore the swimming through a sea of drowning cats scenario because anything to do with a cat is endlessly hysterical to me; I don’t know why – it just is. I actually enjoy emailers who reply to all because people who do that are usually confused about what the hell is going on around them, and a confused person tends to type stupid things riddled with typos and spelling mistakes. And stupid things, particularly when expressed using poor English, are like cats – a treasure trove of amusing awesomeness and hilarity. (I hesitate to make bold statements like this because invariably the person who condemns others for spelling mistakes HAS a spelling mistake embedded somewhere in the condemnation; however, I often do things I don’t think I should do). Anyway, I can’t remember how I found this blog (because I happen to be one of those confused, “reply to all” weirdos flailing about in virtual anonymity), but so far I like what I’ve read. šŸ™‚

  20. SassyB says:

    The only time that this doesn’t make me angry is at work when someone should be replying all but doesn’t! My MIL has people on her mailing list that do this and it drives me freakin’ nuts!

  21. Eunice Petty says:

    NOTE: The lives you saved is theirs because Iā€™m one more email away from DESTROYING THE ENTIRE REPLY-ALL EMAIL CHAIN one-by-one in a I Know What You Did Last Summer kinda way. I will now go dig up my printer, print this off and mail it to my mother because apparently my emails only get read if sent as a mass email. And stupid things, particularly when expressed using poor English, are like cats ā€“ a treasure trove of amusing awesomeness and hilarity. I only get reply-alls at work, and nine times out of ten, they are important!

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