The “Reply All” Insanity Fest!

by Paul Castain on January 5, 2011

There’s a productivity killer lurking in the inboxes of the world today and its about time we stopped the insanity!

I’m talking about the senseless killing of minutes.

The heartless ravaging of your nerves and . . .

The brutal slaying of common sense when you find yourself in

A Reply All Insanity Fest!

I bear the scars of many a reply all insanity fest and was recently in one that I shall reenact here

An email goes out where the sender could have easily avoided an inbox tragedy by sending it bcc but instead they make a fatal mistake and send it without jackassproofing it.

Moe: Replies All with “I’ll be there can’t wait”

Me (Taking on the form of an armed monkey) Great Moe and why did 600 of us need to know that? Note: I’m just thinking this not Replying All.

Larry: Replies All “Is this an all day event?”

Me: (to myself) “Why don’t you go back and actually reread the email. It’s all there and Oh,  this could have been handled offline instead of Reply All”!

Curly: Replies All “Hey folks, when you reply all we all get this!”

2 Important notes in Curly’s defense:

Understand that this move is the equivalent of throwing yourself on a grenade because someone had to be the A-Hole and . . .

Unfortunately, Curly had to reply all to get everyone from replying all. And so the frenzy continues . . .

Larry: Replies all (again) with “Sorry about that” Note: Larry shouldn’t be sorry, he should be quite

Me: Out loud at my desk “DICK!”

Moe: (having aged since this ordeal began) “Thanks Curly. I’ll send Harpo an offline email”

Me Taking my palm and striking the computer screen “I Command You Out demon!”

Any who, that was clearly a rant, with no educational value for you today but just for the heck of it:

Send your emails to large groups BCC

Or how about a spin on those sustainability footers everyone is using in their emails . . .

“Please consider our mental environment before replying all to this email”

And please, if you are the recipient, and you want to respond, take that extra second to either reply to the recipient only or forward the email back to the sender if you are set up in a system that would automatically send to all.

This has been a public service announcement from your friends at Sales Playbook! 🙂

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  • This was so funny, and so true! I LOL’d several times. 🙂

    Thanks for the morning laugh, Paul!

  • Always a pleasure Traci.
    Thanks for stopping by!


  • The disclaimer/warning does work wonders for the rare times you need to CC rather than BCC everyone.

    Before your signature lines, in bold +1 font:

    “Please DO NOT reply all to this message without contacting me first.”

    I have found that can work wonders.

  • I like it Jeremy!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    Paul Castain

  • Paul,
    Any way you can make this required reading by “Every employee in a Big Company” – unfortunately when you get stuck in the first thread, you want to drown rather than thread water. Funny and relevant, nice write/right.

  • @ Bill Simmel . . . We gotta do something about this brother 🙂

    Thanks for taking the time to weigh in.

    Paul Castain

  • Oh dear, I have seen the “Reply All” spreading like a disease and I really with people would think twice before hitting “Send”.
    The main problem is that most people simply start using a computer without no real knowledge of any form of common practices, etiquette so to say.
    Perhaps not entirely their fault, but how to remedy?

  • WOW! What a hilarious and relevant article. “Reply to All” can be career suicide too. I once worked with a top selling copier sales representative who had a fantastic sales record; the kind of top performer that can get away with pretty much anything because he is such a heavy hitter who sent a “Reply to All” soliciting business for his side Multi Level Marketing job.
    He was fired the very next day.
    Hope that MLM job is paying!
    Another one of my favorite dumb ass “Reply to All” moves happens in my company quite a bit. Someone sends a mass message asking to be “removed from this e-mail chain” which then encourages about 78 other people to “Reply to All” asking to be removed. UGH
    Thanks for the great post and for being a part of the “Reply to All” epidemic solution!

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  • Marc Zazeela

    Paul – You have illustrated one of my pet peeves. The “reply all” insanity usually implies a complete lack of thought. Regardless the message, regardless the target, regardless the number of people, I’m simply going to “REPLY ALL”!

    It matters not that this message wasn’t even intended for me. It matters not that no one will care about my reply. It matters not that I am intruding on everyone’s day. I’m going to “reply all”.


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