Email the brave

There’s a woman on the loose with a machete. The workplace is no longer safe. She tears her way down the corridors on a mission to slice off the head of the nearest person who dares do it again. She is planning a new release a new virus which targets perpetrators and slices their heads off in one swoop. The target of her mission? Reply all and CC loving emailers.

Email was invented in 1971. Yes, the decade which gave us the disco ball also supplied this electronic workplace nightmare. I’m wondering what would happen if my colleagues and I were transported back to, say, 1965? How would we cope? If we couldn’t email each other, then that might mean we have to use the telephone, or worse, talk to someone in person. Would we be more or less efficient in our communications?

I will confess, I sent a lot of emails. But my source of wrath at the moment is not about email per se. It’s fair and squarely focused on ‘Email all’ and  ‘Reply to all’.

When I worked for larger organisations, inappropriate use of ‘Email all’ was rare. Occasionally someone would stuff up and tell us that the ladies toilet in the Western Australian office was broken and a plumber had been called. At this point all the office workers in Sydney would don their compassionate hats and courier buckets to the other side of the country. (No. I lie. They hit delete.)

Yet it’s not the Email all, or even ’email a big group’ which really gets me hot under the collar. (Let’s face it. There are times when it is essential e.g. ‘there’s chocolate cake in the kitchen, help yourself’). No, the thing which really irks me, which has me heading for the vending machine in an attempt to eat my way out of biting someone’s head off is the ‘reply all’. Grrrr.

Take this example. Colleague needs some help – ’10 volunteers needed for event’. Appropriate. Fair call. Good use of ’email all’. What I want to know is why someone would ‘RSVP’ copying in the other 199 people in the company? It’s not my event. I don’t care.

As irritants go, this one is probably not deserving of the machete wielding treatment. Although, perhaps once it would be nice…

More deserving of imminent death is the ‘can of worms reply all’. It’s the one where someone posts a question. It’s a plea for help. ‘Send me information and I can get on with what I need to do.’ Instead of replying with an answer, these soon to be dead people, press reply all and ask a question. No. Let me rephrase. Not a question, multiple questions. They make a salad of complications, alternative views and general ‘food for thought.’ This in turns, produces more ‘reply alls’, until the point where in the time you go to the bathroom and back, your email has been populated with another half dozen emails of ‘salad’. Is there anything more frustrating than needing information and getting salad back instead?

I’m half tempted to make a heart felt plea to our IT department to ban people from using the reply all function.

There’s only one thing stopping me.

I think whoever eats the last piece of chocolate cake should let everyone else know that there’s none left.

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Posted on June 28, 2012, in Communications and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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