Dear People On The Internet

Dear People On The Internet

Something you’ve perhaps failed to understand over the last 15 or so years:

Reply –> Sends email to the person who sent it and only that person.

Reply to All –> Sends email to everyone on the “To” line of the original email plus the original sender.

Times where clicking Reply To All is appropriate:

  1. You know everyone in the group and what you have to say pertains to all/most of you.
  2. It is not a note/message meant for only the person who sent the original message.

Times when clicking Reply to All is not appropriate:

  1. 98% of your life on the web, people.

Seriously, the Reply to All should never, ever, ever, ever be your default clicky button when replying to emails. If you cannot help but click that button because of some curious disease of the mind (or habit, whatever), then remove that button from your interface. Don’t know how to do that? Ask a teenager.

Because, really, the number of you people out there who do not understand this, and the number of you who run businesses on the Internet and yet do not understand this to a crippling degree, appalls me. There is no reason for this foolishness.

No love,


Related Letter:

Dear People Who Design Email Programs,

Help us out, here. Make it so every time someone clicks “Reply to All” a window or dialogue box pops up and says: “Do you really want to do that? Reply To All is only appropriate when…”

Make it so that only people who really understand computers can figure out how to turn this off. You’re good at that, especially if you work for Microsoft.

If you do this, you’d be doing the rest of us a huge favor, thanks.



9 thoughts on “Dear People On The Internet

  1. Hear hear. I HATE getting endless discussion messages when two idiots decide to have a little chat about non-related bullshit and hit Reply To All. It kinda reminds me of people who have loud, stupid conversations via those two-way beeping Nextel phones. It’s even worse with email, because every time you delete the thread of messages, the next moron who hits Reply To All just brings the WHOLE conversation back into your damn inbox again. You can’t get away from it.

    I make liberal use of CC and BCC with regard to mass emails, whether I’m sending an initial one or replying to an existing one. I agree with Sarah – people should really pay more attention to what they’re doing. But alas, that’s asking WAY too much for 90% of the population that can actually USE a computer.

    I hate humanity so much sometimes.

  2. OMG! Can I keep a copy of this for next time?

    Even worse, are original e-mails “accidentally” sent to all when they only wanted/needed one. Like when my son’s teacher e-mailed to complain that he wasn’t listening to her by e-mailing the entire classroom of parents. Yeah. I wouldn’t be listening to HER either.

    Accident my butt. Somethings can’t be taken back, so wake up or get out.

  3. There’s also the slightly trickier issue of mailing lists where, if you hit “reply”, you’re replying to the mailing list and not the individual who sent you the e-mail. (My CW mailing list does this, as do several others I’m on.)

    I think people just need to pay more attention to what they’re doing, and to realize that not everyone needs to hear/cares about every quip and exchange.

    (The feed has posted this entry to lj three times, btw.)

  4. Hey K? Forwarded something to you by the k. tempest bradford email. Please take a look?

  5. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    Also, people, learn to use “bcc”. It saves space (sometimes I have to scroll down, down, down, to get to the actually message after all the addresses) and IT PROTECTS PRIVACY!

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