“Reply All” threatens the US State Department

Earlier this month, The Huffington Post ran a story about an instance of the “Reply All” bug effectively turned into a denial of service attack on itself.  As I wrote about 18 months ago in “Making a jerk of yourself with the ‘Reply All’ bug“:

There are two ways this phenomenon typically manifests itself.

First, most email programs place the “Reply” button right next to the “Reply All” button. A mouse pointer displaced by a centimeter can send your thoughts to everyone who received the original message instead of just the sender. Second, many companies use distribution lists to disseminate information to large audiences. Depending upon how the distribution lists are set up, pressing the “Reply” button on your email program may create a response to the author, or it may send your reply to everyone on the distribution list. If it’s the latter, the results can be embarrassing.

Collectively, these situations can be thought of as the “reply all” bug. Especially in cases where you are being critical of something or someone, double check to make sure you are sending your thoughts to the intended person only. Writing “That Irvin is sure an idiot” takes on a whole new meaning when Irvin himself will read it (double D’oh!).

It appears as though the State Department mess was of the distribution list variety and it’s a good reminder to be on the lookout for comitting such crimes yourself.



One Response to ““Reply All” threatens the US State Department”

  1. Phone Number Lookup Says:

    Thats what I thought and you really helped me prove my point with this post. I cant wait to show my friend so he can see he was wrong. – Walter

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