How I invented a new and embarrassing email mistake

I’ve written before about the evils of the “Reply All” bug, but I really outdid myself this time by inventing a new way to embarrass myself using email.

As you might recall, I’ve been doing my share of 3rd party vendor evaluations lately.  One of the development teams I work with did a deeper analysis of the contenders after I did the work that reduced the number of companies to look at and as part of that I would get CC’d on lists of questions that would go back and forth as we tried to determine which tool set met our needs.  It was common to have the team run the list of questions by me first since I did the preliminary work and might have had some of the answers.  That way, we could only bother the vendor only when needed.  However, as the team got deeper into the details there were fewer things I could answer and I’d merely get copied on the questions instead of having a chance to answer them first.

The other day, I got an email from our develoment manager that read something like this:

“Hi Guys,

Here’s a list of questions we’ve prepared for you to take a look at:

<list of questions>”

At least, that’s what I thought it said so I replied with:


This list looks great, go for it.”

I thought the team was asking for feedback on the questions, but I didn’t look closely enough at either the message or the distribution list.  If I had, I would have realized that the first name of the vendor contact was someone named Guy, who was the intended recipient of the first message, which actually read:

“Hi Guy,

Here’s a list of questions we’ve prepared for you to take a look at:

<list of questions>”

Nobody said anything (except for the development manager who sent me a stream of IM’s ruthlessly teasing me about it), but I certainly will look closer at the next distribution list that comes my way.

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