“Reply All” Madness! (At Least the Student Sent a Tasteful Message)


It’s Replyallcalypse 2012. Hide the women and children! There are no rules now!

Actually, a student accidentally hit "reply all" and sent a message to each of his fellow New York University students… not really that big of a deal, but a good thing to keep in mind when communicating in this medium. NYU Local reports:

39,979 students received a message from the Bursar’s Office. All 39,979 were on NYU’s “src-contacts” mailing list.

39,979 students were about to meet Max Wiseltier.

“I was trying to forward the message to my mom, to get her input on the paperless tax forms,” Max Wiseltier, sophomore, explained later, “but all of NYU was cc’ed accidentally.”

When Max went to forward the innocuously titled “Opting Out of the Paper Version of Your 1098T” to his mother, he had no idea that he was one fatal “reply all” away from NYU fame.

His accidental email and hasty apology triggered a rare, University-wide revelation: We simultaneously realized that any message, complaint, whim, link, video, or GIF could be sent to nearly 40,000 people in an instant.

We had been given a great and terrible power. For a moment we contemplated responsibility, then gleefully tossed it aside in favor of posting pictures of cats. The ensuing hours were referred to as “The Reply-Allpocalypse,” “The Day NYU Broke,” and “Will Everyone Please Just Shut Up.”

But how could this happen? Are we allowed to blame Max Wiseltier for all this? In brief: “poorly constructed listserves”; “no”.

NYU Local’s tech editor, Ben Zweig, explains: “NYU uses something called E-Mail Direct for most mass emails. That system is meant for one-way emailing.” E-Mail Direct does not allow for reply-alls, therefore you cannot respond to most mass emails. Several NYU departments still rely on the older, discussion-based ListManager program, however. ListManager also sends mass emails, but allows discussions (in the form of reply-alls), unless the settings are adjusted, disabling group discussions and only permitting emails from admins.”

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