I Can’t Believe I Sent it to the Whole Listserve

A recurring theme on the ever-fabulous AALS contracts list-serve involves pressing “reply to all” accidentally. The list is a fabulous resource, yet over the years it has seen its share of embarrassments (because it automatically replies to all when you hit reply, leading many to conclude that maybe that default rule should be changed, yet somehow it remains reply to all, despite the fact that everyone on the list is teaching contracts law and thus understands default rules and should realize that this is a penalty default, with too much information seemingly forced from us and onto the entire listserve, nonetheless we all have to live the consequences of this particularly onerous penalty default, including this horrible run-on sentence).

We all have experiences with the accidental reply, and I can speak about this personally. That law firm associate who accidentally hit “reply all” when responding to the inquiry about workload? That would be me, informing everyone at the law firm that I indeed was satisfied with my current work assignments (hey, it could have been worse). But sometimes it seems that people “reply all” strategically. They *want* everyone to know something good that they did. So someone sends an email out to an entire list, making public their donation to the homeless shelter. Other times, someone wants to embarrass the person who sent an email by picking apart some mistake in the original email. It’s framed as a private reply, of course, but it goes to everyone. Of course the author, if asked, will try to play it off as a mistake. “Ooops, sorry, didn’t mean for that to go the whole list.” Sure, sure, we believe you…

What’s the best / worst example of “reply y’alling” that ya’ll can think of?

[cross-posted at ContractsProf]

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8 Responses

  1. such sweet thunder says:

    I’ve heard a story about an Administrative Associate at Shearman who sent a vent email about people leaving unmarked containers in the fridge to all of the firms’ attorneys — foreign and domestic.

  2. Trill says:

    I sent a reply-all last week, on purpose… but only realized after I pressed the “send” button that someone had added a dean at my law school (I’m a student) to the thread. Without going into specifics, it involved crude jokes and references to alcohol consumption.

    I’m still mortified.

  3. cantinflas says:

    When an executive secretary requested a response email from anyone interested in putting their name on the queue for season tickets to the Phoenix Suns, one guy that was her friend replied to all with “Please put my name at the top of the list, maybe in the middle too, and it can be our little secret. ;)”

  4. AshamedAndGuilty says:

    This is not the same thing, but in the same spirit. There’s a website that sends you an email that says “Someone’s got a crush on you–click here to see who!”. When you get to the page, it says “They’re too embarrassed to tell you their name, but just put in their email address and if it matches, we’ll let you know.”

    I dumped in my whole email address list…and they all got the message “Someone’s got a crush on you–click here to see who!” If any typed in my email address, it announced that I had a crush on them! I’d been one crucial step in a spam daisy chain that may well have chain letter spammed the world.

  5. Miriam Cherry says:

    Did you really have a crush on all the people in your email directory though? 😉

    I’d be very worried if all those people in my directory had even the potential for thinking I had a crush on them. Oh, the perils of being single…

  6. arthur says:

    This problem is not unique to email. Back in the age of faxes, an asbestos liability trial involving several thousand plaintiffs and over a hundred defendants was delayed by several weeks after one plaintiff’s counsel sent an “all counsel” fax, rather than an “all plaintiffs’ counsel” fax discussing plaintiffs’ strategy for voir dire, including discussion of particular potential jurors. The very large jury pool was dismissed and a new one assembled.

    I once made a similar error once with snail mail. A defense firm was on the plaintiffs’ firm service list due to my carelessness, and received a draft that wasn’t ready for the other side to see.

    I have seen numerous errors involving the distinction between “all counsel” and “all plaintiffs’ [or defendants’] counsel” emails, most but not all harmless.

  7. Dissent says:

    One of my all-time favorites comes from our very own Dept. of Homeland Security. A mail list admin reportedly accidentally reconfigured the list and a newsletter sent out to over 7500 people revealed all their email addresses. Then people started replying to the whole list (sometimes on purpose). Bottom line: the DHS managed to create a 9-hour spam run that sent about 2 million messages and essentially ddos-ed all their subscribers until they got hold of their admin to stop the whole thing.

    I still crack up laughing when I think about that one, even though revealing thousands of security professionals’ information is clearly no laughing matter.

  8. dave hoffman says:

    Hate to be a grump, but I think that because of the reply-all problem, the contracts listserve isn’t a fabulous resource at all but rather a spam source. I’d say no more than 1/3 of the messages we get are substantive, the other 2/3s are inappropriate advertisements for personal projects or piling on “me toos”.