If there's hell on earth, it's likely inside an accidental "reply all" chain. Utah state government employees are learning this the hard way after a short email about a holiday potluck was inadvertently sent to 25,000 innocent people.
As is often the case, the many short emails asking to be taken off the email list quickly buried everyone unlucky enough to be included in the endless thread. The Utah Department of Technology Services took to social media, begging people to stop responding to the thread, which includes "state employees, contractors, and businesses" among its ranks.
Joe Dougherty, a Public Information Officer for the Utah Division of Emergency Management, wrote on Twitter:
"So this is happening right now. It's Replyall-gate 2018. Adventures in state government. #ReplyAll Actually don't reply all."
So this is happening right now. It’s Replyall-gate 2018. Adventures in state government. #ReplyAll Actually don’t r… https://t.co/PgAYv5hmim— Joe Dougherty (@Joe Dougherty)1544202039.0
Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox fears for the future of the state:
"This is real and it's an emergency. Started out as a potluck and $5 white elephant gift exchange in one department and someone accidentally cc'd every state employee. I fear this will never end."
Missed one of the best ones: bring a $5 white elephant gift https://t.co/expBy8ychP— Joe Dougherty (@Joe Dougherty)1544202616.0
Future disasters like this must be prevented, according to Josh Loftin, Director of Communications and Public Information Officer at the Utah Department of Heritage and Arts:
"This was a genuine crisis, but it happens every day on a smaller level. Some people simply can't not #replyall, so prevention is key: send large group emails to yourself w/ bcc to other recipients, and hope somebody doesn't 'loop' others in."
@PIO_Joe This was a genuine crisis, but it happens every day on a smaller level. Some people simply can't not… https://t.co/lSNnsFAs6R— Josh Loftin (@Josh Loftin)1544233467.0
Responses to the chain ranged from funny to irate:
"Is it a white elephant type of swap?"
"I'm sorry you have to uninvite the entire State Government."
"Remove me from this email thread now!"
@PIO_Joe A reply all broadcast storm is the closest we’ll get to perpetual energy.— Dave Holzer and the turtle he rode in on. (@Dave Holzer and the turtle he rode in on.)1544225482.0
@PIO_Joe This definitely provided some good entertainment this morning— Aaron Austin (@Aaron Austin)1544236174.0
People are relieved to see their friends and family emerge unscathed on the other side of the chain!
@PIO_Joe BCC is a wonder thing. 😬— Michelle Day (@Michelle Day)1544206109.0
@vikkie Wow! Your story is the stuff of legends! Glad you made it through ok! https://t.co/uyd0XDa6f8— Joe Dougherty (@Joe Dougherty)1544450651.0
@PIO_Joe It’s beautiful 😍— Keith Palau⭐️ (@Keith Palau⭐️)1544227551.0
This isn't the first time something like this has happened, though it will hopefully be the last.
@JeremyHarrisTV @KUTV2News @SpencerJCox This whole thing today was a reliving of the Great #ReplyAll nightmare of F… https://t.co/PBKnwR1xEt— Joe Dougherty (@Joe Dougherty)1544239633.0
Some Twitter users had potential future solutions to the "reply all" problem.
There should be a pop up - TWICE - any time someone hits #replyall ... “Are you SURE you want to reply to all 722 p… https://t.co/daf95YKeBq— Toni Duran (@Toni Duran)1544375724.0
@PIO_Joe There is an "Ignore" button in Outlook that will scrub all emails, same topic, straight to Trash. There yo… https://t.co/3UYH2LFIzK— Jason P Bise (@Jason P Bise)1544450839.0
@PIO_Joe you know you can mute a thread, right?— SCH△△M△△P (@SCH△△M△△P)1544518911.0
@SpencerJCox Here's how I would handle the #replyall problem going forward. Add a section to the DTS security train… https://t.co/jkc9dTC6SE— Aaron Austin (@Aaron Austin)1544380735.0
As of Friday, December 7, the state employee responsible for this unfathomable nightmare has not been publicly revealed. There don't seem to be any major calls for disciplinary action towards the perpetrator, however—being a part of this "reply all" thread is enough punishment for one lifetime.
@jcgreenfield We all had a good laugh about this, but I’m sure there were a few tears shed, as well. #ReplyAll… https://t.co/catmyHBdvn— Joe Dougherty (@Joe Dougherty)1544461654.0