Reply All and No Joking Matter

When email etiquette comes up in our seminars, people jump to mention several abuses. One topic sure to elicit groans of frustration is the misuse of REPLY ALL.

The most annoying misuse of REPLY ALL is when people use it to respond to an invitation instead of just using the REPLY button. It’s pretty obvious that the REPLY button will only send your answer to the inviter and not to all the other invitees. I can’t think of a good reason why all the other invitees should know or even care about knowing if you are attending the meeting. Frankly, not only do they not want to know if you are accepting or declining, they also don’t need their in boxes gummed up with numerous completely unnecessary emails. Email boxes already have too much drivel in them.


Another annoying behavior similar to REPLY ALL is forwarding jokes. Too often I have received jokes sent to me that also include a stream of emails below the message. In each email are all the addresses of the people who have received the joke. I’m not so sure I really want my email address put out there repetitively. I can’t but wonder how that may expose me to spammers.

Speaking of jokes, be wary of sending them on. A federal judge made the mistake of forwarding an inappropriate joke he received to a few friends—from his work computer no less. Big mistake. Not only did he forward the joke, he commented that he thought the joke was “a bit touching.” The joke and his comment were forwarded numerous times until they hit a Great Falls Tribune (Montana) reporter’s inbox. The reporter scrolled through the email thread and found the judge’s forward along with his comment. The resulting story caused an uproar. End result? The judge is retiring as of May 3, 2014.

One final comment about jokes especially at work: Your work computer and all its contents are subject to scrutiny by your employer. Be careful with what you do with the jokes you receive, especially inappropriate ones. You may not be able to prevent a friend from sending you something inappropriate, but you do have control over what you do with what you receive. Avoid the urge to read it, save it, forward it, or show it to others. Mark it as spam and delete it. Then send a note to the sender asking him to take you off his joke list.

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