Sometimes I just don’t understand

What is with people and “reply all?”

I’ve been using email for quite some time, but I wouldn’t say I’m an email expert. In all of my years, I have never mistakenly “replied all”. Somehow many of my peers, sometimes even tech-savvy role models are able to send a private reply to a public mailing list.

I just don’t get it. In Eudora there are three buttons: reply, reply all, forward. Are people just not dexterous enough to hit the right one? Am I missing something? I’m just irked for humanity.

4 thoughts on “Sometimes I just don’t understand

  1. One problem seems to be, at least with mailing lists, the way the list’s “reply to:” is configured. On one list I’m on, hitting “reply” in Outlook sends the message to the individual who posted the message, not the list itself. (This always trips me up as I wait for my message to appear on the list and hours later realize why it hasn’t.)

    Another list I’m on, “reply” sends the message to the entire group rather than the individual. Since this is how I expect it to act, I don’t have a problem, but it seems others do. I’ve read many a message that was obviously intended for an individual and not global consuption.

    I blame it on human error by way of poor usability and bad design. Or something like that.

  2. Ah, I’ve often made the same complaint as you, Cameron, and yet, I too once made a horrendous reply to a mailing list mistake. Eudora had filtered an email from a friend to my “Friends” box, although the email was actually posted (by my friend) to a mailing list with the default reply set to reply to the mailing list. Not checking the headers and noticing that it had gone to a mailing list, I wrote back in a rather, uh, intimate manner, referring to several embarrassing episodes, and, unfortunately, the whole list (or anyone who bothers to actually read their mail on it) now knows things I’d rather they didn’t know. Unfortunately it’s a professional list, but thankfully, without too many members. So even the “wise” can ballsup.

  3. Another possible explanation is that people have ctrl-r configured as ReplyToAll, which is what they do most often. Then they don’t think about when that’s not appropriate…

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