Thanks for all the responses to my column about e-mail gaffes. Here's what I learned:
- The most common misdirected e-mail scenario: "Received an e-mail from friend A. It really pissed me off. I forwarded to friend B with snarky comments. Except I didn't hit 'forward.' I had hit 'reply.' "
- If you do send an embarrassing e-mail to everyone, sending a follow-up e-mail begging everyone not to read it doesn't work.
- Many e-mail programs allow you to disappear the "reply-all" button.
- "Reply-all" chains along the lines of "Free bananas in the kitchen!!!" can and definitely do bring down a company's e-mail server.
- This problem is compounded when "helpful" people send out "reply-all" messages that say: "Don't reply-all! It will crash the e-mail server!"
- Easiest way to avoid mistakes: fill in the "To" field after writing the heated/personal/jokey e-mail.
- Several people actually seem to have been demoted or dismissed because of disparaging comments that received an unintended public airing.
- If you are sending around Excel files listing the employees you intend to lay off, or a detailed description of what you intend to do to your boyfriend when he arrives home that evening, be sure to triple-check the "To" field.
- Old-school undo send: tearing up letters after you have written them!
- Avoid sending Wham! lyrics to ex-boyfriends.
- If you get an e-mail from a Mr. Penis about a quote for fixing a "stiffener" on a PC chassis, it's best just to laugh quietly to yourself.
- Because of auto-complete, brothers tend to receive a lot of e-mails meant for the other brother.
- Text messaging and IMs are an even bigger problem than e-mail. They are more rapid-fire, plus they seem to encourage the strange compulsion to send the message to the person you are slagging.
- Sometimes a "reply-all" gaffe has unintended benefits, such as getting the guy in the office who wears too much hair gel to lay off the stuff a bit.
- Finally, if you admire certain features of someone's anatomy, don't put it in writing, just in case you send the e-mail to everyone in your department.
And if that's not enough for you, check out College Humor's "Accidental, Life-Changing, Real Reply-Alls."
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