The best responses to Slate's e-mail gaffe story.

Do things better.
April 13 2009 12:17 PM

I Admire Your Anatomy

The best responses to Slate's e-mail gaffe story.

Thanks for all the responses to my column about e-mail gaffes. Here's what I learned:

  1. 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.' "
  2. 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.
  3. Many e-mail programs allow you to disappear the "reply-all" button.
  4. "Reply-all" chains along the lines of "Free bananas in the kitchen!!!" can and definitely do bring down a company's e-mail server.
  5. 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!"
  6. Easiest way to avoid mistakes: fill in the "To" field after writing the heated/personal/jokey e-mail.
  7. Several people actually seem to have been demoted or dismissed because of disparaging comments that received an unintended public airing.
  8. 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.
  9. Old-school undo send: tearing up letters after you have written them!
  10. Avoid sending Wham! lyrics to ex-boyfriends.
  11. 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.
  12. Because of auto-complete, brothers tend to receive a lot of e-mails meant for the other brother.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.

Advertisement

And if that's not enough for you, check out College Humor's "Accidental, Life-Changing, Real Reply-Alls."

Michael Agger is an editor at The New Yorker. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

Subprime Loans Are Back

And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 22 2014 6:30 PM What Does It Mean to Be an American? Ted Cruz and Scott Brown think it’s about ideology. It’s really about culture.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 5:38 PM Apple Won't Shut Down Beats Music After All (But Will Probably Rename It)
  Life
Outward
Sept. 22 2014 4:45 PM Why Can’t the Census Count Gay Couples Accurately?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 7:43 PM Emma Watson Threatened With Nude Photo Leak for Speaking Out About Women's Equality
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 22 2014 9:17 PM Trent Reznor’s Gone Girl Soundtrack Sounds Like an Eerie, Innovative Success
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 6:27 PM Should We All Be Learning How to Type in Virtual Reality?
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 22 2014 4:34 PM Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.