removing the reply-all button

News has passed around about a BusinessWeek article talking about getting rid of the “Reply-All” button in email programs. I think this is an interesting discussion topic.

Is the problem a reply-all button, or the behavior of workers to pass along stupid information? Is that a failure of management to control it and teach employees? Should it even be a problem to worry about? Also, is there *any* value in the reply-to-all function? I know I use it for work-related stuff.

A user is mentioned in the article about being proud of having a verbal agreement not to use the reply-all button, but is that a passive-aggressive way to blame a silly function on a human problem of passing on garbage? Shouldn’t you have talked to your employees and made a gentleman’s agreement to not abuse the email system with garbage? Be direct on the problem, don’t sidestep it and blame the reply-all button. Be smart and look at your damn recipient list. There is plenty of time between when “reply-all” is pressed and the moment the email is completed and then sent.

You can probably fix a lot of it by reporting those emails and creating custom rules to deny certain key phrases, but that’s a lot of custom work for your mail admin(s).

Is it a corporate culture thing? Would there be less spam if users knew that their managers could read their email?

Is the problem email in general? Email sometimes feels so outdated, but it’s still a great “push” mechanism for information. Today’s socially collaborative settings can vote down (or just not vote up) such unnecessary garbage, but then we get into all sorts of popularity issues with long-term usage. And this whole “like” but no “dislike” thing makes us all just too timid. (Or conversely, only leaves childish YouTube comments as the non-timid crowd.)

Anyway, it’s an interesting discussion point. Automation, which is ultimately what “reply-all” is (makes it faster to input all the participants in an ongoing discussion), makes needed actions easier, but also makes boneheaded actions easier.