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Fun with Mailing Lists

By Brian | September 23, 2005 | Share on Facebook

Here’s a familiar phenomenon:

Step 1:
Someone sends a question to an e-mail mailing list containing thousands of people. But they’ve got the wrong list.

Step 2:
People see an e-mail in their box that isn’t addressed to them (just to the mailing list) and reply to all, saying “Why did I get this e-mail?”

Step 3:
More people see the “Why did I get this e-mail?” mails, and reply to all with “Me too” messages.

Step 4:
Still more people (typically the ones who know how mailing lists work) start replying to all with messages that say “Please stop replying to all – this is a mailing list.”

Step 5:
People read these warnings and reply (to all) with “Why did I get this e-mail?”

Go to Step 2 and repeat

This happened at work yesterday. The initial e-mail went to a list with around 2,000 people on it. Then came 18 e-mails saying “Why did I get this.” Then came 22 e-mails saying “Me too.” That was followed by 34 messages saying “Please stop replying to all.” In total, 64 e-mails hit my box in the space of 17 minutes.

As far as I know, this process doesn’t have a name. Right now, I going with “mailing list mushroom cloud,” as in “I was worried when I had 74 unread e-mails this morning, but it turned out it was just a mailing list mushroom cloud.”

Suggestions, anyone?

Topics: Tech Talk | 2 Comments »

2 Responses to “Fun with Mailing Lists”

  1. Mike Starr says at September 26th, 2005 at 1:35 pm :
    Maybe “lysteria” … as in “list”+”hysteria”, plus the convenient bacterial connotation, reinforcing the need for treatment, perhaps quarantine or execution when serious

    Other forms: lysterical, lysteriosis

  2. Jeff Porten says at October 27th, 2005 at 6:08 am :


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