Friday, April 23, 2004

Stopping occupational spam

KC’s Prevent Reply All/Forward in mail to other Outlook users.
Now when the people you sent the mail to open it, the “Reply All” and “Forward” buttons will not be available on the toolbar. Similarly, the keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+F will not work.
Our corporation often ends up falling into the same email list pit of dispair Joshua describes. This simple change to Outlook sounds like a good one.
[Steven’s Tech Notebook]

Disabling expected functionality is counter-intuitive, and is likely to cause more support headaches in large corporations than it solves. I can just imagine the countless calls to the help desk: “Outlook isn’t working!” “What do you mean, ‘Outlook isn’t working’?” “I can’t reply.” “Why can’t you reply?” And so on… until someone finally figures out that somewhere along the line, someone disabled standard functions within Outlook.

Ross refers to this as occupational spam — and I think as long as e-mail remains the primary medium in which groups attempt to collaborate, it’s with us to stay. Disabling ‘reply all’ will cut off conversations that should be happening (albeit in a medium more suited to the need) — and frustrate users’ efforts at getting work done.

One of the simplest yet most powerful features of a Socialtext Workspace is that you can cc: the Workspace (all Workspaces have a unique e-mail address). All conversations are then archived in the Workspace — and since Workspace participants are notified about new content (via e-mail, RSS or both), conversations can still flourish while ultimately reducing the load on your inbox. Seems a better solution than altering the user’s operating environment.


  1. Re: Please Stop Replying to All

    KC's Prevent Reply All/Forward in mail to other Outlook users .

  2. Hey Rick. There are a lot of firms that suffer from this, and a common solution is to simply hijack the "reply all" button and prompt the user with "Are you sure you want to reply to everyone?" It is relatively easy to do with a COM Add-in, unobtrusive, and maintains all expected functionality. (KC posted that as a IRM solution, not as a way to stop what you are calling occupational spam.)