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The Daily

"Reply All" Brings Wells Fargo to Knees

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Jun 2, 2016
TrafficJamWhile the "reply all" function in email is meant to save valuable time and keep multiple people in the loop, many an office worker can confirm that sometimes it causes more problems than it solves. Witness the latest example: an internal email sent to 90,000 Wells Fargo employees brought the bank's systems to a grinding halt as workers continually used "reply all" to respond, according to The Charlotte Observer. So many people did so, in fact, that the company's servers had a backlog of some 4 million messages to get through, snarling communications for hours. This had implications beyond an annoyingly full inbox, though: The Observer said that it also prevented certain transactions from clearing for more than an hour. Though the mess was eventually cleared up, it served as a potent illustration of why it's a bad idea to use "reply all" to respond to all-staff emails. 

This is not the first time "reply all" has menaced a large organization. An e-mail storm last year hit the Reuters news agency, where an email sent to 33,000 sparked off an endless chain of comments that, like at Wells Fargo, slowed down emails and caused much annoyance. Apparently it all started with a guy named Vince

Please, please, please learn from these mistakes. Before you hit "reply all" think very long and hard about whether every single person on this email chain needs to see what you're about to send. Your office mates will thank you, especially, we're sure, the IT staff.