There was an e-mail catastrophe on Tuesday, Oct. 11 to a large group of UWM students. Jim Hill, the Associate Vice Chancellor, sent out an email targeting UWM student employees, discussing that students need to take the necessary action to complete Title IX training.
Students were instructed to complete the Title IX training promptly and to email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org if they had any questions. Students were not asked to reply to the email that was sent out, and it was a mere reminder that their Title IX training was past due. However, the seemingly harmless email created quite the confusion and upheaval.
Students began to reply to the email, some stating they had already completed the Title IX training previously or that they were no longer working as a UWM student employee. Others stated they no longer attended UWM or that they graduated in May. Email after email began to fill students’ inboxes, due to students making the mistake of hitting the “reply all” button instead of replying to the original sender.
People began to get irritated by their inboxes getting flooded with emails. Students then started to reply with emails suggesting to stop replying to everyone involved in the email and only to reply to the sender directly.
One email stated, “Please stop replying all. If you have a message to the original sender, you can reply to them directly,” and another claimed, “If you are replying to this email. Do not reply all. It gets very annoying.” Many other responders shared the same concern.
UWM student Rebecca Russell thought the whole situation was ridiculous. “It was a very disorganized thread and even though people were annoyed about receiving these mass replies, they were also contributing to the annoyance because they were also hitting ‘reply all.’ It was funny and obnoxious at the same time that these people were trying to stop the mass responses and we’re continuing to send them themselves.”
“It ended up being really funny to me, because it was ironic that the majority of the emails ended up being people complaining about others hitting ‘Reply All.’ So they themselves were hitting ‘Reply All’ and contributing to the chaos,” said email recipient Kaitlin Erickson.
Additionally, Kyrstin Kuehl was at first displeased by all of the responses to the emails, but then became amused by them.
“It’s sad how we’re in college and people still don’t know how to use email properly. It was pretty annoying until after the fiftieth reply, I just started laughing.”
After a while, responses began to become comical. A student suggested that all of the emails were a form of harassment. One student asked how everyone’s day was going, in which the student, and everyone else, received responses to that specific question. An email read, “I think there should be mandatory email training over Title IX.” One student sent the link via Office Support on how to not “reply all” to an email. Furthermore, someone sent, “Who do the Packers play this weekend?”
One of the most favorable emails sent was the Wikipedia definition on what an email storm is. The email read, “An email storm (also called a Reply Allpocalypse) is a sudden spike of Reply All messages on an email distribution list, usually caused by a controversial or misdirected message. Such storms start when multiple members of the distribution list reply to the entire list at the same time in response to the instigating message. Other members soon respond, usually adding vitriol to the discussion, asking to be removed from the list, or pleading for the cessation of messages. If enough members reply to these unwanted messages this triggers a chain reaction of email messages.”
In total, 101 replies were sent in the email thread. Each student on the mailing list for the Title IX email received each reply. While it disrupted most of the students’ days who received the emails, many students were entertained by the irony of the responses. A camaraderie appeared to form among students who fell victim to this “Reply Allpocalypse”