The Agony and the Opportunity of the “Reply-All” Button

by Joey deVilla on August 23, 2013

The Agony

roy levin's reply-all re ballmer

Click the “reply all” screenshot to see it at full size.

The dreaded “Reply All” button claimed a victim at Microsoft today when Roy Levin, distinguished engineer at MS Research in Silicon Valley, commented in response to Steve Ballmer’s internal email announcement that he would retire sometime in the next 12 months.

Here’s the full text of his response:

Right. Maybe there’s a back story. The market likes the news, which is interesting, given that the successor isn’t known. Now the speculation shifts into high gear.

While embarrassing, it’s hardly career-ending. He could’ve said “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out, Monkey-Boy!” As Valleywag observes, it’s to Levin’s credit that he sent his reply from a Windows Phone (“Second place in the second world!”).

The Opportunity

reply all-coholism
At this stage in the game, email clients are not new things. We’ve had decades of experience with them, and we know what works, what doesn’t, and what the pitfalls are, including the dangers of “Reply All”. Many desktop clients, including Microsoft’s own Outlook, have some kind of mechanism that double-checks with you before you reply to everyone on a mass email. For some reason, this handy safety feature doesn’t seem to be built into mobile email apps. Given that an increasing portion of our email is sent while on the go, it’s high time that we made the email apps on our phones as least as “smart” as their desktop counterparts.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Steve Syfuhs August 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm

But… if he just hit reply, he’d have emailed Ballmer directly. And the message isn’t directed at him. If he meant to forward it surely there’d be extra names in the To field. Therefore it sounds like he did it on purpose.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: