Email Riot

Have you ever heard of an¬†email riot? I could only find one genuine use of it online. Nevertheless, let me explain to you what it means. For those with little time –

An email riot occurs when one mob of users tries to rush out of an administered mailing list while another mob wants to keep in on an interesting conversation, while no administrators are actually listening to their requests. The bigger the maling list, the more dangerous the riot becomes.

I just witnessed one and am completely bewildered that people scantly understand mail technology or protocol in this day and age. The riot started when I sent an email to a scarcely used, but a large mailing list. Of course, some people wrote to me “WAY TO GO MAN” and some others pleaded that I stop the impending mobs. But I knew nothing would work better than to not respond to any of the hundreds of messages that were going to follow.

Blackberry and PDA users were trying to rush out the door asking someone to “PLEASE REMOVE ME” from this mailing list. Others were pleading to keep the thread alive for the reach it afforded. Yet others were simply saying “Do what you want but I want to get more messages on this topic” All the while few realized that their messages were being sent to countless people as they chose to “Reply to All”.

I guess people are so used to engaging in CYA email discussions that they tend to remove the Reply button from their tool bar in favor of the almighty “Reply to All”. Not only that, they forget that no one on the administered mailing list is actually reading their messages. Its almost like a riot-prone area which has no government. No one pays attention to “Help me” or “Save my life”.

Then there were people offering advice to add an email filter to keep the rogue email out of their in boxes. And there were others shouting at the former to keep their mouth shut to reduce the email traffic, all the while adding their own through the “Reply to All”. The most amusing emails were ones asking everyone to stop responding to the rioters while heaping more pain to the entire mailing list:

THERE IS NO ONE WHO WILL “REMOVE” OR “UNSUBSCRIBE” YOU FROM THE … EMAILS.
SO PLEASE DO NOT REQUEST THAT!!

THINK BEFORE YOU SEND:
THIS THREAD DIES OFF ONLY IF YOU JUST STOP REPLYING TO IT.

Yes, it’s ironical that I am sending a message for this purpose. I’m sorry.

How long did it go on? Well it started on a Friday evening, and is still going on on a Monday morning, albeit the traffic is about one every hour.

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