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The 2016 #WADOReplyallpocolypse

Let’s have some fun!

Every quarter, I get an email from the Washington Department of Revenue with updates on local tax rates. (The joys of being a business!) It would appear though, that someone changed a setting on the most-recent email to allow replies to the entire list of people getting these updates. A 35 message email storm—also known as a “reply allpocolypse”—ensued, much to my amusement. I felt this event warranted a hashtag so I gave it one: #WADOReplyallpocalypse. (Never mind that I think I was the only person to use it.)

Adding to fun was this New York Times article posted the very same day!

So let’s get down to highlights from what I found to be a very amusing email thread. I’ve removed names and emails where needed for privacy. Excerpt where noted these are the entire emails when quoted.

Excerpts from the #WADOReplyallpocalypse

The first reply that started it all was from Rick:

Take me off the email list the company is closed.

That seemed like a good idea. Some else joined in!

I’m not sure why I’m on this email … just letting whoever sent it know.

The trolls arrived in message #3:

Good to know, Rick.

SMH.

But people still did not understand. Message #4:

Yes, me also – moved out of WA State five years ago

Reply #5:

Good luck, Rick. I’ve been asking to get off this list for years.

{Person’s Name}
NOT the owner of any business.

Rick and others are trapped in this email storm!

This was followed by some kind of bizarre autoreponder. (Lucky for me, I was in the market for 4x10G ports in Amsterdam…)

Dear Rick,

Thanks for reaching out.

We launched additional capacity in multiple DCs. Our network is wide open for any volume you send us. On the IP side, there are 4x10G ports available in Amsterdam, massively underutilized.

DID Logic is a Telecity client directly with our own floor space and fiber x-connects into the AMS04 MMR fabric.

{Four more paragraphs of this nonsense.}

The confusion began in the 8th reply:

Who are you? and why are you on my email? Rick does not work for this company.

It took 12 reply’s before anyone pointed out the problem:

More importantly, why is this an open reply? We shouldn’t all get everyone’s reply…

Message 13 brought the ALL CAPS RAGE:

DO NOT REPLY ALL. This is an email list to the Washington state DOR.

Messages 14-24 were all theme and variations on confusion and instructions to unsubscribe. The people being “helpful” weren’t even reading the email messages since they kept repeating each other. One of my favorites toward the end of that string:

Dudes, just click the Un-subscribe link at the bottom, rather than replying to everyone in the list (like I am now with this public service announcement).

The 25th email to the thread was a real gem and easily my favorite:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

Toward the end of the storm in email #32 people were still giving Rick a hard time:

SOMEONE (Rick) Apparently did a reply all.

Very subtle…

Then unfortunately people were referred to Ashley. Poor, Ashley:

You are all replying to the mailing list from Washington, not the sender. The original sender is the email address below. Please send your requests for removal to Ashley.

And with a whimper, it all ended:

Not sure why I am either….


Epilogue

That night, DOR sent out a mea culpa that included the following:

From our investigation, it appears a configuration setting was changed in our email distribution list software. This allowed anyone to hit “reply” or “reply all” and have their message be sent to the entire recipient list. We sincerely apologize. We are working with the vendor to ensure this does not happen again, and verifying other Revenue “listserv” distribution lists are properly configured.

Our security team is actively involved in the situation and has not found any evidence of a security breach.

Collaboration