The inability of some Pasco County teachers to "not reply to sender" after receiving a blast email captured the attention of school district leaders, who were amused at the responses but none too pleased at having their in-boxes — not to mention the district's email servers — inundated a week ago with replies to a message about ESOL certification.
On Tuesday, assistant superintendent Kevin Shibley sent instructions to all administrators on how to properly use email distribution lists, to avoid a repeat of Aug. 9. (See our post, What not to do when the e-mail says, "Do not reply to sender," if you missed the details on the activity that had the district abuzz.)
"In light of last week's situation regarding the ESOL Certification e-mail chain, and the "Reply-All" issues we experienced after the message went out," Shibley opened, "I wanted to take a moment to establish the expectations around the use of the Office 365 distribution lists and any other mass-email services that may be in use."
First, he suggested, when using a large delivery list, put it in the blind copies circulating (BCC) field, NOT the "To" or "CC" field. That should eliminate the reply-all problem, he wrote.
Second, be sure to include the names of the target groups, such as "all instructional staff," in the text of the email, so everyone knows who else would have received the email. That would likely prevent mass forwarding.
Finally, include the name and contact information of the person who is available to field questions and concerns about the email content. That might end the need to reply to the sender, who might not be the person in the know but just helping out.
It didn't appear that Shibley received too many reply-all responses. Perhaps staff were too busy chuckling at this YouTube video on emailing by education public speaker Gerry Brooks, which rapidly made the rounds after the reply-all saga. In a southern twang, Brooks suggests that reply-all might be fine when setting up a goodie table. "You certainly don't want nine pans of baked beans and no tater salad," he said.
Another appropriate use of reply-all? "I can't think of one. Quit using reply-all."