Reply all threads: The worst tech nightmare: Talking Tech podcast – USA TODAY

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Hey there listeners, it’s Brett Molina. Welcome back to Talking Tech. Of course, tech is useful when you’re in the workplace, when you’re at home, wherever it is you may be.

But there are a lot of reasons it can annoy you while you’re working remotely. Zoom decides to stop working right, because you’re in the middle of a meeting.

And so, what better time for Zoom to stop working than in the middle of an important meeting?

You might be really busy with a project, and all of a sudden your computer decides, “Now’s the right time to update.”

I have one, I think, it’s the worst of all. It is the dreaded reply-all thread. I write about this in the weekly Talking Tech newsletter.

You can subscribe to it at You can also read it if you want a taste of the newsletter, at So what I have done in…

I don’t know if I want to call a tribute or an honor to the reply-all thread. Because it’s really nothing to be excited about.

I basically write about this nightmare that can happen with your inbox. I call it the five stages of reply-all angst. I feel like everyone can relate to this.

And I feel like everyone has had this experience in their life at work, where you get a bulk email sent. And either the person sending it didn’t hide the recipients, so you see a zillion emails.

Or it gets sent out, and for some reason, one person decides, “I’m going to reply all to this.” And just say whatever it is that needs to be said. So these are my five stages of reply-all angst.

Stage one is dread. Because the second you see someone respond to a bulk email with a reply-all, it’s like you’re on a roller coaster.

And you’re about to get the top of the roller coaster and there’s this anticipation, like you’re waiting for the drop. But not in a good way.

At least with a roller coaster, it’s exciting and your adrenaline’s going, and there’s something really fun and it’s scary happening.

This is all the opposite of that. It’s not fun. You’re just sitting there hoping nobody else starts replying-all to this message, because then it’s never going to end, and then your inbox is going to be a disaster.

Usually, it’s something like, “Someone didn’t want the email.” So they might reply, “Please remove me from this thread.”

Or they’ll put something else out. And you just hope, hope, hope that nobody answers. But sure enough, that’s what happens.

Stage two for me, is bewilderment. Because obviously, one of the things that always jumped out to me were the people that reply-all to the message by saying, “Please don’t reply-all.” Like, “Can we not do this?”

How about just getting in touch with the person directly and saying, “Hey, can you not reply-all please? Because now everybody’s getting these messages and you’ve set everybody’s inbox on fire.”

Stage three is anger. It’s super frustrating. I remember one a few months ago, where the sender had posted the emails of all the recipients. They didn’t…

How there’s usually, you copy people on an email and you can hide their email addresses. They didn’t do that.

So then everyone started replying-all to say, “Hello.” And things like that. And it just spiraled. One point, my inbox, half of the messages for that day were from this thread. And it’s just frustrating.

I want no part of it. And you’re just losing your mind because it’s like, “Why are people still responding to this, knowing that their email is a complete mess too?”

Stage four is apathy. It’s this brief moment where you think, “Okay. I’m just going to keep deleting the message as they come through and I’ll be fine.”

The problem is, people keep going, and going, and going, and it doesn’t stop. You’re trying to find important emails, and this reply-all thread is just overtaking everything. It’s like a blob. It’s like a horror movie. It’s terrible.

Stage five. And this is the most important part, because if you ever get caught in one of these, honestly, this is the first thing you should do immediately.

The second you sense it, many email clients like Outlook have filters and rules, where what you can do is, if you see the subject line; you know what the subject line is for this reply-all thread, you can set it up so that it delivers it right to your deleted email folder.

You never have to see it, you never have to look at it. Your email is saved. It’s awesome. I have to say, out of all the things related to tech that annoy me, this is at the top of the list.

I cannot stand reply-all threads. They’re the worst. I go nuts when I see it. But listeners, I want to hear from you. What are some of your worst reply-all experiences?

If we get enough responses back, I’ll share some of them on a future Talking Tech episode. Because I’d love to hear them. It’s maddening.

Let me know on Twitter. I’m @brettmolina23. Also, if you have any comments, questions, show ideas, let me know those too.

Please don’t forget to subscribe and rate us or leave a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, anywhere you get your podcasts.

And don’t forget, if you want to get the Talking Tech newsletter, go to It’s out every Thursday.

You’ve been listening to Talking Tech. We’ll be back tomorrow with another quick hit from the world of tech.