Two days ago, the Bursar’s office at NYU sent out a typical administrative email to all 39,979 students at NYU entitled “Opting Out of the Paper Version of Your 1098T.” Shortly after, NYU sophomore Max Wiseltier, attempting to forward the email to his mom, accidentally clicked Reply All. He quickly realized his error and apologized:
Of course, by this point, the metaphorical door had been opened. In fact, it had been wrenched off the hinges and thrown across the room by the 39,979 people who realized that, with the click of a button, they could email 39,978 other people—NYU’s total student body. For scale, that’s only about 7,500 less than the entire population of Middletown, which was 47,481 in the 2010 census (and way more than the population of my typical Connecticut suburban hometown, which is 23,511).
How did this happen? NYU Local’s tech editor, Ben Zweig, explains the problem:
“NYU uses something called E-Mail Direct for most mass emails. That system is meant for one-way emailing.” E-Mail Direct does not allow for reply-alls, therefore you cannot respond to most mass emails. Several NYU departments still rely on the older, discussion-based ListManager program, however. ListManager also sends mass emails, but allows discussions (in the form of reply-alls), unless the settings are adjusted, disabling group discussions and only permitting emails from admins.