So, a while back (some of you may remember), disaster struck over at NYU. An innocent, unimportant email from the Bursar’s Office glitched into an auto-reply-all email that suddenly became a galloping firestorm of boredom, anxiety, horse-duck hypotheticals, and utter hilarity. (Incidentally, the news of the reply-all horror terrorizing New York quickly launched a similar tragedy on the Wesleying listserve.)
We at Wesleyan never suspected that this could happen to us. We were safe. How little we knew.
Several days ago, the Athletics Department at Wesleyan sent a holiday greetings email slash donation request email to a massive listserve of Wesleyan Athletics alumni, which was horrifying enough on its own (you can read it here).
Like at NYU, the first few replies were innocent:
Ditto, Mike. And thanks for given me the opportunity to rag my urologist, a Williams grad, about the Little Three Football title. Never been so eager for a visit my urologist!
Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
You may have seen this post about some email shenanigans that took place recently at some obscure, little-known educational institution down the coast from us. You may have read an article or two on the incident. But did you know that it sparked a vigorous debate amongst the Wesleying staff?
The conversation is below. Please keep in mind that reading this is a complete and total waste of time, unless you have really poignant opinions on duck-sized horses or horse-sized ducks.
Zach: This is pretty much really hilarious and if any of you want to do a short post on it you should. That is all.
BZOD: Whoever takes this should include a link to the original article too (link); maybe mention that the dude spells “queue” wrong in the email apology (que is, in fact, the Spanish word for “that”); and probably get a comment from real live NYU students. They made a party out of it too: link. Also this quote: “Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?”
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.