Proper Use of Reply to All

How ironic that those who complain about others use of Reply to All also seem to be those who do not respect the privacy of their contacts by using the BCc: field!

If you can’t use the BCc: field or don’t know where it is, that is no reason or excuse to include all your contact addresses visibly in the To: field. If you cannot use BCc: for whatever reason then you need to send separate e-mails to each of your contacts in lieu of exposing their addresses to those they don’t know (if it isn’t worth your effort; the e-mail is not worth sending).

You only use Reply to All when you are confident that “all” will be interested in the content of your response or need to be aware of what your reply contains. Because a list of names are in the To: field does not indicate their interest in your commentary or reply.

You do not use Reply to All to CYA, e-tattle, scold, correct or send nasty comments back to the Sender because you may not appreciate their actions when including you in their mailings. By acting in this manner you are no better than the person you feel the need to berate in front of their contacts. Show some decorum and only e-mail the Sender when you are not happy with either the content of their e-mail or their actions.


If you are the Sender, if you e-mail a bunch of folks who do know each other and include their names visibly in the To: or Cc: field, do not be surprised if those who receive your message view that as an invitation to communication or have a discussion with all involved. You cannot have all those e-mails displayed and then get upset if those you send to hit Reply to All.

Reply to All abuse and misunderstandings can be avoided easily:

  1. Senders: If you don’t want those you e-mail to use Reply to All, then use the BCc: field to list all your contact’s addresses so they are not seen by those who receive your message. If you for some reason can’t use BCc: or find it in your e-mail program or application, you then need to make the effort to send separate e-mails to each of your contacts. Then, if one of those folks hits Reply to All — it only goes to you.
  2. Recipients: You don’t Reply to All if you do not know “all.” Reply to the Sender only. And, please use your discretion as to what you feel everyone needs or wants to know. If you are not sure, only reply to the Sender.

Easy!