Sunday, August 27, 2006

Orin Kerr on the group dynamics of mass unsolicited e-mail lists:
Every once in a while, some random person sends out an unsolicited e-mail to an assembled distribution list of anywhere from 50 to 200 addresses found on the web trying to either settle some personal score or bring attention to a cause.

In my experience as an occassional recipient of such e-mails - whether because of blogging or the day job, or some other random connection - the dynamic usually goes something like this:
1. A few people will respond with a "reply all" suggesting to the sender that it's really not nice to spam so many people like that, and/or that the message of the e-mail is wrong or offensive.

2. One or two people will respond with a "reply all" asking everyone else to "please take me off this distribution list."

3. A bunch of people will then chime in with "reply all" responses urging recipients to "STOP REPLYING WITH 'REPLY ALL' AS NO ONE CARES, AND HITTING 'REPLY ALL' IS REALLY ANNOYING!!!."

4. After the flurry of "reply all"s condeming the use of "reply all"s, some time will pass, and then someone on the list will have to follow up "reply all" with some kind of comment on the substantive message of the initial e-mail.

5. The comment will draw one last "reply all" condemning the use of "reply all"s, and then the round is over.
It's the folks who participate in Step 3 without a hint of irony that I find the most amusing. But then the whole thing is sort of funny, I guess.