Microsoft asked an important question. The replies were ingenious

There's not always an obvious way to fix a technological snafu. In this case, however, the fixes were many and clever.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

Airing the questions many care about.

Technology creates problems and opportunities, perhaps in equal measure.

Many, though, simply aren't equipped to deal with the mistakes that technology induces them to make.

A fear surely shared by almost everyone is the absent-minded, wrong-headed response to an email.

How are you supposed to say you didn't mean it? How are you supposed to fix what you've done?

I'm indebted -- as I hope you will be -- to Microsoft for airing these questions and inciting the world's ingenuity in reply.

The company's fine Twitter account posed it like this: "You just accidentally hit 'reply all' on a department-wide email. What's your next move?"

Some of its followers naturally reached for a version of "my account was hacked."

I'm not sure how wise that would be, given that companies are now used to analyzing who did the hacking, when, and how.

Yet one intrepid responder mused: "Send nsfw pics and declare your account hacked." Another even suggested you find a hacker to actually hack your account.

Oh, I'm not sure that would entirely help.

Then, however, came some more insightful -- and amusing -- suggestions.

This from Microsoft programmer Miguel de Icaza: "Engage with the constructive feedback by replying to all comments, turning pointed remarks into an opportunity to grow as an organization and do a full root cause analysis and postmortem on what brought us here with everyone on CC."

Truly ingenious. It shows the work of a committed corporate soldier, too.

Some suggested you recall your email. But that only works if no one has already read it.

Soon, Microsoft's partners began to partake. The Dell XPS account offered: "Turn on your 'Out of Office' automatic response."

The ideas kept flowing. "Format Microsoft exchange servers," suggested Aniruddha, the self-proclaimed founder of Religion 295!, 295A, and 295ER.

Many have surely experienced this problem, so the constructive suggestions flowed.

Put a one-minute -- or even two-minute -- delay on delivery of your emails, for example. One person admitted they had a six-minute delay on their Outlook. What sort of emails do they send?

Here's a thoughtful one: Calm down because replying all to one email isn't a problem unless some misguided person replies all to your reply all.

More than one person suggested sending another department-wide email asking to be removed from this mailing list. Another mused: "Reply all again with the message that it's a security test and those who reply all will need to take a mandatory security training for 2 days."

Everyone wanted to join in. Mattress Firm popped up to suggest it's familiar with this problem.

Before you wonder why I've trawled through this Twitter chain to witness people's responses, what's clear is that many feel this particular nightmare is one into which they might descend.

One Twitterer said they'd just experienced it: "Someone on Friday accidentally sent an email, with attachment to the whole company. Don't know the exact number but we are over 50k worldwide. Than watch all the ID10Ts hit reply all. Was great."

That's the strange thing about reply-all in email. Sometimes, I wonder whether it would help to have an automatic popup that said: "Are you sure you want to reply ALL?"

That would surely save many blushes and only cost a few seconds of your cogitative life.

Microsoft's Twitter account is far more freewheeling and entertaining than, say, Apple's. Apple's Twitter account has 6.6 million followers. They've been desperately waiting for Apple to emit its first corporate tweet since 2011.

How can one not admire Microsoft's attempt to get its followers to help each other deal with a moment of crisis?

Then again, quite a few people suggested that the reply-all sender simply resign.

What sort of companies do they work for?

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