Email Pain Point Solved by Social Network

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

Someone sends an email to a distribution list. Someone replies to all, and people start asking for removal, also replying to all. Snarky comments ensue. Inbox is stuffed with replies to all.

You know the drill.

So, yesterday morning, someone sent an innocuous request to a sales distribution list, asking a very common question, i.e. who manages so-and-so account. What followed was one of the nuttiest mail storms I’ve seen in a long time.

A day and what seems like 200 messages later, it’s finally over, or someone has pulled the plug. This one was different in a couple ways. First, because we use a self-service mail list system, the people asking to be removed were met with the usual responses on how to do that themselves.

However, these people didn’t show as belonging to the lists that were mailed, so they couldn’t remove themselves. Bummer. Oh, and among the many message was one from one of the top executives in the company, asking to stop the insanity.

That didn’t work, and the storm went around the world and back to where it started in the Pacific timezone. There were usual annoyed replies (to all, natch) and the intelligence tests (again, sent to all), along with a nice shouting paragraph of an email.

All this reminded me of a singular pain point we had hoped to address with Connect, i.e. search plus complete profiles make these requests moot.

So, if I manage a certain account, all I need to do is add that to my profile in Connect, and anyone who searches for that account name can find me, without spamming the universe.

This use case applies to any size business, and it’s one of many ways a social network can be used for business.

Now for the bad news. The adoption curve hasn’t caught up yet, making this a partial solution. Add to that the path of least resistance problem that leads people to use email as a crutch to find information when they’re strapped for time.

I don’t want to focus on the negatives because this way of sharing information within a company, i.e. by index, rather than query, is the future. In five years, this type of spam should be the subject of wayback jokes.

What do you think? Were you privy to this spam thread? Personally, I found it funny (not ha-ha, but interesting), and I’m always amazed at the irony of these things.

Find the comments and share your thoughts.




  1. This is pretty common on facebook for me, i wish there was a way to unsubscribe from those email conversations entirely. But you know what, it's sort of fun to yell at a captive audience.

  2. I wouldn't know 🙂 I just lulz in the background. I have noticed that on FB too, and it's a bit weird. FB was supposed to kill email, but now it's a nice reflection of why email is dying anytime soon.

  3. We had a nasty one of those mailing list tempests erupt a little over a year ago. Since we were a remote office, our local IT staff implemented a filter to keep the offending mailing list messages out.

    Part of this is a simple lack of understanding about the mechanics of mailing lists – anything that you send to the list is automatically sent to everyone on the list, even if it's a “please remove me from the list” message. One possible solution is to include unsubscribe information in the footer of every message sent by the list.

  4. Yep. I endured it. I can only hope most of the people were “new” to the company? I think my total inbox tally for that (I set up a filter to a temp folder) came in around 350 messages. The funny thing here for me is I am not in sales, it was a sales list, but I assume I am on some list that is on some list that….

    It kinda feels like people at a concert all standing up and yelling for everyone else to sit down.

  5. You reminded me. Another thing that set this eruption off from your average one is that people actually sent how to create a filter emails. Classic.

    I agree there seems to be a gap about the mechanics of a mailing list, but I also think that due to acquisitions, a lot of people don't really know how to remove themselves. That excuse only worked after the first one or two “you have to remove yourself” emails

  6. Ha, good analogy. I especially enjoyed the paragraph of all caps and the ones about salary increases. Very clever stuff. Annoyance brings out the creativity in some people.

    I agree that the remove mes were spurred by people new to the company, but after a couple, that excuse didn't wash. Good stuff all around, made the day go faster for me.

  7. I was one of the spam victims as well. I am also not in sales, so I am not sure how I got on the dlist in the first place.

    Email filters saved me. I stopped counting at 280 emails that ended up in my trash folder. This little spam-a-thon did inspire me to add a post to my connect group on how to use filters.

    I also have high hopes that as more people become Connect savvy we will have fewer abuses of dlists, even though they do provide a little comic relief. I specifically liked the emailer who felt obligated to include a Dilbert cartoon in their reply.

  8. I missed the Dilbert one. It's going to take time to change people's default behavior, but I hope soon that these spam storms will be dinosaurs.

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