back to article Email reply-all cat-nado drenches Cisco inboxes with pics, memes

Cisco staff endured another storm of internal email on Wednesday after a worker fired off a reply-all message – and hundreds more piled in with cat pictures, memes and more. The cyber-blizzard reminded El Reg of Cisco's great e-tempests of September and October 2013 – what is it with this time of the year, we wonder. In this …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Usually it is reply all to a "reports of Exec X" mailing list which are autogenerated and in Cisco not set to disallow replies even if the number exceeds X. Once in a blue moon, after a major incident (like this one) IT goes around and sets all of them to moderated or no-reply, however the generation is untouched. So when you have a major reorg (like now) you get a set of new lists/execs which are no longer filtered.

    I always find it amusing when people reply all to that with "unsubscribe" to these too.

    Yeah, sure, go into the HR self service portal, find the link which says resignation and fill it in.

    Anon for obvious reasons.

    1. Just An Engineer

      Re: Usually

      It is even funnier when they hit reply all and tell everyone "do not reply all".

  2. Rudy

    Many years ago, I caused one of these storms!

    I was working at the time for the Irish branch (small) of an extremely large US company (tens of thousands of employees). The boss of the Irish branch asked me to send all the Irish employees a notification that he was leaving the company.

    I, being an idiot, sent it to everyone in the US parent company too.

    I was still getting replies when I left two years later.


    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "I was still getting replies when I left two years later."

      Presumably from people whose secretaries had just printed it out for them to read.

    2. Notas Badoff

      Actually I was wondering if the email system was still trying to process the backlog...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "We work @ a tech company for the love of god! "

    Just because people work for a tech company doesn't mean they have any real understanding of how the IT systems work - no matter what their role. They have possibly only had an application training course that consisted of "follow me" keystroke tuition for the standard actions.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Just because people work for a tech company doesn't mean they have any real understanding of how the IT systems work"

      You're saying that as if you think it's to be expected.

    2. Bill M

      I am banned from filling the printer with paper

      My profession is techie database / BI stuff, so I am a "techie" per se.

      However I am banned from filling the printer with paper, as the last I attempted to do that it took multiple engineers over a week to get it working again. Thank the Lord I have never attempted anything as complicated as changing the toner.

    3. razorfishsl

      What's this "training" word I keep coming across on this site.......

  4. Roger Greenwood

    Nice to see . . .

    . . the phrase "Ugandan affair" in a article.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It surely cannot be beyond the wit of man ...

    ... to configure a mail system to bounce all mail with (groups that resolve to) more than N names in the TO or CC fields. In the very unlikely event that every recipient needed to know who every other recipient was, senders could always copy the BCC field and paste it into a section titled Distribution List within the email itself.

  6. Slacker@work

    every time someone hits "reply all" a kitten dies.

    That women deserves an award for for the best quote of the week so far

    1. Anonymous Blowhard

      Re: every time someone hits "reply all" a kitten dies.

      Would that be using a "Kitten Stomper"?

      Harry and Paul Dragons Den Kitten Stomper

    2. Bill M

      Re: every time someone hits "reply all" a kitten dies.

      She also owes me a new keyboard.

  7. chivo243 Silver badge

    even worse

    We had a reply all to multiple lists storm and multiple people with out of office notices. Talk about a lot of mail ping ponging about!

    My inbox had 30,000 messages when I returned to work. I was only on one list too!

  8. Hal9771

    Cisco lives up to expectations, again.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hammer to crack this nut

    Whilst I was at working for a large consumer goods manufacturing firm after a similar incident (but not on the same scale) the CTO mandated that the "Reply all" button be removed from every email client (Lotus Notes) in the organisation.

    And so it was done.

    Why they didn't think of correctly ACLing who could post to a global disti list I don't know.

    We then had to copy/paste recipients when an email reply had to go to more than one person. Must be wasting hundreds of hours every week across the organisation. Sigh.

  10. jake Silver badge


    Does nobody understand how to configure Sendmail anymore?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gawd/ess.

      No, they've all retired.

      1. launcap Silver badge

        Re: Gawd/ess.

        > No, they've all retired.

        Oi! Not yet I haven't! Still (sadly) about 15 years away :-(

        And I admit I haven't done much sendmail herding since I stopped poking at Sun machines about 13 years ago.. and I discovered qmail.

    2. TheVogon

      Re: Gawd/ess.

      "Does nobody understand how to configure Sendmail anymore?"

      Pretty much no company uses Sendmail. Exchange / Office 365 is used by most and Lotus Notes by a few.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My ex-employer in Reading UK had these all the time!

    Being a company that prided itself on anti-virus, their email system WAS a virus. Reply-all and idiots emailing the entire site with stupid offers weekly.

    It made for a lot of co-workers being filtered in my Junk folder... :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we used to get into issue with different help desks that used to send automatic messages back saying their office is now closed, then our desk had auto replies configured to reply when we were closed. you'd come int he next morning to thousands of emails. all because someone never selected don't reply to auto messages.......

  13. The Vociferous Time Waster

    It worked in my favour

    I sent out a request for sponsorship for an event I was doing and selected @companyname (which happened to begin with a B) rather than @bracknell and it went to everyone. Fortunately an encouraging reply-all or two from some senior people in the US meant that all the brown nosers over there were piling their dollars on to my justgiving page as publicly as they could and it filtered down to their reports and so forth.

    Made a few quid for the charity that mistake did. Mates couldn't believe it was a genuine mistake and assumed I had balls like pumpkins.

  14. Phil Kingston

    Yet another example of why the No Reply All Outlook Add-In should be a standard feature:

    At least then message senders would have a fighting chance of preventing such situations.

  15. 2Nick3

    Ignore is (almost) your friend.

    Hence the "Ignore" feature in Outlook, which works pretty well. At least until you get someone with the brilliant idea to change the subject line, which sometimes confuses Exchange, or better yet start a new email thread and copy/paste all of the recipient email addresses/groups to their new email.

  16. Ben Trabetere

    Sometimes your purpose is to be a warning to others

    Many years ago a marketing VP for a major vendor got the sack. He was a first round B-Ark candidate, so few people in our little industry shed a tear. The only useful purpose he ever served was to keep contact lists up to date for everyone in the industry - he had email addresses for nearly everyone in the industry, and his mailing lists were organized by company. He didn't understand or use BCC, so it was easy to harvest email addresses.

    One of his last acts as VP was (have someone) transfer his contacts and mailing lists to his Hotmail account.

    He would be forgotten if he hadn't landed a job with another major vendor a few months later. The day he got the job he sent an email blast to ALL of his mailing lists ... including the very personal one for his viper ex-wife and her slither of viper lawyers.

    She sent a Reply-All response congratulating him on his good fortune and hoped "this meant he would resume his alimony and child support payments." She intentionally clicked Reply-All. She was a viper.

    Monitors and keyboards were soiled, mailboxes exploded and re-exploded, and B-Arker was fired for being stupid.

    1. tony2heads

      Re: Sometimes your purpose is to be a warning to others

      hmm, Is it 'a slither of lawyers' - I thought the collective noun was 'a greed of lawyers'

      but 'slither' is better

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sometimes your purpose is to be a warning to others

        A 'seabed' of lawyers is the preferred collective noun, imho.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    For Extra Style Points ...

    ... rename a random 8Mb-10Mb file on your hard drive to "Unsubscribe Instructions" and attach that to your 'Reply All'.

    When you get the inevitable "I didn't see any instructions ..." response you can attach it again with a "Are you sure you read THIS file?" message.

    Endless fun! ;-)

  18. Bluto Nash

    Similar instance here -

    Except with the instant messaging system. I've been invited to a number of sessions where someone inadvertently hit the "active users" list prior to clicking "Send invite." As our users are scattered across the globe, it got interesting quickly as weather reports and greetings to old colleagues were sent about. These tended to run about 10-15 minutes as the traffic would swell, spike, and decline.

    Unfortunately, our system doesn't support any sort of pictures or it wold have gotten right out of hand.

  19. Alistair

    tivoli && exchange && DLs && OOO messages

    Exchange hosts configured to use tivoli to send users notifications when the mail server instance was about to go down.

    Exchange not configured to ignore DL's in the 'active user' list.

    Queue MS patching at 3 am. 5 days before christmas when about 30% of the folks are already on holidays.

    2:45 am. notification sent ....

    Poor bugger who started that one had to defer the actual patching for three weeks since the server(s) in scope were too busy delivering the sh!tstorm to shut down, and the next day started a "seasonal change freeze"

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trend Micro

    Several years ago, Trend Micro managed to sent a notification of scheduled maintenance to Interscan Messaging Security to all their customers in the Asia Pacific region by putting all the email addresses in the To field. This was just before the Easter holiday, so I had a lot of messages along the lines of "Trend are idiots, Happy Easter" from people hitting reply all from all across Asia.

    Ironic that a product designed to stop spam caused such a massive volume of mail landing in my mailbox.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All the way out, all the way back.

    "Reply all" reminds me of the turkey sheds on a farm I used to walk through, you could make a noise to startle one end of a shed and the alert would travel away until it reached the far end then back till the closest turkey was re-alerted by it's own surprise.

    Turkeys, the lot of 'em.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another one?! I was at Cisco for the last 2! Would have thought they'd have learnt by now.

  23. Steve 129

    I e-mail bombed myself once

    Many years ago I set a cron job to execute every few seconds (ironically to change my e-mail signature!!).

    For some unknown reason during the night the cron job was no longer able to execute.

    As those of you who know cron better than me will know it then sends an e-mail letting you know it failed (I know, I know, you can probably disable this feature but I had/have no clue how).

    When I came in in the morning I had thousands of e-mails from me telling me my e-mail sig changing cron task had failed to execute.

  24. razorfishsl

    Sorry... not in our company...

    the number of dimwhits who cannot tell the difference between CC & BCC for company wide announcements, is just not funny...

    and our customers don't appreciate it either.....

    1. Valarian


      What? Why are you saying it like that? --Brian

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, how DO you play pictionary with the helpdesk team?

    BBC people will understand...

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