It started with an innocent email. And then it snowballed into a full-on email pileup.
Maria Peterson, a deputy director at Utah’s Department of Corrections, last Friday sent an email trying to invite about 80 of her colleagues to the annual holiday potluck. But because of a technical error with the listserv, the message was sent to more than 22,000 people.
According to the New York Times, the email group Peterson was trying to use by mistake included some variation of “firstname.lastname@example.org,” which meant that nearly every government employee in the state received an invitation to the event. This was not as intended.
While most people would prefer to ignore these mess-ups, some couldn’t resist the chance to reply to tens of thousands of others. Over the course of minutes came an onslaught of replies–either playing along with the joke that they were going to the small gathering or ironically imploring others to stop responding. Peterson told the Times that this technical error caused her team to “flip out.”
Even the lieutenant governor was included:
This is real and it’s an emergency. Started out as a potluck and $5 white elephant gift exchange in one department and someone accidentally cc’d every state employee. I fear this will never end. https://t.co/fL1NBOlsZW
— Spencer Cox (@SpencerJCox) December 7, 2018
It’s true that this can happen to anyone. In fact, we’ve written an entire guide about what to do when you mistakenly hit “reply all.” But despite its universality, it’s still quite a nuisance to see dozens–if not hundreds–of emails piling up, all with probably some iteration of the same joke.
This Utah reply-all-pocalypse was reportedly fixed in a few minutes, which meant that the listserv no longer emailed, well, everyone. Things are hopefully dying down now for Peterson and her team. Let’s hope the saga didn’t annoy too many Utahans and instead provided at least a bit of levity.