Please Include Me In Your Reply As I Am Not A Member Of This DL


Raymond and Matt just posted their own thoughts on e-mail etiquette, especially as it applies here at Microsoft. I figure this is a good point for me to highlight my own pet peeve:

Please include me in your reply as I am not a member of this DL

To understand why this phrase both amuses and annoys me, you have to understand what a DL is. A DL, or Distribution List, is a list of e-mail addresses used for mail routing in Exchange (and I’m sure, just about everywhere else). This way you can spam ask a bunch of people a question at the same time. When you send a mail to a DL, everybody on the DL gets a copy of the message. The To line is the alias of the DL, and the From line is the person who sent the message.

So, for example, if MAPINeophyte@microsoft.com sends a mail to MAPIRocks@microsoft.com, a DL I’d be a member of, then I’d get a mail in my inbox that’s to MAPIRocks, and from MAPINeophyte.

Guess what happens if I Reply to this message? It’s addressed to MAPINeophyte! What if I Reply All? Then it’s addressed to MAPINeophyte and MAPIRocks. In other words, I’d have to take extra steps to make sure that my reply doesn’t go to the guy that sent the mail!

So why do people think they need to ask that they be included on the reply? Perhaps they came from the newsgroup world, where messages and replies get posted to a central list, but not to individuals unless extra steps are taken? Or maybe they’re so insecure as to think that anyone who got a mail from them would be certain to remove their name from it before replying? I don’t know – some times folk are just weird.

I’m sure this will get comments. Please be sure to include me on them as I don’t subscribe to this blog. :)

Comments (8)

  1. DanielMoth says:

    exactly++

    I LOL everytime I see those which is too often :-)

  2. amie says:

    is this stephen griffin from gsu, with a birthday tomorrow

  3. Stephen Griffin says:

    Nope – I went to UGA.

  4. danba says:

    What happens when MAPINeophyte is removed from the recipient fields during the reply?  MAPINeophyte won’t get the message…

    Some people will remove all non-dl recipients in a reply in order to keep the recipeint list concise. The rationale is that all people on the thread would be on the DLs – which is not always correct.

  5. Damon Hopkins says:

    What about digested lists. when the server digests the messages for me and I hit reply that guy’s not going to get the response.. which I’m all for because really, shouldn’t you just join the discussion if you’re going to be discussing it?

  6. Stephen Griffin says:

    Damon – that’s an interesting special case, but it rarely applies to a corporate environment – and still doesn’t excuse the behavior for regular DLs.

    Dan – If people are blindly removing recipients, I hardly think begging to stay on the thread’s gonna help.

  7. FWIW says:

    There is a cloud problem where this could exist.  The assumption above has the following observations:

    shared domain name

    shared Server UA

    assumed Exchange

    – assumed MAPI

    appreciating the next-to-last-paragraph where it is asked "why"… and offers deviations of current-model.

  8. Stephen Griffin says:

    Actually, the only assumption I make is that we're talking about e-mail. If someone sends a mail, they're the From address, so any reply will naturally go to them. Cloud is irrelevant.