I recently got caught in a frustrating email fail situation which has reinforced my thinking that emails, having been invented in the 60's hence a dated concept, prone to failure, attack, cloning and phishing are not suitable today for a variety of communication issues, and that education in use of emails is lacking.
A recent email from LMU promoting a Women in Construction event was, apparently and unfortunately rejected by a recipient and resent to the 300 plus on the distribution list, which of course commenced a seemingly endless loop of resending. This repeated sending continued even when the original account had been deleted from LMU servers.
This of course caused great annoyance even anger from recipients, who I guess like myself received hundreds of copies of the email. The frustration resulted in a good number replying to the whole list complaining about the situation, shouting in CAPITALS, requesting the emails be stopped, one even suggesting the author had damage to women in construction movement. These reply to all's were of course rejected by the recipient failed server and spammed out to the whole list again repeatedly, causing more frustration, more reply to all responses and more spam flooding into in boxes.
Amazingly many replied to all suggesting that we shouldn't reply to all! Many suggested incorrect email responses (block, report as spam, complain to LMU, set up auto-redirect to sender etc)
In addition many of those reply-to-alls may have been reported as spammers by a good number of recipients, where in fact they were not at fault. It is possible that these are now permanently blocked by colleagues/contacts as spammers
I understand LMU contacted many on the email cc list by telephone to explain the situation.
Each email as it embedded a picture was approx 200kb, The original was sent to approx. 300 recipients. One send therefore = 60,000kb. Repeated resent some 1500 times. Add in the reply to all spams = say 50 at 200kb to 300 recipients @ say 25 times before they were blocked as spam. Add in local machine and server backups and the numbers grow exponentially very quickly, necessitating more server space, more energy, more cooling requirements more cost, increasing the carbon footprint of emails.
I would estimate I have deleted something in excess of 400 emails, but still today some 5 days later, they trickle through.
I was please to hear yesterday that through all this people have signed up for the event!
Twitter and social media
Interestingly a twitter back channel chat took place with those affected, discussing how do you reach a list of 300 people to tell them not to reply to all on the email without sending to all, or without using email.
At the same time, and perhaps ironically, we sent out invites for the forthcoming Lancashire best practice club event: Working with Technology. The event details were posted onto eventbrite with the link e-mailed to club members and communicated via twitter. Six tweets (original and retweets) had a reach of 2,000. The eventbrite site had some 300 views that day with 25 joining up (the number has grown since). The invite link was also sent via email to club members.
Somehow this approach seemed cleaner, easier and fresher. Members and delegates have commented on the ease of use of eventbrite for previous events, and, linked with a survey monkey feedback afterwards, drastically reduces admin burden
Emails are not always the best event communication route
A mixture of traditional (email) and social media (e.g. Eventbrite, Twitter) routes has greater potential reach and success
Emails are too prone to fail and attack
We are too quick to blame individuals for email 'system' fail, often replying in Capitals (i.e. shouting)
There is a lack of eduction in how to use email or how to deal with emails in fail / attack situations.
There is a need for social media awareness and education in use of alternatives to email