Carbon Copy Bloat

The Wall Street Journal calls it Colleague Spam. I call it Carbon Copy Bloat.  Whatever you call it, it is one of the biggest contributors to email overload.  Too many people feel the need to hit Reply to All when responding to an email; cluttering the recipient’s Inbox with messages that they don’t want or don’t need and taking time and focus away from legitimate work.

Intel has a solution for it.  From Nathan Zeldes’ IT@Intel blog post on a client side email coach:

‘…[the Intel client side email coach] will also coerce, as in “If you really mean to reply to all these people, please check the boxes next to each name you truly need”.’

IMS provides a couple of tools to help you combat this problem:

  1. Use Unsubscribe to keep useless email threads out of the Inbox.  Joke threads, happy hour discussions, conversations outside your area of interest/influence are all ideal candidates for Unsubscribe.
  2. Adjust ClearContext’s scoring parameters to give greater weight to messages sent directly to you and only you.  Under ClearContext > Options > Scoring Options adjust the "Message Directness" slider to the left to place less importance on messages where you are CC:’d or BCC:’d.   These messages will appear lower in your prioritized inbox.  To counter this effect, adjust the "Thread Participation" slider to the right to ensure that conversations you are actively involved in (i.e. you responded to a message you were previously CC:d on) will be scored higher than those you are simply copied on.

But most of all, make sure that you aren’t the problem.  Always ask yourself if everyone in your recipient list really needs to see the email you are sending before you send that message to more than one person.