Microsoft Takes Steps to Stop the “Reply Allpocalypse”
May 11, 2020 Topic: Technology Region: Americas Blog Brand: Techland Tags: MicrosoftEmailEmail StormReply AllpocalypseEmail List

Microsoft Takes Steps to Stop the “Reply Allpocalypse”

A good decision or a sad day for email hilarity?


From the dawn of the age of email, an inherent weakness in the technology has been the potential for what’s known as a “Reply Allpocalypse.”

A Reply Allpocalypse, also known as an “Email Storm,” is an incidence in which an email distribution list is plagued, or ruined, by thousands of replies, many of them usually asking to be removed from the list. Famous ones have happened in big tech companies, in government departments and at major universities. In some instances, such incidents have even led to the collapse of email servers.


One of the most famous such storms took place on Microsoft’s “Bedlam DL3” list in 1997, an episode that’s said to be famous within the company. And now, Microsoft is coming up with a solution to one of the Internet’s oldest problems.

Per Gizmodo, Microsoft is rolling out a new feature called “Reply All Storm Protection,” which “detects possible reply-all screw-ups and essentially puts all recipients on a temporary time-out.”

Microsoft explained how it works in a community blog post. Once there are 10 reply-alls to more than 5,000 recipients within 60 minutes, the blocks will be triggered.

“When a reply all mail storm happens in your organization, it can disrupt business continuity and in some cases even throttle the rest of your organization’s email for a period of time,” The Exchange Team wrote.

“Initially the Reply All Storm Protection feature will mostly benefit large organizations who have large distribution lists. When the feature detects a likely reply all storm taking place on a large DL it will block subsequent attempts to reply all to the thread and will return an NDR to the sender. The reply all block will remain in place for several hours.”

The functionality will later be offered to other customers.

This is another effort of late by Microsoft to solve long-term problems of the Internet. Recently, the company took steps towards making an adjustment to Microsoft Word, to flag uses of two spaces after a period.

“When this happens, users are presented with several optional writing-style-based suggestions, including the option to ignore once, make a suggested change, or ‘turn off’ the particular writing-style suggestion in the future by selecting “don’t check for this issue,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The National Interest in a statement. ”As the crux of the great spacing debate, Microsoft knows this is a stylistic choice that may not be the preference for all writers, which is why these suggestions can easily be accepted, ignored, or dismissed for all future documents.

“This suggestion has been shown to Office Insiders in Word Win32. Feedback about the suggestion so far has been overwhelmingly positive, and the aggregated acceptance of the suggestion has been high. However, the team is actively seeking and monitoring user feedback.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons.

Image: Reuters