Reply-allpocalypse blows up NYU's email list

An unintended "reply-all" affects nearly 40,000 New York University students.

What began as a simple email forward from a college sophomore to his mom became an email lollapalooza on Tuesday.

New York University student Max Wiseltier, 19, tried to forward an email from the Bursar’s office – asking If his mom would like to sign up for paperless tax forms – but instead accidently hit "reply all," and sent an email to 39,979 students.

Realizing his snafu, he quickly sent out an explanation, "SORRY!!!! Gmail switched my reply to reply all!" but the virtual door had been opened.

"We had been given a great and terrible power,” reporter Kelly Weill wrote in the campus newspaper, the NYU Local. “For a moment we contemplated responsibility, and then gleefully tossed it aside in favor of posting pictures of cats.

“The ensuing hours were referred to as 'The Reply-Allpocalypse', 'The Day NYU Broke,' and 'Will Everyone Please Just Shut Up.' "

Thousands of students replied for hours with quips and wise-cracks, including:  

"Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?”

"How is everyone today?"

"Does anyone have a pencil I can borrow?"

Some of the replies were not so friendly, and some were even threatening.

"I was mortified at first, as anyone would be,” Wiseltier said. “But as the whole thing snowballed, I just decided to go with it and now I find it hilarious."

In the end, a faulty listserv was to blame. An employee at the Student Resource Center came forth to take responsibility.

"I’m the culprit behind the blunder,” David Vogelsang said. “I was assisting the Bursar with an email message … and did not realize the list I was using was one that allowed for responses.”

Despite the listserv being disabled by midnight, many emails trickled in the rest of the night.


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