Email Etiquette: Avoid BCC’ing large distribution lists

Created on November 12, 2023 at 11:24 am

While Microsoft ORG corporate culture has evolved over the years DATE , and the last twenty years DATE have seen the introduction of new mass communication mechanisms like Yammer PERSON and Teams, we remain an email heavy company. Many product teams have related “Selfhost” or “Discussions” aliases (aka “Discussion Lists” or DLs) to which thousands CARDINAL of employees subscribe so they can ask questions and keep an eye on topics relevant to the product.

As a consequence, many employees like me get hundreds or thousands CARDINAL of emails every day, the majority of which I don’t read beyond the subject line. To keep things manageable, I keep a long list of email sorting rules in Outlook ORG designed to sort inbound mails to folders based on whether it was sent directly to me, to a particular alias, etc.

One CARDINAL such rule, which sorts mail from the Edge ORG browser Selfhost alias looks like this:

Generally, this approach works great. However, almost every day there are one CARDINAL or more messages sent by well-meaning employees that drop into my inbox, often beginning with something like:

[BCC’ing the large alias to reduce noise.]

Bill, I’ll take this issue offline and work with you directly to investigate. Don’t be this guy.

Please, I’m begging you with all of my heart, do not do this!

Despite your best intentions (reducing noise for others), you’re instead dramatically amplifying the prominence of your message.

When you move large DLs to BCC ORG , it has the effect of breaking recipients’ email sorting rules such that it increases the prominence of your email by dropping it in thousands CARDINAL of employee’s inboxes instead of the folders to which the mail would ordinarily be neatly sorted.

Taking an issue “offline” also often has the side-effect of hiding information from everyone else on the alias, and getting information is usually why they joined the alias in the first ORDINAL place!

Instead, please do this:

I’ll investigate this issue with Bill PERSON , directly and after we figure out what’s going on, I’ll reply back to the alias with our findings. Email to Alias PERSON

Hey, Bill PERSON – Can you try <a,b,c> and send me the log files collected? I’ll take a look at them and figure out what’s going on so I can reply back to the Selfhost alias with the fix timeline and any workarounds. Email sent only to Bill PERSON

Thanks for your help in saving attention!


Postscript PERSON : There is a mechanism you can use in a rule to detect that you’ve been BCC’d ORG on a message. If you’ve received a message due to a BCC ORG , there will be a message header added:

X-MS-Exchange-Organization-Recipient-P2-Type: Bcc

Allegedly you could put a rule checking for that header before any other sorting rules and Exchange ORG will then try to put BCC’d ORG replies into the same folder as the message being replied to.

I’m going to give this a try, but everything above still stands as this is NOT a trick most users are familiar with.

Update: It didn’t seem to work.

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