A sophomore at New York University who was trying to forward an email from the Bursar’s Office to his mother accidentally hit “reply to all” and ended up CC’ing 39,979 fellow students.
After Max Wiseltier realized his mistake, he sent out a quick apology. But his email “triggered a rare, University-wide revelation,” according to the student newspaper.
“We simultaneously realized that any message, complaint, whim, link, video, or GIF could be sent to nearly 40,000 people in an instant,” the NYU Local said.
Thousands of students responded to the email, sparking what has been dubbed “Replyallcalypse.”
One student asked how everyone was doing. Another asked, “Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or 1 horse sized duck?”
One just attached a picture of Nicolas Cage.
Kelly Weill at the NYU Local wrote:
“We had been given a great and terrible power. For a moment we contemplated responsibility, 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.’”
David Vogelsang, who works at the NYU Student Resource Center, took the blame for the incident. He accidentally used the wrong listserv to send out the email from the Bursar’s Office.
“Hi everyone,” Vogelsang wrote. “I’m the culprit behind the Lyris blunder. I was assisting the Bursar with an email message and in populating one of the SRC Listserves did not realize the list I was using was one that allowed for responses and thus the ‘replyallcalypse.’”
Vogelsang added, “I take full responsibility for this blunder and offer my sincere apologies for the frustrating situation that was created.”
For his part, Max Wiseltier said the reply all fiasco made him an Internet celebrity. So many people began sending him friend requests on Facebook that the site suggested people subscribe to him instead, “like I was a celebrity or something,” he said.
“It started this chain reaction and created sort of a frenzy as it gained awareness and snowballed more,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming but wild and it is what it is, so I’m just enjoying it all.”
Wiseltier said no one from NYU contacted him about the mistake, but the university eventually shut down the listserv to contain. But by that point “thousands upon thousands of emails had been exchanged among the students,” Wiseltier said.