The ESRB – Against Real ID, Befuddled by Reply All

As part of last week’s Real ID crisis, nearly a thousand people apparently wrote to the ESRB asking for help in the fight against the latest step in Blizzard’s Real ID campaign.

We know this because, as has reported, the ESRB replied to all of those who wrote in with a supportive message… and just did a mass “reply all” to the whole list, not bothering to use the blind carbon copy (BCC) feature to hide the addresses and, in some cases, the full real names of the recipients.

Well, the ESRB certainly gets full points for irony in this situation.

I am sure that somebody in their office will be hearing about this for some time to come.  They have since apologized.

Of course, if you work with any sort of corporate email system, people mis-using the said system is probably a common sight.  The reply all button is a dangerous, career limiting weapon in the hands of the uninformed.

And coming from a company with over 70,000 people world wide… somebody once sent out an innocuous message and accidentally CC’d it to the “all managers, world wide” address list.  This was responded to via reply all by literally dozens of terse, unprofessional, and sometimes very angry, messages, all of which went to everybody on the email list, right up to the CEO of the company.

So the ESRB is in good (or bad) company at least.

Finally, as a complete tangent, how many people entering the work force today know that CC stands for carbon copy and is a reference to using carbon paper to make a duplicate or a typed document?  How many have even heard of carbon paper and know what it is?

17 thoughts on “The ESRB – Against Real ID, Befuddled by Reply All

  1. welshtroll

    The ironic nature of this whole email just illustrated who simple it is to accidentally loose control of personal data.

    Talking of the mass emails at work, in my previous company a similar thing happened. Many people that received the email were rather civil and politely “replied to all” asking to be removed from the mailing list.

    Of course once a few had asked to be removed then so did more people, this increase until it crashed the internal mail servers :)


  2. elleseven

    Remember when the Visa/Master Card were processed on the carbon. You put it on that machine and rolled it over the card to make an impression. And when you would put a sheet of carbon between two papers in the typewriter to make a copy.


  3. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @welshtroll – We had a person in payroll that used to send out huge .pdf versions of simple documents company-wide via email. While Microsoft Exchange no longer keeps individual copies of such broadcasted documents (older versions used to, and that was an easy way to kill the mail server) those of us in remote offices with grossly inadequate secure connections to HQ used to suffer greatly. Imagine 50 machines sucking down the same 400 MB document over an already over-worked T1 connection. That would kill our connection to the outside world for up to 90 minutes.

    Eventually IT got her setup with an internal sharepoint site so she could post documents there and just send us links. And even then she felt the need to include some image file with every email.

    @Elleseven – I used carbon paper in high school to create copies of typed documents. I, for example, know what happens when you put the carbon paper in backwards.

    But I had a computer in college, so never really had to deal with it much since then.

    I actually have a credit card carbon in a drawer from a local pub that I have kept all these years because the date on it is some months before my 21st birthday. The item listed on the charge slip: Pitcher of beer.


  4. Genda

    Yeah, I remember carbon paper. There, I said it. I’m old too. Are you happy now? :D

    I also remember mimeograph and personal responsibility. Now you know how old I REALLY am.


  5. P@tsh@t

    Ah memories. Back in my retail days carbon sequestration had an entirely different meaning and yes there were incidences of nefarious folk dumpster diving for credit card carbons.

    “would you like your carbons?” has gone the way of “polish your greaves, squire?”. Ok I made the last bit up, but physical security of personal information was ultimately maintained by the split carbon which physically separated half of the info which could be discarded relatively safely.

    All before the widespread use of “carbonless” aka NCR technology….

    The old knuckle buster credit card marchines are still quite popular in some circles (craft shows, flea markets, etc) as a low cost method of fraud protection. And faster than writing it all out legibly for offline transactions.

    Which brings me to the discussion point of the day: technology referred to only in the context of the obsolete technology it replaces.

    I.e. How long do we need to keep calling it “carbonless” or “carbon copy” when the underlying tech has gone by the wayside?

    Something to think about as you drive your horseless carriage home…


  6. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Genda – I recall that to make the master for the mimeograph machine, you had to use carbon paper in a fashion that one would consider “backwards” for its conventional use. That and the smell of freshly mimeographed handouts would give you a very slight contact high.

    @Potshot – The very point of my tangent. Will this be a matter of “the more things change, the more they stay the same” as we find that any term embraced as part of the digital age gains a life of its own? Or will somebody eventually decide that we can just call the fields “Copy” and “Blind Copy” and leave the carbon back in the iron age?


  7. sid67

    Oh btw.. Carbon Copies still exist all over the place. It’s the main reason why the “dot matrix” impact printers are still being manufactured.

    A dot matrix printer (particularly line printers) can still print an 8-page “carbon copy” faster than any laser printer and do with each copy on a different colored piece of paper.


  8. Wilhelm2451 Post author

    @Sid67 – Indeed, you see a lot of Okidata and Epson impact printers around still, if you know where to look. Your typical airport has a ton of them. I think most airlines have one at each gate to churn out multi-part forms.

    Some of their models look like the same printers I couldn’t afford 25 years ago. They cost less now, both in amount listed and even more so when adjusted for inflation.


  9. Igor

    I do not just remember what carbon paper is, I still have some of that stuff at home. My wife use it occasionally for her work.

    And, ah, yes, mimeographs. I think I even had opportunity to use it once.

    Unrelated, but I’m just curious how many of you had used punch cards to enter a program in a computer? :)


  10. Bhagpuss

    First office I worked in had a Telex machine. I remember when the new-fangled Fax came in to replace it. Does anyone still use Telex?

    And given the vast number of everyday expressions still in use that derive from trades and practices that have been obsolete for hundreds of years, I imagine CC will be with us for a good while yet.


  11. HarbingerZero

    “I also remember mimeograph and personal responsibility.”

    Personal responsibility, I’ve heard of that! That’s back when people weren’t afraid to have their personal name associated with what they wrote. (-;


  12. sente

    Something completely different, but on the subject of old meanings for acronyms: Many years ago back at the University a fellow lab assistant was going to copy a file, I believe it was on a TOPS-20 system.

    He was more used to Unix systems, so without thinking he used the command “cp” to make a copy of the file (I think it was to make a backup of the file).
    The day after there was a couple of boxes outside his room. They were filled with punched cards. Turns out “cp” meant “card print” in the context he used it.
    In a way he still got his backup…


  13. Facepalm

    Another tangent along the same lines…how long will the floppy disk be used as the standard ‘Save’ icon in applications? How many kids today have even seen a floppy??


  14. whorhay

    During my six years in the Chair Force I saw several good instances of people re-all’ing when they shouldn’t have by accident.

    The first incident I remember was a guy who was probably re-all’ing to the wrong email when he detailed his idea for a new character in someone’s AD&D campaign. It involved a level 4 doppelganger or something like that. I never saw him at a social gathering where someone didn’t find a way to mention how cool it’d be to play a doppelganger.

    The second was when someone sent out a clip from South Park or something deriding the same thing that the original email was about. I want to say sexual harassment or some such.

    The last one was the best. An E-4 corrected the First Sergeant’s, a E-9, grammar and spelling.

    Each of those went out to an entire military and civilian organization of around 500 people. Good times.


  15. Elisten

    I use a very old but faithful Okidata printer at work every day. Will be hard pressed to ever get rid of those in the world of auto finance!

    Oh well. If someone wants my information bad enough, they will get it no matter how hard I try to keep it safe.

    To me, the ESRB thing is just kinda funny with an eyeroll and muttering of dumbarses. :)


  16. Fuzzy

    @Facepalm: Just show them the “Don’t Copy That Floppy” video :)

    Man, this turned into a nostalgia thread real quick.


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