Tip o’ the Week #46 – Reduce your influx of Corporate Spam

clip_image001[4]We’ve all had unwanted emails from external sources – so-called “Spam”, after the famous Python sketch that featured a café with Spam in every dish on the menu.

A further menace is “Corporate Spam”, or stuff that you don’t want, but which originates from within the corporate network. Usually, C-Spam is simply being cc’ed on a long email that you really won’t ever read, but Distribution Groups provide many other opportunities to send large volumes of email to people who don’t want it.

There are, however, several weapons in Outlook 2010 to help the C-Spam burden be reduced, eg…

Ignore Conversation – find yourself on an email trail with lots of people saying “me too”, “+1”, “please stop hitting reply-all” etc? Simply right-click on any message in that thread, and choose “Ignore…” and the whole lot will be moved to the Deleted Items folder. Any future message in the same thread will be automatically deleted too. See a Demo.

This feature was semi-inspired by a legendary incident that occurred within Microsoft some years ago, known simply as “Bedlam DL3”. Someone in Microsoft IT had been testing automatic creation of very large distribution lists and adding people – alphabetically – to the DL. There were a whole series of Bedlam DLs, but one person spotted they were a member of DL3 one day, by looking at their own entry in the GAL, in the “Member of” tab.They emailed Bedlam DL3 asking “why am I on this DL, please take me off”. The other 20,000+ people on the DL received that message,many of who also said “me too”, followed by many “STOP SENDING EMAILS TO THIS LIST” type messages.

In the 24 hours after the Bedlam DL3 touch-paper was lit, the Microsoft internal email system sent more messages than was normal for a whole year. Needless to say, the quality of service was less than optimal.

Do Not Reply All – Information Rights Management (something we’ll cover in a future ToW) gives us lots of control over what can happen to an email, but it’s a little heavy handed if all you want to do is stop people replying. IRM is now supported on some mobile devices and within Outlook Web Access, clip_image001but it’s not quite ubiquitous, and can be a little intrusive for the recipient.

Well, Gavin Smyth of MS Research sent in details of a great Outlook addin he’s written, which exposes a little-known tweak that will stop Outlook from the “Reply-All” syndrome – the root of the Bedlam DL3 problem.

Simply click on the appropriate Ribbon icon, and when you send an email, you can prevent internal recipients from passing it on. The No Reply All and No Forward functions aren’t rigidly enforced like in IRM, and they only work within the organisation – but they’re quick and easy to use, and have no negative impact for the recipients – it just looks like a normal email, but in Outlook, the “Reply All” or “Forward” buttons are grayed out. Simple.

More details are here.
Download the ZIP file for the NoReplyAll addin’s setup here.

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