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When ‘cc’ means ‘complete crap’

March 19, 2013

Right, that’s it. If I get copied in to one more fucking email to ‘keep me in the loop’ or ‘make sure I am happy’ I am actually going to explode. Or tie a very tight loop round someone’s neck.
Email is an incredibly useful tool, but it is too easy to use it to abdicate responsibility. There seem to be three main areas that get up my nose at the moment.

Email as a substitute for management

Managers forward information to their troops and hope it lands successfully. That’s not management, that’s administration. Management involves participation and engagement. A two way conversation. But email makes it easy to think you don’t need to bother having meetings with individuals to talk them through things, that as long as you have ‘cascaded’ the email then you have done your job. It seems to me that if you aren’t needed to contextualise the information or talk it through then why have you there at all. You are simply generating a list of recipients to pass information on to. And a computer can do that.

Arse-licking Reply Alls

People press reply to all when it should not be an option. Or at the very least should induce a pop up warning saying “Are you sure EVERYBODY needs to know what you are about to say?” to stop the endless “Thanks!” “Good job!” and “It is great to see my initial idea put to such great effect” brown-nosing/ bigging myself up responses that clutter my inbox. Of course congratulate people, but only the people who need to be congratulated – not the entire cc’ed recipient list. And don’t use it as an excuse to get noticed by those in positions of power. If they notice your email at all, it will be because it was fucking annoying and pointless.

Then there is the type of email that prompted this rant.

Look how hard I’m trying and am I doing it right everybody?

The “I-don’t-want-to-take-responsibility-for-this-project-even-though-technically-that’s-my-job-so-I-am-going-to-copy-you-in-on-everything-to-do-with-it-so-when-the-shit-hits-the-fan-I-can-say-you-knew-about-it-all-along” kind of email. If you need me to read something or do something then put me in the the To line, don’t drown me in the rest of the cc-ed recipients. If it’s up to me whether I read it or not, then  cc me.  But be under no illusion. Cc ing me in to something does not mean I give tacit approval if I don’t say otherwise.  It means I probably didn’t read it.

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7 Responses to “When ‘cc’ means ‘complete crap’”


  1. […] rants on the pointlessness of meetings, and how to organsie them badly, corporate jargon, and general frustration with office […]

  2. Another Sarah Says:

    a company I once worked for suggested that you put ‘Action’ or ‘For Info’ in the subject line. Made the whole cc thing a complete waste of time but they still did it anyway….so if you cc me, it’s someone else’s action and if it’s for info and you cc me that means I can delete without reading or feeling guilty 🙂


    • Ooh Yes I had forgotten about that! I’ve been at places that tried to introduce subject line coding: A for action, I for information, D for deadline. It never really caught on and didn’t stop the cc overload! Thanks for reminding me.

  3. Kate Morgan Says:

    years ago when I started work cc ing someone was used sparingly and usually to bosses or those who had to know for real info. Now if you think about its origin – cc meaning carbon copy – rarely were many copied – the type from the typewriter couldn’t have got through that much paper and by the time it had been posted and received in the internal mail…… More was done by face and phone then, and I regret the decline of this – its rather cowardly really.
    Istill mostly treat cc as not requiring any action, but with email like you say its used so unnecessarily it often aggravates.
    I find bcc even worse though as a tool.


    • Good to hear from you! I used to love playing with carbon paper – it was like magic! But yes, I know people who will send an email to the person sitting next to them rather than just turn their head and tell them. All in the arse covering world of audit trails………..

  4. michael Says:

    haha, absolutely brilliant

    i wish outlook/gmail etc would distinguish between emails to me and emails i’m copied into, but people seem to have differing methods of use for them – i think your principle (“If you need me to read something or do something then put me in the the To line”) is spot-on.

    i did once very much enjoy being cc’d into an email to someone who had been chasing me for something – from his boss, who let him know how wrong he’d got his dates.


    • oh yes, nice to get that kind of cc. And correctly used in that circumstance – you would want to know that something was being done but you didn’t have to act on the email.
      Thanks for commenting!


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