Please Stop Abusing BCC

I’m involved with many e-mail distribution lists, and use incoming rules to direct those messages – based on To/CC – to a specific folder. Every few days, one of the lists I’m involved in has a thread that suddenly appears in my inbox. It takes me a few minutes to figure out where that message was supposed to go, and file it manually.

The reason? Someone decided to move the distribution alias to BCC. Why? To avoid inadvertent “reply all” messages going to the list, I guess, or to prevent people from having to ask, “What happened to that conversation?”

This may seem petty, but PLEASE stop doing it.

Not because it affects me, but because it affects every single person on the list who uses filters or inbox rules to redirect incoming messages. I hope I’m speaking for more than just myself when I say this: the disruption is far worse than the potential reply all that will just end up in the same filtered folder, if it even happens. If someone really needs to know that you’ve taken it offline, they’ll ask. To the list. Which still won’t break filters.

By all means, keep using BCC for legitimate reasons – to covertly include a co-worker on an e-mail to your boss, or to send an e-mail to a group of people when you don’t want recipients to know who the other recipients were. But stop using it to protect other people from not replying responsibly – either tell them to reply to you directly, or take the distribution list off the thread entirely. (And sending one last message to the list telling them you’re taking it offline is far less disruptive than telling them that with them in the BCC. All 500 people still get the message; the only difference, really, is that the latter breaks filters, and the former doesn’t.)

Thanks for reading and for using BCC responsibly!