NYU Student Becomes Online Sensation After Sending ‘Reply-All’ Email

It began with a message about a tax form.  It led to an email from a student to his mother. And it quickly evolved into a unique online viral sensation.

Meet Max Wiseltier. The New York University sophomore is currently known across campus and around the world (wide web). His claim to fame: accidentally hitting “reply all.”

The NYU Bursar’s Office recently emailed students inquiring whether they wanted to receive an electronic version of a relevant tax form instead of a paper copy. Wiseltier subsequently tried to forward the message to his mother, along with a simple question, “do you want me to do this?”  However, it did not turn out to be a simple click-and-send.  “I have a pretty old computer, and when I went to hit the send button it froze a little bit,” Wiseltier told ABC News. “So I was kind of clicking around and must have hit the wrong button.”

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The button Wiseltier accidentally hit was for “reply all,” meaning the email meant for his mom was “inadvertently sent to every single student at NYU on the list — all 39,979 of them.” He quickly sent a second email to everyone apologizing for the faux pas. But by then, it was too late. The e-floodgates at one of the country’s leading private schools had been opened.

As the online student news outlet NYU Local explained, “His accidental email and hasty apology triggered a rare, university-wide revelation: We simultaneously realized that any message, complaint, whim, link, video or GIF could be sent to nearly 40,000 people in an instant. 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.’”

Along with numerous messages complaining about the ongoing email pile-up, students sent scores of sillier emails to their peers. Among them: “Does anyone have a pencil I could borrow?”; “Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses, or one horse-sized duck?”; “Is Professor Rosenblatt still having office hours at 10:45? I’m struggling with this paper. haha.” and “I’ve never felt more a part of the NYU community. Does anybody want to be my friend?”

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A few students used the reply-all function to air voices of protest, including one who listed some of NYU’s perceived failings: “Exorbitant tuition. Lazy email list maintenance. Port-Authority-quality restrooms. Union busting. Real estate speculation. What other things is NYU doing all wrong?”

Meanwhile, on a personal level, Wiseltier’s innocent email wrongdoing has transformed him into an overnight celebrity — triggering national media attention and tons of follower and friend requests on Facebook and Twitter.

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“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.”  After late-night host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed him via Skype about “Reply-Allpocalypse,” Wiseltier sent a tweet with a telling hashtag: #bestmistakeever.

Comments
One Response to “NYU Student Becomes Online Sensation After Sending ‘Reply-All’ Email”
  1. This incident showcases the importance of email security and for colleges to ensure that e-mails sent out don’t contain the addresses of everyone on their email list.

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