Reply All is RARELY Needed.
Let's go over this again. It is the rare occasion that anyone needs to use "reply all" in an email. As a volunteer at our children's school, a member of several group lists, including one for my family and Girl Scout troop there seems to be a reminder needed about REPLY ALL. Stop doing it. Pretty much plain and simple. 95% of the time you should not reply all. You should reply ONLY to the person posting. This includes group emails. Don't just hit reply if it sends it to the group again. Take the time to copy/paste the email of the person to whom you wish to reply. The group will not even know they should thank you, but will be happy you took the time.
The reason this keeps coming up is that new people are embracing the web each day, getting more comfortable with email and participating in group discussions. It's up the us seasoned list managers to hold their hands and tell them how it is.
A member or two of my family is notorious for this and it causes many an uncomfortable wince when a message should have been private rather than grandstanding with a reply all making the rest of us feel like hiding under a rock.
This past week, our school publishing house sent out a great email to all of us – about 40 people. We were not BCC'ed – first mistake. Now everyone is replying all with kuddos about the message. "Hi, that's great news…," "terrific," "wow – you did great…" when it should have been sent to the original sender only. People get careless and carry on conversations with the reply all. I know it could be solved by unsubscribing to those groups, but those lists are important and the first emails that go out, so I have to stay on them.
On a related topic, it's the same hazard when you comment on someone's wall on Facebook. Every time someone new comments after you, you receive the notification. Again, settings can be changed, but it's still annoying; particularly if you comment on a multilingual friend's wall. I can't read Chinese! They could be razzing me for my comment or giving me fabulous tips – I'd never know it. I've learned to post a fresh post for birthday greetings and send notes rather than posting a comment to a post.