How not to use a mailing list

Most emails that get sent accidentally to everyone on a mailing list are of the 'I am out of the office till June 21st 2034. Please contact my put-upon secretary if it is urgent' variety.

Occasionally a personal message intended for just one recipient gets sent to everyone, but most of these are pretty boring. However, there are occasions when someone inadvertently vents their spleen to everyone, rather than the one person they intended to. I suspect a disproportionate number of these are sent by professors who still haven't quite grasped how e-mailing lists work, but I'm not certain.

Regardless, the PaleoNet mailing list received one of these professorial spleenvents today, a private gripe to the organizer of a conference, sent to hundreds of people, many of them potential delegates. I have anonymized it, but some palaeo bods will know who wrote it:

"Hi [deleted],

You will forgive me if I am a bit testy here, but I recently tore up most of the ligaments in one shoulder and it makes me testy till time for surgery.

So explain this to me - first you cancel my session, and then you put my paper on the last time of the last day. You and I both know that I would be speaking to an empty room. And unfortunately, I had already committed to being host of a big budget television special about Gondwanaland past and future, with my first filming on Maui, and then for about a month thereafter. I told them that I would be no later than Oct 20 (although they wanted earlier). That said, I would like to withdraw my abstract."

Oh dear.