I was reminded of these incidents as I read this very interesting article by Stephen J. Dubner in Freakonomics / NY Times Blog. Some excerpts -
The other day, I received an e-mail that I shouldn’t have. While my name was indeed in the list of addressees, and while I knew some of the other addressees (as well as the sender), my name was plainly included by mistake. It took me about three seconds to figure this out, since the topic under discussion had nothing to do with me. But not only did it have nothing to do with me: it was a confidential e-mail about an upcoming strategic move by a large American corporation, the news of which had the potential to move the market substantially. The main purpose of this e-mail was to coordinate the announcement of this move without having any information leak to the public before the company could announce the move on its own.
In this case, the sender got lucky: I don’t plan to use the information against the company, or to profit from the confidential message (unless you consider this blog post a profitable maneuver). But it could have easily worked out differently. And perhaps the erroneous inclusion of my name on this e-mail was a good indicator that, alas, this company’s news will indeed leak to the public before it is ready.
I have long prided myself on not making any such disastrous e-mail mistakes. A few months ago, however, I messed up, royally....I have made worse mistakes that people had the good heart to not tell me about. I recently heard about a family whose child is having some trouble in school, and in an e-mail to his parents that discussed psychological counseling, etc., the school inadvertently cc’d the entire class list. Ugh.
What are your worst e-mail mistakes?