I’ve read a number of articles that say we should use Reply-to-All very sparingly, so as to reduce the volume of unnecessary email people are getting. There are also those who try to discourage us from using the BCC feature, on moral grounds.
Although I agree with these noble reasons, I’d like to add another, much more practical reason why we need to be extra careful before using these features.
If you are a BCC recipient of a message, when you Reply-to-All, people will wonder how you got involved, and will realize that the original sender blind-copied you. This can be rather embarrassing for the original sender, who deliberately tried to hide the fact that you were copied. Who knows what can of political worms you are opening by doing this!
What about the other side of the coin? How can we blind-copy someone without risking exposure? Here’s a much safer way:
Address the message in the normal way to the regular recipients, then enter your own address on the BCC line and send the message. When you receive your copy, forward it to your secret correspondent. Because your forwardee is the only recipient, s/he cannot inadvertently expose your “conspiracy” by misusing the Reply-to-All command.
For those of you who are wondering: yes, I did learn this the hard way. I’ve never used the BCC feature since!
For those who prefer the moral approach: BCC = Blind Co-conspirator