If the original wide-audience subject reads something like:

Project XYZ Status Update: Things are looking bad

I'd like to omit certain members of this chain but I still don't want the reader to lose his context if I created a new email thread unrelated to the subject. (We use Outlook w/Conversation View as a default)

My approach is to simply omit members that don't need to see this and I can simply re-word the email-subject as

Side Conversation : Re: Project XYZ Status Update: Things are looking bad

I'd also mention the audience members who were omitted (and why if necessary).

This retains the context and when people reply on the main thread, we don't accidentally drop the originally intended wide-audience.

Is this acceptable or is there an obvious or better way to go about solving this problem?

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    Have you considered a meeting or conference call as an alternative to a side e-mail chain? – Eric Jan 27 '15 at 14:23
  • This is our default behavior of course, but with geographically separated teams, it is often easier on the call scheduling (time zones) AS WELL as often culturally safer to put things to writing. In many cases, we just need more clarification from a select few members of the chain. – shivsky Jan 27 '15 at 14:38

Yes, this is good practice.

In many offices, too many emails are sent to too many people. People tend to CC an email to everyone and everything who might just be tangentially related to it. The result is that a large amount of email is sent to each person which is just marginally relevant for them.

This means that a significant amount of work time is required to read through all of them. Also, the really important messages tend to disappear in this context.

For that reason you should always review the recipients before sending a reply and remove those people who do not need to read it.

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    I do agree that some folks don't limit the audience for their e-mails enough, but I disagree that you should review and alter the distribution list every time you reply. The most confusing e-mail threads I've seen are those where people are being added and dropped mid-conversation. I think starting a new thread with a summary of the topic so that no-one is confused about who is actually participating in the conversation and how much of it they've read is the best approach. – ColleenV Jan 27 '15 at 16:38
  • @ColleenV Agreed, new threads are the standard where I work. This is particularly common in the case of original threads that include customers. There will often be a separate thread with the title "[CUSTOMER REMOVED] Re: Original Thread Title" containing the side conversation. – phoebus Jan 29 '15 at 17:24

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