Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Mail Tsunami

A tempestuous email thread, visualized to be unscathed but resulting in a useless loss of  resources. It's not like that I have never seen such email threads. A long time ago at some point, I also used to be a part of these chains. But nevertheless, this thread was really different involving thousands of people and was really tempting for each one to revert. It was tantalizing for me too but I preferred to be on shore.

Last week an email was sent which was intended only for a small set of managers to encourage their staffs to complete an online training by the end of the month. But, in a move reminiscent of other email storms*, the unnamed sender mistakenly included a "xyz_training" mailing list that contained the addresses of thousands of employees – presumably without a restricted senders' list.

Now while the managers were discussing if the training was relevant to their staff (keeping the mailing list in the 'To:' line), someone triggered the storm by asking to be removed from the mailing list. It gathered momentum, mainly from the Indian offices, with lots of 'unsubscribe' and 'me-too' requests, ultimately nettled by enormous vague mails popping up the inbox,most of the employees requested not to "reply all" ,although they themselves were helping the thread to proliferate.It ended up in a complete plethora of chain mails.

Just when it looked like the storm had ended, it quickly picked up the pace again as employees in the US opened their mails in the morning.

Now I made some calculation in this mayhem.
Lets assume there are approximately 35,000 people on that thread.
A rough approximation of 270 minimum new Useless emails in my inbox that day.
i.e. 35,000 x 270 ~= 9.5 million emails worth of traffic.
Going by a conservative 50 KB per email.
That’s 475 GB worth of junk on the server.
Going by the past trend(from when this last happened), that’s translates to > $600,000 for the company.

The easy way to avoid these storms is to just ignore those mails that you don’t find relevant instead of hitting the "Reply-All" button or if you find it to be too much intractable, then choose the "Ignore" button and you will not be getting any mails further from that source.
Take precautions while broadcasting a mail to a large audience, keep the group-mailer-id in Bcc field and in the end of mail body mention the Bcc:group-mailed-id to let people know which audience is being targeted.