When I read this amusing story about a 500 mile email problem , I come to think of another email story I witnessed about fifteen years ago. I was doing consultant work for a large company in Sweden. I have done many mistakes and caused some real bad disasters myself, but this one I only observed.
Stockholm Underground Transport (SL) had raised traffic fare prices and a lady employee of the company was very upset about the raise. She wrote an email urging her colleagues to protest against the raise and addressed it to all colleagues in Stockholm, or so she thought she did. I received her mail at about 09.00 in the morning, after reading the mail I purged it and didn’t thought more of it. But soon I began to get responses to her email some in favor of the lady and some against. And my network connection started to get sluggish, then I realized the recipients of the mails was the entire company about 40.000 employees, I do not recall the exact figure but it was a lot of recipients and to make things worse due to a merger with an almost equally big company their mail systems had been connected the week before so the mail reached almost the double amounts of recipients. About noon time the network was down I only received a few ‘response mail’ an hour. The network was flooded with these mails. In the afternoon people started to be aware of the problem and now mails started to appear from bosses in both companies telling the lady her use of the mail system was improper and she was to blame for the network outage, of course they responded to all making things worse. Later in the afternoon mails from network admins started to appear begging all to stop mailing. It took the admin guys two days to get back to normal again.