Gmail error creates backlog for students

A message telling students to switch from the University’s Gophermail system to Gmail created a stack up of email notifications.

John Hageman

Phones died and inboxes overflowed as a glitch in an email sent to University of Minnesota students and faculty Thursday allowed recipients to reply to each other.

The email notified students and faculty with Google accounts that have the same username as their University email account that the username for the Gmail account needed to be changed. University email accounts will begin to change over to Gmail accounts Friday and people wonâÄôt be able to access the Gophermail system afterward.

Recipients of the messages became confused early Thursday evening when they began to see othersâÄô responses, quickly stacking up email notifications. Normally, the University creates a mailing list and uses a no-reply function in its mass emails.

But ThursdayâÄôs email contained a mailing list created by Google that didnâÄôt contain a no-reply function, according to Matt Dittmer, a helpline consultant at the UniversityâÄôs Office of Information Technology.

Dittmer said the cause of the glitch is unknown, adding that the help center has been âÄúinundatedâÄù with calls and emails about it. University technicians are working with Google to correct the problem, he said.

âÄúItâÄôs a nuisance,âÄù Dittmer said.

Recipients using their Gmail account can tag the messages so they are automatically sent to their trash, Dittmer said.

Others in the email thread can see one anotherâÄôs email address if they reply to the message, but Dittmer said it doesnâÄôt raise confidentiality concerns because emails are considered public information. 

Meanwhile, some recipients are having a little fun with the mishap. One responded with the entire lyrics to Rebecca BlackâÄôs unfortunate hit âÄúFriday,âÄù while another posted a link to Rick AstleyâÄôs âÄúNever Gonna Give You Up.âÄù