For about 80 minutes yesterday, the plus sign in Google+ meant additional spam notifications for its millions of users.
What happened? It was a simple-but-annoying space issue. Basically, the server that keeps track of Google+ email notifications ran out of space, and the resulting bug sent a cascade of duplicate notifications out to users for nearly and hour-and-a-half.
Google was quick to issue an apology and an explanation, courtesy Google+ chief Vic Gundotra:
For about 80 minutes we ran out of disk space on the service that keeps track of notifications. Hence our system continued to try sending notifications. Over, and over again. Yikes. We didn't expect to hit these high thresholds so quickly, but we should have.
As noted at Business Insider and reiterated here, this is Google's well-known and accepted M.O.: When a beta product launches, its users serve as real-world guinea pigs whose actions, complaints and suggestions serve to improve the product. Sometimes that works (Gmail!) and sometimes it doesn't (Buzz!). We'll see where Google+ falls on that scale fairly soon, I imagine. [Business Insider]
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