Google on today’s massive Google+ spam influx: “We ran out of disk space”

Many Google+ users saw a massive amount of notification email messages from the service this afternoon, and now Google’s head of social, Vic Gundotra, has an explanation.

“For about 80 minutes we ran out of disk space on the service that keeps track of notifications,” Gundotra wrote on Google+ tonight. “Hence our system continued to try sending notifications. Over, and over again. Yikes.”

The spam notifications seems to have affected users differently. I received a quick succession of 41 repeat notification messages around 5PM Eastern this afternoon, while others I’ve talked to didn’t notice any issues. Luckily for me (and I assume many others), the spam messages got filed under a single conversation thread on Gmail. On my iPhone, however, I received a headache-inducing string of 41 individual messages.

“We didn’t expect to hit these high thresholds so quickly, but we should have,” Gundotra added. Indeed, it seems strange for a company with seemingly limitless resources to by stymied by a simple disk space issue.

Gundotra apologized for the spam issues several times throughout his message. He also reiterated that Google+ is still in a “field trial,” a reminder that he’s likely hoping will lead users to go easy on Google over the gaffe. Google typically keeps its services in perpetual beta testing mode, which some have criticized as a way for the company to slough off blame for any technical issues that arise.

But we’ll likely see even more issues than normal arise from Google+, since its “field trial” status — which has led Google to limit participation in the service so that it can see how Google+ handles the initial stampede of traffic — seems to indicate that it may be even less mature than a typical Google beta test.

For a field test though, Google+ seems to be off to a good start. It’s been the most buzzed about tech topic since it was announced last week, and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt also recently said that it has millions of users (not that that’s a huge surprise).


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