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Genes Reunited server storm dumps pile of emails on mailing list

Server comes unspliced, spews 2,000 mails on some users

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The mailing list of family history website Genes Reunited went bonkers on Monday, deluging a small minority of subscribers with more than 2,000 emails each.

Reg reader Dave was the first to report on the message storm glitch but others have been affected, as a quick search on twitter reveals. "All the messages (all 2,486 of them) are the exact same one – just offering an upgrade to their monthly service (I have a free account I've not ever really used)," Dave explained. "It started at 13:00 and the last one I received was at 15:37."

A spokeswoman for Genes Reunited acknowledged the problem which she said had affected only a "very small" percentage of subscribers and was "quickly resolved". It seems an email server that went awry timed out during the process of sending messages, repeatedly sending a message but thinking that the operation had not gone through and trying again, and again, and again...

Only 0.014 per cent of subscribers to the family history site were affected, she added.

Genes Reunited launched in 2003 as a sister-site of Friends Reunited. The site – which brings together elements of genealogy with social networking – allows fee-paying subscribers to build up a family tree. Genes Reunited boasts 10 million members worldwide.

The site allowed free access to its premium content for two hours (later extended to three hours on New Year's Eve). It seems the service underestimated demand, resulting in slow access to content for some, who wasted little time in venting their frustrations via the site's forum. Another reader, New Zealand-based Hugh, who brought this earlier snafu to our attention, said he had escaped the message storm. ®

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