Return to sender: GO WUSTL bug causes emails to bounce back

Students should no longer have trouble with bounced-backed emails from their GO WUSTL accounts, according to Student Technology Services (STS).

STS sent out an email on April 13 notifying students of an error within the GO WUSTL accounts that caused sent emails to bounce back to the sender.

The solution was to recreate the deleted address records. Students following the procedure sent in the email and found online at go.wustl.edu will have to delete the old contact that directs to a deleted record.

STS Director Barbara Braun said that about 40 students reported an issue to STS, but she does not know how many people were affected or how many total emails were bounced back.

“In the future, students need to let STS know immediately if they are seeing strange issues with their GO email, so we can respond quickly,” Braun said. “When students do not report these issues, they can linger and are unknown to [The Office of Information Services & Technology (IS&T)].”

The problem, according to Braun, was with a faulty data load, which caused all address book contacts to be deleted. As far as STS is aware, the problem impacted students using the online Microsoft Outlook app or the Outlook program in the Microsoft Office suite from 2007 or later to access their GO accounts.

“This exact type of error was unforeseen, and appropriate checks were not in place to halt nightly processing,” Braun said. “The problem was first detected through Brown School’s IT department when a student made an inquiry of them of this issue. Once Brown notified IS&T, quick steps were taken to correct the issue.”

Sophomore Gurpreet Seehra ran into the bounce-back problem while trying to email her major advisor, Yehuda Ben-Shahar, Ph.D., in the biology department.

“It was an important email that needed to be sent by a certain time,” Seehra said. “Then after opening my email about an hour later, I find this notification that it did not send.”

Seehra tried to send it again. After three more tries, she typed out her advisor’s full email address, and the email successfully sent.

“I was initially frustrated because the email was not sending, but afterwards, I was more annoyed by the fact that for my emails, I now need to type in the actual addresses, which takes more time to look up,” Seehra said.

Students looking to avoid further problems should follow the procedure detailed online.

“If students do not or did not delete the old auto-completed address, their emails would bounce back as if the receiver did not exist,” Braun said.

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