Saturday, March 11, 2006

Lego MDP: What I Think Really Happened

In a previous posting, I raised the question if Gmail and Yahoo account holders could have missed their ticket to the MDP due to some problem at Lego.

Lots of people helped me out by providing extra information, I would like to thank all of you. Basing myself on that information, here's what I think really happened.

The unofficial position of Lego is that the bummer mails were caught in people's personal spam filter. I can only speak for myself, but I think it is pretty unlikely that my bummer message was caught in my spam filter. I have checked my spam in Outlook for Lego messages since the beginning of February, and still do, and I have checked the spam filtered messages on Gmail itself. Neither contains the message, unlike many real spam messages.

So that means that my message never arrived at GMail. To the best of my knowledge, routers don't do content filtering, which leaves two options: either it didn't leave Lego as it should have, or it was lost in transit due to unreliable hardware/software. Because so many people have not received the email, the odds on the lost-in-transit scenario are impossibly small.

That means the bummer emails never correctly left Lego, which is not the same as saying that they were not send. I assume that the PR guys did send the message. But even the virus filters on my own PC ask permission to send emails that are addressed to too many recipients. I imagine Lego corporate has protection against undetected virus infections, and if one account sends out too many emails at once or in a short period, the emails are simply killed by their email server before sending them out. Such a anti-virus protection prevents the spread of a Lego virus to its business partners and customers. Such protection would also nicely explain why the first bummer emails arrived (before the treshold was reached, on February 27 and 28), but after that the mass of bummer emails never went out.

One other question I previously asked, is whether you could have missed your invitation as a result of not receiving their email to congratulate you. Lego's answer, as Eric Burdo found out (thanks Eric!), is that almost everyone who was invited for the MDP responded in a positive way. Only two positions had to be filled in a second round, and they were filled easily.

That statement could be consistent with the scenario I just discussed. Lego invited only 100 people for the MDP, and it is likely it did not invite them all at once. The Lego anti-virus software would have considered the email flow as normal, and let those emails pass. It is only as the number of emails went up drastically, say beyond 1000, that the antivirus heuristics started to kill the emails.

Remember, all this is just theory and interpretation. But what it adds up to, is that not receiving your email, means that you were not selected. Nevertheless, you did not miss your opportunity to be on the MDP due to email problems. For me, although it makes no difference whatsoever, that is a relief.


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