Terrible Timing: Google Reliability Team Launches Reddit Q&A Just as Gmail Goes Down

Advised to try turning it off and back on

In a truly painful moment of unfortunate coincidence, Google's Site Reliability Engineering Team launched a Reddit AMA ("Ask Me Anything") this afternoon, just as Gmail went offline for users around the world.

Four of Google's senior site reliability engineers were preparing to answer questions when the AMA was announced at 2 p.m. Eastern today, with the goal of starting officially at 3 p.m. At almost the exact same moment as the AMA announcement, Gmail and Google+ users began losing access to the services.

A link in the AMA summary directed users to Google's App Status Dashboard for information on the outage, which did little to stop the influx of jokes at the Q&A team's expense. (In fairness, the team answering questions is focused on search, storage and ads, not Gmail and Google+.)

"Please explain in detail what goes on in a gmail outage like the one going on right now," requested one Reddit user. "Take your time."

"Have you tried turning it off and on again?" noted another.

At the time of this writing, the AMA was just beginning, service had been restored to some Gmail users, and the engineers seemed to be answering questions at a steady clip. One of the first questions answered was "Sooo….what's it like there when a Google service goes down? How much freaking out is done?" 

"Very little freaking out actually," responded Google site reliability manager Dave O'Connor. "We have a well-oiled process for this that all services use—we use thoroughly documented incident management procedures, so people understand their role explicitly and can act very quickly."

For more from the engineering team, check out the full AMA.