How one Reddit post caused an MSU employee to identify 500 bugs a day

How one Reddit post caused an MSU employee to identify 500 bugs a day

Today I Learned) Michigan State University will identify any insect, arthropod, plant or weed for free if you send a picture of the specimen via email,” posted reddit user “cive666” on Aug. 10, 2015.

Within hours, the post had made the front page of the entire website, and with 7,000 up-votes (reddit users vote content up or down in an effort to democratically push quality to the top) it became one of the top 50 most up-voted posts of all time on its subreddit: /r/TodayILearned.

The reddit post linked directly to the MSU Diagnostic Service webpage, which contained an email address that anyone could use to send in pictures of bugs they wanted to learn more about.

“It probably resulted in like 2,000 emails at that point,” Howard Russell, academic specialist and entomologist for MSU’s diagnostic program, said.

“Our IT guy was scurrying around because…it sort of overwhelmed our website, it overwhelmed our email,” Russell said.

The traffic was such a strain on MSU’s servers, and the emails became so overwhelming that MSU was forced to contact reddit and request that the post be removed from view.

“But by then the damage had already been done,” Russell said.

The responsibility to identify thousands of bugs via email fell onto Russell– he is the MSU Diagnostics Service’s entomologist, after all.

“The article, it didn’t say anything that wasn’t true,” Russell said. “That’s a service we provided. Although our priority is…The citizens of Michigan because they’re the ones that pay our salaries.”

Russell said the main reason for going through and responding to all the emails was to maintain MSU’s integrity.

“We didn’t wanna really say, ‘No, we don’t. You’re not from Michigan. Don’t bother.’ Cause since Michigan State was sort of on the reddit post…We were gonna honor that and we didn’t want anybody slamming the state or slamming the university or slamming diagnostic services,” Russell said.

And so Russell set forth to identify the thousands of pictures of bugs sent in from across the world.

“I was doing 500 a day for a while,” he said.

Russell even created a reddit account just to post in the comments about the situation.

“Our feeling was once we plowed through that initial burst of requests for IDs that it would level out and…It would all be good after that,” Russell said.

Yet even after the dust settled, the effects of the post are still being felt to this day.

“I still get photos from around the world. The Middle East, Australia, Europe. Throughout the U.S.,” Russell said.

Russell said that he is able to identify, by family, insects from across the world.

“A stink bunk here would look like a stink bug in Iran say or Iraq,” Russell said.

The original poster of the link, “cive666,” wrote in in reply to an inquest:

“That is a lot of email that they got, I hope it didn’t stress them out. I am a fan of MSU so I like to share things I find out about MSU since there is so much the university does other than football.”

The user continued, “I found out about the diagnostic services from my fiancee a day or so before I posted that. I didn’t know people would be so interested in it and was kind of shocked and happy at the same time that people took an interest.”

Russell said one of the big takeaways from the post was his ability to give advice to people having problems with bugs.

“A lot of times it wasn’t just idle curiosity but they were having a problem with the bug. A mother in Minnesota or somebody down in Oklahoma and they had these bugs in their home and (they’d ask): What are they and what can we do about them?” Russell said. “And that’s what we do here. I think I (helped people). Or I’d like to think I did.”

Although Russell himself admitted that due to the nature of time, and the internet, he’ll likely never know.

source

Comments

comments

15 comments

  1. This is very attention-grabbing, You are a very professional blogger. I have joined your feed and look ahead to in the hunt for more of your excellent post. Also, I’ve shared your site in my social networks!

  2. Having so much content do you sometimes run into any issues of plagiarism violation? My website has lots of unique material I’ve either authored myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the web without my agreement. Do you know any ways to help stop content from being ripped off? I’d certainly appreciate it.

  3. Hi are using WordPress for your site platform?
    I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my
    own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make your own blog?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  4. Appreciating the time and energy you put into your blog and in depth information you provide. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same out of date rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  5. Hey there just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The text in your post seem to be
    running off the screen in Opera. I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with
    web browser compatibility but I thought I’d post to let you know.
    The design look great though! Hope you get the issue resolved soon. Many thanks

  6. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everyone else experiencing issues with your website.
    It appears as if some of the written text within your content are running
    off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening
    to them as well? This may be a issue with my web browser
    because I’ve had this happen before. Many thanks

  7. Greetings I am so delighted I found your site, I really found you by mistake, while I was looking on Yahoo for something else, Nonetheless I am here now and would just like to say thanks for a remarkable post and a all round thrilling blog (I also love the theme/design), I donít have time to look over it all at the moment but I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read more, Please do keep up the excellent work.

  8. Attractive section of content. I just stumbled upon your
    website and in accession capital to assert that I get actually enjoyed account your blog posts.
    Anyway I’ll be subscribing to your augment and even I achievement you access consistently
    quickly.

  9. Hello there I am so excited I found your website, I really found you by error,
    while I was looking on Yahoo for something else, Anyhow I am here now and
    would just like to say thank you for a fantastic post and a all round
    entertaining blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to browse it all at the moment but
    I have saved it and also added your RSS feeds,
    so when I have time I will be back to read a great deal more, Please do
    keep up the fantastic b.

  10. I am no longer certain where you’re getting your info, however great topic. I needs to spend some time studying more or working out more. Thank you for excellent info I was in search of this info for my mission.

  11. I really love your blog.. Great colors &
    theme. Did you build this site yourself?
    Please reply back as I’m attempting to create my very own blog and
    want to learn where you got this from or what
    the theme is named. Kudos!

  12. I have been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or
    weblog posts in this kind of space . Exploring in Yahoo
    I finally stumbled upon this website. Reading this info So i’m happy
    to express that I have a very good uncanny feeling I found out
    exactly what I needed. I so much without a doubt will make certain to do not put out of your mind this website and provides it a look on a
    continuing basis.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *