Somebody who goes to a conference might get something like feedback and disseminate it to the masses - but that's it. Google is not interested in hearing about problems, and if they themselves are affected by a problem, well, boy howdy, they're on it - but in any other case, maybe they're on it, maybe they're not. Who are we to ask?
Maybe once? Not at all?
I would hate Gmail never to have happened becuase they felt it would require a call center and they were not prepared to do that...
And as for 'transparency'... um, they're a private company. But a very transparent one at that in many other ways. Just not 'transparent' in this one way?
While I'm here...
(1) "Somebody who goes to a conference might get something like feedback and disseminate it to the masses"
I've found the blog helpful (not always, but its still there):
(2) "Google is not interested in hearing about problems"
Try this link:
(3) "and if they themselves are affected by a problem, well, boy howdy, they're on it"
To be fair, as a dev its much much easier to solve a problem when you experience it first-hand but I maintain that they don't necessarily wait until it happens to them before problems get addressed.
You know, you could be absolutely right in all respects BUT you assume its somehow malicious, or condescending or whatever - when, at worst, its benign.
If they want to be taken seriously, or considered at all for real enterprise app replacement with Gmail or Google docs, they need to have a real live phone support, 1-800 number that lusers can call to get someone that will try to help them.
Let me give you a terrible example: I sync my Exchange calendar with Google Calendar so I can get it on my mobile devices. As I work for a large Fortune 15-20 company, one of my meetings was a weekly recurring meeting with 2,000+ participants. This is not unusual as our quarterly all employees meeting requests are sent out to 50,000+ participants.
This recurring meeting with only 2,000+ participants was cancelled, but I was completely unable to remove it from my Google Calendar. Google Calendar is broken, and after searching online for about an hour for a solution, I found many other people have the same exact issue.
So, here I am with a recurring event in my Google Calendar that I cannot delete: An error has occurred. Please try again later. - this is the level of support I get from Google.
Basically, search the forums and find the bug has existed since 2009, and no communication from Google about fixing it. Do they really expect to be taken seriously in the enterprise space?
It doesn't sound like the GP's issue would fall into either of those categories.
Instead, the silence on their troubleshooting forums is deafening. It's as if the engineers just don't care about fixing it, despite what would happen in the real world if a Google Apps sales rep came to our company to do a real evaluation... I suspect they would be laughed out of the room once they admitted they couldn't handle meeting invites with more than a handful of attendees.
" ... um, they're a private company. ..."
The fact is that this is a common complaint that Google seems content to ignore. Which is their right, but is it the best choice from a business perspective? I don't know.
Do you really expect GMail to provide personal customer service to its ~176m  non-paying users? Run the numbers: if the average user calls in 5 minutes a year (very low estimate), how many hours a day of customer support would it take?
And transparency - are you suggesting they open source their infrastructure so you can hack on BigTable to fix their speed issues?
1. In 2009: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=http:...
Don't mistake non-paying for no-profit. Those users don't pay cash but they do give google lots of personal data and ad-clicks that makes google money. I would personally rather pay a fee and keep my data private and not see ads.
If google loses "non-paying" customers because of performance issues or outages that they don't know about because there's no effective way to contact them, they also lose money just like a company with paying customers.
I use RoundCube webmail, Dovecot, Postfix, managesieve, SpamAssassin, and a few custom hacks. It works great. Gmail used to have the added annoyance of making Firefox unusably slow if it was open for hours at a time; I now can have my mailbox open for days at a time with no browser performance hit. I can make filters as simple or complex as I want.
Gmail has now become my spamcatch.
i've managed my own mail servers from ~2000 to 2008, when it practically became a full time job. i use gmail primarily for (1) the spam filter and (2) not having to worry about downtime.
[edit: and on another note, roundcube development is PAINFULLY slow...]
On the flip side, I never have to worry about missing email. Like, for example, the time (yesterday) that I tried to send code samples from a WP exploit that did a neat job of turning the web server into an IRC-controlled zombie via a fun little Perl script. The person I was sending them to had a Gmail address.
Guess who never received the files? (And wasn't notified, either...)
I thought that one could do that with a Premier Edition Google Apps account.
Answering phone calls from 176 million users? No.
Maintaining a nice little "Google Cares" (And Explicitly Confesses Known Problems We're Working On) blog? Yes.
A little customer service could go a long way.
No, that would be very difficult. They have only about 20 000 employees. That's 9000 users per employee.
The problem is, the vast majority of those 176 million people have chosen to be in a position where they depend on a service that is run by people who don't care about them personally — who can't care about them, because there are just too many of them. This inevitably means that some of those people, maybe many of them, will get caught in the machine and mangled.
The solution is to provide services like email in a distributed way, instead of with a centralized company. Then, when you have a problem like this, you have access to someone who could plausibly fix it.
The difficulty is that our facilities for providing big centralized servers are leaps and bounds ahead of our facilities for building decentralized applications.
I'd also like to note that from a technical standpoint, I think Google is fantastic. They do great work, I love where they're going with services, and I personally have no complaint with Gmail nor could I improve things were I magically in charge.
But their nearly autistic attitude towards dealing with users is a real problem, and as large as they are, I think they bear a real moral responsibility to make the world a better place. "Don't be evil" is a great motto. I have every reason to believe they try to live up to it. But disengagement from their users to the incredible extent that Google practices it verges dangerously close to evil when it affects so very many people.
14.6 million hours, around ~293M.
After a fairly intensive search, I found the reason in an obscure Google Groups posting[ http://groups.google.com/group/Google-Desktop_Something-Brok... ]. I experienced the bug six months after the issue was discussed there, and that was the only source of information I could find.
I don't know if Google has improved its support recently, but the obscure way in which information on the bug was disseminated certainly made me more wary of using Google products after that.
I only have 50K messages at a little over 4GB. People are saying they have inboxes as full as mine and are still fast.
Something doesn't add up. Is my account on an old infrastructure?
Which operations are slow for you?
I'm starting to wonder about that too - I've discussed this with a bunch of people recently, and those of us who are seeing the really awful performance (>30 second wait times for basic operations like sending a mail) seem to be mainly early adopters.
Personally, I'm using Google Apps "Premiere" which I initially purchased about a month after launch.
I wish there were an easier way to export mail. Probably half my gmail storage consists of mail & attachments from a project I worked on last year where the the other guy absolutely refused to use Google docs or dropbox or any similar solution, and insisted that every revision of every document be transferred via attachment, so that one folder is taking up most of a gigabyte.
I'd love to just zip, burn to DVD, and shelve the data but unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to 'archive for export' and then just download it: I have to set up a mail client and transfer it all via IMAP, which will take a whole day :-(
Or you can go to sleep, and leave it to take A WHOLE NIGHT.
Ah, to be Google! Your competitors, when frustrated by your poor service and unclear communications, send you more money in the vain hope it might help.
Its $5/user/month, 25GB storage, great webmail client, and hands down the best support I've ever gotten.
We have hosted Exchange at my university. The Outlook web client is perhaps the worst piece of software I am forced to use on a regular basis.
The calendaring is completely useless on the web client. I can't see anyone else's schedules so when I make meetings with them, its like shooting a rifle blind folded. I have to do a "guess and check" method where if Outlook vomits in my face and says someone is busy at that scheduled time, I just guess for the next time slot till eventually one fits.
We don't have nearly as much space as you do, so I am forced to completely delete all my messages 4 times a year to free up space. The UI makes this task such a pain (admittedly it is the uni's fault for not forking up enough $$ for enough space, but it is incredibly time wasting and difficult through the web client).
Do I get some sort of notification when my inbox is full? No. Only, I stop receiving emails and every would be sender gets a message that my inbox is full. This continues until someone I meet in person tells me that they haven't been able to communicate with me online for the larger part of the week. No way to get those emails back.
Oh, and all this is after I forward all my messages to gmail and never use Outlook unless I am forced to.
(Sorry, just venting and getting this off my chest.)
And if you are on Exchange 2003 or 2007 then IE gets the good browser interface, and every other browser gets a basic one.
Do I get some sort of notification when my inbox is full? No.
This is because someone hasn't turned it on for you; Exchange does this (by default, I thought). Emails you when you hit the "no more sending" limit, then again as you hit the "now so full you can't receive" limit.
In the last release or two (which not that many organizations use yet), they've unified it so that there's only one OWA that uses the now standard XHR support in all modern browsers on all platforms.
Honestly, I live in Outlook, so I only use the web client in a pinch. I like it better than Gmail, but perhaps with heavy use and a small quota it starts to show its warts.
I just hid chat, buzz and 'web clips'. I also set the theme back to classic. Not sure what did it (or if it was even something I did), but it's back to normal now, even if I turn everything back on.
Also - Hooray for a free, fantastic email service. Thanks google!
It opens quickly, loads the locally cached page and then it's just spinning and spinning for up to 5 minutes before it either reloads the page completely, signs me out again or finally displays the new mail.
Considering this is a product from a company that places so much importance on speed, this is completely inacceptable, IMHO.
I have no idea why this is the case, but it solved my problem.
What is amazing is that a company as large and with as many products as Google - regardless of its technical prowess - hasn't set up the necessary customer service infrastructure yet.
I mean, think about a 'problem' explanation like this post: "My e-mail is running slower than it used to, and other people with a similar usage profile aren't having the same problem." It's hard to get much more vague than that without trying. I really don't want someone to have to clarify that problem statement then spend hours trying to reproduce the problem.
The one time I had a clearly defined problem that I could reproduce (this was with a Google Mini), a post in the forums got me an answer within 4 hours. For everything else, peer support has always been sufficient (or, if not, a clear statement of what reproduces the problem usually gets a Google response).
From what I've seen with friends, all of their issues with gmail have been user caused.
The rest of the features that Gmail offers seem like they'd be hard to replicate as well - I'm talking about the cool stuff like being able to put arbitrary periods in your email address, or adding +whatever to the end of it.
I really like Gmail today, but if there were a way to replicate all the nice things it does on a server I controlled that would be pretty sweet.
Does your cost calculation include opportunity cost of time?
If Google does it well, why would you want to spend your time on duplicating that instead of spending your time on your own original skill?
That and I can't shake the fear that one day my Google account will be locked for some mysterious reason and I'll be stuck without any of my email until I can figure out how to get it turned back on.
I don't have the advantage of being a blogger, and that seems to be the only reliable way to get customer service from Google.
With some a hundred employee accounts in Gmail for the past several years, I'd say it's been more reliable than the local electric company. We've never needed customer service from Google for Gmail.
We're all engineers, but we have better things to do than run email servers. Email is a problem we can happily consider "solved".
For problems like "mailboxes are slow" or features being buggy, they direct you to the same Google Help forums everybody else uses.
It would be able to be cheap/free/low infrastructure by not needing masses of storage, and stay fast by not needing to handle tens of thousands of mails. And it wouldn't need a complex UI or tagging/labelling/tabbing/folders.
Also it would encourage / enforce dealing with mails and getting the information of of your mailbox and putting it wherever it needs to be.
It would also probably need to have a tie-in with some persona wiki and dropbox so you could easily shunt relevant content that you need to keep.
I think many people would find that they just don't need most old email and wouldn't miss it. The panic of "I have it around somewhere, let me spend time searching ... I think Bob sent it to me one time" is replaced by the certainty of "I don't have it".
If email was physical stuff, we'd call email archiving a hording disorder.
using chrome and FF on OSX
However, it is even more ridiculous that if this is the solution that works, Gmail makes it really hard to make it work. There is no way to search for the biggest messages. There is no way to isolate all mailing lists. I can't find a way to search for [ in the subject.
I ended up launching up etacts and otherinbox and looking for people I used to contact years ago (old projects) and deleted emails from those projects.
Syncing contacts and email with Google apps is an issue, but from what I read, paying GOOG $50 a year solves that problem.
Anyone know how to do a search w/o pulling in conversations, and/or delete selected search results without deleting whole threads?
At present, I resort to IMAP.
// Over 150,000 messages per mail box, working on my third mail box.
I also had another account with very little emails stored and it was pretty fast.
My solution (quite lame): I redirected the "full" account to the other one and started to only use the later. So far no more problems...
The webpage at https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?service=mail... has resulted in too many redirects. Clearing your cookies for this site or allowing third-party cookies may fix the problem. If not, it is possibly a server configuration issue and not a problem with your computer.
(and of course, clearing cookies does not work)
I think gmail is a fabulous product (imagine emails before gmail) and like every other agile product, it has its problems. The fact that we don't have to spend "any" money for storing gigs of our data on a secure and safe platform is probably enough for me to use it.
I did find the search slow and inadequate though, so I downloaded and indexed all of my messages with Thunderbird and just use that when I want to search for something. I need to do an export to a conventional mbox or something soon, too.
Compared to Google Reader, which loads the UI instantly, then loads the data, I say Gmail should work that way.
Don't let me stare at a white page with a retarded progress bar for a minute.
If it's that bad, then it begs the question: why do you continue to use it? There's plenty of alternatives. Vote with your feet and let them know.