Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
I fear Google's control of the web (scripting.com)
277 points by smacktoward 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 159 comments

People are going to dismiss Dave Winer as a crank right up until the day they or one of the things on which they rely get "googled," and then they will wish they'd listened sooner.

Google's power over the web today, already, is not healthy. There are a lot of people within Google who care deeply about the free and open web, and a lot of people who don't, or who define "free" or "open" in ways that involving trusting a for-profit corporation more than anybody wise ever should. Many people get upset when they see Google being attacked, because the part of Google they depend on is a part that really supports the free and open web, or because they themselves don't value the freeness and openness as much as they should.

Google delivers a lot of value right now, and without people pushing back, hard, that value will enable them to get away with anything.

Anybody who has been around long enough ought to understand that power you grant to someone you trust inevitably ends up in the hands of someone you don't. Political parties switch back and forth, CEOs and corporate priorities come and go. Sometimes it's best to accept an option that is second-best today in order to avoid giving too much power to the organization providing the first-best for them to misuse tomorrow.

I agree that Google has far too much control over the web. However, this is a silly reason to argue against HTTPS. HTTPS is an open standard. Google doesn't control it. HTTPS doesn't require anyone to use any Google product. You can use HTTPS just fine by getting your certificates from LetsEncrypt and browsing with Mozilla Firefox. Or Microsoft Edge. Or Internet Explorer. Moreover, the security guarantees that HTTPS brings to the web benefit everyone, not just Google.

More generally, Dave Winer seems to have an attitude of reflexively opposing everything that Google advocates, merely because it is Google that is advocating for it. It reminds me of the late 90's and early 2000's when open-source people talked about "M$" and reflexively opposed everything that Microsoft did merely because it was Microsoft that was doing it, leaving aside technical merits or other considerations.

Corporations are neither pure good, nor pure evil. They are collections of people with collective interests that they pursue. Sometimes, like in the case of HTTPS, or net neutrality, those interests align with our interests as developers and users. In those cases, we should ally ourselves with corporations and use their leverage to effect change more quickly. In other cases, such as with RSS, and vendor lock-in, our interests diverge and we should oppose them with all our might so that we don't lose the free and open Internet that we've become accustomed to.

In both cases, however, we should examine the issue on the merits of that issue, and neither support nor oppose merely because the "right" or "wrong" organization is pushing for it.

> HTTPS is an open standard. Google doesn't control it. HTTPS doesn't require anyone to use any Google product.

The problem is that Google controls the most popular interfaces to consuming HTTP and HTTPS, i.e. their Chrome browser and their search engine. And so Google is in a position where they control how these protocols are consumed, which is the crux of Dave's argument. Google is already discouraging the use of HTTP through warning messages in Chrome and by adjusting search rank algorithms for HTTP sites. Dave's concern is that Google will "turn off" HTTP access in the same way they did with RSS after capturing the market share for consuming RSS feeds and then shutting down Google Reader and removing discoverabilty of RSS feeds in Chrome.

Dave Winer has been around the Web for longer than most and you'd be foolish to write him off as a curmudgeon. Dave is to the open Web what RMS is to FOSS.

It is immensely frustrating to me that Dave's excellent point about legacy content is obscured by his characterization of the push to HTTPS. At the core, the idea that security only matters for transactions is wrong. For example, I want my blog to be served over HTTPS because I don't want anyone to be able to edit my words between my server and the person reading them.

Now, Dave acknowledges this: "They tell us to worry about man-in-the-middle attacks that might modify content, but fail to mention that they can do it in the browser, even if you use a 'secure' protocol."

The rhetorical slip here is bad. "They" is me. I say you should worry about man-in-the-middle attacks. I can't "do it in the browser." He keeps doing this; he's acting like Google is the only entity that thinks the move is a good idea.

It also fails to acknowledge that partial solutions matter! What, I should give up on putting locks on my door just because the lock manufacturer can go right through them? Further, right now I have a choice of three plausible browsers, and I can switch between them freely. There's a significant difference between the danger of man-in-the-middle attacks and the danger of a browser level attack. (Both pretty low, to be fair, but still.)

And that's just the concern about attacks. Tracking is a whole additional issue that he doesn't acknowledge.

So, yeah, he makes some good points. But since he won't engage in discussion on the topic, they're not useful and they get drowned out by the noise.

won't engage in discussion -- it's been a long day, lots of discussion, and most of it repetitive. The fact that so much discussion is needed is a pretty good indication that the open web should not be corporatized. Google should create a new medium, like they did with AMP, and make it opt-in. Stop trying to be the dictator of the web. And you -- please stop saying bullshit about me. Thanks. Tired.

> Dave is to the open Web what RMS is to FOSS.

This is a great analogy!

Thank you, that's a very nice thing to say. Over the years I've come to respect Stallman's way of viewing things more and more.

The open web is worth fighting for. And Google is moving into new territory now, by deciding to force sites to switch to HTTPS. Most of the arguments you hear are about new sites, but people are missing that the web has been used for 25 years as an archiving medium. If you want to save something so it's available for others (and yourself too) in the future, put it on the web. It's been incredibly stable platform, far more so than the ones run by the tech industry, and precisely because it isn't run by the tech industry.

That's about to change.

Read the original post. Today's post is just a continuation of that one.


And be a little more kind to Stallman. :-)


With all due respect, I read the original post, and it does not seem terribly compelling to me.

> Something bad could happen to my pages in transit from a server to the user's web browser.

This already happens. Verizon injects tracking cookies into unencrypted requests [1]. Hotels inject advertising on top of the existing advertising [personal experience]. They will do it when I read your blog archive from 2001. They will inject arbitrary JavaScript that records my every keystroke and mouse movement [2]. State actors will use persistent surveillance of all unencrypted cookies to pierce firewalls and target individual engineers in charge of anything they happen to find useful [3]. They will do worse things as compute becomes cheaper and cheaper.

If your argument is that there are lots of HTTP sites that are historically important and also that are unmaintained and that will never be upgraded, okay. That is a solvable technical problem [4].

If you want to know why you have to force people to do it, it is because security is a public health issue [5]. It is the same reason you have to force people to get vaccinations.

I don't work for Google (in fact I work for a direct competitor), and I disagree with a lot of the things that they do or want to do (unsurprisingly). But having more security on the web is not one of them. We live in a very different world than we did 25-plus years ago.

[1] https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/11/verizon-x-uidh

[2] https://www.wired.com/story/the-dark-side-of-replay-sessions...

[3] https://theintercept.com/2014/12/13/belgacom-hack-gchq-insid... (search for MUTANT BROTH)

[4] https://archive.org/

[5] https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2014/03/security_as_a...

I generally agree with you, but I do not think that [4] is the solution for maintaining history. Archive.org is great, but the average user doesn't know how to get there once the base URL stops working.

We need maybe proxies as close to the origin servers as possible, to minimize the amount of traffic passing over insecure links. That seems like a political nightmare, but...

I didn't claim [4] was the solution. I claimed the problem was solvable. One example of how to improve on [4] is to build into browsers the option of automatically searching archive.org whenever you hit a 404.

Naturally, that feature already exists as a Firefox extension. Making it more visible would be awesome.


That doesn't solve the discoverability problem for good, as the 404ing links will themselves be removed after a while; what we really need is a good search engine for the archives.

Of course, the whole point of this article is that centralisation of important resources is risky. Archive.org is an essential resource, and it's really far too important to be at the sole mercy of the of the Internet Archive organisation, well meaning and admirable in every way though they are.

I don't disagree. There are alternatives to archive.org [6]. There are ways to decentralize centralized services. I'm sure you can think of many more ways to do better than what is done. I mostly linked to https://archive.org because of the "https" in the URL. My point is that there are technical solutions to the technical problem of preserving history that do not require weakening the security of the whole internet.

[6] https://archive.is/

I am in very strong agreement, and apologize for nitpicking.

The solution is do nothing. Leave it the fuck alone.

You're off on a tangent about a separate article and a separate issue, but I'll digress.

>"In both cases, however, we should examine the issue on the merits of that issue, and neither support nor oppose merely because the "right" or "wrong" organization is pushing for it."

You're missing the point. In the article you're referring to Dave says "Google is a guest on the web, as we all are. Guests don't make the rules."

He's not advocating against HTTPS. He's advocating against Google pushing it down everyone's throat as the proprietor of the internet. And he's right in that if we allow Google to declare themselves the harbinger of digital trends then we're authorizing them to take it another step further. We're essentially endorsing the next stage, which would be to simply block http from Chrome or Android or whatever they feel like.

He goes on to state "If HTTPS is such a great idea... Why force people to do it? This suggests that the main benefit is for Google, not for people who own the content. If it were such a pressing problem we'd do it because we want to, not because we're being forced to."

He's right again. He isn't saying HTTPS is bad for the internet. He's saying letting Google decide in a vacuum that HTTPS should be the only way to internet is bad.

BTW, you're wrong about your "reflexive" theory.

I use far too much Google stuff. I'm on GMail. I use Chrome. I am a Node developer which uses their V8 implementation of JavaScript. I hate it but I mostly use Google for search, habits die hard. It will be a huge pain to me if I have to fall back from using Google. I criticize them because I do use their products. When I stop, you can be pretty sure I will also stop writing about them.

I hear you, though I've largely stopped with direct feedback and commentary as it 1. seems to haveno positive effect, and 2. may be having the opposite of my intended outcome. I refer to this as my Denial of Feedback Attack.

The alternatives exist and I recommend using them. This is coming to you via Chrome and Android, but elsewhere I rely on Linux ans MacOS, as well as Firefox and increasingly text-based browsers. (I'm special, I know.)

Protonmail and DuckDuckGo are each quite good. I am divesting mysself of other digital services generally.

As for networks, technology, monopoly, and power, I'm seeing them as increasingly tightly interrelated. Look up Jules Dupuit and his work on rail fares (and classes) and bridge tolls, among others.

> It will be a huge pain to me if I have to fall back from using Google.

Why? Aren't Firefox and DuckDuckGo two straightforward alternatives you could use right now? Switching to both of those would reduce your dependency on Google and be relatively pain free transitions.

I've tried DuckDuckGo a number of times, and it always feels like it can't find the right results to a query, whereas Google gets it right more often than not.

> Corporations are neither pure good, nor pure evil. They are collections of people with collective interests that they pursue.

In theory but not practice, let’s not be naive. Corporations end up serving the purpose of their owners (shareholders) which is to generate maximum profit. That objective causes the corporation to commonly behave much closer to pure evil on your scale (to generate the profit).

> Corporations end up serving the purpose of their owners (shareholders)

Which are (gasp) still collections of people! What's naive is treating a corporation like a single individual with a single identify and set of known traits. That's just plain silly.

> That objective causes the corporation to commonly behave much closer to pure evil on your scale (to generate the profit).

I'd suggest that Google has done more for the Web than any other organization in the 21st century: Google, Gmail, Chrome, Docs.

Nearly single-handedly, Google made the web useful to more than hobbiests and for more than single about me pages.

Did I miss something, or why are you discussing HTTPS as a counter argument here?

Probably because Winer's post links to this earlier one at the bottom


which criticizes Google's support for replacing HTTP with HTTPS. (As someone working on this issue from the opposite side from Dave Winer, I can confirm that Google's support has been incredibly consequential at every moment and at every level in HTTPS adoption.)

> Did I miss something

Yes. See the section titled 'Arguments against securing the web'.


Yeah no thanks. I'm not going to read something so fair-minded as to call those with whom it disagrees "anti-vaxxers". Winer has a point that resonates with many people. You're not going to convince them by calling them idiots.

You're right that the "anti-vaxxers" title is off-putting to many people. It's a shame that you choose not to look past that.

In this very thread I've gotten my fill of juvenile down-talking: "you must not understand how HTTPS works!" "Security is good, m'kay?"

The points that Winer has made are more subtle than this. Any convincing rebuttal would be more subtle. That title is if anything less subtle. If there were a point at that link that was actually responsive to Winer, I presume you would have quoted it.

I didn't see anyone here say "you must not understand how HTTPS works!" or "Security is good, m'kay?". I'll take it in good faith that the comments you quoted are only missing because they got deleted since, or maybe there is some misunderstanding.

If you scroll down the article by Scott Helme, you can see that he does respond to Winer specifically. Here is the link with a fragment that goes to that section of the article:


Since you asked for a quote, here it is:

> It's pretty easy to see that Dave's problem really is with Google here and I disagree with this on many fronts. First, ...

(Read the article to see the rest to avoid copying the whole thing.)

Here is one example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17303861

Since you insisted, I clicked through, and read until I got to this gem:

Google has never said they're going to deprecate HTTP, the only things that have been said are around changing visual indicators for HTTP and HTTPS in the browser...

Perhaps the word "deprecate" has some idiosyncratic personal meaning for this yokel. I've seen the over-the-top warnings Google came up with for valid self-signed certificates, and their warnings for no certificate at all won't be much relaxed in comparison. The most popular browser loudly insisting that users never go to non-TLS sites would certainly be a deprecation.

Kudos for keeping the thread alive, though...

Thank you for your reply, and for reading the article. The comment you linked to is dead, so I guess we were both right about that.

Did I miss something, or why are you discussing HTTPS as a counter argument?

> People are going to dismiss Dave Winer as a crank […]

Maybe he shouldn't have launched an incomprehensible crusade against widespread SSL deployment in a post-Snowden world?

SSL is terrific for things that need to be secured, but there are a lot of web sites out there -- an arguably increasing number given the rise in popularity of static site generators -- that derive absolutely no benefit from being served as HTTPS rather than plain HTTP. Not "modest" benefit, not even "negligible" benefit, but no benefit. I've built relatively large sites that are entirely archives. They have no logins. They have no forms. I am not sure why it's "incomprehensible" to you that I'm less than thrilled that Google has decided I'd damn well better make sure my publicly accessible, 100% static, entirely form-free web site is served only over SSL.

I'd describe Dave Winer as more of an iconoclast than a crank, from what I've seen. But his point is that an awful lot of the Web As It Exists is unsecured, particularly the older personal pages and sites that are still hanging on, and that if Google decides that Chrome will simply no longer browse to unsecured web sites -- or worse, that their search engine won't just deprioritize but will delist unsecured sites -- a lot of the web will be effectively lost.

HTTPS is not just about preventing eavesdropping of private data; it is also about preventing MITM and data tampering.

I agree that from your perspective, you might see no benefit, but the HTTPS push is primarily for the users (and as a result, the web at large).

Do you drop tracking cookies or scripts that fingerprint the users visiting your site? No? Well by resisting the push to TLS, you're allowing ISPs and who knows who else to inject that content into the sessions of your users.

I don't have anything against SSL, and say so in the Google and HTTP piece. My concern is Google presuming to make the rules for the open web. They're guests here, as we all are, and guests don't make the rules.

BUT, Google does not have exactly ultimate power hat DW implies..ever here of Facebook? how about other content social players?

> Google delivers a lot of value right now, and without people pushing back, hard, that value will enable them to get away with anything.

So the more Google does for the web the more dangerous they become. Should Google then start fighting the open web? Would that make the web... better?

"[Google] talks to me like I have no idea how tech companies work internally, but I do. After the next reorg they won't remember any commitments the previous management made."

OMG this is so true in our experience. Google doesn't quite lie, but they come very close. They are always changing people and policies, always in a downward direction. Makes me think they won't be around for much longer. They're just maximizing a monopoly, and everything they do reinforces that view.

Google doesn't quite lie, but they come very close.

The telltale sign for this is a lack of true commitment in their statements. It only counts when they draw a line in the sand.

I don't prefer to share whether or not I agree or disagree with your opinion on whether or not google lies or almost lies, but...

Google is very healthy among many axes. Sadly, I don't think truth or honesty are as potent motivators as ubiquity and convenience. This all to say, Google will be around for a long while.

> "once Google has control of the web, they can turn off huge parts of it for whatever reason..."

What does "turn off" even mean? Following the links, it looks like the author is opposed specifically to Chrome pushing sites to migrate from HTTP to HTTPS, mainly because he claims "the web is a social agreement not to break things" and "we will lose a lot of sites that were quickly posted on a whim, over the 25 years the web has existed."

This is hard for me to get on board with. Standards evolve and improve because major players push them. We don't use floppy disks anymore either. HTTPS provides desperately needed privacy and integrity guarantees. And archive.org continues to make historical sites available -- over HTTPS even if the original wasn't.

> What does "turn off" even mean

Google is dominant in search engine (Google Search), advertising (via profiling and Doubleclick etc), e-mail (Gmail), mobile (Android), and in browser (Chrome).

There are alternatives, but they are dominant. Though perhaps Android is the worst example due to iOS there's basically two choices you got: apple juice or robot oil.

The fear is that Google -consciously or not- abuses its position to leverage another, under the guise of "doing good". They did embrace & extend with Google Reader (which is, by its very definition, proprietary software). They may do something similar with e.g. AMP or HTTP(s). If it isn't already happening. Heck, Android is more and more restrictive with each release.

Well, for one example, Google basically shut off audio for the entire web a while back and panicked and reverted it once people angrily pointed out they had messed up. Given their willingness to destroy swathes of old content (just like killing - for good reason, at least - all existing Flash and Unity content permanently) it's not hard to imagine them disabling HTTP permanently in Chrome, with exceptions for enterprise LTS builds if you have group policies.

Typically Google justifies these decisions to kill portions of the web with "security" and/or "user experience", and it's easy to use both of those reasons to justify disabling HTTP forever. You can remove the 'secure' indicator!

Google could decide that it doesn't want to be associated with guns in any way and not allow advertising for any type of gun related content and purge all gun content on any of its platforms.

Replace guns with ________ and repeat.

But 1) pretty much all advertising platforms reject certain categories of ads, and 2) if Google stops returning search results for certain categories of content and people feel this is wrong, they'll immediately start jumping to Bing or DuckDuckGo etc.

Yes, Google could do all sorts of stupid things. But if they do, wouldn't that be the fastest way for their dominance to erode? The fact that they're a profit-driven corporation, combined with the fact that censorship tends to piss off and drive away customers, doesn't really let me imagine any realistic scenario here.

well, there's two ways to solve that. Regulate or invest in the competition .. or create competition.

Which one would you like?

ISTM the best way to "create competition" would be to start using competing services... which is what DW and others are suggesting in this very thread.

Ugh, Google Reader wasn't a "huge part of the web," it was a product offered by a company. If GR and RSS were basically equivalent then Google was right to conclude that RSS wasn't popular. RSS is an open standard and GR never had any compelling competition even though it should have if RSS were used widely at all. That people are still angry over this shows how out of touch many developers are with the real world / average consumers.

That does not really follow, nor is it a good point. A product offered by a company can be a huge part of the web, and if RSS and Google Reader were equivalent it still could've been popular. One can dispute both, saying that it was only known in a small circle even back then, but none of those points speaks to that.

> That people are still angry over this shows how out of touch many developers are with the real world / average consumers.

I'd rather see it as a lesson on how long developers remember if they feel betrayed by a company. Google Reader + Google Plus real name policy + its integration into Youtube was like a perfect storm to undermine Google's popularity, and then came Snowden. But it began with Google Reader, and I think that is why people remember.

PS: Given who the author is I think no one can fault him to give in his reasoning much importance to RSS.

Google Reader was a huge part of the web experience for a small number of rather vocal people. It was a social network for many of them, and they feel like they lost something they built and owned.

Myself, I used google reader. But only for RSS. So I just moved to a different reader and I've been fine ever since.

I guess I just don't see the point of complaining when a company shuts down their own product.

It was a free product. It came with no guarantee. Just because you liked it doesn't mean you were entitled to it, and it doesn't mean Google did anything wrong by shuttering it.

If you are still using RSS, you need to get with the program. RSS aggregators are out of style for a reason...

What are you saying? That we should use Atom instead? There is no important difference between the protocols. Or are you saying that we shouldn't use "simple syndication" anymore? Why, so we can let Facebook tell us what to look at? Yeah no thanks.

I believe parent is saying that RSS became something publishers publishers did not prefer to Twitter, Facebook, and real-time search. Simple syndication might be preferable to users, but it is not for publishers.

Sure, but I don't see how that's a criticism of RSS? "Nobody uses it because users prefer it!" Besides it still drives e.g. podcasting; apparently those publishers are still making money.

Publishers of text, as a whole, do not prefer RSS to other options to serve the same purpose. That's not a criticism, just a comparison. It means that given the choice, which publishers mainly are, they opt for things that aren't RSS.

I'm saying go download another RSS aggregator, because they are a dime-a-dozen.

Don't rely on cloud-hosted closed-source software to be available forever.

I'm still using RSS and I don't plan to get with your program anytime soon. I also use Twitter, but would never rely on it 100% for anything.

Wait - bear in mind that at the time the alternatives were MySpace, Friendster (already dying), Orkut (also a Google product, and no traction in the US).

"Only for RSS" is the technologist's blind spot - the _experience_ of RSS is what Dave is talking about. What was "the blogosphere". That's been completely co-opted by huge corporate platforms.

You're right!

Let me clarify. I moved to a different reader so that I could continue to have the experience of RSS. To this day, I continue to have the experience of RSS. It hasn't become unavailable. RSS just became less popular, and Google Reader shutting down was a recognition of this.

By the time Google Reader was shut down (2013), Twitter and Facebook were real and strong social networks. There were also plenty of other readers. With this in mind, what do you think the non-technologist sees as the great loss of Google Reader being shut down? Bearing in mind that the experience of "the blogosphere" was already shrinking, not caused by Google Reader shutting down, and that the experience of RSS continues to be available? Can you help me understand?

How was Google Reader in anyway social?

One way is that it was easy to find out how many GR users were subscribed to a given feed.

ISTR other features, too.

Also, Google literally has hundreds if not thousands of products, but everyone just loves going back to the one decade old example of Reader being shut down. Also Reader was nothing special; there were dozens of other just as capable RSS readers before and many more since.

Reader is a convenient example of a product with a large following that met a simple need. Google is notorious for product and feature churn; being one of their paying customers is exceptionally frustrating as you're basically at the mercy of the Product Management's whims when it comes to features in the product. (Either having them added or removed) No one is denying that other products have a similar issue, but with many other products, you have the option to not update or to stick to a version that meets your needs. With Google, there is no choice. ou Similarly, with their free-in-exchange-for-data products, you can't really count on anything being around that long because it's entirely built in Google's world. Any other standalone product, it works even if the company goes belly-up.

Whether or not there are alternatives is kind of irrelevant -- not all alternatives are built equally, not all are cross-compatible for some functionality, migrating out of a product is not always simple, nor is migrating into a product.

Google burns good-will with every product they off; the numerous iterations of chat application is a perfect and current example of this, as I don't doubt that there's probably already a new Google chat product in the works in some department that will be pushed out to Android shortly.

I'm not so sure it had a large following (do you really think it had as many users as say, G-Mail?). However, it is clear that it had a very _vocal_ following, and many of the people who used Reader were people who used it to follow developments in the tech world (e.g., bloggers and journalists), and hence, had a very loud megaphone to complain when it went away.

There were also a large number of other RSS web readers; some web based, some app based, some desktop based. The claim the lack of interest in RSS today is due to Google Reader's withdrawl just isn't backed up by the facts. In fact, I think the cause and the effect are mixed up here. I'm pretty sure that if RSS had managed to achieve mass market appeal, Google Reader would have very likely stuck around.

> being one of their paying customers

How many of the "large following" of Google Reader were paying customers? As far as I can tell, the answer is basically zero.

And that's the problem: Google has no idea how valuable its various apps and services are to their actual users, because the actual users are not the ones paying for them.

To reiterate, don't focus too much on Reader. It's just a convenient example. If you've never been a Google Business or Apps for Education Customer, it's very hard to explain the awkward position you're put in.

No Support

Everything is rolling update, regardless of how it affects your workflow or organization

Regardless of whether you use it or not, changes happen (addition/removal)

Google is incredibly frustrating to do business with as a paying customer, much less as a non-paying customer. However, their influence over the web at the moment is too strong. Gmail and spam filters are a perfect example; saying you can just host your own mail server is ignorant, willfully or otherwise, and your only safe bets are Google or Microsoft. There are workarounds, sure, but that assumes such workarounds will continue to work.

Google is a very capricious company to deal with as a customer, paying or otherwise. It's not about valuing apps, it's that Google has for some time maintained an attitude of "we're google, where else are you gonna go?", and the problem is that there is some truth to this. That's what the article is complaining about, that's what I'm complaining about. Market forces really don't enter into it at Google's size and scope. Others are just as guilty (Amazon, Microsoft), but right now we're talking about Google.

> Google is incredibly frustrating to do business with as a paying customer, much less as a non-paying customer.

Agreed, and that just makes the problem even worse: Google isn't even getting important information on the value of its apps and services from users that are paying them, let alone from users that aren't.

> Market forces really don't enter into it at Google's size and scope.

I don't think this is true. Google is responding to market forces, just in the wrong market. Instead of responding to market forces from their users (even including paying users, as you say), it is responding to market forces from advertisers. Google simply does not appear to see their business model as providing apps and services to people; that's just a side effect. They appear to see their business model as harvesting revenue from ads. And that business model is a really sucky one for all of us in the long term.

> saying you can just host your own mail server is ignorant, willfully or otherwise

I really beg to differ about that.

Erm, no. They might have overestimated how valuable its various apps and services are to their actual users, but they will find out.

They've killed or neglected many others. Google Voice and Hangouts seem to be on life support. Play Music will be killed soon too.

Beg to differ. The RSS Reader landscape had many, many competitors, then Twitter happened and Facebook opened up to non .edu domains. And then Google Reader happened.

RSS wasn't even the point. RSS as a standard is still in use. It's just that we've come to a point where it's a battle of platforms, and platforms mean money. Do you use Facebook, or Twitter, or IG, or Snapchat? I'd still like a unified experience, but none of those companies want to be a party to it. They want to take as much of the pie as they can get.

Yeah, ask anyone outside of hacker news if they ever heard of Google Reader. Or RSS.


> Yeah, ask anyone outside of hacker news if they ever heard of Google Reader.

Consider that because of your highly-technical background, you may be underestimating the popularity of Google Reader and overestimating the popularity of Hacker News among the general internet-savvy population at the time.

Are you replying to me? That's exactly what I'm saying.

Google Reader was an irrelevant product to the general public, only adopted by a very small niche of users, just as Hacker News is largely irrelevant and unknown to the general public.

> Google Reader was an irrelevant product to the general public

Do you have any numbers to back this up? From what I remember, it had at least several million users.

No hard numbers, but here are some estimates:


While CNN and Engadget had 24M and 7M RSS subscribers (which include Google Reader), the numbers drop quickly, with the 3rd one having 1.7M (NYT).

Also, apparently the Google Reader Android app had <5M downloads at time of shutdown.

Given that distribution and how fast it drops, I'd expect Reader to have had a couple million daily active users at time of shutdown, a tiny drop in the Internet & Google ocean.

And you can go around and ask people who don't work in tech: nobody will have heard of Google Reader.

Isn't this entire site dedicated to discussing things 'nobody' has heard about?

Well RSS you know plenty of devs have... At least hears of it... I hope...

Lets look at technologies Google has captured then adversely affected either the adoption or implementation thereof.

* Google Reader and RSS

* Google Talk and Jabber

* Gmail and self-hosted mail (not exclusively Google, but one of the big mail senders)

The post's point was not that this is malicious, it's about what happens in big corporations with big ideas, big roadmaps and big reorgs. The fact that this has happened quite a few times is unsurprising.

I disagree on the third point. It was spam and scams that ruined self-hosted email. Gmail (and other large providers) became the solution to that because the network effects of centralized spam filtering made for an increasingly valuable service to users.

Which started with their purchase of Postini, IIRC. One of the premier commercial spam identification and filtering services.

Checking this, a quick search finds:


Oh, and, perhaps a bit ironically with respect to recent conversation and concerns around Google and its acquisitions:

In September 2011, Google announced it would discontinue a number of its products, including Google Web Security, which was acquired by Google as part of Postini.[7] On August 21, 2012, Google announced it would be shutting down all of Postini's web services and folding the service's users into Google Apps.

I recall that, but it was no longer in my conscious memory.

How did Google adversely affect Jabber?

They implemented Google Talk, which was fantastic and opened it up to the world with XMPP support, again, fantastic. Implemented Jabber federation which again was great. One of Google's stated goals was interoperability[1]. Because of this a lot of people moved from running their own Jabber servers to Gtalk. Google then started to add non-standard extensions[2] and in 2014 dropped all interoperability in favour of Google Hangouts integration, meaning that with a Gtalk account you could no longer talk to Jabber accounts.

If this was Microsoft, the term that would be used would be Embrace, Extend, Extinguish, but it's probably more along th lines of team reorgs and changes in strategy. Google claimed trouble with spam XMPP federation, but this[3] article sums up some of the feelings at the time, and it's more likely that with a bunch of different products Google needed to consolidate efforts and the new team had different prioritie (like hangouts and wave at the time).

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Talk#History_of_interop...

[2] - https://developers.google.com/talk/jep_extensions/extensions

[3] - https://www.zdnet.com/article/google-moves-away-from-the-xmp...

> but capturing RSS and then shutting it off

... what? Ultra, ultra hyperbole much? I get it, shutting down reader sucked, but seriously you can literally use any RSS reader to read feeds. Google didn't "kill RSS".

Seriously, voicing opinions is one thing but fear mongering and hyperbole is another and this article leans far too heavily towards the latter.

I stopped following the author's site many years ago because I found myself too angry too often at the things he writes.

I'm not a big RSS guy, but when I read an article on that before, what I understand happened is:

1. RSS readers everywhere

2. Google comes out with one

3. Other RSS readers wither on the vine b/c everyone uses #2

4. Google decides to sunset their RSS reader.

5. ???

Is that wrong?

Yep, not what happened. Google didn't make one; they acquired one. Google sunset that reader (I'll agree that in retrospect it was the wrong move, but regardless), but at no point did RSS readers stop existing. Two notes:

- RSS readers are _dead simple_ to build. If you're an average programmer you could make an MVP within 2 days.

- Many of the RSS readers are/were free. I don't think Google having Reader caused any great migrations, but even if it did I doubt it would have caused other readers to implode or anything like that.

I _believe_ what happened is that Reader had a small but vocal user group who were (understandably) upset at the sunsetting, and caused a big hubbub about it. I _suspect_ many of today's Reader complainers have never actually used Reader, and are just piggy-backing off some low-hanging Google bashing fruit.

Again, I'll happily nod at the badness of Google killing off Reader, but I intensely dislike the amount of hyperbole in the statement that Google "killed RSS". It's a thing that never took off. That's all that happened. It's still accessible, there are many clients you could use, and so on - it just so happens that most sites don't bother creating an RSS feed.

Look at what happened with Google Maps recently. Was pretty cheap to use, people flocked to it. Then they changed prices. We went from never worrying about paying since we have a relatively small amount of traffic, to scrambling to reduce our usage. Now it is their product, they can do what they want with it, but how many sites are pretty locked into Google Maps?

This seems to be what Google does. They either kill off a free service that people relied on or begin charging lots of money.

> a free service

> that people relied on

Maybe when the "Web 2.0" bubble finally bursts, a key learning for the world will be: you can't build a sustainable business on top of someone else's unsustainable business. If your business depends on a long-term regular supply of anything (information, raw materials, whatever), then you probably want to figure out as quickly as possible how to pay something close to what that is worth and ignore the shifty guys knocking on the back door saying "hey, dude, look at these steaks! best quality! super low prices! don't ask where they come from... I'll even give you the first batch for free!"

This sounds eerily similar to "Extend, Embrace, Extinguish".

Only in Google's case, they capture the market fully and then kill it rather than leave it running the captive portal.

Non-web person here: No idea that Google Maps costs money for anyone, assumed it was ad-supported like anything else.

Well, in this case it's if you want to use their API to show maps in your application. If you're doing that, you're going to need to pay them in terms of total requests to their backend. Their B2B service and advertising probably funds the normal consumer app (ie just logging onto 'maps.google.com' to find your local coffee shop).

I think they gave us 2 months, which isn't really enough time to adequately look at alternatives given all the other things going on in an organization.

Had we had more time I probably would have looked at doing our own implementation using leaflet and Open Street Map. But that is a pretty big project to throw in when are in the middle of a year long roadmap. I assume this played into Googles strategy. Give them enough of a heads up, but not enough time for most to move away.

You could simply pay them for the little bit of extra time that it would cost you to figure out where you want to move.

It was a thing on here just over a month ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16980166

I think the service used to only really impact medium-to-big sites, but the price change basically impacts any site. After 25,000 map loads (page hits) you start incurring some substantial fees.

Combine this with yesterday's ill-received-on-HN 'HTTPS Anti-Vaxxers; dispelling common arguments against securing the web' [1], where Scott Helme calls out Dave Winer on his past articles that bemoan the effects of browser-makers' push towards HTTPS.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17287877

Isn't this the guy that got a bone-on about https ranking higher on Google Search?

Edit: Yes, yes it is http://scripting.com/2014/08/08/myBlogDoesntNeedHttps.html

> My fear is this -- once Google has control of the web, they can turn off huge parts of it for whatever reason

Ask Dennis Prager, Steven Crowder, Philip DeFranco. This is old news, not a vague fear

> It's like when we change administrations in Washington. Very chaotic

Not at all the same. In the USA, we have a baseline of actions the government cannot take: it is described in the Constitution and contains a well defined appeals process, as well as a large set of tools to protect against tyranny. Google offers its users and even its paying paying clients none of these privileges.

> once Google has control of the web

How does this even make sense?

This is like saying "Once flying squirrels take control of the government...".

Sure, a government controlled by flying squirrels is something scary. But that doesn't make any sense.

You should be scared of walled gardens displacing the web.

> How does this even make sense ?

Google is highly influential in how information is consumed and distributed. People use chrome to browse web, google search for searching information etc. If they have major control over how information is distributed, they have major control over the web. Ofcourse there are other similar services that are not provided by Google, but they are very less influential due to lack of users.

> You should be scared of walled gardens displacing the web.

What if web becomes a walled garden ? Look at what Google did with DRM[1], even Mozilla had to give up their efforts to fight against it[2]. How could that be possible without having a major influence over the web ?

[1] https://boingboing.net/2017/01/30/google-quietly-makes-optio... [2] https://blog.mozilla.org/blog/2014/05/14/drm-and-the-challen...

Not to mention AMP on every news site, and Google Analytics on nearly every page.

None of that equals "having control of the web".

> What if web becomes a walled garden ?

That, again, doesn't even make sense.

A walled garden isn't "you need to pay to access my content". A walled garden is "you can only access my content".

Apple is a walled garden. Facebook is a walled garden. The web, by definition, isn't a walled garden.

And that's why Apple and Facebook kinda hate the web.

No, just because you concoct the most ridiculous analogy you can think of does not make it so.

It was only about 20 years ago that Microsoft went from thinking the web has nothing to do with their core business, to becoming the dominant browser maker, to spending 5 years without releasing an update, and hamstringing all efforts to push the state of web development forward for almost a decade.

Google is approaching a similar level of dominance with Chrome now, and it's pretty scary when you consider the kinds of power plays they could make if they really wanted to. A walled garden, by comparison doesn't have much chance of displacing something as broad as the web except by a complete paradigm shift—mobile apps are the closest thing we've had since the web became dominant, but there's still the installation barrier that has slowed or reversed the process with app fatigue.

Google is absolutely central to the overwhelming majority of the user experience of the internet in the US. From the perspective of most consumers, Google already does control the internet.

Google's AMP changes the architecture of the web. Publishers play along or risk losing placement / traffic.

Google doesn't have any significant control over the web. Google wins big in two categories. Search and Ad Revenue.

Google Search processes 2/3-3/4 of all searches, with declining market share. Search is held hostage by user's expectations, if the quality of search were to decline users would leave.

AdSense is in a commanding position, but it is under attack from a lot of different directions. Facebook gives more targeted ads. Snap allows more qualified ads. Apple is revamping it's ad system.

Google is in a strong position, but this isn't a case of them gaining more control, and their power is defiantly under check by other interests.

Google has significant control of how people access the web with web browsers (Chrome), email (Gmail), video (YouTube), user authentication, and mobile operating systems (Android and ChromeOS).

Okay, I'm not even going to finish reading this drivel...

Using the closure of Google Reader as an example of how Google could "turn off huge parts of web" is ridiculous.

Google reader was just a web-based RSS reader. Its user base was dwindling because RSS was falling out of fashion. Google alerted users well ahead of time of the closure, and gave users ample opportunity to move their subscriptions to another RSS aggregator.

Closing their own service is not a big deal. It's wasn't the first service Google has shuttered, nor will it be the last. Every company does this to services that no longer benefit the company.

No data was removed from the web.

No functionality was destroyed.

The Google Reader source code was made available to the public.

Competing services were champing at the bit to replace Google Reader (and didn't succeed, because hardly anyone uses RSS anymore).

It seems like Dave Winner suffers from a lack of understanding of how the web works, and an irrational distrust of large corporations.

Yeah. I think a lot of people tend to scapegoat Google for the death of openly indexed content, when all they really did was jump ship well after it was clearly dying. I mean, it's true that Google Reader was a better product than the competition, and being free it probably did "suppress" the market for paid readers, leaving an impoverished landscape when they exited. But if RSS was a vibrant technology, would they have killed it? No, they'd have tried to exploit it somehow. But it was going nowhere.

Frankly, if you want to point a finger for the death of RSS, blame Facebook and Twitter.

> The Google Reader source code was made available to the public.

It was? Where to find it? Please don't tell me it got lost when Google Code shut down.

I find this guys fears potentially coming from a place of fundamental misunderstanding.

Personally I far more fear Amazon's literal control of the web and the monoculture they've created. For us personally moving off of AWS would be a nightmare.

Perhaps you should be making plans to be multiplatformable now?

At this point I'm happy to do business with AWS to sustain it as a counterweight to Google and Facebook. Amazon are fairly evil to their employees and suppliers, but thus far they haven't done evil to their customers in the way that the other two have.

There is software like terraform that allows to abstract away the differences in cloud providers exactly for this reason.

Remember, power corrupts. If you're not worried about Google's power, you're probably not paying attention.

RSS didn't die because of Google. Other services took over once Google Reader shut down. The same will happen when Google cuts off other arms of the octopus.

Slightly off-topic...

From The China Hustle, Dirty Money, and The Big Short, it is clear people are putting a lot of trust in the "free market" across the board. Society seems convinced that abusive behavior is acceptable collateral damage required for "free markets" to work; that accepting white collar crime is better than regulating a big company; giving a $1B fine to a company that made $40B in profits is punishment enough to keep companies honest. It is not clear there is a better way...

You should fear ATT & Verizon much much more.

All for-profit organizations employ "Boiling frog" [1] strategy depending upon the market, consumers, and as their product goes through evolution. Whether the end-goal of it is for good or not, it's hard to judge.

The fear of change expressed on this article is natural. Enforcing HTTPS is good for consumers. But, we need to watch carefully with the market dominance of Google Chrome.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog

I read through the comments on here and was reminded of Tim Bray's commentary from almost 15 years ago:


"To mangle three metaphors, if you drink that kool-aid, you’re either locked in the trunk like Dave Winer says or if you like my metaphor-ware better, you’re a sharecropper. Either way, it sucks."

The pursuit of profit kills society. All our social suffering exists because we have been trying to merge two incompatible ideas. We expect our lawyers, doctors, technocrats, politicians... to do the right thing. However, the right thing is almost always detrimental to profits. Profit always trumps "right thing".

The post should also mention AMP (E.E.E. for HTML) and Material Design animations (which appear to be applied to sites during rendering in Chrome, even when the sites don't use Material Design).

> Material Design animations (which appear to be applied to sites during rendering in Chrome, even when the sites don't use Material Design)

Can you support this claim with examples?

"The more you tighten your grip, the more star systems will slip through your fingers."

Google is headed for a total crash on its current trajectory. Almost the entire business is built on an anti-user model. At some point there will be a reckoning. Their end will be triggered by technology trend that they will be unable to compete with.

The solution to fixing Google is funding more startups with ideas on how to take them out. Google's weapon here is keeping tens of thousands of good technology people locked up with golden hand cuffs. That and strangling startups in their cradle.

Microsoft's broken model got destroyed and so will Google's. It takes a long time for these slow motion train wrecks to play out.

Dave Winer's writing is concise and simple. Somehow, he doesn't sacrifice beauty to achieve that.

But next year's roadmap from Google will make the web more like AOL....

And that's saying a mouthful.

As a small publisher since 2004, every day for 14 years, I am sick and tired of Google's serfdom. Their monopoly on ads, their Panda updates, etc etc, do not respect anyone else, but Google's interests. They will make internet into a strip mall like entity with the same boring list of players, the monotonous list of websites, all for their own profit and monopoly.

Internet is supposed to be about the content, ideas, journalism, etc. But there is virtually no VC investment in the content. Nothing. That is scary, and Google is single handedly responsible for it.

I have the same attitude. Especially its been hard when Google entered our "niche" last year and suddenly became #1 result overnight:

I blogged about it back then: http://blog.speedchecker.xyz/2017/07/20/lessons-learned-from...

> But there is virtually no VC investment in the content. Nothing

Have you stopped to consider that content is a nearly-worthless commodity for which very few people are willing to pay actual cash for?

No, it's not. Content makes billions and trillions, and has always done it. From print to theater to radio to movies, since Gutenberg and Shakespeare and first newspapers, content been generating the revenue.

Then I'm sure you'll have no problem finding people willing to pay to subscribe to your content.

Take a look at the finances of content providers over the past 20 years. How many publishers, newspapers, studios, etc. shut down? Why do you think that is?

For newspapers, it was largely poor decision making and Craigslist.

I've worked for two large newspaper companies in the past. They both operated on this model:

- Newsstand fee covers the cost of printing and distribution

- Classified ads revenue pays for everything else.

Craigslist hurt newspapers and local news far more than most people realize.

How about, for starters, that Google and FB control 85% of the ad market, with the rest going to everyone else.

Also, I run a website for doctors. Google learns that my visitor is a doctor, and next time displays a doctor related ad on Candy Crush, when she is playing the game. So by invading her privacy, Google makes money and my website literally competes against Candy Crush for the ad revenue.

None of that solves for the fact that your readers aren't willing to pay anything to read your content.

You can remove Google and Facebook, replace by anyone else, or eliminate it entirely. It still won't solve the problem: nobody wants to pay for your content.

Maybe the problem is in your content...

maybe the problem is that google allows the quick indexing of all content produced on the web, including pirated content, and then uses a very opaque algorithm to guide users to sites. This has the externality of making ad-funded content easily available. Not very many people are going to pay for something when you can get the exact same thing for free somewhere else, and in a global marketplace it makes sense for someone to plagiarize paid content and reproduce it for ad-revenue alone. $20/day won't support me in California, but in India?

Removing Google and Facebook changes the game entirely. They have such a strangle hold on the way the internet operates financially--by utilizing their deep integration with users' usage of the web to feed them highly targeted ads--that alternate usage models can't compete.

> Not very many people are going to pay for something when you can get the exact same thing for free somewhere else, and in a global marketplace it makes sense for someone to plagiarize paid content and reproduce it for ad-revenue alone. $20/day won't support me in California, but in India?

Exactly, content became a near-worthless commodity.

> Removing Google and Facebook changes the game entirely.

No, it doesn't.

But it seems that what you're suggesting is that ad-funded business models should be outlawed, is that it?

I think that the same people who do search and who do blogging shouldn't be allowed to leverage that data to sell ads. It's unethical.

I also think that Google and any indexing service should be held accountable for linking to pirated content.

I don't fully understand the way Google sells ads on a marketplace, but I think that Google is guilty of being unsavory in their behavior as the premier online advertisement market place and search giant.

I don't think that ad-funding a business should be illegal, I just don't think that advertising should be as valuable as it is when the biggest data horders on the web are the ones doing the advertising.

You have no idea about the content, but you think you do. Somehow, current deals for Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox are in the billions. And so is value of News Corp, CBS, AIC and so on. Why do you think you can proclaim the near worthlessness of the content or that people don't want my content? Because you are an opinionated nobody? What do you know?

I'm not proclaiming anything in particular about your content, but you don't seem to be able to fund anyone willing to pay for it.

We need a micropayment system so I can donate a dime or a dollar to an article or info site I like. Seems like something the US government should do to improve peoples lives and promote commerce. They are the controllers of the US dollar after all.

Then someone needs to set up a search engine that has the option of only returning sites that are controlled by an individual person, not a corp or non-profit or other group. I would be interesting to see how that might work.

The bitcoin cash guys are tying to do that.

https://www.moneybutton.com https://www.yours.org

If you can reach your customers yourself, instead of Google sending them your way, why care about Google at all?

Because when you live in a serfdom, you are a serf. It's just the system we have under the Google's monopoly. And the system defines what you are able to achieve. See here: medgadget.com/google

I'm a bit tired of the fear that Google or Facebook or whatever will ruin the internet when the solution is so simple.

Just stop clicking on the freaking ads already!

Like most IT guys, I block everything possible: cookies (whitelist), CSS history, ads, beacons, tracking of all sorts, http/s referrer, webrtc, browser fingerprinting, DNS prefetch, and much more, passing all of this through a personally-controlled remote non-US VPN that logs absolutely nothing. Ads? What ads?

I pass all traffic through this, including mobile devices, so protection even when away from home. Is it 100% foolproof? No. But I have yet to have issues, and Google and others have zero profiles on me, as I have no accounts with them or Facebook, et al. It's nice to be able to be relatively off-the-grid while still taking advantage of what the Internet has to offer.

It's a bit remarkable how quickly this sort conspiratorial thinking feeds on itself. The victim constructs a paranoid fantasy where a single company can "turn off huge parts" of the web. This is silly in itself but what's interesting is how the fantasy completely diverges from reality. Here the simple reality is Google single-handedly saved the web by introducing a browser, Chrome, that actually implemented web standards faithfully and made the web performant. And this is just one contribution: on the whole, including everything from web fonts to HTTP/2 to Android's support for the web... and it's clear that no other single entity has done more for the web than Google. But note the dynamic where the truth reinforces the paranoid fantasy. Every single contribution now becomes just more proof that Google controls the web and will shut it down!

My favorites are the ones that never knew Google Reader existed, but use it as a martyr every chance they get.

>My fear is this -- once Google has control of the web, they can turn off huge parts of it for whatever reason, however thoughtless, and without disclosing why.

This person has either been watching too many movies that depict the web as a place where IP's can be traced by writing Visual Basic GUI's or doesn't understand how the Internet works.

For many people the web is google. If google drops a site out of search it is effectively turned off for many people.

Another point that he has been harping on is that lots of sites do not need https, but Chrome will shortly warn on visiting those sites. It stands to reason some future version of Chrome will block those sites outright. There are parts of the internet that could disappear when that happens.

You may not necessarily agree with his doomsday scenarios, but I assure you Dave Winer[1] understands how the internet works.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dave_Winer

There is no site I know of - or to be more accurate, there is no user of an internet application I know of - that does not need transport-layer security.

I don't need it when I'm reading sports stories, when I'm researching a technical topic of interest, or when I'm reading out-of-copyright literature. If someone else does need it when doing the exact same things, that's fine, but my unsecured reading does not impose a cost on them.

Correction - you think you don't need it when you're reading those things, which indicates a serious misunderstanding of HTTPS' problem domain.

Unless what you're trying to say is that you're totally fine with third parties (governments, ISPs, the person whose WiFi you're connected to, some random script kiddie):

- snooping on your browsing habits (you can intercept and read off an entire HTTP request plain as day, including headers such as User-Agent strings, the specific URL that's being visited, etc, allowing you to build a profile of/digitally fingerprint the unsuspecting user; these are encrypted in an HTTPS request)

- maliciously handling your requests, returning whatever response they please instead of forwarding it to the intended remote, allowing them to not just censor the content but straight-up lie to you without your knowledge

- tampering with responses - injecting a cryptominer, tracker, script that adds your computer to a botnet or other malicious/non-benevolent script into the response before it reaches you or even just fucking around with the CSS or throwing in porn for the lulz

Why do I trust the host at the far end of the connection more than those in the middle? In fact HTTPS has done little to prevent any of the things you mention, especially through e.g. ad networks.

I wouldn't mind if they were to "throw in some porn for the lulz", but that has never happened for me...

The point is that for this sort of web use, my brain is already turned on, and there's nothing at risk. If someone rewrites a page to mislead me, I'll notice eventually, whether that someone is running a TLS site or MitMing a non-TLS site.

ps. your first sentence is pretty obnoxious; there's no need to personalize this.

My blogs are a good example of that one. I don't have certificates installed as of yet.

Google is just another big corporation with many shareholders from all over the world. They can't control or predict what's upcoming cause technology is shaping rapidly. I've seen companies go bankrupt because of this type of stagnation but I think the major problem of Google is that they dangerously centralizing everything (including open source) and they had privacy concerns in the past so yeah. In terms of innovation, stability, performance, or security I really trust them BUT in terms of privacy, spying and how they handle big data or how they shaping internet I think they will always suck. IMHO if not Google then X would actually have exactly the same plan.

> In terms of innovation, stability, performance, or security I really trust them

Just wait till their automated algorithm suddenly (and mistakenly) blocks your account for "suspicious activity." (I've been there)

Maybe there is something "innovative" to using such algorithms but I'm not sure it's all good. What's bad though: stability, for you as a user.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact