It almost sounds like a reasonable system. Except of course that Hacker News is that public forum. And, it sounds like if you can't get enough votes here, you're unlikely to get your problem solved.
It will be interesting to see if HN as a Google support forum works in this case.
I’m sure they’d love to close HN threads where they consider the issue resolved as “closed, won’t fix” and find any further discussion not useful.
And product owners wonder why their seasoned developers hesitate to have anything to do with Google. Hopefully one day Google's prestige with the tech-illiterate will dry up and the fact that they're simply THE GOOGLE stops working for them. But I wouldn't count on it.
But Microsoft has actual support. People you can call. Product-teams you can reach if your issue is of a technical nature.
Google has none of those things.
We're admittedly a smaller fish in this ocean, and large projects will have a harder time getting 1:1 touch (Naturally, and I can't fault them for having to be more proactive about protecting their time, and google may have tried to do a similar "Tradeoff calculation"), but I want to assure that at least from where I stand, we really try as a general statement to make ourselves accessible and accountable to our users.
(Typical disclaimer, don't speak for the company, etc, etc)
I've never resolved an issue based on information in a Google or Apple forum. I get the impression they're put out there as tar babies for people to vent their frustrations on until they brick their devices and give up.
IIRC about 20% of users profess their undying hatred for every layout change on every software product ever; and yet this fact does not impact churn at all.
Thus, no matter how good the support is in general for a product, people complaining about layout changes will always be ignored. There are only disadvantages to listening to them (such as, if you keep the old layout around, requiring redundant front-end updates for new back-end features) and no advantages.
General populace is not Google's "customers" (in traditional senses - they're not the source of income stream) and it shows in how Google has setup their customer support structure.
"Why is it unethical to launch a censored search product in China?"
"What's the slippery slope here?"
Well, you have your answer today.
The unethical slippery slope is this one: when you start accepting censorship where do you stop?
Since this "ahoy" plug-in is making China's censorship inefficient, the logical step is to ban it to respect China's will to censor. But you have to ban it from everybody right? Otherwise, some people in China could access it with a VPN or a proxy.
So here we are.
In order to get a "attaboy" from China, Google starts censoring tools globally on their Chrome Store.
With great power comes great responsibility would say Ben Parker. So yes, IMHO even companies should have some kind of "morality", some redline they should/would not cross. Google used to have one not so long ago "Don't be evil", but that's ancient history.
It allows access to sites banned in Portugal.
(And even then, are you sure you should believe the answer?)
This is at best a non-mystery.
How to install plugins in Chrome without going through app store https://www.cnet.com/how-to/how-to-install-chrome-extensions...
IIRC, Mozilla is also a lot more open about why they took stuff down.
You could just end the sentence there. Google is notoriously opaque, whereas openness (is that a word?) is one of Mozilla's core values .
Use firefox! They do not seem to have this conflict of interest problem.
So, let's see the other side, i guess:
"We have nearly 1500 blocked sites in Portugal, where ~80% are piracy sites, 19ish% are gambling sites, and Uber (I know, right?). The full list is available at our site https://sitesbloqueados.pt/ and we are able to compile this list with info gathered by our fellow users, automatically."
(IE the developer themselves)
Yeah, a tool that's used for avoiding blocks on piracy and gambling, i'm shocked to find it was taken down!
Regardless of whether you agree, i think it's not uncommon or non-standard, and probably not (unlike some here seem to think) related to chinese censorship or other fun conspiracy theories.
> It's really interesting to see this story presented this way and nobody here seems to have even bothered to try to find another perspective.
It's really interesting to see people serve as the unpaid PR department of huge corporations who have paid someone to make this unilateral decision, but don't allow any of the tens of thousands of employees to offer an explanation.
The decision to pull the extension was made by someone (there's no algorithm to take the blame here). And a decision was made to ignore the thousands of users asking for an explanation. So, yeah, I don't really understand standing up and defending that company.
Wonder if a Googler could use their 20% gig to offer real support to real users. Probably a fireable offense.
To give you an example, one of the popular websites that was banned just showed photographs of the covers of the daily newspapers. This is 100% legal but some media group complained and that's about it.
That said, very likely the authors of the extension mainly target censorship, and consider anything else also becoming available as a nice side effect. (Or simply an acceptable trade off. Like the really dark porn and illegal business stuff with Tor.)
None of the materials involved are banned or removed. They are simply only available legally, and not illegally. There isn't even any particular hardship in accessing them.
That's not censorship by any normal definition of censorship.
It would be if the materials themselves were no longer available.
Before you respond, I should say that Portugal has a law explicitly legitimating and regulating ride-sharing services, including Uber.
Google either needs to regrow a spine, or deprecate the attractive nuisance that is a centralized app repository.
IE censorship is defined by the OED as:
"The suppression or prohibition of any parts of books, films, news, etc. that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security."
This is exactly none of those things. No book, film, news, etc is being prohibited. At all. The only thing being prohibited are illegal downloads of them. The book, film, news, etc it links to are still available legally!
webster is similar.
It would be censorship if the material those links went to was banned. But it isn't. The only ban is on accessing them without paying.
(Banning Gambling is also not censorship)
I'm also pointing out it's an incredibly clear webstore TOS violation.
Like, the TOS literally prohibits this, and has forever.
So saying "we have no idea what happened" is instead a distraction.
I'm not sure what spine you expect them to regrow.
You also seem to not distinguish at all between government censorship (which this is not) and private actor censorship (which this is by your definition of censorship, but not by just about any dictionary).
So i'm not sure it's worth trying to have a meaningful discussion here.
This obviously only could have occurred because it made sense in Google land. So yes, no meaningful discussion can happen with someone who insists on that paradigm, just like no meaningful discussion can occur with Google itself - it followed its rules, and therefore acted correctly.
Back to the big picture (and putting aside whether Portugal's block list is itself censorship). Here we've got a Free app which advocates breaking the law - essentially political speech analogous to a poster advocating ways of dodging the draft. And it has been made significantly harder to obtain, due to the deliberate choice of a powerful organization. Yes this does certainly sound like censorship to me!
Not that there's much legal remedy, or seemingly even a public-relations-based one any more. So really it's that for those of us who believe in the Internet (ie unfettered end to end communications), but perhaps have been giving Google a MITM-pass due to technological constraints, this is just another example for why we need to collectively wise up and get the fuck away from Google.
Using Firefox seems easier though. It also helps to prevent a future where a handful of global platforms have a veto on what software we are allowed to use.
This being said, Chrome won't install .crx files from anywhere nowadays, only the official store. I'm not sure if this can be overridden - the way I think it works is that Chrome can be told to install extensions via group policy or some other admin-centric mechanism, and that once the extensions are installed this is when update_url comes into play.
Wouldn't Mozilla count in one of those global platforms? I'm not sure what this "handful" includes and why it doesn't include Mozilla. It is by many metrics the 2nd most used browser.
Meanwhile, Mozilla has a single browser with a minority of the userbase. Negative user feedback is much more important, as Firefox is much more easily replaced (no Google login or linked services), and they have nowhere near the scope of potential impact that Google does, let alone resources to back it up.
They also seem do have more transparent interests and incentives—they don’t run an ad network (and i don’t begrudge them the google royalties in the least).
So they bring a bit of diversity to the table that makes us less dependent on one specific type of vested interests.
I will admit I find some ironic humor in the recent youtube/twitter/google/facebook love-affair with censorship; it's the thought that these nerds created a global platform and discovered -- shock and horror -- that this world full of people really don't like each other very much and have the audacity to express that view from time to time. Rather than accept that basic truth, they set about trying to change it.
The corollary is an old saying about business models that goes like this : if any part of your model requires the user to change a behavior, you will fail.
Still waiting for that other shoe to drop.
Ailine companies are not the core backbone of the digital information society. Google currently plays a significant part of that backbone.
Nope. Otherwise how would you know if you're booking a flight to Moscow, Russia or Moscow, Idaho?
Airline companies are not the core backbone of the digital information society.
You are correct. Airlines are the backbone of the global economy. Airlines are far more important than the internet. That's why cities build airports for free, and internet companies have to pay for their infrastructure.
Tools for evading censorship are one of the most important things to censor (in order to make sure the rest of the censorship is effective).
There are more publicly visible examples  of how China pressures Hollywood to make changes to movies in order to release films in China. Even changes to films not released (eg, Change A in order to release B).
I don’t see why they wouldn’t make similar demands to Google, but there’s no way for me to confirm or deny this. Technically it’s pretty hard for Google to prove they don’t censor stuff because of China unless they go fully open data, open source. And they can’t do that.
There are few tech companies that can be trusted. I hope Apache doesn’t break down.
When the western nations got more assertive about regulating the internet then they give ideological justification for more authoritarian governments wanting to do the same. And so the corporations will stop resisting in order to do business with the more authoritarian governments.
No judgement. It's a very difficult situation for all involved which include the governements worried about their citizens information being all in the US, western nations worried about disinformation, and corporations that just want to do business.
Tangent: is it recency bias or some other unstated bias I may be unaware of, that there appears to be an increase in completely reasonable, and in-no-way inflammatory comments being downvoted for no ascertainable reason going on in the last few weeks?
/thinking out loud
A) The statements/arguments/facts in your comment are incorrect, but your conclusion is correct based on $something_else.
I don't want to vote up because if someone is factually wrong, or making their argument based on faulty logic, it can dilute a legitimate discussion. But can't deny that I have an emotional desire to vote it up.
B) The statements/arguments/facts in your comment are correct, but your conclusion is incorrect based on $something_else.
I don't want to vote up because someone can have and understand all the facts, but still be wrong. But I also want to encourage a healthy discourse with accurate facts.
C) Although I disagree with your overall conclusion, I think your argument is still worth considering.
I want to vote up, but also down
D) You are technically right, but you are being an asshole.
I want to encourage civil behavior, but if their argument has merit, I don't want to downvote.
I guess what I'm trying to say is: A simple up/down vote is a leaky abstraction. I'm not sure that adding more voting options is a good idea, but I'm also not convinced that a single up/down is good enough.
This also depends on the voting/commenting guidelines of the site you are on, obviously.
I hereby declare your comment "productive, in despair, scatterbrained yet True with a capital T despite me not believing in true things" upvoted! :)
I very rarely downvote a comment. I sometimes upvote two comments that disagree with each other because I feel both of them offered interesting evidence or insight.
OTOH, I often upvote comments because they are polite, reasonable and I agree with them. So, in that sense, my use of voting is asymmetric.
Sometimes I think I should downvote more often just to use voting consistently. But, it seems extremely negative to do that to someone.
Someone had an opinion and they expressed it. It can just sit there. Why should I try to suppress it? Maybe other people should be able to see it and react to it?
Because it is simply a completely bare dig at the company with nothing useful added?
What is it contributing to the discussion?
I’m far more worried (now) about the censorship of YouTube, etc.