Seems like plenty of notice to me. One would assume that as the deadline gets closer, more prominent notices will be given. How many months do you need to move your data?
Google should be held to high standards, both because they are an important part of internet infrastructure and because they've stated they aspire to high standards. Five months' notice meets those high standards as far as I'm concerned.
The years went on and she got a Gmail account, but she would log in to Yahoo every year or so to read through her old journals to help process what was going on in her life.
Only one year she tried to log in and her account was gone. Yahoo, she learned, simply deletes your email if you don't log in for a year. And she had gone 14 months.
Personally, I think deleting data like this--especially when the storage requirements are so tiny--is unforgivable. I can think of many, many reasons why someone would put something important on Google Groups and then not log in for six months. There are people away for Peace Corps right now. There are people deployed in Afghanistan. There are people hiking the Appalachian Trail (well maybe it's a little late for that).
Many thousands of people will feel completely violated if Google does this. Google can count on that. For those people, Google will have simply destroyed their most precious data without warning.
I used to think that one of the selling points of Google Apps was that I could leave my data there and trust them to protect it. No more worrying about crashed hard drives. But it's become clear that's not the case.
Fuck no! Double fuck no!
Do people actually think that? That's beyond ignorant/naive. Data in the hands of a for profit corporation, safe? Did you read the terms of service / limitation of warranty? The short version is "fuck you and your data". It's not safe from loss at the whims of market/share holder needs/etc. It's also not safe from being compromised either by internal employees or external hackers. It's also not protected by most of the Bill of Rights (those mostly apply to government vs people not business vs people). It's easily supeoned, if the business doesn't just turn over the data on request.
Safe is encrypted on multiple devices geographically (and preferably jurisdictionally) separated.
The lowest acceptable level that can still be considered safe (a very loose definition of safe) is; a copy in plain/open formats on a device I physically control/hold(my desktop harddrive), and a copy somewhere else. Mom's house, Dropbox, yahoo mail, etc.
Yes, people actually think that! Have you met 90% of your (ok, Google or Yahoo's) customers? Barely anyone tells them to worry about saving their data locally and these companies actively ask you to load your data into them listing safety as a feature. "It's in the cloud!" blah blah
You can call people ignorant/naive when Google/Yahoo/Hotmail et al. display prominent "Your data is going away in 6 months AND HERE'S HOW TO GET IT." Emphasis on the "here's how to get it" otherwise they're suddenly at a loss of how to get their data back.
The different here is, as you said, safety is pushed even harder with the cloud. There's nothing to lose anymore. The people who are savvy enough to realize that storage can and does die are now being told that people far more competent at it than them are managing backups and such. Why would you think your stuff would go away? Who is telling you that it might? I don't think it's ignorant/naive at all.
I do think that what Google is doing sucks, because I don't think it costs them much/anything when they're handing out 7GBs to anyone with a Gmail account. There's orders of magnitudes less Groups than Gmail users, and Groups was a great way of organizing small project teams privately, in a way that Sites isn't (eg. mailing list, files, pages all in one place).
Google the projects I mentioned and you'll find a lot more detail on these sorts of ideas. Both projects intended to build permanent, uncensorable storage at global scale. It's not a totally solved problem yet but there's been a lot of interesting engineering.
(the serious point - if it's important, don't have a single point of failure. It doesn't matter if it's hardware or cloudware)
However: free account. Expecting a free anything to store your anything indefinitely is expecting the sky to rain diamonds.
Expecting a warning about such actions, especially for a low activity account, is not unreasonable (though still: free). And > 1 year warning is about as good as you can hope for, and would be utterly wonderful. But companies don't plan to stop things that far ahead and just absorb expected loss for over a year, so it's unlikely to occur, in which case 6 months is very generous, and about a minimum for people's expectations.
Lovely analogy! :)
It does happen, though: http://geology.com/nasa/diamonds-in-space.shtml
...not that anyone should expect it. ;)
Indeed, you get what for pay for.
I think the problem is that people haven't adjusted to the new ways of keeping data. They assume their free Yahoo account is theirs, the way their closet is theirs. You know, if you leave a box of pictures in your closet, it'll stay in your closet barring a catastrophe.
Online services are available to serve a certain set of goals and objectives. If those objectives change, your stuff might get thrown out. It's more like asking a hotel to let you keep a box of stuff behind the desk for a while than it is like your own closet. They might keep it for a really long time, but if the hotel changes management or remodels, your stuff could get tossed. Especially if you're not regularly staying at the hotel.
It's not even "you get what you pay for," because paid services shut down too. In this era of cheap storage, there's no excuse to not make multiple backups of key data. Ideally at least one physical copy of important things. Actually print the emails out, put them in a binder, and put it in your closet. Keep one copy at Yahoo, one at another online backup service, one on your PC, and one on an external harddrive. That sounds like a lot, but it's not. Once you get a sensible backup policy and figure out what's important, it doesn't take very long to do backups.
It's a sad story you shared, but not unforgivable. Someone's keeping a box of your stuff behind the desk at a hotel. You can't count on that box to stay there. Now, the problem is people haven't realized that yet. But slowly, it'll become widely known and understood culturally. If it's important enough, keep multiple online and offline backups. Don't count on anyone to hold on to your stuff for you, because if management changes or the place gets remodeled, it might not be there any longer.
Hardware is not the only contributor into the cost of keeping data available on the web site.
There is electricity cost, servers administration cost, cost of keeping up with the updates, legal cost of dealing with requests to put data on your servers.
Finally, there is opportunity cost -- the same team that manages these Group features could be doing something more useful.
That's why Google is not maintaining unsuccessful applications.
There is another reason to forget old data: reducing noise.
Usually newer data is more useful than the old one, so it forgetting old data reduces noise and makes it easier to find more useful information.
But, if there are users that don't understand it, than it means that they didn't deliver the message in a proper way. And obviously there are users that didn't get it (I know several cases for erased email accounts).
Would have missed it if not for this notice.
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'."
"But Mr Dent, the plans have been available in the local planning office for the last nine months."
"Oh yes, well as soon as I heard I went straight round to see them, yesterday afternoon. You hadn't exactly gone out of your way to call attention to them, had you? I mean, like actually telling anybody or anything."
"But the plans were on display ..."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a flashlight."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice didn't you?"
I was just looking at the settings for a group I set up recently and saw that there was an option to allow Google to contact the group admin. And it was off. I think I just do that out of habit on the assumption that it will just mean more noise, but of course it could also mean I'll never hear about upcoming group changes.
Actually, that's exactly how I interpreted the headline.
I interpreted the title to mean Google Groups was going away. I was not aware that there was a separate "data" concept.
If the title read: "Google Groups Shutting Down!" and they meant shutting down the pages and files part, then sure I'd see your argument. But literally all data in Google Groups will be destroyed. I actually thought the tittle meant his data was destroyed on his Google Group, much less all of them were being wiped. I think it is pretty big news.
I don't know. I usually find that knowing who people are often provides some context to what they are saying.
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Then after reading your comment, I went to every Group I am subscribed to through Google Groups and couldn't find a single one that had a significant number of pages or files. The only group that did seem to use the feature is an old users group that has a very outdated iCal calendar and a group hackfest project from 2006 in a tarfile.
Maybe I'm missing the point here, but why should Google be forced to maintain and update a feature of one of their products that from my observation, no one uses? If anyone is a member of a group that does use this feature heavily, what kind of files and pages do you have tied to your group, and couldn't those be simply moved to a sites.google.com address?
Also noticed this message on there: "Google Groups will no longer be supporting the Welcome Message feature. Starting January 13, you won't be able to edit your welcome messages, but you will still be able to view and download the existing content." Would it kill them to tell us why?
Whatever I wanted to know, dejanews seemed to have the answer buried in its pages somewhere.
The google took over and promised all kinds of great things would happen to the content. Only it never did. Google groups was the ugly stepchild in the google family, first dropped from the google homepage links, then completely neglected and left to rot.
In a way it is surprising that it took this long for Google to make a decision on this, but it is a total waste of all the content in there.
Are there any attempts to archive this stuff ? Is there a way to get the data in bulk ?
I've seen first hand how important old data can be to people and I suspect this to be no different, the reocities.com project has been running for a bit under a year now and not a day goes by that I don't get notes from people that are insanely happy that their content was not lost.
Who's ready to build a full HTML 5 site now, and ask IE users to install Google Chrome Frame? Ready to bet your company on it? Six months from now, Google could get bored with it. Yawn. Not working out, fellas. But hey, it's open source, so you guys keep working on it, ok?
Even open source web applications don't have this freedom... If wordpress.org were to do this, those users would be in the same boat.
I've been working on an open source infrastructure project to fix these issue for a while, but it's still pretty nascent. My "manifesto" on that is here: http://bit.ly/forkolator
It's pretty straightforward to self-host your own WordPress blog. Does WordPress not offer data dumps? WordPress users would be in a very different boat, because they have all the tools they need to rehost their blog, without building anything from scratch.
Geez, but I miss Usenet. Having _one_ forum on which everything related to a topic was posted was unbelievably helpful.
BTW the Usenet still exists, even if it's not that active anymore.
GGroups has been the cause of most spam on Usenet for years. It's also sad because some of the people who aren't regular spammers think that when they post to a newsgroup via GGroups, they're only posting to that one server, and not on hundreds (if not thousands) of servers. Others think that GGroups and Usenet are the same, but not as many as the "un-spammers".
It's too bad that this is going to happen, but... I guess that's Google for you. I wish that Google would instead try to prevent some of the spam on the Usenet, and not mess about with GGroups. :(
I'd expect email notifications and notifications inside the app to let me know the feature is being removed and how to move my data some time before the actual feature removal happens. I can't say Google has burned me until they do actually not inform me and 'destroy' my data. I think it's too early to say "Geez Google you're evil now!", and for the most part, this could be a small "Hey FYI, we're removing those features... we might not even be sure about it so we're not doing a big deal out of it yet."
If this article was written 2 weeks before data was removed I'd understand, but as it is it comes out somewhat sensationalistic.
As for other people, I thought Google added a notice to the Groups files page along the lines of "Hey, dude, you might want to download this stuff before it goes bye-bye". I don't use the service, but that's what I heard. Was I misinformed?
EDIT: Yup, it's there. The notice, in bright red at the very top of the page, reads: "Google Groups will no longer be supporting the Pages and Files features. Starting January 13, you won't be able to upload new content, but you will still be able to view and download existing content. See this announcement for more information and other options for storing your content."
Actually what I was concerned about wasn't the disappearance of the data, but the disappearance of the feature. I chose groups because those features made it really easy to manage the entire group. I worked hard to set up a process around how the google groups worked. So the sense that the organization is "screwed" is that they will have to completely change the way the function internally and find a new centralized portal for managing there stuff.
As far as the warning goes they gave plenty of warning. I am just disappointed the feature disappeared.
Besides, who's to say Google won't pull the plug on those other services in a year? It seems unlikely, but I also thought it was unlikely they'd remove those features from Groups.
I still haven't decided to which format to convert my blog but I'm very tempted to convert it to an emacs org-mode format and then decide later.
Have they seen stackoverflow.com?