I was part of a student association when I was an university student.
Part of the activities was to host gnu/Linux courses record them and upload them to YouTube.
One day, out of the blue, the channel goes dark and nobody knows why.
We all panicked. We had received no warnings and there was no way to appeal.
In the end, we asked some former students that were employed by Google to pull some levers internally, and we managed to get our channel restored.
Worst of both worlds. Can I get a refund?
I am 99% on DuckDuckGo and other search engines, Firefox (which is great), Lots of mail providers these days which excel on every front, lots devtools that don’t need any Google infrastructure,
I really hope one of these days we get a message from Google (btw Google is really the most faceless organization out there, I really need to think hard to give you any names) that they will change their tune, but until that time, its best to leave.
The last straw will be abandoning Gmail :)
With every account you get a finite number of aliases you can create, but in practice that number is high enough that I just use a new alias for every site I visit.
Unlike in Gmail, these aliases don't contain any references to your original address. So if you're signing up for a dogwalking service, you can create an alias for `email@example.com`, and then if you start getting spam to that address, you know where it came from, you know that there's no chance your real address will be reverse-engineered from your alias, and you can auto-reject or sort everything to that address into a separate folder without affecting any of your other emails.
I have separate email aliases I distribute to friends and family members so that if I ever run into a doxing situation or for some reason need to go nuclear on my email, I can turn everything off except for them. I also have my email linked to my own domain of course, but when I sign up for most commercial services, I use @fastmail.com aliases. That way I know that there's no way for those services to track me across accounts/websites via my personal domain name.
And everything gets organized in the same inbox, same account. I consider it to be a killer feature.
With some you can do the + trick (which gmail probably still does) but i just have my domain as catchall and it works pretty great with blacklisting.
If you're using the + trick, you haven't gained any privacy, because I can strip the + and get your original address.
If you're using a catch-all domain, you haven't gained any privacy, because the domain remains a unique identifier for your all of your accounts. It's good for organizing, but not for privacy, because you're still publicly attaching your identity to every email you send.
With fastmail, I don't need to do firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. I can just do firstname.lastname@example.org. That's a really large privacy win, since it gets rid of one of the biggest and least regulated unique identifiers that services can share with each other.
I don't know if other providers like Outlook are also offering 'real' aliases. I'm happy if they are, I think this should be an industry standard feature. Either way, switching to any provider does will be a pretty significant feature upgrade over Gmail, even if you're currently using a paid Gmail account with your own domain.
So It so different from random domain catchall?
The reason why i would be worried about Fastmail is that they have are Australian company with servers in US. Both of those mean that Law enforcement can simply ask for users emails.
Now i am for sure not target of Law enforcement or goverment so i dont care but i am not sure why i wouldnt use service thats in better juristiction and is privacy focused.
I think I may actually migrate all my email over today. The idea of having a different interface to GMail is pretty exciting. I’ve been staring at that (increasingly slow) interface for too long.
20 years ago I certainly wouldn’t have imagined myself doing this, but it actually seems like decent software now. Sure I need to jump into bed with MS, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as Google.
I've seen similar situations happen with Facebook, where entire businesses with what you might think were significant ad budgets were completely shut out of advertising on FB because its system for advertisers was broken yet again. I guess if you have a very small number of channels that are totally dominant, as Google and FB now are, you can afford to throw away a thousand here or even a million there if it saves you millions in support costs.
Whether organisations that have become so dominant should be legally allowed to do that, given the unfair adverse effect it can have on others operating in the ecosystems they create, is a different question. Just as we have laws about monopolies and limit what they can do in other contexts, maybe it's time for the handful of businesses that dominate online advertising or marketplaces to be regulated for the protection of everyone else.
It's more like dealing with a blind automaton, and that's becoming more common outside of Google, too. Automation support scales well because the fixed costs are high but the marginal cost is low, human attention scales poorly, with a high marginal cost.
Having spent a fair amount of time working in various bureaucracies, and studying law and government administration, that's very much not true. It's very much the idealized view that many people outside of bureaucracies have of them, especially people in computing, but it's very much not a good approximation of most real bureaucracies, or their governing law and regulation, because the latter usually is written in a way which deliberately relies heavily on discretion within (often deliberately fuzzy) constraints rather than seeking to provide deterministic rules for outcomes, and in many systems regulation is actually written by the bureaucrats enforcing it (who also tend to have disproportionate influence on shaping the actual law).
As explained below, I don't agree that it's a good idea to replace bureaucracy with code. However, I think the lessons our industry has learned in architecting software systems could inform designing efficient data and request flow within a bureaucracy. At the very least, it gives us language to talk about bureaucracies as systems.
This I definitely agree with; it's kind of disappointing the information systems engineering knowledge has tended to become siloed within organizations dedicated to information technology, because you get much bigger gains if you apply that knowledge to broader processes, not just within computing systems supporting the processes. OTOH, with people who have that knowledge generally getting paid more to apply it in IT (and getting listened to more there), it's kind of understandable if unfortunate that the knowledge gets stuck in IT.
Why let "government code" be subject to all the shortcomings and pitfalls of natural language when you could just use cold hard logic and exact math instead?
Natural language is just programming for humans, anyways.
This unreliability that comes from agency of the individual compute nodes has some very important benefits: the system is much more resistant to bugs in code, and much more humane. Software, as it is today, doesn't understand morality. That's e.g. you wouldn't want to automate away judges in the justice system - the law is code, but it's buggy, and isn't complete enough to handle all cases in all contexts. You need case-by-case judgements, and that's why it's good to have human bureaucrats who can independently think and override the system as needed. Otherwise, the system would just grind people that fell into it.
 - Like, "you have to deliver document X before 14th to get something done, but the document is only available from 23rd". Happened to me during university, where some scolarship depended on a government document that you could procure only well after deadline. Of course, the secretary at the university knew this and let you fill in incomplete application; she'd wait for the whole allowed processing time, then send you a letter asking you to bring in missing documents and giving you 14 extra days. Given that this was a bug at an intersection of two bureaucratic systems, if this was software, it would likely go undetected for a while, until someone started to wonder why nobody is applying for scolarships anymore.
Allow the benefit of doubt that a "software-based" system would only be implemented, if it were superior in such a way, that such a situation doesn't even occur in the first place. That is the benefit. It alleviates the necessity for the "human-wiggling-around-laws-that-actually-make-it-illegal-what-you're-doing,-but-those-laws-are-stupid,-so-whatever,-we-don't-care-about-that-specific-law".
It's most likely a very unknown concept for anyone presently, since it doesn't yet exist, but I believe, if human civilization works more on the aspect of creating a universal law that is language-agnostic, we would have a better solution than the ones we currently have.
Also, tax filings and the like are basically automated. It's just about expanding such automated concepts for more efficiency as well as removing the language-bias laws exhibit. I'm fully aware of the shortcomings of automation, and also do believe that a human "arbitrator", or judge, is required and preferred.
But in essence, my goal in stating my opinion was to plant the idea of language-agnostic law, for which maths, code and logic can form a solution. It's philosophical pondering towards a global government policy in a very long-run.
So did the Mars Climate Orbiter.
That is, indeed, that natural conclusion of the deeply flawed premise that law and regulation are basically computer code written by programmers who have to contend with buggy, sometimes malicious, computing units.
But other than the fact that the word “code” is often used in reference to each, law/regulation and computer code are not the same kind of thing.
> Why let "government code" be subject to all the shortcomings and pitfalls of natural language when you could just use cold hard logic and exact math instead?
The fuzziness in law and regulation is very rarely anything close to minimum required because you are dealing with natural language, and very often deliberate to create room for flexible application. And there is a strong overlap between the places that that is least true and widely perceived gross injustices in the law.
> Natural language is just programming for humans, anyways.
No, it's not.
You’re better off with a highly rated news.yc post.
Here, fixed it for you.
They certainly did their best to prevent any other OS from being on your hardware.
They coined the term embrace, extend, extinguish. See the history of Internet Explorer.
I mean Steam was made as a panicked reaction when Microsoft announced its Windows store. People in the industry knew very well what they were trying to do.
I may recall it badly but I am pretty sure they opened it to general companies and indie studios as a reaction to Windows 8 built-in app store:
Edit: no need to reply, I've seen your answer below, thanks.
Naive question to you and to other extension developers here ... how does Firefox do when it comes to this issue? Is it just that the market share is so much lower that it's not worth developing for FF? I ask this as a happy FF user on mac, linux, ios.
The most painful incompatibility I've read about was in the Bitwarden extension, which basically doesn't support most operations in Firefox private windows because Firefox intentionally doesn't support getBackgroundPage() from there, and Bitwarden architected their extension to use that for all IPC between their frontend and backend layers. You can avoid that incompatibility by using runtime.sendMessage for that purpose, but they didn't know that at the time they wrote it (there's a warning about it in the MDN docs for getBackgroundPage now, but that warning wasn't there at the time). We happened to have gotten lucky in our extension in that we use sendMessage for the same purpose, but we certainly didn't know about that incompatibility at the time we were making the architectural decision.
Beyond just making it work, our team would also want to be able to automate regression tests against Firefox if we were to officially support it. For a long time, selenium was the most realistic option for that, but we switched away from selenium to puppeteer a year ago due to reliability issues with the former. Now that Firefox support in puppeteer is very recently starting to stabilize, we're hopeful we'd be able to use that, but we haven't tried it yet and it's new enough that we wouldn't expect it to be fully compatible/stable yet.
I haven't used Chrome since I've left Google and would recommend everyone to move to an alternative non-Chrome-based browser for a more balanced ecosystem. All the bad behaviour can be avoided when companies actually need to look after retaining users and taking care of not so frequent cases and I hope better business practices can come up without the need for government intervention.
Maybe this text on your front page is triggering someone at Google extensions department?
The police should/would tell you.
Sorry, this is the only explanation I have for this, I've worked with this kind of person twice. Once they got the first version of something running they are done, no further testing, no sanity checks, no asserts or logger.warn() for "this can never happen" branches.
BTW, this doesn't have to be a conscious choice of anyone at Google, it could just be the way the incentives turn out.
Exactly. This is basically a replay of the way Microsoft treated developers of third-party Windows programs in the 1990s. Only the time scale was different; you typically had at least a few years before MS either integrated your killer feature into Windows, or changed something about the Windows internals that broke your program, either way killing your business.
At the same time, it seemed to not have had that many users yet, so, a bit early for Google to pay attention?
So your theory about Google wanting to run a bookmarking service I think is correct. Human curated links continue to be the only source of semantically relevant content. Everything else is algorithmic extraction of the relevant associations created by humans.
I have stuff saved in there dating from 2007 to 2015. Used to use a Firefox extension to load them in the sidebar.
Chrome supported/promoted its extensibility early on because it was seen as a competitive feature when compared to IE and Firefox at the time. At the time, FF supported a huge library of extensions, and Chrome's job was to eat FF's market share (and IE's). Thus, extensions were an obvious thing for them.
Now, extensions present pretty much nothing but problems for Google:
* Features that compete with Android
* Features that compete with their own offerings, like Pushbullet
* Features that actively harm their offerings, like adblockers
* Features that actively harm their enterprise customers, like anti-paywalls
There's NO upside now for Chrome to support extensions, and ALL downside. They certainly don't need them in order to keep browser share. Too many people use it now.
By the way that description is one aspect of a monopoly (no, I don't want to start that discussion. Just pointing out that that behavior isn't possible in a competitive environment).
Isn't one of the 'main' criteria around anti-trust how a company impacts the consumer ? this sort of thing sounds harmful to the consumer (fewer choices, actively taking down products consumers use, etc.)
Until Firefox or Edge catches up in both performance and implementation compatibility to make Chrome-first sites work, extension support isn't incentivized
There are a large number of user-hostile behaviors that stretch across industries: ad-funded software, app stores pushing microtransactions, wildly inconsistent interfaces and behaviors across DOM-driven software, opt-out behavior for things like arbitrary internet access.... user unfriendliness is the default state of software and even the most user friendly software still neglects the needs of many of their potential users.
This is a fact of software built in bounded time to be resold for passive income and “support” (which means “bug explainer” and possibly “refund-giver” in most corporate cultures).
Building software is hard, generally, and takes time, generally. Just because you can throw up a set of microservices in a day doesn't mean you can build a properly competing product that quickly. And as time goes on, the standard of competition gets higher and the barrier to entry gets higher, because user expectations grow over time. So most software isn't competitive.
I don’t use Google extensions on Chrome, and increasingly I don’t use Chrome.
That's what finally started bothering me enough, I don't feel comfortable keeping my search history and email in the same basket.
I'm currently in the process of switching to protonmail.com, which has been a positive experience so far.
In my case, I make a nice little side income from that extension so it would be a noticeable income hit. But I'm not sure of anything I can really do to prevent it from being shut down if and when Google's robots decide the time has come.
Sorry, not trying to be obtuse, just curious from a side-income perspective.
Paying users seem to be part productivity nerds who maybe aren't technical enough to grok installing from the repo, and part people who just choose to pay for the automatic upgrades or to support the developer. Also, lots of users are web gamers who use it for in-game automation.
I wrote a post about it 1 week after monetizing, if you're curious: https://critter.blog/2020/01/14/week-1-of-monetizing-my-chro...
Me: Hey, this must be a mistake
> Google (Robot): No mistake, review these policies, your extension violates one of them
Me: It does not violate any of them, this is a mistake!
> Google (Finally human): Oh, sorry, a mistake.
Obviously someone just needs to create a robot that automatically replies to the takedown notices and disputes them, thus closing the loop!
Also, someone would have to program that bot and can you even imagine how dead inside you'd feel if that was your life?
Would you feel dead inside if your tool helped developers keep their projects online? Sounds rewarding to fight the big guy and keep cool projects online.
Even with my trivial side-project and a grand total of two releases so far, Google ar itrarily rejected one release for being "spammy" when there was literally a 5 line diff between it and the previous release. Thankfully just finding the depreciated dashboard and uploading an icon (the "new dashboard" doesn't have this feature yet apparently) got it through after resubmitting it.
It feels like they've set themselves as gatekeepers of Chrome extensions (Windows users can only install from the "store") but they aren't actually interested in doing the job even though you pay an admin fee for the privilege of developing a free extension for their browser.
This is a great but only a temporary solution. Firefox is taking jabs at extensions not on its recommended list with slightly scary warnings.
Firefox as a privacy focused browser should give users the ability to limit permission or sites extension can run on - including click to run option.
Without this, they'll soon go the way of chrome.
Heck Chrome started locking down extensions when they started catering courting enterprises. And they included the ability to make extensions uninstallable.
Bad actors took advantage of it, forcing chrome to tighten things further until extensions could only be installed from the store.
I couldn't ask them to switch browsers for my little side project. I have to co-operate with Google's bureaucracy. For what it's worth, so far it seems like Mozilla is not exactly streets ahead, but at least they didn't charge me and they seem to be fairer and more helpful to extension developers (they have a "self-distribution" mode with relaxed oversight I used while in private alpha, and their tools and docs are better).
When Chrome was better, I suggested friends and family use Chrome. Now I think most people would benefit from using Firefox as their primary driver.
I think we as developers overestimate the resistance to switching.
One way to tell if a conspiracy is crazy is if it doesn’t benefit rich people. This pretty clearly passes that test.
Yes, it really is the same guy: https://kodfabrik.com/journal/i-ve-just-liberated-my-modules. And, joking aside it would be wise to bear in mind that we're reading only one side of the story here. As with leftpad, there's another side to this.
With leftpad he told Kik, "fuck you" (https://medium.com/@mproberts/a-discussion-about-the-breakin...), and then wrought global havoc on npm users. Now he's claiming the Chrome Extension Team "continuously troll developers", and is pulling down something he's created... again.
I only have two data points, so the behaviour here is a coincidence rather than a pattern, but I will guarantee you whatever you think of Google there is more to this than meets the eye.
I'm not without sympathy for the author, but neither am I about to uncritically take his side.
In response to a threat starting with "We don’t mean to be a dick about it" and ending with "our trademark lawyers are going to be banging on your door and taking down your accounts and stuff like that", I did say "fuck you" to Kik.
If that makes me the character in your mind, enjoy your imagination.
And he did offer them a solution: $30,000 dollars, to which they promptly - albeit indirectly - replied with fuck you.
We must pursue our trademarks or risk losing them. We must. So can we make this amicable instead of hostile?
The maintainer could have requested things like "Okay can I make some blog posts and you help me with some SEO to make sure people are aware of the changes to my project name?" etc. Sounds like Kik was willing to be reasonable and help where they could. Clearly they could have gone in with an opening statement saying "this is the lawyer, I am sending trademark takedown notices, fuck you, go to hell" but they clearly did not.
This is one person trying to make the best of an awkward situation, and one person just saying "duces".
If he was releasing a messenger app called KikAss, then sure, they “must” enforce the Kik trademark.
But if I release a brand of shoes called Kik, with an api that allows users to poll how many steps a user has taken that day, that’s not a trademark violation.
Trademark violations require intent to mislead, or they could be unintentionally confusing (for example, if Kik has been talking about releasing shoes for a while or if it’s a well known brand of soccer balls).
Neither of these things have occurred, so the trademark doesn’t have to go through a (futile) enforcement process.
Not long ago I was involved in a company that defended their trademark. The other group said to us 'f- you' and refused to comply. They then continued to do marketing and interviews with our brand name and an almost identical logo. It's like they were trying to dig a hole.
So that behaviour actually just created more evidence of infringement. We contacted their partners and explained the situation and they started pulling their support. They lost half their board members. So eventually their own lawyer said "Hey guys, we really should comply." and that was it.
No money exchanged hands and we only dropped 30k into a lawyer. I assume they sunk money into rebranding, lawyers, new partners, and a whole bunch of things because they were being petty.
No, they don't, only probability of customer confusion.
Criminal counterfeiting charges require intent, IIRC.
> or they could be unintentionally confusing [to the customer]
> Trademark violations require intent to mislead, or they do not require intent to mislead.
You are trying to assert that this makes sense and that the second half makes the first half correct. Neither is true.
The sentence reduces to “trademark violations are considered to have taken place regardless of when there is either an intention to mislead or if a customer was unintentionally misled.”
If the grammar was poop and you can’t make a good faith reading of it (to go so far as to follow me around on this post) then by all means feel free to comment away but I won’t be responding to it.
How do you know unintentional confusion did not occur?
Is this a legal requirement?
The next sentence also goes on to say that either one of those two needs to take place - again, referencing more than one way a trademark violation could take place.
Maybe my English wasn't clear. English isn't my first or my most recent language, so my grammar sometimes goes a bit funky.
The sentence taken as a whole does not make the wrong part right. That you think we must not have noticed the rest of the sentence demonstrates that you don't know why it is wrong. You are choosing to get defensive instead of accepting a correction to your grammar that you acknowledge as being funky.
> Maybe my English wasn't clear.
What is the effective difference between your English being unclear and the correction being written in a way that makes it wrong?
> Using another's trademark in a way that has nothing to do with the product or service for which the trademark was granted is not a trademark policy violation.
Many people think that if you have a trademark, you have to sue everyone who uses your name no matter what capacity they're using it in, which doesn't seem to be the case. If their usage is unrelated to yours, you have no authority to prevent them from using it however they want.
There are some exceptions to this, like the American Red Cross's logo of a red cross on a white background (nobody is allowed to use this except the red cross in any context, although it isn't always enforced) .
And that's where it definitely stops, but people get carried away and imagine now if Alice tells Bob, "Enough, I need you to stop doing X by this reasonable time" and Bob says "Fuck you Alice" and keeps doing X the court will rule for Bob. Nope. And they imagine Bob's friend Charlie might show up too, and do X and Alice has to accept that because she told Bob previously it was fine, again Nope. As a result some businesses become convinced that unless they pay lawyers to threaten every hobby project starting with the same first letter as their product the terrible "estoppel" will destroy their business.
Also just as a general principle lawyers are for avoiding disputes first, fixing existing disputes as a last resort. If you're actively paying lawyers to start shit you are probably Doing It Wrong™.
> and we’d have no choice but to do all that because you have to enforce trademarks or you lose them.
They aren't threatening him for the fun of it, this is classic trademark stuff.
Also the "solution" he offered them was:
> Yeah, you can buy it for $30.000 for the hassle of giving up with my pet project for bunch of corporate dicks
Would _you_ give this guy $30,000, after he calls you a dick multiple times and tells you in no uncertain terms to fuck off?
No one comes out looking good in this interaction, don't get me wrong, but Azer was super unprofessional and nasty during those interactions. He gets no sympathy from me.
It’s “classic trademark stuff” insofar that people classically don’t understand what a trademark is or how it’s enforced.
Consider reading through Github’s policy on trademarks to better understand why a casual fuck off should be given whenever you get misleading, threatening emails.
And just because it's a lawyer does not make things better. If you want me to cooperate, try to be nice. If you threat me, don't be surprise to hear a 'fuck you'.
Does he even have to be “professional“? Even though two of the parties involved happen to be corporations, he owes no allegiance to them and the exchange does not take place in a corporate context. I mean, we are talking about corporate overreach, why should we be assessing his words by corporate standards? “Professional” usually means “don’t show emotions and suck up the abuse”. I’m glad he was both showing his protest and standing up to the overreach.
Can others judge him harshly for said decision? Yes.
There was a time when hacker culture was associated with rebellious and playful values. Such an irony on Hacker News we are discussing if he should be penalized for saying “bad words” in the face of corporate unfairness.
I’d say they made a logical decision.
In any event, escalating - even when you think the other party is being a dick - is never the right answer.
If you're hiring a lawyer off a television commercial in order to make a quick buck off of a fender bender. Corporate law is different.
And as an attorney, if I go back into practice someday, of course I’ll do the same.
You're lucky you were treated as nicely as you were. It could have been a whole lot worse.
1. Hire an attorney when you get a takedown notice if you think you are likely to decline, and seek counsel before responding.
2. Telling people "fuck you" doesn't get you anywhere, and it doesn't matter how impolite or wrong you think the other person is.
That's essentially what the lawyers at my friend's company told them as well, as they're dealing with a similar problem. Just because you have lawyers doesn't mean the answer will be any different; you very likely won't be able to deal with a lawsuit from a much larger company.
If anything, it made me feel both unwise and ignorant, so I addressed that by going to law school and passing the bar. I have a great career and I keep my nose clean.
I also have a different perspective now - one of the creator instead of the consumer. And I disagree that Goliath always has to win. Sometimes the big guy is wrong; and thank goodness we have folks like EFF to help out when they abuse their wealth and power. When the little guy is on the right side of the argument, I will also stand up for them.
Keep in mind, too, that Kik doesn't exactly have overflowing pockets. They can barely pay their bills and nearly shut down last year.
You seem to want us to question the narrative based on the likability of the developer, but is it really relevant? Can you really imagine a data point that we don't know that will change the narrative of "solo developer getting steamrolled by corporate machinery"? Because that is what is happening in both cases. I want to be clear, this is not even about the solo developer actually being in the right, it is about the process or lack thereof that takes place to reach the conclusion. You might not like this particular guy, but I guarantee you a more likable guy would be/will be/is being equally strong-armed in these lopsided processes. Transparency, accountability and fairness would make all of us happy and not left guessing who might be right based on who writes the most likable emails or has the most popular brand.
So while his "likeability" is completely irrelevant, how else would we even hear about these issues if he didn't make a big fuss about it? I think that also might explain why we heard of this story twice from the same developer. The truth is people face similar issues every day but no one hears about it. I'm glad that some people kick up a lot of dust and make the issue visible to everyone.
Developers are often pushovers (no disrespect, I'm often one myself). Anyone who isn't gets passive aggressively labeled with terms that make them easy to conflate with actually bad people.
Give 'em hell, Azer.
Per my anecdotal experience, they are really good at choosing the outcome that benefits them the most/harms them the least - which wouldn't upset me since most companies do this, but it's Npm's "we're here for the community" type of fake attitude that has always bothered me.
You can't just trademark 3 letters in a way so that nobody else can use them. In fact there's hundreds of trademarks that are the letters "kik" in various logos.
What they trademarked is a bunch of specific logos containing those letters. Doesn't prevent other people from also using those 3 letters in some other way.
In fact when he wrote "kik", my first thought was the he was talking about the German textile discount store - which is the first result for me when I google those letters.
It's easy to be an armchair HN lawyer when you have no skin in the game.
As an attorney, do you think he was misusing the "Kik" trademark?
I don't know all the facts here, but I do know that as a practical matter, it comes down to a whole bunch of factors, among them, use in commerce, possibility of confusion, etc. But I can say that judges take a dim view of people who tell others to "fuck off" and who appear not to have a justifiable reason for using a name nor a long history of doing so.
I also know that bullies don't always win - Nissan Computer still owns nissan.com, not the motor company.
I'm shocked to see that something like this could happen on npm - where a single threat of getting lawyers involved can get your package transferred away from you. It really wants to make me not publish anything on npm too actually.
They removed that permission to limit it to only Pushbullet, and then were able to get back on.
I'm not saying there couldn't have been more hand-holding - but it wasn't exactly like it wasn't for a fairly egregious security breach.
(Disclaimer: I work for Google, but not in any Chrome/Android/Store team, or anything even vaguely related to that - this is purely my own opinion).
If the PB team hadn't gotten it to be as visible as it was, they very likely would have gotten away with it.
Regardless of that, just tell people what they've done wrong, developers are surely jaded by being told absolutely nothing about what or why some faceless mega corp is trampling all over their day.
Is it any wonder people like OP lash out in frustration and just pull all of their work when one has no means to obtain a straight answer? The man has a young child, and that is work enough, but it also puts things into perspective, and honestly, as a father of a months old child, I'd probably respond to this in the same way and think "fuck it, one less frustration" and just pull it too.
The PB post describes them removing permissions they realized they didn't need, you can check their writeup. Google's handling of this was poor but PB had real problems.
In this extension's case, we haven't even seen what notices Google sent.
That said, calling Google heavy handed is an understatement, and there have been several cases which have made it clear that kicking up a fuss online and being big enough to get some attention is the only means for recourse.
But Google just said "you're asking too much permissions". After the first fixes the extension got rejected again, without explanation.
And the other (I think more important) point was that we know even less about whatever happened to Kozmos.
Rejecting a fixed version is not lack of "hand-holding", and far-reaching permissions are not by default a "major security breach" (unless Google has a policy of shipping products with major security breaches built in?)
We all know that Google's support sucks, even they know it very well, just they don't give a shit. Everyone's pissed about this for years - anyone who ever tried to debug adsense, gmail or youtube account getting blocked out of the blue, or android app being flagged for no reason has gone through pretty much the same process this guy describes. Internet is full of horror stories of this kind, it's very well documented.
The only difference here is that most of us goes "c'est la vie" ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, and we continue using their services because - well - everyone else does it, what else could we do... while this guy doesn't mind giving them the finger... which will, and of course he knows that, hurt him much more than Google - but that's a move to be respected imho...
OK, so the is more to it than that and he did have a genuine grievance (I forgot exactly what) bit in dealing with that he caused a pile collateral damage for innocent bystanders.
(Innocent bystanders who errantly put too much faith in dependency oriented programming which brings us back to the broken system)
That said, the system is definitely broken.
His reaction to the Kik thing is probably where he was at fault, I think it would have been reasonable for him to back down there; companies, in the US at least are obligated to protect their IP in order to retain their rights over it (as far as I have understood from various discussions on HN), but perhaps the forceful lawyering got his back up?
Also I have no idea of jurisdiction of any parties involved, I just assume US.
and who need an external package to leftpad a string... the most fascinating part of that story to me...
Which is why it's a distraction to even consider this particular person's track record.
Even if this same person pulled one critical package a month for the next year, the fundamental problem is still that the ecosystem in general relies on parties with no obligations to manage critical dependencies.
Npm not only didn't realize that this guy was more important to their community and NodeJS on the whole than a one off from Kik, but they sold out to GitHub / M$FT.
All that for something that hasn't been updated in 2 years https://www.npmjs.com/package/@kikinteractive/kik
"Oh I didn't know there was a company with that name" well, now you know. How would you like to go into NPM and find someone has created a package with your or your company's name?
At the same time Kik's answer of "we're nice people but we're sending the lawyers" does not come across as friendly.
And yes, NPMs response is not surprising. They're going to side with the trademark owner, unless there was a very good reason not to (like the MikeRowSoft case)
Note to npm (or some future package repo site): create package namespaces. Allow renaming and maybe aliases.
I have a friend who encountered a similar scenario with a company claiming trademark on a name. In their case they simply changed the package name. It was frustrating but it meant everybody was able to move on without any drama. Subsequently, as far as I'm aware, the trademark holder has never even published a package under the original name. So I suppose that makes it doubly irritating, but such is life.
I think your suggestion would have neatly avoided a lot of these kinds of issues in the first place.
Granted, all I know of the author is based on what I've seen of his past behaviour. That does make me a little sceptical that his account of events represents the sum totality of truth around the situation. I don't believe that's an unreasonable perspective.
It does not mean the account is false, or that I lack sympathy for him, or that I'm unwilling to see or understand his point of view. What I was concerned by is that in the comments I was seeing nothing but unalloyed support, which I did not think was warranted based on what we know. I think I've been pretty clear about that.
I also think it's a shame that he's chosen to yank the extension, but that's obviously his choice and I can understand why he made it.
 Different context entirely but I've had my own issues with Google's algorithms, along with the sense of being left in the dark about why. I made some, actually useful, changes but I've still no idea if those are the reason the issues were resolved. Regardless, I'm glad that they have been resolved.
Your own comments come out as one-sided as anyone can be...
It feels like to me that they have just become a sprawling mass of interconnected yet disjointed divisions but without any real customer service department that can handle the amount of requests or situations like in OP. I am not on their side in any way, but Occam's razor and all, it just seems the most likely explanation to me is that they are just too cheap to pay people to handle the volume of customer issues they have? Or would it not be economically feasible? What do y'all think?
[Edited to divide into two paragraphs for slightly easier reading]
Undoubtedly, for the Chrome Store as well as all of their other properties.
Ultimately, Google's business model is about earning fractions of a cent per view/download and making it up in volume. Their profit margin depends on relentless cost optimization, and humans are inevitably the most expensive part of their support/maintenance systems.
Google undoubtedly doesn't want to put extension writers out of business, but if they adjust their procedures to give cases like this real human attention then they will undoubtedly allow a few dozen spammers/scammers to also receive human attention.
(Note: I present the above without judgement. If I were to add my judgement, I'd say that I don't think that this state of affairs is a good thing, and in the long run we may need to reconsider whether algorithmic promotion of content without human oversight is viable.)
That's fine but at least have a human review before taking disastrous actions like taking down extensions, lockdown Gmail accounts. If you can't afford even that at least have an appeal process where human would review the case. If you can't make the economics work even for that maybe just don't run the app store.
There's a variety of different tiers to suit your required level of support, and some products (e.g. G Suite) come with free in-built support.
(I work as part of Google Cloud support organisation).
If GCP wants more adoption then you have to fix this shit. Seriously.
Can you assure me that if I move to GCP, have a VM get infected and you ban my GCP account, my personal account will never get banned too? Or that of my next employer? Because I keep reading about that happening...
So for example - say I have a personal Gmail account (e.g. email@example.com)
But if I was working for a company that had spun up GCP infrastructure - my work would likely provide me with a work email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) - which I would use, rather than email@example.com.
This also covers the use-case that for example, you leave the company (in which case the company still controls those accounts), or an employee goes rogue and tries to takeover their work account.
In general, you would try to keep your work/personal accounts separate - you're not going to put your personal account as the recovery email for your work account for example. Your system administrator (or IT team at work) is going to be the one who resets your password, or recovers your account - and they're not going to send private work passwords to a personal email account (or they shouldn't).
Hopefully the above helps.
Is that enough for the ban to follow through and hit both?
Actually, the way they've expanded their range of products I'd wager they've put quite a few people out of business.
It's especially bad if your business happens to not be one of the ones they acquihire, but one of their competitors, as evidenced by a handful of antitrust lawsuits.
Now do that for every app and extension. And repeat it for every single version that is ever uploaded.
1. Non human (AI) usage for termination google accounts.
2. No repeal process
At least some employee from Google here in hn must do things and understand mentality of other people.
It increasingly looks like - well... we employees live in bubble but if you are unlucky then you are screwed. Do not ask us?
What kind of programmers wrote such code that terminates account without human intervention? Please do not blame it on Project Managers.
You are human - so is some one that was affected by your code.
And even if they do understand your situation, and have authenticated you, and aren't just reading a script, then most of the time they can't offer you anything else besides what's possible on the website anyways. Sometimes we just like having someone to complain to.
With Google's bot approach that can never happen. The only way to escalate issues is to be famous and write a blog post or tweet about it.
Also, I bet no one think all will be well, without KI, but it will be better dealing with incompetent, overworked and underpaid call workers, than dealing with a "smart" KI, with you cannot talk at all. In the first case there is at least the hope, that someone escalates the problem to someone with more knowledge who can finally solve your problem.
The Human mind has an infinite capacity to justify any manner of things as "just doing my job" or "just following orders"
This has been seen in all industry, in all types of roles and at all times in history
There is nothing more dangerous than a group of people "just doing their jobs"
I tried again the next day, same results. That was 4-5 days ago, and still nothing. I'm abandoning Google Voice because I assume Google has abandoned it. It's not like there's anyone I can ask.
This is just an inconvenience to me. I can't imagine what it's like to have a service I actually rely on and then lose it.
It's getting more common, too. Just the other day I found out that posting links in a youtube comment makes the comment invisible to everyone else. In hindsight, disallowing links is almost certainly a good policy and it's easy to understand and appreciate why it was put in place, but why the gaslighting? Just pop up a box explaining that links aren't allowed. The gaslighting isn't going to fool spammers for long enough to be a meaningful deterrent, but it is going to trip up legitimate users enough to meaningfully degrade their experience.
Time to visit my bitwarden and port another account off gmail (my late new-years resolution is to port an account off gmail every time I get myself worked up about something google did -- funnel the useless frustration into something worthwhile.)
Shadow banning is 100% a form of gas lighting, and IMO should be considered just as unethical. If you are going to ban someone, words, or actions be upfront and clear about the rules and bans
I had a Firefox plugin that would tweet all my bookmarks. Years later I noticed all the tweets were hidden from search
I have had hn accounts shadowbanned without explanation or opportunity for appeal (I did try and was ignored) and largely stopped participating here because of that.
That said, I'm sympathetic to the idea that in small communities admin time is at a premium and gaslighting, even if it's occasionally abused, is a force-multiplier that can make the difference between a community having enough moderation to survive vs spinning off into toxicity and turning into a ghost town.
What I object to is that it seems to increasingly be used as a "best practice," to be applied universally without weighing pros and cons, rather than as a shitty reality to be applied minimally. For instance, in the case of youtube, we can place a very low upper bound on the value they're getting out of this tool, because it's being used to enforce an automated blanket policy that everyone already knows about (certainly everyone intent on link spamming, in any case). HN's shadowbanning is going to be good or evil on a per-instance basis, which makes it difficult for me to judge, while youtube's shadowbanning (as it relates to enforcing obvious automated blanket policies) cannot be good and is therefore much easier to judge.
Gaslighting = post is visible to you, and unbeknownst to you, invisible to everyone else
To manipulate someone psychologically such that they question their own memory, perception and sanity, thereby evoking in them low self-esteem and cognitive dissonance. The verb sense derives from the 1938 stage play Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment.
in what way does hiding one's post cause them to "question their own memory, perception and sanity"?
I suspect a lot of people caught up in "shadow bans" already have a tenuous grip on reality in the first place. What a disgusting, mean spirited and wholly pointless thing for them to be engaged in. Why couldn't they just tell said individuals they've been auto moderated or banned? It's not like it will result in additional support being required - Google already make a point of ignoring their users.
In 2010 I was able to have one number ring multiple phones, automatic transcription of voicemail, text people from a web browser (!), switch between network providers without having to deal with number porting, it was great.
What killed it for me was that MMS was silently dropped, no images, but worse group SMS was handled by MMS so if people added you to group chats you just wouldn't get any of the messages and they would have no indication that you weren't getting them.
This went unsolved for years.
Eventually iMessage, Signal, WhatsApp, Facebook - basically everyone else took this market. Then Google started some anemic work on it again, along the way making and killing a bunch of other chat products that all sucked in different ways.
Along with google plus and cloud, this is probably one of their biggest strategic failures.
If you need to depend of them for a specific service, don't. Go with an actual business that cares and have the focus on what's important, and more importantly a customer service that listens.
I went with a dedicated VoIP provider, and the service has been excellent
SMS is available as a FLOSS app (I use the F-Droid voip.ms app), or through another portal - able to be sent/received through email, another number, or a web interface.
I honestly have only good things to say about them (despite being a consumer of their seemingly B2B product). As a disclaimer, I don't work for them, have no affiliation with them, and made a point of not using any kind of referral link.
One who gets paid half a million a year to not question the policies and their consequences and just does what they are told?
Google needs a damn union just to get some reason in the building.
The problem is not mainly with how Google treats their employees (though there's definitely something wrong there), but with how they treat their customers.
Hell, I’ve met more investors footing my salary than board members per se, and they definitely have zero interest in employee negotiations—that’s what management is for.
So basically the worst form of slacktivist hypocrites.
Anti corporate soapbox or google job, please just pick one.
I'm pretty pro-union in general but I don't follow your reasoning. Cops are unionized, and when they murder innocent civilians in broad daylight, the unions are right behind to pay for their legal defense. Unions don't bring reason to a workforce; they merely represent that workforce.
So every bad idea eventually gets implemented.
The real tragedy is that we decided to let corporations grow so big that they can say "fuck you" to courts and people alike with no repercussions. Twitter is famous for this, ever tried to appeal a ban?
This isn't about companies being too big, it's about an absence of rule making. If there were some rules defining the rights, then the courts could, indeed, be involved; but courts can't be brought into something just because it is "wrong". People agree to the ToS when they submit an app to the store; and the ToS more or less say, it's Gapplsoft's platform and they may do what they like.
In Germany, people and political parties have obtained court judgements to unlock their Twitter and FB accounts. Generally the principle behind these decisions was that Twitter and FB are a public venue for discourse and therefore it goes against free speech to ban accounts for acceptable speech.
The only downside is that it are mostly hardcore actual Nazis which obtain these rulings, e.g. from the NPD party: https://www.belltower.news/gerichtsstreit-facebook-muss-seit...
It is unlikely that any common law jurisdiction would apply freedom of speech so broadly but it is uncertain. It could be that even Germany only applies it in cases where it is clearly a matter of political speech. How broadly do you think this precedent applies?
It's pure incompetence.
Could you even summarize a piece of legislation that doesn't amount to "describe Google, then make everything that annoys us about Google illegal for companies fitting that description"?
In Standard Oil's case, vertical integration across markets was enough, and pretty much everyone in Big Tech is guilty of this.