It's never worth accommodating the easily offended, especially on the Internet.
I'm glad you presumably had a good relationship with your father when he was alive. It might be worth remembering that this type of thing can be really rather painful and/or awkward for people who had fathers that weren't very nice people, were never around and they can't contact or came from a family with two mothers.
No one's saying people shouldn't talk about Father's day, but hijacking your user's reminder lists and sticking in stuff they can't get rid of because you think it's cool is just not a very nice thing to do.
Those answering "just get over it" are clearly not interested in building applications that people enjoy using.
One reason for drawing the distinction between what feels like a public versus private space is based on the private information that is contained within gmail, versus the non-private information on the frontpage.
An additional reason that gmail may feel like a different area than the frontpage is that Google doesn't often make modifications like today's (I don't use the chat functionality often so I am not sure if they have done other modifications similar to the call reminder today). Users who were offended by today's reminder but not by today's frontpage doodle might have found the doodle offensive if Google had never modified the frontpage logo, or modified it less frequently than they currently do.
That said, as someone with pretty unhappy history with his father, I think what Google did here is fine. But really, not every emotional appeal is a fallacy.
In this case, the particular emotional appeal seems either insincere or unreasonable. Are people who have bad or deceased fathers offended by the very notion of Father's Day and the marketing around it? I doubt it, but even if they are, I think it would be entirely unreasonable, and rare enough for Google to risk or ignore.
Remember, anyone can choose at any time to be offended by anything, whether or not other people would consider them reasonable. People can also feign being offended to attempt to bring attention and credibility to an otherwise legitimate argument. Anyone who publishes any text on the Internet is liable to have someone claim the text to be offensive. I don't think any reasonable person would see this reminder and think that Google was mockingly telling them to call their abusive or dead father.
The reason it's important to talk about the emotions is that the emotional calculations change when the space or message is a personal one as opposed to a public one. It's the difference between someone coming up to you on the bus and asking you if you've called your father and a poster on the side of the bus asking if you've called your father. When you put your message in someone's personal space, you don't get to just say "eh, it's probably only a small fraction" because you're specifically communicating with specific people.
It is important to understand the emotional components of software.
> Are people who have bad or deceased fathers offended
> by the very notion of Father's Day and the marketing
> around it?
In the same way, the general idea of Father's Day is different than talking specifically to someone about their father. At that point, it is no longer impersonal (or easily dismissed as, "They are just talking to other people / people with happy father memories").
> It's pretty clear that Google doesn't know your father
> or your family situation, so their little reminder is
> a lot different that Bob Barker actually showing up at
> your house.
> Also, I don't get this assumption that your GMail is your
> own personal space.
* You may not 'own' it, but that doesn't mean there isn't an expectation of it being a semi-private space. You are leasing the use of your Gmail page from Google at the price of the ads being there. What if your landlord went door-to-door in your apartment complex telling everyone, "Call your father!" When your landlord shows up at your door, you don't know that he's going around to everyone. How would you not see that as personal?
* "Call your father" is a command, which is a lot more personal than "Father's day is coming up, you might want to call your father for free using our service!"
> There are ads on every single page
Do you not own your (purchased or gifted) copy of (e.g.) a newspaper? There are ads on every page.
> Google has a long history of sending out blanketed messages
> (e.g. new Labs features).
Your newspaper analogy is the most inconsistent yet. Of course you own your copy of a newspaper, and of course there are ads. But a newspaper is not your "personal space," and in fact, I'm sure most newspapers had Father's Day ads.
I think discussion of the emotion of the situation is entirely appropriate.
Not making a point but one way to not see the doodles is to use a custom background. It makes the Google logo plain.
That's pretty callous. I wouldn't say that to someone who was abused by their father.
But I could be wrong. It was the "get the fuck over it" part that tipped me off. Again, could be wrong.
Google contextualizes their services to their audience, Android isn't about making phone calls, it's about 'open source'. Why? Because they need a bunch of developers to have an emotional reason to turn down the app store to write Android apps. Now that they have a competitive platform they can drop that rhetoric and focus on contexualizing Android to everyone who isn't a developer.
In human beings emotionality will trump rationality about 99% of the time, the remainder will be labeled heartless and ignored.
For an in depth discussion about PR/Sales/Marketing.
There's a great way for the complainers to get rid of the message, stop using a service provided to you for FREE. Pay for your own server, own web interface, own backups, etc then there will be no "Call Dad" button. Until then deal with the fact that most fathers, sons, and daughters like each other and it's a good day to catch up.
The really great part is that later today my kids will be using Gmail to video conference with me. Kudos to Google.
I don't think you should diagnose people like that over the internet. Anyway, it is not a crime to have daddy issues and it certainly shouldn't be used as an argument not to post tickets.
> If I was her father I'd be glad she didn't call
This made me angry reading it. This is a really hurtful statement and telling of your personality. I won't use this statement to diagnose you, but please reread what you said there, and ask yourself if it was necessary.
> stop using a service provided to you for FREE
Gmail isn't "free", it gathers information for targeted advertisements. Facebook isn't "free" and even it was completely free that doesn't dictate we can't complain about insensitive actions or privacy violations.
> deal with the fact that most fathers, sons, and daughters like each other
Because OP on the ticket didn't like her father? It is a weird fact to force me to deal with, just for using a "free" service.
> the really great part...
That isn't a part of the story at all, more like a weird gloating I don't understand how it fits in.
To me this _is_ a mistake. It is a feature that made Gmail less usable today for some. Who did this feature benefit? Those that didn't care about their father enough to forget to call and need the call-to-action? I bet your wonderful kids wouldn't need a reminder so what did you get out of this feature to give kudos?
I would say that filtering out the Google Doodle or generic Happy Fathers Day greetings is easier than something that looks like a personal reminder to call dad on your personal contact list. One that is difficult to remove.
In my opinion saying "Happy fathers day" or having a Google Doodle is one thing. Putting it like a reminder in a personal setting, when you for example don't want to speak with your abusive father, is another.
Also my point was more aimed at 'joshuafcole' who seems to think grieving over the loss of a father or the loss of a childhood due to an abusive father means that you're not "well adjusted". It's an overly broad blanket statement that expects people to deal with life events like robots in exactly the same way. Events that it sounds like 'joshuafcole' never dealt with, so he probably doesn't have the best idea on the repercussions every scenario presents. So my retort was the overly-broad generalization that people who need a reminder to remember it's Father's Day must not be "well adjusted" or really love their father.
Just bookmarking this for the next time someone insists that the folks on hacker news are an egalitarian bunch who would never tolerate casual sexism.
Moreover, the original request was a completely reasonable one: "I don't know how to turn this feature off: I've tried this and this, but it didn't work. What should I do?" When you ask a technical question and receive irrelevant, sexualized and emotionally condescending comments in response, I think that's prima facie evidence of sexism.
I really hate to be That Guy that complains about the little things that are supposed to brighten our day. Particularly because I work for Google and have at various other times been the guy implementing these little things that then get complained about. I wouldn't want to see Google never do these things, because there will always be some minority of the user base that will be offended, and that's just life. Otherwise we get a boring faceless corporation, and that would be a shame.
But when I saw this, my reaction was very much the same as the posters on the support forum. It hurt. Because I totally would call him, if I could. But I can't. And that really, really sucks.
-1 to Google for this idea, but I wouldn't open a ticket or get enraged about it.
Facebook, Google, etc. don't just know if someone has passed away, if a parent or both parents were abusive or at all a part of your life for whatever reason, or even something like if you broke up with someone else the night before. It's hard to get angry about a feature that otherwise works out well because those services don't have that information.
The only thing I can get angry about is the way these services handle requests to close/memorialize accounts. The aforementioned friend FB suggested I reconnect with was one that had an extensive online identity, but his family for whatever reason hasn't done anything (if they even know about all of the accounts). So I've sent notice to FB, LinkedIn and more to try to close or at least freeze the account. Most of them haven't paid attention to non-family requests so far. Doesn't matter that I am connected to him on all the social sites, have all his then-contact/personal information and death notices, and sent from the email address on a domain he linked to on his website (which is in these profiles). There has got to be a better way to handle this problem :(
That said, maybe this one was pushing it. I saw that this morning and thought, "Oh, here we go..."
Personalizations are cute so long as you have a personal relationship with who is doing it. If Google was a three man team who interacted with their userbase on a regular basis then these acts of personalization would mean more. But a 26,000 plus employee company having faceless developer #014345 implement feature #21542154, is much harder to pull off as being personal or cute. Especially considering how impersonal Google is towards customer service. It can come off like a socially awkward geek trying to make conversation...
Here let's remind you about your great father(or possibly your dead, abusive or absent father) to show how human & personal we are as a company, but if you actually have a problem with one of our products or services good luck actually getting a personal touch then.
On the practical, implementation detail side of this, users should have been allowed to remove the item. I'm sure the reason that didn't happen is simply because of the way it was implemented, and implementing the item as something that was actually per-user would simply have pushed into the 'not happening' zone.
As regards, morals, sensibilities and where the hell 'right' is on the larger picture the answer is 'who knows?' - Personally, I think the fact that a slight prompting would have resulted in millions of tiny acts of goodness, and a few larger ones of users being upset, but there's no particular metric one can apply there. My intuition says the balance falls largely on the side of it being a net postitive for their users at large, and their families too.
As far as those offended go, I'm sort of reminded of the parallels with doctors and malpractice suits - hundreds of lives saved, helped, made more comfortable, and it' can take one slip-up to undo all of it. No, it's not a 'gtfover it', but it's not so much the message appearing as the inability to control it that led to a small slight being taken as an offense. Anger is almost always fear, and fear almost always a simple desire to not be hurt, and the inability to stop it continuing to prompt them - that likely just resonated with the aspects of whatever hurt in the first place, whether it was mortality, abuse or anything else.
No one meant any offense, and there was a person, and then people who thought they'd do something they thought would be good, and might make a few people happier (and possibly serve their employer's larger aims too).
They didn't do a bad thing. They did a good thing, badly.
I like the fact that Google adds little touches that try to remind you that their employees are actual human beings.
I can be sympathetic to people who this might make uncomfortable (Father's Day is a pretty bad day for me), but I'm not sure how reasonable it is to try and shield yourself from things like this. I mean, presumably, you don't break down into tears every time a commercial airs advertising a "Father's Day" sale?
It just seems like a futile endeavor. It would be like if the color Yellow reminded you of some terrible memory. You'd kind of just have to deal with it.
Sorry, I don't know the story behind this one, but would like to. Link?
By the way, Google still impresses me sometimes. I found this by searching for "women chastises free lemonade kids" and the first hit was this thread, and the second was the reddit thread.
Coverage from HuffPo http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/07/terry-savage-sun-ti...
The doodles are one thing, but Gmail is supposed to be a tool, and I think people expect different things from that.
People get bombarded with "fathers day" "mothers day" "valentines day" every year and it's easy to brush it aside...
To have a unremovable "personal" message there as part of the interface feels weird to start with, but it feels even more like a violation if it's offensive (as with this case).
It seems the only way to fix this is to disable all of your notifications, save that, then go enable them again. Afterward, your notifications should work again.
Anyone in here that knows how these reminders where targeted? I didn't check GMail yesterday, so I've no clue if they would've been shown to me. And frankly, it would've been the wrong date.
Looking at the mess that is , was this rolled out to US people only? Using geoip or information from user profiles? Because I cannot imagine that a global reminder would've made much sense, ignoring the current discussion if it was a bad thing in general.
I wish I can could my dad about this.
They could have shown a message that said "It's Father's Day! Do you want to add a to-do to call your dad or someone you love?" And then you could click "No" or "Yes."
Then it would have been a case of PERMISSION, rather than INVASION.
Emotions matter. With a damaged emotional center in your brain, you cannot make decisions as simple as "which shoes should I put on" -- and thus became utterly paralyzed. To deny that emotions matter is not only inhumane, but extremely illogical in light of all the research that proves otherwise.
And a sense of control is one of the most important feelings in the world. Research has shown that removal of the feeling of control actually causes elderly & sick people to DIE much, much faster and more often. Even in things as significant as being the own caretaker of the plants in their room, or choosing the date & time a student volunteer visits them. And if you give the nursing patients control, and then take it away, they die at a higher rate even than those who never had control to begin with.
Over & over, studies have shown that emotions have great primacy in human life (and power over the so-called logic!).
Google runs roughshod over emotions constantly, and the one of control most egregiously. This is just yet another example. All they had to do was to make it a CHOICE -- and expand "dad" to "someone you love," and they could have avoided hurting people and all this negative PR.
Another aspect of emotions is that people treat everything -- software, computers, animals, other inanimate objects -- as if they have personalities & are alive. That's what we're wired to do: to interact with beings. And so people will hold grudges against faceless companies and even tools.
And yes, it is wrong, if you think that hurting people unnecessarily by being an antisocial oaf is wrong -- when you could, by investing just a little bit of effort, and by respecting SCIENCE, do a vastly superior job.
What if you logged into Gmail and saw a reminder that said "Be sure to go vote for the bill supporting Gay Marriage Today" that you couldn't delete?
Neither of these would concern me in the slightest.
Ultimately, it's a cost/benefit analysis for the company involved.
Gay marriage is a contentious issue presently, Father's Day isn't really. You can find a subset of people who are offended by any implication of supporting any idea or cause.
That's why I'm a little torn on this issue. You can object to the fact that Google is putting a non-deletable reminder into people's tasks. You can also object to the fact that Google is taking a Pro-Father's Day stance. I happen to think the first objection is more reasonable (but I can sympathize with the second one, even if I think it's not a really great example of a company offending people with a stance).
That is not the issue. The problem isn't about being reminded that Father's Day exists. The problem is the undeletable, unsolicited imperative to each and every user that they "call Dad", irrespective of how valid that statement is for any arbitrary user.