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Google reminds users to "Call Dad", makes users angry (google.com)
167 points by psawaya on June 19, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 94 comments

My father recently died and while things like these may trigger some slight pain, that's just life. You have to get the fuck over it.

It's never worth accommodating the easily offended, especially on the Internet.

It's the difference between seeing something that annoys you and moving on and having something that someone else stuck into your reminder list that you can't delete. No one is complaining about Google's fathers day doodle, people are complaining that Google put in reminders they don't want into a space they view as theirs and there's no way to get rid of them.

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.

This is on the money. It's a psychology-of-UI issue - where the Google front page feels like a public space, the logged-in side of Gmail feels more like a private area. This means that while a holiday Google Doodle sails by just fine, a reminder in Gmail feels very invasive.

Those answering "just get over it" are clearly not interested in building applications that people enjoy using.

> where the Google front page feels like a public space, the logged-in side of Gmail feels more like a private area. This means that while a holiday Google Doodle sails by just fine, a reminder in Gmail feels very invasive.

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.

The issue you describe is legitimate: having an unsolicited reminder that can't be deleted is a bad choice, period. The parts about being offended because of a lousy or recently late father are unnecessary and unhelpful appeals to emotion.

Those are completely valid appeals to emotion, because it is the emotional context of the reminder that makes it significant. If you don't understand why someone might feel bad after seeing that show up in their todo list, then you don't understand the problem.

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.

When there is a perfectly good objective argument to be made (in this case, that undeletable reminders is a bad user experience), I do think an appeal to emotion is ineffective if not fallacious.

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.

That's the difference between posting something in a space people view as public and a space people view as their own personal area. People have much more of a right to be offended about the later. You're offering your users a space to call their own, anything you put in there that offends any of them is an intrusion and leads the user to realize that the control of that space is entirely up to you and not them. When you've offered that space to them and they find out your offer is not what they thought it is, it is understandable they get annoyed.

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.

I don't buy that Gmail is or is supposed to be a personal area. There are prominent ads, and Google frequently sends out messages to everyone's Gmail about new Labs features and such. Sure, your Gmail is more personal than, say, the cnn.com homepage, but it's still pretty clear that mass messages aren't off the table.

  > Are people who have bad or deceased fathers offended
  > by the very notion of Father's Day and the marketing
  > around it? 
There's a difference between Bob Barker saying "Remember to have your pets spayed or neutered" and Bob Barker coming to your house and saying, "Hey, asshole! Spay your dog already!" You are arguing that there is no difference. You seem to base it on the idea that if someone feels offended by Bob Barker talking at them specifically, then they need to be offended by Bob Barker broadcasting to a large group of people in general.

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. There are ads on every single page, and Google has a long history of sending out blanketed messages (e.g. new Labs features).

  > 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.
Bob Barker showing up on your doorstep does not imply that he knows anything about you personally, other than that your dog isn't spayed. Google doesn't necessarily know anything about you personally, other than the fact that you have (or had) a dad.

  > Also, I don't get this assumption that your GMail is your
  > own personal space.
* Are you suggesting that it's a public 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).
Most normal people don't get this, or just ignore them thinking that they are spam. And in reality your email inbox designed for sending/receiving messages. Your task list isn't. Do you expect the ability of others to automatically add things to your own personal TODO list? Even sending calendar invites through email usually requires confirmation before accepting them.

You're being extremely inconsistent here. "Public space" is not the opposite of "personal space." I'm saying that your Gmail page is not personal, because Google has always placed advertisements and other messages on it. It is unreasonable to single out this Father's Day reminder and claim that you didn't expect mass messages to be placed on your Gmail.

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.

Bob Barker is not a non-sentient system.

Empathy is cool now, didn't you get the memo? It allows you to design better products. If you don't understand your users, your company is screwed.

I think discussion of the emotion of the situation is entirely appropriate.

> Google put in reminders (...) there's no way to get rid of them.

Not making a point but one way to not see the doodles is to use a custom background. It makes the Google logo plain.

I lost my father a couple of years ago. I like being reminded of him, personally. Today is a good day for that.

that is a great way of looking at it. people need to stop being so sensitive. same goes to fleitz and schrototo

> people need to stop being so sensitive

That's pretty callous. I wouldn't say that to someone who was abused by their father.

Seems like the context of their posts went over your head by a mile, because I don't think they're being sensitive.

But I could be wrong. It was the "get the fuck over it" part that tipped me off. Again, could be wrong.

The "same goes to" appears to refer to "what a great way of looking at it", not "stop being so sensitive".

Maybe I'm too cynical but it doesn't feel like this was a cutesy addition by a lone engineer, it rather feels like a marketing ploy to get more people to think about using the calling features.

It's actually more of a PR ploy. The reason people love Google so much is because they are constantly contextualizing their service. Google voice just moved from being able to make calls to connecting you to your father which creates a much better bond between the users of the service and the service by invoking emotion. The fact that they are getting complaints only highlights how effective it is.

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. http://www.ribbonfarm.com/2010/10/20/coloring-the-whole-egg-...

Agreed. I'm dreading calling my dad because he has dementia and severe hearing loss, but I'm glad Google is showing a bit of humanity.

I hate labeling people as "easily offended", but to complain about something like this seems excessive. If your father died would you presume to insist that your mother take down all his photos?

I guess if his mother entered his room without asking and hung up pictures of his dead father, most people would think that the mother was a bit inconsiderate. Of course, some people would claim that his room was not a personal space, and the house was owned and controlled by the mother anyway.

Fuck you pal. I'll decide when I get over what.

Couldn't agree with you more, my dad passed about 7 years ago, the OP on the ticket seems to have daddy issues. If I was her father I'd be glad she didn't call.

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.

> The OP on the ticket seems to have daddy issues

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 just tend to think that the best use of her time might be to evaluate her feelings towards her father rather than get gmail to help her put her head in the sand. It's obvious the she still has unresolved issues with her dad and should either resolve them with her dad, or resolve them with out her dad. Either way when "Reminder: Call Dad" requires a ticket to Gmail you know you have some issues to take care of and none of them are getting the feature removed.

I couldn't agree more on this. I don't always agree with everything Google does, but they provide some damned fine services for free. It's kind of hard to complain in light of that. Furthermore, every single comment that had been made disregarded both all of the users that hadn't lost their fathers, and more importantly all of the users such as yourself that had but are well-adjusted human beings that can deal with loss. I just hope it doesn't ruin any Google engineers' day because a bunch of lusers felt the need to complain about a gesture of kindness.

Why exactly do people who have a great relationship with their father even need a reminder to call their father on Father's Day? Should we make a shallow & judgmental accusation that those who can't remember to call their father on Father's Day don't really love their father & are maladjusted "lusers"?

It's more of a reminder that today is actually father's day. This is not the same as not calling your father when you are fully aware it is father's day.

The intention may have been innocent, but the execution was flawed. Make it obvious it's a generic reminder & give an easy way to turn it off. Instead it looked like it was a personal reminder that someone set themselves & there is no easy way to turn it off. Heck I am not even emotionally attached to it, but I really hate nag screens, so I'd rather shut the reminder off if I've already called dad or am not planning to.

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.

> the OP on the ticket seems to have daddy issues.

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.

What exactly is the casual sexism here?

"Daddy issues" is a sexualized pop-Freudian phrase applied only to women. Lots of men, myself included, had rocky relationships with their fathers that caused some emotional harm and affected their later relationships, but you'll never hear immature or irresponsible men described as suffering from "daddy issues".

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 was just talking with my mom about this this morning. My father passed away about a year and a half ago. I still very much miss him.

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.

This reminds me of when Facebook reminded you to reconnect with friends, some dead. Glad they removed that feature.

-1 to Google for this idea, but I wouldn't open a ticket or get enraged about it.

I've used FB's reconnect and "people you may know", among other features and on other sites, to great success. But it was the one time that FB reminded me to reconnect with a friend close to the anniversary of his passing that is what I think of when I think of those types of features.

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 :(

Perhaps a service (imalive.com) where you have to click a button every day/week/month otherwise it closes all your accounts...

When you operate on the scale of Google or Facebook, getting "cute" will inevitably end up with some angry users. But without little touches like this, the company would move closer and closer to the IBM-esque corporate monolith. And neither the users nor Google want to see that image.

That said, maybe this one was pushing it. I saw that this morning and thought, "Oh, here we go..."

Actions speak louder than words. If they don't want to look like an IBM-esque monolith then they shouldn't act like one. Would IBM be less of a monolithic beast if they had commercials with puppies in them, yet never changed their polices or actions?

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.

Upvoted not necessarily because I agree with your conclusion, but because I think it synthesizes the main point. Anything with personality automatically means some people will not like them.

When I first saw it, I did find it remarkably annoying, but didn't actually put my finger on it until now: to me it doesn't feel "cute" at all, but rather like a machine or a robot, maybe trying to sound cute, but coming off only as imperative -- like "Reminder: taxes are due today."

"Call your dad on fathers day" as politically incorrect? This seems like overkill. There is a 1000 other vastly more important things to get worked up over. Its not like Google took your dad away or made him someone you despise, and then flaunts how great it is having a dad you'd want to honor on fathers days in front of you. It's a little something to give their service a slight personality. Perhaps its like Field of Dreams, give people somewhere to complain, they will complain, which is fine, but complain about the problem, the people that caused it, not the things that remind you of it, which end up getting those things taken away from the majority of people that would enjoy the rather innocent reminder.I could see being pissed off if you were in jail for a crime you didn't commit, and you were being forced to celebrate the 4th of July or something, but this is not even close to that.

There are a few sides to this one:

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'm not sure how I feel about this (although I don't use Gmail, so thankfully, it doesn't matter how I feel).

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.

I think it is a good lesson to small companies in that you shouldn't add things to what people consider "mine" or expect the normal family situation applies to everyone. The doodle is ok, but adding reminders crosses the line. Some of the forum postings are just sad and to think some managers decision added one more bit of pain is not something you want.

FYI, "cutesy" features like this are very rarely "some manager's decision". They usually come from the engineers, who say "Wouldn't it be cool if...", get a bunch of friends to help them, code up a demo, and then go show a manager and say "Can you help us make this happen?" At some point, some VP has to sign off on it, but usually they just give it a cursory look and say "Approved."

I generally prescribe blame to the person who had the ultimate sign-off authority. Their job is to think of the implications.

The flip side is the number of people that called their father because of the reminder, and what positive impact this had. Sorry, I can't help feel any sympathy for people pitching a fit over this. It reminds me of that woman who chastised the free lemonade kids.

I don't really see the comparison. Google added a reminder that could not be removed to something people thought they had control of.

It reminds me of that woman who chastised the free lemonade kids.

Sorry, I don't know the story behind this one, but would like to. Link?

It looks like the original article was taken down, but this is the reddit thread on it: http://www.reddit.com/r/politics/comments/cmizs/sweet_little...

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.

And now it's recursing. Google strikes again.

You know, as soon as I saw that, even though my dad is perfectly healthy and I hadn't called him yet today, I was a little creeped out. I couldn't put my finger on why.

The doodles are one thing, but Gmail is supposed to be a tool, and I think people expect different things from that.

I think having a generic banner such as a "Fathers Day" doodle wouldnt really upset as many people. I think there's something more personal about the specific 'Call Dad' that would certainly make me feel more emotional if I saw it pop up in my contacts list.

People get bombarded with "fathers day" "mothers day" "valentines day" every year and it's easy to brush it aside...

Many commenters seem not to notice that this upsets not only those whose fathers have recently passed, but even more those whose fathers have left them or abused them.

I found it a bit creepy simply because I view the Google services as pure utility completely segregated from my real life. I use them in the same way I use my microwave or toaster. If I woke up this morning and my microwave said "call Dad" I would have the same reaction. It's not a big deal of course but it's just kind of weird. It shows what a huge challenge Google has to ever develop a coherent social strategy when such a harmless message causes a little controversy.

I think a big part of the issue is that a person's Gmail is treated as something much more personal than a TV ad or anything else. I think this is the piece that people blasting complaints as "too sensitive" are missing.

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).

In other news, users love to bitch about everything.

and much of the culture around here is built on the innovation of bitching about people bitching about something.

"Recreational outrage" well describes the reaction of many of the users complaining in that thread

Google just doesn't get social media — this is the type of stuff that Facebook was doing wrong over two years ago and quickly fixed. Instead of trying to imitate Facebook they should re-focus on fixing services they already have like Blogger. It's mind blowing to think that Blogger is now in the slow lane behind the likes of Tumblr and WordPress. Google is starting to remind me of Yahoo! in a bad way — a place where good products go to die. My advice for them would be to buy Twitter, but they'd only mess that up over time...

People that get angry about things like this should really just chill. Google's probably created much more happiness than sorrow with this feature, by reminding kids to call their dads.

If Google say "Call Dad" to users who don't have a dad, it's a bug. Bugs are bad. Google should fix it.

Google reminds about Father's Day, yet it failed to remind me about a birthday over both SMS and email.

I noticed this recently as well, but only last week did I bother looking into it.

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.

A technical question, if I might:

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 [1], 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.

1: https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Father%27s_Da...


That's based on the assumption that everyone offended knows of the forum, though.

Imagine Batman login to his gmail account and then seeing this reminder…

Google surely must have anticipated that some people would react this way. Good on them for going ahead with this reminder anyway.

I disagree but not because it caused offense. I just see no reason why Google should be adding reminders when only the end user should be doing that.

Wait, are we still in America where every surface in the virtual and real world is covered with ads? In general I have a problem with the ad supported universe, it turns the creative expression into a commodity to sell shoes and lipstick.

I wish I can could my dad about this.

people get angry over the smallest things these days

Hey! My dad was quite tall, thank you very much!

'Tis the Internet we speak of.

I honestly thought it was a cool new feature of gMail where I can get reminders about calling people that is tied into gCal.

I lost my faith in people reading his.

All these geniuses at Google and nobody realised it was a dumb idea? They haven't all gone to Facebook. Marissa Mayer needs a tighter grip on the still, only just, minimalist homepage. I'd prefer no doodles at all, but I demand no power hogging js doodles!

sometimes when watching hulu or youtube i see ads that i find offensive. it's not the same situation, but i do wonder where to draw the lines mentioned in the discussions here.

It is true that this may hit feelings of some people. If we are blaming them, lets also blame Apple(app store) and a lot others. Unfortunately we have to learn to adapt and let go of these things... Internet is quite insensitive

You know what Google could have done?

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.

I am sure that the rainbow that show ups when you search "gay marriage" on google is going to upset some people... guess they need a new option to please those people ("Dont show me the gay rainbow").

To play Devil's Advocate:

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?

What if I entered a privately owned local mall and saw such a sign?

Neither of these would concern me in the slightest.

Presumably then, you're a reasonable person. I can assure you though, that if a shopping mall put up a sign like that they'd be flooded with complaints.

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).

> Gay marriage is a contentious issue presently, Father's Day isn't really.

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.

That's at worse what, a UX flaw that doesn't interfere with normal operation? What is the big deal?

I'm so tired of sensitive people complaining about everything. We all have our problems, being reminded to "call dad" is not a reason to act like Google showed up to your house and kicked your dog.

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