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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?


So anytime a service or piece of software does something frustrating your solution is to drop it & never communicate with the developer what the problem might be?

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.

The way I see it is that both Gmail wants her as a customer to click on ads, and she wants to use the Gmail service, because she likes most features. In that view pushing her to stop using the service is a loss for both, I can not see that being the best solution.

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.

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.

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