So the increasing frequency of these posts is, I think, barometer of the growing, gut-feeling discomfort among the geek community.
Is it not possible for someone to be an Apple/iOS or $Manufacturer/Android user and have their own opinions about _anything_ without it somehow being either labeled as fanboyism or anti-fanboyism?
I am tired of this false dilemma.
Clear principled opinions are wonderful things. Some people have them. Most, sadly, do not. Virtually everyone, however, cheers for some team or another. Lacking other arguments, these people will cleave to whatever argument of principle they find in front of them. Thus: Google is Evil.
But the plural of "gut feeling" is not "data", it's...hmmm.
(Whether or not such reaction belongs on HN? I don't know; for all the rational thinking in this group, intuition still seems to play a pretty strong role.)
Actually, you only have to trust them for 9 months after you decide to stop using Google:
When does Bing or Yahoo anonymize your search data? When does Joe's Random ISP delete your email from all their tape backups after you cancel your account? Google is being honest and open about what they do; other companies hope you don't realize you should care.
For me Google stopped being credible when it did a 180 on net neutrality. There were good reasons before that, and there were certainly good reasons after that, but when someone or some company loses the benefit of the doubt is a personal thing.
What currently pisses me off most about Google is their blatant disregard for privacy, more specifically their open and arrogant disdain for the way privacy is perceived (and protected by law) outside the US.
In hindsight I "should" have started "hating" Google much earlier, and OMG, I still use Google. Doesn't make any single individual argument criticizing Google any less valid though.
But most of all, the value in this post does not lie in his arguments, but in the fact that it illustrates the way in which Google is losing its supporters and its credibility as an ethical corporation.
It seems obvious in hindsight, but it's too bad nonetheless.
Google offered services that didn't explicitly require users to register personal data (with some exceptions, like Orkut), and only much later started collating and exploiting all the information they gathered by observing.
The latter is much creepier. It's the difference between someone asking you to fill out a form with very personal information and someone who's spying on you through binoculars.
Also, Google betrayed people's trust with their whole "don't be evil" thing. Most people never trusted Facebook very much to begin with. Many of us trusted Google. Betrayal pisses people off more than just being screwed.
Furthermore, Google is one of the few companies that actively tries to educate you on how they care about your privacy. There are ads in the subway. There are ads on TV. There are ads (right now) on the top of every Google property. They really want their processes to be transparent so that you know what you're signing up for when you use Google products. It seems irrational to hate Google when every other Internet company is collecting the same data that Google is, but they hide their policies it behind 300 pages of legalese and Google buys ads to make it easier for you to understand.
1. I had mentioned this in another post to you before. Anyway, some people(not all) are upset because your company said you were better than everyone else. "You can make money without being evil" "What is the best for users?" All that crap Google said to us and continues to say like it still exists. Google was the poster child of the business of the future. Everyone felt you were the ones that were actually going to do good. Facebook/MS/Apple never posed as is this. You did. And that is where the anger comes in. When you are told one thing and the opposite happens people get mad. They should have tried to manage expectations.
2. Thousands of businesses depend on your search engine. With some of them 80% of their business comes from you whether thru paid ads or not. Many of these companies never would have built their websites if Google didn't exist. When your company changes things to place their irrelevant content over the content of other websites/companies people are going to be pissed. What if Apple created their own applications for 50% of the categories in the app store and then placed their apps at the top of each category? Wouldn't you expect some sort of anger? Do you think Zynga would be pissed if Facebook placed all of their games higher than Zynga's games? Its the same thing.
What is so evil about adding social networking features to everyone's account? You have a Docs account and a Picasa account too, even if you don't use them, and nobody complains about that. What's the difference between Docs and Google+?
Thousands of businesses depend on your search engine.
This I understand. People are upset that they have to play with us even though they don't want to. Nobody likes to do things that they're forced to do. But this seems like shooting the messenger; it's not Google being evil because users won't use any search engines other than Google. That's just loyalty to a pretty nice product.
Google's customers are the people that click on search results. So while re-ranking your site may kill your business, you're not a user and that re-ranking makes the experience better for our users. If the social cues that Google now adds are truly irrelevant as you say, they shouldn't affect users' behavior at all. Users are not going to stop searching for something to buy just because they have to scroll the results page. If the social features are relevant, though, then users are getting a better experience. And that's a good thing, even if individual pages get less traffic from Google. Instead of being able to SEO the entire Internet, businesses can now only affect the search results for a tiny percentage of users. That's a good thing because SEO can't scale, and SEO isn't good for users or the Internet at large.
If you look at the Google experience from the standpoint of customers, it's pretty good. Users get relevant search results and ads. Advertisers get their content on top of everything else. It's a good compromise between advertising and usability, and it works really well. It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads, and Google is trying to fix the bug. Manipulating Google results shouldn't be something you feel entitled to be able to do. If you want to rank highly in Google, be relevant for the user currently searching. Engage him in social media or email, provide relevant information about what you're selling, and, generally, be a "good match" for what the user wants.
What if Apple created their own applications for 50% of the categories in the app store and then placed their apps at the top of each category?
They already do this. Apple's apps are included for free on every phone. And you aren't allowed to replicate their functionality, either. It's expectee. Apple makes phones, Apple gets to put whatever they want on the phones. Google makes search engine results pages, Google gets to put whatever they want on search engine results pages.
This isn't quite the right analogy, though. I can see why MapQuest would be upset about Google Maps and why Yelp would be upset about Google Local. But even in those cases, Google ranks things as you'd expect. Yelp results often appear over the Google business pages, because Yelp is more popular for reviews. So overall, I don't see Google as being evil. They're being competitive and they make good products.
- Are you sure you've read the ten commandments? If you haven't here's the link. http://www.google.com/about/company/tenthings.html
In case you don't get the time to visit the link, let me include the very first paragraph of the very first commandment; it goes something like this
"Since the beginning, we’ve focused on providing the best user experience possible. Whether we’re designing a new Internet browser or a new tweak to the look of the homepage, we take great care to ensure that they will ultimately serve you, rather than our own internal goal or bottom line."
It's a bug that you could rank highly in Google without buying ads
I shouldn't have mentioned ads here. Position on the results page should only depend on the quality of your content; if your site has the best content on the Internet for the user's search terms, you should be the top result. You shouldn't be able to change your position in the organic results any other way, like by exploiting bugs in Google's ranking algorithm. The specifics of the ranking algorithm may change, but if your site is the best, you won't have to worry about it.
So ummm none of Google own products are featured at the top of each search category? Most of the time this is not a good user experience but users and businesses have no real option!
I think it's interesting that anti-Google posts are reflexively upvoted. Ten years ago that would have been Microsoft.
I don't think it's that interesting that anti-Google posts get reflexively upvoted though. The cause is one of the more common and least discriminating aspects of human nature: whenever any person or organization is successful, there are a lot of people who want to see them cut down to size.
a)making money outside of pure search ads
It's this sudden turn into becoming a real company that has shocked and angered lots of people and burned up most of the good will capital they accrued till then.
As painful as it is for us freeloaders, this might be a good thing for Google as a company that will help ensure long-term viability and growth.
It echoes Bezos's push into uniforming the architecture inside of Amazon http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=3102800
Painful, but may ultimately be necessary. Google's far too long been the place of half-finished ideas.
If being a "real" company means only thinking about profits, well, then it is only fair that you lose the goodwill capital that you accrued by not only thinking about profits if you stop doing that. Is this the case with Google? For me the jury is still out, but it is undeniable that my OnyProfitsCountRank(tm) algorithm is getting a lot of signals that Google might be trailing the lots of Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.
A) Because I wrote that If being a "real" company means only thinking about profits, well, then it is only fair that you lose the goodwill capital that you accrued by not only thinking about profits if you stop doing that
B) Because I wrote that it is undeniable that my OnyProfitsCountRank(tm) algorithm is getting a lot of signals that Google might be trailing the lots of Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.
It strikes me as analogous to Apple's move from OS9 to OSX. OSX performed poorly at first, but it was a necessary if painful infrastructure change for the sake of the product's future.
Another reason I'm not worried is that Google's only lock-in is search quality. If a challenger appears and really does perform better for searches, then people will eventually shift over. I think this is ultimately what will keep Google from going completely off the rails vis-a-vis search.
Conversely, I think it's what allows Facebook to get away with a lot. Its lock-in feature is ubiquity/network-effect, which is at best orthogonal to quality of product.
Why doesn't it happen to Apple, then? Apple is much much more successful than Google, and, arguably, more "evil".
What I think people react badly to, is hypocrisy (real or perceived). Apple does what it says and doesn't apologize. Google has this whole blurry theory of "not being evil" which many of its own actions prove false, hence the backlash.
They do increasingly dominate the online music business with iTunes, much in the same way that Amazon does with digital books, but that is nothing compared to the global Internet reach of Google and hence a higher level of responsibility and scrutiny.
"it" manifests itself differently for Apple. Apple, not being in the content hosting as much as Google, gets attacked on its environmental (Greenpeace) and its social (Foxconn reports) stances, not necessarily because it is behaving badly relative to its peers, but also because it is a more visible target.
In the 90s Microsoft was using it's huge installed user base advantage to push it's less popular and new-to-the-game browser on a group of people, while also keeping out the competition with some unfair ways.
This seems identical to how Google is using it's position as leader of search to push it's late to the game and less popular social network onto it's users, while keeping out the competition.
I'm not saying Google is perfect, but they seem to take customer choice seriously. That's the exact opposite of Microsoft 10 years ago.
My opinion of Google has turned from positive to negative in the last 5 years, and it has nothing to do with how big or successful they are.
This is my main issue with Google. Most of their products/services were created/acquired not because they want to innovate or create something awesome. it's usually to copy or kill newer and more innovative start-ups and products or more established companies (many of Google's services are mediocre versions given away for free).
Case in point: Yelp, Groupon, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Skyhook, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc.
Assuming you're right, I am very curious as to what research led them to believe that social signals would be that much more beneficial for search results.
My own experience with what's on my social dashboards (facebook, google+, and the like) is that it's at best useful for discovery (HN is really good at it and sometimes there are a few gems in the others) but most of the time it's noisy and mediocre content, and more to the point: it's an ecosystem that values popularity above everything else.
I'm not trying to sound like a hipster here, and I understand that SEO is also about having your content show as popular in the search engine rankings. But except for communities like HN, most social streams are not regulated by any means.
My main concern with SPYW is that I don't want to start having to curate my social graph in order to avoid getting articles from theOnion when I make a query about foreign politics.
Ten years ago? How about now? The hate for Microsoft around here is so bad that winsupersite.com (the premier inside and latest Microsoft related news site) is completely banned from even submitting to HN, probably because of excessive flagging by haters . Google hate is nothing compared to that.
In my ideal world the Wikileaks info would have lived in a Google sub-domain, climate change discussions would have been based on open charts and data which would have been also hosted by Google (with available info going back since the first meteorological observations were made), mashups about Iraq and Afghanistan wars with geo-located user-uploaded photos could have lived at maps.google.com/war and so on and so on.
I know that what I was dreaming about doesn't add any stock-market value or anything (and in the worst case scenario it gets you straight into jail), but that's at least what I call "changing the world, trying to make it a better place", like guys such as Diderot or d'Alembert did three centuries ago.
Also, this is one of the few places on the web where I am sure people from Google frequent. Perhaps I'm being overly optimistic and naive, but if highlighting posts like these help to shift Google back even just a little towards "Don't be evil" then it was worth my upvote.
The end of his post is perfectly salient: let's reserve our enthusiasm and defesnes and cheerleading for actual startups, which no longer include Google.
This is going to turn into a larger rant on the the course of "social media" and their networks. When I'm with certain groups of friends, I act and talk in a certain way, and by no means should some of that ever be public. I want to talk and communicate with some of the social group of mine online, but in no way shape or form should any of that be public as well. Many people can't make that distinction (hence the UK people being deported because of tweets) and I think the big companies are trying to ruin that divide between public and private.
You can click the button, but they won't actually opt you out. At least not how you'd expect. You'll still get personalized ads, but they just use a different heuristic for how to personalize (based on the current email).
How hard is it to not personalize my ads at all? It would be easy. But Google has opted to add value to advertisers over their users.
This alone is one reason why I'm thinking of leaving gmail. Haven't made the switch yet, but I'm seriously considering it.
The problem people are discussing here, has nothing to do with some heuristic that runs against your email. It's the advent of the google profile, where all your online searches, mails, posts, rss feeds, and mobile phone now tie together in one place, and google is changing the terms.
>> Haven't made the switch yet, but I'm seriously considering it.
I'm talking about something else. I'm talking specifically about the "option" of opting out of personalized (and there is a well hidden option that Google has for this), but it only changes the algorithm. You still get personalized ads.
When I signed up for GMail when it first opened, this was not the case.
Is this hard to believe? I just created a hotmail account. I need to try it on all my devices first. And then of course get my forwarding accounts switched to it. If all goes well I'll switch. The main concern is lack of imap so I'll use Exchange ActiveSync -- but since I don't generally use that today, I need to make sure it works fine.
But there was a time when GMail was untouchable. Now its a service I can't wait to get off of.
It is my fault for having such idealistic expectations for what ultimately boils down to a money-driven company but I also think that there is a world in which I could have left Google loving it, or at least not so entirely disenchanted.
I look back on my grade school and college with fond memories; I wish I could look back on Google the same way.
Oh well, onwards and upwards.
That's why I wrote this post up, I just feel sad about where Google is now. Fortunately there's organizations like Y Combinator and places like Hacker News with a lot of startup passion and excitement.
Do you think it could actually ever go back to the way it was? Or is it too late? The beauty of Google in 2001-3 was that it gave you hope for what a company could be in the future. We all knew about the Jobs/Gates/Ellison shenanigans and some of us hoped for a better future. Better work environments for employees, innovating vs stealing, 100% focusing on the user, and not throwing integrity out the window for a couple of dollars per share.
Can they get back there? or is it gone?
The specific feeling of trust that I had during that time, due to an impeccable track record - trust that they would always do what I intuitively perceived to be the right thing, is long gone. Whether it's the all-holy SERP, or the grand strategy, my highest hope is that further decline will be as slow as possible. I do not believe that it is possible for any company, under any circumstances, to grow that large without losing its way. It's simply the nature of human organizations.
Nelson Minar has invited you to open a free Google Gmail account.
Are there non-profit-driven companies counting more than 10 people?
Wise words. I think the same applies to companies like Apple as well- I'll never understand why people dedicate so much personal energy to defending a company that needs no help. They're big enough to look after themselves.
Think of their record: OpenSource, Android, SOPA, Fight against Software Patens and so on. Google is still on our side and we need them against all the Microsoft and MPAAs.
To be on so many battlefields and doing so few problematic things is impressive. Did they ever really compromise their core values? Google tries not to compromise them, but they are not naive, look what happened to Sun.
I don't trust Google as a company as i trust the values of the Founders. I am convinced they are legacy focused and as long as they are in charge they try their best.
So in a way, actually, those people defending the company really are helping - they're doing active PR work for free, and the main company (like Apple or Google or whoever) is distanced enough that they don't have any responsibility if any of their footsoldiers says or does anything crazy. You get the benefits of an aggressive campaign without most of the downsides.
Oh, I don't dispute that. But I'm still unsure of why they would feel the need to help- Apple and Google would do fine without them. Just a confusing use of time for me, I suppose.
Meanwhile, Google is indeed doing fine, but it also hasn't been sorely tested.
I had a round of interviews go on for 9-12 months in 2004-2005 until I finally told the recruiter he could go fsck himself.
For example, people are worried about privacy, so they say "you can choose what to share with these cool buttons" rather than discuss their internal procedures for employee access to user data. The other day, someone on HN wrote, "I trust Google, but what about a laptop with malware?" Google could respond and say, "we believe it's physically impossible for an infected laptop to access the production network", but they don't. This makes people fear the worst. They think that Google is withholding information because it would make them look bad, rather than withholding information because they think their message has already been clearly communicated. (The more evil you think Google is being, the more likely they're doing the opposite of what you think they are.) Employees don't speak up very often because we aren't really supposed to say more than what's been publicly announced. (And, they're focused on programming and not PR.)
Everyone hates big companies, but Google is near the bottom of my list of companies to hate. The only thing that worries me is the customer service reputation, but customer service is expensive and nobody else provides it either.
Search Plus Your World and Google+ are, like every Google product, works in progress. They will get better over time, and if people don't like them or don't use them, they'll go away. To provide the best product, you have to experiment. Right now, many Googlers think that social signals are going to make everyone's life much better, and so they're writing code, deploying it, and seeing if it works like they think it will. The result is better search results and better software. That's progress, not evil.
I've seen variations on this line by people who presumably have insider knowledge of how Google operates. (If they don't, they shouldn't be saying things they clearly have no clue about.)
Anyway, as someone who doesn't have that insider access, and only knows a few people who work at Google, I wanted to let you know how comments like that read to me:
I find them extremely arrogant.
I don't mean to imply you are lying, or untrustworthy, or are somehow a bad (or even just arrogant) person. But as an independent, thinking mind, I find it mindboggingly-arrogant to tell someone – anyone – to think the exact opposite of what their mind is telling them, without any proof, on the basis of some supposed "authority". Not only bad advice, but dangerous.
Can you imagine how many crimes against humanity have been perpetrated with that kind of logic? "Sure, it may seem like persecuting group X is bad, but comrade, trust us, we have your best interest at heart. When it looks like we're at our worst, well, that's when we're at our best." Uh huh.
Again, I'm not calling you out specifically, but I would suggest that Google employees stop with this line of argument. I can't think of any better way to get people motivated against Google than what you're doing.
I don't understand why so many people don't get this, and especially here on HN of all places (maybe I'm missing something, I dunno). Isn't that how startup products work? Release early, release often? Maybe Google isn't specifically saying this, but it seriously seems like that's the road they take for the majority of their products.
$ whois googlealternatives.com
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View CA 94043
1) Chrome -> Firefox (Firefox 9 is surprisingly snappy, seems to me like a perfectly sensible alternative)
2) Search -> https://duckduckgo.com/lite - doesn't even show your query string in the URL. BUT: Works only in general search terms, not for specific (long) queries. There, Google is still unavoidable, it seems. But for 90% of my searches, DDG is perfecly OK.
3) Zoner instead of Picasa and zonerama.com instead of Photos in G+. [zonerama gives 2GB for free]
4) GMail: I found Hotmail to be adequate, but recently I switched to paying for my own webhosting, so I don't use free email anymore.
5) Google Calendar/Tasks -> Toodledo.com
6) Google Analytics,Adsense -> don't know...haven't found alternative yet.
In mu current understanding, it is not a problem to use some of the Google services, if one found them to be the best. What one should avoid, in my opinion, is to register account with Google and attach one's real-life identity to it. I did it in the past, and now consider it a big mistake of mine. I must say that I am still amazed so many people are ok with that.
For a highly symbolic $5/year (with options to buy more space and features if and when you need them) fastmail.fm has an excellent mail service.
http://www.wolframalpha.com/ ( not just math!, for example type in your local weather)
They have a way better privacy /user policy!
But I did have the damnedest time remembering their domain name! "Google" was an inspired name choice, including the trademark-friendly intentional misspelling. "Duckduckgo" not so much! I had to re-find the name several times.
However, DDG has a nice shortcut, which turned out to fit within my limited wet-ware RAM: http://ddg.gg.
Google has the power to seriously fuck with my life. I neither love nor hate Google, but I do care about what they do more than most companies, and certainly more than any company in our industry, and for good reasons.
Google is not "that girl we like". Google is "that guy that stands behind us with a big stick", and we don't know if he's going to use it to defend us or beat the shit out of us.
Wikipedia:"With over 80,000 employees, they produce more than 55,000 products, including: adhesives, abrasives, laminates, passive fire protection, dental products, electronic materials, medical products, car care products (such as sun films, polish, wax, car shampoo, treatment for the exterior, interior and the under chassis rust protection), electronic circuits and optical films"
So unless you influence the purchase of these products, 3M will be perfectly happy for you not to care about them. In fact, they may prefer it that way. Manufacturers in the US seem to be quite shy.
Perhaps a better example would be Sony. They would love it if you couldn't live without your Sony pictures, BluRay, Playstation 3, Sony cellphone, VAIO laptop, Sony Camera, Sony Camcorder, Sony video editing software, etc.
i'm curious to know from current employees, if the change of ceo has made things better, worse? how are things internally these days with larry running the show?
You're never going to find any large organization that satisfies all of your wishes, even a non-profit has internal political struggles.
But on a relative scale of evilness, which big companies would you want to work for? For example, Apple (Doesn't trust employees, has them work on fake products, super-compartmentalized secrecy on campus, has agents spying on people to stop leaks, abusive douche-bag boss (Jobs) of shitting on people when the demo doesn't meet expectations, squeezing all partners for every last nickle, super-controlled closed proprietary ecosystem, on and on)? Apple sounds like a place to work on amazing products, but shitty otherwise.
Google made a mistake by coining "Don't be evil", because they are held to a much much higher standard now than any other company because of it. The smallest change or transgression is hyper-analyzed by a cadre of people just waiting, sometimes wishing, to find a mis-step, anything they can run to the blogosphere with and claim "See! Evil!"
Basic cynicism in people seems to relish those who preach superior ethics to fail. A guy who talks about "Don't cheat on your wife" will be scrutinized much more than someone who doesn't. And if he is seen in public having a business dinner with an attractive lady, of course the stories will be "See! Mr White Knight is unfaithful!"
The place reeks of lack of trust and just sounds _depressing_ to work at.
It's hard to tell what really happens from the outside, but Google's founders don't seem to have maintained as strong a hands-on role in company direction/culture/decisions as, say, Microsoft in its Gates-led years.
California just created a new corporation type that allows 'public benefit' to take precedence over shareholder interest:
take a look at, for instance, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_judgment_rule
In particular, as of December 31, 2007, our two founders and our CEO, Larry, Sergey and Eric, owned approximately 88% of our outstanding Class B common stock, representing approximately 67% of the voting power of our outstanding capital stock.
A bit less drastic, as a 'second-class' Google stock is just 1/10th of the vote, whereas a 'second-class' berk is 1/20th (25th?, dunno) of the vote, but more importantly doesn't cost 100k/share. I don't know what berk b's price is at, but there's a much smaller set of people who can actually buy berk a shares. 100k is a lot for the average joe to invest in a single share :(
"I'd rather devote my emotional energy to the upstarts and startups. They deserve our passion."
A company owned by actual persons, i.e. a privately owned company, can better avoid turning evil. There are lots of world-changing privately owned companies, especially in Europe.
Profit seeking by committee (a.k.a. board and stockholders), turns companies into un-ethical, maximum-profit seeking machines. Even more so, since noone feels like he has "real" responsibility for the whole company's actions).
FWIW, I believe private companies tend to be better run and usually operate with a longer or more rounded perspective. In this sense, I would favour being a stakeholder of some sort in a private company over a public one.