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Orkut shutting down September 30 (en.blog.orkut.com)
355 points by raldi on June 30, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 166 comments

I used Orkut in the early days (from 2004 - 2008). The growth trajectory was similar to facebook. All the elite colleges in India were using it in the beginning and then it rapidly spread across other colleges.

But the thing was:

1. There was no News feed. You had to actually visit your friend's wall to make a comment/see what they were up-to.

2. That other person would know the next day that you visited their profile. This discourages people from taking interest in the lives of others. You didn't want to come across as a creep or having nothing better to do with your time.

3. Communities/Forums were a big thing. There wasn't too much to do so you visited "communities". It became a turf war between Indians, Brazilians and a few other countries over content. So if you were from another country, you would get the feeling of not belonging here. I always thought that it drove people from other countries away.

4. Facebook created a personal bubble/universe centered around you. Discussions on forums/pages were not a high priority. News feed was the game changer. I remember people moving away en masse from Orkut to Facebook around 2007 - 08.

It's funny about #1, since when the NewsFeed appeared on Facebook most people were mad about the change. It was a weird thing going from assuming that only people who viewed your profile (e.g. enough to care) would see your goofy pics, and then now they were splashed in front of anyone you added as a 'friend'.

Maybe most people who were vocal about the change were mad, while the rest of us happily used it. I do remember how jarring the change felt, but it quickly become obvious what a new and useful experience it was.

I unfollow all old/new friends and likes. I have no news feed.

I'm incredibly curious what this looks like— does it just display an empty state? "Oops we have no stories for you!" or similar?

Presumably it would display the same "There's no news; you should add some more friends!" message you get when you've first signed up and skipped the friend-recommendation step.


my friends became the Ads


A combination of NoScript and / or RequestPolicy works best for this. No need to rely on software that sometimes doesn't truly block all advertisements.

Don't forget FB Apps. The idea that social graph could be viewed as a data platform was revolutionary. I remember lot of young engineers around me going crazy about it and building silly apps. There were a lot of useful apps as well; book lending, used articles sales and so on.

Orkut, MySpace, Ning and other social networks had support for apps using OpenSocial around 2008. You had access to friends, FoFs, and several other social features.

For some time people ignored this platform, which meant that you could make a few million dollars per month porting successful FB games (Colheita Feliz, a FarmVille clone, comes to mind) since you faced virtually no competition.

Indian here. One of the biggest problems with Orkut was spam. They did nothing to combat the countless unsolicited "fraandship" requests. A lot of women I know abandoned Orkut early due to the harrassment.

As someone whose social media life began after Orkut was pretty much dead, I've been wondering about the origins of the word 'fraandship' for a while now. So it goes back to Orkut, at least. Hmm..

That is a problem with Facebook too, I know a lot of women get many unsolicited friendship requests.

I guess it will be a problem with any social network for that matter. Unless you get a totally protected account, like you are invisible to everyone else, except those with whom you want to be friends.

But then for a such thing, email and Whatsapp groups work just fine.

I wonder what the gender-split is? I've received numerous friend-requests on facebook from "Hot teenagers", often with messages professing their undying love for me.

I've just mentally filed them away as romance-scams, rather than harassment..

Because the "harassing" friend requests males receive are from obvious spam accounts with dumb, generic names, while females receive "ur hot" from legitimate accounts at what is likely a much higher rate.

Facebook shows page owners metrics like that. 46% of Facebook is "female", while 54% is male. They don't show an "other" option in the admin section, though I think they have that option in profile settings.

Facebook is better because you can limit requests to friends of friends. IIRC Orkut didnt have that setting until Fb had already won.

Another big factor for the communities' explosion was their misuse. The way communities were displayed in your profile page leaked enough metadata that people started using them as badges instead. Some time around 2006 people started creating communities with nonsense names, and it was not unusual to see people with hundreds of them on their profile. Things like "I cry everytime I see Mufasa die" or "Nobody expects the spanish inquisition" were the kinds of titles used in order to display your sense of humor.

In some sense this is akin to Tumblr's hashtags we see today, in which people abused the metadata channel to convey real meaning.

Facebook created a personal bubble/universe centered around you.

That seems like a compelling game plan in general.

OK, that's the same problem of QQ space.

Well, qq space is more like an half-heartened adventure from Tecent. By its nature, it is in conflict with QQ the IM. And with success on the IM side, there is no growing space for qq space. It's never being updated fundamentally since its introduction.

So I guess the problem is that Tecent made the strategic decision to not pursue the social area in the same way as FB; and this is a good decision.

The only difference is Tencent doesn't have the impulse to shut things down periodically.

"This discourages people from taking interest in the lives of others."

This is a bad thing?

For user engagement, yeah.

This could have been something. First social network I joined was Orkut in 2004. Back in 2006, it was all rage not only in Brazil, but also in lots of other countries where facebook was virtually unknown (iirc the MAU was over 100 million). In fact, facebook didn't overtake orkut in India and Brazil until 2010 and 2011 respectively.

If google had nurtured this social network instead of ignoring it for years, it might have become credible rival to facebook in markets outside US/EU. Instead, years of negligence and atrocious design decisions turned it into a ghost town since around 2011 or so. One has only to blame oneself.

I was told (source who used work for Google) that Orkut required massive amounts of resources that made it hard to run at scale. And there was no money in it.

This is why I'm a bit surprised that G+ is so bloated, as there is no money in that either....

"Over the past decade, YouTube, Blogger and Google+ have taken off, with communities springing up in every corner of the world. Because the growth of these communities has outpaced Orkut's growth, we've decided to bid Orkut farewell (or, tchau)."

I really kind of find this odd. I'm sure that other services have popped up to take it's place and that it's popularity is dropping, but I really find it hard to believe that they are Youtube (completely different service), Blogger (Which up until now I was under the impression that Google had forgotten that it even owned) and Google+ (More recent and less established than Orkut, and still a small amount of active users). I'm thinking more that non-Google services are the real threats, and that Google just has no benefit anymore in having users in any other service than Google+.

I don't find it odd, however, that another social network owned and operated by Google is shutting down though. While I think it's smart for them to try to consolidate their social strategy, I feel like they're engraining themselves in a service deeper and deeper that will, at some point, work more towards holding them back than allowing them to branch out into new products. That is all an incredible amount of opinion though, so we'll see.

> I really kind of find this odd. I'm sure that other services have popped up to take it's place and that it's popularity is dropping, but I really find it hard to believe that they are Youtube (completely different service), Blogger (Which up until now I was under the impression that Google had forgotten that it even owned) and Google+ (More recent and less established than Orkut, and still a small amount of active users).

Google didn't say that YouTube, Blogger, or Google+ have taken Orkut's place. Google said that YouTube, Blogger, and Google+ have outpaced Orkut's growth and are, largely as a result of that, more appropriate focuses of Google's resources.

> I'm thinking more that non-Google services are the real threats

This isn't about "threats", its about opportunities -- more specifically, its about where Google effort has the best returns for Google.

While much of YouTube is a desert wasteland in terms of community, there are definitely areas (like music and fitness) where it has a great deal of social / community activity. Just given how huge YT is, it wouldn't suprise me if just those niches outgrew Orkut a long time ago. Plus the growth trajectory is probably much better - if you were going to invest in YT community or Orkut, the former probably makes more sense.

I'm not sure you can call google+ a failure. Activity may not be so high but accounts are being created - and that matters.

To me, google+ is a great name for a comprehensive future password service.

Google+ almost certainly has more than 130 million users, however we see less than 10% of logins coming from Google+ in comparison to Facebook. This to me means that people are either more careful about what they share their G+ info with, or they simply don't care about Google+ at all (neither option is good for a social network). And let me tell you, I personally never login with G+ despite having a profile. Google+ accounts get created because the process is nearly automatic, not because people actually want to use Google+. Their user base growth is completely artificial in my opinion, so I would definitely call Google+ a failure.

Didn't Google also rename their social I/O presentations from "Google+" to "Google Identity Services"?, that might show you their confidence in the network. I'm still sour about the Youtube account merging though, so I'm biased.

I don't know anyone who set out to create a google+ account on purpose, it was more of a side effect of using Google services and needing to sign in.

I created an account under my real name (e.g., not Dr. Edward Morbius, an homage to 1950s SciFi), shortly after the public beta was opened. I closed it a few weeks later when the "Real Names" policy was starting to be enforced. I created a second account, as Edward Morbius, another few weeks later, to see how things would evolve.

I all but killed that with the YouTube Anschluss.

So, yes, there were people who created accounts, and a large number of those I interact with on G+ (a couple of dozen folks for the most part) who did similarly.

Which isn't to say I'm not still massively conflicted about the site.

I created one on purpose when they promised more privacy with the circles thing. I promptly stopped using it after their mass merger with other services ( the merge with YouTube particularly annoyed me)

I use Google+ for all photo sharing and in that around 60% of the time I share only to my 'Family' circle.

I bailed on G+ for photo hosting. Imgur is vastly superior for my needs:

• There's the option of anonymous photo hosting.

• I can distinguish between uploading and sharing images. On G+ if you upload an image you must "share" it then and there, or it's forever private.

• Useful annotations and titles. Roughly comparable, but I prefer Imgur's tools.

• Better album options. In particular, I can figure out how to add images to specific albums in Imgur. G+ is fucking opaque on this. Yes, I'd prefer to be able to add an image to an album from the image rather than by navigating to the album first.

• Share an image to User Sub or another gallery and enjoy the fun. Or just build up a library of images associated with my subreddit and/or blog (my primary use of Imgur).

All the fancy-schmancy image editing tools G+ offers? I don't use 'em. I've got The GIMP, it's good enough for me.

In order to upload without sharing I suppose you can create a circle with nobody in it (I do that to bookmark posts I want to go back later: I reshare these to an empty "bookmark" circle) and "share" your pics only to it.

You can also just upload, and then not share the image (it's a separate flow after the upload that you can skip.) The default setting for an uploaded photo is "not shared".

That state cannot then be later changed AFAICT.

I can't say for certain that's the case, but:

• If true, it's a really fucked up UI/UX. Because the two actions have absolutely no need to be associated.

• If not true, it's a really fucked up UI/UX. Because in two years of using photos, I haven't sorted it out, and I routinely see people sharing individual photos to their streams (I occasionally ask "context") to find that they're assembling an album of some sort.

Again: the photo-sharing is pretty much useless on account of that, and Imgur shines by comparison.

If you want persistent storage you control, buy an S3 share or host your own. Frankly, broadband access is to the point the latter is viable for personal accounts. I'd like to see some sort of P2P distributed cache which shares load as well.

I'm not sure what you mean. If you don't share a photo when you upload it, you can share it any time later. (In particular, that's how auto-upload works.) If you share it, and then you delete the post where it's shared, it goes back to not-shared. That seems pretty straightforward.

It doesn't seem like a surprising UI to follow an upload with a share when you're sending photos to a social network. I'm not even sure Facebook gives you that choice. The two actions don't have to be associated, but they certainly need to be associated when you consider that folks usually upload photos to share them.

I don't think G+ Photos has been advertised as a "persistent store you control". It's a social network that has an auto-upload feature to make it easier to share images and backup shots taken on your phone. "Hosting your own" is not going to be a substitute for 95% of real-world users.

Honestly, the G+ photos UI is sufficiently fucked up that I've never been able to sort any of this out.

I see Google's offerings as suits my needs. And Photos hasn't offered that.

I disagree on HYO, because reasons. Persistent broadband, a $25 device, and 5 watts will get you a server. The software's free. Some form of distributed federated caching gets you redundancy and load balancing. Search is the tough nut, though there are a few projects which have been working at that (e.g., YaCy) for a while now.

Otherwise it's just protocols, autoconfiguration, and adoption.

And I discover today that Imgur has a (previously unbeknownst to me) 256 image-per-user limit.

Anonymous uploads are still free.


How many of those new users are actually actively aware they're creating a new account?

> I'm not sure you can call google+ a failure.

I'm pretty sure the post you are responding to didn't say anything on that issue one way or the other.

paulrov: You are [dead].

Ugh... overzealous modders!

The HN shadow-banning policy is one of the worst in the industry. Why not let the community decide? If someone makes one post that mod disagrees with, that person is effectively shut off from the rest of the community without their knowledge.

It's like locking someone up without telling them what offense they've committed.

I never noticed Google+ took off...

Neither did anyone else. Forcing people into creating g+ accounts via youtube etc. hardly counts as "took off"...

... and marking them as "active" as they scroll down from a YouTube video or browse to a page with a G+ button while logged in to Google (= always).

It's odd because it's a bullshit rationalization that pretends to explain the decision while avoiding the all-to-obvious fact that Facebook won the present round of social networking.

And I say that as someone who's never had a personal Facebook account and doesn't care much for social networking in general.

The problem, in other words, is that it's a lie by way of omission and dissembling. And that everybody knows it.

As someone who has used G+ fairly heavily for 3 years, and eventually came to sort of like parts of it: it's annoying, creaky, and creepy. The underlying infrastructure is robust and reliable. The platform built on top of it is a mish-mash. Complaints from the first days of public deployment over noise, a confusion of controls, and a lack of clear purpose remain valid. And as a tool to destroy trust and goodwill in Google it's been unparalleled.

> And as a tool to destroy trust and goodwill in Google it's been unparalleled.

This is true, and Google must have noticed. Does that mean they just don't care, or was it partly why Gundotra hit the exit door?

The more I observe Google (and I've been doing that for 15+ years now), the more I come to the conclusion:

• They're really good at search

• They're fucking amazing at infrastructure.

• They suck at pretty much anything at all human-factors related.

I think that letting Microsoft execs into the tent was a tremendous cultural mistake. Microsoft's alliances were, from the mid-1980s onward, but especially through the 1990s, with its OEMs, VARs, and ISVs, not with its end-users, except secondarily. The name of the game was to build and defend a territory: OEM preloads, per-CPU licensing, Office, APIs, proprietary protocols (e.g., Exchange and Directory). The played the lock-in game to its ultimate and absurd conclusion: they don't understand and cannot fix their own software.

Google started by offering tremendous value to end-users via search, and finding a minimally viable way to monetize that (relevant and non-intrusive advertising). It was recognized from the beginning as creepy, but so long as you didn't actually personally log in to the search engine, the personal association seemed sufficiently weak to be acceptable to most.

That changed with Gmail. Suddenly you were logged in to your search provider all the fucking time. And that, frankly, weirded me out. I avoided Gmail for a long, long time, and still don't use it for my personal comms. I've made my own peace with Google in that I use Gmail, over IMAP, for a pseudonymous account, and transact my search transactions largely with a different provider who pledges no tracking (and I've been in arguments with various folk over the credibility of that, no it's not bulletproof), largely DDG and StartPage (both proxied non-tracking search providers). And yes, occasionally my work mail is served over Google depending on the gig.

Then came Google Docs, which further freak me out, storage, and a host of other things. I basically never saw these as a good thing (from a privacy or data security viewpoint), even though I fully acknowledge the genius of using these to attack one of Microsoft's prime foundations (Office + Exchange).

Evidence is strong that Google felt very strongly challenged by Facebook and felt it had to create its own social offering, whether to compete, head off Facebook, or ... just sheer competitive spirit. There was (and is) also an interest in offering "an identity service", which has been a holy grail of the tech world for at least a couple of decades, and a trope of the science fiction literature long before that. I can credit the latter with part of my own reluctance to buy into the concept: a world in which everything is specifically attributable and hence tracked to a specific identity is pretty close to my definition of totalitarian hell. I reacted just as viscerally when it was Microsoft's Passport, as well to Facebook sign-on (I don't use FB, I won't use services requiring it).

Gundotra strongly evidenced a firm belief in the concept, as does Eric Schmidt. Page and Brin have been less outspoken on the concept, but it seems from what I've seen that they at the very least endorsed the concept. If they're driving it, then as I said, the rot goes to (and starts at) the very head. And if there's a single thing which would most likely destroy Google at this point, even above NSA and other snooping (which they could significantly engineer around, though by changing their entire present focus, see Bruce Schneier and Eben Moglen on this in the past year, particularly their joint Columbia University conversation and Schneier's Stanford Law School lecture), it's the snooper state.

To backtrack a bit: I also think that advertising when first adopted by Google in the late 1990s snuck the camels' nose into the tent. Advertising is at its essence deceptive, and at odds with the interests of the recipient. By setting up this relationship, Google both created a dissonance within itself and a misalignment of interests with the end user. I don't know that this could have been avoided (figuring out how to tie revenues to Internet services outside of advertising has largely proved a wicked problem), but I think ultimately the camel ended up in, and in control of, the tent.


Another metaphor I like to invoke is of grabbing the tiger by the tail. The trick is more in the undoing than the doing.

I've been hoping that Gundotra's leaving might see an unwinding of things. I'm not seeing services disaggregate from G+ (though my YouTube status seems to vary from associated to not associated periodically). I haven't fully made up my mind on whether to stay or go. Ironically, it was conversations over Gundotra's departure and "death of G+" discussions which sucked me back in.

Irony, thy name is Vic.

I'm with you there. I still fondly remember Google Buzz and haven't really found an alternative that has the same feel to it yet.

I hope there is some post facto analysis a few months from now. IMO Google is risking that this shutdown effectively causes the migration of a few hundred thousand Brazilian Google users to Facebook.

For me, if I were a Blogger user, I'd take it as a sign that it's time to migrate. Honestly, beyond some of the core stuff (gmail, contacts for android and keep), I don't think Google has much vested interest in maintaining most of the services that were once offered out of their 20% program. It's funny, but I now trust Google to keep supporting niche products far less than even Microsoft.

Then again, for me the catalyst was when they killed reader and iGoogle. The Old Reader, and others have largely taken it's place, but that integration into my home page was truly useful to me. Now, I'm far less likely to catch an article on any given day, I check HN almost daily, and a few others not quite as often, but it isn't the same... and it isn't my typical blogroll anymore.

I still miss iGoogle. Gave me a bird's eye view of my interests like a business modal canvas.

Monetization of such a platform is pain though and only wroks as a paid service IMO.

From what I understand Orkut adoption at the moment is limited pretty much to just Brazil. Orkut simply had it coming for a looong time.

Not anymore. Even in Brazil, Orkut in dying and almost nobody use it anymore. Nowadays Facebook is the main social network in Brazil.

Brazil isn't exactly Luxembourg. Surely a population of 200 million isn't to be sniffed at.

They're migrating to facebook. Social networks don't make sense if they're nation limited, be it de facto or by design. People will migrate to the biggest most popular one eventually. I suspect facebook is just the best (by some people's standards) social network and social networking eventually falls into a natural monopoly.

As a counterpoint, I don't think China will ever migrate en masse to Facebook.

If Facebook were de-blocked today, you might very well see a mass migration. All my students (Chinese high schoolers and college transfers) going abroad immediately send me friend requests as soon as they get out from behind the Great Firewall.

Couldn't that be because once abroad, everyone they interact with are on Facebook?

Taiwan and Hong Kong have. If Facebook wasn't blocked in China, you would assume that trend would have continued.

And possibly Russia? Can anyone comment on how VKontakte is doing?

VK is the social network in Russia and probably in whole ex-USSR.

Censorship states will probably buck the trend due to the politics of migrating.

If you would have said Belgium, I would have been able to say this…

"In the 1970s, economist Edmar Bacha popularised the term "Belindia" as a description of Brazil: a little bit of Belgium and a lot of India, the country was very rich for some and very poor for most."

Speaking of rich and poor, data from the recent Brazil x Chile World Cup game shows that most Brazilian stadium attendees were white (67%), mid-high/high class (90%), and well-educated (86%). Ok, now I'm officially off-topic. Carry on.

How did you get the 67% white info of attendees?

It was from Datafolha, the data section of Folha, a large Brazilian newspaper.

but to google, 200M means their possible market size is really a fraction of that. Imagine 30M MAX users, assuming super high penetration. Google wants to focus on BILLIONS of users, not tens of millions.

The issue isn't whether or not Orkut had it coming.

It's that YouTube, G+, and Blogger are what did it in.

Look, let me tell you a little secret.

<looks around>

Just, don't tell anyone, OK?

I mean, between you and me.

I think it might have been Facebook.

Google+ is much larger than Orkut and has far more active users. Orkut never caught on outside of Brazil. Even in Brazil, its userbase is shrinking as users adopt Facebook and Google+.

People adopt Google+? The only thing I've seen on Google+ is Google employee posts.

Well, G+ is popular in tech circles.

Or in some subsets of tech circles....

And Linus Torvalds

Orkut did take off when it was launched in 2004. It just wasn't as good as Facebook. When Facebook opened up to users outside the education market, Orkut users switched.

Similar but less high-profile news: the once biggest hungarian social network site, iwiw.hu is shutting down tomorrow.

Launched in 2002, by 2006 it had pretty much every hungarian internet users signed up who could be bothered by such sites. T-Mobile/Deutsche Telecom acquired it for 4 million euros in 2006 and at the time it seemed unthinkable that it would lose its momentum.

As a result, Hungary was one of the very last countries for Facebook to overtake the local competition, but eventually people with international friends started to sign up for Facebook too and the network effect kicked in: for the past 1-2 years iwiw.hu was in a free fall and one month ago they announced that they would pull the plug completely.

Unless you hang out with Brazilians, you would think this had already happened 5 years ago. Even the Brazilians have largely given up, which makes the announcement timed to the World Cup a little less ironic.

Indeed, and the post hints to that Brazilian user base by using the word "Tchau" and talking about communities that have sprung up "in every corner of the world" in other services.

Anyway, this should get the last stragglers on to Facebook.

Interesting to see that this happened around when Orkut Buyukkokten, the site's founder recently quit Google for Hello Networks.


In case anyone from Google is reading this, the link to Google Takeout is taking me to your internal 'moma' sign-in page.

Fixed now.

Oh wow.. thats a bug... glad they fixed.

What happens to the developers that are on the individual teams what maintain these projects? Are they all dispersed to different areas? Do certain groups that work well together get to stay together? Are some let go?

Google products remind me of HBO's Game of Thrones series. They have so much going on at any given times, they can kill plenty off and still have their head high above water with plenty of forward momentum. What would Vegas bet is next to go?

http://www.gwern.net/Google%20shutdowns is the famous post about divining what Google will shut down next, and seems to have proved accurate in its predictions.

Personally I suspect Groups isn't long for this G+-enabled world.

Orkut, however, is a rare misfire for the survival model: because Orkut is so old and almost everything from that bygone era of Google has survived indefinitely, it gave Orkut a 95% chance of surviving to 2018. Of course, everyone knew Orkut was a dead social network walking (even before Google+ was a gleam in Page's eye), but how do you tell the model that...?

Groups is in a similar situation, at 90%. I think that's also too high, but I'm not sure what I'd personally estimate the risk at. On the one hand, it feels like Google should be loathe to kill off dozens of thousands of mailing lists and its Usenet archive and decades of history & material; on the other hand, they sure act in every way like they want Groups to die and go away.

In general, the model seems to be accurate when it predicts something is very likely to die, but not so accurate when it's predicting something's very likely to survive. It'll be interesting to followup in 2018 and see how the overall set of predictions did and what an updated model looks like.

Groups is a terrible service.

Strike that. It works well on the groups I use, but the group that I founded and abandoned (Rochester Arabic Discussion Group) is quite literally now unrecoverable. I can ban spammers from my group, but I can't delete their whole post history with prejudice. Had I taken timely action against all spammers as they arrived, it is possible the community would have survived, but now it's in "Warning - Blocked for Adult Content" mode and the actions required to prepare for a review in order to be reopened for posting would take at least a month of nonstop clicking to clean it up. I guess it's my fault for trying to start a community in a language I was studying at a time when I was likely to be too busy with getting my degree to devote proper time to fighting spam and helping to focus the discussions.

There is no way to perform bulk actions of any kind from the admin area. This is my biggest gripe. Groups is a service that needs an overhaul, it does not need to be killed, but only time will tell what Google does with this one.

Groups was an awesome service when it launched back in 2001. It was the search engine to go to if you wanted to search UseNet, which (in the pre-Friendster/MySpace/Facebook days) was the largest social network on the Internet. Google slapped a much nicer UI on it than DejaNews ever had, rivaling desktop Usenet readers but without the need to download anything or run another program.

It started sucking when they took UseNet out of it - then it became just another mailing-list site in an already crowded field. (Granted, UseNet itself was nearly dead at this point.) And the field was shrinking, since more affinity groups started moving to FaceBook, or MeetUp, or getting their own individual sites on the Internet with stock forum software. And IMHO, it really died when it went to the AJAX UI - there's no real reason for a content site like Groups (or Blogger, for that matter) to go heavily AJAX, it just makes it feel clunky.

Seconded. The AJAX UI sucks the most of all. Try loading up 100 pages of threads on one screen, selecting 19,850 spam threads to delete, and finding out an hour and a half later that your request is too large and all your work is lost.

Thirded. The AJAX UI is precisely when I stopped using Groups. It's not that AJAX is bad (obviously), it's that this is a really poor implementation.

I agree. I've never had a use for Groups other than stumbling upon a thread within Groups while researching a bug, or trying to get something new done on linux that I've never done before. I don't see this less-than-absolutely-massive userbase aligning with Google's current interests. Especially while trying to take over the social-discussion world with Plus.

I think this was a very well written sunset post.

Google has plenty of experience in that department.

Too soon.

Google is cleaning up their slum properties. I bet Google Code will be next to go. Blogger and Sites need either to be EOL'ed or upgraded.

Yep. They had questionnaire about what things to improve with sites and which features are used and which aren't. So hopefully they're upgrading it.

I did not see the questionnaire. I use Sites for some simple Web sites, and my current blog is on Blogspot. There's a lot of potential to combine Sites, Blogger, and Plus to create a short-form/long-form continuum. I hope Google makes a good try at this.

On a slightly unrelated note, why do blog sub-sites always lack a link to the main web site? It always takes time to realize the blog site's logo links to itself, that there is no obvious link to the main one anywhere on the page, and that you will have to edit the URL by hand. Such a trivial usability issue.

Default settings of blogging software.

Well, this was a long time coming. No surprises here. I'll fondly remember Orkut though. It was the first social network I really used and participated in. An interesting story: When I was in college, my friend and I figured out a way to see hidden pictures from users using a simple URL "hack". It was quite fun showing it off to friends, before they added an extra hash element to their URLs (if I remember correctly) and stopped our tinkering.

From one of Orkut developers:


  I was in that team from about 2006 to 2008.
  We grew the subscriber base, reaching about 40M,
  beating FB those days, but FB was catching up.
  Seems like FB was doing everything right,
  and we did what Larry told us - "improve latency".

anyone remember this brouhaha a decade ago where Orkut was accused of stealing source code to get off the ground? including bugs?


It was more a copyright dispute than a theft. The coders took their own code to a new company. Zuckerberg did the same thing to start Facebook.

Did Google start Orkut themselves or was this acquired?

Second, wouldn't they rather put it up for sale?

Started as 20% project from a Google employee.


Perhaps it depends on too much of the internal infrastructure they wouldn't want to sell?

Legally, it was created at Google. Technically, Orkut software was copied from the startup that Orkut the person was hired from.

They should open source it.

It probably would take too much effort to make it usable without Google's internal APIs (storage, search, etc).

They could open source it and have other people use app engine if people want to use it. Otherwise if its open source people could implement what ever they want on the back end.

App Engine is very different from the internal APIs most production services depend on.

It says in the second sentence of the announcement that it was a "20 percent project" - basically, it was started by one or more Google engineers as a side project and developed into a full-fledged attempt to create a Google-based social networking site.

I think it was one of their engineer's 20% time project. I haven't logged into orkut in 6 years so I don't recall. I'm sure wikipedia has info on it.

You are correct, it's even named after the engineer that started it.


How did you tell that it was a profile for you, and not for an actual 25-year-old woman from American Samoa who shared your name?

I discovered that Orkut had helpfully created one for me.

How do you know Orkut crreated it?

I've had accounts created "for me" on all sorts of sites.

Turns out I'm not the only person named James Britt. But I just happen to have a particular gmail account with that name, and there are some number of other people who mistakenly use that email address when signing up for things.

(This is one reason I'm a fan of Web sites sending out E-mail verification notices.)

I have about 5 Richard Johns using my Gmail address. No matter how many times I email their contacts back asking them to update their details, I still get a few emails a day for the wrong person!

I'm currently getting spammed by match.com for one of them.

Wasn't Orkut invite-only at the start? I wonder how much that affected growth.

It's anecdotal but I remember being intrigued, not being able to get an invite, and then losing interest/forgetting about Orkut by the time it opened up. I think in general with invite-based launches there's a fine line between creating buzz and stifling it.

It worked well for Gmail, and it worked pretty well for Orkut at the start. For technical reasons, they weren't able to handle the huge influx of users that would have come from opening it up to everyone.

There have been some invite-only success stories to be sure. (You could almost count Facebook, too.) The usual way of handling it these days seems to be allowing people to add themselves to a waiting list as an alternative to being invited.

I don't recall being invited to Orkut, though I could be wrong about that.

Looks like it changed in October 2006, and so was invite only for the first 2.5 years: http://googlesystem.blogspot.com/2006/10/orkut-doesnt-requir...

Another product for the Google chopping block...

I thought it was big in Brazil and India?

It was but then FB took over at least in India.

Strange: FF 30 throws a warning [1]

[1] http://imgur.com/zziDXJt

That's not Firefox throwing a warning. That's bitly having blacklisted a link.

yes, my bad. realized it later.

..but what took them so long?

Why not open source it?

It probably relies too much on internal technology that is not open source.

I know. They should.

This proves again that you cannot trust any Google service in the long term. Is Gmail next?

We were having a sweepstake at work to see how quickly this comment would appear. I had '20 minutes' down and lost by a whisker.

I'm hoping to win my money back the next time someone mentions an ORM.

Give me a break. People have been predicting Orkut shutting down for just about half a decade. Hell, a lot of people ridiculed Google for having two social networks.

Yeah, sure, gmail's next. Whatever you say.

Gmail is definitely not next. But google+ users should take notice.

Take notice of what, exactly? That social networks have a single point of failure?

What makes Google any different in that respect? How are Facebook users any safer than G+ users?

There is something to be said for companies doing one thing.

MySpace still exists. If MySpace (were still) part of a larger company, they probably would have been shuttered by now as irrelevant. As long as Facebook just has one thing, 'Facebook', it will also safely limp along long after it is the backwater of the internet, a place you can't believe still exists.

> There is something to be said for companies doing one thing.

The only real difference is instead of shuttering they pivot. The name sticks around but they still delete all your old stuff[1], so the effect is the same.

[1] http://techcrunch.com/2013/06/12/bring-the-blogs-back/

> There is something to be said for companies doing one thing.

Facebook doesn't want to "do one thing". The problem is, Facebook keeps failing at doing other things, so you never hear about them or remember them.

Hey, what do you think people remember best: The facebook phone or the iTunes social network?

But social networking is the core of what Facebook does, and that includes the failed phone. G+ is pretty much irrelevant to Google's core businesses, which are search and advertising.

Clearly, Google should just focus on their cars.

Facebook is Facebook's primary product; they're unlikely to close it down and reallocate engineers to other products until they've tried very hard to make it a success.

Have you missed the memo? Google+ is "Google's central identity" in the new Google. Shutting down Google+ would be akin to Facebook shutting down Facebook.

That's just marketing speak. Sure, G+ is about getting a real identity and other personal info to tie together with Google reading your emails, tracking you across the web, and tracking you via Android etc, but a Gmail sign-in would provide a "central identity" without G+. That's especially true for most Android users.

why is email safe since lots of users seem to have switched to social networks for most of their communications?

[citation needed]

I don't like google + because they were sneaky. I still can't figure out how they went into my computer and stole profile picture. (And no they didn't scrape it from Any website?).

They probably got it when you forgot your tin foil hat that one morning. ;)

Google does pull your photos and videos into G+ from pretty much any device you sign into, though. It's opt-out, not opt-in like it used to be. If you dismiss the "we found new content" toast notification, which you only get after they've already started uploading said content, the service assumes you want to keep doing that.

I found this out the hard way when I was testing an Android phone; I signed in to the phone with my Google account, then took some pictures. A cloud shaped notification popped up informing me that new content was found and it was being automatically backed up to G+. I had to actually go into G+ settings and turn off this "feature" that I had never asked for, nor authorized.

> I had to actually go into G+ settings and turn off this "feature" that I had never asked for, nor authorized.

Isn't that how software is meant to work? Not sure why there are scare-quotes around feature either - this is a feature, and a useful one at that, automatic cloud backup. And note that the backup is private, they aren't publishing these for the world to see or anything. If you don't like it, it can be disabled, no problem!

Do you want all new features to be opt-in? They'd never get used; users just don't bother going to the settings pane every time software is updated, and look for new check-boxes. The toast pop-up alerting you to the new feature, with an option to disable it, the first time it's used is the best way to do this.

> Isn't that how software is meant to work?

Different schools of thought. Some say software should be able to handle all your data without having to ask you everytime it shifts a bit around — convenient, but with the implicit cost of needing to trust said software with all your info. Others say that software shouldn't grab any of your info without your consent, which gives you control over your data but is terribly inconvenient.

I put myself on the latter group, but I confess being called paranoid. In my defense, G+ grabbed my profile pic from an old blogspot I had about monkeys back when the apps weren't a single profile. It took me a while to find out it was more of an accident than a bad joke, but by then it was too late to recover my trust.

> Isn't that how software is meant to work?

Not necessarily.

> Not sure why there are scare-quotes around feature either

"Scare quotes"? Really? I thought that term was retired long ago; maybe I should have said "so-called feature". But no, I don't consider it a feature, rather an annoyance that again, I never asked for or approved. I don't like to use car analogies, but one easily springs to mind: Imagine buying a new car, and right before you settle into the driver's seat to pull off the lot, the dealer stops you, readjusts your mirrors to point to the sky, changes the radio presets to stations you've never heard of, sets the transmission on sporty mode, and adjusts the seat to a severe angle. When you ask him what the hell he's doing, he tells you that in your contract you opted in to dealer presets, and you'll have to manually change all of them back yourself. Annoying, huh?

> And note that the backup is private, they aren't publishing these for the world to see or anything.

Correct, but I never gave them permission to use my metered data, nor my limited cloud storage space. What if I don't want those 200 or so 3MB pictures I took to eat up my entire monthly data allotment? If the setting is opt-out, and I didn't know it was doing it, it can be an expensive "feature". Something like that should definitely be opt-in.

> Do you want all new features to be opt-in?

Of course not; I never said that. But most should be, especially those relating to high data use.

> The toast pop-up alerting you to the new feature, with an option to disable it, the first time it's used is the best way to do this.

Except when that popup never shows up again, and you find out days or weeks later that the device has been doing things you didn't expect it to in the background.

And beyond all of this, there's the issue the OP raised, which is where Google decides to use one of your pictures as your profile photo, without any user intervention. If they will do that, who knows what else they will do with the rest of your photos? I found that some pictures I had taken while on vacation were somehow mixed into a "story" with other, unrelated pictures. Some pictures that I took in succession in the same location were put into an animated GIF without my knowledge or permission. Basically, Google decided what to do with my pictures without ever asking me about it first. That's rude, creepy, and annoying.

Heh. I actually really like the 'story' feature - Google created a bizarre sort of surreal adventure comic (involving lego models going on a journey around Edinburgh) for me, based on some completely unrelated (but GPS tagged) pictures I had taken. Still, YMMV and all that...

Oh, don't get me wrong: It's fascinating technology, though it seemed to be a bit flawed in my limited experience. I don't have a problem with the tech, I have a problem with them doing it without my knowledge or permission.

For example, on my Windows Phone, it asks me if I want to back up my photos and videos to SkyDrive, and tells me how to turn it on. If I dismiss the notification, it doesn't start uploading anything; it simply waits for me to turn it on.

With Android, the very first picture I take is already uploaded by the time I get the notification, and I have to not only turn off the feature that I never turned on, I have to then go onto my G+ account to delete the picture if I don't want it stored there.

Again, the technology itself (auto backup of all pics/vids) is amazing and a good thing. But turning it on for me, without even asking permission first, is flat out wrong.

Right, I understand what you mean now. And yes, the Windows Phone OneDrive integration seems to be more thought out and considerate of the end users possible concerns. So; Microsoft 1-0 Google, then? Amazing...!

I will miss all the lasers.


Orkut could have been facebook if it wasn't for the stupid name.

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