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Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed!

6 replies on 1 page. Most recent reply: Nov 18, 2010 4:24 AM by Philippe Lhoste

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Bruce Eckel

Posts: 868
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed! (View in Weblogs)
Posted: Oct 20, 2010 7:03 AM
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Summary
I'm not sure what's worse here: the fact that some of my data is going to go away, or the fact that I found this out almost by accident. Someone is going to get burned by this.
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I find Google Groups to be very useful; it solves an important problem. I rely on it and I don't assume that it's going to go away like, say, the great social experiment of Google Wave (conclusion: if a product isn't pretty obvious to the users in a short time, they'll probably never get it). So I was quite disturbed when I went to create a page within a group, and I came across this rather mildly-headlined Notice About Pages and Files.

Read it; it's short. Notice the last line of the third paragraph: "In February 2011, we will turn off the pages and files features, and you will no longer be able to access that content." In journalism, this is called "burying the lead," which means, "putting the most important line of the piece down in the article where a lot of people won't notice it.

"No longer able to access that content" means, to the average user "your data is gone." I used the word "destroyed" in the headline to emphasize that; to compensate for how buried Google has made this. Because, yes, I don't use pages and files very often, so I could have easily discovered this after February 2011, and I suspect there are significant numbers of people who will discover it too late, the way Google is playing this one.

Of course, you can save your data if you (1) find out about its impending doom and (2) move it to Google Docs or Google Sites. Both of these require action on your part, and if you don't act your data will quietly become unavailable (same as "destroyed").

This is disturbing on several levels, the most important one being trust. The Internet has shown us that the primary factor in business is trust: can I trust you and how much? Google has been mostly about free services so they understood how important it is to build that trust to the point where you say, "Google, sure, they'll always take good care of me," which means you never hesitate to "buy into" what they do. The more you can trust, the easier it is for you to make a buying decision (consider other trustworthy companies; I never worry about buying things at Costco, for example. I don't feel quite as good about Amazon, but I still trust them a lot).

Obviously the people who invested in Wave might feel a little burned, but it was clear from the start that it was an experiment that most people weren't figuring out. But it never occurred to me that Groups might be in jeopardy. Someone at Google might rush to say "oh, no, Groups will stay around" but how do I know that? Once you decide that some of my data is OK to destroy, where does it stop?.

My trust has been shaken. And the way this has been done is terrible: quietly announce that data will be destroyed and hope that people will notice? They should have sent a loud message to at least all the managers of groups: DANGER! WARNING! We are going to destroy your data!

I completely appreciate the need to regularly refocus and trim your product line. Doing so is smart and shows promise for Google. But don't be lazy about it. If you don't want to maintain pages and files within Groups and you think people should move their data to other products, write a few scripts and make the move happen automatically. Don't quietly destroy data! There will be at least a few people who wake up after February 2011 and realize with deep shock that something they trusted would always be there is suddenly gone. Google, of all companies, should know how valuable that trust is, how vocal people are on the web when their trust has been violated, and how difficult it is to regain that trust once you've broken it.


Vincent O'Sullivan

Posts: 724
Nickname: vincent
Registered: Nov, 2002

Re: Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed! Posted: Oct 20, 2010 10:00 AM
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> I'm not sure what's worse here: the fact that some of my data is going to go away, or the fact that I found this out almost by accident. Someone is going to get burned by this.

...or the fact that you have entrusted data, that you consider important enough to keep, to a free service - without a contract - with the expectation that it will last forever and haven't kept a backup (that should be backups plural, of course) under you own control. In such a situation, I have to agree with you; "Someone is going to get burned by this."

Apart from that, I agree with you. Shutting down Usenet access with the intention of moving that traffic to Google's own propietary services does rather seem like the arbitrary action you would expect from a multi-billion dollar corporation rather than from a couple of nice guys who are in it just for fun. I guess times have changed.

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed! Posted: Oct 20, 2010 11:17 AM
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> I guess times have changed.

When folks are intent on "making money" rather than "making stuff", see: Great Recession, stuff like this happens. Google is just about getting rich, same as MicroSoft and IBM and Oracle and Goldman and ...

robert young

Posts: 361
Nickname: funbunny
Registered: Sep, 2003

Re: Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed! Posted: Oct 20, 2010 12:45 PM
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> I guess times have changed.

When folks are intent on "making money" rather than "making stuff", see: Great Recession, stuff like this happens. Google is just about getting rich, same as MicroSoft and IBM and Oracle and Goldman and ...

Frank Spychalski

Posts: 1
Nickname: psycho
Registered: Oct, 2010

Re: Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed! Posted: Oct 21, 2010 8:01 AM
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Hi Bruce,

this wasn't intended as a sneaky way to destroy your data.

Groups allows you to download Pages and Files as .zip archives. There is a link at the bottom of the files and pages page to "Download all files".

Additionally there is an email that will be sent out to all group owners who have Pages & Files content. The email started going out on Friday, but it will be several days before it will get to everyone.

cheers,
Frank

hallo leo

Posts: 1
Nickname: halloleo
Registered: Oct, 2010

Re: Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed! Posted: Oct 24, 2010 10:17 PM
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you make a very good point, bruce, when you mention, google could move our data automatically! that would have been the political correct way for a major player like google:

- warn early
- disallow new pages
- move the existing data to a new service
and finally
- close the old service

it was quite shocked, too when i read the announcement!

Philippe Lhoste

Posts: 1
Nickname: philho
Registered: Nov, 2010

Re: Google Groups Data To Be Destroyed! Posted: Nov 18, 2010 4:24 AM
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> ...or the fact that you have entrusted data, that you
> consider important enough to keep, to a free service -
> without a contract - with the expectation that it will
> last forever and haven't kept a backup (that should be
> backups plural, of course) under you own control. In such
> a situation, I have to agree with you; "Someone is going
> to get burned by this."

I fully agree. That's my position toward these wonderful free services so much advertised by everybody. Put your data in the cloud! Only use webmail! Drop your desktop applications and use these Web 2.0 (or 2.5) applications. And so on.
Well, I am starting to use these services, cautiously, and trying to backup as much as I can, and trying not to rely exclusively on them. Because a company can disappear suddenly (small companies like the one offering to host your bookmarks), or to change their mind and either charge for the service, or just discontinue this service. Or, hey, I can even be in holidays in a place where there is no Internet connection...

I see more these services as synchronization tools, or collaborative tools (and they are wonderful for that), or just being handy as being available (almost) everywhere. But I still believe strongly in desktop applications... :-)

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