Google Groups: destroying the internet one community at a time

Google has just announced that they’re deleting all web content (pages, files, downloads) from Google Groups, leaving only the mailing lists.

(Incidentally, they failed to inform the group-admins / owners that they’re doing this – which is mind-blowingly stupid when you think about it)

Just to be clear, *without* the web content: Groups is a high-spam mailing list with very poor setup and controls. It’s difficult to find a mainstream mailing list that is as bad as Groups. But it’s from *Google*, so you can trust it, and it had all this “web content” that’s essential to running a group – I’ve run a few groups using Google Groups.

(Google does NOT provide spam-filtering for their mailing lists: if you have an open group you will receive thousands of spam users even for groups of under 100 “real” people)

I’m disappointed that Google has taken the actions they have. Their web-hosting for Groups was hard to use but it *worked*. Google’s “production quality” was very low, but I trusted the company to keep the service live. Like many admins, I spend weeks of my free time wrestling with the tools until I could make a useable group, because I trusted Google not to do something Evil, like … well, like: deleting the content and the service. Never again…

Anatomy of a community-hating executive

When I look at things like this, and things like Yahoo’s acquisiton of Upcoming.org, it’s amazing how often these big companies:

  1. Find/create a community with huge value
  2. Take it over, and put their brand on it
  3. Destroy it as thoroughly as possible, sowing salt on the ground to make sure it can never rise again

I find it hard to understand how/why these companies do something so stupid. Who allowed a committee / manager / executive to do something so self-destructive?

But then I realised there is a very traditional explanation for this kind of scenario, from back in the mid-20th Century:

  1. Senior executive at “big internet company” wants a promotion/raise/etc
  2. Said executive doesn’t really know what they’re doing, doesn’t really understand the business that the company is in
  3. Exective’s manager cares even less themself; he/she is probably just hanging on waiting for their own pension
  4. However, the exec knows that their manager rates “internet success” on the number of unique users that a service has
  5. They spend $100 million acquiring / creating a useful service
  6. PROFIT!!! (get their raise / promotion / whatever)
  7. …and dump the project as fast as they physically can

The net effect on the service is this:

  1. Service gets acquired/funded: All the best people working on the service get a big bribe / pay-off and are happy to leave to start something new
  2. There’s lots of press releases from Big Internet Company, and lots of claims of all the Great Things that will be added to the service
  3. Users get excited, and growth rate increases
  4. … but then: …
  5. Big Internet Company provides zero cash, because the Executive has received their promotion and no longer cares
  6. Service falls to pieces
  7. Service haemhorrages users
  8. Big Internet Company’s finance department sees the spending on hosting / servers / bandwidth, and wants an excuse to shut it down
  9. (there is no *need* to shut it down – but inexperienced and/or bored financial employees have nothing better to do all day; more on this in a future post)
  10. Other executives come along and shutdown and destroy whatever they can, so that they look good in front of the finance department
  11. Service becomes worthless for most people, and loses all but the tiny, hardest of hardcore, segment of users

I’d assumed that companies like Google had improved their hiring procedures a little, and weren’t so prone to this. Maybe not.

2 Replies to “Google Groups: destroying the internet one community at a time”

  1. It really feels like most things Google is turning into shit real fast.

    The are the new Microsoft now, and its beginning to rot their brains and fatten their guts.

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