Why Googlers should read Anil Dash’s post

Anil Dash wrote a great piece about Google recently, and I think all Googlers should read it. Anil makes several good points, including this one:

I doubt Google’s internal self-image as an organization has changed to reflect this new reality. “We’re not like some giant company with flashy TV ads — we’re just a bunch of geeks in Mountain View!” And while that might be true for the vast number of engineers who define the company’s internal culture, the external impression of Google being just another tech titan like Microsoft will gain footing, making the audience for Google’s messages less tolerant of ambiguity and less forgiving of mistakes.

This absolutely rings true in my opinion. One of Google’s core values is “Don’t be evil.” [Note: it's not "do no evil." Why not? Personally, I think it's because it's impossible to exist in this world without someone, somewhere perceiving some action you do as evil. As a Bloom County cartoon pointed out several years ago, even walking or breathing kills lots of organisms.] We still use “don’t be evil” as a guiding principle inside Google, but I’ve noticed fewer and fewer people outside Google mentioning the phrase. That raises the worrying possibility that people are starting to think of Google as just another big company.

“Don’t be evil” sets an incredibly high bar for Google’s conduct. It can be frustrating to get called out for not being perfect when other companies aren’t doing things as well as Google, but that high standard helps keep Google on track. Take for example the recent letter asking that Google offer HTTPS more broadly. Gmail already offers an “always use HTTPS” option, which is more than other large email providers, but the letter was sent to Google because people expect more from Google. If people stop expecting more from Google, it’s more likely that the company will go off track.

Anil goes on to say

Worse, because most of the dedicated detractors of Google have been either competing companies or nutjobs, it’s been hard for Googlers to take criticisms seriously. That makes it easy to have defensiveness or dismissal of criticisms become a default response.

Too true. I’ve already seen some people disagree with some of Anil’s points, both inside and outside Google. It’s easy to argue with the specific examples that Anil gave. But in my opinion the right reaction isn’t to argue, it’s to look for the crux of feedback that we need to hear. Remember when Danny Sullivan wrote 25 things he hated about Google? Too many Googlers take posts like that as criticism instead of constructive feedback. You’d normally pay who-knows-how-much to get the kind of feedback that Google gets from the web every day? But we’ll continue to get that impassioned feedback only if we’re willing to take it and use it to improve.

Anil concludes with

Google has made commendable steps towards communicating with those outside of its sphere of influence in the tech world. But the messages will be incomplete or insufficient as long as Google doesn’t truly internalize and accept that its public perception is about to change radically. The era of Google as a trusted, “non-evil” startup whose actions are automatically assumed to be benevolent is over. …. Google is entering the moment where it has to be over-careful not to offend, and extremely attentive to whether they are treading lightly.

And this is the heart of the argument. Many Googlers, especially old-timers, still think of Google from early days, when we were the underdogs in search. But many people outside the company perceive Google as a huge company with an outsized shadow. We can scare people, even when we’re trying not to.

After the IPO, lots of people assumed that Google would become just another big company. We need to fight that trend for as long as we can. If you’re a Googler, think back to some of the moments that made you proud to work for Google. When we decided to send all DMCA requests to Chilling Effects, I was proud to work at Google. When we decided to do an IPO that anyone could buy into, I was proud to work at Google. When Eric Schmidt said “We would never trap user data,” I was proud to work at Google.

Those are some of the biggies, but there’s been so many small moments where I’m proud too. Here are two small moments: I’ve been biking into work this month. I just found out last week that when I bike into work, I earn points that I can use to donate to charity. Google gives money to a charity when I bike into work–that’s pretty cool.

The other small moment of pride happened at the Real-Time CrunchUp this past Friday. I saw Googlers Brett Slatkin and Brad Fitzpatrick present PubSubHubbub, a simple, open protocol to turn slow RSS/Atom feeds into real-time streams. That was very cool, but the moment of pride came when Brad said “Nothing in the protocol hard-codes Google as the center of the world–I hate that sort of crap, too.” (If you want to see the presentation, go here and click to 56 minutes in.)

Now: Googlers, ask yourself how you can help make another one of those moments where you’re proud to work at Google. I think those moments are a great way to keep from becoming just another large company. And if Googlers are open to posts like Anil Dash’s, the web is tell us tons of things it wants us to do, or how to do them better.

91 Responses to Why Googlers should read Anil Dash’s post (Leave a comment)

  1. Apologies if the wordsmithing isn’t great, but at some point I have to cut things off and hit publish. I felt like I wanted to talk for an hour about each of these points.

  2. zoransa

    I only wonder where you will leave to Facebook or Craigslist…

    my tip is craigslist.

  3. zoransa

    … well OK maybe I am missing the point I do not wont to turn comments in wrong direction.

    Bask to topic, it is so unique to see such a post about your own company in public. I wish I could do it but I had to move one once then my company become too vast…

    Sorry for my sarcasm.

  4. I use Google because of habit and effective search results.
    However, I have been and am an investor in Google stock for the long term. Why? Trust ranking – not search trust ranking mind you, but trust in their vision and their leaders ability to keep Google taking the moral high ground. I feel that Google is sincere, despite its size, in being committed to innovation and making breakthoughs and fairness, and trying to do some good with their capital, even if short terms profits are not there in a particular project. For me the corporate trust ranking for Google is pretty high.

  5. Very Good Post!!!
    Nice to read about this post, No need to say that Google is Great, Google is Excellent..
    Matt your blog is a very good medium to know about such nice things..

    Thankuuu

  6. When I first looked at the Google showcase website for Obama’s visit to Ghana, my first reaction was Google’s gone Microsoft. Why? There was a big hole in the middle of the page – a message about a Google Earth plugin which would only work on Windows and OS X 10.4. On the front page… from a company working on Linux Light… a company that lives and breaths the web. As a Linux user, I’m resigned to broken websites from Microsoft, but not from Google.

    To be fair, it seems the issue has since been rectified, I’m not seeing the Google Earth hole at the moment. The bigger message here is that while many of us love Google products and services, we’re very uncomfortable with the ramifications of switching from one monopoly to another.

    The Chrome browser is an excellent example of Google potentially exerting too much control. I can understand technical and political reasons for Google deciding to go on its own rather than attempt to achieve its goals through the Firefox project. Yet the risk here is that we on the web start moving back to the AOL model where one company defines the web experience. Do we really want a single private company, however good, becoming the “defacto” standard for the web? Me thinks not. It will stifle creativity and innovation. There are also significant privacy issues, often too lightly dismissed in the US (your perspective is very different if you ever spent any amount of time, as I have, in a country run by a dictatorship).

    Thanks for this post, I’m glad you are contributing to an internal discussion on these issues.

  7. David Gmz

    But many people outside the company perceive Google as a huge company with an outsized shadow. We can scare people…
    This can’t be more true, I heard from many IT managers and developers about Google Apps ie that G gives us software to run our company – because G its only interest in getting our data. So people are already scared.

  8. John

    Matt,

    part of the problem as I see it, is that Google lacks transparency about how it goes about its business. I’m not talking about the search algorithms, or how Google combats spam. I’m talking more about how it presents itself to those it does business with.

    For example, if an Adsense publisher, even inadvertantly, does something wrong they are often cut off without any real explanation. They are often just told to check the rules (which aren’t always clear) if they receive a reply at all — This has not happened to me btw, I’m not having a whinge — Adsense publishers don’t even know what percentage of the advertising rate they are earning.

    This does little to engender trust. And let’s face it, if the folks who make you a lot of money (even the ones who are doing the right thing and are making money themselves) don’t trust you, you have a image problem.

    Sean above makes the excellent point, that there is a perception that Google wants to own the web. That, coupled with the lack of transparency, worries a lot of people. Me included.

    Finally, you say that Google is not just a big company, but a company of geeks with the associated culture. That may be true, for now. But… I’ve also worked for companies with that sort of dynamic (on a much smaller scale) and it doesn’t take much at all to change that dynamic.

    Google for better or worse is a public company. They have a duty to their shareholders, and only their shareholders (legal responsibilities not withstanding.) That means that if profits start falling, things will change. It also means that the shareholders have ultimate say over that company dynamic. If the shareholders demand that Google “be evil” then Google will become evil.

    While Google and it’s employees may have the best intentions now, that’s no guarantee that this will not change in the future. Maybe even the near future.

    Also cut off ‘coz I have to get back to work. ;-)

  9. Thank for the mention of the 25 Things post, Matt. But I’m going to link drop my Google Hive Mind piece from last year: http://searchengineland.com/the-google-hive-mind-14832

    The 25 Things was about specifics; the Hive Mind was similar to what Anil’s voicing, that internally, Googlers simply don’t realize how scary they can seem to outsiders:

    “The hive mind has been hugely successful in growing Google’s business through a symbiotic relationship with its customers. But that’s also a weakness: Google may seem too threatening to those same customers, as it grows. As it expands and expands, some of those outside the hive begin wondering if it needs to be constrained.

    Part of this is due to the fact that individually, I think Googlers themselves don’t understand how the hive mind appears to outsiders.”

    Of course, some of this goes beyond individual Googlers. As a company, Google has decided to enter the operating system space. Eric can say he doesn’t see it competing with Microsoft, but c’mon — it clearly will, if it launches.

    Maybe it will be as Google said with Chrome, that being in the space will help strengthen the other two players. Maybe Google pushing its OS will help bring improvements to Windows and Mac OS.

    Well see. Externally, it simply looks like Google knows no bounds. I mean, I suppose if Microsoft does OS, apps and search, there’s no reason why Google should only be limited to apps & search. But Google’s going to face huge scrutiny over the defaults in that OS — whether you should be including access to other browsers (which will be interesting, since supposedly the “browser” is the OS), if you’ll randomize or explicitly make users choose a search engine (with a 90%+ share in many countries, there’s a strong argument that making Google the default in an OS would be anti-competitive) & whether it’s anti-competitive to bundled direct access to your online apps.

    I know, I know. But it’ll all be open. But so far, “open” Android has looked a lot like Google Mobile. There’s no particular reason to thing Google Chrome OS (what a terrible name) isn’t going to look like Google OS. Google hasn’t even done the “Chromium” thing yet — you know, where Chrome is Google’s browser but Chromium is the source of the open source browser.

  10. The question is how much “Don’t be evil” will still be valued under investor pressure. So far search/ad alone is making people happy, not as happy as 2007, but still-a-cash-cow happy. If G hits one big bump ….

    Personally I don’t think Google’s image has changed, at least to me. The fact that this is even a topic, considering Google’s size and dominance, is quite reassuring. Thanks for a good post.

  11. Very good post Matt but Sean has put some brilliant points forward. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Good man Sean!!

  12. OK I have only one think I dislike about Google – well more of a frustration than a dislike!

    I have everything Google – T Mobile Phone, Premium Apps account for my wife/biz partner (there’s only the two of us), Two Premium Picasa account (one was a mistake), I am on Google Health, I use Google Checkout for billing, I manage Google Ads through an MCC and read every book on Google and this fantastic story.

    I am just slightly sad that with me being so transparent with Google – credit cards on file, health records on file and paying for services such as Google Apps etc etc that I can’t get a local listing in my home town for my Internet Marketing, SEO, WordPress Design etc business that I have worked so hard to build – I have to work from home as I can’t walk too much due to disability :( (I fell off a stage when I lived in San Francisco)

    I have been back in my native UK for 4 months and just can’t get a local listing – for being such a blatant Googlite ??? why can’t I have a local listing? It’s all kosher?

    My little moan – that’s it really

    One more minor wonder – Why didn’t Google Maps/Local go through with the “feet on the street” local listings? That would have suited me and my wife

    Cheers Matt

    David
    Plymouth, England

  13. This is a nice post, Matt. My own post was a reaction to reading John Gruber’s comments about the dual-OS portion of Anil’s post, and consequently focused on that portion. I believe that was the weakest part of Anil’s post (especially since it seemed to use the redundancy of Windows 2000 with Windows NT as the rationale for not having two OSes that serve roles that are *actually* different (palmtop vs desktop) rather than roles that are only differentiated through marketing (personal vs business computing).

    I didn’t address Anil’s points regarding Google’s culture because I didn’t buy the OS-related arguments as a litmus tests. I certainly have strong thoughts about how Google’s culture has evolved as the company has gone through a few employee-generations, but that’s grist for an entirely different post on fury.com, but probably not for several months, if ever.

    As usual, a very nice post. So thank you.

  14. Mr Cutts,

    Microsoft used to be liked by it users. They now have a bad public image because they are perceived to be on the site of the corporate rather than the individual. Vista’s main reason for failure was the DRM. Will the new Chrome OS be for the users or the content owners ?

    While I do not EVER use pirated content, I hate DRM.

    Steve

  15. I have to say that I was a little concerned to hear that Google is entering the OS business and that it did feel like a Microsoft moment. I guess how Google is perceived in two years time will depend on the execution. If the product is good and genuineily improves the user experience then they will still be though well of. No one minds brand market dominance if the products are good – look at the ipod and itunes.

  16. Anil’s article was really interesting and provided a pretty good insight. Nobody likes show-offs and I reckon the backlash Google may ultimately experience will be as much to do with this as it is with anything else. Sometimes Google just appears to be way too clever and it’s not their fault!

    I’m more likely to get cheesed off with Google if it takes them much longer to develop the Chrome browser for Mac. For me, that’s much more of a turn-off that Windows users have had the Chrome browser for ages but we’re still hanging around!

  17. Interesting post. One thing to keep in mind I think is that Google *is* a huge company and Google *does* have enormous amounts of user data. Public or internal image and perception (and smaller fun/ quirky/ good stuff within Google etc.) be as they may, this remains a fact. Couple this with sub-optimal governments and Google’s stance “As a matter of policy, we don’t comment on the nature or the substance of law enforcement requests to Google” — email to me from 5 days ago in regards to http://www.globes.co.il/news/article.aspx?did=1000478212&fid=594 — and you have a potential problem field.

  18. @Sean,
    I don’t get your point about Chrome browser at all. First, it is based on Webkit rendering engine which Apple open-sourced four years ago.
    Second, I believe reasons for choosing Webkit over Gecko had nothing to do with politics — it is simply superior engine.
    And what do you mean by single company becoming a standard? How is that possible? Sure, Google is pushing HTML5 forward, but it is an open standard, and Apple and Opera are very much involved in this work too.
    I completely fail to see how using rendering engine developed by another company and participating in development of open standard is exercising too much control.
    By the way, we now have three competing engines: Webkit, Gecko and Opera’s Presto (I don’t count IE’s engine as competing) and ever more competing JavaScript engines. Do you say what if all stick to Gecko that will somehow foster innovation?

  19. Great post Matt.

    Personally I don’t know why this is such a big deal. Did Google sign a treaty with Microsoft saying that they won’t enter into a space that the other is already in to? Or is this some sort of territorial thing that both companies should have understood at the beginning?

    I think competition is always good. I am happy that Google made a browser – Chrome and even though it has very limited support of addons/toolbars etc. its certainly my 2nd choice after Firefox. Its pretty darn fast and takes a very little memory (at least on my pc) and I love the sleek interface. Certainly users are happy (which explains a rising chrome market share).

    Windows OS isn’t free and it will never be…. If a company comes up with a open source OS that they don’t charge for — Hell yeah i’ll support it (Just like I support Ubuntu). Is Ubuntu better than Windows? Hell no! Try making it work on a computer which uses old hardware and you will realize how pain Ubuntu is. No average user will get ubuntu to work on a PC fully without breaking a sweat (unless all the devices are very compatible).

    But I still support Ubuntu, because they didn’t ask for any $$ when I got the CD, they have a wonderful support community where I can get all the help that I need…so if someone is in a pinch for cash..I’d suggest him to do a bit of work and get Ubuntu running rather than paying hundreds for an OS to Microsoft.

    And lets not forget that sometimes even after you pay $$ for something, it really disappoints you—> Windows Vista!

    If Google OS for Netbooks runs well and gets all the work done..and most importantly stays “FREE”, I don’t see why its a bad thing for us (the users)! (I can certainly guess why its a bad thing for MSFT). But being a neutral person (a user of several Google and Microsoft) products, I don’t really feel that just coming up with a OS (which is free) makes Google look evil. People’s perception about Google won’t change until Google starts charging money from users (which is probably not happening anytime soon).

    Most of the general population doesn’t even know how Google makes money. Just ask your non-geeky friends and none of them will be able to tell you how Google makes money to supports great free services like – Gmail/Docs/Youtube/maps and so on.

    So that was really a hard stretch by Anil. If Google can come out with a really wonderful low-scale “Free” OS that works well and has all the basic stuffs…it might actually be a really good alternative to Microsoft’s Windows 7 (which will cost $150+).

    Google is a “business” and not charity. So is Microsoft. But the way Microsoft does business is very obvious. Everything comes with a big price tag.

    Whereas Google makes a lot of money but still has a soft corner from the general public. Why – because the way they make money is not very obvious for many people.

    Google is a Media Company (they make money on advertising), Microsoft is a Software company(they make money by selling software) and Apple is a Hardware company(they make most of their money from hardware which is why they can give away a OS upgrade for $29 bucks where Microsoft charges $100+).

    So each companies has their own ‘things’… ‘policy’ and comfort zones. Instead of poking around, Microsoft should really look into their own corporate culture and decide for themselves whether the things that they do is right?

    Btw. I didn’t know that Googlers actually get points to bike to work which they can donate to charity…. That is really cool!!

  20. I appreciate your angle of viewing the Anil’s post…but some things e.g. no contact person for Adsense publishers support..and thinking that only written help files would do is not a good thing, may be…

  21. When is Google going to be taken over by the United Nations as a force to solve all the worlds problems as quickly as possible using the best possible combination of talents wordwide?

    Cause my only concern is that by being a private shareholder enterprise, that Google top management can content themselves with just performing well as a large company, in terms of making profits and such. But that that doesn’t automatically translate in the most efficient use of the actual talents and ideas that are already within Googlers but that also is all around Google and which Google should be able to stimulate and realize, not only by open sourcing a few of the Google projects here and there (although the best ever projects like Android, GTK, HTML5 and Chrome), by being somehow under an independent branch that would work for a new type of fair and uncorrupt United Nations, perhaps Google could work 100x faster and achieve all the good results faster for the best of societies worldwide.

  22. The thing is that Google is a company with shareholders…. and even if a lot of “geeks” are working there who may have the “be good” attitude, the financials are now taking over the company (just like it works in most other companies which can be found on the stock markets).
    Google already cut off some neat projects simply because they costed money rather then earning money. Also the search engine itself and other cool google projects are becoming more commercial of nature and are trying to squeeze out every penny out of its projects.
    This shows that even if you want to do something good, the main thing with a company with shareholders is to get profit and as much as you can.
    It is not a bad thing… but it changed Google nevertheless…

  23. The issue I know most people have with Google is their unresponsiveness or lack of support, but those people are just not paying attention.

    Google listens, just not to you. They listen to the web, since they have this huge index of it. Lately I have noticed that if someone writes a blog post, Google seems to pay attention to that. Matt is doing it in this article and I have seen changes made after someone complained in a blog post.

    So, you want to GOOG to listen? Get a blog, write about it and their crawlers will find you…

  24. Money has a nature, an incentive, an imperative. It cannot be denied merely by will-power.
    Let me mention my article:

    Google’s surveillance is taking us further down the road to hell

    “At the very least, there should be safeguards and oversight that do not rely on the assurances of big businesses, which have every incentive to minimise any lapses or failings. No matter how benign the original intent, large collections of personal data, especially combined with the economic pressures of a deep recession or a government interest in data-mining for security purposes, are fraught with the potential for evil.”

  25. The thing about Google is that the attitude of way too many Google employees is more and more perceived as arrogant. Why? As they mostly just live within Google’s reality distortion bubble they still believe to be something special, whereas to the real world, they’re simply employees of a big tech company that isn’t a tad better than any other big tech company.

    As a matter of fact, the Google myth died many years ago already.

  26. My concern is how Google will support small time developers with “big ideas”. While folks in many businesses related to internet search are aware of the growing strength of real time (timeliness is part of the information solution), I’m not sure there is enough focus on personalizing the web experience to users.
    Social media allows for unique interactions, and choice of who to tune into for information. I can see huge amounts of public information falling off the table as literally millions of websites are still pushing “dumb advertising”. Allow users to opt in, analyze their latest status, and suggest not only related business ads to them, but find other great sources of web information that relate to their interests. Lazyfeed has begun moving in this direction, but the key value is using social media status and semantic tools to learn about user interests. Allow users to have full control over their profile (resetting it, deleting it, selling it!) in a large database.

    That’s the type of idea that can push Google adsense/search up by several percentage and if Google doesn’t realize it, they’re missing out and I’m confident other businesses will fill in this opening. Why am I concerned? I’m working on it now, and it’s pretty simple to connect status with google adsense/search using Zemanta. I want to be able to build tools that all web hosts can embrace to improve the personalization and targeting of their web ads.

  27. Mike

    “That raises the worrying possibility that people are starting to think of Google as just another big company.”

    Interesting that it’s a “worrying possibility” to you. To me (and, I suspect, the majority of non-Google employees) it’s simply a matter-of-fact, neither-good-nor-bad inevitability. After all, that’s what Google is: “another big company.”

  28. I think the shareholder issues are valid, but then again I’m a shareholder (not room for enough zero’s to calculate what my percentage is) and, if there are enough of us, we can keep Google honest from that direction.

    What I worry about is rogue employees at whatever level. There’s a lot of information floating around Google’s servers and not everyone you hire is going to have high moral standards. Sooner or later, somebody AT Google is going to do something unpleasant that will really tick off everyone. It won’t be Google’s fault or intention, but that won’t stop some Congress-Critter from getting all hot and bothered over it.

  29. I think just simply being prepared to take the critism and learn from it is what makes google different. Google has always been about listening and then delivering what people want. I think the difference is that Microsoft tend to dictate and force people down a certain route, rather than respond to a need like google.

    Keep up the good work!

  30. Afraid

    Run a search for ‘cancer cure’ like this http://www.google.com/search?q=cancer+cure – You’re advertising holy water. Tip of the iceberg? If that’s not evil, what is it? What percentage of the revenue (and the company) would be left without this shady share of your revenue? Most of Google’s critics will just dance around the edges of the real issues because everyone is afraid of you.

  31. Google is now the inspiration for future innovation in search. Most successful companies go through this cycle. They start off with a noble mission of changing the world and battling the big corporations until they become the same big corporation they once battled. Good vs evil is the receipt for competition, innovation, and success. It’s Evolution Baby!

  32. Google wants to launch an operating system, to add to their already dominating suite of software, yet wants to still be seen as just a bunch of geeks in a mountain monastery.

    When Google starts offering mainstream PCs at sub-Dell prices, which of course come fully loaded with Google products, the impact on the consumer is going to be immense. The impact on consumption, on revenue, and on the public perception of Google is going to be immense.

    So there’s no room from this self-deception of ‘don’t be evil’, this self-deception of ‘oh we’re just a bunch of geeks, nothing to fear here..’. You’re not a Google employee, you’re a soldier in the corporate battle for global IT domination. *typed with a non-evil grin*

  33. Taking some responsibility for screwups might go a long way to helping credibility in the enterprise space too. Some examples:

    - If the App Engine goes down – explain what went wrong and what you’ve done to prevent that from happening again. In enough detail to satisfy a technical audience. “We found a bug” is a long way from good enough.
    - Regression test your code so we don’t have to tell you when features that worked wonderfully well last week go bad (see adding forms to Google sites as an example)
    - If your code doesn’t do something, give users a meaningful error message rather than an XML error. (accepting recurring calendar events sent to groups…?)

    This shouldn’t be rocket science…

    Jan

  34. “Don’t be evil” and “Don’t do evil” 100% impossible to follow by these two imho.

    more than 6bil people with more than 6bil opinions….

  35. Wow, Matt… this should be on every Googler’s screen this morning to kick off a great week. Heck, it should be up on most folks screens to remind them to go out and do good for their company.

  36. Sorry

    Sorry, but Google is evil! Probably not more or even less than many other companies. But there are enough examples of Google doing evil things. I just have to think about allowing your partner Aks buying alot of AdWords-Traffic just to monetize it with 10 (!) AdWords-Ads. Google is just a normal company as Microsoft, Apple und any other business around the corner. They just want to make as much money as possible.

  37. Matt, as I pointed out in a post the other day, some high-profile Googlers have been acting publicly in ways that aren’t so much evil as arrogant. That surely does a lot to disillusion people who expect Google to be a different kind of company. Hopefully these are just exceptions, but it doesn’t take much to fuel the flames, especially when many people are understandably suspicious of Google’s power.

    Perhaps Googlers should google hubris: http://www.google.com/search?q=google+hubris

  38. Rick

    Matt,

    Thanks for the post and internal introspection that allows you to be who you are. Keep it up, and Google will be all-right.

  39. Hi Matt,
    I don’t see how “Don’t be evil” “sets an incredibly high bar for Google’s conduct.” Not being “evil” should be not only easy, but an obligation for every person and every company.

    I realize that you mean this in the sense that even if a company takes an action, that someone could be offended by it. But the concept of “evil” – no one should get credit for choosing not to be evil.

    From a broader perspective, it makes no clarification for an actual mission – of what the company is doing to help.

    Thanks for the post though, I don’t mean to be critical, I just never really got the mission statement like everyone has.
    -Dan

  40. wifi

    Google is definitely EVIL .

    1. Google takes user’s data for a free ride and make money . example GMAIL .why the heck google needs to scan my emails and make money out of it. just use my profile info , if needed , cant accept beyond.
    2. Picasa : every album created is by default listed as PUBLIC . 99% of the users i know in google network dont even know that their albums are listed public and they hate it when i tell them. most of the web users on the
    3.You tube : dont even neeed to tell. 99.5% of the stuff hosted are copyright infringed.
    biggest brandwidth hogger ..
    4. book publishers …. poor guys. they dont know ..that Google doesnt respect content owners. look at googles products , their only motive is take a free ride on users data
    5. Let their Chrome OS come in .. every key stroke will be sold ..for ads

    what the EffIn …software as a service . screw them .. why are they going off line with every product of theirs. look at the best softwre+services ,web applications … iTunes , Outlook .
    Apple doesnt know ..its sleeping with an enemy
    Google cant grow … by paying bloggers abd by inducing hatred about their competitiors ,esp. Microsoft.

    Google’s only motive … is not about organizing worlds information , but to steal the data and make money.

  41. yes I think that Google realy needs to think about how it “presents”

    That chrome os anouncement had some howlers and now its not just a cock up that woudl pass a tech journalist by – but man the guys that put there names to the Google OS anouchment got owned by Bruce Schneier and Fake Steve Jobs.

    Ill do a longer follow up from home a realy good blog post

  42. Ian M

    I think the biggest mistake that Google can make with Android / Chrome OS from an antitrust perspective is to try and get exclusive search deals with the manufacturers.

    Microsoft got into trouble for bundling IE (and later media player, etc) with Windows as they were using their monopoly in one market (operating systems) to crack another market (web browsers). Google will get into the same trouble if they leverage their monopoly in one market (search) to become dominant in another (mobile devices, PCs etc). [note that Google has less of a monopoly in the US, but clearly has one in the UK and much of the world]

    The way around this would seem to be a revenue sharing model like they have with Mozilla – e.g. share X% of search profits with the manufacturers who ship with Google search as the default. And make sure that the deals aren’t exclusive! Just be prepared to have mandatory revenue sharing figures applied somewhere down the road (like Microsoft had when they were forced to offer fixed prices for Windows to OEM’s depending solely on how many copies they shipped).

    Remember that monopolies have different standards applied to them.

  43. Tim

    If your only rule is “don’t be evil” you set yourself up for a logical conundrum. If Google does no evil, then Google is good. If Google is good, then protecting Google would be a good deed, and the more good Google did, the more important protecting Google would become. Then at some point protecting Google would outweigh protecting anything else. Is this really different from any self-preserving corporation? There needs to be some additional sort of check on that process, perhaps a “3 Laws of Googlers”.

  44. Matt, reading this post was refreshing. In a world where so many people complain about their jobs (and every job has its things to complain about) its great to see an employee of any company discuss the things they love, the challenges they face, etc in such an open way.

    That bike to work thing is awesome, does Google have somewhere the things they do like this in one place, for other companies to gain ideas for easy things to implement that help them enrich the lives of their teams?

    Its gotta be weird to have been with a company from underdog stage to behemoth stage, and yeah you are right, its funny I do perceive you guys as the behemoth now and have for the last 4-5 years, its amazing at how quickly that can happen.

  45. Natalie

    You should know that from the get-go the self-congratulatory “Don’t be evil” slogan was an eye-roller of the first order. Not because we thought that Googlers didn’t believe it but because 90% of business “evil” is so judged by totally subjective any many times arbitrary standards. To some bundling a free browser with an OS is evil. For others helping the Chinese government censor web content is evil.

    Build your products. If we like them we will pay for them. Google is just another company in that regard.

  46. Hope you don’t mind but sent the bit about Google supporting cycling and charities to Treehugger – more companies should do it!

  47. Ive read several post that do not agree with google lately. Especially after google decided to enter OS market. It is transforming itself to a giant that someday soon not likened by people.

    Despite of having cool stuff in the hood your view shown others whats really happening in Google and how audience accept them.

    But for the time being, i will still in love with google. They are still a great company with hardly beaten good corporate image.

  48. Doug

    Dude, you’re in such a bubble – NOBODY outside of Google takes the do no evil thing seriously at this point. Google’s clearly just another corporation and that was part of their marketing strategy. People inside Google seem to use it to justify to themselves that it’s not like they’re working for Microsoft. The fact that all the Google employees I know seem to NEED to justify this to themselves is very revealing.

  49. jeff hall

    Great post Matt however as soon as you hear the “do no evil” proclamation its difficult not to relate it to orwells animal farm.
    How soon will it be before we hear “all webmasters are equal .. But some webmasters are more equal than others”

  50. Brian

    What I don’t think Googlers understand is that the company is the biggest paradox in the history of business. Most of us are accustomed to the conventional grading scale in school of A-F, with a A being outstanding and a F being failing. Google takes things to a new level, both good and bad. Google’s technology is a G+, which is better than an A+. Google’s technology is at such a high standard that it has redefined technological excellence or excellence in business for that matter. However, Google’s customer service and understanding of its customer is a G-, which is worse than a F-. Google has taken lack of customer service and lack of understanding of its customer to a new level. How many $100 billion market cap companies have absolutely no customer service? I mean none.

    Why does this matter? Because as Google grows, the technological innovation curve is going to slow down and the customer base is going to grow. As a result, Google’s flaws (e.g. the blatant disregard for any type of customer service) will become more and more front of mind. As companies start to catch up with Google’s technology, they will start to grab customers from Google. The only reason why Google can get away with the blatant disregard for customer service is its large market share in terms of traffic.

    Put it another way. Would you like to business with a company that has zero customer service? People do business with Google because they have to and not because they want to.

    If Google truly wants to be excellent, then it should adopt a customer service culture instead of one where technology and technology only rule the roost. As Stephen Covey pointed out so wisely, “Seek to understand and then to be understood.”

  51. Matt, I truly appreciate the spirit with which you not only read my words but responded. Google’s lucky to have talents like you on board, and I hope that, even more than your coworkers read my post, that they read yours.

    Interestingly, part of my motivation for writing the essay in the first place was because of my enthusiastic excitement over PubSubHubBub. It’s great that something so open and so potentially powerful is inspiring both inside and outside the company.

  52. Nice review of a nice article. But maybe it’s part of the problem that you assumed we all knew who Anil Dash is … I do now! (Many of your readers spend little time in the ‘blogosphere’ (dread term!).

    I hope Google in general is as open as you are to such criticism. On balance, I think they probably still are … and certainly MUCH more open than almost every other billion-dollar corporation.

  53. I’m pleased to read that you, and maybe Google as a whole, are taking into consideration that the trust bond you’ve built the empire on is starting to slip.

    AdWords: Setting the “Optimize: Show better performing ads more often” as default just means Google makes more money and nothing to do with user ROI. I’m trying Conversion Optimizer, and I’ll get back to you on how that goes.

    Image Search Ads: Why? These ads makes no sense and does not help the end user find images. Go to Google Products if you’re looking to purchase something via image browsing.

    Google Homepage ads for celebrities: This “See iGoogle pages from Ryan, Rachael, Ashton, Demi, Martha and more” link on Google homepage was the last straw, and it shows that the overall interest of Google now includes small talk about manicured millionaires.

    I had a dream that Google was evil now. Say it isn’t so.

  54. Thanks for the comments, everyone (including Danny and Philipp!). Seth Finkelstein, I agree that money has a pull, but Google has been pretty good at saying “This might make more money in the short-term, but longer-term the loyalty from our users will be worth more.” We did that by not showing untargeted “punch the monkey” banner ads on Google.com, by deciding not to do pop-up ads, etc. So I think there’s a powerful argument to be made that taking the longer-term view brings Google in line with our users’ interests.

  55. spamhound

    Matt, have to disagree with the don’t be evil thing. Google is a public company and just as evil as the next.

    Case in point.
    1. Cancelling adsense accounts with no recourse or chance of getting it back even if you are innocent. Google recently lost a court case over this. Sure, it was only 750, but they still lost.

    2. Absolute thrashing of affiliates in adwords even when many affiliates deliver a better overall presentation on the product than the actual merchant. If all affiliates suddenlty stopped advertising, I’m pretty sure your Adwords income would drop dramatically.

    3. Absolute thrashing of Webmasters in the SERPs even though these webmasters myself included have followed Google since the beginning, turned in our share of spammers and have never did anything against Google’s guide lines.

    No matter how you spin it, Google is a public company and answers to the shareholders.

    Anything you say about Google now must be vetted by lawyers.

    I really miss the days of Googleguy and the pre-public attitude Google had.

    Those days are gone forever.

  56. angilina

    I am with you Google. Keep going. Beat the S**t out of everything especially micro***t who have forced me to spend so much money in buying their OS [I do like X* alot].

    I saw somewhere on the internet that Google will soon become the Internet GOD. I guess that is going to be true soon. One day, all sites in the search results will belong to Google. Everything, every OS, browser, all softwares, everything will be owned by Google and that is the time when we humans will become helpless against this mighty Internet GOD. And we will all become Google Slaves.

    ***************************

    Matt, I am not serious about any thing I just wrote above :)

    Actually I am very excited about Google Chrome OS. When Google released Chrome, I used to tell people that Google will soon release their OS too. It was just a prediction but Google really did it.

  57. Jason

    Hey Matt,

    Your ‘Don’t Be Evil’ schpeel reminds me of one of my favorite Heinlein quotes…

    “Your enemy is never a villain in his own eyes. Keep this in mind; it may offer a way to make him your friend.” It is amazing how concepts like good and evil can be based solely a person or entity’s point of view.

    I agree with with spamhound on a couple of his/her points, specifically point 3. As a webmaster myself, that has been penalized by the Google webspam team on more than one occasion, when genuinely trying to provide original, relevant, and helpful content to my visitors, this point particularly hits home. Not that I perceive Google as an enemy, quite the contrary, but it does make it difficult when there is literally no warning, no explanation, no “fix this”, no indexed site anymore, and no recourse, except for a reconsideration request, which can perceivably be ignored. (Okay, rant is over)

    Suffice it to say… I don’t be evil, as best I can, but that doesn’t mean Google sees me that way. That coin, however, has two sides.

    To be honest, my personal paradigm isn’t to “Do Good”, it is merely to refrain from doing harm. Just my two cents.

  58. I.S

    Well, hopefully this is the true..love Google products !!! but really dont like the way some of your representative assist me .. this is the attitude that raise up companies and opposite
    .
    surely, if it wasn’t true, there is no need for this post, probably, you guys feel, that you went a bit over the edge, too many people speak against you… we say bad karma :)
    but, its a good time to change, and if Google will do, I m blessing you guys ! I Really wish Google the best, I wish you stop talking about values, and start implementing them when communicating us, we are the people who use Google professionally, we can shift more budget to yahoo & msn via PPC…we are the ones who think of results..but since Google products are far away from yahoo& Msn, and traffic is there, we are here..but not for granted :)

  59. I like Google, and I like its culture. The only thing that scares me about it is its size and consequent influence. It dominates in a number of areas online and while its culture and leadership appears pretty benign at the moment, who knows what the future holds? I think it’s a lot to ask of the world to simply trust that Google won’t become evil. 0.02.

  60. As long as Google is seeking impassioned feedback, it would be nice if Blogspot had better SEO. Blogspot blogs can’t even publish a real sitemap– allegedly the feed is used as the sitemap, but that’s not a real sitemap and doesn’t even contain all your posts, if your blog is large. Matt Cutts, you yourself seem to endorse wordpress. I chose Blogspot from the beginning because I associated it with Google and assumed a certain quality could be expected, but I was disappointed. The only positive thing is that I’ve learned quite a bit about javascript and xhtml just to get some features working which would be trivial in wordpress ;)

  61. I think the problem is Google employee’s perception of Google, not the world’s perception.

    Within a week of going public Google made a load of announcements that made sense for the bottom line, but couldn’t be classed as anything but profit hunting at the expense of ethics. I assume the previous senior management wouldn’t make those decisions (as presumably had they made them earlier they would have made more money when Google went public!).

    As some one commented on my blog

    Compare this: tiananmenwith this: tiananmen

  62. Big Daddy

    Don’t be evil – If only more people and companies had that same set of values. we would be living in better place :-) As long as Google keeps on treating people and businesses like they would like to be treated “fairly” You can’t lose. Glad to see their are humans that truely care. Awesome post. Thanks for sharing!

  63. I wrote about the strength of the Google motto about a year and a half ago in a post entitled “On Corporate Ethics: Creeps and Jerks,” and while it’s not entirely surprising, it’s still disappointing to see Google seriously struggling with the Creeps.

  64. Having a guiding principle such as “don’t be evil” will surely help Google make some tough decisions, but even this goal will unfortunately not be the panacea for everything.

    As somebody who had their AdSense account banned for no apparent reason, what really got me was the fact that it was impossible to find out exactly what I was supposed to have done. The automatic assumption that I was guilty of something, without any recourse, certainly smacked of something evil to me.

    In spite of that, it’s hard to deny that Google is apparently trying hard to please everybody, but that is ultimately doomed to failure, given that it now has shareholders, and advertisers who will no doubt provide a substantial part of its income and profits.

  65. Second try as yesterday’s attempted comment didn’t seem to take…

    I have a lot of time for Google and especially Googlers. But Google does need to be beware of “big corporation syndrome”.

    In particular it needs to manage its business in a joined up way, and that includes taking care that its TOS are consistent and don’t give critics the opportunity to question possibly “evil” things like being able to give users’ data to governments who simply request it even when the request isn’t legally “enforceable”.

    I raised that point and some constructive suggestions on how to tackle issues like that in this blog post.

  66. I personally think Google should start looking at some “image ads” on TV, like GE’s “We Bring Good Things To Life”.

    I worked at “beleaguered” (lol) CIGNA when they introduced “A Business of Caring” it had a dramatic effect an employee morale and public perception.

  67. Personnaly I also thing that Google image has changed due to the growing complexity to have a well trusted web site on Google…
    And when you get a problem, in some case you are alone to solve it : no way to contact a human (and that is important I think).

    Event if Google is seen as the best search engine : it stills a robot, it can fail…

    Can’t you create a way to contact Google with a super cool algorithm to detect spam / real request that can’t be solved ?

  68. Now new solutions is allways nice,

    A very nice solution solving something that could turn out to be a problem in the future.

    More generela the protocols I like most from my history having implementing SSPK, Keynote by the ones that I can say in public besides one implementation of SSL done in C, is that news stuff do not adds abnormalies that force me and other people to very practical and real decrease sleep. Although on my top and I am not young and very tired.

  69. That comment could seem odd but a very specific reason exists. Having had the position I have had problems such the one descriped in the forum keeps to say the least people on their toes.

    Problems isn’t just problem. It can be much more.

  70. Clay

    To me, the notes about how Google treats Adsense publishers is too simple an example of how Google is an ~evil corporation~. When Google portrays themselves as not-evil and then participates in all the suspect activities ‘evil’ companies do, it smacks of a priest who can’t stay out of the wine… Worse than the drunk because at least the drunk admits who he is…

    What about the purchase of YouTube and subsequent legal actions that shut down all YouTube competitors? Google didn’t have anything to do with that, right?

    What about the DoubleClick transaction… as I recall, the day after it was announced, Matt posted an article about what kind of links are ok. Only 2-3 were mentioned… DoubleClick was one of them. Of course.

    I’d rather deal w/ Microsoft… at least they don’t pee on my leg and tell me its raining.

  71. Google’s enabling of censorship in countries like China is what makes me think of Google as just another soulless conglomerate.

    Google is definitely “one of the good ones” in my book, relatively speaking (especially considering its size). But for a company that is constantly championing net neutrality, free speech, and the open web, I find Google’s compliance with state-level censorship downright despicable.

  72. Yuhong Bao

    “What I worry about is rogue employees at whatever level. There’s a lot of information floating around Google’s servers and not everyone you hire is going to have high moral standards. Sooner or later, somebody AT Google is going to do something unpleasant that will really tick off everyone. It won’t be Google’s fault or intention, but that won’t stop some Congress-Critter from getting all hot and bothered over it.”
    Yep, see the Google Japan PayPerClick disaster for a good example of this.

  73. Kevin Beares

    Great article! I especially enjoyed reading all of the comments. This is what community is all about. Having open and honest conversations with each other.

    A couple of points. I don’t think Microsoft is a bad company or the “evil empire” as a lot of people think. Microsoft is a business and has to make money to keep the lights on and pay it’s employees just like every other company in the world. When I hear comments that they OS costs too much, it makes my ears burn. Are you kidding me??? Seriously, think about how long you will own that OS. 3-5 years. Heck, even 7 years. How much do you pay for your phone, cable or internet services a month? $150 is chump change. MSFT only makes about $50 at a pop on it’s Windows OS through it’s OEM channel. I pay twice as much monthly for my Comcast Services.

    To Ian M’s point above. Yes, Google will need to be worried about anti trust just as much as Microsoft. Google could be considered a monopoly in most countries and if they don’t watch how they bundle their OS, they could get in trouble just like Microsoft did when it bundled IE for free in it’s OS.

    Bottom line, competition is good and everyone has to make money. I think Google is a great company and unfortunately for them they will make enemies as they continue to grow and capture more and more market share. That is just how it is.

    Thanks again Matt.

    Kevin Beares
    Community Lead at Microsoft

  74. Jack

    Personally I think the original choice of the word “evil” was a bit unfortunate. At best it’s ill-defined and subject to a lot of pre-conceived notions and biases (e.g., is it “evil” to make money? Is it “evil” to adhere to local censorship standards around the world?). At worst it’s a type mismatch, an attempt to attach a concept to an entity for which the concept cannot apply. A company can no more be “good” or “evil” than a stock market can be “mean” or the moon can be “lonely”.

    Google is a public company that is trying to be financially successful over the long run. It has a business model without the lock-in that Microsoft enjoys (i.e., anybody can go use another search engine at any time). So their founders and management have understood that it’s in their long-term interest to treat their users well, and not engage in short-term tactics that would annoy them (like holding their data hostage). “Don’t be evil” is just a succinct way of saying, “let’s do the right thing by our users over the long run, and let that be our guide”. It’s not some kind of touchy-feely California psychology thing, it’s just smart business.

  75. I used to love Google until:

    1) They started forcing Google Update onto our machines with any Google software download and made it very troublesome to remove.
    2) They did the whole-background-hyperlink thing on YouTube to get people to accidentally click on the Chrome link. Very tacky.

    All very reminiscent of 90′s Microsoft.

  76. “evil” is subjective and considering Google itself decides what is “evil” and is bound by law to do what is best for it shareholders, the mantra is really hollow and meaningless.

    Personally, I would like you (as a Google employee) to offer objective opinions about Google.

  77. It’s been fascinating for me to see how Google has changed in just the last few years. From an early meeting I had with one of their Sales Managers about Apps where he said “compliance is boring” when I quizzed him about security and auditing of Gmail to their push to get Apps into the enterprise. It still startles me how badly they do business and still don’t have much of an idea what is important to corporates. They get a foot in the door because they’re cool and have exciting, well priced tech. But even massive corporations still have to pay for Apps with a credit card. Microsoft may be evil, but they’ve been doing this stuff (working with Enterprises) for a lot longer and know how to play the game. Google have got big, yes, but they still have to grow up. Do that and they could really be the threat to Microsoft they have the potential to be.

  78. I was a Googler until the layoffs occurred in May. The process I went through made me believe fully that Google no longer has no coherent corporate culture except the one that is being made through marketing the corporate culture externally as what it used to be. Bureaucracy reigns supreme at the company now. This post proves it; hell even the most prominent Google employee is now asking all of his other Googlers to be “open-minded” about all the mistakes that they’ve made under the same level of leadership.

    We’ll continue to see their downward spiral this year and into next year with the Google OS coming, thereby once again confusing the hell out of their sales and marketing teams. That is my prediction based on my two years of experience at the company in one of their least successful periods thus far to date.

  79. Thanks for bringing this post to my attention, Matt. I totally agree with you that Googlers should be reading stuff like this, and Anil’s (and your) post(s) are refreshingly level-headed, which is important if one wants to break through any tendency to “have defensiveness or dismissal of criticisms become a default response.” Whether or not one agrees with the individual issues raised, I do think that it’s important for Googlers to be more aware of external perceptions (particularly as they differ from our own self-image as a company), or of the “hive mind”, or whatever one wants to call it.

  80. Some ppl seems to be against Chrome and Chrome OS. I just don’t it. There’s market demand for better browser and different OS for different task. I’m all for it.

  81. Gregory Murphy

    “‘Don’t be evil’ sets an incredibly high bar for Google’s conduct.”

    Hmmm. Genocide is evil. For Google not to commit genocide is setting the bar pretty darn low, wouldn’t you say?

    What does it really say about Google that they use an expression like “Don’t be evil” as a guiding principle? Evil in this context can only be hyperbole, and so “don’t be evil” is a kind of snarky irony. It’s a sophmoric way of saying “we are cooler than other companies”. Worse still, like all hyperbole, it is vague when applied to real behavior, and so can be meant to apply to just about any behavior.

  82. Yuhong Bao

    “This post proves it”
    I don’t think so.

  83. From nobody to superstar,that seems to be the situation,I think Google is just maintaining its momentum (or popularity)…nothing wrong with that…if they do it right.

  84. At the end of the day Google is a business and will have to look after it’s own best interests. It’s a company that is also fighting for market share with swarms of innovation from the would be “killer apps” knocking at its door. But I feel that lately Google seems to be warming up to its partners, particularly small partners like us. Great tools for webmasters like analytics (and voice if I could ever get an invite, ehem..Matt?) along with simple things like reaching out to the community like you do here, all make a difference and make us feel part of what going on and help us understand how we can work together to be more successful. Hopefully Google continues to build on that.

  85. Tski

    Very correct… and in the long term i think google is heading for a bigger fall in reputation than microsoft. why? simply because microsoft sold a less than perfect product of which there are alternatives.. but none the less offered ongoing support for the product, Google however does not just have a product but also a very direct influence over which companies will succeed online with it’s SERP’s and which wont… yet changes ranking rules and criteria leaving only ambiguous comments and companies/bussinesses guessing in their wake.

    Microsoft were not so arrogant as to directly photograph peoples homes and then mock protests with arrogant and flippant responses.

    The “geeks in mountain view” as you call yourselves need to learn, and fast… that with position and power comes responsibility as well as money!

    Wake up and smell the coffee Matt… Google IS already EVIL!

  86. Niall

    “we’re just a bunch of geeks in Mountain View!” – We’re actually mostly a bunch of global geeks. MTV need to see beyond their post code. :)

  87. To read this thread gives many people hope, Google is moving in the direction of becoming the company people love to hate, if this is not turned around, they will eventually become the next Alta Vista or Yahoo.

    Often the perception of a company is what the company becomes, I believe that much of BING’S recent success is as much about people looking for an alternative to Google then the great new search engine BING. If I worked at Google, I would not be so quick to point out where BING’S search result short comings are, but why anyone would stop using Google?

    Personally, BING has made some solid improvements, it is no Google, but it does prove that Google is not as great as it once was…

  88. I agree that there are too many mis-conceptions, I think Google is an easy target for those who love to conspire stories of mystery, hate or rumour, especially since Google is a silent, yet trusted brand.

    Microsoft never did manage to pull of what Google have despite Microsofts huge head start, I think those who use the word hate, when it comes to a resource such as Google, simply nitpick to gain the public eye,

    Really, it may just be lots of geeks behind PC’s creating the worlds most powerful search engine, there is no motive other then treat them nice, keep them keen, no meaness here, I think Google have done an amazing job at creating world wide search domination by starting from the basics!

  89. Mike Hearn

    I am a Googler, and read both Anils and Matts post with interest.

    There are a few recurring themes in the comments. I think one of the reasons for the mismatch between Googlers perception of the company vs non-Googlers perception is just better access to information. Often, Google has done something which I thought at first seemed stupid but on investigation turned out to have good reasons in the end. I’ve always found it profoundly ironic that our mission is to “make the worlds information accessible” but have a strong culture of secrecy. I wish it would change, but it’s not my decision to make and am not holding my breath.

    Anyway, to tackle a few common complaints here in a way that hopefully does not violate confidentiality:

    - Difficulty of contacting support/humans. Yes it’s frustrating. We all wish it was different. The problem is that Google has hundreds of millions of users across its (free) products and only 20,000 employees. You can see immediately the issue: even if every single employee did nothing but deal with customers, we’d still never be able to provide good one-to-one service. I don’t think there’ll ever be a good solution to this problem, so we focus on eliminating common causes of problems through better code or design rather than spending a literally infinite amount of money on one-to-one support.

    - Mysterious AdSense revocations. I don’t actually know about this first hand, but would bet a few dollars that it’s for the same reason we don’t email people telling them why their mail was sent to the spam folder. If we suspect you of abusing the system, spelling out exactly why we think that would help innocent people a bit but help abusers a lot. If they are pulling 3 different tricks to avoid detection and we note only one of them in our revocation email, now you know that the other two can’t be detected. Again, I agree it’s frustrating but this is a tricky balance to strike. I’d be surprised if 100% full disclosure will ever happen.

    - One guy mentioned the AppEngine problems, in fact we did publish a real post mortem

    - Google Software Update being “troublesome to remove”, you can remove it by uninstalling the programs that are using it to stay up to date. Next time it wakes up, it’ll notice that nothing needs it and remove itself. This isn’t entirely intuitive, but once you know the trick it is quite easy to do.

    - The risk of rogue employees. There are some pretty strong internal security systems here for protecting valuable data like logs, email, book scans etc. We obviously don’t simply rely on all employees being honest. I wish I could go into the details but I guess I can’t. I realize this boils down to “trust us, it’s under control” and that is an unsatisfying answer.

    - Finally China. Ask 5 Googlers about this topic and you’ll get 5 different opinions. The original goal was to improve access to information for the Chinese. My personal opinion is shaped by a recent holiday in China. I asked the guides our tour group had what search engine they used and they all gave the same answer, Google, because it does a much better job of searching the English web than Baidu does. So I think in some objective way Google is improving access to information there, despite the censorship requirements, as if you are an English speaking Chinese person only Google provides reliable (!) access to the English web.

  90. Lee

    Hey Matt,
    Great post! Google is like most companies…you can satisfy most people most of the time, but, you cannot satisfy all the people all the time!! As long as they do not dismiss all critisisms as being non-valid, and stay true to their mission statement of not being evil, then I feel that they will continue to grow. As soon as a company becomes complacent with their position in the marketplace, then they start to go down…just my thoughts.
    Lee

  91. Hi Matt,

    I was reminded of this elderish blog post of yours when I read our new approach to China post on the official Google blog this morning. Maybe you want to add this announcement to your list of moments of pride to work for Google. See my tweet (I know that you are taking a week off of Twitter these days):
    http://twitter.com/tomayac/status/7702282247

    –Tom

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