Google Groups Fail

Last month, I wrote that I was looking for mailing list hosting. It looks like some of the lists I host will move to Alioth, and some to Google Groups.

Google Groups has a nice newbie-friendly interface with the ability to read a group as a forum or as a mailing list. Also, they don’t have criteria about the subject matter of a group, so the Linux user’s group list I host could be there but not at Alioth.

So I set up a Google Group for the LUG. I grabbed the subscriber list from Ecartis, and went to “Directly Add” the members. This was roughly August 12.

After doing so, I got a message saying that Google needs to review these requests to make sure they’re legit, and will get back to me in 1-2 days. OK, that’s reasonable.

Problem is, nobody appears to be reviewing them. This is three weeks later and no action.

So I decided I would ask someone at Google about it. The only way they give to do that is to post in the Google Groups Help Forum. So I did. Guess what? They ignore that, too.

Let me say: relying on this sort of service for something important really makes me think twice. It makes me nervous about using Google Voice (what if my Google Voice number goes down?) It certainly makes me think twice about ever relying on Gmail or the other Apps for anything important.

My own mail server may not have the features that theirs does, but if it breaks, I don’t have to worry about whether anybody even cares to fix it.

9 thoughts on “Google Groups Fail

  1. As a compromise, use Google Apps for email, with your own domain — then you can quickly switch to an alternative if needed.

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    John Goerzen Reply:

    That is true — for a personal site or a small business or organization, it is probably still a good option.

    Reply

  2. I hate google groups. You can hardly control the automatic spam that occurs. For a small open group like a Lug, Perl Mongers, Ruby Group, etc. you want to be inviting and open but Google Groups just means that spammers spam your group and it can overshadow legitimate traffic.

    This is when security through obscurity comes into play, it isn’t security but it is less annoying. Mailman isn’t bad.

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  3. I almost came to the conclusion that no humans work at Google when my adsense account got “stuck” and didn’t issue any payouts for over six months. It got to the point where I was owed over $1000. I just kept posting to their forums over and over again until somebody noticed.

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  4. Google support for unpaid products is superb given the revenue they must make from them.

    However if you want better support for Google Apps or Google mail you can pay for it.

    Groups on the other hand seems to be largely done on a best effort basis.

    Became all too aware of this when I had trouble logging into to my Google account and realized there is just a little too much of my life there protected by only a password, and that getting it straightened out if things went wrong would take 5 days plus.

    Surely a LUG can find a mailing list home somewhere. The folks at lug.org.uk will do it if it is in the UK.

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  5. Seth Godin recently used Google as an example when comparing companies that focus really hard on a few, high-paying customers, with companies that focus on a large number of low-paying customers. He points out that part of Google’s *strategy* is to let people fall through the cracks… Google Groups meets enough peoples’ needs that Google doesn’t need to care at all about the few that it doesn’t work out for. It actually *doesn’t pay* for them to give you real human support.

    It’s the downside of the “free” model… it’s hard to complain about poor customer service or poor value when you didn’t pay anything for it to start with.

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