Sunday, May 31, 2009

Google Relents—Finally

At last Google has withdrawn its repeated description of this blog as “spam” and its accompanying threats to delete it.

Google seems to be a company that belongs somewhere in a world that might have been imagined by Franz Kafka, in that when dealing with it in a situation of this kind, a person is placed in a position in which he must confront a beast that is deaf, blind, and destructive, utterly impervious to all reason. The company has no email address that belongs to a live human being, or at least none that I could find. It has two listed phone numbers in its headquarters city of Mountain View, California. One of them offers five or six menu options none of which lead to a human being or any way to contact a human being. The second number does reach a human being, but that human being has no way to contact any executive and cannot deal with any such matter as a blog being threatened with deletion. Yes, it also has an 800 number, which duplicates the first of the Mountain View numbers.

A communication from the company promised an investigation by a human being “within two business days.” But no such investigation ever occurred. Between May 2 and May 21, in response to my requests to unlock my blog, I received the following three replies, all of them identical but for the date cited for the requests.


"Your blog is marked as spam

"Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

"We received your unlock request on May 2, 2009. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.


"Your blog is marked as spam

"Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (
What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

"We received your unlock request on May 11, 2009. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.

"Your blog is marked as spam

"Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.

"We received your unlock request on May 21, 2009. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam."

At least a dozen of the readers of this blog went to the trouble of writing directly to the President of Google. One of them went to the trouble of also informing an extensive list of pro-free-market news commentators and bloggers about what Google was doing. It’s difficult to be sure what effect this had. To my knowledge, none of those who wrote to the president of Google ever received a reply. Nevertheless, I must assume that Google finally unlocked my blog in response to the strong reaction from these readers. I want to thank them publicly, for their support.

What this experience has taught me is that I never again want to be dependent on Google. Accordingly, I’ve spent much of the past few weeks reconstructing this blog in Word Press. The reconstruction is complete for 2009 and 2008, but has only just begun for 2007 and 2006. I invite readers to visit this new blog at www.georgereisman.com/blogWP/. (Please note that the last two letters must be capitalized in order to bring up the blog.)

It seems incomprehensible to me that Google, a company with possibly the most advanced search technology in the world, would somehow lack the technical expertise required for its robots to distinguish my blog, which has been in existence for over three years and has more than 140 postings on it, from a spam blog. It is equally incomprehensible to me why, if such is the case, and they know that their ability to identify spam blogs is “inherently fuzzy,” they would not have a human being spend five minutes looking at a blog they know is very likely a “false positive” for spam, and make a rational judgment about the matter in short order. And why they would not have a readily accessible system whereby they could be easily contacted and “false positives” for spam speedily corrected by that route.

Whatever the explanation, Google in this case has shown itself to be incompetent, grossly irresponsible, and cowardly. It apparently does not care about the consequences of its actions or show any readiness to correct them or willingness even to hear about them. Nothing less than a public campaign is required to get its attention. This is not a good performance for a company whose motto is supposedly, “Don’t Be Evil.” What Google has done in this case is evil.

***

If any reader knows how to port over links from Google’s Blogger to Word Press, I hope he will share his knowledge with me. The abundance of links to many of the postings on the Google version of my blog serve to keep me tied to Google. Please write to me at georgereisman@georgereisman.com.


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