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Google considering "Gmail changes"
ThatAdamGuy




msg:1554567
 6:41 am on Apr 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

This Reuters article [reuters.com] notes that Google is considering (one'd assume substantive) changes to Gmail.

Google President and co-founder Sergey Brin told the Journal his company will not make any "rash changes" to the e-mail service which is still being tested by thousands of users.

But he also said the idea of letting Gmail users opt in or out of the targeted ad service was an idea that "is being batted about. We certainly wouldn't rule it out," the Journal said.

I realize that this is obviously speculation on our part, but what sort of changes do you think Google is apt to consider? I'm not talking what you'd personally LIKE them to do ("Erase all the ads and keep it 100% free!" or "Just change the font, but leave the rest the same!"), but rather -- from a logical and pragmatic perspective, what changes you think Google might be "batting about."

Initially, I thought that perhaps Google'd offer a choice of free (with ads) and paid (no ads) models. But then I realized that this would not ameliorate the concerns of people who are loathe to have their e-mail stored in a Gmail account of any sort, paid or free (and folks sending mail wouldn't know the difference up front anyway). So, IMHO, that doesn't seem like a viable option.

Your thoughts?


[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 8:33 pm (utc) on April 14, 2004]
[edit reason] Updated link : this story was submitted over 12 times today [/edit]

 

WebGuerrilla




msg:1554627
 9:31 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>Has anyone considered that Gmail might just give you general Ads instead of targeted Ads if you don't want it to spider your emails?

Sure people have considered it. But that doesn't have anything to do with the main issue that many (including myself) object to. And that is the fact that the revenue Google would receive from an Adsense type system applied to email is not generated from the content created by Gmail users who signed up and agreed to Google's TOS.

It is generated off of content created by people sending email into Google's system. None of those people have agreed to any Google terms and conditions. And to me, that just isn't an appropriate thing to do.

Now if they were smart, they should come out an announce that the ad system will be reversed. They will scan and apply ads to outgoing email only. If someone wants to signup for an account and generate content that will have ads added to it in exchange for not having to pay for it, I'd have absolutely no problem with that.

freeflight2




msg:1554628
 10:19 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

actually "general ads" would be OK since then google would not scan & exploit other people's content and private communication without even asking for their permission (it just would make $ out of users using the gmail service - and who agreed to G's TOS in the first place).

[...] apply ads to outgoing email only
yeah that would be fine, too. (since gmail users agreed to it and also... it would be very easy for the mail servers/clients receiving them to filter them out right away :)

once millions of people are going to use gmail a google searchbox only would already generate more revenue than needed to run the service: advertisers would stay happy, internet users would love it and google's image would not get ruined... it appears as if this discussion will never end and that gmail will negatively brand google if it gets implemented as currently proposed.

ThatAdamGuy




msg:1554629
 11:21 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I know, I know, I said I'd bow out of these conversations, but I can't help it ;)

Companies are ALREADY MAKING MONEY off of your private correspondence.

- anti-spam companies exist solely due to the e-mail you and other send
- ISP's would likely not survive if it weren't for your e-mails
- anti-virus companies depend upon business (from protecting others from your e-mail viruses)

In other words, by sending an e-mail from point A to point B, you are already enabling many companies to make a profit off of you.

Gmail's scanning is nothing new; the only difference is that it's using semantic analysis to show ads rather than fight spam. Google makes money by showing ads, BrightMail and other companies make money by assessing the spamminess of your e-mail.

Again, in each case, companies are making money off your e-mail. Google's profiting is just slightly more transparent. :)

bird




msg:1554630
 11:32 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>[...] apply ads to outgoing email only
yeah that would be fine, too. (since gmail users agreed to it and also... it would be very easy for the mail servers/clients receiving them to filter them out right away

Actually, that would make things worse, and yes, I consider the longstanding practise of the other free e-mail services worse than what Gmail does.

If your e-mail service includes ads in the messages you send out, then by sending me a message, you're forcing ME to look at those ads which pay for the "free" service YOU enjoy. And I can do nothing against that agressive intrusion of advertisement into my inbox other than to block your messages entirely.

With Gmail, only those people who profit from the free service will have to watch the ads. Finally, fairness in e-mail related advertising.

figment88




msg:1554631
 11:47 pm on Apr 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

I don't really think it adds to the discussion to keep making comparisons between anti-spam software and gmail.

These are hardly the same thing.

ThatAdamGuy




msg:1554632
 12:02 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

I guess that's part of the gulf in this conversation, then.

I see the two as highly related (both parsing e-mail by machine, both earning companies a profit, both done without the consent of the sender, etc...).

I understand there are other issues, such as Gmail's vast storage space accentuating the fears of stored e-mails being subpoened. But I've addressed those issues in other threads.

born2drv




msg:1554633
 12:24 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

thatadamguy... there's a difference between those 3 examples and gmail.

(1) gmail will store your mail for eternity, your examples will not... and you have control over them.

(2)anti-spam or anti-virus only looks for characteristics in the email that are negative to label them as spam or viruses. they are not interested in the entire email, nor do they profit from the actual "personal" content.

(3) gmail is trying to determine the author's intent in the message so it can base it's advertising on it. It could also theoretically build up a profile of everything about me.

Even if google never does this, I don't want any software company to store data about me I did not willingly give them. They can ask when they sign me up if I like boats, cars, motorcycles, whatever and if I give them that information, then let them use it to bring me that type of content. But if I don't tell them I'm interesed in large breasts, I don't want them to assume I am based on the confirmation emails from various websites I have subscription to :) (no I don't any) ;) And before you know it, I'm getting matches from dating sites with C+ cup size girls ;)

And I do not want any software company to be in a position where they can use the "meaning" or "intent" of my personal messages legally for anything... whether it be for statistical analysis or for text based ads or whatever. I think this is immoral. You may have a different opinion, but that's just how I feel.

And as I said, I know that's not Google's intention for this, but software companies keep pushing the boundries of what is and what is not acceptable in terms of privacy... and the amount of data being collected that could be used for abuse is getting absurd and I think Google is now crossing that line and setting dangerous precidents.

bird




msg:1554634
 1:03 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

gmail will store your mail for eternity

Why do people keep insisting on this nonsense, which has been refuted time and time again? Google will backup your data, just as any other webmail service does. The only difference is that they tell you about it. This kind of honesty is a positive sign, not a crime.

anti-spam or anti-virus only looks for characteristics in the email that are negative to label them as spam or viruses.

A good spam filter will look at everything in the message, and use all of your "private content" to decide which bucket to sort it into. While my own filter only knows three buckets (spam, ham, unsure), Gmail knows a few more, one for each keyword bought by an advertiser. But the procedure as such is fully equivalent.

they are not interested in the entire email, nor do they profit from the actual "personal" content.

Of course there are plenty of spam filtering companies that profit commercially from scanning, analyzing, and categorizing the entire content of the messages you send to someone using their services.

gmail is trying to determine the author's intent in the message so it can base it's advertising on it.

Gmail has a chance in hell to determine your "intent". All they're looking for is statistical occurences of certain words or phrases.

It could also theoretically build up a profile of everything about me.

Theoretically.
Google has stated very clearly that the categorisation information used to serve ads is discarded the moment the ad is on the screen.

Certainly you have read most of this discussion, and are now informed that "theoretically" almost any ISP out there could create such a profile from your e-mail? Do I hear you complain about that? Why not?

Even if google never does this, I don't want any software company to store data about me I did not willingly give them.

Then you better unplug your computer right now.

And I do not want any software company to be in a position where they can use the "meaning" or "intent" of my personal messages legally for anything... whether it be for statistical analysis or for text based ads or whatever.

All your e-mail is scanned for statistical analysis already, pretty much any time it crosses a national border, and often in between. It is also scanned for statistical analysis by all those recipients who filter for spam, because you can't build a decent spam filter without statistical analysis.

And as I said, I know that's not Google's intention for this,

Um, so you chastise them for not doing things you don't want them to do?
I'm confused.

the amount of data being collected that could be used for abuse is getting absurd and I think Google is now crossing that line and setting dangerous precidents.

Google is setting no precedents at all. Everything you're scared about (and admit Google doesn't intend to do) already happens in other places.

born2drv




msg:1554635
 2:11 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

>>>Certainly you have read most of this discussion, and are now informed that "theoretically" almost any ISP out there could create such a profile from your e-mail? Do I hear you complain about that? Why not?

Yes I understand this. Someone can throw a rock at my head too, but it's not legal. What I'm saying is, using personal content and private messages for any commercial purpose should be illegal.

sidyadav




msg:1554636
 2:25 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

> Everything you're scared about (and admit Google doesn't intend to do) already happens in other places.

I agree. I've never seen this big of a controversy before, just because a mail service is showing ads. If they delivered SPAM, I'd expect such a contoversy - but common!

As already said in this thread:

  • Other e-mail services (Yahoo, MSN etc) make their profit out of sharing your information to third parties, providing a spam filter which does not apply to those third parties and letting them spam. This SPAM is also not any other SPAM, its according to the topic(s) you said to Yahoo! you liked, while registering.
  • Google, on the other hand is trying a different approach. You'll get no SPAM, no Banners, 1 gig space, but you'll have to live with some relevant text ads - which I don't mind (unlike many here).

    And what makes me so surprised is many people would rather register in Yahoo or MSN (5MB inbox space), receive SPAM and deal with it, where they have the option to register with Gmail (they will), receive NO SPAM, enjoy and just live with some relevant text ads at the bottom of e-mails.

    Anad just if you didn't know, even Yahoo puts text ads at the bottom of their e-mails - but they're not relevant ones - AFAIK.

    Sid

  • Chris_D




    msg:1554637
     8:35 am on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Yahoo! makes you register in order to submit a site for free spidering in their search engine. In my book, thats a whole lot more 'suspect' than Gmail.

    One of the major advantages offered by Gmail is that you can search your 1Gb email - Google has to "index" (read) your mail, so that you can search it.

    ruserious




    msg:1554638
     4:50 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

    One of the major advantages offered by Gmail is that you can search your 1Gb email - Google has to "index" (read) your mail, so that you can search it.

    Ahem, what difference does that make? A free e-mail provider has to store those messages anyway on their server (or how else would they be able to show them to you?); and if they have it on disk, they can search it. Wether they use indexing to speed it up or not is a minor technical detail, which IMHO does not impact the current discussion.

    bird wrote:
    If your e-mail service includes ads in the messages you send out, then by sending me a message, you're forcing ME to look at those ads which pay for the "free" service YOU enjoy. And I can do nothing against that agressive intrusion of advertisement into my inbox other than to block your messages entirely.

    With Gmail, only those people who profit from the free service will have to watch the ads. Finally, fairness in e-mail related advertising.

    Now, that's an interesting way to see it. I tend to agree. :)

    Milamber




    msg:1554639
     6:53 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

    WebGuerrilla Wrote:
    It is generated off of content created by people sending email into Google's system. None of those people have agreed to any Google terms and conditions. And to me, that just isn't an appropriate thing to do.
    ...
    They will scan and apply ads to outgoing email only.

    I don't see how that will protect the privacy of the people sending you email because generally when you replay to a message all previous correspondence is attached to it. So unless you plan on removing the original message when you reply it will be scanned regardless.
    Should you do so it will also eliminate Gmail's conversation style of email browsing.

    Chris_D




    msg:1554640
     8:18 pm on Apr 16, 2004 (gmt 0)

    As the Adwords advertisements ARE NOT in the email you send from Gmail, it is much better than most of the other systems. The ads are on the webpage which the GMail user views the email - not in the actual email itself.

    Jaze




    msg:1554641
     2:49 am on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

    What ever happened to personal responsibility and liability?

    You're asked to read the Terms of Service/Terms of Use before accepting a service, if you accept the Terms of Service that is your choice, as it is also your choice to use another service. You fully understand what it is you are getting yourself into (that's if you bother to read the TOS which is again your choice).

    You read and accept the TOS here, your posts are recorded indefinitely - you take responsibility for making these posts do you not?
    <added>and these posts are found and displayed in search engine results, just like your email can end up anywhere indefinitely and without much control over where and for how long</added>

    May I suggest that you read the TOS if you haven't already.

    [google.com ]

    All Google/GMail are asking for are suggestions.

    Mark_A




    msg:1554642
     6:58 pm on Apr 17, 2004 (gmt 0)

    Jaze you may not have realised that many people do not agree with the terms of service and will not be signing up for the service, however despite that the service will impact on their communications which is why they are concerned.

    If Gmail goes ahead as currently proposed all users of email will be affected in some way or another, whether they agree to the Gmail TOS or not.

    Please dont be naieve enough to think otherwise as it is the most invasive commercial access system which has been seriously proposed to date into all of our non public communications which fall however they may into its grasp. [1]

    As to feedback to Google. One of their representatives reads this forum and they are therefore simply getting the feedback they requested - free of charge incidentally.

    [1] I am not saying that more invasive proposals may not come in the future from others as they may well indeed do, we are at this point here now and Gmail is more invasive than previous serious proposals.

    jaxomlotus




    msg:1554643
     12:59 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

    If we could write some line of text in all mail sent to gmail users like:
    [GMAILBOT ARCHIVE=NO ADS=NO]

    I love this. This would alleviate the fear of business sending outgoing mail to gmail users. And maybe google could display untargetted ads towards these recipients? Or would that hurt their perception amongst advertisers?

    ThatAdamGuy




    msg:1554644
     1:22 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I guess I do not understand the ARCHIVE=NO tag.

    Why is it targeted at Gmail? Why is it okay for Yahoo or Earthlink or Comcast to archive your e-mails? Why is it okay for me to archive your e-mails both on my hard drive (Outlook) and on backup CDs? Or are folks advocating this tag suggesting that we recipients should be able to see your e-mail once, and then it'd disappear... not to be re-read or printed, etc?

    I think it's been made clear that Gmail isn't archiving anything to an extent differently than any other player. They have a (admittedly somewhat misnomered) "permanently delete" option on every e-mail received, and they do backups just like EVERY other ISP out there.

    The issue, in a way, comes down to a fundamental issue; I understand why people feel the need to have control over what they write, but I also feel that I -- as the recipient -- have rights to control what I receive (store, print, forward, quote, reply, etc.) and I'd quite strongly resent have those rights taken away. It'd be like an author putting a big NO-ARCHIVE / NO-SHARE label on his or her book: "May only be sold to one person; Donating to a library or sharing with any friends is STRICTLY FORBIDDEN."

    Scarecrow




    msg:1554645
     3:47 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I think it's been made clear that Gmail isn't archiving anything to an extent differently than any other player.

    Archiving 10 megs of undeleted messages is typical for many ISPs and email services. Archiving 1 gig is what Google will do.

    The retention issue for deleted email is potentially 100 times more of an issue with Google than it is with these other services. That's why we need more than vague assurances from Google that they will make "reasonable" efforts to erase deleted email if such efforts are "practical."

    Earthlink is eager to dump deleted mail, and has a mere 24-hour retention period. Google's entire server structure is distributed, and it's more trouble for Google to address this issue. But it's really important for Google to be very clear on what they will and will not do with deleted email.

    Jaze




    msg:1554646
     6:27 am on Apr 18, 2004 (gmt 0)

    If Gmail goes ahead as currently proposed all users of email will be affected in some way or another, whether they agree to the Gmail TOS or not.

    Of course they are but by what? What is it that is the problem that isn't a problem elsewhere?

    Please dont be naieve enough to think otherwise as it is the most invasive commercial access system which has been seriously proposed to date into all of our non public communications which fall however they may into its grasp. [1]

    Oh please! Invasive? Just who is being invasive Mark_A? Or should I say what - it is an algorithm that determines the ad that is being displayed after all! And the add is displayed on Google's web pages and not the email itself! The ad doesn't get forwarded on to recipients!

    As to feedback to Google. One of their representatives reads this forum and they are therefore simply getting the feedback they requested - free of charge incidentally.

    And what is wrong with this? What is wrong with getting free feedback other than a bit of mismanaged PR?

    Dpeper




    msg:1554647
     1:44 am on Apr 21, 2004 (gmt 0)


    Sure people have considered it. But that doesn't have anything to do with the main issue that many (including myself) object to. And that is the fact that the revenue Google would receive from an Adsense type system applied to email is not generated from the content created by Gmail users who signed up and agreed to Google's TOS.

    It is generated off of content created by people sending email into Google's system. None of those people have agreed to any Google terms and conditions. And to me, that just isn't an appropriate thing to do.

    I think all email companies profit off of others intelectual property. When I email somebuddy at yahoo or hotmail theres ads displayed on the emails. So explain to me how its any diffrent (besides privacy issues) Maybe we need to sue yahoo and microsoft, because they profit every time I write an email to one of there adresses and that person checks there email and reads it.

    Donny

    bantam




    msg:1554648
     5:23 pm on Apr 21, 2004 (gmt 0)

    I noticed several good ideas.

    - Targeted ads only between two GMail users.
    - The option to turn off ads in return for less storage space.
    - Opting out of targeted ads to be replaced with general ads.

    I just got a chance to get a GMail account via another website offer. For personal use, I like it. I like it a LOT. Reasons being: I'm an email hoarder who could possibly reach the 1GB limit over time, the GMail interface threads your conversations much like Outlook 2003 (version?), and you can tag/label individual messages with several different options including personalized ones you create.

    The ads are barely noticeable on the right hand side. It took me about an hour of emailing people and generating conversations to even get one ad in relation to my personal email string. Heck, I even solicited people on my website to email me using the spammiest words possible and not one ad came up right away. The welcome email Google sent did have ads, and ironically, one of them was for an "I hate GMail" page.

    This service, as many of you have pointed out, is perfect for the average user but not for the business person. I can see the troubles with businesses emailing clients at their GMail addy, but it takes several emails to generate any ads along the sides, so one reply should be safe. And since the interface is not only beautiful but incredibly organized and easy to use, I think that many "average*" users will be using this service very shortly.

    In closing, I'm keeping my Gmail name and will be using it happily. I'll just thoughtfully use another email when dealing with a business client.

    *I consider myself average. No slight intended.

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