post

The Official Google Blog is NOT a Blog

  (Updated)

The definition of “googol” is a number, and Google lives by numbers. So how else should we look back over the year but with numerical bits?”

That’s the opening line of A year in Google blogging, then it lists the number of posts, products unveiled, acquisitions ..etc.  There is one number remarkably missing: the number of comments.  I wanted to ask about this in a comment, but I couldn’t.   The Google Blog does not allow commenting. smile_sad.

They claim they love feedback: but the only way to leave feedback is by emailing them.  Hm, not much of “love” here, if you ask me.

Whatever happened to “conversation”?

I’m sorry, Google, you have Blogger, but until you open up commenting, you don’t have a Google Blog

Update #1:  Scoble is right, Matt Cutts does a better job for Google PR than this…

Update #2:  Mike at TechCrunch agrees, in fact he’s running a poll on the issue – worth checking a little later.

Update #3: The TechCrunch post drew a lot of attention to the subject, all of a sudden.  Quite a few commenters don’t feel comments are necessary – and ironically they make that observation in … yes, that’s right, comments.  In the meantime I re-read the Google post, and found this towards the end:

“And before long, perhaps you can begin leaving comments directly. We’re working on that.”

Hm.. that makes me feel a bit silly … am I pounding the table for something Google has already agreed to? I don’t remember having read this originally, but it could very well have been my mistake.  A quick check on Google cache finds a more explicit statement:

“Meanwhile, we really appreciate your interest and feedback, now visible through “Links to this post.” We know some of you would like to offer comments directly, and we would like that too, when we can add resources to the blog crew.

 The cached version is time-stamped 5:18pm, while the current blog post has 4:23pm, so the earlier version appears to be live … go figure In the end, it really does not matter, what’s important is that the Googlers agree to bring the conversation on.

[Update to the update:  I was blind, sorry. The cached version is from the end of 2005.  Thanks to Ionut for pointing this out.  It’s pretty sad though… if commenting was already on the agenda in Dec 2005, and it still is, it tells us just how seriously Google takes this “promise”. ]

And as for the lack of resources, well, perhaps the solution isn’t formally hiring more “blogging crew”, but embracing Matt Cutts’s idea:

“- Each project at Google should monitor the blogosphere for issues. Reduce the disconnect to reduce the danger.

– Get more Googlers talking online. There will be some mistakes, but the conversations will be worth it.”

Blogging crew or not, let Googlers volunteer on the Google Blog.  I’m sure we’ll have a lively conversation.  

Update (01/02):  Amazingly this is the third day in a row this discussion  lives  on  TechMeme ….

Update (7/11/07)Fred Wilson brings the subject up again:

You can’t turn off the comments and have a truly interactive blog with a community. Comments are where it’s at in blogging. If I turned off comments, I’d quit blogging.

… A blog without comments is a one way medium. And that’s not as good as a conversation.

I couldn’t agree more.  Unfortunately we’re seeing examples of just the opposite, like Marc Andreessen whose otherwise excellent blog is now commentless, or Zooomr, who simply turned off comments to redirect the conversation to their internal groups. 

 

Comments

  1. What Is The Definition Of A Blog?

    Yesterday Google posted the yearly stats for the Official Google Blog. Not bad – 294 posts, 7.6 million unique visitors and 15 million page views. Technorati ranks the Google Blog as the 16th largest among all blogs, and it is by far the most popular o…

  2. Comment moderation is a non-trivial resource challenge. With their kind of traffic, approving individual posts and banning spammers may be more than a headcount.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wrote about this in march 2006

    ” Is a corporate Blog with no comments a blog or just “friendly” press releases?” http://gkrawiec.blogspot.com/

    its pissed me off ever since…google blog is NOT a blog.

    -guillermo

  4. Anonymous says:

    Phil, we’re talking about the company that is pretty good in automatically killing spam – just look at gmail 🙂

  5. Anonymous says:

    This text is from 2005:

    “We know some of you would like to offer comments directly, and we would like that too, when we can add resources to the blog crew.”

    http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/12/year-of-google-blogging.html

  6. Anonymous says:

    Wow, thanks, I must have been blind not to notice it. It’s sad though … that means the promise this year-end as pure BS, just as it was last year:-(

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’m totally with you here, having been saying this for a long time, most recently as written to Seth Godin when he stopped having a blog by removing comments.

    http://www.revenews.com/jimkukral/archives/001916.html

    People of the world (and you Seth) here me, and here me loud. I want to make this clear.

    A BLOG WITHOUT COMMENTS IS A WEBSITE USING A CMS SYSTEM… NOT A BLOG!

    Get it, got it?

    Good.

    Now Seth, you have some changes to make, let’s get moving.

    Don’t want to use the word website? Here are some alternatives.

    webpage

    brochure

    information site

    marketing material

    handout

    poster

    sign

    See how these are all relevant? Right, all of them, just like the word “website” are built to talk “to” a reader, not “with” them.

  8. Anonymous says:

    They claim they love feedback: but the only way to leave feedback is by emailing them.

    Hey Zoli, I gotta say you’re mistaken on this. We have created lots of online discussion groups specifically to provide a place for Googlers and our users to exchange feedback and questions about our products and services… including Gmail, Calendar, Search, Webmaster issues, and much more.

    Many of us Googlers also regularly participate in other communities online (Webmastery and otherwise) and also offline (at conferences around the world, for instance).

    I haven’t learned of our official reason for not having comments be a part of our corporate blogs, but… I’m guessing we’d get a flood of questions and feedback quite often unrelated to the entry topics, and we’ve figured that it’s more productive for our Gmail experts to be able to find focused Gmail conversations in the *Gmail group*, and so on.

    In other words, Zoli, we’re definitely starting conversations and taking part in conversations all over the Web (and offline, too). Maybe we need to do a better job of making these channels known? One idea that popped into my head is that we could direct readers of relevant entries on our blog to the related Google discussion group (“Got questions about Google Calendar? Chat with the folks that work on it and the non-Googler Calendar experts in _our Calendar Google Group_.”)

    Whether in that way or other ways, I know we can and should always be improving the ways we communicate. I’m just not (personally) convinced that turning on comments would be a step in the right direction.

  9. Google To Make Stronger Effort With Blogging & Communication In 2007?

    Over the new years weekend, there have been a lot of posts about Google and their blogs and bloggers. I think Matt Cutts sums it up pretty well with his the real lesson from this week post. In short, Google Pushing New Blogger In Search Results sprung …

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hey Adam, I gotta say these members helping members online discussion groups are not the answer. That’s *not* customer service. The webmaster central group where you and Vanessa answer questions here and there are a complete mess. It reminds me of Mos Eisley, a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.” The signal-to-noise ratio is awful. The custom search engine group is much better. Far fewer posters and much better response from the Google staff. The AdWords Help group is also low volume and reasonably productive, but not because of Google staff. I answer quite a few questions in that group. Where’s Google? Why doesn’t Google answer questions for the people who pay Google’s bills? IMHO, you should scrap the webmaster central help groups and focus customer support for AdWords users. They’re your customers. Why support the parasites in webmaster central and not the businesses that keep the Googleplex running? No, as Zoli posits, the official Google blog is *not* a blog and the online discussion groups created by Google are not a sufficient replacement for real customer service.

  11. Anonymous says:

    nice post 🙂

  12. Anonymous says:

    Adam, I’m not saying Google does not participate in any sort of dialogue… those other channels are all good, perhaps listing them on the blog like you propose is helpful, too.

    That said, whether a conversation belongs to “The Blog” or those other groups is basically determined when the author of a blog posts clicks “post”. If it happens to be in the blog, than that’s where it is, and that’s where responses belong to – too late to send them elsewhere.

    Thanks for commenting (btw, I do remember your Plaxo days, you always cared about customer communication), and Happy New Year. 🙂

  13. Google Webmaster Central Leaves Beta; Its Blog Gains Comments

    Google Webmaster Central has officially come out of beta, about a year-and-a-half after Google Sitemaps — core of the service later renamed Google Webmaster Central — launched. To celebrate, a new era for Google. The Official Google Webmaster Central…

  14. Let me tell you my experience with Google: I was banned from Google Checkout and then when I complained at adwords they suspended my account there. So far no reasons offered. They said they couldn’t give any reason for “security reasons”. I run an honest business with products with warranties at lower markups than my competitors. With a near global monopoly one would think that Google would have some kind of policies designed to prevent abuse. I can say that a Google Blog without comments is the least of what this company is doing wrong.

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