Home > Communication, Search engine > Is Google getting a bit muahahaha?

Is Google getting a bit muahahaha?

Aye, Google… I’m rather disappointed at them these days I must say. It was a really exciting project in the beginning when I joined their Google in Your Language project. Gosh, I thought, they actually promise “Google believes that fast and accurate searching has universal value. That’s why we are eager to offer our service in all the languages scattered upon the face of the earth.” – how unusually enlightened for a software company, sign me up. Which I did, along with hundreds of other volunteers, putting in hundreds of hours of our time … well, you all know how it works. They did give us a t-shirt at one point, mind. In hindsight, the fact they did that rather than given each one of us, say, a dozen shiny Google shares should have set off some warning bells but hindsight is a great thing.

Initially, all languages were pretty much on a par but soon, inequality started creeping in. While other languages (the big ones) were getting jazzed up search interfaces, smaller languages like Gaelic weren’t. And I also began to realise that Google did not enable all translation projects (they come as separate sub-projects) for all languages, per default or on request. Things like Gmail or GoogleDocs. Ah, requests… that kinda implies communication, doesn’t it? We did have the google.public.translators group but as you might guess, admins were thin on the ground. Many questions and issue were left unanswered so while other projects got fancy with plural formatting and translation memories and suchlike, Google stuck to the if-it’s-not-in-English-we-don’t-want-to-know approach. Initially, I decided that, the company being a startup, this was down to limited resources and that change would come. Change did come to the coffers of Google but not to the localization teams.

More and more English kept creeping in, to the extent that I began to wonder how many people were still using the localized interfaces when they offer perhaps 10% of the overall functionality of Google. Yet, I kept telling myself it would get better. Hm.

I got briefly excited over Google Chrome.. very briefly mind. I foolishly assumed that something as important as this would automatically be made available to all teams. Nope. I emailed those precious few people at Google whose emails I had. No answer. Not to that particular question, but perhaps asking two questions in the same email is too demanding. So I start hitting the web in search of answers. I did get some, but everyone gave me a different one… some said that localizing Chromium would result in a localized Google Chrome, others contradicted that. No one over on the Linux side really seemed to know, answers again ranging from yes through maybe to no way. I’m still waiting for a definitive answer. A project to “move the web forward” indeed.

I’ve even written a very nice if somewhat disappointed letter to Google. That was back in January. Meanwhile, google.public.translators keeps coming and going on and offline and the newest post is from 2008. I posted earlier this year, asking where everyone was. Mysteriously, the post has disappeared. I deduce that admins are watching, but not communicating.

All in all, I’m feeling very bitter I must say. More so than over the OpenOffice thing. I still keep the User Interface for Gaelic up to 100% but in all honesty, if someone comes up with a good open source search engine, I’ll decamp. Google has been successful not only due to its fancy algorithms but also due to the many volunteers who made the interface available in their languages. If Google had only ever catered for the English-speaking world, then I doubt they’d be as successful today. It feels like ingratitude of the worst kind.

Was I foolish to put faith into something that was so clearly aiming for a commercial stranglehold on the web? Perhaps. Perhaps they’ll come good still, though I’m not holding my breath. In the meantime, I shall steer people towards OperaMail if they want online mail in Gaelic and put my hopes in the LibreOffice Cloud project.

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  1. 08/04/2012 at 7:07 pm

    Google is evil. They have more than enough money to PAY people for what they need, but they exploit instead and are busy-busy trying to take over everything, including government. With their projects, they are all gung-ho in the beginning, but then they are like someone with attention-deficit issues, and they run off to do something else, eventually abandoning their projects like a cute hoor abandons her children. I do wish some entity would be good enought to come along and challenge them, but by the time anything gets ‘that good,’ it would be evil too. Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely, as they say. 😛

  2. 08/04/2012 at 7:23 pm

    I believe that for Chrome they have gone over to a paid model, which creates the dilemma that unless you’re a multi-million market, they’re not interested any more. I’ve always defended the community translation model for commercial software as being “second-best but workable” – you’re giving up time but in return you get a tool in your language that otherwise you’d never get. But I think you’re certainly right on the attention deficit thing… a number of projects have fallen off the map such as Picasa with nothing so much as a tweet for the teams.
    Sadly, I tend to agree, they seem to have gone over to the dark side…

    • 08/04/2012 at 7:29 pm

      Oi! Picasa too now? Not that I particularly always want the latest version because it seems they keep adding more and more hard-to-load shiz, but they’ve dropped it?

      • 08/04/2012 at 8:16 pm

        Not entirely sure but I used to see in on my localization panel but not any more. Wikipedia doesn’t say anything on the matter so they’ve probably just nixed it for my locale.

  3. 08/04/2012 at 10:09 pm

    That’s a monopoly for you. When a corporation has been allowed to grow so big that it *owns” or *is* the infrastructure, it starts acting obnoxious.

  4. 09/04/2012 at 6:56 pm

    Came across in interesting post which puts a lot of this nonsense down to the IPO http://techcrunch.com/2012/04/08/how-the-ipo-ruined-google/ Makes sense, sadly hard to see a way out

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