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Censorship Communications Google Open Source Your Rights Online

Where Do You Go When Google Locks You Out? 332

Posted by kdawson
from the invisible-man dept.
Lobais sends in the cautionary tale of a man who was locked out of Google Groups for three years — losing the ability to administer his own open source project in the process. "After about a year of using Google Groups for the PyChess project, I started [noticing] a problem. When I wrote mails to the list, no one would answer. And when I answered other peoples' post[s], they seamed to ignore them and press for new answers. As I tried to check the online group to see what was happening, I got a 403 Forbidden error. After a short while I realized that this error was given for any page on the groups.google.com subdomain. The lockout meant that I was unable to manage the PyChess mailing list. I was unable to fight increasing spam level, and more importantly I couldn't reply to anybody in my community. I wasn't even able to visit the Google help forums, which are all on groups.google.com. As the services are free of charge, I never really expected any support options. ... How can we know how often this kind of thing happens? If any admin can lock you out by a sloppy click, and give you no option to defend yourself, then it is bound to happen once in a while."
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Where Do You Go When Google Locks You Out?

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  • by Dutchmaan (442553) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:14AM (#32405194) Homepage
    Does anyone know why I'm just seeing a "403 Forbidden error" for this story!?
  • free but not cheap (Score:4, Insightful)

    by timmarhy (659436) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:16AM (#32405196)
    seems to be a common theme with free software and free services - it often starts out as the cheap option, but ends up costing more. i'm fine with people using free stuff, but seriously don't complain when it blows up in your face.
    • by keeboo (724305) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:33AM (#32405288)
      Sourceforge offers free services for developers and works fine for me. The free support is adequate.

      I think that the problem is that Google has a terrible support for their services.
      My experience with them is that when things go wrong, you're screwed (unless you pay, it seems).
      • by kestasjk (933987) * on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:50AM (#32405376) Homepage
        Freshmeat.net is also an excellent service, and don't forget to pick up a t-shirt of fun geeky gift at thinkgeek.com!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by CBravo (35450)

        Google doesn't respond to its own abuse either. Via their cache they often do requests (to check if the pages still exist?) on our servers. These sometimes trigger our www-burglar-alarm (they actually do something that is not allowed). When you send an abuse mailing you never hear again.

        Feedback is not one of their strong sides.

        • by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:37AM (#32405554) Homepage

          Google doesn't respond to its own abuse either. Via their cache they often do requests (to check if the pages still exist?) on our servers. These sometimes trigger our www-burglar-alarm (they actually do something that is not allowed). When you send an abuse mailing you never hear again.

          Hello, a Googler here. I'm not sure what your specific issue is, but if you want to prevent the crawler (GoogleBot) from doing things, you need to set up the robots.txt file appropriately. If you still see the bad requests, they are being triggered by some kind of human action and you'd need to figure out what (the headers sent with the request should tell you).

          • by CBravo (35450) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:28AM (#32405764)

            The robots.txt file is ignored if the final target is not in the domain.

            Thanks for the header-reminder.

          • by Enleth (947766) <enleth@enleth.com> on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:44AM (#32405848) Homepage

            What you're saying is very interesting, but in contradiction to my experience with GoogleBot's behavoiur.

            I've seen GoogleBot-images do a normal crawl of the images on the site, respecting robots.txt and all, and then, start a crawl over the images it was explicitly forbidden from indexing, from the same IP (*definitely* a Google IP, not an impostor), just with the User-Agent header changed to an empty string. Nice, eh? It was way too fast and way too cordinated to be triggered by human action. And if there was actually a human involved in telling the bot to return to the site, *ahem*, "incognito" a few seconds later, I'd be more than happy to tell them to bugger off properly when they're told to.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Lehk228 (705449)
              are you sure it isn't someone running an image grabber passing itself off as googlebot? i know for a fact that googlebot is one of the options to pretend to be on some of them
        • by noidentity (188756) on Monday May 31, 2010 @09:15AM (#32406290)

          Feedback is not one of [Google's] strong sides.

          I don't see their Feedback(tm) product listed anywhere. Maybe it's still in beta.

    • by Bert64 (520050) <bertNO@SPAMslashdot.firenzee.com> on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:47AM (#32405356) Homepage

      Software and services are entirely different in this context...

      Once you have some free software the copy you have doesn't change unless you choose to change it, thus if it was working it will continue working the same.
      A service on the other hand, is entirely under the control of a third party and can change at their whim.

      This article is entirely about a service that started off working, and then the company providing it stopped providing it to the one particular user with no explanation as to why.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        Right if he had hosted the service himself using FOSS software he would be fine.

    • by yyxx (1812612) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:26AM (#32405510)

      seems to be a common theme with free software and free services - it often starts out as the cheap option, but ends up costing more

      And the evidence for that would be ... what?

      i'm fine with people using free stuff, but seriously don't complain when it blows up in your face.

      And how does complaining do you any good when commercial, expensive stuff blows up in your face? When Microsoft discontinues products? When Apple kills your app in their App Store? When DEC goes out of business? When Symbolics takes a research project, makes it proprietary, and then proceeds to kill it? Open source and free software were founded because commercial software had blown up in people's faces time and again. With open source, you at least have options for dealing with the problem, with proprietary software, you're stuck.

      As for Google, if you want for-pay services, get a Google Apps domain. Those applications that you pay for are supported. And Google offers you the ability to download and backup your data so that you aren't stuck.

      Even if you use the free services, so far, I have had a lot less trouble with free Google services than with any of the for-pay hosted web services I've used.

    • by dwmw2 (82) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:47AM (#32405600) Homepage

      I think you've misunderstood the term 'Free Software'. The word 'Free' in Free Software is used to refer to *freedom*, not the cost.

      So with software the situation is actually the other way round to the way you present it. If you are using Free(dom) Software, then you have the source and can do whatever you need with it and you aren't held hostage by someone else's actions. If you're using non-Free Software, *then* you seriously shouldn't complain when it blows up in your face.

      Using non-Free Software (even if it's gratis) often starts out as the 'cheap option' -- not necessarily in terms of cost, but in terms of local knowledge and training and effort. But it often ends up costing more, because of its inherent limitations and because you can't actually *fix* it to meet your requirements, or even get bug-fixes for it without having to replace it wholesale with a new version.

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:00AM (#32405650)

      ...he used "fora" as the plural for "forum" and triggered some kind of douchebag filter. These douchebag filters were first created as an experiment by Google in the late '90's to keep out the folks who wrote "boxen" as a plural for "box," but were later taken off-line. I fear that one of the filters may have missed the purge and now it is evolving, learning...

  • Appeals process (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rijnzael (1294596) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:22AM (#32405228)
    I've always felt that it's in the best interest of entities like Google to add some sort of official, all-service-reaching appeals process to rectify erroneous enforcement actions, or at least give an answer as to how customers broke the Terms of Use so that they can correct such behavior in the future. Being that Google is so huge and that many people's livelihoods depend on it, even if many of these critical services are free, it's in their best interest, and having a department that makes getting the ear of such a huge entity straightforward would really increase customer loyalty as well as reduce apprehension of arbitrary lock-outs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

      Other than it being obscure, I'm good with what finally resolved the problem - he (sort of) paid for premium support.

      I think that if a person or business becomes dependent on a 'free' service then charging for premium support is reasonable. But the quality of service had better be top notch where the first level support is trained to be real good at escalating problems instead of simply sending canned responses that don't really address the issue. If managed well, it can also be a revenue stream in that t

      • by jimicus (737525)

        IME, Google's premium support generally does exactly this.

        You may not always like the answers - some aspects of their systems work slightly differently to what one might expect and cannot be configured otherwise, so I hope you haven't developed a whole bunch of business processes which assume particular behaviour - but they're normally intelligently written in clear English and bear some resemblance to the question asked.

    • Re:Appeals process (Score:5, Informative)

      by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:46AM (#32405598) Homepage

      or at least give an answer as to how customers broke the Terms of Use so that they can correct such behavior in the future.

      Unfortunately there's no way to explain what triggered an abuse check to good users without also explaining it to spammers, and obviously that would reduce the anti-abuse systems effectiveness very quickly.

      So, full disclosure, I work on abuse at Google. False positives are obviously a problem and we try to minimize them. When they do occur, there's usually a way to appeal it, either automatically by using SMS/phone verification or by writing into support and getting a manual review (contrary to what you might read we do have free support for our products and large numbers of people use it every day). It sounds like in this case Groups did not provide an appeal path, or at least didn't do so three years ago. I'll check to see if this is still the case.

      Finding a way to improve the appeals process without letting through large amounts of spammers is a tricky problem and we know we could do a better job of it today. Throwing up a call center isn't quite as trivial as it sounds for a bunch of reasons.

      • Re:Appeals process (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Rijnzael (1294596) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:00AM (#32405648)
        How's charging a reasonably low price for a phone call or two to resolve the issue with a support person who is knowledgeable as well as able to effect change? Say, charge someone's card $10 and then initiate the support call, and if they are found out to have been an erroneous ban, refund the $10. Keeps the spammers from appealing in a massive manner, while allowing the one-off mistakes relief.
        • Re:Appeals process (Score:5, Informative)

          by IamTheRealMike (537420) <mike@plan99.net> on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:47AM (#32405858) Homepage
          Sure, we'd like to do that. I was discussing it with management quite recently actually. There are a bunch of tricky issues specific to the case of dealing with abuse disables that we still need to think through fully and figure out good answers for, but I won't be surprised to see something like this happen in the longer term.
          • Re:Appeals process (Score:5, Interesting)

            by X0563511 (793323) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:54AM (#32405888) Homepage Journal

            At the company where I work (a hosting company) we give a user one chance to clean up their stuff. If they fail, we disconnect them (again, if the offense was bad enough to disconnect on the first time). After that, it's $50 a pop to reactivate the service, and if they continue to screw up we keep pulling the plug. Eventually they seem to figure out we won't allow that kind of garbage, and either clean up... or go away and become someone else's problem.

            Not an ideal solution, but it seems to work wonders.

      • Re:Appeals process (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ami Ganguli (921) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:38AM (#32405820) Homepage
        Telling somebody what they've done to violate terms-of-service shouldn't be a problem. You don't need to give away how you caught them, just what it is you think they did wrong. Surely a one-liner along the lines of "we believe you're using your Groups account for spam" should be ok, it would make the whole experience a lot less Kafkaesque.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Billsabub (1090001)

        So, full disclosure, I work on abuse at Google.

        Sorry, but I came for an argument. Microsoft support is much better when it comes to abuse.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Teckla (630646)

        So, full disclosure, I work on abuse at Google.

        I know it's not your department, but I can't pass up the opportunity of actually having the ear (eyes?) of an actual Googler.

        Several weeks back, Google Group's digest emails feature stopped working for a few weeks, without explanation. More specifically, I get digest emails for comp.lang.java, comp.lang.javascript, and comp.unix.programmer, if that helps.

        Any idea what happened during those two weeks? I know it impacted a bunch of users (I Googled around and several people had the same experience in the same

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by eyrieowl (881195)

        Well, I doubt this will help me, but maybe someone else.... My youtube account got locked...sometime in the past year? I didn't use it very frequently, and only ever used it to rate videos (I'd never posted a video, ever). Unfortunately, I don't have access to the email account I originally created the youtube account with, so...although you have a form for finding out why you got suspended, I can't use it. I have no way to find out why my account got suspended, no recourse. I don't care a whole lot be

  • by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:23AM (#32405234)

    They don't care about your chess hobby. They don't care about you. Not Apple, not Google, not Microsoft, not Donner, not Blitzen. You're a number, a nothing. The cloud will swallow you whole.

    Set up your own damn server.

    • by kestasjk (933987) *
      Deep man, deep.. You just made me realize internet companies don't care about their user base, and that stupid accidents never happen on your a home server or hosting account.

      And the "not Donner, not Blitzen" thing; genius!
    • by davidbrucehughes (451901) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:28AM (#32405516) Homepage

      Several years back I had built up quite a large following on a Yahoo group. At one point the group had over 600 members, not bad. I did some posts on other groups on related subjects. Maybe one of them complained. Anyway, one fine day Yahoo refused to let me login. All attempts to contact the company were fruitless. I found that not only my account but also the entire group was nuked. Fortunately I had a backup of the registration emails. I shelled out some bucks for a server, emailed all my group members with the new group address, and never looked back.

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      You still need support with your own server, whether it is on a dedicated server at a host, like Server Beach, or at home on a permanent IP/biz class cable. (this assumes a small project). From my experience, the 'rent a rack' is the better way, as their service tends to be pretty good, and they will even fix your own mistaktes when possible.....for a fee. Owning your own physical box at home is nice, but the number of ISP's that will host is limited, making you vulnerable again.

      Of course, if you aren't

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Owning your own physical box at home is nice, but the number of ISP's that will host is limited, making you vulnerable again.

        If all you're doing is handling batched news for a handful of groups, you don't need to host anything from home. You could use UUCP if you liked... if you could find someone to give you a feed, which I presume is the hard part of all this.

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:03AM (#32405666) Homepage

      Depends - you can leverage the cloud without being dependent on it.

      If you store your life on gmail, be sure to have a complete IMAP backup someplace. If you host your website on a provider, be sure you have everything you need to rapidly redeploy it elsewhere and make sure you own the domain and DNS/etc.

      Go ahead and leverage the cloud, but be able to pick up and move at the drop of a hat.

      Now, if downtime is super-precious then I'd probably go with a better-supported option. However, the reality is that most clouds provide better service than most individuals can provision themselves with. There are other reasons to go it alone, but reliability usually isn't one of them.

    • by calmofthestorm (1344385) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:14AM (#32405706)

      I still don't get why people think this "cloud" thing is a step forward, given it means less privacy, less control, less reliability, and requires constant net access, not to mention shifting terms of service and the like. And for what? Cross-device access? I can see this being good for some people but I'll pass.

    • by Mikkeles (698461) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:35AM (#32405806)

      '... not Donner,...

      In fact, they'll eat you alive!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:33AM (#32405286)

    looks like none of the above actually read the article, its not asking for help as he has contacted support through the enterprise support option and all has been resolved, he's just saying on the free support it's taken google 3years to fix the issue.

    to be fair to google, I wonder how many support calls from non paying customers they must get a day so probably from the work load 3 years is probably quite fast :-)

    my only other comment would be, why has this made /. not exactly news worthy.

  • Private Legal Counsel.

  • 3 years? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mseeger (40923) on Monday May 31, 2010 @05:42AM (#32405328)

    As i read it: He was locked out, ignored it mostly for about 2.9 years and got it fixed within a few days. IMHO someone more determined would have been able to resolve the issue in very short time.

    CU, Martin

    • Re:3 years? (Score:5, Informative)

      by sammyF70 (1154563) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:43AM (#32405580) Homepage Journal
      I take it you never had to ask Google for support? It can take months until anyone answers your mail IF they even bother. And what you will get is generally just a canned answer pointing you to a FAQ you probably already read a few times. Replying to that generally results in a few more month waiting for a completely uncommited "We're looking into it", or worse "Please contact some other part of Google. It's not OUR problem". Google's user support sucks so hard, they should use it to fix the BP oil leak. I had to deal with them as a *paying* customer (Android Developers do pay a fee after all), and it was like talking to badly programmed chatbots running on a steam-powered difference engine.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mseeger (40923)
        In fact, i have been in contact with Google support twice and all issues have been resolved within days.
        • by sammyF70 (1154563)
          Lucky you. Google owed me over 200$ in the end of me dealing with them, and the answers I got from google, when I got any answers at all, were "sorry. We don't know the answer neither, but ask on the Android Developer forums" (which they don't monitor at all, and in this case it was an accounting problem ... hardly a matter for the forums), "we're looking into it" (followed by complete silence for months, only broken after I sent a few more and more angry emails), and "sorry. our help system sent the mail
  • by jonfr (888673) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:37AM (#32405550) Homepage

    Google has no support for anything. Not Youtube, poor support for Android it seems, and rather poor support for the Google Groups also it seems. I wonder what else is not supported properly at Google.

    You have been warned!

    • by Andy Smith (55346) on Monday May 31, 2010 @06:53AM (#32405618) Homepage

      A few months ago I needed to contact Google UK over an unpaid fee for their use of a photograph. Even though they have an office with staff, they have made every effort to be invisible and uncontactable. If you do get hold of the office number, and call it, you are given a myriad of options. If you work your way through each option, they _all_ ultimately tell you to go to the Google web site and send an e-mail. There is no possible way to get put through to a human in any department. Google do not like talking to people.

      ps. To add to your comment about poor support for Android: There are several critical errors in Google's sample code provided to Android developers. The errors have been pointed out, and fixes supplied, by kind-hearted developers who wanted to help others. Yet it is apparently too much effort for Google to update the sample code, meaning that every new developer coming to Android must struggle with the same problems.

      • by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:30AM (#32405772)

        Google do not like talking to people.

        Well, they do have a reputation as a company run by engineers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lehk228 (705449)
        There are several critical errors in Google's sample code provided to Android developers. The errors have been pointed out, and fixes supplied, by kind-hearted developers who wanted to help others. Yet it is apparently too much effort for Google to update the sample code, meaning that every new developer coming to Android must struggle with the same problems.

        [citation needed]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by redhookgroup (655958)
      Google is learning that Customer Service/Support doesn't scale as easily as their other services.
  • Everything google. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stimpleton (732392) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:03AM (#32405664)
    Whether it be google maps or other service, I feel the curtain will come down. I predict Gmail and shared docs will be a loss leader, but eventually I think google maps will be "called in".

    They will impose a stricter map-refreshs-per-hour policy and charge a fee(albeit small) for that Google Maps Key. Next thing, that small Web House Company that did sites for those real estate agents, Rental Car Companies, and Motels will have to pay a fee, and need to recoup that.

    Put all your eggs in someone elses basket at your peril I say. At least with hosting you can have backups and pick up another provider if things turn to custard.
  • The real lesson (Score:3, Insightful)

    by petes_PoV (912422) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:10AM (#32405690)
    is never rely on a single source. Always have a plan B. In this case it wasn't really that important - not like having your (single) bank account frozen. However it's a good illustration of what could happen, that people should worry about.

    So just make sure you always have a fallback email account. If your life really does revolve around being able to post to, or administer, a particular group of people then why not set up a secondary account with the same privileges? It's not that hard to do.

    Now, if you'll just hang on a second I'll pop over to my alternate /. account and mod this up.

  • by amn108 (1231606) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:13AM (#32405702)

    Google does not owe you anything. When will people realize that? You outsource everything to Google, then complain when they lock you out. This is why one should avoid services like Googles, and it will be worse when they will try to convince you you should use some Web 2.0 computer operating system. In fact, this has nothing to do with computers - if you sleep, drink, eat and work at somebody elses property, don't expect to feel like home. It's sort of surprising (or maybe not!) to even encounter such questions on Slashdot - you actually expect everything to work fine, when you are but a mere invisible client to a benemoth that Google has become. If you want to be smart, rent your own domain name and website for 100$ a year, spend a week coding it (obviously if you can do PyChess, you should be able to do some PHP and databases), and tap yourself on your shoulder - you have just achieved independence from Google, and are now part of a distributed Internet model, instead of the ugly, error-prone, monopolized client-server system, where even contacting support is a reason for headache. Now, c'mon - WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? Google has millions of users, they have bold ambitions, but you cannot server the entire planet EFFICIENTLY with one corporation, no matter how large (bureaucracy takes over), you just can't. This was ought to happen, either to you or somebody else, and it will happen again, make no mistake about it.

    • by redhookgroup (655958) on Monday May 31, 2010 @07:31AM (#32405786)
      For the user in the original article that is true. For lots of Android developers, not so much. We have to pay a fee to become an Android developer, and consequently we would expect at least a basic level of support. I've written 1/2 dozen times to them over both technical issues and financial issues regarding sales. To date - I have never received a single response. Of course some of these questions/concerns are only 1.5 years outstanding so I apparently only have 1.5 more years to wait. ;)
  • On my gmail account, I get e-mail sent to another gmail account that is similar to my account name but 3 letters longer. Whenever I send mail to that account, it goes directly to me. The e-mail header information says it went to that account so I'm assuming (possibly incorrectly) that it isn't a simple forward rule. The real problem is that I can't e-mail the owner of the other account to get him to look into it because he doesn't get it or doesn't read it, and google definitely has NO place for me to re

    • by RJFerret (1279530) on Monday May 31, 2010 @08:33AM (#32406034) Homepage

      On my gmail account, I get e-mail sent to another gmail account that is similar to my account name but 3 letters longer. Whenever I send mail to that account, it goes directly to me.

      This might not apply, just a shot in the dark, but the "3 letters longer" doesn't begin with + does it?

      You can put "+whatever" after your gmail account name and the account will receive it. This feature permits tracking the source of spam and filtering out emails you don't wish to receive. (IE, "me+sd@gmail" arrives at "me@gmail")

      Apparently you can also include periods anywhere in an email address and they are stripped out and delivered to the account. So "me@gmail" and "m.e@gmail" both go to the former.

      If this is the case, the simplest solution is to filter those messages to trash.

  • I'm sorry but this does not ring true for me at all.

    1. It is highly unlikely that a http 403 raw is presented to the "authenticated" user. Especially from someone like Google. Even the most basic of web infrastructures intercept 400 series and 500 series http responses and present the user a "formated" page that is human readable. I recon the company that basically controls most of the internet content on the planet would probably do this as well.
    2. Did it not ever occur to the "admin" to create a fake a

  • by hesaigo999ca (786966) on Monday May 31, 2010 @10:34AM (#32406830) Homepage Journal

    Really, if it was by accident, it never dawned on the guy to create a new user, then contact the admin and tell him his original user was blocked and ask why, if on purpose if by accident, could you fix it please....
    Or he could have contacted the gmail support service (tied into newsgroups as well) to clarify why his emails were not getting there, and if this could be rectified. Contrary to many other companies, when you contact gmail service support, they actually can talk to other departments on your behalf seeing as most other services tie directly into your gmail account...

  • by multipartmixed (163409) on Monday May 31, 2010 @11:38AM (#32407508) Homepage

    I had an open source project hosted on Kenai -- Sun's answer to Google Code and Git Hub. I was happily using it for mercurial, wiki, mailing lists, etc, ad nauseum.

    Until one day I woke and could not.

    Not only could I not push changes, I couldn't authenticate to the wiki, or the bug tracker either. I couldn't even create a new account, because every new account I created mysteriously didn't work either.

    I sent an email into the support guys, and they looked into it.... eventually. It turns out Sun has some kind of "no fly list" and my name was on it. It turns out that I was also unable to access any other Sun services -- including Solaris patch updates on SunSolve.com!

    So, I have to send an e-mail to Sun, and wait. And wait and wait and wait. Weeks go by, then months. I had to move my project, being unable to push to my public repo was killing me. Happy Google Code customer now.

    Anyhow, finally months later, I get a message from Sun: "Whoops, sorry, we've turned you back on"

    Like I'm going back.

  • by 3seas (184403) on Monday May 31, 2010 @12:38PM (#32408130) Journal

    Google and Sun are far from being rare in the use of blacklist and cloaked censorship.

    The nastier of such censorship techniques are those that are well cloaked in that the only thing you see is a lack of anything indicating you are actually being seen by others. There are message boards that seem to allow you to participate, posting messages etc. But in reality the only ones seeing what you are posting is you and maybe a few admins aware of the cloaked censorship. Some of these censored cloaks happen because some police or authorized (by who?) personal are to fat to get off their ass and actually do something meaningful and real, but instead try to justify their pay sitting behind a computer as a cyber sleuth.

    And you thought spammers were bad. There are those who by authority promote spamming by suppressing what is not spam.

    Imagine a patent troll applying such techniques so to take claim over something being done in the open, the illusion of in the open.

    Imagine the prior art resources Google has in usenet archives that they can selective suppress.

  • by Skapare (16644) on Monday May 31, 2010 @01:27PM (#32408510) Homepage

    ... is always let all disabled accounts access the help forum, unless and until those accounts specifically abuse the help forum. There should not be a need to create alternate accounts to do this.

    They (and lots of other companies) should also tell people what specific term of service was violated (e.g. spamming vs. posting kiddie porn vs. uploading movies with someone else's copyright, etc, whatever the case may be). If it is necessary to kill all the lawyers to get this done, then that would be a good start.

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