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Is Google Playing Fair With Groupon, et al?

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the maybe-there's-a-perfectly-reasonable-explanation dept.

Google 193

An anonymous reader writes with the claim (illustrated with what seems like damning screen-shot evidence) that "Google is using Gmail's priority inbox to give special treatment to its own daily deal emails over all the rest."

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193 comments

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wow (3, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579332)

who would have thought a for profit company would ever try to push its products and services before the competition?

Re:wow (4, Informative)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579406)

or slashdot / blog presenting bad evidence in order to get more views?
Groupon is still marked as important for my gmail account.

Non-story (5, Insightful)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579474)

who would have thought a for profit company would ever try to push its products and services before the competition?

send yourself an email marked with 'high importance' and it ends up in your priority inbox...so google is sending their offer emails with 'high importance' where other companies aren't, how is this a story at all?

Re:Non-story (4, Insightful)

sortius_nod (1080919) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579586)

It's not, looking at where the article is hosted, well, it's the ONLY post on a blog.

Seems like a bunch of FUD to me. It seems "Kasey Moffat" (I suspect an invented character) created both a blog & twitter account just to do this.

Alarm bells anyone?

Re:Non-story (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579826)

It's not, looking at where the article is hosted, well, it's the ONLY post on a blog.

Seems like a bunch of FUD to me. It seems "Kasey Moffat" (I suspect an invented character) created both a blog & twitter account just to do this.

Alarm bells anyone?

Besides, if I truly thought google was abusing their privileges, I'd have expected them to nuke a negative blog from THEIR blog services.

Blogger: Copyright © 1999 – 2011 Google [slashdot.org]

This is particularly ironic considering the comments below pointing out that their refutations on the blog in question haven't been showing up. (That could just be waiting for moderation though).

Re:Non-story (1)

Zadaz (950521) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579870)

Agreed. And sine Priority Inbox uses past behavior to track what's a priority and there's no record of what this user did with their email account before, their claims are unsubstantiated.

It would also be trivial to Photoshop.

Re:Non-story (3, Informative)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579896)

I'd say it raises alarms because google offers doesn't do that on my email inbox...

Re:Non-story (1)

MaxBooger (1877454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36580076)

Yea, I'm hearing the ringing as well. Google seems to be the target of some sort of campaign, but... from whom? And why?

Re:Non-story (1)

lennier1 (264730) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579760)

Probably not marked in the usual sense but the Gmail system identifies it as something "privileged" and treats it accordingly.

Re:Non-story (2)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579810)

well the priority inbox is essentially an attempt to separate solicited mail from unsolicited mail, they know their offers emails are solicited because you signed up for it with them and assuming you are opening offers emails from other companies over time it will determine those as being solicited too.

Re:wow (3, Funny)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579596)

You know, it seems like Slashdot has become the place to go to enrage the geeks. Oh no! Google slaughters puppies and enslaves kittens. Cry "Havoc!" and let slip the Nerds of war!

I think we're missing something important (1)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579864)

People actually use "services" like Groupon and whatever this Google thing is? That's the real scoop to me, anyway.

Re:I think we're missing something important (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579916)

People actually use "services" like Groupon and whatever this Google thing is? That's the real scoop to me, anyway.

It surprises you that people like discounts on stuff?

Re:wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579906)

who would have thought a for profit company would ever try to push its products and services before the competition?

Not one that claims to be different with self-serving, nebulous and in the final reckoning utterly meaningless marketing pap like "Don't do evil" as they try to sell themselves as being "better" than those other "evil" corporations.

But gee, who's surprised an overgrown ad agency is really good at selling itself to its fanbois.

Excellent timing (0)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579334)

...just in time for an antitrust investigation. Who at Google thought this was a good idea, anyway?

Re:Excellent timing (3, Insightful)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579354)

I dont see how, google is not the only email web client solution on the net and no one is forced to use it (and honestly I dont see the appeal, its clunky IMO)

Re:Excellent timing (3, Insightful)

Meshach (578918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579410)

I dont see how, google is not the only email web client solution on the net and no one is forced to use it (and honestly I dont see the appeal, its clunky IMO)

No one was forced to use Microsoft but their product was so common that the judge determined that them encouraging customers to use another one of their products was illegal. I guess the call here is determining if Google is a monopoly on the search business.

Re:Excellent timing (1)

edumacator (910819) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579554)

In this instance, the call would be whether or not Google is a monopoly for the email market. They aren't even in first place, so it would be hard for us to call them a monopoly wouldn't it?

Re:Excellent timing (3, Insightful)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579662)

The Slashdot definition of monopoly seems to be "making more money than I think they should have."

Re:Excellent timing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36580016)

No one was forced to use Microsoft but their product was so common that the judge determined that them encouraging customers to use another one of their products was illegal

Fail, fail, FAIL.
Are you a shill, an apologist, have a short memory or were too young to remember?

Microsoft's antitrust problem came from them making "deals" with OEMs (companies like Dell that sell PCs to business and in stores) that basically said "if you put Netscape on the computer instead of Internet Explorer then we'll make you pay full price per Windows copy instead of OEM price (ie. +$100 more expensive)", they also had the wonderful "if you offer anything other than Windows, even if Windows is the main thing you sell, then we'll cut you off and not sell you any Windows copies at all". Then the less overt "let's just delete these APIs that Netscape uses so it won't run any more" and the "Let's create custom APIs in Windows just for IE that only IE uses and aren't documented in order to get a performance edge". Microsoft was a giant douche in the late 90s, they're better now but that these games still happen on smaller scale.

What Google is doing here (if true) is clearly unethical but not antitrust since they aren't blocking, filtering or hiding-by-default the competition and you can alter the settings to remove the bias.

Re:Excellent timing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579422)

Indeed, gmail isn't even popular outside the nerd segment. Normal users can't grasp the benefits of tagging and filters.

Re:Excellent timing (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579458)

and honestly I dont see the appeal, its clunky IMO

Android integration

Re:Excellent timing (2)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579862)

Which is completely optional.

Unlike in United States v. Microsoft, where IE was just a double click away, to setup Gmail on Android you must provide your login info. If you tap cancel during the setup, you will end up in the Android home screen. Then you're free to install any mail client of your choice.

Re:Excellent timing (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579536)

You don't have to see how, you just have to pay attention. Google has confirmed that they are facing an antitrust inquiry from the FTC, right now, and I doubt that this sort of behavior is going to look very good.

Re:Excellent timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579646)

Yes the fact that a company continues to offer great service and products in a market and managed to stay a leader instead of stagnate is a reason to punish them...Telecoms on the other hand with their government granted monopolies should continue to go unchecked now that there are only 4 of them in the wireless sector and less than 10 major ones in the wired sector. Google is only getting an antitrust investigation because pockets of politicians were lined by media companies and telecom industries, same as Netflix is targeted yet the government has done nothing to the media companies that force waiting periods on some companies and not others. Seriously if this isn't an example of how corrupt our government has become I don't know what will start alarm bells. I'm a freaking Green Party member in my state because they are the ones advocating smaller government for crying out loud.

Re:Excellent timing (3, Insightful)

SuperMog2002 (702837) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579736)

The antitrust inquiry is for their search product, where they have an overwhelming percent of the market (to the point where Googling is a common verb, even among non-techies). Priority Inbox is a feature of their largely unrelated email product. While Gmail has a nice chunk of the market, it's hardly overwhelming. Hotmail and Yahoo both have nice chunks of market share as well.

Re:Excellent timing (1)

aztracker1 (702135) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579926)

However, you did sign up for a service from a company using the same company account to do it... If yougot email notifications for edits to shared google docs, tied to your email account, would you not expect this? Google "knows" you asked for it, the same can't be said of the other services. Also, this seems to be tied to the "high" importance header in the emails, not anything directly with gmail.

Re:Excellent timing (0)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579392)

...just in time for an antitrust investigation.

On what grounds? I'm not seeing anything here that would warrant such a thing.

Re:Excellent timing (0, Redundant)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579544)

Google is already facing an inquiry from the FTC. All you need to do is pay attention to the news:

http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/06/ftc-launching-antitrust-probe-over-google-search-ad-businesses.ars [arstechnica.com]

This sort of thing is not going to look very good to the FTC.

Re:Excellent timing (1)

exomondo (1725132) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579574)

Google is already facing an inquiry from the FTC. All you need to do is pay attention to the news: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2011/06/ftc-launching-antitrust-probe-over-google-search-ad-businesses.ars [arstechnica.com] This sort of thing is not going to look very good to the FTC.

How so? If you send an email with the 'high importance' flag it ends up in your priority inbox the same way as emails from google.

Re:Excellent timing (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579640)

That probe is fully legitimate, probing this as an antitrust violation would be absurdly silly.

They haven't the market share necessary for this to be an antitrust violation by themselves nor is there any reason to suspect collusion as it's all being done internally. It might suck for Groupon and the others, but this is hardly going to have much of an impact on them anyways, at least not anymore than getting caught up in overly zealous spam filters.

Re:Excellent timing (5, Insightful)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579438)

...just in time for an antitrust investigation. Who at Google thought this was a good idea, anyway?

Most likely, no one, because mostly likely no one thought of it at all.

My bet is that this the result of a generic rule that boosts the importance of e-mails from Google, you know so that you're sure to see announcements of new gmail features, or Google account-related messages, etc., but no one thought to make an exception for Offers.

Given that Offers and gmail come from different groups within Google, and I'd expect that no one on the Offers team knows much about how priority inbox is implemented and no one on the gmail team was thinking much about Offers other than to note there was a launch party, I can see exactly how this would happen. Or maybe it is intentional... but I doubt it.

What will happen next is that the Priority Inbox rules will be modified to avoid giving any undue precedence to Google Offers, and lots of slashdotters will believe that Google was being Evil and only stopped when caught, regardless of the facts of the situation.

(Disclaimer: I'm a software engineer at Google, but I don't work on Offers or gmail.)

Re:Excellent timing (0)

errandum (2014454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579450)

Then any company that promotes it's products from within another product they own should hide. How dare skype or Apple push their products through their products!!!

They give their service for free, so you should just accept it as it is. It's a small thing when gmail is still so much better than everyone else...

PS: And after reading the article I honestly believe the case is easier than that. Google tracks you by more than your account, so I do think he "noticed" both accounts belonged to the same person and defaulted the filters to what it already knew about him.

Re:Excellent timing (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579608)

I agree. I use a Mac and Apple already does something similar with a rule to highlight messages from Apple (they get a different background color so they stand out). I don't really see the harm in this and it's easily disabled (an a Mac anyway..Not sure about Google).

Anyone can send an offer with High Priority so I don't see how this is 'unfair' as far as that goes.

so what (4, Insightful)

acvh (120205) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579348)

google gives you a free email account, then uses it to market stuff to you. why would anyone be surprised, or upset? there are many free email options out there, use another one if you don't like how this one works.

Re:so what (0)

Glendale2x (210533) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579368)

Precisely. This is a non-issue. If you don't like it then don't use gmail or use paid mail hosting where they aren't looking for ways to advertise to you in your email.

Re:so what (1)

Palmsie (1550787) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579402)

I think people are missing the point. Of course this is not surprising. Of course a for-profit company wants to advertise their own products. Of course they want you to use their stuff before you use Groupon et al. Of course. The point is, Google touts itself as providing a fair service that doesn't favor its own services (as conflicting as that may be). It claims that its algorithms are unbiased. I think that is all the author was trying to point out (i.e. they may not be as unbiased as Google is touting themselves to be... as unsurprising as it is). A small point but an important one.

No monopoly over email (2)

js_sebastian (946118) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579512)

I think people are missing the point. Of course this is not surprising. Of course a for-profit company wants to advertise their own products. Of course they want you to use their stuff before you use Groupon et al. Of course. The point is, Google touts itself as providing a fair service that doesn't favor its own services (as conflicting as that may be). It claims that its algorithms are unbiased. I think that is all the author was trying to point out (i.e. they may not be as unbiased as Google is touting themselves to be... as unsurprising as it is). A small point but an important one.

Google may be in a monopoly or nearabouts position in search, but they definitely do not have a monopoly over email. If their search algorithms were biased in favor of their products, that would be a big deal for an antitrust case. Biased email prioritization? Not so much. Using one product as leverage to promote another is legal, like it or not, and it happens all the time. Only when you use a product that is in a monopoly position as leverage does that become illegal.

Personally, I read email in thunderbird, so I do not use this prioritization feature. As a user, I would become annoyed the moment the system does not follow my indications, but slightly biased defaults would not really be an issue for me.

Re:No monopoly over email (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579584)

It's not illegal, but it's also not Google's style. My bet is that it was an accident, and that it will be fixed.

Re:so what (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579548)

gmail is not google search. they tout being unbiased with their search results, not through adsense and other products.

Re:so what (2)

edumacator (910819) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579588)

This is a tempest in a teapot. I have already marked Groupon as having a low priority in my Priority Inbox, so that is where that comes in. I also get Google Offers. The first time it came in as important. I then marked it unimportant, and it never showed up there again.

If Google kept putting their deals in my priority inbox, I would have been upset.

Now if they had marked my mother-in-law's emails as important, I would have gone back to hotmail.

Re:so what (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579654)

I agree, unless more information comes to light that makes this some sort of nefarious plot, this just doesn't sound like it's a big deal. As it stands now, I'm not really sure why I as a gmail user should care. It's not like Google is preventing me from getting those messages or ensuring that they are brought to my attention. For emails of priority, they always got their own label anyways. Google hasn't taken away that option either.

Re:so what (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579914)

Google touts itself as providing a fair service that doesn't favor its own services (as conflicting as that may be)

No, they don't. Unless you provide evidence of this, you are wrong.

According to Google's TOS: [google.com]

4.2 Google is constantly innovating in order to provide the best possible experience for its users. You acknowledge and agree that the form and nature of the Services which Google provides may change from time to time without prior notice to you.

4.3 As part of this continuing innovation, you acknowledge and agree that Google may stop (permanently or temporarily) providing the Services (or any features within the Services) to you or to users generally at Google’s sole discretion, without prior notice to you. You may stop using the Services at any time. You do not need to specifically inform Google when you stop using the Services.

4.4 You acknowledge and agree that if Google disables access to your account, you may be prevented from accessing the Services, your account details or any files or other content which is contained in your account.

4.5 You acknowledge and agree that while Google may not currently have set a fixed upper limit on the number of transmissions you may send or receive through the Services or on the amount of storage space used for the provision of any Service, such fixed upper limits may be set by Google at any time, at Google’s discretion.

Basically Google says: we can change our service at any time. We can stop our service at any time. You can lose access to your data at any time. We can limit your data usage at any time. Nowhere do they claim to "providing a fair service that doesn't favor its own services".

Corporations are not here to help you pursue happiness. They're here to take every cent out of your wallet, and then take your wallet. Why would they "provide a fair service" when it doesn't help them maximize profits?

Re:so what (4, Insightful)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579550)

You also have to keep in mind there are 2 perspectives here, the perspective of the email user and the perspective of the advertiser. If someone pays to put an ad on Google, they expect Google to place that ad in accordance with whatever contract they signed. If Google is taking their money and then still advertising it's own products over theirs, then that is definitely a conflict of interest.

Re:so what (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579978)

Well. But nobody paid google to put deliver the ad via gmail.

Re:so what (1)

dmendanor (2302252) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579692)

Agreed. Between this and the pending FTC investigation, it seems like everyone has it in for Google right now. Personally, I don't see anything unethical in what they're doing here. A little annoying? Perhaps. But nothing out of bounds.

Re:so what (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579842)

They even say they will when you sign up..

17. Advertisements

        17.1 Some of the Services are supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions. These advertisements may be targeted to the content of information stored on the Services, queries made through the Services or other information.

        17.2 The manner, mode and extent of advertising by Google on the Services are subject to change without specific notice to you.

        17.3 In consideration for Google granting you access to and use of the Services, you agree that Google may place such advertising on the Services.

Re:so what (1)

drolli (522659) | more than 3 years ago | (#36580006)

Yes, and there are even more non-free ones. Having email without any PITA and weird TOS is worth 50Euro/Year.

Not a big deal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579352)

It probably just bumps anything from *@google.com up as 'likely to be relatively important to you considering you use our services". Hardly nefarious.

Just a thought (5, Insightful)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579366)

So, some random blogger posts a screenshot and we implicitly trust it's contents? I could do this with Greasemonkey to GIMP. I am no Google apologist, but my spidey sense it tingling like when I get an email full of "Amazing Pictures" from my grandma.

Re:Just a thought (5, Interesting)

liquidweaver (1988660) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579378)

FYI, he is censoring his blog. I asked the same question there, and it's been magically erased.

Re:Just a thought (5, Interesting)

edumacator (910819) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579632)

He also has a grand total of one blog post.

Re:Just a thought (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579824)

Yeah, I don't get the concern.

Of all the email that ever comes to your inbox on gmail, I think Google is most certain that this one piece of email that you sign up for (I've never used daily deals and as a result have never received an email about it) and is sent from themselves to someone on their own gmail service through their own filters is most certainly legitimate and maybe a priority message by default (you know, since it's time sensitive... regarding a DAILY deal).

Sorry folks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579374)

If this is what's passing as "news for nerds" then I'm done. See ya.

Damning indeed! (2)

The Dawn Of Time (2115350) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579376)

Damning screenshot evidence? No way that can be faked.

Re:Damning indeed! (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579496)

Of course not. It's perfect in every form, especially those blurry screenshots.

Because you already read messages from Google? (4, Interesting)

Meshach (578918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579382)

I wonder if that message is marked as important because you read the other message from Google (the Welcome message)? I can only assume that messages are marked important / non-important based on your reading habits and with so little to go on maybe that is all it takes for GMail to consider the message "Important"?

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579482)

Here is what the guy says in the article:

4. I didn't open any of the resulting subscription confirmation emails. Since Priority Inbox sorts emails based on your reading/replying history, I didn't want to give Priority Inbox any additional information about which daily deals emails to prioritize the next day.

Frankly, he could have faked it, but it is an experiment any of us could repeat in two days, so it would make him look like an idiot.

Personally though, it's really hard for me to care one way or the other. At worst, it's probably some fluke of the algorithm Google uses, and can be rectified easily by reading a couple emails from the company that you want. It's not like they are shoving it into spam or something where you will never read it.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579504)

Exactly. I filtered all my Google alters with a special label and had them bypass the inbox. I still read them, but not all of them. After a little while google thought they were spam and started sending them to the junk box. I had to fish them out.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (2)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579582)

Google marks their own mails as important by default. Mark them as unimportant if you don't want them showing up. Whether it's a notice about daily deals, account changes, service notifications, whatever - their own mailing are marked as important to begin with. (Hey, it's their free service, after all). It even says this in the service details for priority inbox. This is a bunch of noise about nothing.

Coming up next: Blogger discovers Microsoft advertises their own services in ads on their sites more than other peoples ads...

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579664)

Well, to be fair, the ones that represent account changes and service notifications could reasonably be assumed to be important.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579684)

Well, to be fair, the ones that represent account changes and service notifications could reasonably be assumed to be important.

I strongly suspect that the cause of the offer prioritization is a rule that was put in place to accomplish exactly that, and that it never occurred to anyone to make an exception for offers in that rule.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579716)

It even says this in the service details for priority inbox.

Where does it say that? I've looked and can't find it.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579770)

17. Advertisements

        17.1 Some of the Services are supported by advertising revenue and may display advertisements and promotions. These advertisements may be targeted to the content of information stored on the Services, queries made through the Services or other information.

        17.2 The manner, mode and extent of advertising by Google on the Services are subject to change without specific notice to you.

        17.3 In consideration for Google granting you access to and use of the Services, you agree that Google may place such advertising on the Services.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579908)

Hmm, okay. So not anything related specifically to Priority Inbox, but the "manner, mode and extent" being "subject to change" would certainly seem to cover it.

My money is still on this being an unintentional side effect of a rule intended to boost the priority of service notifications, account changes, etc.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579938)

Sorry yes, you're right I should have worded my original post differently. Something along the lines of "signed up for a service which says that you will be targetted with specific advertising in a multitude of forms and locations", and the priority inbox falls into the umbrella of services.

I agree that it's an unintentional side-effect. All Google mails being treated as priority messages. I was just trying to point out that he can't complain about receiving targetted advertising messages when he signed up for a service that says he'll receive targetted advertising messages. :)

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579644)

The service description says that Google mails will be prioritized by default. He VOLUNTARILY signed up for a service which says he'll receive priority mails from Google, and then complains that he receives priority mails from Google. Alas, most people are stupid and he'll probably get some air-time for his theory (and already has).

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (3, Interesting)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579670)

Interesting.. I posted a comment pointing out that the service agreement says he'll get Google mails as priority messages and that he can opt-out of them, and after it was up for a few minutes, he deleted the comment.

So pretty much, it is as above. He signed up for a service which says he'll get priority Google emails by default when activated, and then starts complaining that exactly that is happening. What a douche.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579702)

For prosperity's sake, posted to his Blog.. wonder how long this will last:

---------

Interesting.. I point out that you signed up for a Google service which says you'll get priority Google emails by default when activated, and you complain when exactly that happens. .. And you delete my comment.

Perhaps think through your article again, taking this into account rather than just deleting comments pointing out the obvious. Or perhaps learn to read service agreements when signing up for services. For instance, this Google-owned blogger service which says they can delete any blog for any reason at any time.

You can't even claim they'd be silencing you, as when you signed up, you agreed to those very Terms of Service which say you have no right to an account and it can be removed for no purpose whatsoever.

You'll get a lot further with anti-Google bashing if you first of all actually read their Terms of Service before writing a blog post complaining that they supplied you with exactly what you asked for.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (2)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579756)

Yep.. he deleted that one too. Obviously he knows he's in the wrong if he has to take to deleting comments.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579668)

Even if he didn't open the welcome message, it might have marked it as important because it found another 'important' email with some similar contents such as being from Google.

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (2)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579714)

To be honest, I think the article is 90%+ sleaze. They're insinuating that Google (the organization) is anti-competitive because they defaulted to promoting their own service, as part of a user-customizable feature, and one (let's not forget) that's actually very simple to correct.

Three things.

One, as I said, it can be changed. Downvote the google offers, upvote your mother.

Two, the thing about a lot of google's services is that they're algorithm-based. The funny thing about algorithms is a high rate of unintended consequences, for better or worse. If I understand correctly, the filter used to assign the important flag automatically is essentially a reverse application of the spam filter. There could be tons of places in the code or in their databases that causes this to get tweaked up. Even if it wasn't brought to light, it might have been "corrected" later either by accident or as part of a code review stemming from other efforts to not appear anti-competitive.

Three, again, it's algorithm-based, a lot like spam filters. Maybe it's just me, but I've never heard of any of those "competing services." Is it really that unlikely that their algorithm hasn't yet been flooded with "These services are Important" signals for those services?

Re:Because you already read messages from Google? (1)

metrometro (1092237) | more than 3 years ago | (#36580084)

Maybe it's just me, but I've never heard of any of those "competing services."

Thus, we locate the last person on Earth who has not heard of GroupOn.

Rejoice, friend, because you are lucky soul.

Shocking... simply shocking... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579388)

that e-mails FROM GOOGLE might be classified as "Important" while anything else (Groupon, LivingSocial, et al) will be classified as NOT "Important" unless and until you specifically TELL it that those e-mails are important.

Somebody get the smelling-salts because I think I might faint.

Uninteresting, from an algorithmic view (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579394)

They mention the enabling of "Important markers", which I'd interpret (having no knowledge of how they do things) to "features associated with mail commonly actually read by the masses". Now, Google offers is fairly new - I can envision a case where someone who just signed up for the service actually reads the first few mails, gets burned out, and ignores the rest - Groupon, Google, whatever it is. It's possible that, say, the average Offers user is two weeks old, and has read 3 mails (roughly 20-25% of the mail) whereas the average Groupon user is, say, three months old, and probably read about the same (aka: 3 out of 90, or ~5%) making it llook unlikely that you care about the mail. If this theory is correct, it will taper off over time, as accounts age and cease to care.

If you want to do a REAL test of whether what they're doing is shady, A) turn off any "use general data" settings, and b) mark a Groupon mail important in your account, and mark Google offers unimportant, and see what happens the next day.

Filters FTW (2)

barlevg (2111272) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579442)

Do you know how easy it is to create a filter to de-prioritize emails in Gmail? Gmail filters are the easiest things in the world to use. I don't know why ANYONE would complain about this when they can correct it in about three clicks.

Re:Filters FTW (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579678)

They could be easier to use, but they're hardly difficult to use. I mostly wish they'd beef them up to make it easier to have long lists of things going to the same label and a more efficient way of collecting all my order confirmations under the same label. But, it's really not difficult to use as is.

Oh please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579444)

While Google's spam filter is amazing, Priority Inbox is a crapshoot at best. I've seen it mark all sorts of unimportant nonsense as "important", and vice versa, to the point that I had to turn the feature off altogether. One random guy no one's ever heard of getting some random coupon spam e-mails marked "unimportant" is as much evidence of collusion as their spam filter missing the occasional "make ur p3n1s bigggar" is evidence that they're selling Extenze on the side.

Re:Oh please... (2)

fast turtle (1118037) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579614)

Guess it's nice to know that Google wont be using Priority Inbox with me as I've got it turned off. Didn't need or want the feature when it was offered so disabled it right away. Anyone else who didn't either has a need for the damn thing or doesn't have a clue how to setup labels and filters to do what they want.

In other words, nothing to see here citizen, move along.

So, one screenshot = damning evidence? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579452)

Last week, Postini (owned by Google) blocked an email from Google (related to an online training I did). Could this be evidence that Google actually automates a lot of systems, and relies on the user to train them for better performance?!

Re:So, one screenshot = damning evidence? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579690)

I think it's been established for some time that the spam filter is heavily automated and that things like a person labeling a message as spam has a significant impact on how it's received. I've often suspected that if a message is labeled as spam in one account and it's in other accounts that it gets labeled as spam there as well.

All that shows is that default settings (1)

gearloos (816828) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579488)

The Screen Shot isn't daming google. In fact, all it shows is that the default setting for importance for Google offers on Gmail is High. Go figure. This is another case of a nho news story getting by meta moderation. Cmon guys. We can do better than this.

Reliance on FREE services (1)

Ice Station Zebra (18124) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579494)

Requires that you pay a non-monetary price. Nothing to see here folks.

Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579506)

For those that did not RTF article, the blogger states: "I didn't open any of the resulting subscription confirmation emails". With no information to to prioritize based on, is it any wonder that the only emails that it finds important are ones from google itself? At least I would hope they don't think that they are sending you unimportant stuff!

Wait... Blogspot is owned by Google! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579532)

It's a conspiracy!

Mark it as unimportant :) (1)

dr00p (56154) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579622)

Just mark it as unimportant, and next time you get it should not hit Priority Inbox any more. :)

Another idiot, clueless blogger (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579624)

I'll bet $10 that moron has clicked on more than one "portland coffee" type of email before and even though he's signed up for all those other offers, he's probably never clicked on a single one.

Unfortunately, like all clueless, uninformed, idiot bloggers, they don't actually pay attention to anything that's actually going on in the world let alone little things happening around them in their own unimportant little lives. If they were to actually use Gmail instead of making clueless "observations", they'd see that the emails typically marked as "priority" have some sort of history with you. Whether they've opened emails from that person before or replied to emails from that person before.

It learns... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579626)

Mark the Google emails down, and the Groupon ones up, and it should learn.

Working as intended (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579656)

As I posted as a comment on the blog post (who knows if it'll get deleted since random comments seem to be disappearing) A brand new email account has no past information about what you've read or replied to and can't make assumptions about random emails. It does however mark Google email with priority until you tell it not to. So basically what the blog post is saying is the priority inbox feature is working as intended.

its not preferrential treatment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579674)

its just Groupon and 99% of any similar "email offers" are fsking spammers, the amount of shitty affilate spam they send me from all of their 30 domains is staggering considering i have never signed up for any of their shit,

there are no legit "special offer email services" just spammers

What's the problem here? (1)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579698)

Cross selling or bundling is only an issue if there is a monopoly. Gmail is hardly a monopoly. Gmail is 3rd behind Microsoft and Yahoo for webmail market share.

Slimy != evil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579740)

They can be anything they want, as long as it's not evil.

Maybe the experiment doesn't tell the whole pictur (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579782)

Maybe it was marked as important because a lot of other users read it quickly.

You are the product being sold to advertisers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36579960)

You are the product being sold to advertisers in gmal. It isn't your inbox unless you paid for it.

Bad spam filtering (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579962)

Why would any "offer", obviously bulk mail, ever go into the "Priority inbox"? Even if you wanted it, it should go into the "Bulk" folder.

Re:Bad spam filtering (1)

black3d (1648913) | more than 3 years ago | (#36580060)

Its a service you sign up for. Hence, not junk mail.

Postage is the solution (1)

amiga500 (935789) | more than 3 years ago | (#36579968)

I would like to see a feature added to mail programs which allows me to set a price level above which I would be interested in reading a piece of mail. LinkedIn attempted to do this with their InMail, except they set the level and they keep the fee. The $5 fee is so high that no one pays it, and instead recruiters spam you by inviting you to join their network. I'd like to set the level and I'd like to receive the fee if I open their piece of mail. If Groupon or Google Offers really wants me to read their mail, they could simply attach some postage to it. Gmail would see the postage amount and prioritize it based on my preferences. Like a CPM ad, if I don't open the email, the sender wouldn't get charged the postage.

Mute point... segment doomed. (1)

sunfly (1248694) | more than 3 years ago | (#36580010)

This so far has proven a very popular, but unprofitable market segment. Only a matter of time before Groupon is bust.

A blog with one story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36580032)

made the front page of Slashdot? Why do I even subscribe?

You posted another troll article, idiot. (2)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#36580100)

I strongly suspect you did it to drive page hits.

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