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Forbes: Whoops. Google Engineer Accidentally Makes His ‘Plus Sucks’ Rant Public

By October 21, 2011January 12th, 2021No Comments

Social media is a great tool……when used correctly. It’s important to always make sure you are adding value to your followers. So take advice from Steve Yegge, in Kashmir Hill’s article for Forbes magazine, and be careful what you post.

Whoops. Google Engineer Accidentally Makes His ‘Plus Sucks’ Rant Public.

by Kashmir Hill, Forbes Staff

Read full article here 

Social networking privacy settings can be confusing, even for the most tech-savvy users out there. Late last night, a Google engineer of some renown posted a lengthy (4503 words), harsh critique of Google Plus to the very network he was criticizing. He meant to share it with his Circle of Google colleagues, but through some user error, he instead shared it publicly.


It started out kindly enough (to Google at least). “I was at Amazon for about six and a half years, and now I’ve been at Google for that long,” wrote Steve Yegge. “One thing that struck me immediately about the two companies — an impression that has been reinforced almost daily — is that Amazon does everything wrong, and Google does everything right. Sure, it’s a sweeping generalization, but a surprisingly accurate one.”

He went on to bash Amazon for a while but to explain how “Dread Pirate Bezos’s” micro-managing ways helped turn that company around by making it into one that offered a platform for users rather than just a product. Yegge’s rant will not shed light into why your (and Jeff Bercovici’s) day-to-day Google Plus experience has been disappointing; instead, it tackles the macro-failings of the product, calling the ability to build on the platform a “pathetic afterthought.”

“Google+ is a knee-jerk reaction, a study in short-term thinking, predicated on the incorrect notion that Facebook is successful because they built a great product,” writes Yegge. “But that’s not why they are successful. Facebook is successful because they built an entire constellation of products by allowing other people to do the work. So Facebook is different for everyone. Some people spend all their time on Mafia Wars. Some spend all their time on Farmville. There are hundreds or maybe thousands of different high-quality time sinks available, so there’s something there for everyone.”

He criticizes his company for trying to give people what it thinks they want, instead of giving them the tools to build what they want, saying that “precious few people in the world” can predict and deliver what people want. “Steve Jobs was one of them. We don’t have a Steve Jobs here. I’m sorry, but we don’t,” he writes.

Ironically, part of what Google+ has been praised for has been the enhanced privacy protections on the platform, with “Circles” for sharing with specific groups of people — to help protect people from over-sharing. But it’s default is to share with the same circles it was last shared with (which is usually “Public” for me).  That seems to be what happened to Yegge here. The post was seen by anyone who had Yegge in their Circles and then was widely re-shared. When Yegge realized what he had done, he decided to take it down, though he did not ask others to take it down, notes Rip Rowan in his resharing of the post.

Rowan argues that the publicness of the private reflection is a good thing. “It’s the sort of writing people do when they think nobody is watching: honest, clear, and frank,” Rowan writes. “The world would be a better place if more people wrote this sort of internal memoranda, and even better if they were allowed to write it for the outside world.”

Yegge wrote a new post this morning explaining his decision to take the original post down, and describing discussions he had with the Google PR team. “I contacted our internal PR folks and asked what to do, and they were also nice and supportive,” he writes. “But they didn’t want me to think that they were even hinting at censoring me — they went out of their way to help me understand that we’re an opinionated company, and not one of the kinds of companies that censors their employees.”

The fact that Yegge felt comfortable sharing something this candid internally speaks volumes about the company. If he doesn’t get fired for those candid thoughts going viral, it will shed even more light on the culture there.

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