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15 Annoying Things About Google revisted  (View post)

Brian M. [PersonRank 10]

Friday, September 25, 2009
14 years ago10,668 views

I decided to take a quick look at how much progress Google has made on fixing the bug reports I filed on this blog four years ago:

> 1) When you search for the definition of a word with the define operator (for example, define:hemifidl), Google does not use their query-based spell checker to try to fix it and you have to do it yourself. But searching regular google for the same typo results in the correct suggestion.

This bug has been fixed.

> 2) Google Analytics does not take advantage of Google Maps, instead using some static, boring and highly zoomed out depictions of earth

Analytics now uses Maps!

> 3) I am shown the number of e-mails in my spam folder in Gmail, causing me to obsessively check it since I get more spam than regular mail. Although, I must say Google gets 99% of the spam and has never miscategorized a message. That accuracy is what makes me mad about being pestered about the contents of my spam folder.

My Spam folder and my Drafts folder are now conveniently hidden using a recent Gmail feature that lets me drag and drop them under a More link.

> 4) Google Reader and Gmail have different interfaces, when in fact the data structures that they represent have intrinsically similar properties [that should be invisible to the user] and thus should have a common interface. I've been saying this, and Yahoo! recently picked up on it. Kudos to Yahoo! I won't be switching but I did admire.

Supposedly Google Wave is going to finally fix this problem, but for now it's still a bug.

> 5) I can't export my starred entries in Google Reader. Web 2.0 (commonly defined /as/ Google) is all about the users owning their data. I should be able to download everything Google has on me in a convenient xmlified archive.

Reader has had a somewhat hidden API for doing this for a long time now so I have my starred entries in xml format, although I haven't used rss for over a year. Additionally, Google's Data Liberation Front is now working on making all your data across all Google services available to you. I think I'm leaving this bug open until the Data Liberation Front makes all your data available across all services.

> 6) If you are trying to get directions on Google Local and you accidentally type an address into the "Search the map" form and then properly click on "Get directions" it does not move the address for you and you have to copy/paste or retype it. Ditto "Find businesses". Simple Javascriptery.

This bug has been fixed.

> 7) Orkut exists.

When will Google finally kill Orkut? I've heard that Orkut is fantastically successful in Brazil. Maybe I just hate the name. And the way it looks. And works.

> 8) Google Alerts don't work very well at all for the actual, bleeding edge status of the web. In fact, it's downright terrible. The only thing worse is the MSN alerts which resend you the same things every single time they crawl the web.

I've heard that this is now fixed, as I know of one person who has a Google alert for the word 'Wikipedia' and manages to sift through the data.

> 9) Google Book Search pretends that you can only read within a few pages of your query, when in fact you can just search for a phrase on the last page you were allowed to view and go on to read more pages using this algorithm.

This is clearly still a bug as Books is very restrictive about how much you can read. But under the new books settlement that is in progress Google will be able to show you 20% (!) of orphaned works. Until that happens, this is still a major bug.

> 10) Google hired Vint Cerf but they won't listen to Tim Berners-Lee. Old url schemas from Google Print and other Google products no longer work. This is anti-web. See

Bad Google. Bad web, actually. With the proliferation of tiny url services and microblogging the "Web" 2.0 becomes stale very quickly and content providers such as Google don't care one iota about breaking swaths of past urls.

> 10) Google doesn't use their award winning translation technology to provide their customers a better experience. They just use it to win awards.

This bug has definitely been fixed, as Google Translate is coming of age. It supports translations between dozens of languages now and Google has even released a collaborative translation tool with native support for translating Wikipedia articles.

> 11) Although it's understandable, there are a whole smorgasborg of Linux geeks working at the Googleplex, yet they write almost all of their software exclusively for windows. E.g., Picasa.

Google releases lots of products on Linux now. It's usually not a first priority, but they have contributed extensively to the Wine project and I am happily running Chrome on 64 bit Ubuntu using an easily installable .deb package. So this bug is fixed, nice work GOOG.

> 12) All these damn product blogs. But, thanks Philipp for fixing that one (hope they don't send you a cease and desist) =) [conceptually, they should just have one blog and more bloggers, but hey]

I'm closing this bug as INVALID. The ton of product blogs has turned out to be a good thing, giving us an inside look into how Google's teams work.

> 13) The Google Accounts page looks like it was designed in Microsoft FrontPage by a novice. This is my personal data you are representing, thanks!

This bug is clearly fixed – Google has centralized all of your settings and cleaned up the accounts page.

> 14) Google forgot to send Google Groups to their PhD sporting UI gurus. I'm color blind and I can tell you that schema is a disaster.

Groups now has a beautiful interface and I have been invited to more and more groups that have been started up for local activities, such as quick pick up summertime volleyball games in my town.

> 15) I can't search with regular expressions ;)

I'm closing this one as you can now search using regular expressions at Code Search. Additionally, Amazon has partly solved this problem for Google – if you want to run a regex over the entire internet you can do so using amazon EC2. They will load up a copy of the internet for you and provide you the compute resources needed to do it.

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

This would've made a great blog post!

James Xuan [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Agreed, it was cool to see how these 15 things have changed, especially since I wasn't around on this site when they were written.

J. McNair [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

[put at-character here]Brian Mingus
Maybe your 15 annoying things annoyed many Googlers as well. Still, what a difference 4.5 years makes for one of the most popular web services ever.

Above 4 comments were made in the forum before this was blogged,

Art-one [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Another bug that is still open:

Attachments (pictures, pdf's, etc.) can't be saved in Picasa or Google Docs in one click. First you have to download them & then you have to upload them again.

Very antiweb too...

Drazick [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

I just wish they make Conversations work perfectly in Gmail.
Today it's not cut on the right place every time (Some times it includes text from the previous message, it gets worse using signatures).

Stefan [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Here is one more annoying thing:
I updated all my contacts to have a photo (for my android phone) however these photos don't show up in gmail-chat. There is an empty box and when I click on it it takes me to the contact-details with the photo!
IMHO that contact stuff needs a lot of work, at the moment it looks very amateurish.

Leon Santiago [PersonRank 2]

14 years ago #

Man, you just don't know what is Orkut for India and Brazil... they won't kill it.

Frantisek Fuka [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

My Google Analytics account certainly does not use Google Maps but still same old boring, zoomed-out Flash thingy! Are you really talking about "Visitors / Map Overlay"?

Populous [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Re-enable Google Video uploads.

Me [PersonRank 8]

14 years ago #

Can you elaborate on the regular expressions thing with amazon EC2, how does one do that?

tjlogy [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I'd be happy with:

1. Take more care of my data. Tagging faces with Picasa 3.5 stripped the line breaks from my Google contacts' address and notes fields.

2. Let me move the (2GB!) Picasa database in Local Settings/App Data/Google to the drive my pictures live on, rather than insisting it lives on the Windows partition.

3. Support URL attachments and priorities in Tasks.

4. Fix printing in Chrome.

Not at all bad for free software though!

Felix Nagel [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

You forgot the most important one:

Sharing folders in gDocs! PLEAASE, ist already in the API, so come on!

Search Options for none english UI would be nice too!

RobB [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

In Reader when you are clicking through All Items and your browser or computer crash, when you revisit Reader it makes you scroll through all of those already viewed articles again to return to your unread items. Annoying when you have 1,000+ items and and things freeze up after you have read most of them.

Attie [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

RobB, why are you not using the "new" view? Or did I not understand what you mean?

RobB [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

Attie: New? Where is new view? I am using All Items-- which is really all new items as it does not list any items if nothing is new. I have Home, All Items (# of new), Starred items, Your stuff, Shared items, Notes, Trends, Browse for stuff as options on the left under Add a subscription.

Anatol Poyer [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

There's no easy interface for people not using Google calendar or another calendar software to send event invitations to a google calendar. It would be handy if there was a simple web portal or similar that allowed this...

Kster [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

How about letting me do a search for all of my unlabeled messages in gmail?

Oh, and I know they think I don't need to have a "sort by" feature my inbox, that doesn't stop me from wanting it anyway.

Michaela Mahler [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I email Google Reader items to myself if they are a priority, such as coupons, time limited offers or meetings. After a few emails I am blocked from Google Reader as being an automatic devise and even though I type in the letters in the "are you a human" box, it does not reset. I use Mac and Firefox. After trying to contact Google, I searched and found out that it is a fairly common problem, and that the cookies have to be removed. Each and every time I now stop everything and remove cookies. Can this be fixed as I am a high speed Google Reader and find this very irritating. Its like, "you may look, but don't touch, save or come back to look again."

Michael Conner [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I've been using Gmail exclusively for about six months, but still can't get used to the placement of my most-used buttons: Compose, Reply, Forward, and most importantly, Send.

Cannot they all be located together, so that I can find the one I want when I need it? And perhaps it would help if they were given a distinctive shape or color that would attract my seeking eyes.

Texas FireAnt [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Please ...can I get folders for my bookmarks? I know it goes against Google's label paridigm, but my bookmark list is too long and needs to be collapsed under major headers. Really, is this too much to ask?

Nora Carrington [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Reader is my most used app and having both folders and tags is great. Not being able to rename tags isn't great. I use tags across folders.

Travlnbard [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I want my bookmarks from my google toolbar to work with Chrome.

Aaron harpole [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

In Gmail, the attachment icon shows up intermittently for conversations. Try doing an advanced search through All mail and check mark "has attachment." The results contain all your messages with attachments, but only some of them have the attachment icon.

Michael Martinez [PersonRank 5]

14 years ago #

Gee, now all they have to do is improve the quality of their crappy search results.

KeesB [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Google, drop the rebel minimalist attitude and let your design actually be done by... designers. No matter what engine runs it, Google readerlooks like tekst diarhhea compared to NetNewsWire. The iGoogle interface... Why does everything have to look like it's been designed in North Korea- in 1998?

nathan peterson [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Docs feels about way behind mail and calendar in functionality and interface-wise. Specifically:

Folder-based Docs – why can't I organize my docs the same way I organize my email?

No Doc folder sharing. Even though there have been grayed out options for this for years.

No working Doc rss feed. Again, even though there has been an option for this for years. [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

You're complaining wrong.

Kevin P. [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

One of the most annoying things about Google is Google Groups. It's a mess. It's broken. Here's an example. I get 2 results for the following:

So why do I get ZERO results when I ask Google Groups to look at one more year?

Kevin P. [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

Here's another example of how messed up Google Groups search is.

This gives me 75 results:

By simply clicking on "Sort by Date," I lose two-thirds of the results. What happened to them?

Going back to the same search sorted by relevance, when I click on the "8" link on the bottom of the page to see the last page of results, the number of results bizarrely changes from 75 to 43:

oron [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #


that was the worst for me!!!

bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back! bring it back!

Lewis Smile [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Gmail: stupid chat archives. Why oh why are they listed like ridiculous emails?

Gdocs: they destroyed the 'Items not in folders' view. So now when you create a new doc, it vanishes into the All Docs view, with your other most recent viewed docs.


Brian M. [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

[put at-character here]Frantisek Fuka: You're right, Analytics isn't using Maps. Bug #2 is still open. I was looking at some analytics data the other day and for some reason I remembered it as maps.. Oops.

[put at-character here]Me: You used to be able to load up a copy of the most recent Alexa web crawl, I'm pretty sure. You can now at least access a bunch of their data. It seems reasonable that they forked this out into multiple API's rather than the raw data, seeing as the raw data is 300TB and would cost you a pretty penny. See here: and here:

Regrettably Using Google Code [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

My biggest gripe is privacy control & your google code profile

1. when you create a google code account & your email address becomes your profile url

2. your google code profile is indexed within google search results – whether you like it or not

3. there is no ability to create an alias for your google code profile to avoid your gmail address showing up in the search index.

4. there is is only one way to delete google code profile...that is deleting your gmail account

5. this has been a reported bug for over 2.5 year ago – STILL NO

here is the bug report

Ross [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

n option to turn off the email nesting (conversation mode) in Gmail – some might love it I don't

RMad [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Partial word searches in GMail. Why on earth do I need to type an entire string (i.e. everything between two white spaces) to be able to find it in an e-mail?

This is especially annoying with names I don't know how to spell and when I search for the singular form of a word that is an an e-mail in its plural form (and vice versa).

Werner Plaas [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Slow down cowboy. You don't have to kill Orkut just because it is not popular in your country. Let us have fun too.

Alan Lin [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

To me, the most annoying thing is why Google Apps does not get Reader, Maps, iGoogle, Checkout, etc.

Matt M [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

The inability to remove a custom gallery URL in picasa web albums really irks me, although it's a small annoyance. I made a dumb gallery URL a while ago that I wish that I could undo :(

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

> Partial word searches in GMail. Why on earth do I need
> to type an entire string (i.e. everything between two white
> spaces) to be able to find it in an e-mail?

Oh, I second that one. Perhaps even combine it with auto completion. One problem with Gmail's current search is that you often don't know exactly how you've written something, particulary problematic in a language like German where separate words are often combined into a single one ("did I write Telefon-Nr., Telefonnummer, Telefonnr., Handynummer, Handynr., etc.?"). What might work reasonably well in web search is not great for Gmail.

Twan van Elk [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

An annoying bug in Google Reader: not being able to delete any tags makes Google Reader (and my Gmail account with it) at this moment unusable for me.

Quote from a Googler's reaction on Get Satisfaction: "... I want to tell you in the spirit of being completely honest and transparent with you that a long-term solution may not be immediately on the horizon. I hope you can understand..."


waka [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

If orkut is not succesful in your country it doesn't mean you have to kill it, stop being so self centred!

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

It's not about popularity, it's about it being a shitty product that is too focused on one area. They wouldn't kill it-- they'd just sell it because it's a worthless property unless they can make it scale better.

Ravikant Dubey [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

Hey, If you don't found orkut as exciting as any other Social network sites then it doesn't mean that google should have kill it...You know its very popular amongst the Indians and infact it is one of the highly user base among the Indians...

Mzs [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

Hey, we know that Orkut is irrelevant to the entire world except for Brazil and India. But I bet that, since Google kills Orkut there will be protests here in Brazil, with burning cars, general strikes (even hunger strikes), in other words, a total chaos. I'm serious, *all* the online social base in this country is relying on Orkut. Maybe Google should change its name, an app name instead of the name of his 20%-free-time-employee creator.

Facebook is a shit too. And Myspace is far more bloated. More: Orkut has more active users. Some studies appoint that 40% of Myspace users are currently inactive.

And about revenues, yes, Orkut is an giant ad base for Google and I bet it's a profitable app.

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

nobody actually listened. I just said they won't kill it. That would be stupid. They would just hand it off to another company, or make it an independent company. Chill.

CJ [PersonRank 1]

14 years ago #

One huge gripe I have heard is the inability to use the same contacts. I have google hosted email with all my contacts in the address book. I also just got google voice. Oh wait.. now I have a new address book for that!??! Why can't I have one address book for email & voice!

Ras [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

The most annoying feature in Google, is when you browse the search when you are in another country, the interface will be not in English. I know that if I "sign in" I would not have this problem .....but I DON'T WANT TO SIGN IN ....and I have a choice.

Paul Kaye [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I originally made a Google account with my own email address at my own domain as the username. Later I moved my domain's email to Google Apps. I therefore have two identical paul[put at-character here][mydomain].net logins, one for Google Account and one for Google Apps.
Different Google features are, by default, associated with these different 'parts' of Google. For example, Reader and (I think) Groups are associated with, and accessed through, my Google Account. But my email is accessed through my Google Apps. Worst of all, Calendar and Docs are accessible through both Account and Apps!
It's incredibly confusing not knowing 'how' I'm logged in to Google and I have had several big confusions when calendar entries and documents have seemingly disappeared, only to be later found in the other 'part' of Google. When people share docs with me it seems completely random as to whether they end up in Account or Apps!

Arto Steiner [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I am in Brazil too and can add that Orkut is very successful and everyone who has Internet access uses it. I have asked many people if they had a website and they say yes, in Orkut. Many people use Orkut profiles or communities as websites and are very active.

I have also heard many people say, they don't have email, they have MSN and Orkut. :)

hargin [PersonRank 0]

14 years ago #

I don't think you understand what a "bug" really is. Just because Google decided to implement gmail and reader as separate products rather than merging them into one product as you mentioned doesn't make it a bug. I would argue that is more along the lines of a change request or feature request.

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