Thursday, December 02, 2004
"Google Groups is a poor release"
The Unofficial Google Weblog has a scathing review of the new Google Groups. Brad Hill just hates it. He says that unlike most Google releases, it does deserve its beta label, and will until Google fixes a lot of problems. Among the ones he cites are no file uploading, community calendar and that there are basically no non-message posting features. Also, the direct linking issue is more complicated than originally expected. Just because you can link to a post now, doesn't mean that will actually keep working. Since the URL starts with groups-beta.google.com, as soon as it comes out of beta, every link breaks. Did no one realize that? Gmail isn't gmail-beta.google.com. It seems like this was just a mistake that needs correcting, and the big public release is when Google should have done it. Also, Usenet posts take 19 hours to show up on Groups, which is only half as long as forever. The lack of a search-by-date feature is cited, as with posts going back more than a decade this is a feature that is sorely needed. The summary:
Shockingly, Google Groups is a poor release that (unlike many Google test projects) deserves its beta standing. The lack of date-sensitive searching flaunts a stunning disregard of the historic value of Usenet. Display properties, while much faster than the original Groups, lack essential Gmail characteristics that seem ideally suited to newsgroup interaction. Sorted displays can be confusing. Archival time lag is, if anything, worse than before, and it was always a serious problem. (This fault might get quickly straightened out as Google’s complete array of servers comes aboard.) Homemade groups lack features that Yahoo! made standard years ago.Clearly, Brad must be a regular Groups user to be that familiar with what the service offers and what it needs, so go read the whole post for a deeper understanding.
On the plus side, Google Groups remains the best free Usenet archive, and user-created groups offer a workable alternative to Yahoo!’s infuriatingly ad-glutted presentation. But these passive traits do not justify a major product release, even in beta, and Google has much work to do before Google Groups is up to speed.