marahmarie: my initials (MM) (lol aol lol internets lol lulz)

Good user experience is not:

  • ...changing webpages people use every day, all day or at least several times a day without any advance warning.
  • ...refusing to let people opt-out of major navigation changes, such as changes to and/or outright elimination of sidebars, breadcrumb and dropdown menus.
  • ...changing the way a website works so often (every six months to a year, let's say) that as soon as you learn the "new way" the rug's pulled out from under you, resulting in renewed pain, anger, confusion, and disgust with the experience-provider in question.

These thoughts, basic and simple as they are, seem beyond the grasp of most design decision-makers, especially the ones at Google. Case in point (and there are so many cases in point since Marissa Mayer left, it would take me all day to list them): Google's changing its homepage, again. They're scrapping the black navbar altogether. While they've put out a casual ETA on their blog which has trickled down to the few news sites that give a damn, Google's doing nothing to inform users individually, which would be almost too easy to do, considering most people who use Google for anything - even just search - can safely be assumed to have at least one Gmail, Google Plus, and/or Android/Chrome account tied to their use of Google.

When you consider Google offers hundreds of services including the most heavily used search page on the planet, custom websites for individual users, two social networks (Orkut and Google Plus), the biggest email service out there, their own chat servers, operating systems for most non-iOS-based phones and tablets, and many other important and rather popular functions and services besides - and when you also consider that some people couldn't even function without Google powering their phones, OSs, social lives, and other needs on a day to day basis - doesn't it seem only fair for a company with such broad reach into the hearts, minds and wallets of so many people to let them know with a simple email or even a text that major changes are coming to the sites they spend time on each day? That at least some of those users will prefer to navigate in a certain way regardless of what Google thinks is best for them?

I mean, yes, This Article Brought To You By The Fact That D-Day for my script, whose entire purpose was to give you the original navbar back, which you might like better than Google's black one, is now upon us (the change becomes official in the US by this weekend, according to the scuttlebutt I've seen). By this weekend my script will no longer serve its intended purpose for anyone. Of course, I could be a smarter coder and have "how to restore the navbar in Google" all figured out by now but for one thing, I'm not that smart, and for another, this isn't about me and this isn't about my script (though it was borne of the very thing I'm opining: Google's blatant disregard for user's navigation preferences).

This is about Google's piss-poor regard for its users. Any of them. All of them.

This is about what doesn't make for good user experience, and how Google could not care less as a company, as a set of design decision makers, and as a group of people whether you - another person much like them - have a good user experience or not.

If Google's going-out-of-business warrant is already signed, it's been done by their own hand, in the metaphorical blood of people they've wounded over the years with unexpected and unwelcome design changes that never give anyone a way to opt out that doesn't involve downloading and installing someone else's correction of what so many people view as their serious design and usability mistakes.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Write for a few minutes instead of, like, working on it again. Owing to the latest changes G has made (first rolled out, as far as I can tell, across various EU TLDs and only today being tested/rolled out in the US) I will have to decommission the script and switch to a TLD that doesn't use the new design just yet to keep my own copy of it working.

It still works in the many, many countries G hasn't rolled this latest design out to (which removes the HTML and JS for the navar altogether, which kinda makes me sick, 'cause I really loved the navbar) but as far as any US/EU updates for it, I will gladly fix the header, but until I can work on reinserting the navbar somehow, the script is pretty much done.

How Google looks with my script and the new design combined:

G finally fubars my script

How Google should look with my script (coded using the older design):

G before fubaring

Y'all have to understand:

  1. I created the script for myself almost two years ago over my hot, burning, and quite relentless displeasure with the black navbar G had just rolled out
  2. I don't get paid to do it and don't ask anyone for any way to make a dime off of it
  3. I cannot and will probably never write JS well enough to code my way out of a paper bag - I find "hello world" to be an extremely irritating and confusing example of JS (hey, I coded a script, which does not and will never indicate I had any idea how to - I just jumped in and like, did it) so my ability to use JS to compensate for G rolling out multiple and completely incompatible designs at once has always been severely lacking...
  4. and the next 120 or so updates I made? Were almost solely to account for how Google kept changing stuff around...
  5. so my one and truly only goal over the next two years? To keep changing stuff back. I've fought this tug of war with Google at least 120 fucking times! You can never fault me for not trying.

So, y'all have to understand I may just be getting tired of doing it.

Does anyone blame me?

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Nah. I'm not going like, all old-school on your asses tonight. But. I just did two searches (I know! Cookies! Give me cookies!).

The first one was for [Google sucks!] and the results were so boring I had to prop my eyelids open with toothpicks while studying them. Snore. No one knows how to properly hate da playa anymore.

The second one was for [Google rocks!], an entirely shit and giggles spinoff of my first search query. And boy, does it make you both shit. And giggle! Turns out the first result for [Google rocks!] points directly to....Google. Specifically...

G's self-congratulation

So when we want to praise Google for 'rocking' in all of its clearly Divine Wisdom, not only will it get our textual worship to store forever snugly in its cuddly little search logs, it will also get all the ad revenue it wants from every hotel website with physical digs located on or near 11900 Hobby Horse Ct, Austin, TX.

Pretty neat, huh? If you're Google, this is obviously great news.

*screenshots taken with GBCR v.3 userscript
marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Hey kids, if you're ever, you know, staring at your stupid Wordpress blog asking yourself, "Hmmm, wonder if that new comment is spam? How do I tell before I delete it?" there's an easy way to know: just Google it, like so. See? 6 million fucking results for an exact quote! Therefore, most likely spam and quite safe to delete. (Yes, even your nearly all-knowing techy goddess hostess here has to rely on Google more and more lately to make sure what she sees is real; the spammers are getting THAT good.)

And for anyone reading this more purely for the Google scripting side of things? How y'all liking that new red sign-in button which has completely fucked my script up? What were they thinking using text-transform UPPERCASE on it? And RED??? Just aaaarrghh it's once again, Google, so ugly *tears eyes out*

ETA on my script, 4-7-13: it's not that I'm not updating it, simply to account for Google's changes, it's just that 1) in moving #ab_ctls and #gbu around to fix G's usual mispositioning of these elements (they never line up centered in Google's own design; I like them to line up centered) I broke something, so now signed-in users see a scrollbar at all viewport widths; need more time to unbreak it and 2) I can't figure out how to remove the wrapper for that stupid dropdown G added to .kv - and by extension .fl (cache/similar links). I want those dropdowns gone, too.

Also Google: Hear Me This...obviously there are extreme dumbasses in charge of Google's code which is apparent when looking at basic elements of the CSS like inheritance. Seriously. What. The. FUCK?

You folks have two pages that people hit more often than any other pages on your entire fucking set of domains: 1) the results page for any search they type into any Google search box and 2) Image results. This is not hard.

If people hit the former more than the latter - and they do - and you all KNOW that they do - then you don't give that page the body classes .spr.tbo.vsh and the less-hit Image results pages the body classes .spr.tbo because now overrides are going to apply to both views making changes made to the Image results pages by coders like me apply to the search results pages, too, at least until any changes made to the third body class (.vsh) can finally pass through DOM to get applied as overrides - which is wrong, any changes applied to .vsh should be applied first simply because that's the first page most people hit - and its the most popular (this mistake also causes scripts to flash-on-page-load AND design elements to literally move around on the page, all at the same fucking time).

The inheritance should be, and I cannot believe I have to type this out (because, come on, I am not the best or even all that great of a coder, and so why am I of all people feeling like I'm the only one out there stating this?), the other way around. You guys are KILLING me. Which, of course, some of you are probably enjoying - a lot.

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

I want some Google ad partners - any Google ad partners - or anybody who thinks they're knowledgeable on How Google Works - to explain something to me: why does a search for reiki mushrooms return results that starts off by saying, "Including results for reishi mushrooms | Search only for reiki mushrooms? Like so:

[reiki mushrooms]

Let's say I'm "asking for a friend" (because I actually am asking for this friend, who noticed the problem almost as soon as I did). The search in question brings up just 284,000 results - that is, until you click "Search only for reiki mushrooms", then the number shoots up to over 3.2 million results for the very spelling that 1) only brought up 284,000 results to begin with that 2) Google doesn't seem to want you to use!

Why doesn't Google want you to use it? What's in it for them if you don't?

I know this might be a little confusing, so here's a nice little ordered list with links to each result set, followed by a picture tour* of this disaster, for y'all's sweet edification.


"Reishi" vs. "Reiki" in Google search results

  1. [reiki mushrooms] - 284,000 results
  2. ["Search only for reiki mushrooms"] - 3.2 million results
  3. ["reiki" mushrooms -reishi] - 13.5 million results
  4. [reishi mushrooms], the spelling Google wants you to use - 127,000 results in Firefox and over 937,000 results in Google Chrome, a discrepancy I cannot explain, but I would love to hear the explanation - hey, Matt Cutts *waves*
  5. ["reishi" mushrooms -reiki] - 1.7 million results

"Reishi" vs. "Reiki" in pictures

1. [reiki mushrooms] including misleading search suggestion

[reiki mushrooms] including misleading search suggestion

2. [reiki mushrooms] without misleading search suggestion

[reiki mushrooms] without misleading search suggestion

3. ["reiki" mushrooms -reishi] search 'with quotes'

['reiki' mushrooms -reiki] search 'with quotes'

4. [reishi mushrooms] search without quotes

[reishi mushrooms] search without quotes

5. ["reishi" mushrooms -reiki] search 'with quotes'

['reishi' mushrooms -reiki] search 'with quotes'

In a battle between "reiki" vs. "reishi", "reiki" obviously wins, but Google seems to want you to avoid finding that out by making it look like the spelling is incorrect and/or like another spelling is more commonly used. Both ideas are completely false. Neither spelling is incorrect, but the spelling Google tries to push you away from by making it look like the wrong spelling is the very spelling that is much more commonly used.

My synopsis is this: Google's ad partners complained that reishi mushroom ads and even organic reishi mushroom search results were drowning in a sea of "reiki" until Google finally told them: "Fine, from now on we'll prefer the alternate and much less commonly used spelling - "reishi" - IF you will cough up Much Bigger Ad Money for us doing you that 'favor'." (And my screen shots do seem to bear that theory out! Look at the last two shots again, the ones that point only to the word "reishi".)

At which point they coughed up the money and Google changed their results to prefer the more uncommon spelling. The End.

And you people wonder why I hate Google so much!

*screen shots show Google search results using Google Bar Classic Redone

marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)

Re Google Privacy Policy Concerns (AOL has responded; my email and AOL's response are now live at http://wp.me/pQDyI-zr; Google has not responded as of 3-7)

Sent To Google Tonight

To whom it may concern,

I run an informational blog about AOL and am politely requesting an official response to the question, "How does Google's new privacy policy affect users of AOL's Google-enhanced search?" Are AOL users (especially those signed into AOL when they perform searches) subjected to Google's new one-for-all privacy policy, which went into effect on March 1, 2012 and is described by Google here: http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/? If so, in what ways exactly are AOL users affected by Google's policy changes?

Specifically, if an AOL user signs into AOL, for example, with the handle aoluser@aol.com while also signed into Google as, for example, googleuser@gmail.com, then conducts searches on AOL's search engine, does Google collect information on aoluser@aol.com's searches and tie them to googleuser@gmail.com's account?

Also, I notice the page this form is on says, "We'll review your note and follow up with you only if we require more info *or* we have additional info to share". I'm confident this request falls into the latter category, though: I'm asking for clarification of your privacy policy as it relates to using AOL's "Google-enhanced" search product. Because Google runs AOL's search engine, this is a relevant question that has not been answered at all by anything stated within Google's nor AOL's current privacy policies.

Any and all information you can impart on this important topic is deeply appreciated. Thanks in advance for your time in this matter.

Marah Marie @ [redacted for public consumption]

Anyone think I'm onto something? I would just like clarification from anyone in the know so I can stop thinking about it, if indeed there's nothing to worry about.

Now let's see how long it takes them - well, Google - to respond. :)

Update, 3-8: I originally posted this under an access-only lock solely to keep track of what I sent to whom, so it originally contained copies of both emails (one to AOL, and the slightly different version you see here for Google). When AOL responded I removed their email from this post, and figured I'd wait for Google to respond, then just delete this post (in trying to prevent a Google spam penalty for publishing the same content here and on Anti-AOL, I put this post under lock to prevent indexing of it). But 1) I don't think Google is going to respond, and 2) I don't think I need them to. So I'm making this post public since no one will ever know what I sent them otherwise, and I believe in being as upfront as I can about what I'm saying to whom in a public context.