Overnight, Google has disabled the Gmail accounts of numerous users leaving them out of touch with friends and relatives on Christmas Eve. Here are a few excerpts from the user feedback in the Gmail Help Discussion group (with email addresses deleted):
I’ll spare you the complaints from the users who are actually trying to use Gmail for business purposes or awaiting important communications from schools and elsewhere.
The affected users are being pointed to an email form whose results are hopefully piling up like a Minnesota snowdrift at the Googleplex in Mountain View, but it inevitably appears like a black hole to them. There is no Gmail phone support, but one enterprising lady called the regular Google toll free help number (free for for the first two minutes) and it wasn’t a pretty sight with one guy trying to handle things and doing poorly.
Bad updates are not exactly novel, but most professional IT organizations do a little testing first and lay on some help to handle problems if a large number of adverse effects are possible. As for scheduling it for the day before Christmas, what can you say but, “Smooth move, Google.” One can’t help wonder if Google is serious about convincing users to adopt their Web services if they can’t even do Webmail professionally.
Update: The affected accounts seem to be back online. From a posting by a Gmail Guide:
Our goal has always been to keep Gmail free of people who abuse the service and to keep Gmail inboxes free of spam. We’ve been targeting a large network of spammers to keep them out of the Gmail system and accidentally disabled access to some other accounts. We’ve restored access to these accounts.