Saturday, May 24, 2008

Google engineers should sign their applications

Another day, another Google product that's half-baked and getting stale.
Gordon's Tech: Google Calendar Outlook Sync is making a mess of my calendar

...I confirmed data was correct in Outlook 2003 and the Palm, then I set Google Calendar Sync to update gCal from Outlook. It wiped all existing data and created a new set. Recurring appointments are ALL off by one hour. Non-recurring are fine. I confirmed time zones are set correctly in Outlook, my desktop and in gCal. This is a gross bug, there's no way QA could have missed it...
Google Inc is serious about search and advertising, but decidedly haphazard about everything else.

I suspect that's not true about Google engineers. Sure, some of them must be careless, but I bet most want to excel. The problem, I think, is Google Inc, not Googler.

So how can we give Google engineers the power and motivation to change Google Inc?

I think, like film directors, they should should sign their work. If they feel the work isn't worthy of them, they could use a pseudonym -- like Alan Smithee.

Anonymity makes it easy to go along with poor quality work. There's little skin in the game. Nobody wants to have their name, and their reputation, forever tied to a rotten product. Engineers can use the Alan Smithee as a club to correct Google's habit of tossing junk out the window.

Google engineers should ask to sign their work, and we should demand signed products from Google.

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