Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cloud Computing on Google Groups is Dead to Me

Update: OK, I got a little emotional here. I am upset at the way this played out, but the title and some of the sentiment expressed are a little harsh. Perhaps, "Cloud Computing on Google Groups, I'm moving on" would have been more appropriate. Also, while I will be moving on (unless invited back), the group will no doubt remain active and interesting. Just be aware of how it is moderated--and be aware that there other venues in which to discuss cloud computing.


A couple of days ago, I reacted to a post by Sam Johnston outlining a scary exchange with the moderator of the Google Groups Cloud Computing group, Khazret Sapenov, in which Sam found himself locked out of the group with no public or private explanation. I wrote the post because I wanted Khazret and Reuven Cohen (also implicated) to have an opportunity to respond to Sam's charges, and for the community to work this out fairly and openly. I considered the post a "reconciliation post", nothing more, nothing less. (I will admit that I should have rethought the title, though.)

This morning, my first attempt to view the group home page resulted in this:

Now, here's the kicker: I absolutely did not post a thing to the group between the time of the reconciliation post and when I was locked out, so I couldn't have been locked out for a violating the group's rules, whatever they may have been, unless there was a problem well before I posted. This reaction is almost certainly to the reconciliation post itself, which did not at all take place in the group threads.

Google Groups Cloud Computing is dead to me. It's not even worth fighting this. I loved the insights of the group, but there are other viable communities to turn to that are open and transparent, and that can be considered credible. This group is none of those things, apparently.

To have two leading cloud computing bloggers locked out of a supposedly open community--without any public or private explanation--signals bias and dangerous politics.

Here is a little more detail:
  • Since I posted the reconciliation post, I've had three other emails confirming Sam's claim that moderation has been strange, arbitrary and at times very slow. Not an overwhelming response, but significant enough to note that Sam is not alone in his thinking.

  • At the same time, I've had no emails or comments explaining what happened to Sam.

  • This morning, I received a comment from Reuven claiming that neither he nor Enomaly have had anything to do with the controversy, despite his founding of the group and (I would imagine) subsequent assignment of moderating duties to Khazret--his Director of R&D, according to LinkedIn. He even offered to join any new open community that might be formed. I will accept that at face value. If I were him, however, I'd have a chat with Kharzet about the costs of his actions. He is killing, or at least maiming, the Google group, and will taint Enomaly's name.

  • I remain convinced that this could all be worked out easily by the community if an open conversation was allowed. Since that is not happening, I welcome others concerned about an open, fair exchange of ideas to follow me to greener pastures.

If you are a member of the group, and would like some of the facts in detail, please send me an email at jurquhart at yahoo dot com, and I'll take the time to fill you in.

Here is where I will be hanging out:
  • Twitter, user ID "jamesurquhart"

  • FriendFeed, user ID "jamesurquhart", and the Cloud Computing room. This is the place I have the highest hopes for, as FriendFeed's features combine streams with discussion to create a truly dynamic community, and the Room helps narrow the discussion to keep it on target.

  • Sam has a WIKI started at and I will likely be putting some of my more permanent content there for the community to hack (e.g. the Principles of a Cloud Oriented Architecture series)

  • One other intriguing option is Hug The Cloud (an unfortunate name), a Ning community that adds some excellent social networking features to the general discussion. Check it out, let me know what you think.

  • Update: I should also say, if anyone out there knows of a good alternative, open cloud computing forum, list, or network, please, please plug it in the comments below! I'll only moderate off topic spam for this one post. :-)
This is really a sad day for me. I wish cooler heads had prevailed. See you on the streams!