Google Tweaks Gmail to Silence Haters

By Cindy Waxer September 29, 2010

Finally, Gmail users can now choose whether they prefer their incoming email messages stacked in chronological order or threaded together as part of the same electronic conversation.

Google has unveiled the new option in hopes of quelling widespread complaints about its free email service and how its inbox is organized. Typically, Gmail automatically groups messages by topic or senders – a construct that frustrated many Gmail users. Now, users can turn off conversation view and unravel their messages or toggle between the conversation view and the unthreaded view through the main Settings menu.

Google’s Wiltse Carpenter compared the frustration with threaded Gmail to people’s hate-on for cilantro. “And just as an outspoken minority has banded together in unison to declare their distaste of one of nature’s most delicious herbs, some of you have been very vocal about your dislike of conversation threading,” he wrote in a blog post.

Carpenter blames community posts for the recent change. In the past, Gmail help forum comments have included:

“GOOGLE:  PLEASE allow CONVERSATION VIEW to be TURNED OFF!!  Listen to your customers!! Conversation view is bad because it makes it very hard to find emails.  I spend a lot of time looking for emails and it’s very frustrating.  I often miss seeing new emails buried in a thread.  Please provide your customers the option to TURN OFF Conversation View.  Thank you.  Ken”

There’s even a Facebook group calling an end to conversation view at!/group.php?gid=6439719405&ref=mf

"We really hoped everyone would learn to love conversation view, but we came to realize that it’s just not right for some people," Google software engineer Doug Chen wrote in a blog post.

Controversy over Gmail’s conversation view hasn’t slowed adoption. By the end of July, Gmail claimed nearly 186 million worldwide users, a 22 percent increase from the same time a year ago, according to the research firm comScore Inc. Both Microsoft’s Windows Live Hotmail (nearly 346 million users) and Yahoo’s e-mail (303 million users) boast more users, but aren’t growing nearly as rapidly as Gmail.

Edited by Erin Harrison

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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