Time to abandon Gmail?

Moderated by Jason Hiner | November 11, 2013 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: Last year Gmail passed Hotmail to become the world's most popular email service. But that was then.

David Braue

David Braue

Yes

or

No

Ken Hess

Ken Hess

Best Argument: No

34%
66%

Audience Favored: No (66%)

Closing Statements

Users know no better, but sysadmins do

David Braue

Using Gmail is like having a houseguest who cooks delicious gourmet meals every night, but rifles through your wallet while you're sleeping at night. Like many institutionalized Gmail users, my worthy opponent has basically argued that he's been using the service for too long to turn back now.

Sure: Gmail has lots of shiny bells and whistles to keep us occupied and entertained. But to simply say that we should stay with Gmail because there's nothing better, is not good enough. Just remember that Google is using Gmail to keep us living in its online ecosystem, perpetuating incompatibilities and a difficult user interface to keep us in its worldview.

It is, in short, the Apple of webmail.

Some users may love it, but system administrators should lament at the trend towards decentralized, hard-to-control Gmail accounts that not only increase training difficulties but offer Google an open channel through which to analyse, index and sell content you would expect to stay private. When this content includes sensitive personal information – or, even worse, corporate secrets – the result is an email service that is really starting to outstay its welcome. Time to go.

Google is ahead of the game: Find something better

Ken Hess

I think that a lot of the Gmail angst stems from a dislike of things Google. In the same way that people don't like Microsoft. It's always clever to complain about things that we use. Somehow, I guess, it elevates our status as in-the-know tech people. I don't fit into that ilk. I like some Google things, some Microsoft things, some Apple things, and some Linux things. There is no ultimate mail client. 
 
As much as users like to complain about Gmail, they haven't found anything better to use. And I don't mean something that they perceive as better, just because it isn't Google, but I mean really better.
 
Gmail has everything you need. It has advanced features such as domain hosting, attachment sensing, vacation responding, automatic addressing for email aliases, a second-to-none SPAM filter, labels, searchable mail, hierarchical mail, starring/flagging, integrated chat, integrated Google+, Google Drive, Google Docs, and so much more that it all escapes me at the moment.
 
Gmail is built and maintained by the best programmers and thought leaders in technology. I mean, come on, who doesn't want to work for Google? The best search engine, the coolest tools, and leading edge technology is any nerd's dream. Gmail is the bomb. Do people still say "bomb" to describe something that's really cool?
 
Google doesn't follow trends; it sets them. It continues to improve and enhance Gmail. OK, so Google decided to leave out folders. So what? You can make the transition if you try. Feel the real power of Gmail in the Chrome browser. If you haven't tried Gmail, or haven't tried it in a while, try it. You'll wonder why you ever used anything else. And that's coming from a guy who could use any email client and service he wants to use.
 
There's no reason to abandon Gmail until something better comes along. And it hasn't. It possibly never will.

A clear winner

Jason Hiner

With all of the scrutiny around the NSA's PRISM program and Google's deepening reach into user privacy, it's natural to question whether users should trust the most personal of their data, their email, to Google's Gmail. In less than a decade Gmail has ascended to become the world's most popular email service, and it now acts like an incumbent a little too often by making major changes without warning users.

There are decent alternatives, for those who want them. Yahoo Mail is making a resurgence and Microsoft has evolved Hotmail into the more refined Outlook.com. Nevertheless, as Ken has aptly pointed out, all of the competing options still follow Gmail's lead on new features and still trail Gmail in some key areas. And, while Gmail's privacy issues should give businesses pause as David mentioned, there's Google Apps if you want the power of Gmail but with greater security and privacy.
 
As the community has correctly judged, the winner of this debate is clearly Ken.

Talkback

159 comments
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  • Outlook beats Gmail in Speed,UI..

    Gmail was good about 2 years back but it became mess because of clunky UI and later google wanted everyone to use that G+ crap and that made Gmail so bad and i switched to Windows Live mail about 2 years back, now outlook dot com is way better.
    Sugadevan
    Reply 65 Votes I'm for Yes
    • I have 108,011 emails and am using 48% of my free capacity. (since 2005)

      Many emails have 8 MB movie attachments.

      I use hundreds of filters and labels to automate my email.

      My inbox gets about 30 emails a day, the rest are technical and promotional items that essentially have their own dedicated inboxes.

      I can delete all my emails with one simple filter, or mark every email as read with one simple filter. (this is significant because settings allow labels to be hidden unless there is a new, unread email, then the label appears in the list on the main page.)

      Nothing can be more streamlined or easier to use than Gmail. I can find anything, even from 6 years ago with the search tool.

      Gmail takes full advantage of the power and security of Linux. And I've been using Linux for 13 years.
      Joe.Smetona
      Reply 58 Votes I'm Undecided
      • Good for you

        You are giving a lot of personnal information to Google. You are making them very rich.
        gbouchard99@...
        Reply 27 Votes I'm Undecided
        • How dare they!

          You get a service. A GREAT service! All they do to pay for it is scan words with a bot and present target ads. Oh my. Google is so demanding. How dare they! Then Google even scans my mail for things like shipping notifications and has the nerve to push that info to Google Now on my phone telling a package was shipped or that a package was delivered. The nerve of Google to tell me something before I ASK FOR IT!
          mill3000@...
          Reply 48 Votes I'm Undecided
        • and you think

          you're not giving any personal information to Microsoft when using outlook.com? I would say, it's called naivety...
          BTW, how much personal information does Google have on me if I use gmail via IMAP/SMTP with GNUS and mutt encrypting every email message with asymmetric gpg/pgp by means of a 2048R key?
          eulampius
          Reply 22 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Microsoft, at least, gives you the opportunity to OPT-IN to ...

            ... sharing your information with them, AND they only use that information to market their own products to you. Google, on the other had will sell your personal information TO ANYONE who wants to pay Google for that information about you. Whether they are selling that information to the NSA or to the "Russian Mafia" or to Islamic Terrorists, you will never know.
            M Wagner
            Reply 4 Votes I'm Undecided
          • Nonsense

            That's complete garbage. Provide a link to a credible source to support these false claims. Google uses the information to provide ads but they do not sell your personal information. That would be a disaster for them.
            zd@...
            Reply 12 Votes I'm Undecided
        • Therefore???

          Therefore???
          yaakovaryeh
          Reply 6 Votes I'm Undecided
        • ...makes perfect sense

          Yes, gbouch..., the perfect business Model. I get a fantastic service for free, they get paid by advertising, the "buyer" on the ads gets free research, and your personal data is just as public as ANYWHERE else. What is your point?
          ChoMlo
          Reply 13 Votes I'm Undecided
        • That's OK by me

          As long as they give me what they contracted to do I don't care if they scan for selling opportunities. Afterall, I am a business woman and would do the same. If I don't want them to know I don't use Google.
          fredsgirl1
          Reply 6 Votes I'm Undecided