Google has banned me

[2008-11-27] google, computers
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From all Google groups, that is (that’s a lot of content!). The weird thing is that I can do less when I'm logged in than when I'm logged out, because then, they don't know that they have banned me. This seems to be a common problem. To add insult to injury, many resources for fixing it are only available in Google groups itself (if you are logged in and not banned).

“Sorry... The owner of this group has banned you from this group.” This initially mislead me to believe it was a one-group thing.

“Forbidden. Your client does not have permission to get URL / from this server.” Slight problem: Most of the resources for figuring out what went wrong are on exactly this server.

The root of the problem

The problem is a tricky one: Google offers most of its services for free and is faced with a lot of spam. Hence, to save costs, they have to automate and don’t employ many people in support. That is, you get what you paid for. On the other hand, many people use those services for critical data which they can’t afford to lose. Thus, Google has a lot of responsibility which it doesn’t always live up to (and probably can’t, cost-wise). It comes down to the rule:
Be sure that you are in control of content that is important to you.
For example, by constantly backing up or by storing your content offline and only pushing it to Google [1].

Trying to fix the problem

There is no direct solution, so I've tried indirect ones:
  • Disable autoresponder: this leads to Google checking if the account has been blocked due to too many posts made via email. Some people have successfully (ab)used this to get unbanned.
  • Feedback about Google Accounts: One step higher up the Google chain, this is one of the few generic options for getting in contact with Google. I left a note.
  • I sent a fax to Google Inc.: Yes, there was real paper involved.
  • I gave feedback on the GG help site (which obviously was negative).
So far, none of this has worked.


Related reading

  1. Google Blogger: staying in control of your content and other tips