As you may have heard, Google has just announced that they are closing the doors on their 8-year-old RSS aggregator Google Reader. The company cites declining usage and a need to focus on other products as reasons for the shutdown. Google Reader will officially go dark on July 1st, giving users over 3 months to migrate to another service for their RSS needs.
Although Reader isn't the only Google product getting the axe in this round of Spring Cleaning, it's the product with the most impact. And people aren't happy. Sure, Google can cite declining usage and we believe them. The hard truth about RSS is that it's a useful technology that definitely has a strong following, but never permeated the culture in the way that social media has over the past few years.
But that doesn't mean that loyal Google Reader users don't have a gripe here. And they are taking their gripes and turning them into online petitions.
Probably the fastest-growing petition to save Google Reader is this one, hosted on change.org. As of the writing of this article, it's gaining a few hundred signatures every few minutes. Right now it's fast approaching the 50,000 signatures it needs to hit its threshold.
The petition, titled "Google: Keep Google Reader Running," makes this argument:
So, please don't destroy that trust. You're a huge corporation, with a market cap which rivals the GDP of nations. You're able to dedicate 20% of your time to products which may never seen the light of day. You experiment in self-driving cars and really cool eyewear which we trust (trust!) you'll use in a manner respectful to our needs, interests, etc.
Show us you care.
Don't kill Google Reader.
That's not the only petition housed on change.org. There are others, including this one with a few thousand signatures that plainly asks Google "please do not shut down Reader."
"Many of us use Google Reader on a daily basis to keep track of our favorite blogs, archive tweets, keep updated on specific craigslist searches, and for many other uses. Its simplicity is its strength," says the petition.
Moving away from petition-hosting sites, we have this new single-serving site dedicated to keeping Google Reader alive. It's called keepgooglereader.com and the entire site serves as a petition platform that allows users to sign and comment. As of right now, it's up to around 19,000 signatures.
Up until just recently, a petition existed on the White House's We The People petition site that asked the Obama Administration to ask Google to consider keeping Reader alive. Of course, the Federal Government is not going to intervene in the decisions of a company like Google with regards to which products they shutter.
That petition was removed for violation of the site's terms. Most likely, due to this clause:
"You agree not to create petitions that fall outside this limited purpose - for example, petitions that advertise or call for the endorsement or purchase of commercial goods or services."
This outpouring of support for the doomed Google product isn't surprising. Google knows that Reader has a loyal following and they said that this was a hard decision. Petitions or not, it's hard to see Google reversing course on this one. Since 2011, Google has canned 70 different products of services during various "spring cleaning" exercises.[Image via byrion, Flickr]