Google’s Stealing Ideas from Gmail Userscripts

closeThis post was published 12 years 6 months 24 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

Now I know why Google doesn’t frown on Greasemonkey userscripts being written for Gmail. They use them for improvement ideas! The latest example of this is yesterday’s addition of an “Always Archive” shortcut, the ‘e’ key, which was introduced by Gmail Macros. Admittedly, that script was written by a Google employee (the original was, at any rate), but from a completely separate team.

Previous examples: The keyboard shortcut help window and colored labels. Interesting, at the very least.

Google’s probable idea: “Let’s make an easily-extended front-end to Gmail, publicize the unofficial “API”, and let our users give us ideas that we can rip off and announce with much fanfare and no credit.”

Yes, I’m being sarcastic there, but I’m trying to make a point. The ideas of the help window, the label coloring, and the new shortcut were all developed by users. Please at least mention Gmail Macros or the Colored Labels script when you announce these new features that are based on their ideas. That’s all I ask. Really, I like them being added; I’d just like to see some credit to the people who came up with this stuff. (No, I didn’t come up with an idea that Google has implemented; I’m just speaking up for the people whose ideas have been used.)

In the mean time, it means one less keymapping for Greasemonkey developers to worry about when extending Gmail…


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

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