I want my right-side Gmail labels back
July 20, 2009 7:30 PM   Subscribe

Are there any Google insiders here who can persuade the Gmail team to reinstate right-side labels?

Google broke Gmail for me a couple weeks ago, screwing labels up by (a) hiding most of them by default and making it so you have to Do Stuff to get them all visible again and (b) removing the Right-Side Labels feature from Labs.

There's been a torrent of protest about the loss of the old functionality (e.g: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) but no sign visible to me that Google is moving to reinstate any of it, and no evidence that I can find to back up Google's claim that they're getting more positive feedback about their new label features than negative feedback about breaking right-side labels.

Are there any MeFites with an inside track to the Gmail team, who could gently let them know that suddenly breaking things with no warning is edging dangerously close to Being Evil?

Not really interested in user script workarounds. I just want Gmail to be configurable to work the way it did before, with all labels visible on the right-hand side of the screen, on any browser anywhere.
posted by flabdablet to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
 
Not snark - what did you get out of having the labels on the right side? I feel like I'm missing efficiency if something so small can cause such an uproar.
posted by bensherman at 7:39 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, for one thing, they don't need to be hidden by default. This is an option under the [Labels] tab. Just select 'Show All.'
posted by koeselitz at 7:39 PM on July 20, 2009


Someone could probably write a greasemonkey script or something to make them display on the right side.
posted by winston at 7:45 PM on July 20, 2009


But, winston, he says in the question that he doesn't want a user script.
posted by koeselitz at 7:46 PM on July 20, 2009


who could gently let them know that suddenly breaking things with no warning is edging dangerously close to Being Evil?

But isn't that the whole point of the feature being in Labs?
posted by smackfu at 8:08 PM on July 20, 2009


Are there any Google insiders here who can persuade the Gmail team to reinstate right-side labels?

There probably are Google "insiders" floating around MeFi. The odds that this AskMe is sufficient to a) motivate them to take up your cause and b) that they would be successful in their mission, is quite small.

For starters, it is clear from your post that Google is aware that there are people (maybe lots of them) who share your opinion. So far as we can tell, the arguments in those six links have not swayed Google to do something that is probably not terribly difficult.

Secondly, all you've really provided is "There used to be this Google Labs feature that I liked, and now it's gone!" That's not exactly a compelling argument for your case (especially for a Google Labs feature), and if you really want someone with clout to champion your cause, you need to provide a more substantial (or more compelling) reason than the ones they've already seen/heard. Those are all lacking in this AskMe.

Also: You really need to recalibrate your perspective on "Being Evil."
posted by toomuchpete at 9:24 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not really wanting to turn this into a chat session, but here's some clarification in case any Google engineer reads this and has not already heard these arguments from a thousand other people:

bensherman: I have my Gmail account set up with a whole bunch of labels and a whole bunch of filters. All my filters are designed to dump certain classes of frequently arriving but not terribly important messages (subscriptions to this or that, Google Alerts, billing notifications, banking confirmations and whatnot) into their own "folders" and bypass my Inbox. With the old labels system and right-side labels turned on, I had a large panel of labels on the right hand side, all of which were visible all the time, and each of which had its own unread messages count. I found this layout really easy and comfortable to use.

I'm a shelves guy, not a boxes guy. I like having as much stuff visible as much of the time as possible. I really, really dislike interfaces built around the idea of hiding stuff, especially when I have screen real estate available that could be showing me that stuff. Gmail with right-side labels suited me perfectly and is the main reason I stopped bothering with configuring local email clients and started using the Gmail web interface instead.

The new drag and drop labelling stuff is almost completely useless to me, because I generally don't label things manually - I let my filters do it for me.

koeselitz: Indeed, I do have "show all" turned on, and I have used Right Side Chat to create a bit more space on the left. But I still can't see as many of my labels as I used to without needing to scroll, because now they have to compete with the system labels (Inbox, Spam, Sent Mail and so forth) for column inches.

smackfu: Yes, I understand that Labs features are subject to evaporation at any time. What I don't understand is why, given the sheer volume of requests for right-side labels to return*, the Gmail team seems so disinclined to return them in some form.

So far as we can tell, the arguments in those six links have not swayed Google to do something that is probably not terribly difficult.

Precisely. This strikes me as kind of weird, because they are in general good arguments. The only way I can make sense of this is if they're not actually reading those arguments. Hence this search for a back channel.

I've been a vocal Gmail booster since I first got my account. This is actually the first time that the Gmail team has put a foot wrong, in my opinion, and I'd like to see them put it right again.

You really need to recalibrate your perspective on "Being Evil."

Not so sure about that. Seems to me that evil starts with indifference, and that Google is getting increasingly skilled at indifference. Also seems to me "you will use our product the way we think you ought to use our product, and bugger what you want to do" is more the attitude I'd expect from the Microsoft Outlook dev team than anybody working for Google.

*Seriously: every discussion thread I've seen that has anything to do with the new Gmail label features is absolutely dominated by people wanting right-side labels back. It's quite striking.

I take it we can all agree that Microsoft Outlook is, in fact, evil.
posted by flabdablet at 9:56 PM on July 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I take it we can all agree that Microsoft Outlook is, in fact, evil.

As someone who is currently running Outlook 2010 Tech Preview, and for other reasons, I can't buy into that agreement.

Why not have a userscript? Even if 1% of the gmail base wants this implemented--and I realize your question doesn't ask whether it should be done, instead how to get it done, but I have no information on that; no one I know works for Google in California--perhaps a well-written userscript is the way to go. The biggest downside I can find is that you can't use it on a library computer or other web access kiosk, but if the feature's not coming back perhaps a compromise is in order.
posted by fireoyster at 11:47 PM on July 20, 2009


every discussion thread I've seen that has anything to do with the new Gmail label features is absolutely dominated by people wanting right-side labels back. It's quite striking.

FWIW, that's because the people that like it don't bother posting.
posted by inigo2 at 4:37 AM on July 21, 2009


Cant you group the labels you use the most at the top using a Unicode character? That's what I do.
posted by gergtreble at 7:52 AM on July 21, 2009


Flabdablet, I just want to say that I could have written your post word for word. I want my labels on the right because I autofilter most items and now I can't see other items I want to see since everything is stretched out on the left. I was really annoyed when they changed the format on me, and I'm still not liking the difference. I thought we were able to drag and drop boxes around in gmail so we could put things where we like, but it's not working for me.

For now, I'm primarily using igoogle so I can see everything I want to see. I'll be checking into this thread to find if there is any way to re-format everything in gmail itself.
posted by Lullen at 7:57 AM on July 21, 2009


gergtreble: grouping labels by frequency of use doesn't help me much. Sorting them by unread count might be OK. Making them all visible in their own column, though - that works really well.
posted by flabdablet at 4:43 PM on July 21, 2009


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