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gmail is officially on step 6

I went to sign up for a Gmail account today because I needed to test some software for a work video I was putting together. Everything was going okay during the signup process until the system asked me for my cell phone number to "validate" I am who I say I am. Um, no. I closed the tab and said screw it because I don't need it that badly. I have never needed to give my phone number just for an email address and don't plan on starting to now.

Google put phone validation in place for new Gmail signups to deter spam and system abuse. I get that. But what ticks me off about it is that they didn't require it before.

If there's one thing that ticks me off about web products no matter what they are, it's when they continually keep tacking on requirement after requirement just to get in the system.

Historically speaking, this is what happens with any internet product that involves communications of any kind that becomes popular:

  1. Product is launched. The system is designed as very free and open in the hopes of many people signing up and using the system.
  2. Product launch is successful. People are signing up accounts left and right. Life is good.
  3. Due to the product's popularity, spam happens. But it's tolerable.
  4. After less than 6 months, the spam goes completely out of control and now it's intolerable. People are complaining and start to abandon the system.
  5. New signup procedures are implemented to deter spam, but it's not helping. People are still leaving.
  6. Very strict signup procedures are implemented. This is all for naught because there are still hundreds of thousands if not millions of accounts owned by spammers who continue to spam everybody that signed up before the signup strictness was introduced.
  7. Due to the ultra-strict signup procedures, fewer and fewer people sign up because they feel it's too much of an invasion of privacy. New signups take a very sharp downward turn.
  8. Service gets sold off or closes because the revenue simply isn't there anymore.

If you've been using the internet long enough, you can probably think of at least a few other sites/services where the exact scenario described above happened. The most common is with forums which follow the 8 steps above to the letter every time, all the time. Gmail at this point is now officially on step 6.

Is there any solution to this 8-step nightmare?

Nope.

When some product/service with communications falls out of favor on the internet due to ultra-strict signups, the only choice is to abandon it and wait until something new comes along that a lot of people like that agrees with you. The new service signup will be simple and no private info will be required - at first. But eventually it will go through all 8 steps and you'll have to abandon, find new, wash, rinse, repeat...

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