After about a year of using Google groups for the PyChess project, I started feeling a problem. When I wrote mails to the list, no one would answer. And when I answered other peoples post, they seamed to ignore them and press for new answers. As I tried to check the online group to see what was happening, I got a 403 Forbidden error. After a short while I realised that this error was given for any page one the groups.google.com sub domain.
The lockout meant that I was unable to manage the PyChess mailing list. I was unable to fight the, at that time, increasing spam level; and more importantly I couldn't reply anybody in my community. I wasn't even able to visit the Google help fora, which are all on groups.google.com.
As the services are free of charge, I never really expected any support options. However I also never really expected the need for them. When things failed, I saw no way to buy the missing support, and the friendly facade suddenly seamed like a tall dark wall.
Perhaps the grief of this issue is in its rareness, but how can we know how often this kind of thing happens? If any admin can lock you all out by a sloppy click, and give you no option to defend yourself, then it is bound to happen once in a while."
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