January 30, 2017

During this month (January 2017) some of you may have noticed that none of my Chrome extensions were available in the Chrome Web Store. To be more precise this state was in effect from January 13th to January 27th (for the last reviewed extension). Friday the 13th is real!!

Chrome Web Store: Removal notification for NoFollow

So how did this happen? Well about two days before January 13th I tried to update my "NoFollow" extension in the Chrome Web Store, after which I got a rejection email. In this email they tell me that my item does not comply with a section of their policy (list of very vague six rules). What they sent me is listed in the "Spam and Placement in the Store" section in their Developer program policies document, the way I see it I was accused of spamming the web store to get better placement.
I never really cared much about how many users any of my extensions have nor did I make money off of them, so obviously I did not try to spam their web store.

Chrome Web Store: Developer Account Suspended

Considering that I didn't even see where is the issue, it was kind of hard to fix this. I tried to change my extension's description so it would be compliant by just removing all less important stuff from the description, after multiple tries which have all been rejected, I stopped. After about 33 hours from the last rejection I received another email "Chrome Web Store: Developer Account Suspended".
In those rejection emails, they do mention that "Repeated or egregious violations in the store may result in your developer account being banned from the store.", so I guess it was my fault for trying to re-submit so many times...

We will not re-instate your developer account

In the previously mentioned email they provide you with a link to the appeal form. I tried to explain that the only thing that I have changed from the already approved extension's description is that I added "v3.5.0 - added higher resolution toolbar icons" in the change log part, and that I don't really know what was the issue with extension's description and why I was trying to resubmit new description 4 times, but none of that helped me because they declined my appeal. :-(

It was kind of a shock, to have 7 extension removed after seven years of maintaining them because of allegedly spammy description for just one extension. After all the fellings settled in, I made my peace with the new situation, I was not going to be working on Chrome extensions anymore (not that i had any choice). I wrote an article about it, some of you contacted me about missing extensions so you have seen this article.

I even made up a joke for that article:
Q: How does Google reduce memory consumption in Chrome?
A: They ban extension developers so you don't have too many extension installed! heh heh heh

Or maybe we will re-instate your developer account

Several days have passed and I just couldn't let it go without knowing what happened, so I wrote another email where I basically just ask them what is the exact reason why my extension was rejected. At that point I didn't really care about my developer account anymore and I just wanted to know the exact reason why extension was rejected or better said why was the description rejected. After a few days they reply with "We've carefully reviewed your case and will immediately re-instate your developer account." without actually answering any my questions.

My account was back, but extensions were not, I had to submit all of my extensions again for a manual review and wait, wait, wait...

Conclusion

For the lazy readers, my developer account is now back, all extensions are back online. The only thing thats different is the description for "NoFollow" extension which now contains only a fraction of features that were listed before. How is anyone supposed to know what extension does without that info, I do not know.

I still don't know what was the original issue with the description of NoFollow extension which makes me kind of nervous about updating that extension, I mean who knows how it might end up. Also, Google is kind of scary now.