Google is blocking me from updating my own Chrome extension

I have been prevented from uploading a fix for one of my Chrome extensions for over a month and there’s nothing I can do about it.

A month ago I published an update to one of my Chrome extensions. It had a minor bug in it that I quickly fixed once it was brought to my attention. But I was not able to upload the fix to Chrome’s web store due to a “review”.

Since I caught the bug relatively early on, as soon as I realized that I could not upload a fix I unpublished the extension from the web store so that any of the users who have the extension installed but who’s extension didn’t update already wouldn’t update (allowing them to continue using the working older version). But that means that no new users have been able to install the extension. As a result of this, the weekly user count has dropped from ~265k to ~235k (admittedly less than I was expecting it to drop over the course of a month).

These reviews usually take a day to a few days, but for some reason (perhaps due to the very bug that I’m trying to upload a fix for) this review has taken over a month. There’s no way for me to cancel the review. There’s no way for me to gain information about the review status. There’s no way for me to contact anyone at Google/the Chrome web store team that is involved with the extension approval process. All of my various attempts at finding some way to do so have either gone completely unanswered or proved fruitless.

It turns out that there are many others in the same situation (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

The problems related to publishing an extension in Chrome’s web store are just a few of the many shortcomings of the Chrome web store. And yet, since Chrome increasingly dominates browser marketshare, as an extension developer you simply must offer your extension on it.

Google’s inattention to such an important piece of their browser’s infrastructure is just one example of how Google is abusing their power as a dominant player in a given market. This is far from the only that time that a Google program has almost completely stagnated and not provided bug fixes, customer support, or developer support.

What I hate the most about this whole situation is that my extension is built solely to help people. I’ve had dozens of people email me over the years thanking me for how Just Read (the extension I can’t update) has helped them be able to read articles that they were otherwise unable to read due to poor vision or a medical condition. I’ve also received numerous emails from educators who use and recommend the tool. Those people can’t easily access Just Read at this time when people are more isolated and online due to covid 19.

I suppose this is a call for help to some extent. But my hopes are not high that anything will happen with it soon. Those hopes died weeks ago. Thanks, Google.

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I get inspired. I create. I have too many ideas. I have even more things to do.

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Zach Saucier

I get inspired. I create. I have too many ideas. I have even more things to do.