GOP Debate Annoys Google's Gchat Users

Serious policy discussions aside, last night's debate had one distinctly annoying feature.

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One major loser in last night's Republican debate: the Gchat sound.

Fox News and Google teamed up to host the GOP presidential debate—the third in three weeks—and probably annoyed most viewers under 50. Yes, candidates discussed serious issues. Yes, by most accounts, Texas Gov. Rick Perry did not shine and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney did. But to many watching at home, the debate's timer sound was a small but nagging distraction every time a candidate started to go over the allotted time.

[Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the GOP contenders.]

Fox News Channel's Bret Baier, one of the debate moderators, said they chose the sound "after an outpouring of E-mails from dog owners who said the last bell sounded like their doorbell."

Well, instead of setting dogs to barking, this attempt to be creative irritated a host of human viewers.

Twitter lit up with comments from frustrated technophiles who kept clicking over to their Gmail window whenever the bell sounded, expecting a Gchat from a friend but getting nothing. "The #foxnews debate 'please stop talking' sound has me checking my gchat to make sure someone hasn't messaged me. #annoying," tweeted @misslizaface.

"13 minutes in and I am sick of the gchat sound. I would prefer a cowbell," tweeted @TheFix, who is the Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, who later pronounced the noise one of the evening's losers in his post-debate roundup.

Other tweeters said the sound was "insufferable," "irritating," and "undermining the Gchat brand."

Among the several word clouds the hosts shared last night—another effort to include Google's technological finger prints—they could have created one with annoyed responses to the sound.

[See a slide show of the 2012 GOP candidates.]

About halfway through the debate, Baier looked for affirmation from the candidates on stage. "And, by the way, everyone likes the new sound; it's far more pleasing instead of the bell?"

Hear that? Crickets.

Candidates stared back blankly while viewers at home yelled a collective and unheard "No!"

"OK, I guess they do," Baier concluded.

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