The tool has a small number of dedicated users who welcome the change
Google is doing some more spring cleaning, though it's not calling it that this time. It's not killing off anything, but it is relinquishing control over Google Refine, a data analysis tool it got as part of its Metaweb acquisition some two years ago.Google open sourced the software and has worked on it since the acquisition, but is now giving it up and pushing it over to the "community." No one at Google will be directly involved with Refine, at least not during their regular work hours.
"When we open-sourced Freebase Gridworks almost 2.5 years ago, in May 2010, and then re-branded it to Google Refine in November 2010, little could we anticipate such a diverse and active community of users and use cases that we now have," it said.
While Google says the interest for what it calls a "niche data-wrangling tool" is surprising, the number of users is very small, a few thousands maybe.
Google is more accustomed to millions of users, so the fact that it's detaching itself from the project is understandable.
What is surprising though, but perhaps shouldn't be for a project so small, is that the community actually welcomes the move and is excited about the future.