Skip

Comin like a ghost town
May 21, 2012 7:53 PM   Subscribe

New Google+ Study Reveals Minimal Social Activity, Weak User Engagement Fast Company summarizes a new study from RJMetrics that looks at public posts, +1s, replies and reshares on Google+. It concludes "the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share." Google replies that public posts are a poor metric of user activity; Fast Company replies that "Google has refused to provide clear figures and metrics for its social network's active user base" and links to Danny Sullivan's "brilliant rundown of Google's lack of transparency on the subject" - If Google’s Really Proud Of Google+, It Should Share Some Real User Figures.
There was also Wil Wheaton's recent angry "Oh, go fuck yourself, Google" rant in response to a recent experiment replacing YouTube's "like" button with a Google+ button for a small number of users, thus requiring them to sign up for Google+ before they can 'like' a YouTube video. Is Google Forcing Google+ Down People’s Throats?
posted by mediareport (205 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like Google+. Only my tech industry friends/contacts use it, so it has become a sort of Facebook for things we wouldn't post on Facebook. But the user experience falls oddly between Facebook (only interact with friends) and Twitter (follow complete strangers). It just feels wrong for fans of other social networks. I have no idea where Google is going with the concept.
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:02 PM on May 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh, and the answer to that last question is yes, they are, because nobody would want it on its own merits except, apparently, for Google employees.

Sort of like Buzz, and Wave, and that one thing that was supposed to be Twitter, and that thing that was sort of like Ask.MeFi but not good, and pretty much everything they've released other than Gmail, search (which is turning bad over time with all the ads), and maps (which they bought and then merely iterated on, rather than developing in-house initially). Oh, and advertising. They're pretty good at that.

I do miss when Google was a software company supported by ads instead of an ad company that released software, though.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:05 PM on May 21, 2012 [27 favorites]


Just want to note that I think the links are really interesting, and worth reading in full. They cover a lot of ground.
posted by mediareport at 8:05 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's always funny to me when I click on, god, I don't know what, and I'm taken to my google+ timeline, where I see the posts (or whatever) from my contacts.

It reminds me of that moment in, I think, all the Police Academy movies when someone stumbles into the Blue Oyster Bar--the music scratches to a halt, and you know you are in the wrong corner of the internet. (Much love to Blue Oysters--I've been to gayer clubs in real life and had a great time.)
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:05 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Joke's on me, I guess, because when I accidentally click a link and see my Google+ timeline, it looks identical to the last time I did it accidentally two months before. It's like the antisocial network.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:07 PM on May 21, 2012 [11 favorites]


Google I swear to god I will share my every bowel movement and +1 the entire internet if you give us the old Google Reader sharing functionality back. Scout's honor.
posted by griphus at 8:15 PM on May 21, 2012 [42 favorites]


I've been looking at it more recently, because it syncs well with my android phone for photos. But the stuff they recommend is ass, and the only reason people I know seem to use it is because it's not Facebook (but that's not enough to save Diaspora either).

I was thinking, though, that the integration of Pages means that it's really ripe for art projects, and Tim Coe's Choose Your Own Adventure stories are pretty cool.
posted by klangklangston at 8:19 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like G+ because I don't like people. On occasion it is fun to read what people near me publicly post - not because I care, but precisely because I do not. The popular tab always seems to be "meh" - since it is largely a stripped down version of the content here or things I would ignore.

As of late, I've started to get more G+ friend requests... This makes me sad, as I am constantly afraid that it will turn from the place where I can maintain a handful of relationships with people I know (and some immediate aquaintences) and into a mass of people on there... I don't want to have to deal with that.... that's what linkedin is for.
posted by Nanukthedog at 8:20 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised that they haven't integrated Blogger into it either. For a while, you couldn't even syndicate your Blogger posts to G+. But now with Facebook blocking syndication from third parties, it seems like if you're hoping for anyone to read anything new on Blogger (especially with Tumblr being the new hotness), G+ should be the way.

Who the fuck knows, though — Orkut and one other network they have are still popular abroad.
posted by klangklangston at 8:21 PM on May 21, 2012


Well, that's one consequence of putting your public life in the hands of a private business.

I mean, imagine if all email was a private service provided by "Email Inc." that had the power to change your message formatting at will. That sounds silly, and yet many people have chosen to allow a private business to mediate their communication with friends and colleagues. All your self are belong to them.
posted by Nomyte at 8:21 PM on May 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think part of the problem is that google+ is not much fun unless you are following a serious number of people (at least 500), and being followed by a bunch. I've spent much more time on google+ than on facebook recently, but it's because (due to an accident of fate) I ended up being put in a few circles that were shared a lot and now I have somewhere around 9,500 followers, and am following around 1,000. I'd say I interact semi-regularly with somewhere between 50 and a hundred different people, mostly centered in the science and grad student communities. Science Sunday is my favorite (I do contribute pretty regularly), but there are pages and themes for a whole bunch of things. Google+ seems to be particularly good for photographers, too.

Google needs to do a better job setting people up at the beginning of their experience - rather than connecting people with, say, Tom Anderson, they should be connecting people with pages of themes they might be interested in. I think this post is a really good place for them to start.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:23 PM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


'Go fuck yourself, Google' is a phrase that I find running through my mind pretty often, lately. And not just because I'm a cranky old bastard.

A few years back, I never would have thought I'd feel that way. But I'm now to the point where I find myself kind of hoping they lose the bet-the-company-wager they claimed they were making with Google+.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:23 PM on May 21, 2012 [15 favorites]


The perfect scenario would be if Google gave up and Facebook hired the Google+ interface team.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 8:24 PM on May 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


Is Google Forcing Google+ Down People’s Throats?

Considering that when you sign up for a Gmail account you're automatically enrolled in Google+? I'd say, yes, yes they are.
posted by hippybear at 8:30 PM on May 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


I use google+ for collective interactive fiction and sharing the status of my beard.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 PM on May 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


> sharing the status of my beard.

How is she doing these days anyway?
posted by mrzarquon at 8:32 PM on May 21, 2012 [73 favorites]


This is one of my favorite internet memes, I guess because the inclusive loneliness of the internet is something that resonates with me. And because, yeah, Google+ is pushy and unappealing.
posted by byanyothername at 8:34 PM on May 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


Google needs to do a better job setting people up at the beginning of their experience - rather than connecting people with, say, Tom Anderson, they should be connecting people with pages of themes they might be interested in.

That is right on the money, and I only stumbled onto that insight when I started following some photographers I like. It's like a hobbyist dream for people on G+.

It's kinda frustrating, I have a lot of friends and family across the country, and I use Facebook very heavily as a means of keeping in touch with this diaspora. There's pretty much nothing in Facebook that I don't think G+ does better - except perhaps games, but I never play FB games and couldn't care less.

However, no one's on it. Heck , my parents only got Facebook last year, it will be an eon before they add another network - if at all. So the only interaction I get on G+ is the photographers. And whilst some of it's good, it's very impersonal.
posted by smoke at 8:35 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nomyte: Well, that's one consequence of putting your public life in the hands of a private business ... and yet many people have chosen to allow a private business to mediate their communication with friends and colleagues. All your self are belong to them.
Exactly right. Use social networks and web mail all you want (I do) but don't believe for a second that what you post is in any way yours, or that the social network owes you anything. They can change things for their own benefit and you have no recourse.

You do not have page on Facebook/G+, they have a page on you (you just update their page on you for free in exchange for seeing their pages on other people)
posted by AndrewStephens at 8:40 PM on May 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


One thing Google has done that I have appreciated has been (last I looked) refusing to open up any part of the G+ API that would allow people to auto-post. I know of a number of "social media maven" types who think that's a hideous oversight, but I believe one of the worst mistakes Google made with Buzz was opening it to becoming essentially a Twitter repeater. Nobody I knew actually engaged over Buzz: They just pointed their Twitter feed at it, declared it a solved problem, and went back to whatever they were doing.

At the same time, I wonder how much that limitation will also inhibit growth. Facebook is pretty much on the opposite end: It takes content from anywhere and happily turns it into grist for your wall, which helps keep it front and center as a one-stop place for whatever everyone's up to. People who don't even like Facebook can maintain a presence on it, hooking up their Twitter, flickr, etc. feeds and popping in if someone happens to leave a comment.

So, on one hand you don't want to let a service become a ghost town populated entirely by warmed over inputs from other services and RSS-driven autopost bots. On the other, maintaining a presence of any sort on Google Plus in particular becomes harder unless that presence is your starting point.
posted by mph at 8:45 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I actually used google+ a little. There were a bunch of mefites who signed up, so there was a lot of interesting posts.

But, since then, the amount of content has been dropping off quite a bit. Most of the posts now seem to be from random "Social Media Professionals" or people who are trying to promote random crap.

Frankly, it's just boring now. Obviously the utility in a social network depends on who you're connected too. I think a lot of people are worry of adding even more personal information to Google, or attaching even more of their personal life to Google's services.

But the other thing, I think a lot of social network growth is really just a random process. If you look at Orkut, which became extremely popular in Brazil and India - no one could have predicted that, and no one could have engineered that. I think it really is a random process. It has to do with whether or not people who influence a lot of others happen to chose it over other ones. (which is what happened with Orkut in Brazil, but not in the US)
posted by delmoi at 8:49 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hey, Google? Are you reading this? I bet someone at Google is reading this. You should read this, but it's probably much too late.

I'm one of your earliest adopters. I'm one of the people responsible for your success. I'm one of the millions of nerds that turned your brand name into a verb that means "to search".

I adopted gmail very early on when it was barely in public beta.

And I've basically had enough of your shit. I'm about ready to export all my email and take my business elsewhere.

Increasingly I find myself using DuckDuckGo as my search engine because it reminds me of your old search engine - clean, neat, quick and sparse and not glutted with ads and bullshit.

Just the other day I found myself thinking "Man, the front page of google is getting crowded and looks more and more like Yahoo!. That's not good. That's not good at all."

I don't like your new terms of service. I don't like how you reformatted gmail into a complete clusterfuck of a UI. It actually took me, oh, 30 seconds the other day to figure out just how to forward a fucking email, since you buried all the primary functions of email under those non-intuitive, graphics-only buttons and submenus.

I can't even see my chat contact list pane anymore on my netbook. You seemed to have assumed I wanted you to waste my precious screen space with a facebook-like "clean" UI, without any option to just go back to the old UI, which simply just worked.

And what the fuck is that stupid bullshit about the self-hiding invisible scroll bars on that chat contact list pane? Really? You're going to make me hover in an unmarked space for up to three seconds just so I can scroll through my contact list, 2-3 entries at a time? I used to be able to see about 20 contacts in the same space.

Now even reading emails is a chore. I now have multiple scroll bars to manage to pan around the screen. This is *fucked up*.

Instant search? It's distracting bullshit. It was bad enough having pop-down suggestions from the search field, but I don't really want you returning results until I've finished my fucking thought, ok?

Personalized/related search results? Ok, that's fucking creepy. No, they weren't actually useful, either.

Taking away true regex/boolean search terms? I want to brick your user experience designer in the face. No, really. You've become so frustrating and non-transparent you've literally made me curse at my screen. You're putting my personal hardware in real peril of defenestration.

I've written you feedback letters. I've sent you warnings that you were fucking up and headed the wrong direction. You didn't bother replying, and you started heading the wrong direction even faster.

I know you know who I am. My email is in my profile. Look at that email address. I was invited to gmail by a friend of an employee at google/gmail. I'm probably among the first 10,000 to 100,000 public, non-employee users.

And increasingly - I actually, actively hate you and your products. I'm already looking for exits, and it may be too late to stop it.

Once I jump ship and find solutions - and I start telling the later adopters in my life about better solutions - the exodus is on.

There's nothing stopping your company from falling just as fast if not faster than it rose, and it may be far too late for you to do anything about it.
posted by loquacious at 8:52 PM on May 21, 2012 [161 favorites]


The Go Fuck Yourself, Google post reminds me of when Yahoo! bought Flickr and you had to then have a Yahoo! account or you couldn't use Flickr even if you were already using Flickr. That was the day I stopped using Flickr.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 8:53 PM on May 21, 2012 [7 favorites]


You people are weird. I love G+. I have all of my actual friends on it, and a few non-people entities that I follow and it's great. Ended up killing my facebook account a few months back because one of the only people that I cared about was my idiot brother in-law and cutting off his feed has done wonders for my sanity.

I love the android integration; I never have to worry about accidentally formatting my phone's SD card and losing photos and videos, and it's just a very nice and clean interface.
posted by Bonky Moon at 8:55 PM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


I use google + once a week. My writing group meets on there for critique. Hang-outs is killer, much simpler, and more fun than skype or any other equivalent program I've tried.

However, since a bit before the last interface change, I've slowly stopped using the rest of it. At first I had a flurry of activity and loved using it, but there has been a feeling of slow, growing stagnation on there.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:01 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those of you who've gotten away from Google, what cloud services are you using instead (preferably works with Android. Heh.) for:

- Calendar
- Mail
- Contacts
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 9:03 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, another thing that really annoys me about G+, there is hardly any ability to format your posts. You can't even chose anchor text for links - G+ does that for you. You can have one 'main' link and then just add random plaintext URLs, which google will sometimes leave as URLs and sometimes change to the page title.

It's annoying. While I did kind of like sharing aspect when it was more active (much less active now, from what I can see) the lack of ability format posts really gets on my nerves.
posted by delmoi at 9:03 PM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


All my friends quit using Google+. Yet I somehow wound up in circles enough that people keep on adding me. So I have a circle of some 500 people I don't know and don't want to share personal things with, but they keep on adding me. Damned if I know why. It's a bizarre phenomenon, a social network full of strangers.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:03 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Considering that when you sign up for a Gmail account you're automatically enrolled in Google+? I'd say, yes, yes they are.

My god, they're also shoving Calendar and Reader accounts down people's throats.

Maybe we can get this banned under the new anti-foie gras laws.
posted by GuyZero at 9:04 PM on May 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


Yeah, the problem with G+ is managing what shows up in your stream. I have a whole bunch of people who have added me because of the Japan connection, so as a result I have a bunch of kitschy crap to look forward to whenever I log in - castles with cherry blossoms, maid cafes, shrine gates etc etc. I just don't feel like taking an hour or so and weeding them out.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:06 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, do you all know the circles model is asymmetric? Just because someone adds you to one of their circles does not mean they're added to your circles and unless you go an manually add them you will not see their posts.

A lot of random people have added me on G+ and I have added none of them back and I see none of whatever it is they are posting.

What's the disconnect here?
posted by GuyZero at 9:09 PM on May 21, 2012 [8 favorites]


You know what's crazy? Google+ has no RSS, so you can't read people's G+ feeds in reader. If there were some people who I actually found interesting on their own, I might add them in reader.

One thing about G+ is, at least from the default interface it really devalues the idea of wanting updates from any particular person. All the feeds have equal weight (or weighed by some algorithm you have no control over)

With reader, you read who you want to read when you want to read them. G+ (and facebook) are basically saying "Here's some content, it's all good, right?!" But with the way facebook grew, most of that content is from old friends, and the weighting is actually decent - showing me posts from people I actually do care about, in which case the content doesn't need to be "good" (and I rarely, rarely use FB anyway - I log on like once or twice a month)

But with G+, I populated my circles with random internet people. Some of them post interesting content, some of them post crap. But there's no way to specify who you're most interested in seeing content from, and who you don't give a crap about.

If I could add people's streams to reader, I might do so. But, I can't.
posted by delmoi at 9:09 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


"the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share."

Sounds a lot like Facebook.

Having run and looked at metrics A LOT during my time at LiveJournal, I can say that both Google+ and Facebook are really not that good as far as prompting a comforting/justifiable/useful response from others... and that matters a lot. FB's level of response activity per user is no great shakes... and it would be worse if it weren't for the fact that they have so many users, whose responses tend to encourage others to respond.

The fact is, most people will not keep posting anywhere, if they don't get a response from friends that matter to them, and if the information they receive isn't interesting, useful, and meaningful enough. And over time, pretty much every online community sees a drop-off of posting activity per user, along with a dilution of posts of great interest / relevance / meaning to the reader in question. This tends to come naturally by adding more things than one can follow, or things that are gradually less relevant. There's also a natural tendency to post fewer items of personal importance and meaning, when the potential audience for posts is too large and too diverse. Most people simply don't bother with filtering posts, etc., not that to do so is any guarantee of privacy.

Although this probably isn't what its IPO buyers want to hear, we have *never* seen an example of an online community avoid these simple laws that greatly influence their birth, growth, and death. Eventually, these sites will be bragging mostly about their total user base, because those are the stats that will look best for them. The actual activity level per user though doesn't really bode well into the long term future... the multi-multi billion dollar future that a whole ton of people just paid for could find the thrill is gone and the party has moved on somewhere else, with relatively little warning, in a couple of years.
posted by markkraft at 9:09 PM on May 21, 2012 [17 favorites]


KokuRyu: Yeah, the problem with G+ is managing what shows up in your stream.

This is what I like best, actually... how easy it is. The All stream shows what you tell it to show. To quickly take care of your problem, create a circle for just what you want in your stream, then set all the other circles to not show anything in your stream. Bam, done.
posted by gilrain at 9:11 PM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


All the feeds have equal weight (or weighed by some algorithm you have no control over)

Actually every circle has a somewhat hidden "volume slider" that controls how much of that circle's activity shows up in your "All Circles" view.
posted by GuyZero at 9:12 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


GuyZero: Actually every circle has a somewhat hidden "volume slider" that controls how much of that circle's activity shows up in your "All Circles" view.

Yep, every circle (including the horrible "what's hot") has a slider with settings for Show All, Show Most, Show Fewer, and Show None. Makes tweaking your stream a complete breeze.
posted by gilrain at 9:15 PM on May 21, 2012


"the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share."

What Google Plus really needs is to emulate the explosive growth of MySpace or Bebo. That's the recipe for long-term success.

What I want to know is why anyone other than Google gives a shit about whether Google+ lives or dies. Who exactly was so put out when Buzz and Wave died?
posted by GuyZero at 9:16 PM on May 21, 2012


OK, do you all know the circles model is asymmetric? Just because someone adds you to one of their circles does not mean they're added to your circles and unless you go an manually add them you will not see their posts.

A lot of random people have added me on G+ and I have added none of them back and I see none of whatever it is they are posting.

What's the disconnect here?
I think most people understand that. But the problem is, if you want to share with them then you need to add them to your circles (or else make the posts totally public, which means anyone who might Google you could find it)

But, if you add them to your circles, then you see everything they post. And a lot of it might be garbage. They could be SEO spammers, or they could just be people who post a lot of inane crap. But, if you remove them, then they can't see your stuff.

The end result is that either no one sees what you post - or your feed is filled up with completely uninteresting crap - which you can maybe find some interesting stuff by clicking on a particular circle to see stuff from a particular group of people.

But, it would be nice if I could just add people's G+ feeds to google reader and read them there.
posted by delmoi at 9:17 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


As someone who makes things and likes to engage the audience where they're at, I promptly set up a Google + account and created a business page for my tiny little publishing concern the first day they were publicly available. Looking at the stats for the last six months, there have been four clicks total going from the Google + page to any of my comics, and I've got 487 people following Agreeable Comics there. A month ago, I finally stopped posting links on it entirely. Not one peep from the "fans." The stream from follows on that page features nothing but spam from the usual sorts of people who join a service and then spam people.

I can't be bothered to clean up after them because there is no point to it. It's dead. Facebook, as much as I loathe it, claimed that market and I get asked "Are you on Facebook?" by people I meet at conventions more than anything else. In a perfect world, Google + would have worked, but it didn't and now I'm waiting on the Wave email to tell me they're shutting it down.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 9:19 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


delmoi: But, if you add them to your circles, then you see everything they post. And a lot of it might be garbage. They could be SEO spammers, or they could just be people who post a lot of inane crap. But, if you remove them, then they can't see your stuff.

That's just not true; see above. That's a default, and I wish the sliders were more obvious... but you could easily have a My Followers circle, say, which never show up in your stream but whom you could target for posts without just making the post public.
posted by gilrain at 9:20 PM on May 21, 2012


Stick them in a circle and turn the volume to zero.

Although yes, an RSS feed would be straightforward, but RSS seems bizarrely political these days.
posted by GuyZero at 9:20 PM on May 21, 2012


I didn't know about the 'volume' slider, but it's a bit to late for me now, but at this point I haven't even seen anything interesting on G+ for a while, so no much reason to try to go through and curate it.

Maybe I will go through it at some point.

The fact that slider is kind of hidden though is more problematic, they should have made a more obvious way to deal with it initially.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 PM on May 21, 2012


So just because some people don't seem to know:

Increasingly I find myself using DuckDuckGo as my search engine because it reminds me of your old search engine - clean, neat, quick and sparse and not glutted with ads and bullshit.

DuckDuckGo is great and all, but it's like 60% or more Bing. And while DDG may not be tracking you, I don't think they warranty what happens with the data sent to Bing.

The fact that slider is kind of hidden though is more problematic, they should have made a more obvious way to deal with it initially.

yeah. It's also a recent addition I think. It wasn't there at launch.
posted by GuyZero at 9:25 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


beaucoupkevin: "In a perfect world, Google + would have worked, but it didn't and now I'm waiting on the Wave email to tell me they're shutting it down"

Given their track record on these things, I'd expect that email to say it's coming from "Google Plum."
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:25 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, fair enough delmoi. I really like Google+, but... well, the FPP hits home, because nobody in my social group uses it.

Hangouts are best of breed, and Circles are still as awesome as they were when people were initially excited (even though Google could be way better at teaching them, e.g. the volume sliders), the Android integration is a joy if you've got one... The features are there; the users are not.
posted by gilrain at 9:30 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I kind of wish Plus had incorporated some of Buzz's functionality. The whole thing with Buzz was that you plugged in services you were already using (including your RSS reader) and it made it easy to facilitate conversations about these things without thinking about them. For plus, you have to manually share/plus one everything and it just feels clunky and cumbersome.

Which is too bad, because I still feel like it could be the ultimate crossover between twitter and tumblr where you have conversations with really interesting people online about stuff. But it's just not intuitive enough for that, and I do think google+ has been awkwardly shoe-horned in where it doesn't belong. Like they got rid of the "following" feature on non-blogger blogs and you were supposed to replace it with a plus page that shared none of the functionality.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:30 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've hooked up with ~3K RPG gamers and a lot of us use hangouts for running and playing a wide variety of games, which has been fantastic. Upthread someone mentioned it being a hobby paradise - I agree. Large communities of shared interests are forming on G+ (scientist/science fans, photographers, woodworkers, etc)
posted by Golem XIV at 9:30 PM on May 21, 2012


I really hope that G+ makes it; it seems to be not what most people want, but it's pretty much a perfect place for me and mine.
But, then again, this shouldn't be a surprise; I'm a satisfied Flickr Pro member and have been completely satisfied with how that's turned out as well.
posted by Bonky Moon at 9:31 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


what cloud services are you using instead

none. that's the whole point. I don't want someone else to own my data, so I store it myself.
posted by Mars Saxman at 9:33 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've hooked up with ~3K RPG gamers and a lot of us use hangouts for running and playing a wide variety of games, which has been fantastic. Upthread someone mentioned it being a hobby paradise - I agree. Large communities of shared interests are forming on G+ (scientist/science fans, photographers, woodworkers, etc)

I really do think G+ needs to be pushing hang-outs more heavily. A friend of mine (who signed up for g+, signed in three months later to make an update about how it's a ghost town, and hasn't showed his face since) is moving to Japan and started talking about how we need to skype. And, oh man, hang-outs are so much easier to use. And fun! Every time they add new beards and mustaches my writing group loses a ton of critique time to bopping around like goofballs in astronaut helmets, or whatever.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:34 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


51% of the internet is apparently not human. No wonder nobody +1s anything.
posted by infini at 9:36 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Considering that when you sign up for a Gmail account you're automatically enrolled in Google+? I'd say, yes, yes they are.

My god, they're also shoving Calendar and Reader accounts down people's throats.


I'm sure you're being all smart-ass here...

But I recently had to sign my 70 year old mother up for a gmail account because Centurylink is stupid and I couldn't get their POP to work with her iPad. So I set up a gmail account and had the Centurylink account forward everything to that account and linked that to her iPad.

Okay, that's all great. But why the fuck does she suddenly also have a Google+ account and is getting nagged to start participating in that? She's not interested in that. She only wants to have email she can read on her iPad. There's no reason for that Google+ account to exist other than Google trying to leverage every interaction with their services into interaction with ALL of their services.

If there were some kind of checkbox or selection or approval process when you're signing up for gmail about "do you want these other things too?", that would be great. But there isn't. It just happens.

It's stupid, and invasive, and they really should just quit it the fuck out.
posted by hippybear at 9:37 PM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


NOTE TO GOOGLE ADD MORE AMUSING HATS LOOK AT VALVE IT WORKS HATS ALL THE WAY
posted by The Whelk at 9:38 PM on May 21, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'd +1 the shit out of some amusing hats
posted by Bonky Moon at 9:40 PM on May 21, 2012


Lots of math people on G+. I check it every day, and post to it a couple of times a week. I agree with others above -- it's not dead, bu its life takes place in a bunch of separate niches, and that may not be enough to allow it to survive in the long run.
posted by escabeche at 9:42 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man, there are so many unwarranted assumptions based on personal experience here that it's silly.

Starting with the lead-in survey, which is dumb. You can't claim Google+'s user engagement is "weak" without actually comparing it to something - and yet nobody in the articles linked actually has comparable numbers for Facebook. All of you can say you use Facebook more, but that means absolutely nothing. It's anecdotal. What we need is a larger picture, and we sure as hell aren't getting that here.

Meanwhile, a lot of us, particularly in tech, are finding a lot of vibrant community and discussion on Google+. Guido van Rossum and Linus Torvalds are on Google+, and I find it really interesting to follow the stuff they have to say. For what it's worth, they actually do the Linux kernel release notifications on Google+ now, so it's a great way to stay up on kernel dev if you're into that.

But of course people who are into that are "ghosts" in a "ghost town." Sometimes these articles about social sites really piss me off. There are 100 million people on Google+, and they'll sneer that only one in a hundred is actually active. Fine - so there are a million of us. Even if there were a thousand of us, would that really mean that out community platform is wrong or dead or should be discontinued?

The people who do this crap are the exact same people who have been sneering at LiveJournal for years, even though LiveJournal to this day has a more dedicated and thoughtful userbase than almot any other platform out there.
posted by koeselitz at 9:47 PM on May 21, 2012 [10 favorites]


beaucoupkevin: "It's dead. Facebook, as much as I loathe it, claimed that market and I get asked "Are you on Facebook?" by people I meet at conventions more than anything else. In a perfect world, Google + would have worked, but it didn't and now I'm waiting on the Wave email to tell me they're shutting it down."

Yep. A platform with millions upon millions of users is dead because it failed to promote your web comic.

By the way, did you hear? Turns out Facebook is a terrible place to sell cars; GM pulled their advertising contracts last week because they weren't working for them at all. I guess Facebook is completely dead, too.
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 PM on May 21, 2012


(Sorry, I guess you don't do web comics; you do print comics, right? Either way, I don't think any platform stands or falls on the basis of the experience of one company. I know comics probably don't work well on Google+; why isn't that okay? I also like the Grateful Dead, but I don't post much about that on Facebook because my set of friends there wouldn't really be into it.)
posted by koeselitz at 9:55 PM on May 21, 2012


I don't want to overstate this, but I think social media is a natural monopoly with very big economies of scale, at least for a particular type of social media. It's like Battle of the Sexes: we may each have idiosyncratic preferences for which platform we uses (A prefers facebook, B prefers Google+), but ultimately the site only has value of if we can coordinate on the same one. Once that site is selected, people have almost no incentive to switch. Switching to Google Plus for a heavy user on facebook is practically impossible, even if she actually prefers Google Plus, unless she can simultaneously move all her friends.

But, I feel like that's just an ex post rationalization on my part as to why something is an equilibrium. If I were left to do things, I'd say everything was impossible otherwise why wouldn't it already be done. So maybe Google will surprise me. I personally have no desire to be on other site, though.
posted by scunning at 10:00 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey remember when Craigslist changed their interface every 6 months and fucked around with the features that everyone loves and basically forced people to use their site in new and confusing ways all the time? No??? ME NEITHER. That's why I have never uttered the words "OH GO FUCK YOURSELF CRAIGSLIST". Whereas I say FUCK YOU FACEBOOK or FUCK YOU GOOGLE just about every 6 months when they force some new crap down my throat like timeline. The difference is Craigslist doesn't have to justify their valuation every quarter with flashy new bells and whistles and bullshit.
posted by spicynuts at 10:00 PM on May 21, 2012 [23 favorites]


Maybe we can get this banned under the new anti-foie gras laws.

Cybergavage.
posted by XMLicious at 10:03 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


People compare it to Facebook because everybody knows Facebook is who Google thinks of as their competitor on this, not other less popular networks.

Facebook isn't a success because they attracted Linux geeks, they are a success because people's grandparents are on it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:04 PM on May 21, 2012 [4 favorites]


What about grandparents who are Linux geeks?
posted by koeselitz at 10:06 PM on May 21, 2012


But why the fuck does she suddenly also have a Google+ account and is getting nagged to start participating in that?

I had the same experience with Gmail once upon a time: I signed up for google talk and merrily chatted away. Then one day I had a conversation with a friend wherein I discovered that quite a number of emails she'd sent me had never come through, and she'd started to think I was a flake. Turns out Google had automagically generated an email address for me and inserted it into the address book of every gtalk contact who also had a gmail account, and so they were all sending messages to this phantom account I had never heard of before. I mean, seriously, I had to figure out how to log into gmail just so I could turn it off, and there were dozens of messages in there I'd never received.

To this day I have a bogus gmail account set up as a forwarder, because there's no way to delete this unwanted gmail account and still keep my google talk account. I probably have friends who have no idea that I've never actually used gmail for anything, ever.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:27 PM on May 21, 2012 [3 favorites]


GM pulled their ads, but Ford is buying even more. Unsuprisingly, Ford has almost five times as many "friends".
posted by Winnemac at 10:32 PM on May 21, 2012


Man, there are so many unwarranted assumptions based on personal experience here that it's silly.

He said, then promptly went on to describe his own personal experiences...

Nobody would get annoyed much about the Google+ or the Facebook experiences if they weren't walled gardens and while the latter has a shitload of crap that's only useable if you're on FB all the time, at least it didn't try and force people on unrelated services to join it to continue to use the platforms they actually wanted to use.

(See also Yahoo.)
posted by MartinWisse at 10:56 PM on May 21, 2012


I thought I'd like G+ because I hated Facebook but what I discovered was that I really wanted Tumblr with conversations. Which G+ is not.
posted by desjardins at 11:00 PM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


DuckDuckGo is great and all, but it's like 60% or more Bing. And while DDG may not be tracking you, I don't think they warranty what happens with the data sent to Bing.

Ouch. Figures Bing or Microsoft would somehow be involved with that. Meh.
posted by loquacious at 11:02 PM on May 21, 2012


Oh, Go fuck yourself, Google. Is something that I as well have been feeling.

It started with that stupid black bar on the home page. It's not big, but it's there, and it's BLACK. on a big WHITE CLEAN page. It distracts me, and it's the first thing that they have really allowed on the home page other than the classic search box.

I hate it so much I installed a chrome plugin to remove it.

Then of course, the bar was to "tie in" all the "google products". Google doesn't make products, they never have. They are an advertising company that's made lots and lots of cool projects, most interesting, some nifty, and a very few, awesome. Like the spam filter and instant search of gmail, or the street view and traffic on google maps. Even google flights is pretty awesome.

But those aren't products. And Google+ isn't a project. It's a "PRODUCT", a BIG MOVE for the SERIOUS company. They need to GROW it and FOCUS. So what did they do?

They KILLED almost all their cool projects, re-skinned their few popular projects and stuck a new EULA on top of it all.

And made as FUCK SURE you were going to have a G+ account, and put little '+' on the search results. And defaut to my "friends network" (like anyone has G+ friends) and G+ pages on the top of the fucking search.

You know what. Oh, Go fuck yourself, Google. I used to really like you, but you're fucking it all up.
posted by jonclegg at 11:03 PM on May 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


I do miss when Google was a software company supported by ads instead of an ad company that released software, though.

Wow. What an amazingly pithy description of what has happened to Google. I love it.
posted by heathkit at 11:11 PM on May 21, 2012 [2 favorites]


Facebook isn't a success because they attracted Linux geeks, they are a success because people's grandparents are on it.
I think you've reversed causality there. Facebook was successful because college students were on it. People's grandparents are on facebook so they can keep up with their grandkids.
the Android integration is a joy if you've got one...
Actually I have a friend who got completely freaked out by the photo auto-upload. This is a story I think I've told before, but whatever. She had a "Google Profile", and so she got a G+ account really early on. She ended up installing the google+ Android app, and apparently didn't notice the 'opt-out' for having it upload all your pictures to Google.

Then, at work she searches for her name, and all of sudden all of her personal photos she'd taken with her cellphone showed up in the "Search plus your world" thing - She had no idea that the pictures were even being uploaded, and she didn't realize that they were only visible to her, because she was logged on.

All she knew was that she'd taken the photos with her phone, and now they showed up when she searched her own name, and that it had something to do with Google+

The only reason I knew what was going on was because I had happened to watch an interview with Vic Gundotra and Sergey Brin where they had talked about the photo upload, and I'd heard news about the search + your world crap. The vast majority of people don't follow tech news that closely (In fact, I don't even follow it that closely, the fact I'd happened to watch this interview was pretty random)

It was pretty careless on google's part, and interestingly had to do with two separate "products" - the image upload by posting the images and making them available to her only, and the "search + your world" showing you any pictures that might be available to you relating to your search term. That's the problem with making "products" and then making people use them automatically, especially when the "products" are their own information or the personal information of their friends. You obviously run a much greater risk of freaking people out.

The thing is, this person might have actually gotten into G+. She used Picasa and Google talk. But now, instead of using it and recruiting her friends - she'll avoid it and probably tell people not to use it.
You know what. Oh, Go fuck yourself, Google. I used to really like you, but you're fucking it all up.
Well, one key thing is that they changed CEOs. Frankly, I do think they were getting a little stodgy. I think the redesign was a good idea, their designs had gotten pretty stale. Youtube, especially, looks WAY better. Google reader was not that great (and I hardly ever use it anymore). Gmail: Meh. either way is fine.

But one big difference is that they realized, probably by seeing facebook do it, that you can piss people off and still make money. In fact, you might make even more money by pissing people off then by making them all happy. The problem, though, is that when people first signed up with FB, they knew that everything they posted there was going to be semi-public. With Google, though, everything you did there felt private - switching from private to public is going to shake people's trust a lot more (IMO)

I do think it's going to prevent people from doing more stuff with Google. Like, this new "Google Drive" or whatever, I have zero interest in using it - I already use Amazon S3 (which you need to be somewhat nerdy to use directly), but lots of people use DropBox or whatever. Even if Google drive was better, I think people might want to avoid adding more crap to Google if they can avoid it.
posted by delmoi at 11:12 PM on May 21, 2012 [5 favorites]


As one of the folks who worked on the old Gmail design for a long time, I feel a bit like a father watching his daughter get a lower back tattoo.
posted by drklahn at 11:38 PM on May 21, 2012 [90 favorites]


drklahn, man I feel for you. The redesign is horrific.
posted by dabitch at 11:48 PM on May 21, 2012


Even if there were a thousand of us, would that really mean that out community platform is wrong or dead or should be discontinued?


I think this misses the point - Google is one of the world's largest companies, with some of the world's smartest people. They're a natural (and almost unavoidable) center of gravity for any communication-related new media-type project. Facebook is utter crap in a lot of ways, but they're got the users, so it doesn't matter as much. Google, though, were supposed to be the ultra-cool uber-geeks with tons of money and ideas. Smartest employees on the planet. Oh, and they weren't supposed to be evil, were they? Thought i remembered a catch-phrase like that.

In any case what we've gotten are solid projects being wrecked, shit projects being force-fed, and users being commodified. Google should be putting out the very best stuff in the world. So naturally people are pissed when they don't. Google means much, much more to many, many people than their governments(s) or communities ever will.

Basically I'm just pissed because they fucked up Reader. Could have been the best RSS reader ever, but it's not.
posted by facetious at 11:53 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


drklahn, man I feel for you. The redesign is horrific.

I thought I must be the only one thinking that since they so aggresively shoved the new shitty version down my throat, glad I'm not alone at least.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:54 PM on May 21, 2012


The new google designs are much more useable. Period.

Black bar, gmail, whatever. They went with the new designs because the most # of people liked them. You may not like them - not everyone will like a given design. Isn't there something else you can find to get angry about?

The new gmail design is way better - my "eyes" instantly relaxed the first time I saw it. There are some useful new features. You're used to the old version, so you don't like it. Get over it. No matter what they gave you, you wouldn't have liked it as much. But nothing stays the same. I'm sure they have the stats to back up the fact that the changes make gmail easier to use.
posted by victory_laser at 11:58 PM on May 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


But nothing stays the same

No, not when people keep changing shit. "Nothing stays the same" isn't a reason to change something that was working fine, and could, in fact, have stayed the same.
posted by kenko at 12:01 AM on May 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Get over it.

Drew?

(The new design sucks, sorry. It's been, what, a year now? That's enough time to "get over it.")
posted by dirigibleman at 12:03 AM on May 22, 2012


Maybe for the sake of productive conversation assume we aren't morons and we know what we like. Not everyone complains about change just because it's change and the flaw of praising change just for being change is just as common.

Google is not infalliable and they don't know exactly what people want despite whatever metrics they are using, the failure of G+ might be some evidence of this, eh?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:25 AM on May 22, 2012


Supposedly there's an option hidden somewhere to "re-enable" the "old" UI. I haven't tired it, since frankly I don't mind the new UI at all, and the old one was getting kind of boring.

I do think the design is somewhat... aggressive. What's with all the red? It's not a relaxing color. If I were someone who spent a ton of time in my email, it might get annoying. But there are also different color schemes and stuff you can try - or you can use IMAP and use whatever email client you want with it.

One thing I don't really get about web companies: Why force everyone to use the same UI? I mean, obviously alternate UIs need to be updated with new features, which could get hectic -- but for a company like facebook or Google it seems like it might be worth the investment.
posted by delmoi at 12:37 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel stupid for being a little argumentative than necessary. You can't make everybody happy, and if Google made you guys happy then someone else would be ranting.

For the sake of productive conversation, have any of you looked at the other email providers? Maybe you could route your gmail account through them. (on preview - ditto delmoi. and I use the theme that has grass in the background)

Or, I wonder why Google didn't provide a UI that has the newer features, but retains much of the old look. Maybe someone can speculate on this? If there isn't a good reason, then yeah maybe it is a case of Google-hubris "shoving it down our throats."

furiousxgeorge - the failure of G+ is a a little more complex subject than just UX metrics.
posted by victory_laser at 12:40 AM on May 22, 2012


the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share.

Okay, so they find that people are posting more than they are +1-ing, replying, or re-sharing.

That's not really what I see, but I wonder what ratio of posting : +1-ing : replying : re-sharing they think google+ "should" have.
posted by aubilenon at 12:41 AM on May 22, 2012


The new google designs are much more useable. Period.
This is just plain not true. The redesign violates the most basic design standards. One example is the fact that the same icon is used for different functions. Another one is the muddyness of the thread view where messages can now be told apart less well. There's also the two clicks instead of one and lots of other things.

These are things that were more usable before and are less usable now. Period.
They went with the new designs because the most # of people liked them.
While I have no means of proof I strongly suspect that this is indeed not the case. As with the forced G+ membership the new designs were forced onto people. You do not need to force people if people choose out of their own free will.

As for personal anecdotes, I used to recommend Google products (mainly gmail) to all my friends/family/coworkers. I have now come to recommend that they not bother with the G+ crap and just use Facebook. And I don't even particularly like Facebook...
posted by patrick54 at 1:06 AM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Supposedly there's an option hidden somewhere to "re-enable" the "old" UI.

They removed that button.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:14 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


My problem with G+ is that I don't recognize most of my contacts since most of my circles are online connections that I recognize by their handles, not their RL names... and also the fact that it isn't even supposed to be a social network at all.

I was sort of enthused about an alternative social network, but I have absolutely no use for an Identity Service. What sort of things should I post to my Identity Service? "Here's my SS# in case anyone needs it"? "I've *finally* uploaded scans of my passport; check it out!!1"? "Hai guyz, here's my birth certificate and a COMPLETE set of fingerprints. WOOT!"? "Still waiting for my dental records, will post as soon as I can... sorry for the delay. :( "?
posted by taz at 1:25 AM on May 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


I work in online marketing so have to use Google + to practice what I preach. Little do they know I secretly despise it.

Google need to face the fact they lost the social race. Google + may live on as a niche network for marketers/digital people but it will never reach mass market saturation. The simple fact that I have never seen them address in all their sales material for Google + is "what is the benefit to me, as a user". I know they spout ''Search plus your world" as a benefit but frankly, I can't stand it. Google always prided itself on having clean search results and that's why it arguably took market dominance. However, now the results are so god damn messy when using signed in search I've recently started using Bing, yeah you heard it, BING.
posted by jamiemch at 1:35 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google is one of the world's largest companies, with some of the world's smartest people
Must be very frustrating for all those people to see their genius distorted into the massive clusterfuck that Google is becoming.
posted by fullerine at 1:47 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I know they spout ''Search plus your world" as a benefit but frankly, I can't stand it. Google always prided itself on having clean search results and that's why it arguably took market dominance. However, now the results are so god damn messy when using signed in search I've recently started using Bing, yeah you heard it, BING.

Heh. That's the thing for me, or one of them. I've had an array of Gmail addresses I use for different purposes (real name variants for friends and business contacts, wonderchicken variants, apps-for-domains accounts, others), for years. I don't like the new UI in Gmail very much, but I can live with it.

The great annoyance these days, for me, is that I have so much muscle memory built up from years of just closing the tab after I'd signed in to check my mail. Now, if I forget to sign out, I've got Google throwing me crazy 'customized' search results, trying to log me on to places I don't want to be signed in to, bouncing me around to a bewildering array of authentication routines, begging me to sign up for Google+ when I know goddamned well if I accidentally hit the wrong button and do so, they'll delete the account (and my years of email, apparently) because the account is not my 'real name', and, even more annoyingly, rocketing me off without so much as a 'by your leave' to Korean language versions of various Google sites when THAT'S NOT WHAT I WANT. Let alone my concerns about privacy at the prospect of staying logged in all the time and feeding their endless hunger for personal data.

So I end up having to go back in to the email account and hit the Sign Out button. Not such a hardship, I know, but I end up doing it 10 or 15 times a day, sometimes more if I'm doing a round of checking up on some of my lesser-used email accounts. If the Gmail manager addon for Firefox ever stops working, I am fucked.

It all seems so user-hostile, and it makes me even crankier than normal. Which is pretty cranky. Or maybe I just need a better system. But organized is not something I am, and set in my ways is.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:58 AM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


stavrosthewonderchicken - use the "sign in to google chrome" feature - it ring fences chrome browsers - I am logged into 5 account - home and 4 x work - all discreet.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 2:12 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


My problem with G+ is that I don't recognize most of my contacts since most of my circles are online connections that I recognize by their handles, not their RL names...

Yeah this is the problem I have. At some point, my launch into Google+ was adding a whole pile of people from Mefightclub when they all posted their Google+ addresses in a thread there. Nothing against those peeps - great chaps and chapesses. But now when I go to Google+, I really don't know who or what I'm looking at. This problem is doubled because none of my friends or family use it. And I think that's the key - any social network is going to be useless to you if there aren't people on there you want to communicate with.

I never got into Myspace because, when I tried it, no one else I knew was on there. Facebook hit the sweet spot where a number of real life friends from highschool could be found on there, and that was the launching off point for everyone else. Twitter was good for me because it's purpose is more amorphous... it doesn't function as a social network for me, as much as a real time news and cool links feed. I follow people from the web on it. not people from high school. Tumblr is just Twitter with funny pictures.

But Google+ remains a page full of people allegedly from Metafilter, except I don't know who they are because I don't know their real names. This isn't anything Google can fix through design. Facebook just hit the sweet spot with timing. Twitter hit the sweet spot with simplicity. It's clear Google's solution to this problem is to just try to crowbar every person who ever touches Google into it, but that's futile as well if people don't want to use it.
posted by Jimbob at 2:26 AM on May 22, 2012


I have a Google+ account since from before they started stuffing it down people's throats. If I had any desire to use it, it ended when they started emailing me 'here's some accounts with stuff you might find interesting' and it was all advertising/company blogs as far as I can see, not one of which even remotely overlapped with anything I am interested in. Given the amount of data Google surely has on me, I can only conclude that they don't give a flying fuck about what I might be interested in and instead are focused on pushing as many paying accounts as they can. So in return I will do them the favour of not giving a flying fuck about Google+ and dancing like a maniac when it stumbles to an inglorious end.

I do think it's going to prevent people from doing more stuff with Google. Like, this new "Google Drive" or whatever, I have zero interest in using it - I already use Amazon S3 (which you need to be somewhat nerdy to use directly), but lots of people use DropBox or whatever.

This is pretty much my situation. I have a paid account with Dropbox and will stick with it unless they suffer some massive collapse; I have no desire to give Google any more information on me nor do I think it's a great idea to rely so heavily on one company. I know they push the convenience factor, but all I see is the risks of putting my eggs in one basket. Plus, now I dislike Google so much that I'd almost give my money to another company out of sheer spite.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 2:28 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


spicynuts: "Hey remember when Craigslist changed their interface every 6 months and fucked around with the features that everyone loves and basically forced people to use their site in new and confusing ways all the time? No??? ME NEITHER. That's why I have never uttered the words "OH GO FUCK YOURSELF CRAIGSLIST". Whereas I say FUCK YOU FACEBOOK or FUCK YOU GOOGLE just about every 6 months when they force some new crap down my throat like timeline. The difference is Craigslist doesn't have to justify their valuation every quarter with flashy new bells and whistles and bullshit."


Oh god yes. Every time I log into Google plus, shit is somewhere else. I'm not a caveman and can figure it out but jeez, they've over-tweaked it to the point where I want to punch my monitor sometimes. Nine times out of ten, some bell or whistle they ad is utterly fucking useless to me. FB on the other hand, has managed to incorporate small changes here and there (timeline excepted) that were not obtrusive nor did they have Robert Scoble creating 64 posts about why it is so great.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:52 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whatever it is they are doing, its breaking what they used to do so well.

My gmail was one of the fastest loading elements of my internet experience, particularly since half the time I'm logging in on bandwidth limited sim card modems which charge by kilobyte. Today, sitting here in unlimited wifi, half the time it tells me there is a script error when all I want to do is quickly check my inbox. Its the slowest loading site and holds up every other tab or window that's open.

Regardless of prettiness, that there is bad design when form has overwhelmed dysfunction.
posted by infini at 3:06 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Those of you who've gotten away from Google, what cloud services are you using instead

Microsoft does hosted exchange for $4/mo, and it's the business. Contacts/calender/mail all properly integrated and thought through, with no randoming sharing nonsense bolted on. I really, really like it, and I never thought I'd say that about an MS online product.
posted by fightorflight at 3:23 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


markkraft: And over time, pretty much every online community sees a drop-off of posting activity per user

Well sure. But from the study:

The decay rate here is very concerning. Users are less and less likely to make additional posts even a few months after initially joining. While it may not be an apples-to-apples comparison, it's interesting to contrast this with the same chart from our Pinterest Data Analysis, which shows no decay whatsoever.

There's an arc to a young service that grows organically and has exciting metrics, and an arc to a young service that does not grow organically and does not have exciting metrics. I think the point is that Google+ seems to be in the latter camp. Pinterest, however:

In the past six months, the social sharing tool has gone from effectively non-existent to one of the top 100 sites on the web (and is on track to break into Alexa’s Top 50)...For most companies, even highly successful ones, cohort charts like these show lines that steadily decay toward a more horizontal slope over time. This happens because there is some natural attrition rate with which users simply stop using the site, causing the incremental engagement of the average user to drop off.

That is definitely not the case with Pinterest. These lines show little to no decay whatsoever.


It's difficult to argue with your statement that "we have *never* seen an example of an online community avoid these simple laws that greatly influence their birth, growth, and death." Sites taper and die, yes, and it's worth noting that RJMetrics' 2009 Twitter analysis was equally eye-opening, finding that "over 14% of users don't have a single follower," "over 75% of users have 10 or fewer followers," "38% of users have never sent a single tweet," "over 75% of users have sent fewer than 10 tweets" and only "1 in 4 registered users tweets in any given month." The accompanying Users by Follower Count pie graph was especially good.
posted by mediareport at 3:34 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


w/r/t DuckDuckGo: Ouch. Figures Bing or Microsoft would somehow be involved with that. Meh.

To clarify, I don't think Bing or Microsoft are 'involved' with DuckDuckGo (unless it's a big secret, which would be disappointing, but also a little fascinating). Rather, DuckDuckGo just heavily relies on search results from Bing.

w/r/t Gmail: Or, I wonder why Google didn't provide a UI that has the newer features, but retains much of the old look. Maybe someone can speculate on this?

This could have been misdirection of some sort -- and I don't have a specific article to point to -- but I'm pretty sure at the time of its initial rollout, Google was saying a big reason for the redesign was to be able to support a unified interface across a larger number of languages. Apparently the old interface required them to resize buttons for certain verbose languages and thus to rejiggle the precise button placement. I don't know how this squares with the fact that you can change Gmail settings to replace all the new icons with words. I guess the buttons are big enough for all the languages now?

In any case, I discovered two new reasons to gripe about gmail's new design this week:

1) Search for a keyword or two. My eyes go right to the results and start moving down, staying toward the bottom as I scroll to see more results. So when I don't find the email I thought my query might uncover, my eyes are at the bottom. Unfortunately, there is now nothing toward the bottom of the screen indicating that there are further pages of results (nor a button down there to let you navigate to the next page of results). I get that the information (and next/prev page buttons) are at the top of the screen, but twice in the last week I searched for a relatively obscure word, failed to notice the information up there, and assumed the single page of results was exhaustive. (I understand part of this is years of training to expect some sort of 'more results' information at the bottom, below the last currently displayed result, but wouldn't duplicating that information there in a small font be common sense? I guess they're trying to train us to pay attention to the protean monstrosity that is the floating button region up top?)

2) Search for a relatively general keyword and add "from:me" to your search. Normal behavior after clicking on a result is for the prominent upper left button to become a "back" icon, returning you to the results page. However, if the result you click on consists solely of an email draft (not in reply to an incoming message), the "back" icon is replaced by a "Send" icon. As far as I can tell, there's no way to get back to your search results without hoping your browser's back button will do the trick (which sometimes it will and sometimes it won't). If your search query was more complicated and took a bit of time to form -- or if you were already a number of pages into a large set of results -- this is just awful.

(There never was a way to jump to, say, page 23 of your Gmail search results, was there?)
posted by nobody at 4:00 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


koeselitz: Fine - so there are a million of us. Even if there were a thousand of us, would that really mean that out community platform is wrong or dead or should be discontinued?

The above point is made nicely in the "Real User Figures" link:

Where Google goes wrong, to bring this all back to where I started, is the self-denial of the standalone Google+ social network itself, which exists outside the layer. It’s a unique, independent place that million of people happily call home. They turn to it each day, deliberately, not just because they’re checking their Gmail or watching a YouTube video or doing a Google search. They’re using...Google+ the social network itself.

Those people deserve to be counted, to know their population, not to be “layerized” simply because Google seems ashamed the numbers aren’t as big as Facebook’s. Google should be proud of those people and what it has accomplished, and giving real figures would show that pride.


koeselitz: nobody in the articles linked actually has comparable numbers for Facebook

The point here is that both Google and Facebook are claiming "active users" as the relevant metric - Facebook says it has 845 million or so. The difference is in the way they're counting "active users; Facebook uses "logged in at least once per month." From the beginning, Google has been fudging the difference between "logged into Google+" and "used one of our other services that has a Google+ button somewhere."

I don't see how there's debate about the importance of that difference for those who care about metrics.
posted by mediareport at 4:05 AM on May 22, 2012


It's also difficult to make any meaningful comparison between G+ and Facebook when Google flat-out refuses to make all relevant data open for analysis.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:25 AM on May 22, 2012


Everyone knows G+ is a desert. I & a lot of my friends signed up in the hope that it would be a refuge from FB, but in fact it seems to be even more determined to be a pain in the ass.

Google are mechanizing the killing of the goose that lays the golden egg at this point. Search, which whether they like it or not is their core business (we 'Google' something, ferchrissakes, instead of searching for it), is now the red-headed stepchild of their stack.

I recently opened a new Gmail account for a side project. It *forced* me to create a G+ identity, which I then had to go through the rigmarole of deleting.
posted by unSane at 4:39 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd probably forgive a lot of G+ sins if the interface wasn't so bad. I've got a 13" MacBook and even when using G+ full screen, I can only see at most 2 user posts at a time. And most of those posts are shorter than tweets. All the rest of the screen space is eaten up with headers, toolbars, icon bars, useless whitespace and chrome, chat bars, people I might want to know, topics I might be interested in, empty comment fields, connection buttons and ... whatever!

With a million pixels at their disposal, I get the same amount of content that I'd get on a four line scrolling pager like a RIM 850. And the RIM would be better because of the scroll wheel and the lack of visual clutter.

I can't even
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:57 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


the power to change your message formatting at will.

Yea! It used to be email was text and in-line commenting to individual parts was considered the correct format.

Now, I get HTML mail with the explicit ORDER all replies are to be at the top.

These damn kids today and my poor trampled upon lawn.
posted by rough ashlar at 5:10 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I feel a bit like a father watching his daughter get a lower back tattoo.

Of bar code of her social security number?

Or a 2d barcode of her Google+ web address?
posted by rough ashlar at 5:16 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


re. nobody's reply:
Yeah, now that you say languages, one thing I noticed when the switch happened was with a few buttons, they switched out written words for icons.

Why they've never implemented a "jump to" feature with gmail search is beyond me. But one thing they did do right with the new version, is that the forward/back arrows to navigate pages of search results stays fixed in the top right, so you can switch through pages really quickly. Before, IIRC, you had to scroll all the way down to the bottom every goddamn time you wend to the next page. Your desired result is on page 6? Tough luck. Oh, you accidentally pressed back on your browser? Scroll down 6 more times, fool.
posted by victory_laser at 5:33 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use G+ every day, and it's enabled me to find any sort of audience whatsoever for the collaborative interactive fiction I'm currently writing.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:51 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


G+'s Circles gives me an "enemies list" function that was lacking in Facebook.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:11 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm fairly certain there's an preference setting somewhere to switch back to labels instead of icons for gmail buttons.
posted by panaceanot at 6:23 AM on May 22, 2012


G+ circles map fairly well onto how I want to communicate. Facebook might have something similar by now, but I deleted (well, "deactivated") my account a long time ago.

It's great to be able to communicate with large, distinct sets of people that share your interests. I can talk about gaming with gaming people, politics with wonks, family and friend stuff with family and friends, and no one needs to see communications from me outside their interests. And best of all, no Cow Clicker.

To me, it's not dead; this is probably because I've circled enough people to make it interesting.
posted by Jpfed at 6:36 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just came here to say that Google needs to make it possible to combine multiple accounts into one Google+ account, if they want me to use it.

I hate Facebook, and would be happy to try using Google+ as my replacement, but I have a gmail account and two Google Apps accounts. AFAIK, there is no way for me to put all of these under the umbrella of a single Google+ account.

This makes no sense to me, and there's no way I'm going to keep track of three different Google+ accounts - that's what freaking circles are for, anyway!

It makes absolutely zero sense to me, as a user, so I've pretty much decided to ignore Google+ completely, and will continue to do so until they get this worked out.

btw, I'm also one of the early adopters who's sent scads of people Google's way. I also consult for companies and often recommend Google Apps to them. A number of their recent moves (see 'repurposing the plus sign in searches') have me aching to see some good competition.
posted by syzygy at 6:43 AM on May 22, 2012


mediareport: "The above point is made nicely in the "Real User Figures" link..."

No, it wasn't. The point was that I don't really give a crap what numbers Google releases, because it does not matter. Why does it matter what numbers they release anyway? They're just a company, and as such are fairly incidental to the Google+ community itself.

jamiemch: "I work in online marketing so have to use Google + to practice what I preach. Little do they know I secretly despise it. Google need to face the fact they lost the social race. Google + may live on as a niche network for marketers/digital people but it will never reach mass market saturation."

Look, I've been having these same flawed arguments with people for years about Google+ and Facebook. Like I said above, you're making five or six unwarranted assumptions here. The first is that the purpose of Google+ is as a paid direct marketing platform, which is clearly insane. Google themselves don't even think of it that way; just last week one of Google's marketing directors was openly mocking Facebook for believing that people are in a "transactional mindset" when they're using a social network.

And why? Because Facebook's ad performance is clearly subpar, and a lot of people have been wondering what that means. The IPO laid bare the fact that they're really gambling as far as their monetization strategy, and frankly I think making Facebook an advertising platform is the laziest and likely most foolish approach they could possibly take.

So, in short - Facebook is generally pretty crappy for marketing, too. It's good for certain things, and in particular it's good for niche markets that already have some social aspect, but it's still debatable that it's driving buying even there.

But this brings me to the next assumption you're making, probably the biggest and most foolish: that the purpose of social networks is to make money. That kind of speaks for itself, I think. Not even Mark Zuckerberg will agree with that.
posted by koeselitz at 6:48 AM on May 22, 2012


delmoi: "Actually I have a friend who got completely freaked out by the photo auto-upload.

This happened to me too, and it was what really killed google + and my android phone for me. I began to see google + as the symbol of where Google went wrong - it's fingers were in every pie allegedly on my behalf and for my convenience without checking with me at all. When I discovered my photo failures (The pictures accidentally taken when I tossed my phone into my purse without locking it, the random landscape marred by an errant thumb, the terribly composed/executed pictures I hadn't gotten around to deleting off my phone yet) were not only mixed into search results that seemed to be a poorly-personalized filter of public data and on a webservice I had never heard of much less knowingly created an account with/opted into, I was almost furious.

I'm both tech-savvy and cynical, but I didn't expect Google to pull content off my personal computer (the phone), upload it without any interaction from me, not notify me when it was completed, or think that this would be something that wasn't a big deal. I should have read and not skimmed the EULA. For me, it was a big deal that g+ was happy to upload my lousy camera pictures automatically, but pulling in my curated Flickr stream wasn't going to happen. I hadn't thought before hand that Google would view my android phone as an extension of their services, even though they created the OS (I just hadn't thought about it). I immediately went to check to make sure that my notes to myself hadn't been uploaded - I mean "backed up" - too.
posted by julen at 6:51 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


This happened to me too, and it was what really killed google + and my android phone for me.

Presumably you selected 'upload photos' on the screen that it specifically asks for permission about that on at install, right?
posted by Space_Lady at 7:01 AM on May 22, 2012


It's interesting that for many people (including myself), this isn't a case of scorched earth snark, where somebody tried something and failed so now we get to laugh about just how epic that failure was. When it first launched, a lot of people liked Google Plus and wanted it to succeed.

It took the best part of Facebook (the ability to engage in threaded conversations longer than 140 characters) and the best part of Twitter (meeting, following, and interacting with interesting people from across the internet). It was exciting in the beginning to have this place where we could have serious discussions with likeminded strangers about topics that mattered to us.

(This seems embarrassing now, but some MeFites--including myself--worried that Google Plus might be a "Metafilter killer": a place where we could share links without the discussion devolving into The Same Old Arguments.)

I don't know why Google Plus has failed--and I think, so far at least, it's failed by most objective standards--but it's not because people hated it and wanted it to die. It seems to be more a case of "people liked it, but not enough to keep it from dying."

The service still shows a lot of potential and could still become something great, but first Google has to find a way to break out of the negative feedback loop that most former users find themselves in: we don't use it because nobody else is using it.
posted by Ian A.T. at 7:08 AM on May 22, 2012


But this brings me to the next assumption you're making, probably the biggest and most foolish: that the purpose of social networks is to make money. That kind of speaks for itself, I think. Not even Mark Zuckerberg will agree with that.

I'm not sure the fervour in this statement is warranted unless you know Mark Zuckerberg very well on a personal level and can therefore with authority speak about your highly unlikely theory that Facebook isn't in it for the money.

BTW I'd gladly take the money that he is supposedly so not interested in making.
posted by patrick54 at 7:09 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Tim Coe's Choose Your Own Adventure stories are pretty cool.

They're the only reason I still check G+ at all. More of you folks on G+ should take part in the one he just started.
posted by immlass at 7:19 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, if you don't mind losing the AJAXy goodness or chat, the basic HTML view of GMail is very similar to classic GMail. Log in then click here to see it: https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=html&zy=h
posted by fightorflight at 7:21 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


KevinSkomsvold: Nine times out of ten, some bell or whistle they ad

Awesome subconscious slip. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 7:35 AM on May 22, 2012


Space_Lady: "
Presumably you selected 'upload photos' on the screen that it specifically asks for permission about that on at install, right?
"

I didn't create the g+ account on the phone. I created it on the desktop PC, and it didn't mention pictures at all when creating the account on the desktop PC.

When I installed the app on the phone, the only questions it asked was to enter my market user id and password, and then it installed the app. When I started the app, it asked me to enter my g+ account id and password. It never asked me about uploading pictures or phone-specific settings. I would not have given permission because after a certain number, a collection of fuzzy pictures of cats running out of frame make you seem crazy.
posted by julen at 7:44 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


me: "But this brings me to the next assumption you're making, probably the biggest and most foolish: that the purpose of social networks is to make money. That kind of speaks for itself, I think. Not even Mark Zuckerberg will agree with that."

patrick54: "I'm not sure the fervour in this statement is warranted unless you know Mark Zuckerberg very well on a personal level and can therefore with authority speak about your highly unlikely theory that Facebook isn't in it for the money."

I did not even remotely say that Facebook isn't in it for the money. I said that you could not get Mark Zuckerberg to agree that they're in it for the money; and so far this has turned out to be absolutely true. He's repeated the line about "we don't build a social network to make money, we make money to build a social network" so many times it's practically the company motto. I can see why some people are skeptical that Mark really believes that in his heart of hearts, but again, I was not talking about inner motivations.
posted by koeselitz at 7:54 AM on May 22, 2012


Ian A.T.: "I don't know why Google Plus has failed--and I think, so far at least, it's failed by most objective standards..."

Again, there don't seem to be any objective standards here. Comparisons to Pinterest - a very new network that is seen as an extraordinary case anyway - don't make any sense, and those are the only actual comparisons we've seen. Can you list a few objective standards that demonstrate to you that Google+ has failed?
posted by koeselitz at 7:58 AM on May 22, 2012


Koeselitz, nobody is arguing that you are a bad person for having found a community you enjoy on google+. People are arguing that google is a bad company for forcing users to participate in g+ when they have no interest in doing so, by breaking features that people like and rerouting them through g+.

Personally --- the thing that sums it up for me is simple: I want google to be a tool that I use, not a brain that thinks for me. And it feels like every step they've made in the past year or so has smacked of thus condescending, ineffable "we know what you want now just sit down, shut up, and like it, damn you". From the insta-search and the g+ your world to being forcibly logged into everything everywhere all the time --- no. Just, no. I have a brain, I like it, I know how to use it, and when I want you to know what's inside it I'll bloody well tell it to you, google. Quit trying to read my fucking mind.
posted by Diablevert at 8:03 AM on May 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


Can you list a few objective standards that demonstrate to you that Google+ has failed?

Clearly you think it's a rousing success teeming with user interaction. Do you think anyone else does? Do you think Google is happy with the amount of usage that Google Plus is getting?

As Diablevert says, it's great that you've found a place you really like. Hell, I like the place, too, but nobody I care to follow uses it anymore. But your success in finding a community on the site doesn't mean that the site itself is successful.
posted by Ian A.T. at 8:14 AM on May 22, 2012


That drop-down search results menu is a great example.

Wanting to search "Obama elections 2008"
Begin typing "Obama electi-"
Drop-down menu shows some crap like "Obama elections rigged by ACORN death panels" and if I paused a couple seconds, bam, there we are. That's what I've Googled, officially, logged in under my name.

Having said that, Google's reverse image search is very cool, and at times, comedy gold ("similar images" are often hilarious).
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:16 AM on May 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


This thread reminded me that I have the G+ app on my iThing and wanted to see what Tum Coe is doing, so I swiped over, opened the app and got a sign in page.

Hm. Must be because I haven't used it in ages.
(TAPS AWAY, LABORIOUSLY ENTERING EXCEEDINGLY LONG AND COMPLICATED PASSWORD.)

Oh! I need that authentication code, because I'm using the two-factor thing.
(CLICKS OVER TO AUTHENTICATOR, COPIES CODE.)

Here you go! Here's your co...

... "Sign in"? But I just did!

Okay, maybe it didn't take. Let's try that again.

(TAP TAP TAP TAP.)

"Sign in"? I just... twice, I did it twice, I...

Oh, fuck you, Google.
posted by subbes at 8:20 AM on May 22, 2012


For anyone finding the new Google UI an irrademable waste of space, I would suggest you check out the Chrome extension Minimalist. It's turned the otherwise-unusable Reader and new Mail layouts into something usable.
posted by The River Ivel at 8:40 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Now, if I forget to sign out, I've got Google throwing me crazy 'customized' search results, trying to log me on to places I don't want to be signed in to, bouncing me around to a bewildering array of authentication routines, begging me to sign up for Google+

stavrosthewonderchicken, that is so much my experience. I have numerous client gmail accounts that I have to sign in to periodically to check analytics or ads, plus my real name account and my mjjj account. The attempted force-feed of Google+ and supposed personalization of results has been a nightmare for me, particularly because I have to search for medical maladies for one client and some of my ad and personalized results are consequently rather disturbing.

Now I open two browsers for every session. I use gmail strictly on Chrome. I do 90% of my other web activities on Firefox, where I mainly use Bing and DDG - and when I do use Google, it is at least less polluted with "helpful" results since I am not signed in to a Google account. Stupid annoying work around, but less annoying than having the dizzying array of crossed signals and clusterfucks that using Google has turned out to be.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:45 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thanks, The River Ivel.. you've helped me decide what to do when I finally unbox this little beauty tomorrow and set it up from scratch (muhahahahha)
posted by infini at 8:46 AM on May 22, 2012


*ahem, cough, backs out quickly in embarrassment*
posted by infini at 8:48 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I gotta agree with Ian AT. And, like I said, I want google plus to succeed. I want it to be the one-stop place that displaces tumblr, twitter, and facebook. It could have been, but it's not.

This is how I would fix google plus:
  • Add the ability to integrate RSS feeds of sites you own into google+. Let it be an aggregator of every service of people you want to follow socially. Replace the need to log in to pinterest, tumblr, twitter, and some privately-hosted blog in order to converse with them. Buzz had this. Google plus should, too
  • Add the ability to stick nick-names on profiles visible on your-end only. I added 400+ mefites when I joined. Some of them post interesting content, but since I don't remember most of their usernames I sometimes feel strange about interacting with them.
  • Bring both the photo feature and hang-outs to prominence. The UI design for photos makes no sense. I click on it and it brings up an ad to add photo features to my phone. This is a shame, because the google+ photo UI is loads better than what you get on facebook or even flickr. And again, hang-outs is perfect. start advertising about what people actually use hang-outs for.
  • More streamlined integration of chat. I use an external chat client. But google plus keeps signing me into their client over and over again and then every time I get a hang-out invite, my plus tab starts making a terrible, ear-grating noise and I have to scramble to find the right tab. It doesn't really make me feel warm and fuzzy about g+
  • Streamlining generally. When G+ first started it wanted us to add photos for a "scrapbook" (still haven't figured out what that is) and add our blogger pics, which I didn't want to do, and there are all these disorganized little albums. And that's just one example. There are two different interfaces for adding suggested friends to circles, and neither are intuitive. The service needs to be striped down and made more minimal.
  • More thought to UI generally. Last night, on a whim, I decided to play one of the google+ browser games. since the latest UI update, this game no longer fits in a tabbed window. Terrible design just because it made the whole thing unusuable.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:56 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


You do not do, you do not do
Any more, Google foo
In which I have lived happy as a clam
For ten plus years, smart and bright,
Barely daring to Bing or Yahoo.

Google, I have had to kill you.
You died before I had time--
Feature-heavy, a bag full of Plus ...
posted by madamjujujive at 9:05 AM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


Let it be an aggregator of every service of people you want to follow socially. Replace the need to log in to pinterest, tumblr, twitter, and some privately-hosted blog in order to converse with them. Buzz had this.

This killed Buzz. People fired their tweetstreams into it, but then didn't reply when you talked with them on Buzz about tweets, so people stopped commenting on them. And the noise drowned out actual Buzz posts, so people felt they were getting no traction on Buzz.

Automatically moving just one side of a conversation to another platform is a bad idea.
posted by fightorflight at 9:09 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


This killed Buzz. People fired their tweetstreams into it, but then didn't reply when you talked with them on Buzz about tweets, so people stopped commenting on them. And the noise drowned out actual Buzz posts, so people felt they were getting no traction on Buzz.

To me, the built-in solution to that is already present in the google UI with plus notifications prominently displayed in the top bar. I guess I'm assuming most users are like me, in that they keep their gmail open at all times, but it's easy to check on activity on google plus without ever signing into it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:11 AM on May 22, 2012


Dear Wil,

No one is forcing you to click on the Google + "Like" button. If you like it, maybe make a comment instead?

Isn't his tagline "don't be a dick?" He's being rather weenie about this.
posted by stormpooper at 9:15 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Isn't his tagline "don't be a dick?" He's being rather weenie about this.

"Don't be a dick" is about how you treat others. It doesn't require you to not complain about things.
posted by Jpfed at 9:41 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Presumably you selected 'upload photos' on the screen that it specifically asks for permission about that on at install, right?
I made sure to click no on that, because I knew to look out for it. But lost of people randomly click "yes" or whatever on dialogs as they go passed when installing new software. That's obviously what happened with my friend. Usually it's just some pointless terms of service nonsense that no one cares about.

When you install it, you get a little dialog asking if you want to upload photos. It would be easy for people to click yes (or whatever) without paying much attention to it.

And anyway, it's ridiculous to blame the user for the problem, since the user is the one who decides if the service sucks, won't use it, and will tell everyone they know to avoid it.
posted by delmoi at 10:16 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


The great annoyance these days, for me, is that I have so much muscle memory built up from years of just closing the tab after I'd signed in to check my mail. Now, if I forget to sign out, I've got Google throwing me crazy 'customized' search results, trying to log me on to places I don't want to be signed in to, bouncing me around to a bewildering array of authentication routines, begging me to sign up for Google+ when I know goddamned well if I accidentally hit the wrong button and do so
Do what I do with Facebook: Only log in with another browser. I use Firefox most of the time, but for a couple sites I'll use chrome. Facebook, so I don't have to deal with tracking BS, and I do use chrome for google sites or anything javascript heavy.

Chrome's incognito windows actually mean that you can do this with just one browser install. (Another benefit of incognito windows: You can bypass the NYT "payfence")

So yeah just use incognito windows and close the window when you're done, rather then worrying about signing out (and even if you don't close the window, you'll still be logged out from your main browser)
stavrosthewonderchicken - use the "sign in to google chrome" feature - it ring fences chrome browsers - I am logged into 5 account - home and 4 x work - all discreet.
Yeah, and also uploads all your bookmarks and open tabs to Google's servers! (in order to keep them 'synched' of course, because apparently what I really need in my life is synching browser tabs with my phone)

Bleh. To hell with that.
G+'s Circles gives me an "enemies list" function that was lacking in Facebook.
FB actually does have some kind of circle-like functionality now, good luck finding it.
No, it wasn't. The point was that I don't really give a crap what numbers Google releases, because it does not matter. Why does it matter what numbers they release anyway? They're just a company, and as such are fairly incidental to the Google+ community itself.
Well, they are a publicly traded company - lots of people have a stake in how well they do or do not do. Why do you think the press covers the tribulations of random corporations in the first place?

Also, if google isn't successful with G+, then they may get rid of it, like Buzz and Wave. If you used buzz, the fact that no one else did could be a problem.

---

Anyway, with regards to the design issues people were talking about upthread -- one thing people have to keep in mind is that "usable" isn't always "beautiful". I mean, look at Jakob Nielson's Website, for example. I'm sure it's super-usable, but it really is ugly.

And that's the thing - I think we've gone way beyond the point where someone who is motivated to figure something out can do so, and into the realm of people being able to use something without thinking about it at all or making any effort to learn. Thus the big red buttons in Gmail. Your eyes are drawn right towards them. It wasn't hard to find the old buttons in Gmail, but I would bet that the 'stats' show that people use more features now, maybe they spend less time trying to do things, etc.

But at the same time, sacrificing "usability" for "beauty" can be a good idea too. If you spent a lot of time in UI, you don't need things to be super obvious once you get use to it. If you can figure things out then it's OK if it isn't super obvious what to do with a site initially.

Anyway, it's entirely possible that a site could become "more usable" while at the same time becoming uglier, and potentially annoying people.
This is just plain not true. The redesign violates the most basic design standards.
Er, there's a missing step in your logic: Will a site always be more usable if it follows standards, or are standards incorrect?

I don't think that's necessarily true. One example, going back to Jakob Nielson - who said you should break websites up into multiple pages, because users "didn't know how to scroll" Anyway, soon multi-page became the norm, and back in the modem days this meant annoying load times between each page. And of course, web designers realized you could put ads on each page and make more money... yeah, that sucked. A few years later he changed his mind, apparently users had figured out the scrollbar.

Anyway, I'm sure google at least has some data to back up their design. It may be that breaking rules is empirically a better thing to do. "Rules" are really just there to keep people from screwing up completely, they don't always result in the best possible thing.
posted by delmoi at 10:19 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Same as griphus here, I started using Google less and less from the demise of Google Reader. I know it's there, I just miss the old Reader deeply and would give anything to have it back, even pay, and not through advertisers: real money.
posted by omegar at 10:20 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I'm sure google at least has some data to back up their design. It may be that breaking rules is empirically a better thing to do. "Rules" are really just there to keep people from screwing up completely, they don't always result in the best possible thing.

There's no way that forcing people to scroll up and down to play an in-browser game is good usability. Also, seriously, the two different screens for the same feature--adding people to your circles (one visible here and one visible on your home page on the right hand side when you click "view all" under "People You May Know")--is so confusing.

Also add me to the club that finds the "forward" button hard to find on gmail now. And I'm not a design snob or dinosaur about these things. I even like modern iterations of MS Office.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:24 AM on May 22, 2012


"Don't be a dick" is about how you treat others. It doesn't require you to not complain about things.

What if I work for Google and I invented Google+? Then would be heartbroken by his comment. :p
posted by stormpooper at 10:37 AM on May 22, 2012


You could console yourself with your piles of filthy lucre.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:40 AM on May 22, 2012


Diablevert: "Koeselitz, nobody is arguing that you are a bad person for having found a community you enjoy on google+. People are arguing that google is a bad company for forcing users to participate in g+ when they have no interest in doing so, by breaking features that people like and rerouting them through g+."

Well, I haven't argued against the people who have argued that, and in many ways I agree; Google does a lot of things that aren't really convenient to me personally.

What I disagreed with, and still disagree with, is the odd circular reasoning that's happening here where people say 'I dislike Google+ because its features aren't the way I'd like them; therefore it's obvious that Google+ has failed completely. Now that we all agree that Google+ has failed completely, let's talk about why it failed. My guess is it failed because it didn't implement features the way I'd like them to be.'
posted by koeselitz at 10:42 AM on May 22, 2012


What if I work for Google and I invented Google+? Then would be heartbroken by his comment. :p

I don't think anything is capable of making Vic Gundotra feel heartbroken. The man is relentlessly positive about Google+, to the point that I don't really believe anything he says.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:48 AM on May 22, 2012


No one is forcing you to click on the Google + "Like" button. If you like it, maybe make a comment instead?

If I understand Wheaton correctly, he has a show on YouTube whose sponsors judge it's success partly on the number of likes it gets. When Google randomly tweaks a like into a plus one, all of a sudden people have to be logged in to g+ to like something, making it far less likely that they'll bother. It directly impacts his ability to keep doing his show. That's a big part of why he miffed. Granted, this seems to have been only a test and not a permanent feature change, but I think Wheaton's right that it is symptomatic of google's efforts to shove people into G+ at every opportunity.
posted by Diablevert at 10:50 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Shoving Google+ down people's throats won't work. The people Google+ needs to win over - my sister, aunts, uncles and other "not computer people" - don't use the services that Google would use to leverage them. They have e-mail accounts through their local ISPs, they use Google as their address bar and considers anything that isn't Office 97 "too complicated". And they're the ones I and all my friends use Facebook to communicate with. Sure, my friends and I could communicate amongst ourseves on Google+, but we're already on Facebook so why spread ourselves thin?

Google+ will be successful the day that I don't have to install Office 97 on a new Windows 7 computer for my mother.
posted by charred husk at 10:52 AM on May 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyone who thinks that G+ is a ghost town where no one interacts is obviously not following the same people I'm following. Google+ has a wonderful hobby-based community. I have literally hundreds of video and tabletop gamers I follow every day, not to mention bloggers, and tech nerds, and amateur chefs.

I see a lot of people in this thread declaring G+ a failure because they don't have features that Facebook doesn't have. You wanna talk about being forced into a Facebook account -- try using Spotify or commenting on any of a number of major news sites without one. You literally cannot do it.

I mean hey, use it or don't use it as you like, but if one is willing to engage with G+ there is a thriving community out there.
posted by jess at 11:00 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


BTW, and I would LOVE to be using Google+ over Facebook. I know the whole circles thing is more or less duplicated now in Facebook, but the visual nature of it in Google+ is just so natural.
posted by charred husk at 11:03 AM on May 22, 2012


Wow, lots of reactions to my post on Gmail and lots of questions about Google's design process in general. Here are a few more details:

This could have been misdirection of some sort -- and I don't have a specific article to point to -- but I'm pretty sure at the time of its initial rollout, Google was saying a big reason for the redesign was to be able to support a unified interface across a larger number of languages.

I wish I could say that was true, but it just isn't. I worked on the bidirectional redesign of Gmail many, many years ago. We supported something like 47 languages way back in 2007. We did have trouble with some verbose languages like French and German, but we specifically designed solutions for those languages. We tested extensively across all supported languages, and we went out of our way to provide contextual information with all of our string translations so that our translators could get some sense of the semiotics rather than provide literal translations. The previous design went through a complete technical overhaul in 2007 to become far more compliant with browser and accessibility standards. We spent almost an entire year optimizing solely for IE6 because it represented such a large number of users. I cannot overstate the amount of effort that went into building a scalable user experience that was usable across cultural and language boundaries.

IMO, as someone who worked for the company for quite a long time, the redesign was prompted by the utter breakdown of the user experience group and a radical shift in power within the product management group at Google. I won't name names, but there was a person near the top of the org who was essentially blocking any forward process in terms of visual design. The exec team finally got the message and sidelined that person, then promptly launched the "Kennedy" project, which was an attempt to bring all Google products up to par in terms of modern visual design standards. I have several friends who worked on this project, and I think they did some good things. I absolutely despise what they did to Gmail, though, because it breaks a huge number of things that were intentionally designed to support the most common behavioral patterns of Gmail based on years of data collection and research.

I don't really want to get into it, but there are probably only 3 - 5 other people on earth who have spent as much time thinking about or working on the Gmail experience, and I can give you an almost endless litany of the sins committed in the latest redesign. After the "switch back to the old interface" option disappeared, I started looking for a new provider. Sadly, I depend too much on Gmail chat to really get away from the product. That said, Sparrow on OS X is sort of interesting.

Why they've never implemented a "jump to" feature with gmail search is beyond me. But one thing they did do right with the new version, is that the forward/back arrows to navigate pages of search results stays fixed in the top right

As crappy an answer as this may seem, this is actually a limitation of the Gmail search architecture. It's somewhat counterintuitive, but we discovered a long time ago the most important factor in terms of search quality is speed. This is overwhelmingly true. You can provide lots of refinement options, sub-searches, substring matching, stemming, and a bunch of other sophisticated stuff, but probably all of those things combined fail to improve search quality as much as simply making the engine 2 - 10x faster. The reason for this is due to user behavior: when most people conduct a search, they generally scan the first page of results very quickly and simply type a new query if they can't find what they're looking for. If you can make the queries instantaneous, it means that people can experiment with different search terms far more easily, and they don't have to become experts in "advanced" search features that usually don't help that much, anyway.

So, the Gmail search engine was written to lazy-load search results. The query is actually still being executed when the first page appears, which is why you'll often see something along the lines of "20 out of hundreds" up near the pagination rather than an actual number. If you click through enough pages, the query will eventually finish, and you'll see the actual number of results. If instead you just type a new query, the old one gets killed and the CPU time doesn't get wasted.

I just came here to say that Google needs to make it possible to combine multiple accounts into one Google+ account, if they want me to use it.

It may not be what you're looking for, but they did recently add the ability to run multiple accounts within a single browser. You have to turn it on in your account settings for each account. This allows you to quickly switch between two accounts by using the dropdown in the top right corner. If people are curious about this, I can provide details on how to set it up. I still tend to run my different accounts in different browsers just so that I can keep a mental wall between work and personal stuff.

I don't know why Google Plus has failed--and I think, so far at least, it's failed by most objective standards...

The last point I'd like to make is that the death of Google+ is greatly exaggerated. A social network, except in extraordinarily rare cases, doesn't not grow at a high linear rate. Social networks grow via network effect, and can often be modeled with some sort of power law. There are lot of things to tune that can improve the growth rate of network like Google+, but there are also huge downsides to growing a network too quickly. The most popular networks are those that have collections of like-minded people. Facebook works because it's about your friends and the people whose minutiae you care to watch. If you look at other, more vertically-oriented networks like Quora, there's a huge tradeoff between growth and quality. The best known example is Yahoo Answers, which was the absolute darling of Silicon Valley the year it launched (nothing grew faster at the time), but is now a wasteland of "where do babby come from" and 4chan trolling.

This stuff is really hard. In addition to the enormous technical challenges of building a service that supports hundreds of millions of users, there are HUGE anthropological challenges to building any service like this.

There's a really great blog post by Paul Buchheit, the founding engineer of Gmail and the originator of the "Don't be evil" motto. I worked with Paul for a while and consider him to be one of the smartest people in the world in addition to being a wonderful person. The post is called "Overnight success takes a long time," and is worth a read for anyone who is curious about how disruptive products really come to fruition these days.

The point is, you can't call the success or failure of G+ today. It's barely a year old, and the growth they've experienced is tremendous. I suspect they also have a strong desire to keep the quality of content much higher on average than what you find on Facebook. Instead of sharing photos of your kids with grandma and grandpa, G+ could be a place where you have serious discussions with people who share similar interests, whether those interests are in graduate-level biochemistry or simply a rabid love for Community.
posted by drklahn at 11:19 AM on May 22, 2012 [198 favorites]


I just came here to say that Google needs to make it possible to combine multiple accounts into one Google+ account, if they want me to use it.

It may not be what you're looking for, but they did recently add the ability to run multiple accounts within a single browser. You have to turn it on in your account settings for each account. This allows you to quickly switch between two accounts by using the dropdown in the top right corner. If people are curious about this, I can provide details on how to set it up. I still tend to run my different accounts in different browsers just so that I can keep a mental wall between work and personal stuff.


I just want to say that this works great 90% of the time, until you run into a service like google analytics or blogger where you are inexplicably not allowed to do it. I don't really get it, and it's frustrating.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:28 AM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Recent versions of chrome let you actually have separate identities per window. Each has totally different cookies/bookmarks/autofills/etc. It's pretty damn useful for keeping track of all your 100 different identities. (It does break down a but when you go to the wrong service in the wrong window, but I've trained myself pretty quickly not to do that.)
posted by aspo at 11:35 AM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Google+ has a wonderful hobby-based community. I have literally hundreds of video and tabletop gamers I follow every day....Imean hey, use it or don't use it as you like, but if one is willing to engage with G+ there is a thriving community out there.

This seems to me exactly backwards, and goes to Koestilitz's point, too. I am not particularly interested in the topics you mention. I suppose it's possible that there are things I'm into that have communities on there, but this idea of going into a social network to find pre-existing communities on topics I'm into...to me, that's what blogs are for. A social network is about being able to keep tabs on people I want to y'know, socialize with. I don't go there for the same type of info I'd get from a public figure in a public setting. I go there for the type of info I'd get in a private setting --- vacation snaps, party invites, etc. I go there because people I want to talk to are already there, not because I figure if I dig around hard enough I can find someone I want to talk to. That's basically leisure reading and I have a plethora of sources for that.

I certainly get that there's a grey area here --- the word "hobby" itself suggests it, for it suggest the idea of a group of people you have a semi-public, semi-friend relationship with.
But if that's all G+ is good for than it just gussied up list-serv, not a social network. And that's not really worth my time --- or better say, if there is something I already want to do IRL which is being coordinated through g+ than I might bother with it. The fact that it has interest groups which thrive on it is not enough to make me bother with g+.

And inasmuch as that is the case for the majority of people, Koestlitz, than I think g+ is a failure as a social network ---- at least in Google's eyes. They throw things at the wall and see what sticks --- but "sticks" for them means "used by billions". They've had tons of really great, nifty, neato products that were successful in growing a slavishly devoted niche audience --- and when the gods looked down from mountain view and saw that that niche was only ever gonna be a niche, they hurled the thunderbolts and blotted them out, despite the howling. The question now is whether they'll end up doing the same to g+ --- so far they seem to be trying to arm-twist the people of earth into using it instead. But you can't make 'em post if they don't wanna. The problem seems to have the company between the hammer and the anvil, but somehow I think it's the consumer who's gonna take the hit....
posted by Diablevert at 11:42 AM on May 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


If Google want to be taken seriously as a social destination they should look at fixing the comments on YouTube first before trying to "Facebook" the rest of the internet. (I haven't found a reason to even try G+ yet.)
posted by Lanark at 11:54 AM on May 22, 2012


rough ashlar: "the power to change your message formatting at will.

Yea! It used to be email was text and in-line commenting to individual parts was considered the correct format.

Now, I get HTML mail with the explicit ORDER all replies are to be at the top.

These damn kids today and my poor trampled upon lawn.
"

Well if you would have signed onto WAVE you wouldn't have this problem now, would you, but nooooooooooo....
posted by symbioid at 12:04 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I suppose it's possible that there are things I'm into that have communities on there, but this idea of going into a social network to find pre-existing communities on topics I'm into...to me, that's what blogs are for.

Yep, I feel the same way. There are also established message boards for special interest. And in that case, I'd much rather browse or search through those at my leisure than be bombarded by G+ notifications.
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 12:20 PM on May 22, 2012


stormpooper: ""Don't be a dick" is about how you treat others. It doesn't require you to not complain about things.

What if I work for Google and I invented Google+? Then would be heartbroken by his comment. :p
"

I'm sure poor little Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz are crying their eyes out every night.
posted by symbioid at 12:31 PM on May 22, 2012


I don't really want to get into it, but there are probably only 3 - 5 other people on earth who have spent as much time thinking about or working on the Gmail experience, and I can give you an almost endless litany of the sins committed in the latest redesign

Oh, please do! (I'm probably not alone in thinking that reading such a litany would be cathartic in some way.)

(And thanks for pointing out I was wrong about the localization/standardization justification for the new oversized buttons. I could swear I had read that at the time, but searching for anything to back it up now is coming up empty.)
posted by nobody at 12:56 PM on May 22, 2012


For me, the loss of nyms was a big deal. I know Mefites and other online buddies by their nyms. I can't map real names to Mefites in my head, although that circle is one of my more interesting ones.
posted by dejah420 at 2:18 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm cut out of G+ due to nyms as well; I'm only Deoridhe online, though I've been playing with the idea of setting up a fake name and address for a while - it would be hard to explain to people. I'm known to, like, EVERYONE as Deoridhe, including people I now know offline; offline friends tend to alternate between Deo and my offline name. Google's standards for what "counts" as a "real enough name" are too arcane and complicated for me to risk other services I love.

I was also pissed that I missed the effect of the YouTube/Gmail merger, which meant my password for them (which had been different) were suddenly the same. I changed my password for YouTube and it screwed up my Gmail, which pissed me the &*%&*$^*^&&*%&^ off.

I actually am roadtesting Deoridhe Grimsdottir on G+ on a spam account (I keep email addys to give out to places likely to harvest and spam) and seeing if I get noted and deleted and subsequently lose that email 'cause it isn't tied to anything important (I might start a blogger through it, too) but I certainly won't be using G+ with it.
posted by Deoridhe at 3:09 PM on May 22, 2012


For me, the loss of nyms was a big deal. I know Mefites and other online buddies by their nyms. I can't map real names to Mefites in my head, although that circle is one of my more interesting ones.
Actually, this is one thing they did fix. Kind of. You can get a 'page' and put stuff on there. I actually did make a "delmoi" page on g+. But, because you can't add people as a page, there is no way to 'meet' people as the page. You have to wait for them to circle you, or whatever.

So unless I want to 'promote' the page somehow, basically no one sees anything I post there. So on the one hand I might find something interesting online, but won't want to share it on my 'real name' account because it's kind of silly or stupid or salacious or whatever. On the other hand, I don't really have much motivation to post it on my "page" because, you know, no one looks at it.

The other interesting thing: When Google actually tries to promote G+, they promote it as a way to promote something, or get views and attention. Other then the hangouts thing, they don't really seem to promote it as a way to keep in touch with friends and family the way FB does.

It may be that Google doesn't even really want a social network. Instead what they might want is a network of people who create 'content' and people who 'consume' and re-share it. That's kind of what twitter is these days: most people on twitter don't know each-other IRL - and they subscribe and follow people based on what they have to say, if it's interesting or not (or they follow celebrities)

The problem though, is that it's not really that interesting to listen to a bunch of self promoters promoting themselves, at least not to me. At least on twitter, you have to be pithy. And there are lots of streams that are just random nonsense that that's at least trying to be interesting on it's own. A lot of the stuff on google plus seems to be one step above a press release. You hardly ever see G+ posts that are actually interesting on their own.

On the other hand, maybe cultivating a network of promoters and followers is more profitable then creating a network of people who actually know eachother or interact with eachother. It certainly is boring, though.
posted by delmoi at 3:11 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm with you on that one, delmoi. I never post on G+ publicly because the kind of silly, stupid, salacious stuff I want to put out there, I'd rather do under a pseudonym for reasons of work. I do occasionally put something up for the mefite circle I have, but it's not quite the same, and getting less so as shiny newness dies down and people wander off. They really missed a trick with that aspect of it.
posted by Sparx at 3:37 PM on May 22, 2012


A little bird tells me that they're not really enforcing the names thing any more.
posted by subbes at 4:06 PM on May 22, 2012


A little bird tells me that they're not really enforcing the names thing any more.

Well, the problem is, for me at least, and I'm sure many others, that there was a firm statement of policy forbidding pseudonyms early on, a well-documented wave of deletions of accounts (which included gmail accounts), then some waffling and maybes, and most people -- including people like me, who are quite engaged in watching and thinking about what Google is doing -- just don't know where the line is anymore.

And it's not a low-stakes line. Say I were to create a Google+ thing for my main wonderchicken-'branded' gmail account, which I acquired during the first few weeks after gmail launched. My worry, which will keep me away from G+ as 'stavrosthewonderchicken', the name by which I've been known, for better or worse, for more than a decade online, all over the place, is that either now, or later due to some new policy reversal, Google would just decide to delete the account, including years of email. That's not a risk I want to take.

Imagine further -- though this isn't the case, because I have my Analytics and Adsense accounts under a gmail account that uses my real name -- that I had things like Adsense or Adwords (or etc) accounts, which involve actual money and stuff under that account. The likelihood me (or, anyone, is what I'm saying here) would be willing to take a chance with the status of those accounts just to sign up for G+ is... well, minimal.

This no-pseudonymy thing, even if it's something that can be understood from certain business perspectives, is very worrisome to me, a little creepy and bravenewworld-y, and certainly is the undoing of any social aspect to Google products for me.

Perhaps I am an outlier in this, but I closed my Facebook account (under my real name) years ago, because I discovered that, as pleasant as many of my memories of youth are, these days I have no interest in fielding random semiautomated notifications and 'have this .gif of a cocktail' requests from alcoholic millworkers in their 40s who never left our hometown and vaguely remember my name from highschool. If I want to interact with people through the mediation of some social networking site under my real name, for professional reasons, LinkedIn works fine for that.

And the vast, overwhelming majority of people I might want to interact with online know me by my wonderchicken avatar, or both that and my real name, and the very few other folks that don't, I can let them know that stwc = me pretty easily.

So: there are no doubt 'good' reasons for the policy, but the reversals and semireversals and the general creepiness of the whole thing has put me and a lot of people off, and what trust remained as Google transformed into a advertising company over the years has pretty much evaporated entirely.

I'm not exercised about it, other than the annoyances I mentioned upthread. I have no desire whatsoever to join Google+ other than a mild intellectual curiosity. I don't care for social networking beyond what happens organically on the websites where I already hang out most of the time in interactive mode -- here, Mefight Club, and the site that shall go nameless.

But the whole thing does interest me.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:46 PM on May 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


stravros: no, that's not true. Your gmail account will not be shut down. There was a rumor about that spread like wildfire when google+ first came out, but it wasn't true at all.
posted by aspo at 5:18 PM on May 22, 2012


It may not have been true, but my nym (and main account since gmail beta days) is still suspended - otoh, it means G+ can't harass me as much
posted by infini at 5:23 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


infini: but you can still use gmail right?
posted by aspo at 5:36 PM on May 22, 2012


stravros: no, that's not true. Your gmail account will not be shut down. There was a rumor about that spread like wildfire when google+ first came out, but it wasn't true at all.

Well, I don't know. I recall having read reputable first-person accounts of it happening, several of them.

But even so, even if it isn't now or wasn't ever The Policy, there are enough people, including me, that worry that it is or might be in the future, a worry that Google reps don't, as far as I've seen, seem willing to refute in clear and simple language. So it's pretty much their expectation-management problem, I think, regardless of how founded in truth the belief is, because it is definitely widespread.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:41 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


It concludes "the average post on Google+ has less than one +1, less than one reply, and less than one re-share."

Well, the +1 functionality broke for me 'round about when they did the most recent redesign of the google+ interface. So I haven't even been able to +1 posts that I'd like to +1!

Circles are a really nice idea and implementation, but oh my gosh yes, both gmail and google+ load soooo slowly. Also, when I click on the Me+ link from gmail on that black bar along the top, it doesn't actually bring me to google+. So, you know, that doesn't exactly facilitate my use of google+.

My g+ circles have always been heavily slanted toward math and techie friends and acquaintances, yet even so, most of the people in my g+ circles dropped off in posting frequency noticeably after the most recent redesign of the interface (and one or two have even left g+, between the increasingly annoying new "features" and data privacy concerns).

It's kind of too bad: with facebook, I find that people complain because it has such a large network that it's hard in some sense not to be on facebook. With google+, the network hasn't gotten to that size, so really we pick and complain because we love - we wanted it it be that golden alternative to facebook, and had high hopes and for it. But now I'm headed toward setting up something like a private social network for sharing stuff with my peoples (I'm told I can do this with wordpress, so I've gotten myself some web hosting space to play around in), so that I can control what I share with whom hopefully as easily as with the google+ circles, but I can set up the interface how I like it, and retain ownership of all of my private information and data! Everyone having their own individual me-network is definitely not as convenient as all being part of the same network; but there's rss feeds, so it could work. I see that diaspora is encouraging folks to use their code to set up their own mini-networks, too.
posted by eviemath at 5:52 PM on May 22, 2012


There was a rumor about that spread like wildfire when google+ first came out, but it wasn't true at all.

There were definitely reports from folks who claimed that all of their Google services were suspended for using a pseudonym on Google Plus - here's one from the Guardian's Technology Blog:

A week ago, I was stunned to discover that my entire Google account -- gmail, reader, blogger, Google documents, YouTube, Google Plus (G+), etc. -- was suddenly suspended because their system "perceived a violation."

Violation? Me? Wha?? I was completely baffled.

Whilst I tried to learn what the problem was, this suspension created a communication blackout that affected my entire life...What horrible violation had I committed that deserved this gestapo-like behaviour? Had I defrauded someone using my pseudonym? Emailed nude photographs to children? Threatened someone? Was I stalking someone or hacking into strangers' voicemails?

No, it was none of these egregious transgressions. It was something far worse. I used my pseudonym for my Google profile...

But I am not the only person who has discovered that access to their entire Google-life (reader, blogger, YouTube, G+, etc.) was unexpectedly disabled. In fact, some people's Google-lives were suspended even though they established their profiles using their real names because someone decided their real name sounded like a pseudonym.


That's a pretty solid report for something you say "wasn't true at all." Given that Google itself admitted its initial process was garbage and quickly backtracked on its early, completely counter-productive decisions (like not giving any notice before suspending accounts and not keeping accounts active while allowing an appeal) it's not difficult to imagine that some of those reports of Gmail accounts being affected were in fact true. It's completely understandable that folks like stavros are still wary.
posted by mediareport at 7:54 PM on May 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Starvos: If G+ was actually worth anything, you could always just start a third or fourth google account to use with google+. There's no limit to the number you can have. However, G+ really isn't even worth the trouble at this point (plus, switching accounts can be annoying, even if you use multiple browsers, incognito windows, etc)
Perhaps I am an outlier in this, but I closed my Facebook account (under my real name) years ago, because I discovered that, as pleasant as many of my memories of youth are, these days I have no interest in fielding random semiautomated notifications and 'have this .gif of a cocktail' requests from alcoholic millworkers in their 40s who never left our hometown and vaguely remember my name from highschool. If I want to interact with people through the mediation of some social networking site under my real name, for professional reasons, LinkedIn works fine for that.
FB did get rid of most of that stuff. I looked into the facebook API, and it isn't even possible for FB "apps" to send direct messages to users, all an app can do is post to your own wall.

Anyway, I find facebook pretty boring. But the big difference between FB and G+ is that FB isn't layered on top of an existing relationship. It doesn't need to be tied into all the other stuff you do online. You didn't like FB, so you closed your account, but you can't really do that with GMail.

It would be nice if we moved away from having an email system where your identity is tied to your service provider. You can kind of get that if you use your own domain name - and you can actually still use gmail, but then you'd have the option of leaving if you felt like it. Plus, if you use their paid service, you'd go from being a pair of eyeballs to monetize to a paying customer.
posted by delmoi at 7:57 PM on May 22, 2012


Here's GrrlScientist's open letter to Google; again, note that she's very clear that *all* of her Google services were affected:

Dear Google

I am writing to appeal the deactivation of my Google account.

One week ago, my entire Google account was deactivated suddenly and without warning. I was not allowed to access gmail nor any other Google service until I surrendered my personal telephone number in exchange for reinstating access to my gmail account. I still cannot access many of my other accounts, such as Google+, Reader and Buzz. My YouTube account remains locked, too.


This is perhaps minor, but it's important to recall recent history, and aspo's comment that "it wasn't true at all" that Google suspended Gmail and other services because folks were using pseudonyms on Google+ is - not to put too fine a point on it - in fact not true at all.
posted by mediareport at 8:02 PM on May 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


OK, do you all know the circles model is asymmetric? Just because someone adds you to one of their circles does not mean they're added to your circles and unless you go an manually add them you will not see their posts... What's the disconnect here?

Could it be the fact that real circles actually are symmetrical?
posted by Riki tiki at 8:02 PM on May 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


infini: but you can still use gmail right?

Yes, with a suspended profile. Was coming here to link to that Guardian article which I don't think is a rumour or a lie.
posted by infini at 12:26 AM on May 23, 2012


A little bird tells me that they're not really enforcing the names thing any more.

Yeah, don't care. I have too much invested in my blog and gmail to risk them. Granted, Deoridhe is a 15+ year name which might count as one of their "known identities" or whatever they're calling it now, but I really don't care. Reward VERY not worth the risk.

And honestly, I trust the experiences people reported over Google's PR, especially when said PR has been so wildly divergent and in some cases inaccurate.
posted by Deoridhe at 12:32 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


You can provide lots of refinement options, sub-searches, substring matching, stemming, and a bunch of other sophisticated stuff, but probably all of those things combined fail to improve search quality as much as simply making the engine 2 - 10x faster. The reason for this is due to user behavior: when most people conduct a search, they generally scan the first page of results very quickly and simply type a new query if they can't find what they're looking for.
Ah, now I finally know why Google sucks! They don't understand their own user behavior studies!

When I redo a search it isn't because I didn't find what I was looking for. It's because I'm trying to gain some insight into how Google works by moving my result higher and lower in the list by experimenting with different terms. I need this insight because the "refinement options" aren't available.

If I had sub-searches and substring matching, not to mention some way to search code now that Code Search was taken away, I'd spend a lot time fiddling with searches to try to understand the opaque Mind of Google.
posted by DU at 5:04 AM on May 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I redo a search it isn't because I didn't find what I was looking for. It's because I'm trying to gain some insight into how Google works by moving my result higher and lower in the list by experimenting with different terms.
I always find these criticisms of Google search pretty weird. The vast majority of the time, it's from people who feel like they know how search engines should work, and because Google search doesn't work that way, it must suck.

First of all, why are you assuming that everyone thinks the same way you do? I mean, I don't think I've ever done anything like that. If I do try a new query right after an initial one, it's because I didn't find what I was looking for, so I'm trying something else.

I think a lot of the gripes about Google come from people who are looking for technical issues, like error messages or something. That's not something i do too often, and my feeling is that if I don't find what I'm looking for by pasting it directly in with quotes, it probably doesn't exist out there.

What are these searches that you're doing that you need these features for?
posted by delmoi at 7:18 AM on May 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


FB isn't layered on top of an existing relationship. It doesn't need to be tied into all the other stuff you do online.

On the other hand, things like Spotify don't (as far as I can tell) let you use their service without linking it to your Facebook account.

Am I supposed to be mad at Spotify about this, mad at Facebook about this, or neither?
posted by escabeche at 7:28 AM on May 23, 2012


On the other hand, things like Spotify don't (as far as I can tell) let you use their service without linking it to your Facebook account.I

I don't have facebook and I use spotify.
posted by empath at 7:35 AM on May 23, 2012


I don't have facebook and I use spotify.

I think when Spotify first hit big in the US it required an FB account. I don't think users outside US (like in Europe for example) are required to use FB, and initial US users might not have either.
posted by FJT at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2012


I'm fairly certain there's an preference setting somewhere to switch back to labels instead of icons for gmail buttons.

Can you help me find it? I looked and didn't see anything.
posted by bluefly at 8:50 AM on May 23, 2012


Google is one of the world's largest companies

No, not even close. It has a reasonably big market cap.

By revenue, profit, assets, employees, or any other reasonable measure, it hardly ranks.
posted by ead at 8:56 AM on May 23, 2012


I'm fairly certain there's an preference setting somewhere to switch back to labels instead of icons for gmail buttons.

Can you help me find it? I looked and didn't see anything.

From the Gear menu (upper right), choose Settings.

That should open by default into the General tab.

Scroll down a bit and you'll see "Button Labels," and you can choose "Icons" or "Text."
posted by nobody at 9:08 AM on May 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Thanks, nobody!
posted by bluefly at 9:26 AM on May 23, 2012


Spotify just launched in Aus/NZ and it absolutely requires a FB login here.

I wonder how many brand new Spotify Jones accounts have shown up on Facebook since then.
posted by xiw at 4:19 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It strikes me that most of the responses to criticism here about Google+ and gmail and various other Google features has been of the 'You're doing it wrong' variety. Fair enough, but although this thread cannot certainly be taken as representative of people who use Google, it is still overwhelmingly critical of many of their new features. Maybe we're just cantankerous, maybe we're just doing it wrong and don't understand how amazing the new features Google is providing are. It doesn't matter. If a large number of people just refuse to use a product they're trying to push, then that product will not make them the money they want and need it to make.

It's a bit like New Coke: you can argue that the taste was improved and this was a smashing new variation on Coke, but it didn't matter: people didn't like it, wouldn't buy it, and Coke had to back track. Personally, I think people should have the words 'New Coke' whispered in their ear every time they want to radically alter a product people are using and enjoying the experience of using. Not because it's wrong to change a product or that the changes might not improve the it, but because your customers are entirely within their rights to stop using your product if they no longer enjoy using it, even if you think your product is improved. Lecturing them about how they should enjoy the changes really isn't going to do anything except make them more annoyed at you.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 4:35 AM on May 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


It strikes me that most of the responses to criticism here about Google+ and gmail and various other Google features has been of the 'You're doing it wrong' variety.

I noticed this, too.

Maybe we're just cantankerous, maybe we're just doing it wrong and don't understand how amazing the new features Google is providing are. It doesn't matter.

I think that's a matter of perspective. There are many valid reactions. I kind of want to (or at least, someone else should :P ) start a repository of information about how to reduce friction that people might experience while using common tools.

Lecturing them about how they should enjoy the changes really isn't going to do anything except make them more annoyed at you.

Certainly. But I wouldn't consider that possibility, together with "just accept that people won't like it", as exhaustive. Sometimes you get a situation where a tool really could be useful, but you don't know that it can, or you think it might but don't know how. It won't be the end of the world if you don't use the tool, but it would be nice if there was a way for you to find out that the ways it could help you.

(For a work-in-progress example of what I'm talking about, check out my user profile).
posted by Jpfed at 7:40 AM on May 24, 2012


Not because it's wrong to change a product or that the changes might not improve the it, but because your customers are entirely within their rights to stop using your product if they no longer enjoy using it, even if you think your product is improved. Lecturing them about how they should enjoy the changes really isn't going to do anything except make them more annoyed at you.

I see this happening in an entirely different context - products designed for "the poor" or whatever you want to call that population segment. They are meant to be life enhancing or healthier, such as smokeless stoves and those that are more efficient, but nobody wants to buy them because they are ugly and require huge behavioural changes to accommodate in a rural farmwife's busy schedule. But the lectures they get...
posted by infini at 8:06 AM on May 24, 2012


A little bird tells me that they're not really enforcing the names thing any more.

That's actually the worst possible outcome.

You understand that a rule that's inconsistently and arbitrarily enforced is actually a lot worse than one that's consistently and equitably enforced, right? Whether the rule's misguided or not?

What you're asking isn't just for people to lie to Google and thusly participate anonymously - you're asking them to make their right to participate, and all the content of their participation in these communities, vulnerable to arbitrary unpersoning by any jackass who in any fit of any pique that crosses their mind decides to have them erased by ratting them out.
posted by mhoye at 8:55 AM on May 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


If they weren't enforcing the nym thing anymore than why is my profile still blocked and requesting a scan of govt issued ID?

(not that Google doesn't already know everything by rummaging through my inbox and archives - hi sergey - but its the principle of the thing, eff u)
posted by infini at 9:07 AM on May 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


--Can you help me find it? I looked and didn't see anything.

From the Gear menu (upper right), choose Settings.

That should open by default into the General tab.

Scroll down a bit and you'll see "Button Labels," and you can choose "Icons" or "Text."


I've been using the Stylish FF/Chrome extension with this userstyle to fix the stupid text-free buttons, and I actually prefer it to the normal Gmail text buttons because it has both the icon and the text on the buttons.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 5:12 AM on May 25, 2012


I started using Google+ again because it's got a pretty vibrant table top gaming community. Lots of people use Hangouts (the video can't thing) to play games, and it seems like all sorts of discussions take place there.
posted by chunking express at 6:33 PM on May 26, 2012


Taking away true regex/boolean search terms?
Google became a verb by providing great search. Fast, reliable, and straightforward. Yes, with ads, but the ads were clearly presented as ads, not part of the search results. Now, they seem to be dumbing down search, and focusing a lot on pushing me to use their products for maps, translation, social networking, etc. I often like their products. But I do not want a single account that can track what I do on the Web. I don't want 1 vendor to insist that I use their products. If their products are superior, I'll likely use them, but I hate having it pushed on me. It's all very microsoft-y. I figured this would happen when they went public. Shareholder profit above all. I think it may backfire.
posted by theora55 at 12:55 AM on May 27, 2012


I'm dubious that diaspora might share too much within the pods, probably should read aobut their security model.

Dark Days Ahead For Facebook and Google?
posted by jeffburdges at 3:02 AM on May 27, 2012


Dark Days Ahead For Facebook and Google?

A post on Slashdot about how the web-centric model upon which Google and Facebook rely is dead. Head asplode.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:25 AM on May 27, 2012


Just saw the comment linked in the sidebar. Apparently I missed it last time :P
I won't name names, but there was a person near the top of the org who was essentially blocking any forward process in terms of visual design.
*cough* Marissa Mayer *cough*

---

Anyway, a couple of other points:
If they weren't enforcing the nym thing anymore than why is my profile still blocked and requesting a scan of govt issued ID?
They created a way to be pseudonymous on G+. You create a regular account with your real name, then create 'pages' as pseudonyms. It's not really that great though because you can't add people, you have to wait for them to add you, so you need to 'promote' the page outside of G+. (On the other hand, the Spam potential of not doing that could be pretty problematic) And while you would be anonymous to other G+ users, google would still know who you were.
It strikes me that most of the responses to criticism here about Google+ and gmail and various other Google features has been of the 'You're doing it wrong' variety. Fair enough, but although this thread cannot certainly be taken as representative of people who use Google, it is still overwhelmingly critical of many of their new features.
Well, like I said: G+ has some pretty serious flaws, and no interesting content. However, the criticisms of google search seem to be that it can't do highly technical kinds of queries that most people wouldn't even know how to do anyway. Like arguing New Coke failed because you couldn't use it to do a "mentos and coke" rocket. With the Gmail UI, I don't really care. The new UI doesn't really bother me. The Reader UI was bad, but they dialed it back a little. The main problem there is the lack of features.
Dark Days Ahead For Facebook and Google?
Man, I still don't get the whole "mobile will take over" arguments. I'm sure there's a lot of growth there, but why are people so sure it's going to overtake home/office internet surfing. Maybe people will switch to tablets for a lot of their home surfing, but those still have plenty of screen space, and you can use them with wifi at home.

If you're at the office with a desktop PC in front of you, why use your phone instead? If you're at home, there might be more comfortable spots where you could curl up with a phone rather then sit at a desk with a desktop/laptop, but you could also get a tablet, which should be able to handle 'desktop' style websites just as well as a desktop.
posted by delmoi at 7:53 PM on May 27, 2012


However, the criticisms of google search seem to be that it can't do highly technical kinds of queries that most people wouldn't even know how to do anyway

Boolean searches are something a hell of a lot of people do rely upon, however, and I can't see how removing that ability is a benefit to those who never use it. Not being able to do Boolean searches is a serious detriment to those who do use it.

If you're at the office with a desktop PC in front of you, why use your phone instead?

Web usage at your workplace is monitored and/or blocked?

With the Gmail UI, I don't really care.

I DO!

The new UI doesn't really bother me.

It bugs the hell out of me. It's not as functional for many reasons. An employee of Google who worked on GMail more significantly as far as design than perhaps anyone else, earlier in this thread wrote a long explanation as to why Google changed their design, but his one caveat was that they royally screwed up GMail, which had very specific reasons for the design it had. The redesign ignored those reasons, which completely throws usability out the window in favor of design aesthetics, which is ass-backwards and the wrong way to do design, period, but particularly with a web mail site which relies heavily on functionality (and when they claimed from the beginning it would be better than others).
posted by krinklyfig at 11:21 PM on May 27, 2012


Man, I still don't get the whole "mobile will take over" arguments. I'm sure there's a lot of growth there, but why are people so sure it's going to overtake home/office internet surfing.

Gee, I dunno, man, maybe they're actually looking at analytics and traffic instead of guessing?
posted by krinklyfig at 11:23 PM on May 27, 2012


Does anyone know if there's a bookmarklet that will let me G+ share an arbitrary page (i.e. not one set up with Google's +1 system nor one that I come across in reader) yet?
posted by juv3nal at 11:46 AM on May 28, 2012


> If you're at the office with a desktop PC in front of you, why use your phone instead? If you're at home, there might be more comfortable spots where you could curl up with a phone rather then sit at a desk with a desktop/laptop, but you could also get a tablet, which should be able to handle 'desktop' style websites just as well as a desktop.

Because your phone is the one thing on your person at all times and which you use continuously between your office, your home office, bus, desk, couch, airplane, and so on. Not to mention the countless groups of individuals who can afford a cellphone (with two year plan) who can't afford a home computer, internet connection or liberal company internet access policy that allows them to browse facebook/g+ or other social networks during company time.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:25 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Juv3nal, I believe you can try AddThis or Google +1 button, both available on the Chrome Web Store.
posted by DisreputableDog at 2:06 AM on May 29, 2012


Gee, I dunno, man, maybe they're actually looking at analytics and traffic instead of guessing?
Well, first of all like Zuckerberg I don't really consider tablets to be "mobile". They aren't much more portable then a laptop. You use them the same way you use a PC as far as the web is concerned.

Other then that, who knows. It sounds like trendy bullshit that confuses relative growth with overall size. Mobile is growing faster, sure. But how could it not? But that doesn't mean it will ever grow to be as large.
Not to mention the countless groups of individuals who can afford a cellphone (with two year plan) who can't afford a home computer, internet connection
Eh, Computers are pretty cheap these days and a lot of phones support tethering now. I can actually connect my laptop to the internet via my cellphone.
posted by delmoi at 3:48 PM on May 30, 2012


These companies are no more only looking to serve developed country markets.
posted by infini at 9:21 PM on May 31, 2012


> Eh, Computers are pretty cheap these days and a lot of phones support tethering now. I can actually connect my laptop to the internet via my cellphone.

Heres the thing: the cell phone that supports tethering is also a smart phone. That lets me send emails, take photos, comparison shop online, post on metafilter, and all of those things. Why would I spend another $250 for a netbook or whatever when I can accomplish those things with one device instead of two?

You are describing two steps:
1. Get a smartphone
2. Get a computer to use internet from smartphone, which already has internet

Less people will get to Step 2 than just sticking at Step 1. If you are targeting for largest possible saturation, Step 1 appears to be the better place to go, right?
posted by mrzarquon at 3:31 PM on June 1, 2012


This thing is still wide open, and I have little to no compunction about letting MeFi know about good shit (and have yet to figure out a better way to communicate this to y'all) but again,

Tim Coe (shakespeherian) is a golden god of storytelling. This cat sits down every weekday morning, peruses the turgid ramblings and weird-ass suggestions of his small yet dedicated audience, then cranks out 1000 words worth of beautiful prose, fascinating character studies, and really superbly awesome stories.

Right now the Catalina Island Ferry is floating between Long Beach and it's destination, becalmed by the death of a woman and the subsequent investigation into how it happened. We (the audience) are the detective, and also most of the rest of the boat's passengers' only suspect. juv3nal and I have even started a kick-ass cheat (spread)sheet to help us keep the characters and the clues straight. The story is only a few weeks old (so there's not much to catch up on) and we could really use some more brains helping to solve the mystery. Tim could use the encouragement of a higher participation rate too, I'm sure. COME JOIN US IT IS FUN AND AWESOME.

Story resumes on Monday.
posted by carsonb at 5:38 PM on June 8, 2012


COME JOIN US IT IS FUN AND AWESOME.

Agreed it is super fun and awesome.
posted by juv3nal at 6:15 PM on June 8, 2012


Yeah, we need more people! Come join us.
posted by immlass at 6:31 PM on June 8, 2012


shakespeherian blue?

*insert softfluffyhamburger*
posted by infini at 6:42 PM on June 8, 2012


I will sing the praises of shakespeherian til I'm blue, yes. It wouldn't matter where it was happening, on Facebook or on Mars I would encourage people to read it, read the first two CYOABCs, probably skip most of my comment trash, but it is happening right now, on most days of the week, for weeks at a time, on G+.

So go there. Go other places to read stories by Tim Coe too.
posted by carsonb at 8:11 PM on June 8, 2012


« Older Wendy Carlos' "Beauty in the Beast"   |   If before intercourse the boy... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post