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*A #Curation post for the "Google+ ghost town" stories and debates.* (I'll be adding more curated items in the comments)

Really wish this were a non-issue, but the tough questions need to be asked as to what missing (and unique) ingredient(s) could/should be to put G+ over the top.

The shared post below has some fairly decently curated round-up of voices in itself despite the linkbait-y title.

Good discussion over here on +Gideon Rosenblatt's thread:

and with my friend +Alexander Becker over here:

which itself was kicked off by +Mark Traphagen's post here:

which was also discussed smartly over here on +Jeff Jockisch's thread:

The original ComScore article that was then made as incendiary as possible by the WSJ:

Mike Elgan rightly pointed out the problem with the "3 minutes per month per user stat" due to the unknowns in the "active vs. passive users" statistics

but the bottom line to me is, the numbers still don't look great any way you slice it. TechCrunch just wrote a piece on why this may be, digesting it now -> Why Google+ Doesn’t Care If You Never Come Back

In creating this post, I am reminded about a few of the ways that G+ would turn off potential mainstream users:

1) It was way too hard for me to collect these curated items, and I am only talking about the G+ threads. If the point of an Interest Graph network (which Google should have come out and say that G+ was right from the beginning) is to quickly and easily find those debating the same topic/s as you, and by topic I mean down to the very-Longtail detail level, then why is it hard for me to even find the discussion on the Reshares of +Mark Traphagen's post?

That's basic stuff that should work 10x better. I don't need black-box algorithmic (or rigged) "Follow Suggestions", I need the basics to work well/right. Examples of prior art in that regard abound on Reddit, Tumblr, etc. etc.

2) Speaking of basic stuff, if one mainstream user comes by this post and sees those ugly long G+ URLs, they might subconsciously turn around right then. It is a massive "geeky geeky" flag. This has been a thorn from the beginning (strange, G+ can pretty-print YouTube links just fine...), and I really expected it to be fixed by now.

3) Speaking of "fixed by now", yes, the G+ team has made a lot of improvements over the past 8 months, but frankly, many of the most elemental ones (like the SIMPLE reshared post permalink) took way too long.

Assume that a majority of U.S. Social Media users have already peaked over here at least once. And you only get to make a first impression once as they say. Many of us really like G+ as an alternative haven for various forum-like uses, and we were largely the early adopters, so we're rooting for it. But that's a unique position vs. everybody else.

#gplus #lesigh
has the failure of Google+ to make a dent in the social network dominance of Facebook, which we have noted to two simple stats: users spend about three minutes per month on Google+ compared to six ...
Jayme Soulati's profile photoPaul Burkhart's profile photoJohn Kellden's profile photoKevin von Duuglas-Ittu's profile photo
I still think that in many ways Google+ is the technically superior and in terms of privacy the less intruding social network. Being a tech person myself these are the two most appealing points to me. Although I agree with some of the shortfalls mentioned in the mass media I am constantly amazed how the failings of FB are conveniently suppressed. FB is currently it's own biggest enemy with controversial new features that are pulled over their user's profiles. It's going to be any of some yet to be released privacy infrining features that will turn the tides. The 'optout' policy demonstrated again and again in the past will ultimately be FB's undoing.
+Ralph Paul-Lambrich "technically superior" doesn't matter to the average user, and actually, FB does have link expansion in comments, when G+ doesn't, so it's a mixed bag.

#Privacy was my big hope as well, but since the #nymwars those hopes have greatly diminished to say the least... Actually, the only way G+ could regain cred on privacy would be to give you full access to data (maybe down to key/value pairs) it is storing in your "dossier", for you to view, and possible delete items out of (those no longer relevant, etc.).

Agreed that FB has many privacy issues which is why we more aware users started to really dislike it, but the fact is they have always apologized/slightly-backtracked enough to keep the thing from boiling over in the mainstream. The only thing that could really stop them now would be political/regulatory intervention.
Curated: Two key quotes from the TechCrunch post referenced above -

"... Facebook owns the social graph and the relevance-sorted news feed of your friends’ activity, and Twitter owns the interest graph and the firehose of news and real-time updates."

[I disagree about Twitter owning the Interest Graph, it has really only made a mild foray into it, and has next to no affordances for capturing it. News/real-time updates point is dead on though.]

"...Google’s a talented company with a trove of Android usage, search, email, and maps data Facebook and Twitter lack. But now it needs to think hard, come up with a brilliant strategy, and leap-frog. Otherwise Google is going to find itself playing catch up in a race that’s already over."
Actual technical superiority mostly doesn't matter with Joe Average, agreed. It's a BetaMax v. VHS conflict all over again. Joe Average mostly cares about perceived superiority (or kewlness) even if it's only a figment of marketing ingenuity ...
+Gideon Rosenblatt my pleasure. Glad if you find it useful, it's just too darn hard to build these curation posts, but also no good way to track multiple conversations for longer than a few hours on G+...
Curated: I have to pretty much agree with MG Siegler's position here (and I don't do so very much, more often than not, he's an Apple troll...) ->

"...The problem, which Google really, truly does not seem to understand is that at the end of the day, they’re solving a problem which has already been solved. They may think it hasn’t, but it has.

It’s the same problem Bing faces in search against Google. It’s a fine product, but in order to get people to use it, it has to be far better than the incumbent. Bing isn’t, so it will never beat Google (despite Google’s best efforts to back that thang up). Google+ isn’t, so it will never beat Facebook (or Twitter, for that matter).
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter work because they evolved based on how users were naturally using them. Google+ is trying to make the users evolve to fit into the network they created. It’s unnatural."

A few caveats: 1) Twitter isn't THAT hard to beat, it currently has about 30-40M U.S. monthly uniques, and is flailing in many ways. Thing is, G+ has not figured out how to provide an info-denser stream view OPTION (anyone who wants to see the tall, regular-style items is welcome to), which due to "Medium = Message" would be key to garnering some more of that Twitter real-time updates phenomenon. And THEN after scanning and breaking out various items, can we delve into the 140 x 10 medium-to-long-form discussions.

2) The "far better than the incumbent" is straight from Guy K's "jump to the next curve... 10x better, not 10% better" mantra. And I agree. G+ would have needed to completely wow people from day one, in essence creating a new category. They could have, if they had called G+ an Interest Network from the start, but failed to make a real emphasis there (including in the UI).

3) They could have also differentiated on #Privacy, but again failed to do so. That last sentence from MG is pretty telling and spot on, and it just doesn't work. You create too much friction working against your users (as with the #nymwars and #brandgate...).

/cc +Mark Traphagen +Max Huijgen +Alexander Becker
I know how hard it is to get a decent discussion going +Alex Schleber and I have been pleading for tools to avoid the inherent fragmentation in the current G+ system.
Good job that you made a ´central station´ but it will still go all the way over G+ with ships passing by in the night and intelligent comments and suggestions being ´lost´ in all the posts.
Great that you collected the open ends and sad how you did it. (I need to defer the meat of this to tomorrow.)
+Max Huijgen I love that metaphor of "ships passing each other in the night"... even though it is also a very sad state of affairs...
+Alexander Becker assuming that was directed at me and not Max, I can't wait to hear your thoughts. And... we know how it is with time...
Curated: My comment from +Gideon Rosenblatt's thread listed above where I go into the similarities to older forum software uses, and where G+ falls short of giving us even that limited functionality ->

"...agreed that we are still in the early stages, and that Twitter has by no means won, and Facebook has been mining the Interest Graph only tangentially through Likes, but then isn't able to do much with it (besides lame ad targeting) because the premise of their service is interaction with Friends and Family (and discussing with strangers feels weird on there). But the Social and the Interest Graph overlap only very partially at best.

So yes, Google still has some room to work with here, the thing is, so far I've not seen too many signs that they really get it. I've been looking around a lot of Android Forums of late as I wanted to root my old Galaxy S and install ICS. And what I've found is that 1) old forum software is a really crappy UI/UX, AND 2) it STILL has better affordances for vertical Interest Graph and topical mapping than all of the new social services combined!

Think about that! An "ancient" technology (that really could use some updating love) that is still superior in many ways for getting you to find/talk/discuss directly with the people also interested in/knowledgable about the topic you are honing in on. Whereas here it's all so very random at best, even though there are plenty of intelligent people with the same interests and expertise.

But everything just runs down the stream and disappears again in the great beyond of the infini-scroll... (I've been fighting a heroic battle to at least cross-link as many of my posts as I can, a task not exactly helped by the (still) freaking ugly G+ internal links."
Let's play and reset the discussion: Does or did Google ever explicitly state their goal and the actual function they envision with G+, besides the FB-directed marketese and competition games? Or is everybody just trying to reverse-engineer Google's intention? Only after knowing the intention can we dissect the execution and there are two paths: Assuming there is a smart strategy or assuming there is an immature one. With so much at stake, there better be a very smart strategy behind G+. Looking at the people G+ attracts, the literate and the vocal ones, the multipliers; one could imagine some kind of profiling vectors working completely different from the way an FB "interest graph" is built.
I have posted this I would not start a new discussion as it would be a shame if the curation by +Alex Schleber still leads to a fragmented debate. Agree? under a few shares. What´s your opinion +Alex Schleber
My problem being that I seem to have the same debate over and over again.
+Max Huijgen that's one of the problems of the set-up here, in that the discussion rarely deepens from a certain point on, because the stuff disappears again. And since there is a bit of a stigma against resharing your own posts (and it doesn't take the comments with it anyway), there is really no good way of driving a thread forward in a curation/forum sense.
+Alexander Becker smart points, but since Google hasn't been very clear/forthcoming with their intention, and appears to have retro-actively changed them based on what they were seeing from the first few months of beta launch, we may be forgiven for doing so. In the end, there is still the issue from the MG Siegler post quoted above: "Social networks like Facebook and Twitter work because they evolved based on how users were naturally using them. Google+ is trying to make the users evolve to fit into the network they created. It’s unnatural."

One example would be the G+ engineer in charge of creating the "Real Names" "deviant" detection algo coming around to saying that their assumptions about this were flawed.

As for these supposed brilliant "profiling vectors", so far I have a hard time seeing how they are being used, if at all. I tend to vote with user empowerment/self-direction, so any of that stuff I'd like to be able to view/edit/delete transparently. So far I have not seen quasi-AI or algo-based solutions that came close to giving me what I wanted...
Curated: Good reader comment and equally good retort on this PandoDaily post -> The Older You Are, The Harder It Is To Win At Social -

"Andrew Braae on February 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm said:
There is another, more prosaic explanation for the failure of almost everyone in the world to build a successful social network – if you start late, it is almost impossible to overtake a competitor who is enjoying greater network effect (unless they screw up, i.e. Friendster, Myspace, Bebo, etc.)

Google, Apple and Microsoft were all simply too late to the party.

There is a perception that there are several successful networks, but really there is now only one of each kind. LinkedIn for professional networking, Facebook for shooting the shit with your friends and wasting time, Twitter for blurting to the masses.

The only way to create a new social network now is to find a new model that’s not one of the above. Google+ has not attempted to do that, instead they’ve created a hybrid that has a bit of all of the above and some other stuff like hangouts chucked in for good measure. There’s no reason to believe that strategy is going to work for them.

Reply ↓

nik cubrilovic
on February 21, 2012 at 6:11 am said:
interest-based social graphs and social networks divided by vertical function. I blogged about it on the weekend (although I certainly wasn’t the first to air the idea). I don’t think facebook will go far outside of photos/notes and the bigger opportunities are yet to be won."
I hear you, +Alex Schleber and I fear that you are right...

Interesting discussion nonetheless and while I agree with the above comment that "bigger opportunities are yet to be won," it's not as simple as just restating the purpose. It's more like betting everything on the core group and their exhibited behaviors (and I still like to know whether and to what extent this is/was predictable) and polarizing until something truly new emerges from within G+. And it won't take much of an effort other than making and communicating a couple of bold decisions.

As for execution, get already people like +Mohamed Mansour on the team. I want -- badly -- links to individual comments which isn't hard to do since each comment already has their ID ("z13xs1kywo2ys5pmx23hx3ph4knkhf41h#1330664473194097" -- and nobody knows why they contain a # of their own...). Also, try to locate one of your own comments via search... Good luck!
without links to individual comments the whole loosely coupled circled system with its interest based graph is unworkable +Alexander Becker Mind you it´s not the only problem, but it´s part of the extreme fragmentation which will kill discussions and hence interaction on G+
Are there any examples of systems designed or appropriated to prevent fragmentation, outside of moderated and thus unscalable forums?

(The term 'interest graph' starts getting seriously annoying.)
+Alexander Becker unfortunately I don't see Google going that bold (for now, if not ever) due to the internal politics of such a move. Keep in mind that despite all of the praise/deference typically heaped upon him here, Vic G is a MSFT guy... so he is obviously well-versed in large corp. infighting.

Agreed re:Mohamed Mansour, though they could have just done the easy thing, studied their plugin code for a few days, and then copied/integrated. Ditto for the G+me extension by (his name escapes me right now).

Agreed re:comment permalinks, that was already a grave oversight in Friendfeed and Buzz. Having those would send the message that comments are treated as first class content. Facebook is paradoxically doing a bit better on this, as your comments are at least syndicated to your own "Wall" feed, and actually do have permalinks.
I suspect we'll have to resort to pragmatism and play it where it lies, even more so in the light of the apparently desired appeal of G+ as a mass medium of sorts (broadcasting pictures to fans), which thinks it can afford ignoring the special needs of the "vocal and literate" minority.
+Ralph Paul-Lambrich sex sells was the clue to the Betamax / VHS disaster. It´s not often mentioned in our polite threads but if I look at the top ten CircleCount I noticed two people above me who either posted ´big tits and bottoms´ or ´a lady by day.....´ To correct this shame for the Netherlands I passed the account promising lesbian sex, but no way I will ever catch the ´big boobs´ guy.
If you go below the surface there is a lot of selling sex on G+. Maybe that´s the ´interest graph´ they target ;)
+Alexander Becker ignoring the needs of this ´vocal and literate´ minority will play havoc with the integration of G+ into Google search results. If ´we´ leave nothing except beer and ´g+ tips´ will ever create a hit on G+ and the button ´start a discussion about your search term´ will become a laughing stock.
I definitely agree, Max and I tend to be optimistic re: the behind-the-scenes analyzing and hopefully decision processes, but speaking of minorities ('us') I just came across the Chinese language part of G+ via the +CircleCount hotlist, f.i.: -- I don't know who she is, but there are several like her with huge numbers and 'engagement' -- apparently broadcasting-style accounts which distinctly influence the overall 'interest graph' -- if there is just one graph, which I tend to doubt by now.
Of course, +Max Huijgen it depends on the actual user base and upon thinking about it, it doesn't need to be that huge -- just broad enough.

+Alex Schleber -- your own software?
Yahoo/start a discussion about your search term example:
boob posts go under my radar, but one popped up in my stream: How many of these are there on G+? I have seen some hardcore porn here but afaik that all goes in limited circles. This was a completely innocent one. How big sex is for G+ will be difficult to determine, but the flagging down system and the policy is just a mechanism to prevent it from the public stream. From the days I fought censorship I got into a few circles who share posts I don´t appreciate but which are dwithout any doubt hard core.
That´s the problem with G+ which +Alexander Becker refers to as well: what we see is entirely different from what Arab man or Chinese girls are doing in their stream.
+Dieter Mueller as I hope I made it abundantly clear, the "ghost town" debates were used merely as a jumping off point for deeper questions/discussions as to what's been going on and where the weak and strong points lie.

Feel free to start any additional thread about forum scalability asf. and my participation is wanted, just /cc me on it.

As for Google's motivations, I fear they have moved pretty solidly into very large corp. territory (witness the internal fights over the #nymwars decision), so I wouldn't hang my hat on too extravagant/brilliant a vision (of course I might be proving wrong on this, but Google - on the revenue side - is still a one trick Adwords pony.

Just about all of the other products and services merely exist to support or act as moats to the Adwords eco-system. See e.g. here ->

Google will certainly achieve their goal to get a good bit of identity data, and they could be getting a lot more of it if they went ahead and syndicated G+ comments to be placed on people's blogs a la FB Comments but hopefully better, and integrated deeper with Blogger (been pretty underwhelmed with it so far).

And yes, they are cranking some Interest Graph data behind the scenes I'm sure, but so far most of this more incidental and less focused than not... if they can't get a majority of people to keep using G+ enthusiastically, that Interest Graph will go stale pretty fast.
What amazes me +Dieter Mueller is that after eight months we see nothing on either the content creation side in terms of rewarding it (not necessarily money, people go for brownies as well...) nor on the organizing side to create common interest tools. No groups indeed, no blogger integration, no nothing.
Like I just wrote under a share of +Gideon Rosenblatt (shared because I disagreed!)
I agree +Gideon Rosenblatt that G+ will be like the best joke in the world. No nation sees it as the absolute best but it gets the total vote. There will be many reasons to develop G+ and conflicting opinion and factions within Google. Actually we dont have to speculate about it as we can see it in the hybrid approach in the product. Corporate infighting, common interests, one product, but a beast with many heads.
+Alex Schleber Great idea: "G+ has not figured out how to provide an info-denser stream view OPTION (anyone who wants to see the tall, regular-style items is welcome to), which due to "Medium = Message" would be key to garnering some more of that Twitter real-time updates phenomenon. And THEN after scanning and breaking out various items, can we delve into the 140 x 10 medium-to-long-form discussions."
+Dieter Mueller looks like we're continuing here... :)

1) Agreed that there is a lot of hype around #Data right now, all of that "data is the new oil" talk is going to people's heads and is getting their greed glands flowing... it'll be good to know/remember that you have an in-depth background in this area.

2) "G+ has some pretty weak corners, but it mostly lacks Community Building Tools (at the moment) I mostly expect from a Social Network" - Amen brother.

"People always used Social Networks to create, explore and expand virtual tribalism and so far we are just surfing in millions of streams without tools to build the famous global villages." - Amen again.

"I guess it's only a matter of time till Google Groups and those WikiTools Google bought some years ago will arrive here in G+."

Wouldn't be to sure about that, Google is infamous for buying up companies and then letting them wither on the vine. Did you know that when they had bought Dennis Crowley's (now Foursquare founder/CEO) Dodgeball, he warned them repeatedly about Twitter early on, and they didn't listen to him. But what does he know... he's only one of the most social-media gifted founders out there...

THAT is how Google was (and still largely is - alas) "getting" social. I would consider anything that they purchased longer than 1.5 years ago to be dead unless it is already in production...
3) As far as the "ghost town" storyline, I agree that we don't have the degree of insight we'd like, and yet that doesn't preclude us from making some educated guesses around whatever datapoints we do have. +Alexander Becker and +Max Huijgen were leading the discussion around the distortions stemming from the SUL, and while this thread was not supposed to be about it in particular, it is incidental on that we can study the engagement rates for those users on it that have had the largest (turbo-boosted vis-a-vis everyone else) jumps in following. "At scale" you might say...

I'll offer up one semi-anecdotal data point that I just came across today. Louis Gray earlier posted "Help Blogger In a User Research Project" (which might even get the selected participants reimbursed or something like that) ->

Now he posted this at noon CST on a Monday, so maybe that is not the absolutely ideal time to post. I don't know.

However, Louis is followed by 100,000 users, and was shortly after the G+ launch hired by Google to be a (The?) G+ evangelist/community manager. So his following is actually not SUL related, though still somewhat turbo-boosted. And he got +9, 2 shares, 3 comments = 14 engagement items on that post.

Granted it doesn't have a fancy/flashy post image, which seems almost essential for getting stuff noticed on G+ anymore (is G+ really a social photo sharing service that some fools like us insist on using for blogging?!). Granted that it could be that no-one here cares about blogging anymore, although, +Max Huijgen, wasn't the SEO play for one's content one of the main carrots held out by Google (Chris Brogan wrote a whole book recently stressing the G+ SEO aspect)?

In truth I would have thought that this kind of item would have seen a lot of reshares, and tons more engagement. Now are those engagement rates (0.014 %) to be called "Ghost Town"? No, that's linkbait hyperbole. But it isn't exactly Times Square either...

The long-term average from Twitter and most other social media has been around 0.1-0.2%, i.e. 1-2 engagement actions per 1,000 (some outliers of course get a rate well above that, but this is pretty average). So with my 4,700 or so followers I expect to get somewhere between 4-8 actions. So Louis would have to get about 100 actions on his posts to reach that. But here's the thing: While he does get a good bit more engagement on some of his recent posts, he almost never breaks the 100 mark anymore.

And if you look at you'll find that his long-term average (which includes all of those times where he had many fewer than 100k followers!) is about 20 comments, +43, and 16 reshares per post (=80 actions total). My bet is that his current averages have been dragging down his lifetime averages, even though he now has many more followers (gaining a few hundred per day according to this -> ).

We should all be so lucky, I know...

But the engagement rate appears to still be less and less over time. My best guess from those numbers is that a lot of people who were here early on left or greatly reduced their activity after a while, and the new ones joining are mostly not engaging nearly to the same extent (Max Huijgen's "blueheads", etc.). And again, this is from a non-SUL account. Those are seeing even lower rates...

The SUL has already worked its corrosive "magic" by stratifying attention in relatively predictable, lowest-common-denominator ways.

/cc +Damien Walker [ with whom we started some of these discussions in January on his thread over here -> Where has all the Google Love gone? ]
+Alexander Becker sorry, this thread became a bit hard to keep track of, YES, my own software... (shhhhh! :)

Also, yes, I hate saying Interest Graph over and over, but there isn't a good abbreviation ('I.G.' is odd and no one else would know what you mean) thus far that I've heard of. If you come up with one, I'll be the first to use it...

The chinese language profile you found was from that super-group AFAIK. I think I included a screen-shot of one of these a few months ago, probably on some rant of mine... ;) Kind of like, "it's in the dictionary under 'Lowest Common Denominator'..."

Ah, here it is ->
+Dieter Mueller good points all around. Yah, the Feedback Tool... looks great/innovative, problem is you never get another peep out of it, which is kind of the definition of feedback loop...

Yes, the photog community appears to be the "Killer App" so far, it's a run-away train (assume you saw my quip about photo vs. blogging in my previous comment), given I guess that people were so very tired of flickr/Yahoo and G+ created one of the really decent lightbox affordances and large image feature in the stream for this. Medium=Message.

BTW, as to Google's Social IQ, when the #nymWars thing started, I said this early and often: "Just when we thought that Google had grown a social heart..." (because the early launch phase had such a nice kumbayah feel, that almost instantly got killed off by first Brandgate, and then banning of active/well-behaved users due to "Real Names" policy. In my view, the word "banned" should have never once been heard during the entire launch phase...
+Max Huijgen I assume you are referring to Gideon's G+ slide deck (as G+ Photo Album) where he claims that G+ is built for content curators. Boy do I have news for him... [just read his comments on your reshare now, where he says that he manly wanted to push the discussion more in this direction]
Yip +Alex Schleber I was referring to the photo album of Gideon, which apparently qualified as ´image´ even if there was text on it. My share of it was critical but I noticed this was one of the few occasions where I got more indirect shares than comments......
+Alex Schleber: do we have any hard numbers that show that what we are asking for is not just a drop in the ocean? most people commenting on this post ("loyalists"?) have less than 20k followers. that is about 10% of a cat-gif creators or one of those tech "oh my god, the new iphone's screen is 1/16 inch larger, what an orgasm" creators. as much as it frustrates me, surely google wants to prioritize the masses, no? quality engagement simply does not have the numbers (yet), i think. (excluding photography & geek stuff, that is). [btw: please understand: i am totally with you & fully appreciate the effort in this initiative! i will also do what i can to share / help / spread the word]
+nomad dimitri I think it is all about "affordances" (= UI/UX features that make a certain use case more or very likely). And the ones for more in depth discussion are preciously limited thus far. Yes, the other stuff will be in the majority, and that's completely fine by me. It's just that with the crude/dumb SUL "experiment", Google has forever altered the attention flows here away from an "organic" development.

I just said on another thread, once the G+ API proper is out, someone (us?) can start and "put Humpty-Dumpty back together again" (as far as doing more with the reunifying the very decentralized discussion). The thing is, if the number of people on here up for deeper (early Friendfeed-style) discussions on tech, asf. is so relatively small, why not take this show on the road to something else with MORE affordances for bloggers/curators/thinkers?
It's funny...even though this platform has some of that deeper, forum-like functionality and it's much better at discussions like this than say, Twitter, I just don't think that it's a top priority for Google right now.

I'm being a bit contrarian, but really, what Google needs to focus on right now is getting a critical mass of people adding a social discoverability layer on the information on the web. That needs to be their top priority and relative to that, the more in-depth collaboration we're trying to carry out here is a lower-priority use-case.

I'm not saying that the fragmentation problem is unimportant, and I'm not saying that there aren't some relatively inexpensive fixes that could address it. But I just think this platform has some bigger fish to fry right now - like, for example, figuring out a way to improve new people's initial experience so that they spend more time here (and we've already talked about the importance of fixing the SUL to that end). If they don't get these bigger problems fixed first, they may never have a chance to fix this next level of problems that we're thinking about right now.

Sorry, don't mean to dampen or derail the discussion, just trying to add a little perspective. OK. Fire away.
Good analysis, +Gideon Rosenblatt ; it makes sense that Google has to care about making the majority, the majority and while I like to think that it doesn't have to be that way, it probably is.

On the other hand, letting us minority potentially leave at some point will cost Google dearly.
+Gideon Rosenblatt no no, the onboarding problem as it relates to the Interest Graph is very much front and center. Right after the onboarding, it becomes a long-term shared-interest users discovery issue for people opting to stay with G+.

I don't think these are mutually exclusive at all. What I don't understand is that the entire extent of Google's I.G. efforts is subsumed under the obviously lacking SUL, and the (nice, but hardly sufficient) #hashtags integration.

In reality, I pretty much agree with +Max Huijgen that the way Circles currently work (one-way, i.e. no one knows what Circle names someone else has added you to unless they did a lot of extra manual work and made it explicit through a post/discussion thread) prevents I.G. communities from coalescing.
Nothing to fire +Gideon Rosenblatt. Just remember your own statement that G+ is an interest graph. Without content there will be no interest :)
When the creators of the original content move to another platform you can welcome the hell out of people but there is nothing to find here. And that smart Google plus your world in the search will not deliver the hits.
that was exactly my point, +Gideon Rosenblatt, we are not their priority. also, if i know them well at all, they have a massive backstage that is crunching & analyzing what is going on here & running scenarios & modeling every change considered. if they alienate some of us, so be it, they can always remake an overwhelming case for the platform later. +Alex Schleber : are there realistic alternatives with as much promise? this is the only social media i have ever used...
Here's my guess, and it's only a guess...they built this thing primarily to add a social layer on external information, in order to protect their core business of search. They probably also knew, looking at Twitter, that much of the reason that people consumed information on Twitter was to follow famous people, and so the primary internal content creation use case they optimized for was for famous people. How do you attract famous people - give them an audience - aka the SUL.

I do think that there is a connection here between IG and onboarding, which we've explored a bit before and that is the idea of surfacing people's search history as a means of suggesting good people to circle. Risky for sure, but talk about interesting and powerful and something that Google is uniquely well positioned to do. It would kick ass all over Facebook and Twitter.

Combine that with some decent group functionality, and I think you're on your way to linking and solving both problems.
+Gideon Rosenblatt I don´t think so as the SUL was an afterthought. If that had been the center they would have started with ´people brands´ but they didn´t. As you know a personal account can only have one email address and ´manager´ which is assumed to be the person self.
Not a model for the likes of +Britney Spears or +Lady Gaga
Regarding the term 'Interest Graph,' +Alex Schleber , I'm not criticizing the people who are using it, I'm criticizing the term itself.

It's misleading because it doesn't decribe my interests; every +1, share, or even explicit comment that I make, doesn't even remotely reflect my measurable interest -- even with a clearly spelled out comment, no software in the world, let alone human analyst is able to even superficially guess my intention and the actual motivation for doing what I'm doing -- every interaction offered from my part is merely an indicator of a notion towards a certain subject, or topic, or inspired by the mere presence of a certain, perceived emotion; and this hold for comments, now look at +1s -- you can't derive or infer the 'why.'

No, 'Interest' isn't that easy to capture or quantify, only in such broad terms that are unusable in even delivering slightly relevant ads to my digital door.

As for the 'Graph,' well it's the glorified chart of the writing and reading impaired Powerpoint worshippers who think that a graph displays more than the data itself -- which it doesn't.

Now, you want a better term, without marketese I'd describe the thing as the Mutually Inspired Network of Interdependent Notions and Unknown Intentions -- with a nice acronym: MININUI, ... blah
As for the 'Graph,' well it's the glorified chart of the writing and reading impaired Powerpoint worshippers who think that a graph displays more than the data itself -- which it doesn't. +Alexander Becker Just like a screenshot of Word seems to be more telling than the same words typed in acsii.
I mean, I do understand people like picture books instead of real books, but if there are just words on them with color behind it? Just reminds me of my own stupic sharing of a typed out text completely falsely attributed to Aristotle stating that 50% of the people are dumber than you.... It got quite popular and I´m afraid with the wrong 50% :(
We share a pet peeve there, +Max Huijgen :) I remember that pic because I made a similar experiment and had a similar experience.
Curated: and Max's post -> on the same story, plus Vic G. trying to defuse the "ghost town" talk with some "real" numbers (AKA "active Google products users"...).

Didn't we just predict this at the beginning of this thread a week ago? -> TechCrunch: Why Google+ Doesn’t Care If You Never Come Back
Here is the money quote from the BI post:

"...Here's the most important quote from Gundotra: “We are seeing 5 to 10 percent click-through-rate uplift on any ad that has a social annotation on our own Web sites .... We have been in this business for a long time, and there are very few things that give you a 5 to 10 percent increase on ad engagement.”

That's an amazing result. Google regularly fine-tunes and tweaks its search advertising technology in hopes of increasing clickthrough rates by a few tenths of a percentage point. An uplift of 5 to 10 percent really is a big deal.

Another way of looking at it: the Google+ service is bait. All Google wants you to do is create a profile and link to some friends with it.
After that, Google really doesn't care if you never visit again."

Ugh. And thanks for all the fish...
I remember that from your stream, +Kevin Kelly in particular this quote: "The main lesson of the Social Ciphers is to beware of large numbers in social media. The larger the number, the more fluffy it is. Real or not, these folks are just not there." Q.E.D.
+Kevin Kelly I remember reading your post. I think I shared it and analyzed my own followers. Need to check where as nothing can be found on this ´social network´ created by search specialist. An anomaly in itself.
To a new user, it really is a ghost town. Then, they start adding people, and soon enough it's a fire hose and just as unmanageable. Google needs to work on tools to allow us to carve out a middle ground. Noise controls for our streams, in order to leave out the portions we don't care about, from the people who also post portions we do. Categorizations for discussion topics, so that people interested in a common subject can find it, without the burden of everything else that has the same words as used in a search term, but with an unrelated meaning.

What I miss most, USENET had. Quora has tried, as did Amazon Answerville and Yahoo Answers before them. G+ could still be the place people go for discussing a topic of common interest.
+Bob O`Bob because the onboarding by means of the SUL is all wrong. There IS plenty of great content and people here, it's just that is takes most (even the longer-term/experienced) users way too long, too much energy/will to find.
I too have tried to get conversations going about possible features for adding community to G+ but the very same curation task makes it a PITA even for me to seek the references of my own past posts. #googleplussuggestions and #googlepluscommunityfeatures might help, if anyone is interested.
People should feel drawn to G+ because "it's the place where _________________________"
Curated: Concerning Google's intentions (I can hear this line from courtroom dramas in my head - "goes to state of mind your honor..."), thoughtful from +John Battelle:

"...And I think Google sees an end game – once it has direct, meaningful relationships with its customers, it believes it will be seen as the most open and accommodative player amongst the Internet Big Five. It will compete on policy and data use, and it believes it will win on those points. It will provide alternatives to Facebook and Apple, and it believes those alternatives will prove more consumer friendly over time.

At least, I hope that’s what Google believes….for now, there’s much work to be done. The integration of its privacy policy is step one. The next step is to provide a better privacy dashboard than Facebook currently does (Facebook, to its credit, has come a long, long way here. Apple? Not so much. I can’t find a dashboard for privacy settings anywhere). Then, Google must take another plunge, and allow us to use our data any way we want, both inside and outside of Google’s services. The more open Google proves to be over time, the more customers it will win in the long term. Oh, and then it has to figure out how to link Android to all of this (good luck with that one…).

Apple and Facebook have already shown themselves to have a philosophy of domain-specificity: everything works great, as long as you’re within their controlled domains. Building an open web alternative to that approach is messy, it’s painful, and it sometimes appears to contradict Google’s core principles. But I believe, in the end, it’s what Google is trying to do."
This post by +Kevin Kelly also fits the theme: re: Apple's and FB's fences — "The question I want to ask is: are those two vectors linked? Is it necessary to create barriers in the savannas of the internet in order to deeply know (and protect!) and engage with participants? Does the rise of G+ mean not only Google becoming intimate with us, but also Google having to start building fences? Is there an inherent connection between intimancey and walls? Or is this just a temporary coincidence?"

And I'd say No, fences are not required and merely coincidental with their communities. Twitter kind of hints in that direction.
i agree with +Alexander Becker that fences are not required if you dare to have a strategy that is long-term enough & the cojones to finance it. Apple & FB offer the same fenced-in "safety" that AOL used to. all is predictable & pre-digested. Google has appeared to more daring, early adopters & power users who are not afraid to encounter some chaos in their screen, who can curate the internet by themselves. that option is still open to anyone who wants it. but google, correctly, is also offering guideposts, through G+ to a more guided / curated experience, for those who want it, & to the extent that they want it. in that sense, google is turning the whole internet, optionally, into a more Apple / FB experience. i believe this is the smarter, longer-term business bet, & i think it will bear its fruits both for the company, & for the demanding users commenting on this post. but there will be bumps along the way, some broken eggs &, clearly, some feelings hurt. that's normal in any transformation / evolution. am i too optimistic?
Do you guys work for facebook? The quality and content of my stream here is unparalleled, and I am so blissfully happy that I am on whenever the internet is on. The topics can be light and amusing, or philosophical/geeky (like this one). I can listen to whomever I choose (if they allow me), and I can choose who listens to me. I can hang out, or not. I love this place. It's never dull, and NEVER a "ghost town". I'll be happy here and finer than frog hair UNTIL I get uncontrolled and uncontrollable spam.
+Heather Vandagriff: you are psychic! most of these guys writing negative stuff are actually Mark Zuckerberg himself in various G+ disguises!
(btw: i am crazy about "finer than frog hair"! is that southspeak?)
+Heather Vandagriff ah, questioning our motives, way to bring the nuance... what a dastardly little plan we had, spending inordinate amounts of time since July 1 of last year trying to make this community/service better during the "field trial", and then torpedoing it to sink ourselves...

All at the behest of Mark Z...

Seriously. "Negative Stuff". They didn't believe me and others either when we were trying to warn Twitter against their destruction of the once burgeoning community over there.
is that right +Alex Schleber? i had no idea this is a repeat experience (i have never even been to the twitter website). what happened there? what got lost? if this is too long for you to reply perhaps you can refer me to a blog post or something?
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