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How public post could work
A simple UI fix

The attached image shows a simple UI change that could fix the "public circles issue"(every post shared with "public" automatically goes to all your circles). It first came up when my dad +Dr. John Gray objected to getting all my public posts, when all he really wants is my family-related stuff.

Many people want to share things with a limited group, but at the same time they don't want to restrict people from sharing them, pointing to them or linking to them. At the moment the only way to make a post public is by sharing to the public circle, which automatically spams all your contacts. A number of people, especially tech bloggers like MySpace founder +Tom Anderson have this issue: they want to post a lot of things to the public but don't want to spam friends and family.

I first articulated this issue in Sharing universe (

and my dad (who is a computer engineer and has designed and implemented complex software control systems) came up with what I think is an elegant solution: make "public" "just another circle" instead of a circle that includes all other circles.

That thread can be found here:

This is my suggestion for a UI that could offer an easy fix.

cc +Charles Warren
Diane Court's profile photoBrodwyn Appanna's profile photohosein jozi's profile photoMohamad Salimian's profile photo
And in order to post to all circles? (The most common case, yes?)
An extra operation ... or 2.
Am I reading you right here?
Perhaps this can be finessed by context sensitivity?
My check box searchable idea in action. Love it. +1 from me :)
I'm not sure I understand how that is different than posting to "Your circles" or "Your Extended Circles" rather than "Public"
I honestly think my idea is simpler. Check box to "Exclude this circle from Public posts unless you specifically ADD it when posting publicly"

So I exclude my Family, my Computer Club, my Customers - but if I'm saying something Publicly and want to include some or all of them, I just do it.

This changes nothing. The default behavior remains the same. It only changes behavior if you specifically check the new box.
+Rawn Shah at the moment the only way to make a post sharable, linkable, discoverable through search (that is, publicly findable) is to post to all your circles. Many people including myself want the option to post to a limited circle without restricting access to the post. At the moment this isn't possible. Unless you share with "public" access is automatically restricted.
Can't you just create a circle that includes everyone that you personally define as "Public"? Or would that prevent random visitors to your page from seeing your post? If so, then I wonder if you have an set of "include" groups and "exclude" groups for each post.
Dreadful idea. It muddies the idea of public. Your father's problem would be much more easily managed with good filter controls - and hopefully they're coming.
+Tony Lawrence this is simpler from both the UI perspective and the background software side, which is the point my dad helped me see.
So the census is that we should separate the searchability from the circles. I can't see how filtering would be simpler than that. I invoke Occam's Razor.
+Gareth Allday What is your idea of public? That anything you say publicly should go into all your contact's inboxes?
Well, that is the other option: Make a check box that says "Make posts to this circle public also". I suppose that is even better - only one circle MUST be checked for that to work and it doesn't necessarily have to have anyone in it - but I bet people would not understand how an empty circle has that powr, so I still think "Exclude from public posts" is better and, as I said, it does not change current behavior at all so breaks nothing.
So you post content that goes viral, Tony, and your friends want to know why you excluded them from it. That's not my understanding of a social network.
+Daniel Berlin you seem to insist on imposing your understanding on everyone else in the network. I think it should be clear by now that your understanding of a social network differs from mine and others' understanding. You can have it your way in your social network, but I want to have it my way in mine. And yes that means not pushing everything to everyone, even if they might ask why later.
They aren't excluded unless they WANT to be excluded. The posts are still available to them if they want to visit my posts page or they can tell me that they also want to be added to another circle.

If the geeks in my family want to see my tech stuff, they'll tell me. If the more advanced people in the Computer Club circle want more than notes on meetings, they'll tell me. If my Kerio customers want to see stuff not related to the products they bought, they will tell me.
Context, Dave. I was responding to Tony's exclusion remedy while he was dismissing the check box idea. I'm saying we need to have BOTH for it to meet more of our needs. How you go from that to me imposing my understanding, I dont know :)

Great Tony. Do you work in admin per chance? How will they know if they don't see it? I now have to visit all several hundred people in my circles and scroll down all their timelines, in case I might find stuff they've excluded me from. Hmm. I think I'll pass but you have fun with that :)
Sorry +Daniel Berlin I've explained this so many times I'm confusing myself. Apologies
+Dave Gray As amazing as it may seem, yes - remember these are streams not inboxes. Public is public and all that checkbox would do is confuse the concept. This is a noise issue - not a weakness in the sharing options. The appropriate fix would be some sort of filter.
What Dave has come up with has been fleshed out on the link he's provided. He's trying to solve a very legitimate problem that I think topic tagging/categories, and exclusion won't solve just on their own.

Gareth - how about changing the check box from "make this public" to "make this searchable online"? Is something like that a bit clearer?
+Gareth Allday all this stuff started for me when my dad complained about getting stuff in his stream that he didn't care about. Why should the burden be on them to filter? At some point in the future, if we have the ability to create multiple public channels or streams, then I agree with you. But if my dad subscribes to my posts I don't want to flood him with crap.
Daniel doesn't seem to understand that neither of what I or Dave woud like to see would affect him at all. His default actions would continue to work just as they do now.

Daniel, you let me worry about how I handle my business and you can handle your own. I (and Dave and lots of other people) need a way to shield some circles from Public posts. I understand that you would hate that, but you wouldn't be forced to do it, would you?

And no, I don't work in admin. I'm a self employed whatchamacallit.
+Gareth Allday I think we should have control at both ends.

1. Senders should have the ability to be selective in whose streams they push to (without being forced to limit sharing), and

2. Receivers should have the ability to filter their streams by subject, content, person, etc.

I think of the "safe search" filter on Google search. If Google can filter out sexually explicit material they should be able to filter out stupid jokes or other kinds of content.
+Daniel Berlin I think that would be fine too -- that text could read in lots of ways. Findable, searchable, whatever. It could even go the opposite way: for example, if the default was public it could say "restrict sharing" or something like that. As long as people understand the default.

The default now is restricted. I'm not sure how many people understand that, or what that means.
Dave: Simply change the name? /*blink*/ But that has no effect.

/me suddenly feels faint and dizzy
It's a question of what people think "public" means. For me it means nobody is specifically excluded from seeing it. For G+ at the moment it means "push to everyone in my circles."
+Daniel Berlin I think you're both looking at this back-to-front. You're leaving it up to person posting to curate his follower's stream. This needs to be solved in the stream not the sharing box.

It doesn't matter what you want to call it, changing the idea of public is a bad move. The best thing about circles is its clarity and simplicity. Adding a qualifying checkbox is going to baffle many people and leave them wondering just who will see their posts.
Exactly right, Dave. And it should continue to mean that by default. But we need the power to change it.
Public should be like twitter... stuff you want to put out to anyone who is willing to listen. Perhaps the "following" circle could be tied into a "public" stream that is displayed together or separate from the circles stream (the choice would be in the user's hands). That way if a post is marked only "public" it will be posted into the "public" stream of all those "following" that user; and if a post has a circle selected, it will also be posted to that circle. That way personal content can stay personal and public content can be public.
I do NOT want to change the default. In my suggestion, this would be in "Advanced settings" so as NOT to confuse the smaller brains.
Oh no, not again the same discussion. :-)
And what Dave says about what public means on here is the crux of the problem right there. If Dave has a highly specialised tech blog on here, say the latest research in some new element to replace silicone, his basketball friends, or young cousins, might not be remotely interested in that so he should have the ability to exclude them but still have the option of the post being findable thru search. That's simply not possible at the moment, meaning he can't reach his specific audience (push) AND still be findable by outsiders who might want to read it (pull).

It's everyone or just the circles you select at the moment. That is restrictive and can leave people blocking each other, imo.

I think also to address the problem of people feeling "excluded" we should also have the option of advertising our circles, which allows people to subscribe or opt into them.

I'm looking for atheists on here. I'm having a difficult time finding them so far. But if I could search for subscription/opt-in circles, wouldn't I have more luck finding them?

Tony how does this confuse the "smaller brains"? You just have a "learn more" link like we see dotted everywhere else that explains it to them in a language of their choice.
+Dave Gray It would be far easier to give your father an option to hide public posts from you, as part of a noise filter. I don't see why that wouldn't work.
Gareth - that's from the recipient end. We also need options available to people at the broadcaster end. I don't think G+ could work on a serious professional level without it.

And why is "make this content searchable by outsiders" so difficult to understand? It's what public currently does but without people being made aware of it.
Sounds like admin, Rebecca. I can understand which circles I have based on my social groups and interests. I can't know and understand what everyone in each circle does and doesn't want pushed into their timelines.
Daniel, is it really necessary for me to explain to you why 'public' is more straightforward than "make this content searchable by outsiders"?

Cases may exist where 'broadcasters' need extra options - you'd have to suggest some. The example above isn't one of them as I've already explained and screwing up the public setting won't ever be a solution.
I'm not against anything that lets me stop spamming the people I don't want to spam. I personally don't care about who it confuses - I have little use for those who whine "It's already so complicated!". However, some have complained that adding anything will confuse people - so I say put it in Advanced Settings to shut them up.
This so reminds me of engineering meetings I refused to stay in.
w/respect Dave, truly
best --ben
+Gareth Allday IMHO the public setting is screwed up now. But it seems we have different understandings of what public means. To me public doesn't mean "broadcast" it means "linkable." There's a difference. I can broadcast on Twitter. Here I want the ability to narrowcast.
Yes all these concepts mean different things. Public, Searchable, Pushed, In Circle, Not in circle, visible, invisible. A clean and simple UI solution that seamlessly suits everyone's needs does not really exist for this.

+Dave Gray your UI sketch, although solving your problem, does not really add any value to my requirements and simply brings clutter to what should otherwise be a seamless post box for me to write into and not get distracted by.
Well Gareth I already gave you an example of a possible blog run by someone like Dave. At the moment he can only make his posts searchable by choosing "public" which also has the disadvantage of pushing it into everyone's streams who have him in a circle. It's his content, he should have every right to decide who in his circles sees it AND whether it's still searchable or not. I don't buy your "too complicated" line - it's just a tick box, not rocket science.

In a complete sentence, the understanding would penetrate as:
"Send this content to my TECH circle and also make it searchable online".

Yep, that's got me stumped. My head just exploded. Excuse me while I clean up :)

Oh and if your post about "baffling everyone" was an explanation, it was lost on me. It read more as a collection of broad assumptions. Care to clarify?

Filters on the recipient end have their place - but again - it's an admin solution. I can see myself now tweaking the filters and oops another cat pic came thru. Perhaps you could explain your idea of a filter and how it might work against, say, a serial cat lover, or for a relative who doesnt want to read the tech or political or religious musings of certain people in their circles.
+Jason Grant I'm all over another way to solve my problem and I'm sure there are many ways to do it. Do you really find that little check box so distracting? The same argument could be made over many tiny UI elements here. I think G+ has gotten public sharing badly wrong and my opinion is shared by many, mostly people who are bloggers and online publishers.

I don't see a blog on your profile page but I think it pays to remember that online publishers such as bloggers can definitely make or break an online community. I'd think G+ would want to solve for their needs.
I'm proposing a solution here, including UI and the engineering behind it. Would love to see other people's solutions, concepts and proposals. I'm from Missouri -- if you've got a better way, show me :)
+Dave Malouf we don't have enough people arguing in here. Can you help us out? :)
+Dave Gray
Well spotted that I was missing a blog link on my profile ( I have been writing one, but found that blogging is more like 'slavery to Google optimisation algorithm' than anything else. So far I have found that Twitter has put most money into my pocket directly as I get concrete business introductions over it, while all the other networks and publications are either invisible, not read enough or simply not returning much.

I am interested to see if G+ has a similar effect like Twitter or it ends up being more like Facebook (a giant waste of time and platform for sharing boring, irrelevant and useless chit-chats).
Quite the heated discussion :)
How I see it:
- pushing to stream
- hiding from people outside the stream (privacy)
should be separated.
Separation of concerns.
What's the point of having good posts if you must hide them from the world at large in order not to spam uninterested people?
I think that little checkbox would fix this one issue.

And, one other thing, Public Circles, which would be categories you can push to and pull from.
+Jason Grant maybe I want to much. I want Twitter, without the character limit and with threaded conversations, and I want some of the private Facebooky stuff I do with family. I want some publishing control. Maybe it's asking too much :/
+Dave Gray
you're finally starting to understand what I have been trying to communicate all this time. On average (in my experience) a typical user will give a UI about 30 seconds before they either decide they love it or absolutely hate it and abandon it forever.

For those 'UI extremists' like us lot on this thread, we are going to give it more time to 'see what happens' as it's part of our bread and butter stuff and we are really passionate about it.

But look at what's happening already, your dad is disappointed, most my UX pals are not happy with this and are not really using the product, etc.

Essentially one little check box does not make or break things. The reason why I have not posted a graphical reply so far is that I have been working on my own app that tries to resolve this problem for the last 2 years and still haven't solved the problem. It drives me nuts!

Coincidentally, the topic of my Master's Degree thesis was 'Managing Virtual Teams in Completely Virtual Environments' and the core focus point within it was around the tools which enable effective team collaboration. Ever since I did that in 2003 I have been 'hunting' for the perfect tool for managing virtual teams.

Have I come across anything that's anywhere near what I need and frictionless yet? Hell no! :-/
+Dave Gray Okay Mr. Missouri. Here's my solution.
Tool Solution: Feature Request
Go to the Notifications page. Notice the menu which says All. And then you can look at only some of the Notification stream. For example, just the Mentions, or Tagged in a Photo.

Everything should have that kind of display option--not just the Notification stream. And Public should be one of the options.
You say above that the solution is to change the name of "public" to "all my circles". It is not. Those are two different things. Public means you've given permission to anyone on the Internet to read your post. "All my circles" means you given permission to anyone you are following to read your posts. (Not just people who are following you.) In fact if you share it with someone who isn't following you they get a notification and they can see the post in their Incoming box.

Solution for your Father: Which Works Now
I suggest you use this feature for your father. Have your father unfollow you. He doesn't want to follow you. He doesn't want to read all your stuff. You wouldn't have this problem if you mapped your actual relationship, in terms of what he wants to read of yours.

You, however, still follow him. When you share with the circle he is in, then he'll get a notification. And he can read your post in his Incoming box. And none of your Public posts will appear in his main stream.
Possibly a related post I wrote about collaboration tools vs. social tools and how they differ in my experience and in my research. There has been a very unfortunate trend of certain social consultancies pushing forward Wikis and Blogging as 'the future of collaboration', which is utter nonsense.

As a humanity and enterprises we still have a very long way to go before we can say that we have productive virtual working environments. :-(

G+ might try to be one of those tools that wants to combine productivity with socialising, for which I am not sure that they go together very well. Your problem of Public default seems to be coming from this very source. Some things you 'work on' and some other things are just 'chit-chat'. You want to try and effectively segregate those two from one another essentially.
+Jason Grant I hear your pain! Online collaboration is a major unsolved problem and a lot of people are feeling that pain. I think hangouts get us a long way toward solving some of the face-to-face interaction issues. I also like LOVE by +Christopher Peri which solves many of those distributed team problems in a very elegant way.
According to +Vic Gundotra from Google , there are new G+ features that are to be announced this week.
+Jason Grant read your blog post and I have to say that either I don't understand you or I don't agree with you. Not sure which. The idea that people don't socialize at work is, to me, ludicrous. Especially in large orgs, people do favors for people they like and refuse to help people that they don't like all the time. They hold grudges, they engage in politics, the list goes on and on. The idea that the primary activity at work is work is to me very idealistic. I wish it were true but I don't think it is.
+Dave Gray
I knew you were going to pick on that point. Glad you did to some extent. I'm coming from the UK angle here. Went to Holland over the weekend and people there barely socialise even outside of work by the looks of it! :-)

When I say 'socialise' I mean it in a positive way (have a laugh, ideate, talk about positive things, etc.)

Activities you described of avoiding one another, back stabbing, etc. are not really 'socialising' they are more like 'political activities geared towards seemingly advancing one's career progression', by those people who don't essentially understand premises of real team work and so on.

You will rarely observe activities you outlined in F1 teams (unless we are talking about drivers of course), as engineers always pull together to make the car work as well as possible in very little time. If you think of that environment it's an optimal working environment, but there is little to no time for chit-chat there as it is all geared towards shaving milliseconds off the lap time.

When engineers ARE socialising it's usually away from the garage itself and it's an equivalent of Facebook type scenario, while the garage would be something like a Quality Center type scenario in the virtual world (let's solve as many bugs quickly here kind of thing). But it's a specialised environment with specialised features and little to no social aspects to it as they simply add noise to the task.
Most professional sports teams, F1 teams included are high-performance teams by definition. They spend hours and hours together practicing and the social glue is formed during that practice. Teamwork is not simply functional activity although it may look that way from the outside. Those F1 engineers know each other so well that they know what everyone is going to do without having to ask.

The idea that high-performance teams could work well together without that social glue is IMHO a misguided one.

The negative activities I describe are precisely related to a lack of opportunities for meaningful social engagement in most work environments. The separation of functions into micro-specializations has created a social distance at work that is a big part of the problem.

People are social animals. Try to hold an important meeting without chit chat and it will blow up in your face unless that group already has a strong social bond. This is why business people have dinners, coffee, lunch meetings outside the office. This is why face-to-face meetings differ so greatly from online meetings. There are a million tiny social clues going on in almost every human interaction. All interaction is social.

If you doubt my words here a simple experiment will make my point: Try a G+ hangout with people you've never met. See if your subsequent online interactions are different.
+Jason Grant SideBar, from "25 concurrent" where Dave said FlameWars ... I couldn't comment on your post.

Far worse than flame-wars: like being in the right gear with no wheel spin, no entropy ... sucks every drop out of you.
Failure's far easier than success. ;p
This fits in line with what I also thought should happen. I might only want to share with my "UX" Circle because I know they are the only ones who would care about what I'm posting, but there's probably not anything private about what I'm posting.
+Derek Eskens exactly. This post is a perfect example of something I would prefer to post only to my UX and Google circles. But I'd like them to be able to share it freely, hence the need to make it public.
Unless it was public and hence sharable outside my circles, which kind of proves my point -- assuming it was something you'd want to see :)
Well if G+ can come up with a solution to this problem and keep the Twitter value within this project then it'll be bye bye Facebook, thanks for all the fish :)
Include some circles, exclude others...makes sense to me! No all encompassing circles!~
The thing is, I'm sure the smarties at google had these discussions...and decided to err on the side of driving more awareness and traffic to the site as it grows ...Facebook is past that tipping point...Google plus needs to remind us that it's there.
+Dave Gray What I almost want to see happen with your model is that if I share something with a single Circle and mark it public, then it would go into the streams of everyone in that Circle (assuming they are following me) and the streams of everyone who is following me who I don't have in any Circle. Does that seem odd?
Derek, that doesn't seem odd to me at all. Makes perfect sense actually.
+Derek Eskens I came across this thread today because I was wonder the same thing: I want make public posts with specifically targeted circles. Your solution sounds both intuitive for users of all levels, and easy to implement.
This solution is insufficient. It is painfully obvious to me that the only complete solution is to provide a way for people to filter their incoming stream by who is posting (filter on circles or on individuals), the type of content (I follow a certain person, but only want to see their posts about boardgames, not their personal life), and the importance of the content (there are some people where I want to know everything they are up to, and plenty of people where I have absolutely no interest in knowing that they are currently doing their laundry).

Once you realize that all three of these pieces are important for a full solution, there are certain observations that fall out of this.

1. The current system where you can limit your stream to exactly one circle, or see all of them, is useless. A better filtering system is needed.
2. Google+ must provide a way to annotate each post with keywords/tags about the subject matter. Without this, there is no way for the receiver to filter the content. Currently, it is possible for a sender to set up a separate circle for every possible subject he wants to write about, but then the sender is the one who needs to know what subjects the receiver wants to hear about. This is not practical.
3. One obvious way to handle the "importance" issue, is for people to mark their own posts with some kind of priority level: "Important", "Normal", "Unimportant". But I think there is a simpler way to enable filtering on importance without requiring this extra step from the sender -- allow people to filter on how many +1s something gets.
I think in order to fit the needs of everyone there needs to be two solutions, although I use the term "everyone" loosely.

I agree that posts need to be tagged, so that people can filter their streams, but I also want to be able to control how my posts are made public. I was thinking, what if the default setting for public meant everyone except those in your circles, and then you have an automatic list presented with check boxes: default of no circles, select all circles, or a combination of circles. That means public makes your posts searchable, but you still control the rest of the aspects.
Well while I don't disagree with you +Mark Engelberg I wasn't proposing this as a complete solution/ I was just trying to find something workable and relatively easy to implement in the short term that would allow people publishing to the public stream a way to be a little more circumspect.
what the heck i do not even kno wht you guys are talking about........
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