"But now the decision has been made, and we're going down this path. Embrace it." - Sorry, but Google does not get a pass on doing naive stuff in social. They clearly are still an engineering company at heart, great at solving problems like Search, Android, and how to scale YouTube. But these are all THINGS. They still don't get how human psychology/behavior scales. You know, human beings...Every step of the way has appeared haphazard,
from 1) the initial #brandgate
fiascos that gravely damaged the launch good-will/excitement (and especially the former killing off most of the favorable tech news media coverage), then 2) the roll-out of the SUL, partly in response to 1), then 3) the lackluster roll-out of Pages that were basically still-born for all but the SUL-boosted ones.
4) the redesign favoring photo-sharing and Web "meme image" use cases even more than they already were, 5) the similar but even more skewed "Pinterest-ification" redesign of the G+ App, 6) Events-gate (is anyone still using those?), 7) now Communities, once again strangely detached from everything else that has come before. 8) Discovery and Onboarding have also been lacking from day one, with the SUL being an ugly, "hard-coded" hack.
BTW most of these could have been avoided if Google had used the basic tool at their disposal and gotten community input BEFORE taking these steps (this despite the fact that they have made an admirable effort to have their own team use G+ as a Enterprise x Social backbone).The only way that I see Communites really succeeding would be for Google to course-correct very quickly,
and 1) make pushing to the Profile feed a user OPTION (same way that e.g. "In their Circles" users shown on the profile can be turned on/off by Circle), and 2) allow ALL Community posts by people we follow to trickle through to our "Home" main stream (allowing for full discovery), and 3) allow those Community posts to trickle through to our Circles set-ups if we are also members of that Community, which is for now the way it is reserved for the "Home" stream.This would at least partially satisfy the idea of the following people based on their "Content Channels" as has been requested for a very long time.
A sort of Venn Diagram of "I follow user XYZ in principle, and I follow Topic (Community) ABC, so if that user has something to say about it then I most definitely want to hear about it." And if all users knew that 1) their followers could still see all of their activity in their "Home" feed, and 2) the Circles worked as a filter as outlined above, then there would be a lot of incentive to post to Communities, and less to "global" Public posts.
Those could still occur of course, and wouldn't be filtered from your Circles, but they would decrease in number and thus help everyone with filtering. But currently there is next to no mechanism to keep things together and not feel like shouting into a vacuum, or for easy discovery. The only way to approximate what I just described is to massively trim your Circles and "in my Circles" total, and then use the "Home" main stream in this way. Which is kind of what I just did as a general G+ spring cleaning (alas, tons of abandoned accounts once again).
Otherwise one or the other will die off, and so far I've mostly seen "Community Dimes for Circle Dollars" in terms of engagement, so I have my doubts as to whether Communities can make it.