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Poisoning the Well

I've seen it brought up by more than a dozen people over the past week... Does the community within Google+ seem to be swinging from the intelligent, conversational interactions from the beginning to just another snark-and-troll-fest? My own content aside, I've seen the number of thoughtful and insightful comments on posts in here deteriorate into soapboxes, judging and preaching. It was said 'in the beginning' that letting in a flood of new people that are not vested in the health and vitality of the community here will poison the well.

I am of the thought that if you don't agree with what someone posts on their own content stream that you are under no obligation to follow, comment or participate. You get your own content stream to do that with. While I welcome intelligent banter and debate, so many posts I read - so many people I value in here - have gotten dragged down into the pit with the crazies. Conversations get derailed by people that want to go off-topic or hijack the thread for themselves, or 'steal' eyeballs of someone with highly-engaged followers.

It just feels different in here lately. Maybe it's the usual summer doldrums digital publishing goes through.

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Tuomo Kalliokoski's profile photoChristopher Penn's profile photoLynette Young's profile photoShannon Shoffner's profile photo
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Well theres always gonna be a troll under the bridge i dont think anyone can stop that..
 
it does feel different here lately and i'm not sure it's solely because of the trolls.  it's like people are trying too hard to make g+ useful and engaging.  heck, even g+ execs are reposting stuff that they posted months ago. 
 
It's summer. Trust me. People get hot and irritable. It happens on twitter, at work, politics. They don't call it the silly season for nothing. Things calm down by fall usually. 
 
i think it's the fate of all social media to eventually experience an eternal september.
 
Food for thought: it isn't mainstream until the lowest common denominators arrive.
 
Search for memes, you'll find them. Seek out political / religious spinners, you'll find them. Keep an eye out for self-appointed gurus, there are plenty.

The good news: Follow your longing for inspiration and you'll find that here too.
 
One feature that I've begun to use of late: the Mute this post. I never did that some months ago.
 
I think there's probably also an element of people becoming comfortable with the ecosystem (and a settling down period) and starting to post their 'strong' opinions on stuff. Strong opinion usually leads to strong opinion from an opposite camp, which could be argued to be trolling. On the other hand if someone you follow for good reasons (i.e. they post great stuff) posts something you don't agree with, why wouldn't you want to 'convince' them there's another view. I'm sure that doesn't explain all the instances you're talking about, but it's my observation of a fair few 'arguments'.
 
At least you can tame them. It is very easy to block someone.
 
Sad to say, it has always been this way. Since day 1.
If you were never exposed to it until now, you can consider yourself fortunate.
(And hopefully also consider yourself fortunate that the anti-spam and anti-troll tools in place can help mitigate some of it.)
 
The same old story, reminds me Twitter many years ago
 
I feel strongly that if I see somebody spreading lies I need to try to fix it.
J Dartt
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I've seen in my circles more issues with trolls. There used to be more of an openness to other opinions, and that does seem to have deteriorated. Also, it seems many engagers have dropped off radar.
 
I've seen it myself, +Lynette Young, mostly about hot-button topics. I was only half joking about not letting the riff-raff in: it's people who aren't given to thinking things through that end up dragging down debates because they prefer ideology to reality.

I've had to uncircle some people because, not to put too fine a point on it, they're bloody stupid.

At least we can block those people who trouble us easily enough, so yeah, it's bad, but it's not a disaster. The internet's caught up with us, that's all.
 
I suspect that it is, in fact, a trend... and that it will continue unless members of the community guide, nurture and cultivate its development.  Much like a garden, if left to grow wild with any old seed the wind blows in, the weeds will eventually overgrow and choke out what was intentionally planted.

Like gardens, fruitful communities don't just spontaneously happen.  They require care and attention, with some occasional pruning of plants that produce nothing but rotten fruit.

Of course, you can expect to deal with some fertilizer in there, too.  ;-)
 
+Allen Firstenberg oh, I've seen just about everything even before I hit Google+. I have a tad bit of a high follower count so I tend to get a better look at the ecosystem. To me this is nothing new, the platform needs a settling down and firing up period. What it winds up being after the dust settles is usually determined right about now... a year in to the platform.
 
+Lynette Young I am finding within my own closest circle of folks I consistently engage with that I am having more and more fun and interaction. Also, I have had good luck posting a variety of content (including personal stuff) publicly or extended and not only receiving great responses and reactions but haven't had any serious trolling issues. I can count the times I have used the block button on one hand, and in those cases the person I blocked was one or two degrees of separation away. 

I guess I am lucky, as +Allen Firstenberg previously mentioned. 
 
But theres the thing, +Lynette Young - There is no one such thing as "The Google+ Community", no matter how much we'd like to pretend there is. There is no swing from the intelligent to the troll because both were always in existence here. Just like they are in other social networks.

I never understood why people thought there was something magical about Google+ that would somehow create high-quality conversations... as if it was doing so in the first place. If people only saw high-quality conversations, it is because they were careful about who they followed and kept themselves in an insular community.
 
If this is a community, then I would imagine the sort of behavior you're criticizing is to be expected.  Not a day goes by that one of my neighbor's doesn't make some idiotic, off-topic comment, but I don't hold that against them.  I'm pretty new here--been a member for a while but couldn't quite catch the "flow" of the place.  From my newbie seat, the snarking and hijacking are minimal compared to other networking sites.
 
I'm blaming the summer heat and the fact there are a lot of bored kids at home trolling.
In real life people seem to be crankier in the heat.
My level of posting has reduced lately as I'm working harder so not getting the chance to think of and type up decent posts.
Have you been on what's hot recently +Lynette Young ?
I found the idiot percentage on posts greatly increases once you are exposed to everyone on G+.
 
man whats up with you are you loinely
 
Hi +Allen Firstenberg , when did you join Google+?
When it started it was dominated by geeks, techy people, friends of said tech people and so on, although there were still a few idiots, it had in general more intelligent conversations than other social networks. (in my humble opinion).
Now anyone can join, even kids, the IQ levels reflect society in general..
 
Well said +Rob Michael I follow a pretty diverse group if folks here and I get something positive from them all. 
 
More likely it's Google+ experiencing growing pains.  Early on most of the people here were "early adopters" who are usually a little more open minded than the general populace.  The bad news is with growth comes the hazard of mediocrity as is the case with Facebook.
 
 
Please, let's not let this turn into FB that's all I'm hoping for! ;-)
 
IMHO, the only way to avoid contact with mediocrity is to avoid networking sites entirely.  Face-to-face convo with chosen friends is probably the best route.  If there's one notable effect of FB, G+, LinkedIn, Plaxo...it's that the format gives the impression of a wider audience than actually exists for individual threads while at the same time allowing posters to forget that there's a seething mass of public eyeballs available to pass through at will. 
 
+Hannah Roberts - 29 June 2011. Right at the beginning. And there were geeks, techy people, and trolls. Plenty of trolls. Plenty of kids, too, despite the suposed age limits. (And I think I've seen more sophomoric behavior on here from people who could legally drink in the US than those who couldn't.)

I don't think it had any higher or lower level of conversation than any other social network I've been on - which is to say that it had plenty, but it had plenty of "low brow" stuff... it had plenty of name calling... it had plenty of posturing and name calling and not listening (and not really debating or discussing issues).

+Russell Fitch - The "early adopters" weren't very open minded from my experience. I saw plenty of flame wars about the "real name" policy, as just one small example.

+Gabe Estrada - What do you mean by that?
 
Not to derail the conversation, but I'd like to talk to everyone about Jesus...
 
If you don't want the public to comment on your posts, don't post to the public. Publish only to the people you've "let in".
 
We can prevent Google + from becoming Facebook by adopting these rules and standards;

#1 Don't add your relatives! Unless you like(not just love!) them , and would share your sense of humor with them on a daily basis, keep them confined to Facebook. That way you, your siblings and your co-worker can all be honest and have real conversations.

#2 Feel free to block or put into a lesser circle. Luckily, I dont think google + is gonna pull any Facebook like punches and be like ta-da! different rules today! SO your safe to put people you dont want to share everything with- in a different circle!

#3 Unfollow. We all got really comfortable on Facebook, and we started thinking it would be rude to erase people. trimming the fat on there became like rejecting a potential date. Messy, insulting, drama-rich.
If we do that early and often here, it wont become an issue.

Any one have more?
 
Ah ok, it is just my experience has been totally different, and was not trolled much in the early days, and not that much now either.
Then again I do not post sensitive topics publicly, and I have a thick skin.
 
Why so serious?  Should people have to complete an IQ test to have a Google+ account?
 
I like that idea^
 
If the OP gets "dragged down into the pit with crazies" it makes me wonder if they truly wanted an intelligent conversation or did they just want people to agree with their opinion?  People have different ways of engaging, opinions, and expectations.  If someone is surprised by the unfiltered response they get to a post, especially if it is a sensitive subject, and they then deliberately engage the responses that they don't like, is it really so strange that troll-like behavior increases?

This sentiment that the author of a post is somehow the omniscient controller of their content stream sounds like the on-going battle of George Lucas versus fans of the Star Wars universe over who gets to determine the future of the franchise.

tl;dr If you aren't willing to engage in an intelligent manner to those that read your post and expressed their opinion, don't be surprised when all you see is trolls.
 
As long as your opinion is more than a paragraph....you're not a troll. :)
 
I left Facebook because too many of the topics posted and discussed by folks were extremely trivial and superficial. I got tired of it.
 
Yes +Tyler Smith   , like you are entitled to come onto my posts and tell me your reasons for challenging a point I have made, and indeed ridicule my beliefs if you must, that is your freedom of speech.
 I will only delete comments/block if people post:
"Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii"
"I love Justin Bieber!!"
"Ms Hannah I have an important message, please be giving me your phone number so that I can give this message"
and other such irrelevant nonsense. 
Or perhaps if someone is deliberately nasty and victimising another person for the fun of it.
 
+Hannah Roberts  that's because there's a serious spam/bot/fake profile issue on Google+....look at this post, of the 1.5 million who have circled Lynette and only 40 comments? 
 
True, but perhaps people are afraid of voicing their opinion on a post which they may be accused of being the poison in the well. 
Many of the people who follow Lynette may well follow 4999 other people and not see this post, others are asleep, others still are fake accounts. 
I have just over 9000 followers, and I would not be surprised if 500 or so were spam accounts, but they are just numbers and irrelevant to what I experience on my post reserved for those in my circles.
 
+Scott Jones 
I will message you directly now in a minute, because I feel like I am taking over the post waffling on here. :)
 
In blogging I see, and read that it's typical, that 1 in 10 readers will comment. Circling is easy, but people may have a large 'Ignored' circle. 
 
That would equate to 150,000 comments....got a ways to go :)
 
Go look at one of the high-fliers like Guy Kawasaki or Richard Branson. You still won't see a HUGE number of comments to match the huge number of circlers. 
 
True +Diana Studer , but as a business I would rather have a smaller number of followers who actually engage......huge followings are useless.
 
+Chip Farrar I agree. I used to have 'friends' on Facebook who would friend request me and then I'd never hear from them so I'd unfriend them. I mean, what's the point? I only friended family or clients but having a huge number of ghost followers is pointless.
 
Thank goodness I just saw this.  +Lynette Young    I have had some really bad trolling on my threads recently.  I also am pretty careful to avoid "push button" topics and anything confrontational but out of no where I have had some really bad trolling happen on my threads.   It has been a little discouraging, since it takes work to maintain a public account, and it is not pleasant to have random strangers pop in and insult you or your readers.  I had one person who I blocked even start new accounts in order to come back and troll some more.  Not fun or pretty at all.  Sigh. I have been called a B*** (I honestly still have no idea why) and then a religious fanatic because I am a vegan all in the last 24 hours. --sign me out discouraged today.
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