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Discovery Tools: Incoming Stream
Google. Don't kill something if you don't have something better to replace it. Between moves like this and social search, I'm beginning to think that 2012 is the year Google decided to constrain our worldview on the Internet rather than help us expand it. Thanks largely to Google, the Internet used to be about what you couldn't find elsewhere.
DeAno Jackson originally shared:
I Want My Incoming Stream Back!!!

+Google+, in my opinion, just made their first major screw up. The Incoming Stream, for those that aren't aware of it, was a stream that included posts from people that have added you to a circle, but you haven't added them. It was an extremely useful tool to quickly browse through posts from the people who've added you, see what they're interested in, and oftentimes, end up adding them to a circle.

At the beginning of this month I even issued a challenge entirely based on it ( It was a fun way of getting people to get to know one another, to interact with someone that perhaps on the surface they didn't share much in common with, and maybe find something surprising.

Well, that's no longer possible. Earlier today, Google removed this stream. Posted here ( is the explanation for that choice, and I think it's foolish. The Suggested User list is not an adequate replacement for this feed. All it does is showcase high level G+ users, not those lesser known people who are constantly posting great content. In fact, the Suggested User list is largely useless. +Carter Gibson summed up the reasons why perfectly here:

The "What's Hot" list? Please. 90% of what I see there are cat gifs, posts from +Mike Elgan (which, since I follow him, I'm already seeing), and various posts from celebrities that I don't care about. Not useful.

They say that you can still see the people who circled you under the Circles button above. While true, it's useless for doing what the Incoming Stream did. A huge list of names does nothing for me. Do you really expect me to find the time to check the profiles of, at the time of this writing, 829 different people? There simply aren't that many hours in a day. Even if I were to delegate only 5 minutes per person, this task would take me just under 70 hours to complete. I'm not doing that. Would any of you?

In the comments for both +Dave Besbris's original post and +Natalie Villalobos's repost, I've seen people saying that they never used it anyway. Chances are, they didn't do that because they didn't know what it was. I'll admit, this was something that was never really explained very well, and it's only though trial and error did I figure it out. Once I did, I made almost daily use of it.

The solution to this was to perhaps rename the feature, or simply provide a better explanation of what it did...not to remove the feature for those of us who were using it.

I truly feel that Google made the wrong choice here, and I really hope they reverse it. The Incoming Stream was a valuable tool I used to decide who among the people that circled me should be circled back based on the content they posted here, and not having it changes a large part of my Google+ experience.

I want my Incoming Stream back.
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Rats! I had just discovered the Incoming stream a week ago and enjoyed seeing things there, usually finding one or two items that were very fascinating to me. Too bad on that "improvement" by Google...
If you read they say that Incoming isn't needed BECAUSE they have already rolled out it's replacements long ago. "The "Incoming" stream was a part of Google+ from the very start and it served an important purpose at the time to help people discover others on Google+. Since then however we've added a suggested user list, What's Hot, the ability to share circles and in-product search with saved searches. We've also greatly improved our friend suggestion algorithms. These changes all served the same purpose that incoming originally did: connecting people. "

I found incoming to be nothing but a nuisance filled with stale posts.
I didn’t realise the incoming stream had gone but yes, it was useful to browse occasionally. I also think it was foolish of G+ to make the default ‘noise level’ mid-way for all streams i.e. the circle stream will show a selection of posts. I know about this and know to adjust the noise levels but it’s easy to forget when you create a new circle and therefore easy to miss posts. I’m fairly certain most people don’t even know this default exists.

For all the effort they're putting into G+, they manage to balls it up on a frighteningly frequent basis.
+Eugene Smiley "Since then however we've added a suggested user list" and I have never used that "feature" in G+, just as I never used it in FB. I don't like some web host determining what I might like.
+Eugene Smiley In what way do the "What's Hot" or "Suggested User List" enable me to interact with my existing audience, that is, the people who have circled me?
eeeeek! I have noticed that I was not at all happy with using Google search when logged into + because the results were far slimmer than I wanted. Also saw that G+ posts were the first up in results. I started back out of G+ just to get to the good ole Google search page when I do searches.
Wow, agreed. Suggested user list hasn't proven to be effective for me in any way. I have at times, browsed the incoming list to see if anything/anybody new or interesting that I might have missed came along. #fail

That said, I'm not sure how this and social search (which I can largely disable if I don't like it) tie together.
You can turn off the social search with the button on the right.
+Paul Spoerry This decision and the implementation of social search tie together as killers of serendipity and what seems to be a concerted effort on Google's part to narrow, rather than widen, our world view.

If I used Google+ to interact with people I already knew before I got here, I'd have exactly one person I was following who also follows me back on a regular basis and two or three with whom I touch base less regularly. Google+ has been the discovery tool for me. Maybe this is the reason I've reacted so viscerally.

+Sonny Williamson Thanks for the hint. I know you can toggle it off and on. I love options. Do you think at some point Google will remove the view that's least used?
+M Sinclair Stevens Let's just say that for a bunch of geeky/nerdy software engineers, Google fails to see all the different use case much of the time. lol

I am still waiting for a fix to the first issue back in beta I ever reported. I can't stand that I go to click a link and the feed jumps and I click on a different spot and open another link or start a video. I want the feed paused without needing some bloody extension.
yes, a big annoyance you've mentioned, +Eugene Smiley One that I have had many friends also bring up. It gets really hard to find just where you WERE before that jump. Maybe only folks that have thousands of contacts have this problem?
+M Sinclair Stevens How to make personal results default off: You can make personal results default to off at the account level. From a search page click the Cog->Search Settings->Do Not Use Personal Results. They're still available on the page but account wide they will no longer be the default.

I completely agree that the differentiator with G+ was that us early adopters didn't know anybody here until we started looking for one another and joining in each others conversations. And the incoming stream was a useful discovery tool in that regard. I'd like to see it come back as I haven't found the suggested users algo's to be of much help to me yet.

My initial reaction to Search+ (I hate the long, hard to say name they've given it) was that it would narrow my worldview. There is a trend in social networks and search to bring me back results that align with what I WANT to hear... and sometimes that's not a good thing. I interact with people in the real world, as well as on G+, whom I don't agree with because I figure I'll either get another view and be swayed, or it'll confirm and solidify my own position. I can't do that without hearing the other side of an issue. However, once I saw their social search in action and that I could hit a toggle on the page I was put at ease. I actually think they did this right. My only issue with it isn't of Google's doing... I don't see social search results of my Twitter friends/followers or of anybody on Facebook. But that's because Twitter decided not to renew their agreement with Google (ya, their robots.txt file has allow but they also didn't renew the agreement... so it's political business bs at this point) and Facebook has never allowed Google in (in fact, I've made the argument that G+ has already done what it needed to do to Facebook as a competitor because shortly after it launched Facebook implemented subscriptions and efforts to get people to post more publicly (which in turns means Google could index it).
This sounds very similar to a long winded Facebook change rant.
yes, incoming stream was my way to understand the frequency and type of posts from people who added me,
For the people that liked the feature do like I did and send a feedback, maybe G+ will realize that happy people tend to not send positive feedback and it's not because we use it once a week or a month that it isn't a useful feature!
+Ben Collins: I considered that before I made this post. I questioned if this were a Facebook thing where it's like, "Change!?!? Noooo!!!!" or if it was something that very seriously would adversely affect my G+ usage. This was the latter. The Incoming Stream was a large part of my usage here, connecting me to my audience in a way that no other platform has been able to do as well. With that gone, I'm seriously at a loss. The fact that they seem to think that the Suggested User List or the idiotic What's Hot section in any way replaces this functionality is downright laughable.
I think letting unknown people interact with you before you added them to your circle was a key use case for me as well.
G+ has added a major degree of boredom and restriction with this decision to cut Incoming. Now we just get all the same people all the time. I won't becoming as often.
+BJ Bolender Yes! Exactly THIS (from the article you linked to.) "For years, Google Search has been the highest quality web product I've ever used. It has remained consistently essential as an information-delivery mechanism. I typically hit it hundreds of times a day—on my phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. But with one update it wiped out all those years of loyalty and goodwill it had built up. Sure, I can opt out of social results with a click—but as with all things I don't want to have to opt out. I don't want to have to make that extra click. I want to enter a query, and have the most relevant results returned to me as quickly as possible. (And if Google genuinely doesn't think it's a big deal for people to take the extra step oft opting out, why has it focused so relentlessly on optimizing speed for so many years?)"
Ugh, bloody Gizmodo. Just turn off social search if you don't like it! And Twitter and FaceBook result haven't been 'bumped down', they don't allow Google to search them! God that site is irritating.
I actually hate all Gawker sites, Gizmodo and Kotaku in particular. Takes a shorter time to turn social search off than it did to write that garbage blog post.
+Matt A. Someone set up a "Give Us Back the Incoming Stream" page.

As for me, I going to send feedback requesting new options to help me connect with my readership. I have always (and months ago submitted a request) wanted to be able to make posts visible to people who have circled me (my readers) without making them public. I would RT a lot more posts if I could share them just with my readers instead of making them public. I have been sharing a lot with the people whose writing I like to read but that's not always the correct audience.

I want to be able to share with the people who like what I write (who are interested in me; not with the people whose writing I like (who might not be interested in me).

I would also like to see a stream of the posts my readers are sharing with me even if I don't follow each of every one of them.
Funny. I found you, M Sinclair Stevens, on my Incoming Stream on the Android app, and went to find your post on Incoming on my computer because I wanted to comment and use a full keyboard. But, of course, I had no Incoming Stream. So I searched your name, found you, read some other posts, and discovered this announcement. I didn't realize they had removed it.
but it's still there on the G+ app? Doesn't make sense not to have it on the web. A ton of people have added me lately and it would be good to follow them for a while in the incoming streaming.
I 'thought' I just found a way to get to it. Simply time the word incoming in your google plus search box makes it appear, or so I thought. Is this something different than what you are talking about?
There have been multiple shares recently about the update to the Android app that shipped this week. It did remove Incoming, and there have been many relevant comments. Personally, I have refused the update on my tablet, and most importantly the Incoming stream is still working today on the previous version of the app

I suggest that folks interested in the return of Incoming seek out those threads and make your feelings visible at least with some +1s, if not also comments.

Not just that one thread, also I suggest using the Ripples feature to find re-shares, many of which also have strong comment threads. I've stated my opinion in several of them, but limited myself quite a bit. Don't want to be accused of abusing comment threads...

Also, for those who let their Androids update, there is still the m-dot link, though it's awkward to use, it is accessible through browsers:
Drat, I just installed the Android app update a few minutes ago:-(
(Yes, I miss Incoming now it’s gone)
And now we have "What's Hot". Plus (no pun intended) when they removed Incoming from the Android app they also removed my personal circle-stream I had set up.
Sorry about your update. I had a scare this morning as my tablet said "No posts found" for a minute or so.
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