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I've started circling G+ friends in theme circles when they post things related to my own interests. Wait, what?

I'm a professional geek (I make my living writing about technology-related subjects). But I'm also a shameless health freak and one of those annoying foodie types. I have other obsessions and interests as well.

It's easy to GET posts in my stream based on my interests -- just follow people who talk about them. But I'd also like to SEND posts to people who share my narrow interests, without annoying the larger group.

So now I have circles that categorize topics, rather than people. I made circles called "Food," "Health," "Politics," and others.

When people I'm already following send ME things in any of my topic categories, I add them to the appropriate circle (while leaving them also in the original circle).

Then, when I want to do something like post a picture of my lunch, I'll address it only to the known foodies, rather than spamming everyone with something most people don't care about.

What do you think? Is this a good practice?
Brad D. (The Ronyn)'s profile photoNancy Pugh's profile photoMike Franzwa's profile photoAndrew Carpenter's profile photo
Seems like it would work, but a lot of maintenance on your end.
i'm using exactly the same procedure.
I'm a bit afraid of creating too many circles, loosing the ease of use of G+ !
This is what I'm doing as well. Many people on my feed have gone so far as to say "Pick the circles you want to be in". It's very cool actually.

Add me to your food/health circles, I'm a big Paleo nut myself.
I just started doing that too, hopefully sub-circles will be here soon because it's kind of a headache when you have too many circles.
Good practice. And add me to your foodie list because I like pictures of food! (I share them too.)
...What kind of food, Mike.... (I hate missing lunch...)
That's how I started using circles right from the beginning. I prefer not to spam people with stuff they have no interest in.
I think that's a great idea. That's exactly why I'm not going to port over the vast majority of my Facebook friends because most of them are just old friends and I have no idea what they're "into".
"Good", as in worthwhile and maybe even ultra-courteous? Sure

"Good" as in practical or practicable even when your taxonomy hits 175 top-level categories? Maybe not so much.
+Mike Elgan That .... is really smart! I've been trying to figure out how to send things to people that I know will appreciate it, but so far hadn't thought of this yet. It's maintenance-heavy though, I guess?
I think you're definitely ahead of the curve with this. Many people have discussed this as an issue - circles make it easy to filter out who you want to see and how you want to share, but it requires more work for people to really target their sharing by interest. Most people look at circles as a privacy control more than a content control...
sounds like a good way to organize it, I've sorta got it arranged that way :)
Sort of like twitter lists. I've green, tech, must read, legal, etc.
Well I have to agree it's a great practice because it's how I do it. I've even started a few currently empty circles like Politics so I can share political clippings to that circle in order to keep them sorted.

As people I read start saying things that make me think we might share the same world view, I'll add them to that circle.
I think this is what Google wants you to do. Full customization of circles, who to follow, and who to share with. The more detailed the better. It'll cut out irrelevant posts from all our streams.
I, for one, don't mind the personal stuff mixed into the public stream. It adds a little humanity to the poster.
How would you approach this if you have one group of people you would like to post to in your native language, and one group of people you would post to in english?
Funny how you view this as an alternate way of using circles. :) I only use circles to direct my shares, rarely use them as an incoming filter.
Too confusing and time-consuming. I'm waiting until Google introduces easier shared circles, interest-based subscribable circles, or whatever you want to call it.
While circles are flexible and personal, I almost feel like thats how they were intended to be organized. It's how I organize mine, and how most others I've been following seem to as well. It is more useful for sharing rather than following though, because people who might be in my "Art" circle might post about tech, politics, etc.
I want to make specific circles public that people can subscribe to. Seems better to let people choose themselves what they want, surely?
Well, now I don't know what circle to put you in!
You're in, Mari. Anyone else interested in food, health (fitness, really) or politics and want me to put you in those circles?
Van C
Can you please post ur 'Food Circle' :)
I'm starting to think themes/interests as well... and I feel that I want something just a bit hierarchical to go with it; circles in circles, where I have "Local-Techies" and "Local-Foodies" and "Local Family" and "Local Social" as part of "Local" and the same for some other breakouts....
I started doing the same and stopped immediately - it doesn't work if you mix work and private - your foodie example makes it clear. You might put people in that category, but they (if they follow you) might not recognize you for your foodiness but for your expert topic :) and may get confused.
Yes, I am also doing this to a certain extent. For example, I have a circle just for people who would be interested in news about virtual worlds such as Second Life. This way I can send messages just to them and not bother anyone else.
I on't want to be filtered. I'm an information omnivore.
exhausting. unless you have a business motivating you in any of these areas, you'll feel under-rewarded as a clearinghouse.
While this is a good idea, I am horrible with organization in some areas. I figure it's quicker for someone to scroll past that picture of lunch than it is for me to sit there and pick the different groups to send it to.
I think that's the idea. Googlers have given us a great and flexible tool in Circles. I think the way we use it will continue to evolve for some time.
p.s. Add me to your "Amazingly Intelligent and Insightful" circle as well as your "Smart Ass Who's Full of Crap" group.
+Kim Grytøyr The language barrier is a good question. I'm thinking that Google should have the power to translate all stream posts to any language the user chooses. If the post was translated, then it gets some sort of notification.

Social networks are global, we all don't speak the same language. Who ever figures this out first will have a one up on the other platforms.
Thats the beauty of G+. Some of my family members don't want to hear about my political or religious views, but some of my friends do. I'm glad I can catagorize my posts, but I embarassingly sent the computer geek circle info about politics and couldn't change it from my iPhone web app. GRR. Had to wait until i got home to my PC to edit the post.
+Lisa Miller I agree with that sentiment too. While we all have one or two main interests, there's no harm in being exposed to other interests as well to broaden our horizons. I'm here to broaden horizons and learn more about everything I can, not just to stay within my comfort zone.
That's what I've done and so far, it works quite well for me. My NFL Football circle is too lightly populated, though. I guess that's what I get for hanging out with too many geeks and gamers. ;p
+Dana Kinzer I'm really concerned about the 'filter bubble'. I'm here because I'm interested in what I don't know yet.
The only problem with this is that until we can isolate individual posts, we will get anything a "Foodie" posts whether it's food related or not. So until we can filter categories, it's still kind of a PITA (foodie pun intended).
What +Kevin Owen says. I've been using circles for this purpose, but it doesn't work perfectly if circles overlap, or if people don't agree on the circle they share !
Am doing the same, Mike - seems a logical approach though am certainly receptive to better ideas!
+Doug Ridley Good idea, that may be a solution! I'm having trouble organizing my circles because of this, so any suggestions on how to solve this will be much appreciated.
Lotta angst about filtering going on. Just blast everything to public. If people don't want to read an occasional food post between tech posts, screw 'em. You are who you are. They can always skip that post, or remove you from their circles if you start to go too overboard on one topic they have no interest in.
I was just reading a post from someone who was questioning about themes and circles. I was planning on setting up themed circles as well. It's a great idea. It's a great "filter".
I've done something similar, but your post highlights something that's missing here - as a poster you can publish by subject, but as readers we can only filter by person. So I started following you for your G+ posts, and would probably want to filter your posts to only capture those (no offense, I hope!).

I've actually started putting hashtags in some posts as a hint of the subject, but there's no way to filter them yet so it's kind of forward-looking.
I'd hate to be cut out of interesting stuff just because I'm in the wrong circle. Maybe you could entertain requests?
I defintely want to be in the Food and Health Circles. I have a Foodie Circle created and contemplated a Fitness one, but I don't have anyone to add to the latter yet. I eat the food, and therefore need to run in circles...
I know a tech/social writer who post occasional personal photos from his weekends. I'm happy to share snippets of his life. Note: I'm trying to remember to make all my food posts public-I've found you can't change it later even if it's your own post.
Maybe they need to have an interests field in our abouts. So we can state that our interests are mid century modern design, locavore, snout to tail, foodie, sustainable energy, etc etc. That way we can all automatically KNOW how to filter each other, and perhaps these interests can be (pretty please g+) searchable
I do the same, as far as circles go. It works out well. I have each individual in at least one circle (obviously) but often in 2 or 3 depending on who they are and their interests. I have circles for many different subjects of interest.

I have two big all encompassing ones, though. Friends for people I know personally. and Folks for people I do not know but am interested in what they have to post and say. Everyone is in one or the other of these at the least.
+Mike Elgan What you are doing seems along the lines of having some circles for following, and some for sharing, which is what I am doing also
Though I don't post much about politics I would love to be added to your politics circle to provide feedback
This is just a workaround for defects in the circle system. Google has to come up with some way of topic filtering like tags. Please! not hash tags! It should be tagging that's native to the system like Delicious.
Please add me to Foodie's as well.

The issue with this seems to be that you have to figure out what someone else wants, not always obvious...
Good idea. I have people in based on industries I read up on in case I want to share. Advertising, Real Estate, Film
I've handled this by creating a list of my circles and simply asking folks where they want to be. It's linked from my profile:

+Christopher Bloom, we're trying to get the paleo ball rolling. Here's one thread started in an effort to identify our fellow paleo peeps:

Personally, I lean more toward the biochem, evolutionary biology and evolutionary psychology in the paleo community so I love reading, evolutionarypsychiatry, archevore, paul jaminet/perfect health diet, thatpaleoguy.
Suze P
That seems like a good way to do things for people you know fit mostly in one interest category or other. Then you have me..and I'm sure many others.. I want to see everything people share, and If I'm not interested in a particular thing, I know how to skip it or mute it even, if need be. I am into health/fitness and, whole foods, etc..but I don't tend to post about that stuff all that often, so you wouldn't necessarily know that I would be interested in that. I'm also into tech, movies/entertainment,music, sci-fi, and a million other things. I'd need a million circles. LOL
+Mike Elgan It's a good idea, but you need to also consider the fact that you are limiting your chances of being surprised by people. Maybe someone in your "Health nut" circle is also secretly a geek, or maybe some guy in your geek circle shares your passion for politics. How would you ever find out if everyone always just posts stuff to people they think might be interested? This might very well be ok for you, depending on what you want to get out of G+.

What G+ needs is semantic filtering; some way for followers to filter out posts from individuals based on semantics. Let's say I were to post everything to Public (or to Circles, doesn't matter). My mom would certainly not be interested in my geeky posts, and with a semantic filter in place, she could automatically filter out the geeky posts of mine. I think I've seen somewhere that Google is working on something like this, and I very much welcom it.
here's my tip :
* Circles you follow * but don't post starts with a # (like twitter)

* Circles you post to * starts with a @

like this when you share something you just hit '@' and choose who to send.

and when you look at your different streams you only click on circles with a '#'

It also helps keeping your circles organised.

what do you think +Mike Elgan ?
I don't know.Suppose I like to see posts on several or all of your topics. Do I have to send you a request? Are you going to publish your categories? So far I don't mind seeing a broad range of topics. I've learned a few things I didn't even know I cared about.
+Tim Sebel, or you could just ask them to tell you. I have a link to my circles in my profile and I was pleasantly surprised by how many did tell just because of that. (I did post a request as well but these were new "followers" and hadn't seen it yet). If they don't tell me, I generally shoot them a quick note to ask them.
Since my circles are still ever-changing, I mentioned in my profile to let me know if they want to join a Circle they suspect exists. It would be nice if we could set some circles to be "subscribable" - it would also solve noise control to some extent.
I've always used this method on Facebook but I intend to move away from it by a large degree here. Why? Because I want to promote a more open social environment. Micro-circling everyone detracts from G+'s open social advantage over Facebook. For those posts that I don't want to bother with G+ gives us the 'Mute this post' option. One click and done. Back to a non-foodie life I go. Perhaps the Mute function needs to be more obvious?
A few comments have asked about the workload of doing something like this: Yes, it takes a few seconds (and when you multiply this times most of your users, it adds up). But I really think it pays off. I tend to look at this circling as part of a larger process of maintaining circles. When it becomes clear that someone I'm following isn't posting things I'm enjoying, I'll uncircle them. When I see someone recommending people to follow, I tend to follow them to give them a try. All this activity takes time. But the end result is that you save time (by not having people in your circles posting things that aren't a good use of your time) and have much better interaction with people by engaging fully with one group without annoying another.
I think what lots of people are crying out for are opt in lists when you join friends circles - so it makes the filing more collaborative - I think it might be neat but the manitnence aspect makes me worry. I think our obsessions and interests make us who we are and would be happy to be anywhere you wanna share stuff on. i like knowing whole people, not just the stuff they think I might be interested in - inspiration is a funny thing after all, but ultimately, I think the big thing with circles is what makes everyone comfortable. We'll get there I guess ;)
I've been doing the same for some time: for instance I have a circle for social media, one for SEO, etc
Another kind of circle I have been populating fir some time are staff circles of different companies I'm interested in: google staff, techcrunch staff, Microsoft staff, etc
Tony: One way to find people to follow in topics is to use Google Search. Just search for the topic, and add to the search. : )
Oh, and another thing I'm doing is that all my topic circles have an x in front, as in "X Food," and "X Health." The reason is that it's easier to address by topic by first typing X.
FYI, I'm putting everyone here who requests to be in one of my topic circles in the circle requested.
In a recent post to someone who had trouble "getting G+" I offered the following (possibly bad) advice regarding topical circles:

"_[...] take a two-step approach to categorization:

1) Put people in circles by presumed interest (birdwatcher, skydiver, etc)
2) Refine their categorization on the basis of their posts (birdwatcher becomes drum 'n bass lover)

Every now and then, share stuff publicly to probe the response of your circles. Who knows, maybe the birdwatching drum 'n bass lover also shares your interest in deconstructionist philosophy. Your input stream will make less and less sense once you start defining overlapping circles, but your output will be better. If we all do this, I think some base level of noise control is reached, until Google thinks of a proper fix._"
Regarding the narrowing of topic and the risks thereof: It's never perfect. But most of the people in my topic circles are also in other circles -- it's not exclusive. Also: People really do demonstrate their interests by what they post, and I think it's the best indicator we have of knowing what to send to those people. Plus, it's fair. If you send me a picture of your lunch, I think it's fair for you to see a picture of mine. : ) For someone who circled me because of my Google+ posts, maybe my lunch is not so fair.
The consumers of posts have a much better idea regarding what they're interested in than the the producers. But producers have a much better idea what posts are about than the consumers do, unless they read the post.
Henrick: If this idea spreads (and it sounds from these comments that it has been spreading since before I thought of it), then it should become a standard practice for people to signal their interests by what they post. Google+ is no place to be a secret enthusiast! : )
+Mike Elgan Good practice indeed, but keeping track for 5K friends in different circles isn't healthy at all. I think if Google can define something like interests...where I add my interests to my profile, and I receive posts matching my interests can be a lot easier. And when I post something I choose the relevant category or interest...Specially I hear some news that they are removing the 5K user cap soon...
+Mike Elgan You hinted above that "I have other obsessions and interests as well." What might those be? I'm not a foodie (outside of being a damned good cook), my health is fine and I'm taking a vacation from politics for the summer...but I might be intrigued with your unmentioned categories. :)
Just do me a favor, Mike, please? Don't filter your posts for me. I want to see everything that you, as well as others, are comfortable sharing. Well, everything except for nekkid pics (ew!), animated gifs (they slow down my system), and pictures of poop. Sound good?
But what about the people who are here to read more than to post? This place is a fantastic resource for info and entertainment, even if you don't share your own stuff. And I think that's a legitimate use of the service.
I started doing this from day 1 as well. +Mike Elgan , please put me in politics. I'm interested in politics but am usually afraid to discuss it with people I don't know. I've found it could be a devisive and contentious topic. And being somewhat new to social networking I'm reluctant to bring it up on a social networking site.. How is the experience of others?
I've thought about this too, Am I overloading my friends with all my findings when I post public? How do they let me know what circles to filter them into.

As for this post -- circle me in food, health and politics. I want the data overload.
I'm with Dana. Your posts are real conversation-starters whew and I don't wish to be filtered out. What's for lunch?
I enjoyed the first few days of G+ the most because most posts were public and exposed me to so many different people and thoughts. Hope I don't lose that with all the filtering. It was fun to see people from all walks excited and sharing with each other. PS add me to ALL your circles, I hate missing out on the fun!
+Mike Elgan I would love to be in your Tech and Foodie circles. (If you have any Travel or Outdoors circles, I'd love those too ;-) Thanks.
I'll echo the sentiments of some of the people above and say that yes, I'd really like to be able to "Publish" certain circles, so that they can be publickly viewed, clicked on, previewed and then joined if desired.

I just started a blog through G+, and I've added people in my circles to a blog specific circle, and have put notes in it saying "feel free to share this, if someone wants to subscribe just message me". This is unfortunately a limit more tedious than I want it to be.
I think doing this will cause an excessive amount of circles, just like how posts show an excessive amount of comments. Unless I'm missing a setting somewhere, I wish posts had a "more" and "less" option for comments, starting at "less".
I think it's a great practice, and one I might just follow.
let's say that I want to comment on this, but I also want to share it towards my circles, because I assume that my circles and the readership of this comment stream don't naturally intersect. would the best way to do that be to share, add my comment to the share in my stream, and then link to my share, as such?

or is that not entirely cool? is there some way for my comments to appear both on my stream, and in this thread?
Circles should be classified as #incoming, #outgoing or #conversational. Incoming circles should define read streams--you can read from them, but not publish. Outgoing circles should define write streams--you can publish to them, but not read. Conversational circles should work the same as the ones we have now--they'd be bidirectional.

It should be possible to expose #outgoing and #conversational circles to others, whether those others are the world, your extended circles, or just your close friends. Those who can see them should be able to add and remove themselves as readers of your #outgoing circles, and as full participants in your #conversational circles.
This is an excellent idea. WHO you are connected to is different from WHAT connects you to them. I would like to extend your approach a little bit: Some people are linked by topics, some are linked by a shared experience, some are linked by the intimacy of a family bond. But are these links really so different? In the end you could frame them all as "topics". Then your "circles" could be called "science fiction", "working at McDonalds", "close friendship" and so on.
+Mike Elgan I disagree. I think users best signal their interests by who they choose to listen to. By who they give their attention to. And I think "secret enthusiasm" is a perfectly valid use of the service. Google should be able to sort us behind the scenes and serve up suggestions for who to follow. I should not have to post in order to get the benefits.
Mike: yeah, but signalling your interests by what you post means those posts have to be public. If you post to your politics circle and a guy from your geek circle posts to his politics circle then you might never see a single one of each others' political posts. Unless you happen to be following the same guy, and you happen to find one another in something politically related that guy shared.

There's no wrong or right here, of course. It's just a matter of deciding who should do the filtering: the sender or the reciever? It will probably end up being some combination. :-)
+Mike Elgan just wondering: if you start spreading your posts by choosing instead of "public", the corresponding topic-circle to share it with, that post won't be public anymore and you will be narrowing it's reach, since only those people in your circles and of those only the ones you think might be interested in that specific post, will be able to read it - what of the vast majority that ain't in your circles but who has put you in it's circles because they love to read your stuff?? or am I missing something here?
I'm a huge fan of the endless sorting possibilities offered by "circles". You could privately vent by placing wrongdoers into explicitly named circles or have an ever changing "time out" circle for people you're just not in the mood to tolerate at a particular moment....
How do I get the noise??
everybody is talking about noise control... wha'ts the noise googleplussies? I must be doing something wrong, because there's no noise in my stream. Almost all posts appearing in my stream match my interests and why is that? Because I already filter out the noise by chosing to follow only those people who are posting about the subjects im interested in.... But again, maybe I'm missing the point and doing it all wrong... So I ask you, how do i get the noise???
+chris hollander When you share you end up, for better or worse, a localized discussion thread centered around your posting and not the original. Of course, this also shows up as a Share in your stream, so you'll have both threads there but separated.
IMO, G+ needs interests or subjects related to a user. The user could make post and indicate subjects of this post (as well as he/she indicates target circles now) and other users could subscribe for specific subjects of the user and get notifications about his/her new subjects. BTW, G+ already has interests in the Sparks section.
This is exactly what I've done (so yes, I think it's a good idea :)). It makes it easy to discuss specific interests in more detail with people you are pretty sure will be interested. I think this is a major + over FB.
Google messed up on their model. I should be able to define "Public" circles, with "Following" being public by default. Then anyone should be able to add themselves to my public circles, as we as add me to their own circles.
Please circle me in food, health, and politics. Thanks. +Mike Elgan :)
To use Circles as a content filter is a misuse and some kind redundant from a perspective of a developer. It would be nice, if we can use Sparks to filter posts in our stream. Sparks could be like categories and google could automatic filter and prio posts from everyone I follow. I think that Sparks are generally still in alpha state and have a lot of potential.
Sounds like a lot of extra work, and something that is going to be duplicated by each broadcaster (redundancy!). The idea of 'follower interests' sounds an interesting way of addressing this, and its also been mentioned in this stream that with all of a users posts, sparks and likes that Google will also be able to determine what is of interest to us (for those unwilling to take the time to do it ourselves). We'll see how this progresses!
My instinct is that this doesn't quite work. As the service grows, constantly re-jiggering Circle members by context sounds way too- time-intensive. Add to that that people often post about a range of topics, and your "foodie" post might have really been appreciated by someone you'd designated as a "techie", who would never see it, and the system fails.
+Mike Elgan great idea on your part & similar to what I'm thinking of. however, even with far less followers and maybe only 2 circle themes, still seems something that G+ could eventually help us with.

nice that circles private to us only, but perhaps allow public circles so people can follow/unfollow.

also be useful to have a way to review many people in a list to find out if they still have you in even any circle. I think? that for now, you have to click on each one and find out.
Makes perfect sense.

Put in your profile your topics of interest, so that people can put you in their correct circles too.
GREAT idea! This simple thing addresses one of my major gripes about Facebook. Thanks for posting this idea.
Yes it is a good practice . And your psychology close to perfect. Cheers
But how would you know which people are interested in which topic
Mike, I may well be interested in your Politics circle and if you have one on craft beers count me in there, too.
Please drop me in your food/fitness circle. The categorization makes great sense. Stealing it!
another issue - also lose out of public by posting to circles. you might not want to hit everyone with everything, yet want to keep it public so can easily be spread as public...
Yes, of course. One of the first circles I created was Cats, for people who share my love for cats. Because a lot of people don't want to see my cat pictures or hear about what he did today.
I want to know about foodies!
OK, bear with me, since I'm pretty much a newbie and my head is swimming. I've been reading and sifting through fantastic and informative G+ stuff posted by the likes of +Mike Elgan, +Christina Trapolino and others. Since I asked Mike to throw me in his food/fitness circle, does that mean I just got myself filtered out of the rest of his stuff? I love learning about food and fitness, but I don't want to miss out either!
emma, you can still see all of his Public posts, don't worry! =)
Yes. I have done something similar. But I am hoping for G+ to provide some type of solution for tying sparks and circles together.
I'm doing the same thing. And it doesn't take much maintenance at all -- a simple click on the profile link when I see a post I like confirms whether or not I have them in all the categories I use (or if I need to start a new circle). Some of my friends are in 4 or 5 different circles, and some are relegated to only one.
This is great. if you have one for music i'd like to be in their but at the same time i dont want to annoy people for asking. what would be the best practise for this?
+Mike Elgan, I agree that some sort of "channel" or "outlet" system would be helpful for people who often post on different topics. Figuring out how to keep it simple and intuitive is the main problem. Perhaps some mechanism that allows G+ users to create "public" circles that other users can add themselves to. It would end up being a circle in reverse; that is, the people in the circle are following, rather than being followed, by the user that created it.

yeah, I think so, though I would practice it lately
I am waiting for something like the GMail Priority Inbox to appear in G+. Also, something along the lines of public circles/hashtags/rss feeds being able to be associated with circles.
I'd like to be added to both food and politics. (If, that is, you haven't just been inundated with comments on this post.) I think that it's an absolutely good practise, and something that I've been doing for when the inevitable time that I post the cute pictures of cats/dogs/birds/bunnies et cetera, so that I only show them to the people who are interested. Same for other more niche ramblings. :)
I'd like to be included to both food and health circles, thanks. do you have a wine circle? Travel? I'd be interested in them, as well. Thanks.
Do you still use this type of circle management?
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