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Most of the "pleople" I've chatted with on G+ don't understand Google's scheme for friending, following and Circling on Google+. It's complex and counterintuitive, at least at first. But it's also important for users to understand how it works.

The question I'm going to answer here is: What makes another user's posts show up in your feeds?

Let's say there's a social networking fan named Jan Brady. She's on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

On Twitter, you'll see Jan's posts if you follow her. On Twitter, it makes no difference whether she follows you back or not, you still get her posts if you follow her.

On Facebook, you can send a friend request to Jan. If Jan friends you back, you will see her posts in your News Feed. In other words, seeing Jan's posts requires both that you follow her and that she ALSO follows you back.

Google+ is different, and gives you more options.

To see posts by all the people you've Circled and only the people you've Circled, just click on the "Home" button at the top of the page. To see only posts by people in any given Circle, click on that Circle on the left.

But what the heck is that "Incoming" option?

At the left of your Google+ page, you'll see an item called "Incoming."What makes Jan Brady show up in your "Incoming" feed?

Jan's posts will appear in your "Incoming" feed if Jan has Circled you, but if you haven't Circled her back.

I hope this posts helps clarify friending, following and Circlng on Google+

(Note that this post was originally posted with errors. This is the corrected version. Thank you to the commenters who pointed out the errors!!)
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If you have Jan circled, she won't show in your incoming feed, but she will show in the "Home" feed and the feed for whatever circle you've placed her into.
If it's "complex and counterintuitive," they need to fix it.
Wait, … that was different just a moment ago ;-)
It doesn't seem complex and counterintuitive to me at all, but then i'm a geek. I honestly have no idea how easy regular non-geeky people will feel about the system.
Thank you hahaha, but you could have just edited it without reposting :)
I have to say it is not that counter-intuitive … you follow someone, you see his posts. If he sends you something, you get it in your inbox.
What Sharon Machlis said. If it's only understandable to geeks it's DOA. Sorry geeks.
If you find Jan on Google+, and add her to any of your Circles, her Public posts will show up in your "Incoming" feed
Yes, like +Tammy Young Heck said, she appeared on the stream (default channel aka home feed) not Incoming feed
Great post. I was under the impression that posts from people I do not have in my circles would only show up in the Incoming feed.
This is great. Really informative. I know of some friends that could really use the info.
it's not counterintuitive at all. the problem is that a lot of people overthink the circle management thing. stop thinking and do, then you will see it is actually very intuitive
All the posts and the inability to cull your incoming and your circles without blocking people makes for a mess. I'm really disappointed that they didn't accommodate filtering of circles better before releasing this beta.
A Hakim
I'm with James, I found it easy. Didn't know I was a "geek" though. However, I'm honored to be a part of such a group, lol.
Who would circle Jan? Marcia was the popular one. ;)
Yes, most of my non-geek friends on Google+ aren't doing anything with it because they don't understand it. It's not their fault. They understand Facebook perfectly fine...
Wait, I think it is still wrong. Something gets in your 'incoming' stream, if the person sends it to a circle specifically containing you. 'Public' posts are only seen if you follow that person back, or if you visit the profile of that person.
I'm not sure this is right. I checked my own feeds. I have Jan in my incoming feed, but not in any of my circles. The only way this can happen is if Jan has me in one of her circles. But Jan's post (which was made at 11:39) does not show up in my stream (two other pists from 11:39 are there, but not Jan's). Therefore, if Jan has me in a circle, and I do not, Jan's posts made publicly or to that circle show up in 'Incoming', but not in 'Stream'.
hmm, still not correct. If I have Jan in a circle, her public posts show up in "stream" (the home icon you referenced before). If Jan has ME in a circle (and I don't have her), she shows up in the incoming stream. I keep laughing at the first paragraph.
Thanks, Peter. I'll have to look into that.
I actually think this is easier and more intuitive than Facebook's maze of groups...if you can figure out how to do it because it is so hidden.
This is what I love about Google+. It's a great way for a group to figure things out together. Errors are quickly surfaced. I'll keep chipping away at this post until it's 100% accurate.
pretty sure +Tammy Young Heck has it correct - only posts from people that you have circled are in your main feed (public of shared with a circle they have put you in)
I am definitely seeing people who I have have placed in Circles in my Incoming feed.
oh my, these just need correction +Mike Elgan

If we added them (wherever circle, doesn't matter) than we're seeing their post in our stream/home feed (even if they don't added you back), but if they added us but we just ignoring them (not circled back), then we're only see them if we switch the stream to incoming feed. So the stream is the place when we see every public post people made whom we've added them, and incoming is the place to see every public post people made whose added us but we haven't added them yet
Never discount the possibility that its just really buggy at the moment
+Mike Elgan I think that you've run into a bug then

/disclaimer: I have no connection with google, i'm not sure
Wow, I didn't think it was that complicated, but if Google+ guru (my words) is having this much trouble figuring it out then what about the average user?

If you circle people they show in your Home Stream. If people put you in one of their circles and you do not put them in one of your circles then they show up in the Incoming Stream. That's the way it works to the best of my knowledge.
+Mike Elgan, it may be a caching issue. G+ takes a bit to catch up with circling changes - counts, incoming, blocks, etc.
I've got the following message in my Incoming stream:

"Everything that's currently being shared with you is from people in your circles. View it in your stream."

That suggests to me that only people outside my stream show up in Incoming. (That would include Public posts.)
Mike that is not right.

If you have someone in a circle you get their public posts in your stream, not incoming. Incoming is when they have YOU in their circle and you DO NOT have them in a circle.

You may have had an issue where you added someone and they show up as incoming, but that is either if they have more than one account, and you circled the wrong one, or because of a delay in circle to stream propagation.

I get +Leo Laporte 's posts and I know he does not have me in his circle.
It's really not that complicated. If you Circle someone they come in on your "Home" Stream. If someone has you Circled, but you don't have them Circled it comes in on your "Incoming" Stream
@doni baskoro has it right. Jan Brady will only show up in your home feed or specific circle feed if you add her to your circles. If Jan adds you to her circles and you do not reciprocate, then her posts will only show up in your "incoming" stream. The only posts that should show up in your "incoming" stream are people that have circled you, but you have not circled.
+Trav Ron, I'm guessing you saw this post when +GPlus Tips posted it. I think once everyone started pointing out the errors, GPlus Tips deleted their post, so all the comments that were generated on their share were deleted.
simply put, the posts in your Circles are from the people you put in them regardless if they have circled you. The Stream is a all your Circles at once. The posts in Incoming are the posts from pleople that have circled you but you have not circled. simple! Heck, this is far simpler than the concoction of rules that Twitter has for posting.
Yeah people commenting here are right: if you put someone in your circles, then you see his posts in home, not in incoming.
Yes ... I think we're getting the hang of this now. Concurring with Jude's and Bambi's descriptions.
Would Jan Brady be listed as in a relationship with George Glass?
I'm going to share this because this really made it all make sense! Thank you!
Rob: George Glass was a fake person, so presumably he would be removed from Google+. ;)
+Mike Elgan Maybe a caching issue - or would it be posts that you are + mentioned in?
Nick, that's gotta be it. my incoming stream is empty because I circle everyone who circles me. I'm just not popular enough for people to be tagging me unlike Mike who I'm sure gets tagged all the time.
Comments won't disappear again. They disappeared initially because I deleted the post, which I did because people were frantically sharing a post that added to confusion, which was the opposite of my intention. : )
I have a thought... maybe terminology is confusing things for newbies: When people talk about 'Incoming' they don't mean posts coming in to your streams... they are referring to a specific feature (easily seen on the android app when you swipe to the left) where messages from strangers (people not in your circles) are arriving. If they are friends (ie in your circles) then they arrive into your normal streams
Hey, +Mike Elgan - I thought I ran into the issue you're describing above (you circle someone, but their posts show up in Incoming). It turns out that I'd added someone to a Circle, but when they signed up, their Google Profile was under a different email address. So their posts showed up in Incoming until I checked (hover over their name and saw "No Circles") and got them into the right circle.
What is really needed is a way to exclude circles from your main stream. Right now your posts show up in my main stream, and no offense, but i would like them in a "bloggers" type circle that I can look at on demand, more like rss.
I've come to the conclusion that I saw people in my Incoming feed who had Circled as the result of a bug or glitch of some kind. That is not normal behavior. I've corrected that part of my post.
Several of the posts above point out errors that have now been corrected. I'm now drawing a line:
Below this line, are there any errors that still need correcting? Thank you, people!!
Also, if the one who you have circled posts publicly, he doesn't necessarily have to circle you back in order to bring his stream in home feed. ;)
I am confused, what are people saying is counter-intuitive? If you put someone in a circle they show up in that stream and the home stream. If they put you in a circle and you don't care to put them in one, they show up in the "Incoming." The mobile and app versions need some work but operation of the web version is so complex that it is simple. Please someone explain what is so difficult? I have seen several post about it being "Complex and counter-intuitive" but non of them explain what they are having issue with? If I want to see a status update from someone in a circle I check my homestream or the circle I have them in.. Super easy. I don't get why people are confused. I am no geek but this system is so simple and make so much sense to me that I can't see why people are having issue!
Please tag me when the entire post is complete, I'll re-share it!
Regarding posts remaining in streams after you change the person's circles, I believe Google is addressing this caching issue.
+Jude Hansen I had one person stick in my feed for about an hour Tuesday when I moved them out of the circle. So they must be working on it.
It's extremely simple. I'm struggling to understand how people don't get it? People in your circles' posts show up in your main stream. People that have you in their circles' posts, when you haven't reciprocated, show up under 'Incoming'. 
Oh, and I'm pretty sure it isn't spelt 'pleople'. 
"Pleople" was another attempt to grasp at a Google+ way to say "people" -- the equivalent of "Tweeple" or "Tweeps" on Twitter. No good? : )
I guess you could call it complex, but I don't think it's counter intuitive. Not at all.
+George Unitt pleople = plus + people = just having fun != George Unitt

I keed =) <-- Triumph the Insult Dog reference
g+eople? pronounced gee-pul
Mike Elgan: Man of the Pleople
Plussies? definitely not...sounds too much like something else.
I think part of the confusion comes from there being circles you READ and circles you POST to. I might follow "Jan" by putting her in my "Brady Bunch" circle, which includes other cast and fans of the show, but Jan doesn't follow me in return. So when I post something to my "Brady Bunch" circle, only those members of my "Brady Bunch" circle who also have me in their circle will see my post. Jan won't, even though she's in my circle.

Everything is complex and counterintuitive until you understand how it works. Think about your first day at Driver's Ed. Or the first day someone tried to show you how to tie your shoes!
It's much simpler than that: for you to read Jan's post, two things must happen:

- You want to read her posts. You indicate this by adding her to a (any) circle.
- She wants to let you read that post. She indicates this by making it public, or sending it to you, or to a circle containing you.

There isn't a lot more to it.
+Lorianne DiSabato right, and that is the way it should be. I don't want posts invading my stream because someone thought I should get that post. If you don't follow them you don't get their post in your feed, it would show in the incoming.
I don't find G+ circles complex and counterintuitive, I find them different from Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook, all flawed in bringing us information about our friends, acquaintances, colleagues, people of interest and people who find us interesting. What G+ did with regard to incoming messages is following the good old sorting method we use on a daily basis, we just never faced this many incoming messages, so thank Google for sorting this all out.
And in reverse, David, it takes two things for Jan to read MY posts.

- She wants to read my posts. She indicates this by adding me to any of her circles.
- I want her to read that post. I indicate that by either making it public, or sending it to her, or sending it to a circle containing her.

The "circle" thing works both ways, in other words: both for reading posts and for sharing posts.
If the second doesn't happen, you won't see the post. Privacy first.

If the first doesn't happen her post will go to "incoming", kind of a trash bin with stuff people intended for you, but you didn't show an interest. That's all really.
Pretty funny : on the French version of G+ interface, that 'Incoming' feed is named : 'From the outside' (" à l'extérieur ") and you've got the grey post up your stream telling that " X+Y+Z... have posted something outside your circles " and then you understand intuitively that this people are following you but you don't follow them back yet...
That was about my explanation, btw, not Lorianne 
Aaah, I apologise +Mike Elgan, I understand the whole 'pleople' thing now :P I quite like it actually... I think I'll use that in the future :) 
I believe you are wrong, +Mike Elgan. In my understanding of things, the incoming (in German it is named "Nicht in Kreisen", "Not in Circles") is for people who are not in any of your circles (you don't follow them), but who posted to you, with the most obvious reason being that you are in one of their circles to which they posted.

Since this is your second try at this and it is, so I believe, still not completly right, you might want to research your topic before continueing to spread misinformation. :-)
Honestly it's because Programmer people make everything sound unnecessarily complicated.
Michael: Did I say something different, or do I need to clarify something?
With all this discussion about how the feeds work, now I am unclear. Do you know Jan Brady or not?
+Mike Elgan: Well, I opened this post before diner and started formulating my response. Then my wife called me for diner. Obviously, you corrected your mistakes. My bad. :-)
Totally love how the input of so many "Pleople" made this article a great one. Thanks Mike for being such a good sport and hanging in there till it was accurate.
Kari: Yes, I hope you all learned as much from my post as I did. : )
+Quinton Goodmayes Surely this shows that Google+ is brilliant? I man has tried to help everyone, and has done so admirably. But then all of the 'pleople' on G+ have improved the post even further, and now I think that most pleople that have read the post understand the Circles and Incoming features more clearly. Thankyou +Mike Elgan :) 
there's an issue with your facebook part. if i request a friendship with someone and they don't add me back, i can still read their posts that they make public, but i can't comment on them.
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