We need a better way to browse through community posts. It would be nice to have a consolidated stream for all community posts.
When you're done reading this post, try a quick experiment. If you're at your desktop, bring up the left-hand navigation, and click on "Communities". You'll see something like the attached image. (If you're on the mobile app, click on the drop-down menu at the top - it might say "Everything", then click "Communities".) If you're like me, what you'll see is a bunch of communities with a bunch of little red squares showing how many new posts have been posted in that community since your last visit. Many, for me, are pegged at the maximum, "99+". This screen does absolutely nothing for me, other than make me a bit frustrated at all the good stuff I'm missing.
To remedy the situation, I have to drop down into each of these communities, communities on topics that I've explicitly told Google I'm interested in. I want to see this stuff, but it's unnecessarily fragmented into a hole bunch of content cul-de-sacs.
What if, instead of seeing all these little red flags, telling us how much we're missing out, what we saw was a consolidated stream of all the content from all of the communities that I've joined? Each one is still prominently labeled and linked with the community it belongs to so I can quickly jump in for a community deep dive when I want it (just like I can link from the main stream feed to a person's or page's profile for a deep dive on their content).
Right now, community posts do show up in the main feed, but it still feels very haphazard to me. It's almost like figuring out which of the many, many potential community posts to include is just making the relevance algorithms work too hard. And remember, these are all communities that I've freely chosen to follow - I'm interested in them. I just miss that vast majority of what shows up in these communities because they're buried, really buried in the UI.
A while ago, I suggested another approach to better surfacing these posts by creating a dedicated feed for them where you select different circle feeds today:
This could still be another way to get to this same consolidated communities stream. But for heaven's sake, what we see today when we click on "Communities" is a waste for such prime real estate. To be frank, that UI is just plain dumb. It adds very little value. In fact, for me, it's negative: a constant reminder of the failure to surface interesting content to me.
OK. That's the idea. I really, really wish something like this could happen. Signs are that Google is now more enthusiastically wrapping itself around the notion of being a shared-interest network - and these are the kinds of tweaks that could really help make that even more true:
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