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Google Must Remove the Suggested Users List and Here's Why

There has been a lot of conversation going on about Search Plus Your Work, +Google+, the Suggested Users List and the Hot List. In all reality, you can bark all you want about the "What's Hot" list, but it isn't important. That is a transient pulse of what is being share and doesn't result in anything but momentary exposure for people with engaging content--I use the term engaging loosely.

What really matters is the Suggested Users List (SUL) and Search Plus Your World (SPYW) and I think that there are a lot of people afraid to talk about it.

Now that people connected into Google+ have SPYW by default, they are exposed to content that has been suggested by users of this network, chiefly, content suggested by people that they have circled. So if you are looking for "website design" you might find several results that come from +1's on the web at large or shares on Google+ from people you follow.

Whoever +1's or suggests the most content on here will have better luck having their "vetted" content pop up in their followers searches. So, when you +1 a website for any particular reason, remember that your followers will see that when they search for relevant topics.

Traditional SEO is Dead

Because of SPYW, whoever has the largest following, has the largest impact in search results, because they are impacting everyone that follows them. If +Britney Spears +1's a makeup website, then all of the teenage girls that follow her will see that at the top of their search results. Therefore, she is basically offering free PR to that business simply by the virtue of +1ing it on a whim. That can translate to huge money, especially for someone that has 2,000,000 followers.

You can work on the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your website all you want, but social interaction--yes that little +1 button counts--is starting to impact search results more than other traditional methods. Therefore, what you should be focusing on is sharing and engaging people with the content that you want to appear in search results. What sucks about that, is that your G+ content might rise above your regular content which means bad news if you depend on advertising revenue from the content you post on your website.

Why the SUL Needs To Go, Now

Google has made a tremendous unfair advantage for certain people that they have chosen to show off to new users. These inorganic follows turn into an augmented search-result reality where the people on the SUL have the largest influence on the way Google+ users search the Internet, and their influence will only continue to grow as this network grows.

As an independent content creator trying to find my place in this space and trying to make a living from it, I am at a critical disadvantage from the people that Google has chosen. I have had in-depth conversations with +Eric Rice, +Chris Pirillo, +Robert Anderson, +Hermine Ngnomire, +matthew rappaport, +Bruce Garber, +Paul Roustan and countless others surrounding this topic.

The general consensus is that Google is taking what should be a fair playing field and picking favorites. I think Google was naive in doing this, because they may have not taken into consideration the amount of impact, influence and--potentially--money that they were throwing in the lap of people that they have chosen to recommend.

In order to keep this space fair, level and objective and to make sure that they're not handing the Internet to 300 people on a silver platter, Google needs to understand that their mere "suggestion" translates into the potential to make a lot of money and deprive other content creators of the opportunity to succeed.

I have heard several people that work with, around and for Google admit that when Google steps away from the algorithm, things typically don't end well. So, Google, my advice to you is to put an algorithm in place which is democratic and organic. Because, after all, we all like it when things are organic. Isn't that what you're tyring to do with search now?

This isn't happy get-together anymore. This is business.

CC: +Vic Gundotra +Bradley Horowitz +The New York Times +Larry Page +Louis Gray +Robert Scoble +Mike Elgan +Mike Stenger +Aaron Wood +Bobbi Jo Woods +Brett Bjornsen +Carter Gibson +Ryan Crowe +Denis Labelle +John Fanavans +Margie Hearron +Kimberly Hayworth +Lynette Young +Dan McDermott +Jaana Nyström +Anthony Quintano +Maria Quiban +George Rodenbaugh +Johnny Roquemore +Tiffany Henry +Gabriel Vasile +Ryan Van Sickle +Becky Worley +stephanie wanamaker +Dolidh Young +Alireza Yavari +Leo Laporte +Sarah Hill +Natalie Villalobos

Peter G McDermott's profile photoJohan Horak's profile photoLucas Appelmann's profile photoPaul Snedden's profile photo
Jay M
The earliest algorithms were built upon linking, i.e. the assumption that a page that was linked to the most (or more) was the one people were looking for. This had its own set of abuses. Now, social sharing behavior is much more likely to be a indicator of relevance. Bing uses it to great effect, and is starting to really make inroads. I'm afraid we can't put the "social sharing" genie back in the bottle and wish it weren't a good indicator of what a user is looking for. We're going to have to hope that the ever-changing algorithm yields good results, and hold Google accountable if it doesn't. The reason it must use G+ for now is that Facebook and Twitter will not sell their info to Google, but instead chose to sell it to Bing.
The "SUL" is personalized a bit to the user, isn't it? Or is it by country? I have a different list than someone in the UK.
Well said. this should make the what's hot list. :P
Agreed with +Robert Scoble. Plus, picking favourites is just a step in the direction of "picking" sponsored favorites, which is obviously going to happen.
Social sharing is emulating the offline world, where who you know counts as much or more than any other decision-making factor.
+Robert Scoble I thought about your comment and I came up with an analogy which makes sense. When you go to the grocery store (Aldi excluded), and you see a particular type of cereal at the end of the aisle in a display, you have to assume that they will sell more of that particular variety than whatever else is crammed into the aisle. So, they have to "chose" something to feature, and as a result, the distributor of that product will celebrate greater success.

The difference, though, is that in order for the grocery store to catch your attention, they have to routinely change the display at the end of every aisle...
I really hate when i uncircle someone and they end up in my suggested users!!!

The only thing I would suggest is that they weren't circled
+Anjlee Bhatt Yes, it's called nepotism. The difference is that other people usually decry it, and without the ubiquitous characteristic of the Internet, hard-working folks without the handout at least have a chance to work hard, and, in many cases, it doesn't last, eventually other people do find out that the Emperor is, in fact, naked.
+Robert Scoble I do not have terribly much experience with retail, but assumed there would be some money involved.

Most importantly, I don't have a Fry's Electronics store anywhere near here and wish I did. :(
I just had sushi and I agree with this message.
Can't fault everyone for doing what our society does. Society is just Community+.
I agree with +Peter G McDermott analysis. +Google+ wants to recommend people perhaps extending the "Verified Name" franchise to help replace the Suggested User List might be an idea? or reviewing the 5,000 follower cap as a lot of us have over 5k followers. My favourite idea is a more organic list system of interests which any user might be able to 'rank on' depending on their content, then if you are interested in 'Hammond Organ Music' for example Google could suggest both? the others that like that, seem like a way for Google to go?
Hey Pete .. We're still buddies..
It's not just business but personal! :)

It is amazing that there are lots of people on the SUL that have a 400K following or more and get little to no interaction from Plussers.. Their circles or public. Many that do that aren't already celebs still don't get any crazy high interaction when compared to how many followers they have... But the idea that you're on a list that adds 8k-10k to your circlecount no matter what you do or don't do (say not post for a day, week, months.. More than twice..) or I've even seen you have a post get on what's hot , Robert, that had maybe just a plus one..

My semi solution is for google to have a SUL and what's hot list made by the users and their pure interaction as well as asking them daily for people and posts they would want to see on those lists. This can exist alongside the current ones but be the more organic ones.
Google's core strength is search algorithms. You really have to believe they are working on this and that the SUL is a temporary stopgap to build interest and engagement until they've mastered "organic" suggestions.
An SUL isn't needed here!
A suggested user's guide maybe, but certainly not an SUL?
By simply jumping in on threads and interacting, others will interact with you and your G+ world will grow!
The SUL in no way defines Google Plus, the level of interaction between users does. :o)
Thanks +Peter G McDermott, as usual a great post on a topic that affects us all!
From a business standpoint I'd love to be on the suggested user list. I know that's something I had brought up in the hangout the other night and some agreed with me and some didn't. I'm still in the camp that more people = more potential sales.

Gotta run. Done with dinner and gotta drive home.

Thanks for writing this up!!!
+Aleta Curry Very true, but we do tend to value advice and recommendations from our friends on all the little things. This seems to be taking the concept of groupthink and applying on a grand scale.
+Jon Hook I do believe that Google is still trying to assign more people dedicated to the Google+ project, but I'm afraid +Robert Scoble is right, this list isn't going anywhere. Furthermore, there will be "featured" content and "featured" users once there are more people to sell too. Then you will start seeing characters and content that are paying big money just to be on the top of the list. These are all just my opinions though, I am certainly interested to see.

The big problem for me, which +Hermine Ngnomire, +Eric Rice and I discussed today, is that people don't realize how much their interaction in this space can affect their business. That is, assuming their customers use Google's search engine......
Gotten to the point of needing to block some of their suggested users, not because of offensive content, but because it is content I'm not interested in that repeatedly gets into the the Hot On Google forcing them into my feed constantly.

Suggested Users list has made Hot On Google fairly pointless, it might as well be renamed as to fit that it pretty reliably parrots what Suggested Users have posted.

Although now instead of blocking I've done what +annie bodnar pointed out and just turned Hot on Google off, turning the slider to 0. But I really should have to. It shouldn't be pretty much a platform for suggested users, which is what it has become.
+Peter G McDermott I think I've looked at the suggested user list a couple times. It's sad that most of the people on that list have no interaction with fellow G+ers or their fans etc. I agree with you mostly Peter but would you or I feel this way if we were on that list? Regardless great post!
+Kent Goertzen You're focusing on the wrong issue. What's Hot has a halflife of a few hours, the impact of someone being featured on the SUL lasts as long as their content and +1's do (forever).
Side note, I hate Google's block user interface. Complete an utter pain just having a scrolling list, and not the full function of the circle system to search names out.
I wonder if people would complain about the list if they were on it. Sometimes life isn't fair but we find ways to move on.

I certainly don't lose sleep that I'm not on Twitter's list.
+Peter G McDermott Sorry wasn't trying to focus on it. I agree fully that the main issue is how it hurts businesses. But as a non-business user, there are other issues also.
+Ryan Van Sickle Of course not, that would be silly of me! I was interested in writing this post, because the reason I have as many followers I do is through finding engaging content and interacting with my audience. If I didn't share intelligent things that got people to comment and re-share, I wouldn't be this far ahead.

Now if I was on the Suggested Users List, I would want to keep my mouth shut no matter how "bullshit" I thought the system was. Even +Robert Scoble called BS on it when he was first featured.
+Lamarr Wilson Again, if I were on the SUL, no matter how silly I thought the notion of it was, I would be enthralled to have that many inorganic followers and would love having the extra booster power from the folks at Google. But, when you're not on the list, you start to notice that it has a grave impact on how your content is viewed in SEO, which is really what I was trying to get at with this post.

I'm afraid I wasn't clear enough in the post. The real money comes from search results. The fact that my Google+ posts rank higher than my own blog is a problem too. I am losing potential revenue because of that. But how your G+ content fits into search is an whole other debate...
+Marcus Sant'Anna I think, judging by a few of the comments here, that it is a bit different depending on country. It would be interesting to see how it looks in each country.
+Marcus Sant'Anna " I want to say all the suggested ones have undoubtedly amazing things to show. "

I'd disagree with that assertion.
As I have said in other comments, the SUL needs to be refined. Its a haphazard guess now on how best to select a suggested user at start up and there should be a a selection category about disability.
+Rajasekhar Reddy Mettu I am not losing revenue from the "content," I am missing out because people find my G+ content before my actual website when searching for my name in organic search. My website has information on my consulting services, which a G+ post does not...hah
+Lamarr Wilson "I certainly don't lose sleep that I'm not on Twitter's list."

Disingenuous and unnecessary exaggeration. I doubt anyone is losing sleep over it.
Someone has to pay the bills here... you know keep the lights on and whatnot. Now while I agree with you wholeheartedly +Peter G McDermott, Google has to follow in the footsteps of social media that has come before if they are to succeed at this venture. I'm sure advertisements on the now blank sidebars are soon to come as well.

Those on the SUL (the epic popular people anyway) will benefit through osmosis but really it's the middle men and women that are the heart and soul of this social network. Those 300 you mentioned (with the exception of the +Robert Scoble s and +Trey Ratcliff s and +Mike Elgan s ) will rarely if EVER interact with people here. THAT is where the action is... in the relationships. You do this like a pro Peter and it has served you well. You interact and question the status quo and challenge herd mentality. I have a feeling this will take you far :)

So if Britney Spears gives free advertising to Joe's barbershop for their head shaving techniques... so be it. They'll not only see it here... but everywhere. People will rubberneck a car accident too... I like the G+ enough to tolerate the mess.

Exquisite post and comments. Thanks.
+Amy Gabriel, Thanks for taking the time to write the thoughtful comments. I agree that Google may have to follow some footsteps with the social aspect of this, but what people aren't noticing is how it is affecting search results, and those really matter, especially for businesses.

Granted, it only affects people that follow people on the SUL, but they don't have to participate actively on G+ to see the change in SPYW--which, admittedly, can be turned off.

I'm glad you think I'm a pro at this, that's terribly flattering. It was a pleasure meeting you in New York and I'll have to check out Joe's barbershop next time I'm on Rodeo Drive...
+Amy Gabriel google does not need the money from plus when they are already making money off of other services they provide. If they choose to have advertising on here they will fail just like MySpace and currently Facebook.
+Emily ECYCLE I had the same thought initially, but if Google works up a structure to reward the people that most the most engaging content here, they might want to make some money to use specifically for that.
unfortunately it's a business first.
i think i just fell in love with +John Fanavans a little bit more... which up to this point, I'd not thought possible ;)
I think it's all cool to be on the list especially for SPYW but if you have say a million people circling you due to being on that list and most of your posts have 500 or less interacting with them.. Some as low as 10 or less.. So .05% or less of your entire audience interacting seems not so influential but it says you have "the eyeballs"

Can you imagine if we had analytics like YouTube here where we could see how many people scrolled by our posts.. Opened in new tab..
Expanded posts and comments ..
Watched our hangouts on air live
If we were circled or others were circled via a mention in a post, comment or shared circle .. This can go on and on & I think many would be surprised/shocked by the results.

Would you rather have a higher number circling you or a higher percentage of those that circle you.. Interact with your posts? (Ideally both but again I've never seen more than maybe 10K in plus ones and that is rare... 3k is big but mostly in the mid to low hundreds .. So interaction is not high. Also so many things that do get that interaction is because they end up on the what's hot list and not because they already had such high interaction beforehand.. Some people just have to post something and it's hot. )

Gaining awareness of others here and doing great + cool things with your "influence" and/or audience is key.. Many of us are doing that and I wonder if a notice popped up in our circles to say "so and so hasn't yet shared with you or hasn't shared with you in a week or a month .. Would you like to uncircle them? .. How much more interaction plus might see? Or how things would balance out and remember we control our circles so we control the "noise" 
John and Matthew already have a Bromance... there's no room for me methinks. ;)
To all that have commented, please take note that this will not appear on the What's hot list.
The list serves a good purpose for first time users, helping them join the fun, but it's very disappointing to me that it is also suggested to everyone in the sidebar.

Google has the tools in place to give personalized organic suggestions, but they prefer playing the numbers game of rewarding accounts with countless irrelevant followers.
Well put. However I don't think the SUL needs to go away. It just needs to be better. I am all for Google suggesting users to follow to new people. I just don't think the way they have gone about it is the correct way. +Alireza Yavari already had a good suggested user list site in place. Google should have adopted that rather than coming up with their own from scratch.

the problem with the SUL as it currently is, is that it doesn't show of what is the best about G+ and is heavily weighted towards those who are celebs outside of here. That IMHO is foolishness.They would have been better off choosing people who are Googlebrities because of here. It demonstrates a greater need for their product. Don't get me wrong I have no problem being suggested a celeb providing they are interactive in this space such as +Jeri Ryan.

I personally wish Google would stop suggesting people i have already uncircled to me. They could do a far better job with that.

Would I like to be on the SUL? As someone who has a personal brand? absolutely. As someone who wants meaningful interaction of the non-commercial variety? probably not. Blocking and reporting spam takes time and the higher up the food chain you go, the more you get.
AMEN to the last paragraph +Cliff Roth. I have several friends on the top of the G+ Circle chain who have seen the quality of their interactions decrease dramatically once they hit 200,000. High numbers=the trouble with tribbles trolls.
+Brett Gibson Your research brings another interesting point that I totally forgot to bring up, and that is THE GAP.

If the 300 people end up having on average, 750,000 more followers than everyone else here, then even for someone like, me, at 36,000, I am at a RIDICULOUS disadvantage and the law of averages comes in to play at that point which would suggest that they will continue to grow exponentially and none of us will EVER be able to play on the same field again.
"Furthermore, there will be "featured" content and "featured" users once there are more people to sell too. Then you will start seeing characters and content that are paying big money just to be on the top of the list."
+Peter G McDermott I hope you are wrong about this, at least as a Google user (not sure how I would feel as a shareholder). Still think there is a gigantic opportunity to tune the algorithms more efficiently.
This What's Hot feature reminds me of Facebook and the News Feed. For me as a user if I want to know what's hot I'll seek it out so make it a link or an option to make more prominent but don't force me to view content like Facebook did with the News Feed. That feed is a large part of why I've been off Facebook for four years. I'll be going back this summer but only for business purposes as I plan to do more work in social media.

I hope that Google learns from Facebook because if it does it could take a good chuck out of the Facebook market if not they very much could be two peas in a pod sitting next to My Space.
So, I was going to reply to the other post related to this but I will reply here.

+Billy Wilson had a post about helping new users find the community(ies)/users here they would probably love a little while back (as well as the features that make this platform shine) which actually touched on issues with the Suggested User List (Vic Gundotra actually replied to it as well):

It was all about how newer users need to be hooked up with engaging and interactive users and a lot of brainstorming about how to do such a thing (or if it is even possible). I stated a lot of what I think about that in that comment thread already but this current post reminded me a lot of that thread. Thanks to +matthew rappaport for his post about the whole series of posts about all of this!
Sean McNiff - +Peter McDermott +Ryan Van Sickle on of the most annoying aspects of +Facebook+ are the people of facebook itself.I dont need updates, likes or really anything for that matter from facebook. What i really like about +google+ is the lack of "managed/pushed" content and the more of that content that starts presenting in my stream/flood/poop-funnel the greater likeliness there is that i will stop using all mainstream social networks again. I will do what i did before... run my own social network and have it push to myspace, facebook and whatever else will need a push and never actually log into those sites again. there, said it.
I'm not really in a unique position on Google+... I use G+ as a kind of blog... I don't earn anything off of G+ currently... but I do work at a firm that does SEO. We are seeing the changes that G+ make to those that are making use of it. Not a huuuuge amount, but as G+ builds more and more momentum, it's going to be something that businesses will need to seriously consider. Especially if they want to rank on Google (and lets face it, who doesn't?!)

Anyway, I do see the initial suggested user list as a means to a end. They're looking for people that will tempt in the different age groups and backgrounds. If they take it from their google searches, think of who's on that list? People are interested in those people because that's who they already know and admire.

So where do we lowly mortals slip in here? I don't expect to end up on a list like that, but would anyone really want to add me if they had just a minute ago signed up for the account? I'm not famous - I'm not in all the newspapers... I'm just another wee Scottish lassie at the other side of the keyboard. People find me based on the work I've put into posts and that people have been kind enough to share and talk about them.

I understand that giving the famous people that little nudge in the SUL gives them a bit of an advantage - but these are the people that folk would be searching to circle anyway. It would be very interesting to see less... generic sounding suggestions.

Either way - I don't think SUL will be rethought about any time soon... but if you do have suggestions, I'd go into the Hangouts with Google engineers (ie, +David Bennett could point you in the right direction) and get constructive suggestions in to the team. Feedback's the way to go! </two_pence>
I think if +Google+ feels it necessary to have a SUL, then use stats from all the users to determine which ones comment & +1 their posts and other people's posts the most.
People new to G+ want people to interact with them, I would buy things that +Peter G McDermott endorses before I would listen to someone on the SUL because he is interactive with me, along with everyone else!
I find that the suggested users only interact with other suggested users, not with the general G+ population...
Late to the party, so no comment, just happy to read all the discussion. This seems pretty social to me.
The SUL could be more helpful if it populated dynamically based on the individuals input. Have a SUL page that asks and suggests what your interests are, then dynamically (so it keeps up to date and relevant) populate users that post consistently about that topic.

Much like the G+ search function, but with formatting that lends itself better to finding people not specific posts.
I guess this whole entire argument about how the SUL can effect SPYW needs some clarification. If it's based upon relevance, which I think it is, shouldn't really matter as much. If relevance is not taken into consideration then I agree this is a huge deal. I am just talking off the top of my head and will have to test this in an hour or so when I have the time.
It's interesting to see how perspectives differ. Those with the massive following seem to have a different point of view on this thread. :)

After months of engagement on Google+, I'm happy to be in 918 people's circles.

...But as a marketer, I feel the imbalance. The SUL makes no sense. I assume G+ is trying to jumpstart the network by making those suggestions, but it's skewing what would otherwise be a nice addition to their algorithm.
+Andy Crestodina "Those with the massive following seem to have a different point of view on this thread."

Haven't read them all so not sure how all of them have responded, but why would they be against it, they benefit from it. Who is going to be against their own advantage?
+Rory Swan "big dogs stay off the porch.. It's the have against the have nots."

Would they be in the same position without that advantage though?
+Kent Goertzen Agreed. If you're in the circles of a bazillion people, you're probably fine with it! The balance is so off that even people with tens of thousands of followers are unhappy with the SUL. Amazing.
+Andy Crestodina - As someone who is on the current SUL, I posted here about my own comments on a thread about altering the SUL elsewhere where I actually agreed that it would be great if newer users could somehow find their way to interactive and engaging content right off the bat. Most of my real life friends have tried out G+ and still proclaim it to be 'dead' and lifeless despite my own level of interaction and engagement here on my own profile (and with the many,many people I interact with on a daily basis here). I find that to be problematic and many of the main issues are because people have gotten used to an anti-social social networking culture propagated initially by that other 'social' network.

When people come here, they are coming from a mindset where they may find it strange or odd to have to put effort into finding people based on interests vs. only friending people based on geographic proximity or well-established familial and friendship bonds. In the thread I linked, many people brainstormed about how to engage new users right off the bat and it's a rather complex issue to solve.

I could take offense at the number of threads I have seen over the last 5 months that seem to imply that the majority of people on the SUL are not interactive (when I go out of my way to interact since I love the social aspect of this site! and I can name quite a few other people on the SUL who are very, very interactive) but I also realize that based on what I wrote above, new users to G+ need something more to kickstart their experience here so I actually find these threads helpful because the community as a whole really wants to figure out how to get newer users to stay and not proclaim this place 'dead'.
Being on the SUL doesn't guarantee followers, but it sure does help monkey the (hollow) numbers. Those followers generally don't equate to actual participating users. Interesting to read the other 'benefits' it seems to have, but I'm not sure I've seen the SEO stuff myself.

I had heard in the beginning I was on the SUL, but then I was dropped after a few days. When I check I don't see myself but +Mohamed Mansour told me the other day I am. (Well DUH Lynette - how else would I get to the crazy numbers I have?! I'm not exactly Britney Spears.) The thing I don't like about the list is that a good number of them are famous people that don't interact with anyone - and it's most likely their PR machine pumping out 'shopped pics and pre-approved copy. YAWN. I'd like to think that I'm a decent example of a Google+ user, but those famous accounts aren't IMO. Outsiders complain there is no one to 'talk to' in here, yet they are directed to follow the PR accounts of basketball players who would never ever +1 or comment on someone else's content. That's very disheartening and discouraging, as a new user I'd be bored too.
+Vivienne Gucwa I agree that it takes some work to get the network going. I've spent hours looking for friends and like minded people. To help others get going, I've made circles of more active plussers and shared them. +Chris Porter curates an online spreadsheet of 1000+ circles with everything from banjo players to falafel lovers. That's better than the SUL, right?

About your second point: the SUL users seem to be active and engaged to me. I appreciate the posts! But it's time Google adds subtly to the way this suggestion is made. Maybe they should team up with eHarmony or something. :)
+Lynette Young - What you wrote: "Outsiders complain there is no one to 'talk to' in here, yet they are directed to follow the PR accounts of basketball players who would never ever +1 or comment on someone else's content. That's very disheartening and discouraging, as a new user I'd be bored too." Perfectly said.

Also, to add to what you wrote about followers (what a terrible term >.<) and hollow numbers, I can say that I go out of my way to interact with so many people regularly here: some of them are people who initially commented on one of my threads (more than just a one word comment or spam) but the majority are people I found via other people's comment threads over time and we have built some really beautiful friendships. If I didn't actually engage like that in the first place, I can say that despite the number of people circling me, I would have far, far less actual engagement on any of my posts.

I think the active element of G+ is quite foreign to many people because for years, being on a 'social' platform was more of a passive activity whereas G+ does require each user to be active in many ways. It's a drastic cultural shift in terms of what people have come to expect vs. how things actually function here so people come on here, add people from the SUL (many of whom may be RL celebrities who never, ever interact at all) and then wait for the magic to happen which gives them a very skewed vision of G+.
Well +Peter G McDermott, it seems my test failed or Google's algorithm is just greater than I am. +Robert Scoble is very relevant to me according to Google. He has +1'ed and I did a Google search with SPYW enabled for both of those websites. +Tim O'Reilly was shown as sharing Yammer and +Dave Morin was displayed as sharing uncrunched on Tumblr, oddly enough. Both of these users are in my Circles yet none of them close to +Robert Scoble when it comes to relevancy.

Maybe all I did was confirm that Sharing is worth more than +1'ing something for SPYW. I guess I'll now try to test using sharing only... which might be hard.

P.S. I really need to fix this damn mouse. +Brett Bjornsen, it deleted my comment again. I was hoping you were here to save me once more... :( ... I tried to re-create my comment as best as possible.
This might get some nasty comments, but I feel that the low quality of many profiles on the SUL is proof that the list is algorithmically generated. Google isn't "choosing" to promote anyone, they're just choosing what aspects of a profile they think make it interesting to a wide audience. Now I would agree that they've chosen poorly; it looks like "number of followers" is one of the primary factors, and that says more about fame than anything else.

I also find it hard to accept +Peter G McDermott's assertion that the "What's Hot" stream is moderated. I've seen some fairly low-brow and at times insulting posts featured there. Not YouTube-comments level, but still bad.
The first time I saw a search come up with my name on it, I decided there and then to use different browsers for different things. Chrome is for G+ and all things related. Firefox or Safari or Opera or Iron - not logged in to my G+ account - are used for other things.

I'm waiting for the day when it won't matter. I'm not so naive as to think what I search for won't be logged somewhere, but I won't make it easy.
What a refreshing discussion I very nearly missed over here!

Of course this wont't make the What's Hot list. from everything I've seen in the 2 or 3 times I ever dared to look at it was that it seems to be based purely upon the number of +1's and re-shares, and the numbers here just don't seem to make the cut..

I've not even looked at the SUL since its inception, either, but even them the only person I knew of on there who even produced any meaningful content was +Robert Scoble. I wouldn't be surprised to learn some day that +Britney Spears doesn't even know she has a G+ profile, so why should her name be given more credence than someone like you, +Peter G McDermott, who not only generates thought-provoking items, but sticks around and participates in the ensuing conversation.
+Marc Jansen Talking about things like this isn't going to help me get terribly far, but every once in a while I like to have an uncomfortable conversation. :)
Nah - you keep rocking the boat frequently and effectively enough, you'll eventually make a real difference here. I am convinced of it.
+Robert Scoble Thanks for taking the time to read this and chiming in. Your input is definitely respected in this space and certainly appreciated!
+Peter G McDermott : you mentionned my name on your post so here is my 2 cents (short and to the point. Have to run for a business meeting.):
1. build your niche, as +Bradley Horowitz once said. Become Mr. Hangouts on G+. Give coaching sessions and get paid as did.
2. invest in your G+ Page
3. team up with people like +Sarah Hill and stay connected with +Katherine Gramann, CM Hangouts
4. focus
5. build you Tribe around Hangouts
5. and thank SUL for bringing people here that will eventually find out about Mr. Hangouts, e.g. you.
Scarcity makes the best wines not abundance. Good luck.
Wow, +Robert Scoble, the SUL really makes that big of a difference, huh? I guess it makes sense - I'd just never thought about it on that scale. Tens of thousands is not even the sum total of the people who have me in their circles, yet I am one of those that +Margie Hearron calls on to help amplify her reach.

I'm with you +Clare Cosgrove - I really don't have much patience for those who effectively treat G+ as Twitter on steroids and follow a "fire-and-forget" philosophy. I also have mixed feelings about those user-generated circle-shares because, while I've been in a fair share of them as a result of my interactions with others here, I really hate the inherently exclusionary nature they have for those who have been omitted.
you had me at inherently exclusionary +Marc Jansen ... i'm saying it out loud while i type. i'm sure it'll end up in a poem or twenty ♥ ;)
There are a lot of people on the SUL that do interact, share, +1, and comment all over Google+. They are not all celebraties. Some of us were 'overnight successes' after decades of bustin' our butt hard work. After reading a lot of the comments here generalizing the people that are on the SUL - it honestly makes me feel like garbage for being on it, and makes me feel like I don't deserve to be on it. I do deserve it, and maybe Google realized in some way that I'm out on the street (in real life, not online) working Google+ into the 6-10 talks I do a month (every month) since last July. I highly doubt they give a ratt's butt about the 23 years of groundbreaking work I have done in technology and online media prior to this.

I'm not a lemming, I won't blindly follow/circle people because a software algorithm tells suggests I do. I'm a big girl, I can figure it out on my own based on my own needs and interests. There is nothing stopping anyone from searching in Google+ to find other people of interest and circling them. The very top of all our screens says "Search Google+" - I'd like to think that even new people to the platform are capable of figuring that one out. Honestly if people want to be in here and want to be an active participant on the platform, they can't sign up, post nothing, not fill out their profile, and expect swarms of people (and new customers if that's what they are after) to come find them.

The funny thing about Google+ is that after all these years and all the suggestions and best practices on how to use a social network - it's time to walk the walk and DO those things. Lazy networking does not fly here.
I apologize, +Lynette Young, for making statements that make you feel unappreciated. I normally try to avoid making generalizations, as I know that every rule has its exceptions, yet here I am making them without giving my words proper thought.

I am effectively a Social Networking noob, and at the time the SUL was launched, one of the few non-celebrity names I recognized was +Robert Scoble's. Furthermore, by that time I was already pretty familiar with the way most celebrities here (don't) interact and, seeing how celebrity-laden the SUL was at the time, I immediately dismissed it as being nothing but fluff, and never looked back. It seems that my negative first impression of the SUL has caused me to miss at least one interesting person, and I have no choice but to revisit my assumptions.
+Clare Cosgrove it makes me feel like garbage ;/
+Marc Jansen I never ever speak in absolutes </sarcasm> Plus, to me +Robert Scoble IS an A-Lister celebrity. Big fish, small fishbowl.

To me common interest comes from content that is posted, not tags. I have seen a lot of people identify with something in their profiles & then never talk or comment about it in their posts.
And I, for one, purposefully avoid using tags, +Clare Cosgrove, as I do not like their aesthetic one bit, and I think that Google, the King of Search, really shouldn't have to rely on such a crutch. I will admit to using one hashtag on occasion, however, and I do this with tongue planted firmly in cheek in mock-protect over the proliferation of hashtags on G+: #HashTagsAreLame ;-)

Your comment makes me realize that I should probably revisit my own profile, +Lynette Young, as my posts are about as random as you can get, and people who added me to their "Tech" circles, for instance, are probably wondering what the Hell I am going on about much of the time.
+Peter G McDermott regarding this statement: "The general consensus is that Google is taking what should be a fair playing field and picking favorites", there is no greater example of this than the case of +Robert Scoble. When the SUL first came out and +Robert Scoble was on it, he asked +Vic Gundotra to not be on it and he was removed. Now he's back on it. Is Google forcing people to be on it for their gain whether they want to be on it or not?
+Peter G McDermott I totally disagree with the "unfair advantage" remark for those "showing off" to new users. I have no advantage to being on the SUL. I don't have a blog other than blogging here. I'm not monetized and I post what I want, when I want and have no desire to show off anything via my posts. If my content is agreeable, people will circle me. If I moderate my comments so that they aren't full of trolls, that encourages participation. The SUL gives an up-to-date sampling of posts for those on the list now so that's a great help too. I visit there occasionally to pick up new people in what interests me, but I don't circle everyone on the SUL because they or their content doesn't interest me. The same thing happens to me. Some circle me, some don't, and some uncircle me. Many just lurk.

The SUL is just a sampling of people and their posts. That's all it is. You don't necessarily get that much info on Facebook and in fact, FB gives you a list of people you may want to "friend" and then if you do, you can be locked out of friending for friending these same people they suggested, for not knowing them. <eyeroll> Twitter gives you the same thing - suggestions. The only difference with FB and twitter is that you don't KNOW you are being suggested or to whom.

While there are many here that ARE trying to make a living via Google+, I think I would have a problem if those were the only people that Google chose for the SUL. I would be HIGHLY suspicious if that were the case.

The SUL also puts you at a disadvantage when you are on it because believe me when I say, the NUMBERS that circle you mean nothing regarding quality.
I am not a "Professional" photographer, I do not sell my photos (yet), and do not make money from my blog. I purely do it for enjoyment.

With that out of the way, I do have to say that the SUL's are a crock! Since I'm on G+ for photography, I'll keep it to photography.
There are "SUL Photographers" that have hundreds of thousands of followers, that rarely post any photography. When they do, the body of work that they have displayed on G+ is good, but a far cry from what number of followers they have would suggest. They (like it or not) do have "Power" due to the mass of followers, the ideas that they convey from time to time, seem to be taken as gospel by a percentage of their followers.

From a monetary standpoint, many photographers make their money from doing workshops. Now lets say that "Photographer A" who is not on the SUL and "Photographer SUL" both announce a workshop in the same location on the same day. The body of work from "Photographer A" is actually better, and more technically sound than "Photographer SUL". What will the result be?

"Photographer SUL" will fill up very quickly and "Photographer A" will possibly fill all the spots, but will struggle to do so. This is the sheep syndrome. It is also a factor of statistics.

Photographer A - 30,000 followers - 1% are interested = 300
Photographer SUL - 750,000 followers - 1% are interested = 7,500

Simple Math.
I'm a bit late to the party... looks like most bases were very well covered already.

However, one possible alternative or solution to the admittedly broken SUL could be "Public circles". Basically, curators or moderators gather good posts or users that focus on specific topics and promote quality content.

This would help with the creation of communities, and add to the Forum feel, where everyone is involved with everyone else in the circle. Pages are starting to play this role, however, the ones I've seen make it hard for different users to add content. In other words, a public circle would be the web that links together different users... or put simply... a sort of publicly accessible forum (I wanted to use the word chat, but that felt a bit too 90s).
I love the nature of this topic, because it opens room for interpretation from everyone that reads it. For instance, you can interpret it as not so much as "SUL is bad and must go" to "I'm not on SUL so it must go". It's funny actually because I do not think it would be so much an issue if people were not finding a way to monetize their "social site". I only mention this because I noticed that +Peter G McDermott has even posted a few of the amazon associate links himself which makes me question if the desire is for fairness on a social site or an equal chance at a chance to make some money on a commercial site, because if it is the latter, might it be more fun to raise yourself up and put forth a better product instead of trying to bring it all down?

Now I know I'm just someone who logs on here to encounter people or things I might not elsewhere (this this wonderful argument) . I do this because, this for me is truly a "social" site and if we can agree that this is what it is, then who or what is on SUL should not matter to anyone. If however we agree that this isn't a "social" site but in fact a forum to peddle our "tawdry wares"* then perhaps that's why you and possibly others here feel like it is "broken".

*I am not implying if your wares are "tawdry" but mine sure are.
+David Sarachman Interesting insight. The post was really written to spark some conversation, and the response is overwhelming.

I think a lot of people in this thread have some extremely different views on this topic. Perhaps I'm wrong. Who knows.

If I were on the SUL would I be posting Amazon affiliate links all of the time? Of course not. I only share products that I find interesting, and I do it sparingly. Am I paying my mortgage with them? Of course not. But, if $10-$20 a month helps me pay for my web hosting, then is it terrible of me to do that? Is it any worse than having a PayPal donate button?

People make the decision as to whether or not they are going to purchase a product when clicking a link.

If you were to purely monetize your efforts here, I think you would be severely disappointed. But, at the same time, it will be very difficult for people to organically catch up with those that have millions of "suggested" follows. Is that fair? Of course not.

Is life fair? Of course not.

My intention was not to come off as whining or saying, "pick me, pick me!" It was simply to take a stance on an issue, broadcast my opinion and see what conversation developed.

What I am most elated to find is how much I learned for the variety of perspectives expressed here. The knowledge of others' interpretations is much more valuable that the knowledge of my opinion if I kept it to myself.
Anyone who argues that if you're trying to promote something on G+ and you are on the G+ SUL that it really doesn't matter because "yeah, I might have more followers, but that doesn't mean they are good followers" is pulling the wool over their own eyes. It would be like a Department Store saying "Just because I'm on a piece of prime real estate, doesn't mean that I get more sales than if I was off the beaten path"..... C'mon, that is a load of bunk, pure and simple. The SUL has created created a skewed playing field for those looking to promote themselves or other interests they support. It is a numbers game based on percentages. Plain and simple. Statistically there is no valid argument against it.

Oh BTW, I have no welts or sores from not being on the list. I call it as I see it. I always have and I always will. If I'm ever on it, fine. If not, well that's good too. I'll still enjoy being on G+.

Oh, and I don't think the SUL will change or be going anywhere soon. So it's best to just plug your nose and swallow the pill.
Where can I find complete suggested user list?
+Margie Hearron you should add +Blood:Water Mission to our +Plusketeers Plusketeers project. To do that... go to . Create a team and let us help you promote this. I'm a small market news anchor in the middle of a cattle farm in Missouri. Totally serious. :-) I'm on the receiving end of the SUL so obviously it's been a positive thing for my ability to crowd source as a journalist. I have people from around the world sharing their stories in my Hangouts. I can certainly understand the concerns, however +Peter G McDermott This has been an interesting thread to read. Thanks for sharing your opinions with me...
To me I think of the SUL as a lottery. If someone gets on it, then good for them. Doesn't really affect me. If the list didn't exist, I'd still have roughly the same number of followers. Perhaps even less. Perhaps all of us would have less. I do agree the list could be improved.
If Britney Spears can bring in 100,000 people to G+ and 10,000 of those people hang around and use G+ actively: keep her up there. Those people, if they like G+, can talk to their friends and then they can talk to their friends and so on and so forth. Now, as a content creator, I have the opportunity to engage with those people if I am relevant to them and if they are relevant to me. Let's say that 100 of those people are relevant to me, and let's say that 20 of those people are actively engaging with me. That's dynamite. Thanks Britney. Now it's my turn to impress them and to make my mark - and guess what - if they like me, there's a chance that they'll tell others about me - and then there is a chance that the people they told will tell others about me. They'll share my stuff. +1 some stuff - and all the while they're doing their own networking and those people have a chance to discover me because those people have shared my stuff or have mentioned me/tagged me.

Awesome - and now I have new people to talk to. I have new people interacting with me. I share their stuff... I read their suggestions... I see their +1's in my SPYW - we Hangout... we converse. That's a good social interaction. That's what 99% of G+ users are here for.... and guess who made that stuff possible in that situation... Britney Spears.

Now, let's say my intentions here are more than just social - but let's say I'm trying to earn some money. Let's say I provide a cool service like... oh, SEO for small businesses. One... I'm not competing with Britney, probably, for that in SPYW... Two... I have the opportunity, provided by Google's social platform, to search out people who have small businesses and interact with them. Three... I can talk to those people about whatever I want and use whatever methods I can to see if they are interested in my business - and nobody is stopping me. Great! That's what someone needs to earn a living - reach out to people, be discoverable - and close the deal.

But wait... what do I need for any of that to happen... oh, right, PEOPLE. Why are people going to check out G+? Is it because Ryan Crowe, a nobody, is talking about how much he enjoys +The Muppets ? Probably not... but if one of my favorite musicians like or favorite actresses like +Rose McGowan are putting unique content up here - heck yeah, I'll check out G+. I get here and I see what they have posted... oh, that's neat... well what else is there to do here. Explore time.

Here's what needs to happen to keep that person here. When the sign up for an account - not only have them follow their celebrity or whoever drew them here, but also show them (with example posts) other users who are interested in what they are interested in... how do we do that? Well, there has to be something built... designed... an algorithm - just like I mentioned way back yonder when +Peter G McDermott did his first G+ Interview with me for his old site

These famous people are the lures, they get people on the hook - we have to reel em in and keep em in the boat. The SUL has already helped you out, probably. It's funny that people want it to go away. Tweak it. Adjust. Get rid of it? That's silly.
It really has been a while since I looked at the SUL. Spurred by the discussion here, and the realization that my assumptions on it were dated at best, I just went to take another look, and have to say that I am pleasantly surprised by how diverse of a group it really is these days, and I think the idea of breaking it down into sub-categories was pretty helpful, and actually makes it more useful than I recalled.

To find full the SUL, +MILOS JANATA, just look in the top right-hand section of your G+ page and click on the "Find people" link immediately beneath the section that reads:
"Find interesting people
Read posts from celebrities, journalists, and more!"
I'm with +Lynette Young on the search&find issue. Anyone can search for anyone. On the other hand, since I don't pay attention to recommended users, I wonder, why is that category there? And then I think again, "deprive other content creators of the opportunity to succeed" may be too strong. Every system is a game, since every system has an algorithm behind it. Google also has its search algorithm. Learn the algorithm and you'll rise to the top. It's the same on Twitter, and Facebook, Klout an all other ranking systems work the same way. PR works the same way, TV works the same way, politics work the same way. Master the system and you win. Do I like it? No. But I'm up for a challenge. Given enough time and dedication anyone can make it on that list.
LOL I couldn't figure out Klout's game, so I got ticked and took my toys home (closed my account).
+Peter G McDermott I could have missed it but not much has been said about how SPYW skews search engine results in favor of the G+r's with huge followings. This article explains it well. If I post a photo of the "Winspear Opera House" on G+ it will soon show up near the top of a search for that, but only to my followers on G+. If I had 1,300,000 followers then the chances of showing up near the top of a search becomes a whole helluva lot better. Since I sell my photography for a living, that would increase my chances for sales.
+Robert Scoble That explains it. I never would have thought you would though based on the posts you made early on when you were completely against it. Out of curiosity, what changed your mind about wanting to be on it?
G+ is not here for you to make money. SPYW is not for you to make money. If you can make it work for you to make money, great, but... it's not for you to make money. Get that into your head. It is not... a function... built... so that you... can make money. People can make money off of it, people can endeavor to do so and be creative/innovative in their endeavors... but it's not the stated purpose.

You are applying "fair" and "unfair" to a game that you think everyone is playing... but it's not a game everyone is playing. It is not fair to you, because you are decrying it for not living up to what you want it to be - an avenue for money making.

Fortuitously, by thinking that you are actually competing with these SUL people you show a fundamental lack of understanding of how people use search, what they search for and how results manifest in the search after a search is complete. If people type "social media consulting blog", you're not going to be competing with Snoop Dogg for that term - because you talk about it, you will be more relevant to the person searching - as long as that information is shared publicly - you'll have the chance to rise to the top of the SPYW results. And if you're already a member of their personal Circles - you'll definitely have a better chance at ranking at the top.

Other things you can do: Optimize your words in your posts, optimize your social profiles, talk about what you want to rank for... that's how you do it... I guarantee that unless you're a wannabe pop star from Louisiana with the first name Britney - you're not going to be competing with these people who have an "unfair advantage". They are playing a different game than you, on a level that you simply will not reach - and don't need to reach.

Those celebs and famous people that you think are getting a boost, well maybe they are - maybe it's because they are bringing a lot of people here - maybe when +Louis Gray said, "Our success is up to you" - he was saying, "we are doing what we can to get people to come to Google+, as a content creator and G+ evangelist/power user - it's up to you to keep them here with your 'awesome' content."

Louis and Google don't make anyone Circle anyone else. It's suggested. They are a party host giving new users the opportunity to enter a party where the know a few people - after they establish their comfort - then they can move around and start to talk and explore the other party members. That's how new people are met, that's how connections are made. Now maybe the host can learn to give introductions better - instead of just leading new party goes to their friends they can say, "Hey, your friend is over there, but this guy is cool, too..." - maybe that's something they can work on.
I agree that it is disappointing when the most relevant articles are pushed down because content with similar keywords was shared on Google Plus. Stick with the algorithm instead of self-promoting.

When I search for Coca-Cola in personalized results, for example, two of the few first page results are from Google Plus. Don't you think that people looking for Coca-Cola might want, say, the brand website, places to buy it, and other critical results to take up the first page instead? I basically now have to remember to switch to non-personalized results before I search so that I don't get a bunch of junk.

As another example, before Google Plus, I had carefully crafted the search results for my name to come up with things like my articles, biography pages, and so on. Now, the results are inundated with Google Plus posts. No one searching for me wants that stuff.

One problem is that things that are shared on social networks a lot are often exciting, happy, strange things. But when you do an internet search, you probably are more likely to want the generic stuff that by its nature does not go viral on a social network. People want substance in their searches, not junk food.
Yeah, +MILOS JANATA - I sure hope I've not lead you astray!!! I :-D

Also, I've seen those nearly-vertical growth-curves on CircleCount before, and the gap just keeps growing.
+Peter G McDermott as an artist working on his first album, I am looking for exposure. Obscurity is why most artists don't make a good living off what they do. Google+ is the main way I am promoting my music. If +Britney Spears likes my music and promotes it, I would consider it a privilege and an honor. If it puts my music higher in search results then that is even better. Some of the SUL users are very active and engaging with their fans/followers. If I manage to network with them, become friends or whatever and they promote my music that is great! Maybe it will improve my rankings in search...another bonus!

I think we (people trying to use this platform to promote our art) need to figure out how to use the platform effectively just as it is instead of trying to change it. Energy is limited. You can't save the Internet AND do a good job promoting your art unless you are a superhero (but then maybe you would be on the SUL).

300 people are not that's not like they are going to take over the Internet. I think the SUL is fine as it is. Google has the right and responsibility to their shareholders to promote the platform. Celebrities help with that. Courting them through the SUL is a good idea. It brings people into the platform and makes interesting content. The people on the SUL that don't engage may begin to do so in the future and begin to support and promote the platform. I believe that is it's purpose.

PS SEO is not dead. Google is not the only search engine on the planet...

In closing, I would like to say I always enjoy your posts even though I tend to take a more practical approach for myself. Thanks for making me think! Thanks to +Billy Wilson for pointing me to this thread!
+Matt Gibson I didn't get this many followers from being "practical" all of the time. Sometimes I like to push the limits and spark a conversation. This one seemed to strike a note--not a great one, either--for a lot of people here.
+Peter G McDermott Oh I wasn't criticizing your efforts or methods, I just didn't agree with your conclusion. I applaud your efforts for getting people thinking about this issue.

The way I look at it, when things "change" we have two choices:
1. Try to stop the change from happening (or reverse the change)
2. Figure out a way to ride the wave the change produces.

I am going with #2 because I don't think anybody is going to change what Google is doing to promote the platform. I think they have probably put a lot of thought into this and have decided to use the SUL to bring people (and celebrities) into the platform. It makes sense to me. If you are able to change the way they do business then that is fine also. I will just have to adapt my model to promote my music.

I am simply an artist that wants an audience to play in front of, nothing more nothing less. I love my music and I want to live my life playing it. Whatever happens, I will do my best to adapt and overcome.

+Peter G McDermott You're looking at it the wrong way. Google does not create products for website owners, it creates products for end users, because it is on them that the success or failure depends. Think about a new user - would they rather follow random people they're not interested in, or follow famous celebrities from the SUL, who they find some value in following ?

Even if I agree with your point about unnecessary advantage, isn't that what happened earlier too ? If a website got featured by a famous blog/newspaper, they would get a boost for no rhyme or reason ! Things were unfair then, and things are unfair now, but I'd still prefer Search with SPYW than without it (even though I don't have SPYW yet, probably because I'm in India).
+Abhinav Manchanda +Peter G McDermott "or follow famous celebrities from the SUL"
I am on Google + mainly to promote my photography and see the work of other photographers. I have been a professional for more than 10 years and was an avid amateur many years before that. The SUL is making celebrities out of photographers I had never heard of before joining G+.
Just to throw my two cents in. I am on the suggested user list, so take this for a grain of salt if you wish. The Google plus one button does have an effect on search results, but not nearly as great as you think. More realistically connecting with some one (circling) on Google + has a much greater effect. If I search for Alaska photography I see content from those I have connected with first, not content that has been +1ed from those here on the network. While that still does create an advantage, you cannot game the system by selling +1a as they don't hold that much weight on their own.

Some revisions are certainly in need, but every network has some SUL and they sure as heck are not organic.
One of the problems of G+ is that topics (sorry forum language) posts always die out when the last one stops commenting and nobody gets a notification anymore nor does it pop up in the stream again. This was a good debate, but it died and started all over again under another post. For +Peter G McDermott +Matt Gibson +MILOS JANATA +Colby Brown +Ryan Crowe +Christa Laser +Marc Jansen +Margie Hearron +David Sarachman +Linda Lawrey +Lynette Young
and all the others here: have a look at this post and debate:
In other news.. the Suggested Users List (SUL) is still continuing to distort this community. with input from a bunch of other people and some other people from the SUL. Not my own topic, so I´m not spamming you ;)


+Colby Brown The main problem with the SUL is that people will have a very hard time catching up and I'm not sure that's a good thing...
+Peter G McDermott - Catch up in terms of number of followers? If that is what you mean, then lets do a quick breakdown on the top 100 or 200 followers for twitter and facebook as well. I need to do the research, but the inflation is not unique to G+ (I will double check on that statement though).
+Colby Brown But in terms of earning followers and being "blessed" with followers are two different sets of circumstances. I think that is one of the chief arguments. People, for the most part, that have earned 3,000,000 followers on Twitter are better known in the "real world" than the people on G+ that have gained over 1,000,000 followers before the network even had 100,000,000 users!
+Peter G McDermott - My problem with statements like that that include "blessed" is that you imply those individuals did not deserve (in someones opinion) to be highlighted. I have worked in the photography industry for 8 years and brought a lot of followers (from various networks) here to Google, but that was just the start. I worked hard and invested a lot of time on many different fronts with G+, which in the end seemed to pay off with the list. Google choose the individuals for the SUL is August, after watching people for nearly 3 months. There is a reason, regardless if you agree or want to believe it, that Google highlights certain individuals. Call me biased and I will attempt to remove myself from what I am about to say, but those that I interact with on the SUL deserve to be highlighted. That doesn't mean everyone on the list though. Regardless of intent, threads like these end up naturally in a "throwing rocks" conclusion, demeaning the work of a handful of individuals that Google choose to highlight.

"Earned" is a subjective word to use in both your eyes as well as Googles.
+Peter G McDermott Goodness bloody gracious me! Google is not only being unfair in this regard. It's also taking unpopular extensions by +Mohamed Mansour off the hot list.
We are being controlled. And Big G is laughing at us.

But then again I don't like to think of myself as a victim.

Now I know this is nothing but a real bad dream.
I just wanted to pay guys to fix my SEO. Now I need to find clients to go and click on +1's for products they have bought.
+Peter G McDermott well said. The comments in here make it even more worthwile. I can see a lot of problems with the SUL - probably the worst is that I get suggestions I would never take. I can see problems with "what's hot" - mainly that it sometimes just creeps in even though I turned the volume down to zero.
As a mere "end user" not involved in doing business with or via G+, I'm not that affected. I can see where those could be real problems, though.
I really miss these sorts of conversations here.