I have changed my setting to +M Sinclair Stevens ' recommendation, below. So, if you aren't on my circle you no longer can see who I'm following. I've done that for a few reasons.

1. To help make the system more spam resistant (I notice that on Twitter bots auto follow who I'm following).

2. To make it harder for astroturfing and bad actors (er, trolls) to get into every conversation.

But, what do you think? Does this help or hurt the system?
Build it and the Trolls will Come
If you've been involved in any passionate discussions on G+ lately, you might have noticed that the trolls have arrived. Currently their mode of operation is to circle people with whom they disagree, cut and paste their garbage message on every public post those people make, and scrape those people's contacts and then follow their friends -- which enables them to insinuate themselves into any conversation that the person they're trolling is reading.

Edit Your Profile
The safest thing to do is hide the list of people who you follow from "Anyone on the web". You can also select which of your circles are visible. (See screenshot.)

I suggested this a couple of weeks ago when the extended circle spam began. I know we all like to share and to see who someone is following because 1. we can see if we have anyone in common, and 2. we can discover new people to follow. But once a troll starts harassing you and your friends, your options for dealing with him are very limited.

Sharing a post publicly gives read permissions to the world. Thus blocking does not (and should not) prevent anyone from reading a public post. If the post is yours and you've blocked someone, this should prevent the person you've blocked from doing two things:
1. Commenting on the post.
2. Seeing the post in his stream even if he has added you to his circle. He can still go to your Profile page and see the post -- just like anyone on the Internet (even if they don't have a Google+ account) can do.

Blocking indicates that you do not want to interact with this person on your posts or see them in your stream. It is not the same as reporting someone for a violation. All the Republicans in America could block all the Democrats in America and all it would mean is that they didn't want to listen to them.

Shutting Down Comments
However, once a person has commented on a post (before you discover that they are a troll and block him), you cannot revoke his read/write permissions on that post. You choices at this point are pretty onerous.
1. Block him.
2. Shut down comments on the post.
3. Delete his comments.
4. Reshare the post.
Yes, I know the discussion will be cut in half and that people in the original discussion won't know about the redirect (unless you edit the original post to tell them). But once a troll has trashed your post, it's trashed.

Limited Sharing
Sharing only to our circles is a pretty unpalatable suggestion to most of us in these early days of Google+. We are still using the discovery tools to find and build an audience. If we wanted to remain in the confines of a closed system, we'd stick with Facebook or LiveJournal. If this is our only option, then the trollers and spammers will rule the Public posts and the rest of us will live in enclaves. It's impossible to "get the message out" if we can't post publicly.

Community Blacklist
When you block someone, you prevent them from commenting only on your posts, not posts of the people you interact with. Ultimately, it is up to the person who shared the post to block the troll, not you. So talk with them.

You might want to create a blacklist which you share with a select circle -- so your friends have a heads up on who to block before the troll attacks. Remember, once a troll is in a conversation, you cannot revoke read/write permissions for that post.

Abuse of Power
Being obnoxious or irritating or having a dissenting opinion is not against the terms of service. I keep reading comments that we should be able to block, shut out, and report people who invade our social networking "space". As long as that space is a public forum, you can't really want that to happen -- or else those same strategies will be applied to shut down your opinion.

Let the Right One In

Extended Circles Spam and How to Stop It
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