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Feature Request – Subscribe-able ‘circles’/hubs/’aspects’/’contexts’ or hashtags

Reasoning:
While Circles themselves are fantastic for allowing me control over my post distribution, there is a need for a better tool for filtering post consumption.

Description of Problem:
I could theoretically create a circle for every interest that I had. Some of my friends might appreciate a link about Diet or Health. Others might want to know more about a particular sports team. Members of a church may be interested in more religious-focused posts. Only a subset of my friends with their own children may want to hear about anything related to kids. Some people might like celebrity gossip, others might like humorous videos.

These interests/aspects/contexts may span many of my existing circles, friends, close friends, work friends or acquaintances.

Using the current build, I could create my own context related Circles, possibly naming them things like C-Diet, C-Sports, C-Church, C-Kids, C-Celebrity, C-Humor.

I could pick and choose which of my friends I think might be interested in these topics and which ones might not. None of these circle names are public, so my friends would not know if they were in my C-Kids context-related circle or not.

If I guessed incorrectly I might send humorous posts to people that didn’t want to see them, or flood people that really don’t care (but may be too polite to say anything about it) with too many baby pictures.

Solution:
I would like to see the ability to create more public circles. I imagine a public circle/context/aspect/hub would have these features and options:

Visibility: Select which Circles can see that this context-related circle even exists. Maybe I want to world to see it, but maybe I only want close friends (rather than work friends) to see I have a context-focused circle that can be joined.

AutoApprove: Select which Circles can auto-join this context/aspect/hub without my approval or moderation. In this way my friends can opt-in or out of my Diet/Nutrition related posts, Gaming posts, CrossFit posts, Humor posts or BabyPictures if I have created these aspects/hubs/contexts. These users can leave this context/aspect/private hub at any time.

RequireApproval: Select which Circles can still join, but only with approval from me. To be honest I feel this feature is less important at the beginning and may never be needed, but it is certainly an option. Things like BabyPictures seem a bit more sensitive to see who has subscribed to them as an example.

MembersVisible Selecte whether or not the names of the members are publishe and visible to other members. Or not. I would almost prefer this was always off.

Name: A short name of the circle

Description: A more detailed description of what I expect to post using this context/aspect

With these features, I could add aspects/context-related circles to my profile and users could opt into them.

I’ve met some interesting people as a result of Google+ already. Many of them have ‘circled me back’ and we are following each other; but I risk losing that connection if I post too many things into their stream that they have no interest in.

Using subscribe-able circles/contexts/aspects/hashtags to allow users to opt-into topics and select which posts they see would help to keep the stream from getting polluted and would allow people to post more content. Without these features people will resort to more ‘lowest-common-denominator’ posts like they do on other Social sites; and only post things that they consider broadly interesting to their larger circle of friends.

Business Impact:
There are business implications here as well. Corporate entities may wish to have multiple streams for different products, different services or different campaigns. Allow people to subscribe to public Circles for Progressive Insurance, Ford or other companies based on a specific product, interest, contest or campaign will make it more likely that people will opt-in for messages. By ensuring they are more tailored to the customer, a business entity has a better hope of remaining in a circle and their more context-specific posts reaching their customers.

Scope:
I could see these context related circles being used either in conjunction with existing circles or instead of them. What I mean here is this. In an ideal world I could post to my WorkCircle and apply the C-Humor context. That may be more complicated, but works similiar to hashtags while still allowing me control of distribution. If that is too complex, I would have to resign myself to the fact than anyone could join a particular context-related circle/aspect if they were in the approved Circles to do so.

[Thanks for listening and feel free to contact me with any questions or further clarification]
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Gretchen S.'s profile photoRichard Hoefer's profile photoJason Van Lieu's profile photoSarah Pavis's profile photo
16 comments
 
To give credit where credit is due, this builds off of +Sarah Pavis and the hub concept that she proposed earlier. I am not certain how best to draw attention here, but would appreciate as many +1s as possible to get it in front of Google folks. It may be something they have heard suggested multiple time by others, but I did not see it in the last post by +Christian Oestlien or +Eric Cattell (I submitted it using the feedback mechanism by linking to this post)
 
i also sent along your thoughts as "send feedback." not sure the best way to go about it. hopefully it isn't too fundamental a change for g+ that it isn't implementable. the idea behind circles is i choose who i share with, it's a push mechanism. hubs would be people choosing to subscribe to my content, they'd pull it to them.
 
+++++ Fantastic! God, I so want to be able to PIN a collapsable "sticky thread" at the top of my stream, called "G+ TIPS", and pull posts like this into it.

Actually I have made a new request to the Googleplex gods:

HIGH PRIORITY: FAVORITES, drag & drop, to LEFT COLUMN, expandable drop down menu (like circles) with ones own filing categories, separate from circles)

could you just whip up a little drag-n-drop of any URL anywhere on a page within G+ posts or comments -- letting me drag it to the LEFT COLUMN to an "object" on peer-level to Streams called Favorites, which expands upon rollover, just exactly like the "add to circles" functionality, allowing me to store my favorites for QUICK ACCESS, filed where I want them?
 
I've written about about Managing Your Social Graph using Google+ in a long blog post at http://www.lifewithalacrity.com/2011/07/managing-your-social-graph-with-google-plus.html and there is some good commentary on it here at https://plus.google.com/113059510043663667610/posts/2eYjBB2CpNm

I personally would like to see: #hashtags (the ability to tag both posts and people into info-centric topic categories), favorites (the ability to tag posts into a persistent archive, hopefully with an optional tag), Hubs (group centric circles whose membership is decided non-egocentrically), ordering Circles, concentric Circles, and better integration with Google Reader. (I share my favorite blog posts on Google Reader at and my best of best articles and posts in Twitter Favorites or Delicious.)
 
+Richard Hoefer, one way to keep track of Google+ Tips is to create a circle named Google+ Tips that has no members. When you come across a post that you want to save as a tip, simply share that post to your Google+ Tips circle. Anytime that you want to go through the various tips that you've saved, just select that circle.
 
Some further clarification: Answers to some questions I have seen.

1) These subscribe-able circles are unique for each person. The Taranowski.BabyPictures stream is different than the OtherUser.BabyPictures circle. These are private managed circles.

2) Only I can post in the Taranowski.Stocks circle. Only the OtherUser can post in the OtherUser.Stocks circle. People can comment as normal.

3) I would expect there would also be a Public.Stocks circle as well. This circle anyone can post into and is unmanaged and unowned. While you could 'add' or subscribe to the Public.Stocks stream, it would be overwhelming and more than likely littered with spam at some point, or at least 'paid posts'. That said, you may want to look at the Public.Stocks stream from time to time in order to find users posting original interesting content. You would then add ThatUser.Stocks to some circle of your own to read their posts.

4) While not terribly important, I propose ++ as the way to tag a post into one of these content/subscribe-able circles. For example, if I had a subscribe-able circle called 'GoogleFeedback' already, I would just tag a new post somewhere in the post as ++GoogleFeedback Again, this is still the private Taranowski.GoogleFeedback subscribe-able circle.

If you have other questions, feel free to ask. Thank you for the +1 and the reshares...
 
I hope that Google implements something like the feature described in this post. I sent a very similar idea to Google via the feedback button last week. Hopefully, if enough different people suggest it, they may do it.

To those asking for #hashtags, I doubt that Google will ever implement #hashtags because they think that their search engine is smart enough to discover the right keywords to index a given chunk of content. Google's indexer doesn't even pay attention to most meta tags in the HTML standard. Too many people try to game the system by specifying inaccurate or misleading keywords. The current Google search engine indexing algorithm doesn't even save the hash # character even though Twitter and #hashtags have been around for years. Try searching Google for "#boardgames" and you'll see posts that contain "boardgames" "board games" and posts that contain board and games separated by several paragraphs.

On the other hand, giving us the ability to make some of our circles public or semi-public and discoverable by people in our other circles simply expands upon the existing circle feature in a natural way. Letting people subscribe and unsubscribe to someone's public or semi-public circles removes the burden on the content author to actively manage the circle membership. Without this, most people with many many readers will simply publish most everything to Public.
 
Why hide some circles?
Here is my answer to this one.

Perhaps I do not care if the world knows I have a subscribe-able circle for 'BoardGames'; but I may want only people I have put in my 'WorkCircle' to know I have a subscribe-able circle about a specific project at work.

You may need to be in my 'CloseFreinds' circle before you see a subscribe-able circle about a political topic.

You may need to be in someone's 'CloseFamily' circle before you can even see that they have a subscribe-able circle about an illness.

These are a few examples. Choosing which aspects of our lives we share with specific people allows us the freedom to discuss important issues without succumbing to 'lowest-common-denominator' posts like you might find in other areas.

Being able to find like-minded individuals in the Public.Keyword area means that you can find more decent people to connect with.
 
Joshua. I think that there is a basic problem when you want circles to be about subjects instead of people.

I think Circles are people-centric and Sparks are subject-centric. It seems to me that Sparks is currently fairly useless.

What if something like Sparks existed but only searched/aggregated posts within G+, or Sparks had an option to only search within G+? (and I agree that Google should be able to do this fairly well without need of hashtags, but this could certainly work with hashtags as well.) What if the returns on those G+ searches in Sparks functioned just like any other circle type stream? (you could post, comment, edit, etc,) Maybe add the ability to filter that Spark by adding or subtracting specific users or specific circles.

Would that go a fair distance towards solving your issues?
 
+Kim Hanson , Sparks seem to be their own thing. What I am proposing is visible circles with tight controls, so that you can expose your interests to select groups of people. There are circles of people in everyone's life that we share different kinds of information with. There are things that my 'work friends' have no business knowing about me, and things at work my family has no interest in.

Allowing G+ users to define subscribe-able circles with the tight controls outlined above give everyone the ability to share exactly what they want with the people that they want to share it with, while still allowing the people that they share with to mute or disengage from that topic.

It respects privacy. It brings people together. It opens us up only as much as we wish to. It allows for people to post deep and esoteric posts and engage in meaningful discussion without polluting the stream. It makes the message more targeted while allowing listeners to tune in or tune out

Like I said in another post: "I still feel somewhat limited in what I can post in this space because it is still tailored towards the 'lowest common denominator'. I would be much more vocal about the many topics I am interested in, if I knew people could opt-in or subscribe to them.

Right now it feels a bit like people at a party getting to know one another. You have to talk about the weather and the idle chatter of the day instead of anything meaningful, because you can not find the people interested in a deeper discussion without risking offending everyone else in the room (and getting dropped from their circles because you've polluted their stream with information they are not interested in).

I do not mean to seem ungrateful. I am sold hook, line and sinker on this platform and think that even if nothing improved or changed that I would use this platform over anything else that is out there right now.

But...Having a taste of something better, we all begin to dream again."

I imagine there are things that can be done with sparks to make them more interactive, but I hope you'll agree the subscribe-able circles is somehow more than that. Thanks for the +1. Feel free to reshare as well.
 
Just filters like Gmail gives us would do everything I need. Perhaps with a better UI.
 
I really think filters don't quite do everything. I also want to be able to tag posts at my end, and have that be meaningful. It would be useful for more things than filters provide: for one thing, it allows people to tell at a glance what I tend to post about, simply by seeing what my Facets/Topics are.

Also, everyone thinks about what they post in slightly different ways and hence tags slightly differently. I want to be able to put Jane's Recipes and Joe's Food and Jill's Cheese posts all into my Cooking circle without having to devise complicated filters for this, or end up with Jane's Cheese posts which are actually about her cheesemonger business and not really about cooking at all; those I want to put into my Business circle.
 
I added an online survey for people to subscribe to the circles I'll use for publishing here: http://goo.gl/0JZtd Thanks to +M Sinclair Stevens for pointing me to +Shaun Bridges who did this well before I did. Please note these survey responses go to a private Google Docs spreadsheet that only I can see.
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