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Carter Gibson originally shared:
 
The Suggested User List has Failed
Must be balanced with community members to succeed

I have a concern to raise with you +Google+ and +Bradley Horowitz. That concern is that the people who are keeping your platform alive and well aren't receiving their due thanks from you. I love you both dearly. But. The Suggested User List has the wrong skew. I have no problem with you promoting celebrities. It's good marketing. I'm also by no means shouting at you "Suggest me!" But failing to balance your list with the users who are the lifeblood of your platform is a community fail.

Suggested Users Don't Exemplify the Google+ Experience
"Follow Interesting and Famous People" You're met with these words when you look at the suggest user list and they appear to be mutually exclusive. I get the herd behavior marketing tactic by featuring famous people, but not only are they first people you see, they offer very little to the vitality of Google+ (with a few exceptions. read +Michelle Marie, +Tyra Banks' last hangout, that astronaut, and a few others). Instead of rewarding actual engagement, the list rewards fame but claims that there's not a "rich gets richer" affiliation inherent with it. I'm not surprised people don't use the platform when people like +Ricki Lake are the models to emulate but have only posted 3 times or +Ashley Tisdale uses Google+ as a second twitter. They fail to exhibit what makes Google+ different. Google+ has no added value when the actual community is forgotten.

The people who use your platform the most, engage at the highest levels, and even speak to Google on a regular basis who continually praise the platform, use all of the features, and show new guys around are left out in the cold despite being the members of the community most concerned with engaging and posting the best posts they can.

+Bradley Horowitz's Promises have not been Realized
In order to be on the list Horowitz told us in early September that we need to "say something that engages people and inspires them to add you to a circle, read your posts and +1, comment and reshare them." But wait for it. It gets better. "Oh, and Hangout!" Mr. Horowitz. I'm sorry. But the list given to us poorly reflects this engagement that you say is a prerequisite to the list. So poorly in fact, that almost everyone on the list (minus very few) have previous affiliations suggesting that their worth comes not from their presence here, but their presence elsewhere. That whole Hangout thing? Well...

I can't think of anyone who hangs out more than people like +Amanda Blain, +Samantha Villenave, +Cam Meadows and +matthew rappaport. +Daria Musk has been your biggest advocate and has never been featured on the list despite giving talks around the nation about how amazing your platform is while people like +will.i.am don't post for weeks after promoting himself in a single Hangout. It's sad honestly.+Robert Scoble was right. The list is very poorly curated. The people I just mentioned have met all of your (public) criteria and yet are not recognized as the influential users they are. Which brings me to...

The Categories Don't Allow for Community Penetration
News. Entertainment. Politics. Technology. These are all categories of the suggested user list. How, in any capacity, could users who aren't previously famous become part of their lists when journalists from CNBC are the standard? There's no category for Hangouters or Featured Community Members or Google+ Helpers, etc. Horowitz hinted that at some point the list would become personalized which is a step in the right direction and would allow for featuring community members more easily, but personalization doesn't necessarily promise that. For instance, if Google knows I like alternative music, there's not promise I'll get a +Daria Musk over a +Red Hot Chilli Pepper. That needs to change. Immediately.

Community members don't have to be featured in every category, but right now the "Suggest User List" should be renamed the "Verified Famous People On Google+ List" in its current incarnation. Put in a category a 25 community members you think do an awesome job and a few more for the most popular Hangouters. With more categories ((coughLGBTQcough)) comes more opportunity to add influential community members. What's wrong with that? Well. Maybe something...

Do we Really Want the Expectations?
The scrutiny put on community members could end up hurting them more than helping them. If Google thinks they're awesome, they must be god-like! Or so the average new user would believe. This is dangerous and I can understand why Google has shied away from featuring the users more. They risk losing their humanity here when interaction becomes near impossible with 100,000+ followers and added pressure to not ruffle feathers. Is this what we want? Could not including influential community members actually be preserving their highly coveted status as opinion leaders?

Well. No. And here's why: I can't keep up with my 16,000 now. But to say that 16k people interact with me is ludicrous. Numbers aren't really a concern, but in-fighting could be. Regardless, this are two trade offs that should have been understood when it was implied that the average user who makes something of themselves using your platform would be an ideal fit for the Suggested User List. People drop in and out of the Suggested User List all the time. Who's to say that community members don't deserve that same chance? The list matters not for numbers' sake but for the validation from Google and the message to new users about what Google+ is all about. There are many worthy community members who care more about this platform than Celebrity X ever will.


I gave the list time to improve, time to iron out some kinks, before I called it out. But I'm sorry. The cake list is a lie. +Bradley Horowitz said that "we do want to make it easy for users to connect with the people they might find compelling. If they prove not to be, justice will be served, and all will be right in the world." It's my humble opinion that the most influential and engaging members of this community are left with very little "justice."

Am I out of line? Is there something I'm not seeing? Insight and opinions are welcome! Let's engage ;)


[1] https://plus.google.com/getstarted/follow
[2] https://plus.google.com/113116318008017777871/posts/LoPmpdCt3DT
[3] http://mashable.com/2011/09/05/google-suggested-user-list/
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