Google+ Comments: My Initial Observations

Throwing caution to the wind, I installed Google+ Comments on my WordPress site today. I love it and decided to share some quick observations. 

First, if you haven't seen Google+ Comments in a website, it helps if you actually look at an example in order to understand what I'm explaining below. Here it is implemented on the announcement post for my blog: http://www.the-vital-edge.com/happy-birthday-vital-edge/

Thoughts: 
1) Caution: I used a WordPress plugin from: http://www.cloudhero.net/gplus-comments and the installation process couldn't have been more straightforward. Google is not officially supporting 3rd party usage of Google+ Comments right now, however, so use this at your own risk. Seriously.

I took the risk because I'm pretty sure Google will eventually support this functionality officially. There are just too many business reasons for supporting this feature. Because all these comments are in Google+, even in the worst case scenario of the plugin absolutely failing, the comments will not go away. And I'm betting on a relatively safe bet that I will be able to get them back by simply installing an official version of some later code down the road.  

2) Unified Commentary - Less Fragmented Conversation: People have complained for some time that commenting here on Google+ fragments the conversation. As you can see, with Google+ Comments, everything is aggregated in one place now (at least for comments on external  pages - not for comments inside Google+). That gives a nice consolidation of the overall conversation. And it's very useful. A huge plus. 

3) Intuitive Engagement Dashboard: Google+ Comments now replaces Ripples for me (again, for tracking sharing of external URLs) because every time anyone shares a page on my site, it shows up in the comment stream on that same web page. I released my new website last Thursday and in the flurry of activity, I missed thanking a number of people who had shared my site here on G+. Today, after installing Comments, I was able to simply scroll down the comments on my page, see all the people who had shared it and quickly and easily thank each and every one of them. No fuss, no muss. Another big plus

4) Stimulates Sharing: When you comment on a page, it automatically shares that page with your comment with that article into your stream on Google+. You have the option not to share it into your stream, of course, but my guess is that many people will just get into the habit of sharing this way. It's a nice way to easily share your thoughts on various articles around the web and post quality content into your stream. Yep. Plus.

5) Amazing Respect for Privacy: When you're looking at comments and posts about a page using Google+ Comments on your website, you still only see what you would be able to see on Google+. The below image is an example. The underlying image is visiting the-vital-edge.com while I was logged in as +Gideon Rosenblatt; the one overlaid on top is using another profile that I have here (which I don't use). You can see that in the first one, I have access to 127 comments, while the second one only gives me permission to see 99 of those comments. This is a very different experience when it comes to commenting on blogs - it's Google+ Circles bleeding out into the web. The Social Spine of Google+, if you will. And it'll take some getting used to for many people. 

6) Authorship: Google+ Comments requires that you implement Google Authorship to tie your Google+ profile to your website. That way, the commenting system knows who you are, so it can, in effect, allow your website to impersonate you. Google+ Comments is acting as a sort of de facto authentication system for the Google+ social spine in this mode. It may take some getting used to to think of it this way, but when you do, you start to see just how awesome the social spine will end up being over time.

These are just some quick, off-the-cuff, thoughts about my experience with Google+ Comments after just one day using it.

As a commenting system, it's not going to be right for everyone. Many will prefer a more agnostic approach that allows logins from multiple providers such as Twitter and Facebook (like Disqus and others). For me, the advantages outlined above outweigh all of that. Why? Because I, like many of you here, have invested heavily in Google+. I get a fair amount of engagement here and this new functionality allows that engagement to easily bleed into my website with no real work on my part. That's really, really nice. And I think it will be attractive to a number of people here. But certainly not everyone. 
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