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When Google+ launched I was immediately excited about it's potential as a photo sharing platform, and it seemed so was everyone else. There was a constant steam of new and interesting photos whizzing past my eyes.

Over time this stream has slowed to a crawl, and has now become completely dominated by three or four photographers. These photographers (number one of which is +Thomas Hawk) have 'won' G+ but in the process I have been turned off.

This is not their fault, it was bound to happen because of the system. Each new comment puts their lovely photos to the top of my stream again but buries all the other gorgeous photography at the same time.

I used to get a load of comments on my photos on G+, now I'm lucky if I get one. I still get a few +1s on their way down, but they don't stop the drop. And then...nothing. Those photos are never seen again, by me or anybody else. There is no fixed page to get back to. They are essentially dead to Google+.

The point of this semi-rant is not, however, the lack of interaction on my photos. It's that my experience will be mirrored by others too, and that means fewer different photos are being pushed to the top of the stream.

A couple of times a day I go into my photo stream to throw out comments and +1s, but as time goes on, these comments are going to fewer photographers. Either because of the domination of these photographers, or because others are dropping out of the game.

There was a time when Google Photos looked like it was going to launch. I don't remember anybody promising anything, but we the G+ users had decided it was going to happen. We decided it was going to fix all the problems with sharing photos on Google+. We were wrong. It didn't launch, and the problems have never been fixed.

I'm not going to give up on Google+ as a photo sharing platform. It's another way to get my photography seen, but recently I have been getting far more reaction elsewhere. G+ needs to start making something of it's potential before it's too late. I'm not the only person suffering from this disallusion. I'm making a fuss, but many others have just left.

[original post at http://tmblr.co/Zui1XyHwAqbw]
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Thomas Hawk's profile photoJohn Thomas's profile photoIvan Makarov's profile photoMatt Holmes's profile photo
26 comments
 
I'm sorry to hear that Chris. As a beginning hobbyist I'm not qualified to comment, though I still enjoy the steam of photos from my different photography circles. What do you think could be done to fix the problem?
 
Hi John. I have no idea how to fix the stream. I'd like to have fixed photo pages where we can see more about the pictures. I'd like to see a better way of tagging photos, and a way of discovering more (and I hate to use this word) 'interesting' photography. I really hope groups are on the horizon too.
 
Sometimes it's just better to have a service dedicated to the job. One of my favorite things to do to relax is pull up Flickr Studio on my iPad and casually browse through everything my contacts have posted recently. It's sorted by post date, no comment bubbling shenanigans. Then I might move on to some of the various explore or search some tags or whatever. I can find such a search and browse with zero interruption for hundreds of photos. It's so much more enjoyable than G+ for this purpose.

G+ might be better for carrying on a discussion, with the major caveat of ... you might not ever be able to start one these days.
 
+Zachery Jensen "G+ might be better for carrying on a discussion, with the major caveat of ... you might not ever be able to start one these days." Quote of the month!
 
So this photo page has been broken for awhile. I'm surprised to see my photos on it there. It really does depend on who you follow what gets shown on this page, but usually it's heavily dominated by female faces and photos of children.

Fixing this page would actually be quite simple (conceptually).

1. Create two ways to view this page. By recency or by "interestingness" (awesomeness, hotness, popularess, whatever). Interestingness would have several different time frames you could choose (last hour, 12 hours, 24 hours, week, month).

2. allow people to +1 photos directly from this page (like flickr does with their new justified view in the photos from your contacts). Simply hover and +1.

3. Allow this page to be filtered by your circles over on the left.

Flickr now has this exact same page as Google, but it's better. It lets you fave from this page and it shows you your contact's photos by recency (you can also filter whether or not you see all contacts or just friends and family -- i.e. the two circles that Flickr gives you). They also let you pick whether or not you want to see the last 5 photos or last 1 photo by your contacts/friends. That's more control that Google+ gives us for this page but still lacking the absolute killer feature of a view based on interestingness by various time frames.

BTW photos on this page are not bumped by comments I don't think. It's just some sort of broken freaky algorithm that picks the photos on this page. Google needs to give photographers more control over what can show up here. It could be the most powerful page on the site for photography. cc: +Matt Steiner +Denise Ho +Vincent Mo +Dave Cohen +Ricardo Lagos +Brian Rose

Oh and also very few views to your photos come from this page. I bet it's less than 1% actually. So the fact that it's broken has less to do with visibility than you might think. Photos are predominantly consumed in the actual streams than on this page. Still, this page could be much better and more powerful with the above changes which I think would appeal to the photographers out there and dramatically increase the traffic and popularity of the page.
 
Oh and the old photos being buried problem. This largely has to do with search. Flickr has a really robust search engine that searches only the photographs on flickr. It also allows you to search by recency, interestingness or relevancy (relevancy is a worthless filter if you ask me on flickr). But search surfaces old photos. Right now searching Google+ doesn't have a way to really search specifically photos by tags or keywords. Google+ needs an image search engine to better allow me to search for photos. If I searched for "graffiti" photos (for example) and then filtered it by interestingness last month and then limited it to my "photographers I follow circle" this would unearth photos that I might interact with.

Google+ search does let you filter by you, your circles, or everyone, which is a good start, but there is no way to limit it to photographs or more granular circles. It does have "recent" or "best of" which is a valuable tool. It might be nice if best of could be used in time frames though. best of last month, last year, etc.
 
Thanks +Thomas Hawk. Possibly I'm viewing photos 'the wrong way' (™Steve Jobs) and that's the reason my experience of viewing my circles' shots has been diminished. I'll stick to the timeline for a wee while to see if that improves my experience.

I think it's really important we keep on top of Google to make the required improvements to G+ photo viewing. Creating a great user experience is far more important than catching up with Facebook. I, for one, don't need a cloned social network.
 
Well, it's not that you're viewing photos the wrong way. It's just not the way that 99% of people are doing it I think. In part this photos page is a dilema. You can't just kill it. But it sort of sits out there like a straggler without much attention. From a resources standpoint if the stream is where all of the action is, Google's got to think about allocating resources to something that most people don't really use vs. allocating those resources to doing more substantive things with the stream.

I think social collaboration (scavenger hunt, hashtags, photo walks, plus one collection book, hangouts) are some of the things that Google Photos is doing best right now. And most of this happens through activity in the stream.

And there are also bigger issue problems. From a branding perspective what in the world do you do with Picasa? I mean it's sort of out there, I'm sure it has some diehard users, but it's flawed for alot of reasons. How do you bring that into the fold and create a better photo organization experience preferably under a Google Photos brand instead.

And then we have to consider that the vast majority of users on Google+ are not even photographers. And how do we pull those people more into Google Photos? Here, something that's pretty useless to people like you and me (like editing photos with simple crude tools actually on G+) is still very valuable to sort of get more of the masses in.

I 100% would love this page that you are using (and that I'd use if it actually provided value) to be retooled and awesomized, but I suspect it's not the highest priority in the allocation of resources just right now -- but I could be wrong too.
 
Thanks man. I really appreciate your input on this.
 
About to jump on my plane but wanted to add that we've heard your feedback and we're working on these issues. If you have more ideas on what we should be doing, let me know and we can work on this together. Cheers.
 
+Thomas Hawk have you taken a look at the "photos from circles" view recently? We've done some work on the default algorithm, and I think you'll find it's substantially better than before.
 
Also, do you all have feedback on the photo organization tools we launched today?
 
+Chris Nixon Stemming from the discussion that sprung from +Annie Yim's share of this, I created a crowdsourced circle for photographers with less than 4,000 followers here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/109667864053549756579/posts/Xfeib3Yd1MG
What amazes me apart from the quality of nominations, is how many seriously talented folks are essentially entirely invisible here on G+. Aside from someone with a little following stumbling across them by sheer chance, they're never going to get seen. That's a loss to the platform as a whole.

My little effort is going to be a tiny drop in the ocean, so it would be nice perhaps to have something like Flickr's search of most recent photos, and searching down on tags/categories (entirely unconnected with circles). Search is ok, but it's not delivering the "little guys", especially on photos if they have no hash tags. New starters aren't so likely to be using hash tags of course. Maybe in the G+ world it could be a stream of most recently added photos, with a slider to set the limits of min and max followers to control rate, with whatever defaults might give a manageable rate.

(As a general point it would be nice to have some better ways of searching and categorising on all types of content, not just photos).
 
Thanks +Brian Rose. It's good to know you guys are paying attention. I realise that my use of G+ isn't the standard, but I'm very keen to give my input.
 
+Matt Steiner I noticed that announcement yesterday evening before bed. I'll have a good play with it today.
 
+Matt Holmes Thanks Matt. The <4k Circle idea is great. I'm up about 9k so I can't join it, but I'll be nominating as many as I can.
 
It's working better than I hoped so far +Chris Nixon. There's a couple of absolute gems with less than 100 people.
 
+Matt Steiner It's good to know the algorithm is being refined, but really, why have one simple algorithm view at all?

If people are only going to get one version of this page I'd think the best version would default simply to most recent photos uploaded by my contacts. Part of why I don't go to this page is because if I go there I generally find a lot of the photos are the same ones there as the last time I checked. So if I check it in morning, I'm not really rewarded for checking it again at night if many of the photos are the exact same.

Flickr's version of this page is simply by most recently uploaded. Perhaps this should be one option to view the page.

In terms of the current algorithm, as of this morning, of the most recent 60 photos of this view for me 31 are of either women or children.

If I go to my stream view and count the most recent 60 photos 7 are of women or children.

It's really not a big deal in the big picture, but this page could be so brilliant. It's a wonderful layout and way to consume photography, I think we just need more ways to view it. Having a recency option and also having a hotness by hour, 12 hours, 24 hours, week, month (to accomodate different time frames that people view it), along with the ability to filter it by circles could turn this page into a dynamo!
 
I completely agree with TH. Keep it simple, then add options.
 
+Matt Steiner regarding the photo organization tool. I can't use it because I can't use albums. If I create albums it double posts the photos into my stream. If I copy a neon photo of mine for example into a new album called neon signs, and somebody comments on it in that album, it will autospawn a whole new post in my stream for that photo. This fractures the comments around an image and is confusing. It also provides less value to viewers to see a dupe of a shot that they may have just seen 2 days ago all over again. It feels spammy. I think the answer is allow us to turn off the feature that a comment on a photo in an album spawns a new entry in our stream. We should have total control over what shows up in our stream. Giving us an option to turn that off would allow us the ability to organize with albums without the undesired consequence of spawning dupes.
 
+Thomas Hawk I hear what you're saying, but what you're describing just won't work with the underlying data model. I think we can achieve the same effect through a different change.
 
+Matt Steiner sounds great. I think albums have so much potential. I'd make some if it didn't spawn those new photos to my stream. I know these things are never as easy as you'd think though.

I'd make a TON if Google ever either built in SmartSets or published an API and someone super smart like +Jeremy Brooks came up with a version of SuprSetr for Google Photos. :) Jeremy's program really makes managing albums probably the very best feature that Flickr offers.
 
Hey - my kids are in this picture!
 
I hope that's OK Ivan. It was purely random (or algorithmic). Let me know if it's not. 
 
+Chris Nixon of course it is. To me that shows the algorithm is working, hehe..

Your point is a valid one. I saw this in the beginning - if one was not active right from the start, it became hard to catch the boat later. Right now it's hard to get exposure if one was to join now when everyone else already had so many followers.

But that was the same way with Flickr - it takes a while to build a following.
 
I think I learned more about Google+ reading this thread then I have learned in the last 6 months of being involved on here. Like you +Chris Nixon .... I think I've been "doing it all wrong". lol
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