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Google+ Product Idea: Hubs

Right now there are several disconnects on Google+.
The main ones as I see it: intentionality, topicality, noise, curation.
IMHO Hubs would solve all these problems.

People share posts to limited groups but the people who see those posts might not immediately know why the post is being shared with them. Right now (maybe this will change?) Sparks are divorced from people, they're mostly a dumb Google Blog Search on topics (as a big GReader fan I'd love to see linkblog integration but that's a topic for another post). Having a way to allow discussion around a topic would be ideal (and I know would appease +Robert Scoble) And being able to center a discussion around a topic as opposed to a person or circle of people would reduce the noise and increase curation (a la Tumblr Explore).

A Hub would essentially be a subscribe-able public Circle. It would function like a group blog, Google Group, Tumblr Explore, Twitter List, hash tag etc. The same way you would add a Circle to a post, you could add a Hub. Or if you want to just add a Hub and no Circles, this would only push the content to people who follow that Hub (like an @reply on Twitter, only people who follow both you and the person you're directing your content to will see it.) i.e. Friends who follow the Hub would see your Hub-only share in their normal Stream, and anyone who follows the Hub would see your Hub-only share in the Hub stream, but wouldn't show up in the stream of your regular Circles.

Example: I have a bunch of comedy friends, we like to goof around and share funny videos and also put shows on together occasionally. If we were all members of a Hub, both us and our fans would have a central place to discuss things related to our comedy. Like with Facebook Fan pages or Tumblr Explore, Hub pages would have two tabs. One for posts by Hub members, the other for all posts to a Hub. The second tab would be like following a hash tag on twitter. Anyone (fans etc.) who have something interesting the Hub might appreciate could post there ("loved the show last month! here's a clip of the best sketch.") Hub members could reshare them to the front page of the hub ("if you didn't catch the show, check out this clip!"). Members of the Hub could also do Limited posts that only members of the Hub could see ("here's an article that has information I think would help our show's interstitials.")

And with G+ currently eschewing vanity URLs there could be any number of Hubs on similar topics which IMO is good because no one person/group could own a broad topic. You might find you like one Shakespeare Hub more than another.

A nomanclature note: Hub may be too close to Circle but I like the idea of the centrality of a Hub so w/e.

Separate but related product idea: Like publicly subscribebale Twitter lists, users would be able to create publicly visible Circles (e.g. "College Friends") as a way for friends new to G+ to do one-click circle creation. This would create an identically named and populated circle in this new user's Circle list that they could tweak and have be private and personal like normal Circles. This is more of a quick start way to help friends get their social networks up and running. These circles wouldn't be public and moderated like Hubs.

I don't work at google nor do I have any close friends who do, so I have no idea what their big plan is for G+, something like this may already be on their roadmap, it may not. This is just my fever dream of an idea of what I'd like to see.

EDIT: If anyone at Google wants to hire me to PM this, I'll listen to offers. ;)
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David Colahan's profile photoErik Youngren's profile photoShara Karasic's profile photoMatt Stratton's profile photo
18 comments
 
Love the idea..I think Google has a lot of room to grow and improve within G+
 
I like it. I would like to see both public and private hubs, so that even the people in my circle can opt in or out of certain topics without me needed to police which people want certain kinds of information (sports, news, etc) and which ones do not. I think this would meet the 'hashtag' need that G+ currently has.
 
+Joshua Taranowski That would be ideal. All this could happen and people who wanted this kind of experience could opt-in to it while others who just want the basic FB like experience would never need to worry about. That would appeal to a broad spectrum of people and not piss off anyone in the process.
 
This makes a lot of sense. At this stage in G+ things like "following" people without wanting to actually share stuff with them when you do a post to all circles doesn't actually exist and I'm sure annoys people getting followed when they are constantly getting spammed by strangers. The incoming stream helps in this regard but think stronger separation between passive listeners and active participants needs to be in place and I think doing such things through a proxy like hubs works quite well.
 
As already posted elsewhere, if they did go with hashtags I think ++TopicName would be the most logical semantic.
 
I like the idea. I think Hubs would certainly be possible as a collection of posts in a ++Topic. They would simply persist as something more tangible than a simple search query (even though in implementation that may be just what they are.) You would simply have a circle you didn't create that was backed by a search query on a ++Topic. There may be UX implications on the differences between having a real Circle you post to versus having ++Topic preset in the post in order to appear in the Hub (or maybe some mixture of both?)

I do agree though, Hub would fit nicely in their current Circles model. I'm on the fence whether the content of the post should have anything to do with where the post shows up, since Google+ didn't necessarily take that route.
 
Be sure to tell them this via the Feedback button!
 
Sounds like a great concept that fits perfectly between the Circles Stream and what I imagine Sparks is meant to be.
 
I would prefer a powerful google+ API to let others develop different applications or websites to make users, posts and comments surround together with specific interests, topics and application areas. That's the way a platform is.
 
My point is that google+ should focus on core functions, flexibility and keep it neat.
 
My point is that they haven't turned on every feature of Google+ yet. There's a reason for the "Send feedback" button. We're all participating in a closed beta.
 
I hope so. Both Public and Private hubs seem a very logical way to let people opt in and out of things (like the endless stream of baby pictures I expect to upload shortly) without offending anyone or forcing people to constantly police their own lists. I would very much like to be able to tag a post as ++BabyPictures and only have that post show to the people (still in the circles that I have selected) that opt-ed in to see them. They could opt-out or re-opt-in at any time.
 
Lets hope so. I know on that 'other' social site, I very much wish that people could already tag their posts with things like:
++SportIDontFollow, ++NewsStoryIDontCareAbout, ++GameIDontPlay, ++OpposingPoliticalParty

I would recipricate by tagging my posts as ++BabyPictures, ++ScienceNews, ++GeekHumor, ++PaleoDiet, ++CrossFit

In this way I could filter out my 'News Feed' and opt-out of posts on topics that I am just not interested in.

I would also feel better posting dozens of ++BabyPictures because people could mute these or unmute them if they wanted to.

The circles work well for limiting the base list of people that can see your post. The hubs or hashtags help to filter the stream.

These hubs or hashtags could be either public or private, and as +Sarah Pavis points out they would be distinct.

For example, the [Joshua Taranowski++Shakespeare] hub/hashtag is different than the [Sarah Pavis++Shakespeare] hub/hashtag. These could be two independant and private hubs that are only used by people in these circles to filter content they see in their stream from the people posting. {To be clear on this, I mean that when I use the ++Shakespeare tag in my post, it applies to my private hub, and when Sarah uses it, it applies to her private hub.}

The [Cleveland Playhouse's ++Shakepeare] hub/hashtag could be a public hub with corporate ownership, owned of course by the +Cleveland Playhouse theater, but visible to anyone that added [Cleveland Playhouse] to their circles and subscribed to the [Cleveland Playhouse's ++Shakepeare] stream.

The completely public and unmanaged [Public++Shakespeare] hub/hashtag would work like the pure Twitter hashtag, with no ownership and would be open to public posts by anyone.

As +Kevin Medeiros points out, the typical user could ignore hashtags alltogether, not be bothered and enjoy the more open and vicarous nature of the 'other' social network. Power users (and people with large fan bases or thousands of followers) could more acurately control both their incomming stream and the posts they push to users. I imagine when corporate people are on here, one user might want to see posts from [SlashDot++Apple] and other users might only want [SlashDot++Windows] rather than follow 'everything' that they posted.
Cris Wo
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Great ideas Sarah (and Joshua). As a former Google Wave enthusiast, I've spent many an hour brainstorming and discussing ways to take Wave and make it into the ultimate communication tool. That was not time well spent. Google+, like Wave has a lot of potential to be the central communications hub for private and public conversations if Google can stay focused long enough to make it work. I hope they can add a lot of power and features like what you're suggesting and manage to make the UI simpler.
 
Sorry for the late reply Sarah, I've been getting more email than I can read. I saved yours for some evening reading since it was a sizable post. I think of your "hub" idea as query based circles + query based streams with hash tags added. It also fits into the "improve the following model". I think there are a lot of great ideas, and I really appreciate the thought you put into helping improve our product. Thanks for the suggestions.
 
Fantastic to see. Amazed to see real people respond so quickly. 
 
I see it more as Groups or there was a Shared Circle term. To me it's less important who created a Hub/Group/Shared Circle. What is important, that instead of me, and ten of my friends creating each their own "My Dog" Circle, there is only need for one shared "Our Dogs" circle to which each of our dog-lovers group subscribe.

But there is also another way to manage posting by topics. It was called a Facet and described in posts by Peter Arrenbrecht http://goo.gl/CFubb and John Hardy http://goo.gl/C03ix.


Facets would allow a user to advertise his topics (feeds) in advance and allow people to subscribe to Facets (associate them with their circles or overall stream, so that you, for example, could put my JavaScript Facet in one of your Circles and my g+ Facet into another.

Facets are not Shared Circles, but Shared Circles/Groups sounds like a good idea. Is it possible and does it make sense to use both of them?