Guys, this is worth your while to understand.

Thankfully, I haven't had to take myself off Google+ Chat, but I've considered it... I stay away from the creepy discussions.

Thank you +Michael O'Reilly!
Observations on Women (and Men) in Google+ Chat

Some number of weeks ago Google rolled out the Google+ Chat feature. When they did so, each person got a popup box to accept the feature, with the default setting allowing anyone in your circles to chat you up. I don't know exactly how many women I have in my circles, but a quick look indicates it's probably not unreasonable for me to call it "half" for purposes of this discussion. Over the course of the day that Google+ Chat debuted, my sidebar filled with users, roughly half men and half women, much like my circles. Over the course of the next few days that changed, with most of the women disappearing from the list.

In the month or so since that time, only 3 or 4 of the women in my circles have shown up in the chat list. When I noticed this, it occurred to me to message those women, and a few I knew had stopped being chattable, and ask their thoughts on the matter, though I had some presuppositions as to why women would be wary of being accessible. Then I found a funny thing. I was reluctant to message the women, as I didn't want to come across as a creepy guy on the Internet, even though I had a reasonable reason to contact them.

So instead of popping up a chat window, I wrote each of them a post shared just to them. Happily enough, each responded back and they were all happy to talk on the subject. +Sarah Rios was kind enough to point out that my question was just the sort of thing that would be reasonable to use Google+ Chat to discuss. Through my discussions, I gained several insights:

1. At least one woman (from my small sample set. I have to assume there are more) removed herself from public G+ Chat because she did, in fact, get some messages from guys that creeped her out. She was sufficiently unhappy with this that just blocking the guys involved was insufficient for her peace of mind.

2. Some women removed themselves from G+ Chat (or really tightly restricted it only to real-life friends) because they were concerned about the possibility of getting creepy messages, though they had not actually received any.

3. The women who remained accessible via G+ Chat had not received any creepy messages from guys, but recognized it as a possibility and were willing to selectively block should the need arise. +Sharon Strandskov pointed out "Sure, some men may hit on you, but that could happen pretty much anywhere."

4. Non-creepy guys (I am taking the liberty of categorizing myself as such. You may express disagreement should your opinion differ) may feel constrained from normal communication with women due to not wishing to accidentally be lumped in with creepy guys.

Now here's the unfortunate thing. Looking at all of those items highlights the point that enough guys send creepy messages to women on the Internet that both men and women are aware of the fact, and both men and women feel compelled to modify their behavior accordingly.

Women: We'd sure appreciate it if you'd give us the benefit of the doubt. Making Google+ Chat available to those in your circles (with the possible exception of any "probation" circle) gives us all the chance to communicate with each other. Hopefully your circles generally consist of people with whom you'd like to communicate anyway. If you have a LOT circled, then maybe restricting it down to family, friends, and any circles whose opinions and writing you value and with whom you'd probably like to chat given the opportunity.

Guys: Stop being creepy to women! You're giving the rest of us a bad name. Women are, in almost every case, not participating on Google+ in order to get a date. Don't act like it's a dating site. Don't come on strong. Don't make sex jokes if you've never before communicated. If you want to interact with women, be mature about it. Is that really so hard? The rest of us would sure appreciate it if you'd make the effort.

That's all I've got for now. If you've read this far, please feel free to post tips on other ways guys can avoid being creepy and women can be open to civil communication without being vulnerable to creeps. Thanks for reading!
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