Sunday, April 27, 2014

Rant against Google Plus !

Disclaimer :

First, this post is obvioulsy not about Android, but rather on google+.

Next, Google Plus is my social network of choice.
I hardly read Facebook, and I'm a passive user of twitter (ie I read there, but never write any message ).

So I'm essentially using Google Plus. I almost exclusively have a quasi professional use : as a vector to read and participate to news I'm interested in, techno geek things : game development, development in general, Android, web development, ...

The promise of Google plus :

I was interested in G+ for one main reason : the circles.
I always wanted to behave differently depending on the people I'm with.
I won't have the same conversations with work friends, school friends, family, hobbies friends... 
So I don't want to share the same things with all these different people.
That's why I was so interested in G+, the possibity to have different circles, and to choose who I want to share my messages with.

Reality Check :

I've been using G+ for 2 years, and I'm not really using it as I wanted.
Actually, as I already said, I'm using it exclusively for technology things.
I don't use it at all for my family, for my friends, for anything else...

Even worst : I advice my friends and family NOT to follow me !

Why ?
Because, I'm quite active on G+, posting more than one post a day, on technology subjects, and publicly shared.
If my friends and family followed me, they would be spammed with post on C++, Unity3D, and Android that they would obvioulsy not understand, and not be interested in.
So in order to protect them, I prefer them not to follow me !

Actually, G+ is useful only if you only have one point of interest, if you only want to show one face to your audience.

Where is the promise ? You can read on G+ website :
"Circles make it easy to share the right things with the right people, just like in real life".
This just becomes untrue once you start sharing publicly.

Workarounds :

I'm obviously not the only one with this issue, so how are people dealing with this problem :

Just posting on several subjects, and let your audience read only what they interested in :
For instance I'm following Romain Guy, a former Android developer. But half of his posts are about his passion for photography. Hopefully, he is not spamming with messages, so it's okay ( and he posts great photos :) ), but that's not what I was interested in in the first time.
It's surely not a good solution if you post a lot, and care about your audience.

Posting in private :
That's a possibility that a lot of people are using : when people connect to your profile, ask them what they are interested in, put them in the associated circle(s), and only post in private for specific circles.
The issue here is that privately shared post can't be reshared and they can be read by people that are not in your circle. 
So it lowers your visibility on G+, and creates some artifical barriers in the information diffusion.

Having several accounts :
One can create an account for techno things, one account for family, one account for friends.
But it sounds like a painful thing to keep on changing account every now and then, as our google account is now central in our web experience ( as we're using Chrome / gmail / G+ / Android Phones / ... )

And I think it's forbidden by Google Term of use.

Solutions ?

I'm not here to explain google guys how to do their jobs, and I do completely understand it's not an easy problem.
To be efficient, G+ should be as accessible as possible, and I'm sure any solution would add complexity.

But I feel like something like "public circles" should be possible. 
Current circles are a perfectly good solution, but they only work for private posts.
So why not create some public circles, and let your audience choose which public circles they want to subscribe to ?

I'm sure Google have a lot of talented UX specialists that can come with a better solution, my point is still that I can't use G+ as much as I would like to.
As G+ is becoming more and more important for Google and for the user experience, it may be important to find a solution for this problem.

 ( Also Posted on G+ )

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