G+ Kremlinology: estimating the desolation of Google's social media ghost-town



‘Ghost town’ is a bit rough, although I suppose it is suitably provocative as a headline.

Regardless of the damning stats, I’ve only ever found Google+ to be an active - even thriving - community. Perhaps I’ve somehow stumbled upon all the good and regularly participating users?

For me, Facebook is a mess of boring crap from family and friends that I can’t be bothered wading through. Twitter is a favourite, but it has limited capacity for me; the character limits and absence of decent discussion functions (nested replies, etc etc) make ongoing conversation a challenge - particularly between multiple users at a time.

Google+ then is a great middle-ground, functionally. It acts like Twitter in that it’s more of an open stream of public discourse (depending on how you choose to utilise your circles, of course), but it has the more capable discussion power that you get from Facebook.

People have railed against Google+ for all the shittiest reasons, with the valid exception, I suppose, of the idea that it exists only to mine your data, but surely you didn’t think FB and Twitter have more angelic intentions - while ignoring its potential.

But, ah well. It does the job for me. I’ve met great people on Google+ that I wouldn’t otherwise have the privilege of knowing, and interacting with them actively every day has been a real treat.


It’s too bad that things which had nothing to do with the quality of the product/service itself pulled the rug out, because G+ does a lot of things quite well, especially compared to F*ceb**k.


Google Puss is more like it…

The full-post view is displaying everything twice.


I tried. I really tried to get into G+, but it wasn’t captivating. It wasn’t visually appealing; not even in the simplistic way that Google search results are. Even Google Finance has a nicer view of the information presented.

And, for what it’s worth, Ello has the same problem.


Don’t forget requiring G+ for leaving Google Play app feedback, even if you’re logged in with a Google account. Another bit of pointless blackmail that just made (and still makes) people resentful.

There are some major advantages to having it be a self-selected group of hardcore nerds, rather than your parents. Makes for a very clubby and mostly low noise environment*. The lingering fear, of course is that Google will axe it entirely like it has with so many other things… so for that reason Google +ers feel compelled to defend it vigorously even though they’d resent an actual influx of active users.

*Edit: This leads to other problems, but it’s nice when you’re part of the served group.


More than anything, i felt like it was simply bad timing for Google. After migrating from my space, I dont believe the heard was ready to jump to another format so quickly. What incentive was there to jump?

Most of my old sharebros/gals from the Google News Reader are still there, so I drop in once in a while to check out what they are doing. A few of us moved on to other places like The Old Reader where we try to keep up our old asynchronous repartee, but generally fail…
Visiting Plus is still much a better experience for me than visiting Facebook.


Two words: Critical mass.

The stupid invitation thing on rollout made it impossible to get on it, and later, it was impossible to get my friends on it. I desperately wanted it to work. I still want to get off Facebook, and I still know virtually no one who uses G+.

The media keeps reporting that the culprit is a real names policy. There are a lot more people on Facebook with their real names than not. I’m sorry, but that’s not what kept those people off G+. You want to start a social network? Free advice: Get it to fill up as quickly as possible. Fuck reliability. If it crashes due to volume, you make the news and other people come to see what the fuss is about. It’s a ready-made headline, “New Social Network Goes Offline Due to High Demand.” Google didn’t want to take a risk well worth taking. That was their mistake. Anything else is icing on this particular crap cake.


Posted on Ello - nice touch…


Too bad, too. When my career took a turn towards more customer-facing, I did an audit of all the social networks and decided that G+ was really the only one I could trust with my real name. I deleted everything, eventually creating only a Facebook account again just to access pages and groups that I had no other way of participating in.

While it’s true that G+ exists to mine ever more of your data, you can at least be pretty sure that you’re not accidentally over-sharing information when you post something.

That and Facebook is unbelievably evil when it comes to trying to get you to spend more time on facebook, and increase your circles ever farther. Some things I noticed over the years:

  1. You log onto facebook from your house. Then, a friend who is visiting (or maybe even a neighbor) hops on your wifi and accesses facebook. You are not facebook friends, nor do you share any common friends. That person is now recommended repeatedly as a friend suggestion, even if you ignore it.

  2. If you stop spending as much time on Facebook, it will start mining your usage stats for whose profile(s) you look at the most and start emailing you their status updates. This is clearly some sort of scheduled task on their side, because it might, say, email you at 2 in the morning about someone’s post that they posted 10 days prior.

  3. The constant reminders to input more personal details, if you haven’t filled them out. Where you went to school, when you graduated, where you work, etc.

I’ve never felt “monetized” by G+. Every time I test to see if my permissions are still working how I want them to, they still are. For the most part, it does all the stuff I want it to do, without any extra BS. I actually like the integration with my contacts on Google Talk.

I don’t have to worry about friends of mine from college tagging me in stupid drunken party pictures from almost 10 years ago, and having customers or other work contacts accidentally see them.

My biggest complaint is that there’s not more people on G+. But, I tell people that if they want to friend me on social media, they need to do it on G+. If I have to participate on Facebook (like a vacation I took with friends this summer), I will friend them for the duration of the event, and then de-friend them.


If G+ can not succeed in the context of Facebook’s colossal suck, then there is no hope.


Their marketing campaign to entice users was “Fuck you. Log in.”

That they persisted with the strong-arm G+ nonsense for so long is what really soured me on Google as a whole.


same here. my G+ feed is thriving, and full of lots of interesting things every day. most of the posts i see are NOT public – they are within circle communities. i think judging its success or failure based on the amount of public posts is missing the forest for the trees.


This is definitely a weakness of the analysis. Almost all the posts in my feed are shared privately, and thus wouldn’t show up. OTOH, I know a bunch of Googlers, and they all manage social events via G+, and that’s my main use for it (besides making my Nexus 5 useful).

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G+ certainly isn’t facebook. Thank god. So, yes, G+ is terrible, and all of you should definitely stay away from it. It’s just awful that we can actually communicate with, for example, app developers, without having to deal with all the trolls. So please, all of you, stick to facebook. Okay?


This has been my experience with G+ too. Other than tumblr it’s the social network I’m most active in and the only one where an actual discussion ever happens.

I find that most of these G+ articles come from people who haven’t really tried to understand the network and how the community works there. G+ isn’t a shout to the wind. It’s more like walking into a conference: you have to go and talk to people before people talk to you if that makes sense.


Yeah, the problem is that “Google+ probably has about four million active users, which is actually an awful lot of people, but we all know that Google must have been hoping for more like a billion so we’re sure it’s a drastic disappointment.” doesn’t have that je ne sais quoi.


From my POV, all the action on G+ is in the “groups.” And this post does not address the group communities. As a frequent poster, I’ve found some value - but a deeper more robust investment from the Google team would certainly be appreciated.