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The problem with Google plus, it's not about you

10:53 am on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

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Google plus was designed to be all about you, about your world, search plus your world so to speak... but that's not a tool many asked for or wanted from Google given it existed in other forms already (Myspace for music, facebook for profiles, twitter for a maintenance free audience etc). It's about them (others with agendas), not you, more often than not. The stated goal of the "tool" created by Google doesn't always(often?) match the use people have for it.

Example: Matt Cutts

Matt is, regardless of anyone's personal opinion, a stand up guy who wears it on his sleeve so to speak. Not perfect but you can take him at face value with what he says (knowing he can't or doesn't say everything) and he's interesting. He's also one of the more brave Google employees who is using the plus network publicly. Most Google execs do not.

You can find a link to Matt's profile on his website (mattcutts.com) at the bottom (the link is called 'buzz'?) Visiting Matts profile a moment ago illustrated that Google plus is more about you than about Matt. I think it illustrates exactly what is wrong with Google plus in a nutshell, let me elaborate.

- The first post is about Matt being homesick and sending a postcard to his cats. While cute the comment thread quickly turns to things related to websites ending with a post from someone upset that their robots.txt file is indexed. Started out about Matt, ended up about others.

- The second post is about cats, while the comments vear into webmasterdom they are skillfully veered back towards cats. Matt was online for the bulk of the comments it looks like. Comments by people like "How To Articles" are indeed about cats, this one is a winner. sortof.

- The third post is of Matt publicly outing Jef Poskanzer as having been banned from adsense which led Nelson Minar (former Googler and one of the creators of the Ads API) to give up on defending Google and elaborating why(link provided by Matt himself). [somebits.com...]
I can't easily imagine Jef Poskanzer was click-spamming AdSense, while at the same time I trust the judgment and abilities of the AdSense team.
Effectively he defends his position while being clear he's not in the know despite it being his profile in which he initiates the outing of a now former adsense publisher.

It's not about Matt, again. You can hopefully see where this is heading. Google plus, though supposed to be all about you and your world, is stuck with the same problem that plagues many similar sites in that it is rarely about you, it's about others and how you impact THEM.

Privacy - People who are already your friend would not need a privacy clause and those who aren't will rarely attempt to become genuinely friendly without motive. The entire network, though supposed to be about you, is rarely about you and worse, it's a tool to use you to further the agendas of others.

A fix - privacy. Even though we all make up one big happy community we each live in our own homes with walls blocking out the rest of the world to retreat to in comfort. Google plus doesn't give you that, there is no retreat because it's not about you. Your profile is being used 24/7 for whatever reasons OTHERS decide to use it for.

A solution - make your profile available to the world ONLY WHEN YOU ARE ONLINE TO PARTICIPATE. Matt's profile is most closely tied to what could be considered the intended result of Google+ when he is online and moderating it. When he's not... it's ugly. There is a lesson to be learned in that.
6:42 pm on Feb 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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Those are good examples, thanks.

It's early days as far as i can see, however, apart from the Google look and feel about it, it's pretty much a FB clone, but potentially far more public.