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Google Already had a Like Button (and other redundancy) (gosdot.com)
103 points by jongos on June 18, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

He's right. That's a lot of redundancy. Google should integrate +1 with all their services, which I assume was their plan all along. What I'm not so sure of is if they were planning on keeping the other "likes". I sure hope not.

They also need to figure out more ways in which a +1 can be useful to the user. It just makes their search a bit better? I don't think that's enough.

EDIT: The reason I'm saying that is because, I don't think "making search better" should be the main "feature" of +1. Think of it this way. Say I were a regular user of Bing. And last I heard they are using Facebook likes to improve the search results, make them more social and so on.

Now the question is - would I start liking stuff just because I want my search results to be improved or because I want my friends to see what web pages I like on Bing? Probably not.

If anything I'll like a page because:

1) I want to let the publisher know that I like the article/page

2) I want my friends on Facebook to see I liked it

I think people are using +1 now just for the first reason, and it doesn't seem that compelling to me. Pressing the +1 button feels like you're upvoting a comment on Engadget, and it probably mostly gets impulse clicks. But if this is all it does, then I doubt the +1 button will be more used than a Retweet or Like.

Also, I'm not sure what Google's grand social strategy is, but there seems to be one strong correlation between successful social networks (Twitter, Facebook) and revolutions. So Google would need to ask themselves: Can +1/our social strategy be used in a country that wants to do a revolution, and help them achieve that revolution with its help?

Maybe if they integrate it in Youtube, and 10,000 Iranian people +1 one video on it, it would appear at the top of many Iran related Google searches? That might work. Either way, I feel that passing this revolution test will be the difference between a successful social strategy and a bad one, because I think that if a social network can pass this test, it also means it can be useful for a lot of other social things, too.

I also hope they're going to redesign the Profiles page if that's where they intend to let you see all the +1's, and that they streamline the Profiles URL.

They could arguably expand it into a full-blown social bookmarking service (in which case it would be adorable if they implemented the ability to +1 privately).

EDIT: Think of a dashboard, a homepage to the internet. Not in the Reddit sense, nor in the Netvibes sense. Something between Tumblr and Pinboard, maybe.

>Think of a dashboard,

Maybe some sort of web portal?

I think the Like button is against Google's DNA which is why all these initiatives seem half assed. Google doesn't want to rely on users to say what they like. Instead Google looks at actual user behavior by examining logs. It's the same reason Google resists limiting or anonymizing logs. It's also the reason Google did the "unthinkable" by combining its cookie with Double Click's - Google derives enormous value by analyzing actual user behavior across both on Google's own sites and across every other site with Google's ads. Asking the user to self report by clicking a button every time seems primitive in comparison and not worth pursuing.

Google is organized like software: modularized and broken up into autonomous units (like old HP). It's very likely nobody at Google has the oversight to see the big picture user experience and more importantly the authority to make it a good one. Who can force Youtube, Buzz, Reader, etc to work together to make one great voting feature?

At Facebook they have the correct view that their entire end-user facing experience is their single product with individual features simply being parts of a whole. Google should take this same view because users don't care how much Google engineers enjoy their autonomy or how cool it is to work there. Unlike Google itself, users see every Google branded product as using a single site or app. Users most likely use more than one component of Google and it's how those components work together that make up the total overall user experience of Google.

The excuse of "well that's another division" simply doesn't matter and is a poor excuse. Apple and Facebook don't seem to have this same problem. Apple has been around longer, and Facebook has grown faster.

So what's the fix? Create a UX design team with true authority? Is it well past time for Google to grow up and start acting like the billion dollar money machine they are? Or maybe I'm way off base. Google is still printing money even with their sub par user experience and total lack of social clout. Maybe they should just stick to what they're good at like Facebook and Apple seem to do.

This is a symptom of the strongly autonomous teams that Google uses.

Autonomous teams are great in that allow the team to control their own destiny. However, they don't make for a great cross-product experience.

The alternative is the Microsoft way - where all products are supposed to work together and support each other. The problem there is that Microsoft is very, very slow to ship stuff as everything needs to be synchronized.

Facebook has it easy - they only have one product. Apple has this problem occasionally, but doesn't have the breadth of product Google has.

(I'd note that many people think Google should become more startup like. In effect, that is asking for more chaotic product development - no startup co-ordinates feature releases across as many products as Google has to)

The teams maybe autonomous in Google but I'm sure that they are aware that they are duplicating functionality and thus really harming the company. What the heck the are product managers and their managers doing at Google? Building their own little empires?

What the heck the are product managers and their managers doing at Google? Building their own little empires?

It's not as simple as that. In every case, if you look carefully there are good reasons why each version operates like it does. Each team is trying to make the best possible product. The lack of oversight doesn't necessarily indicate empire building.

I though th writer was going to say that clicking on a search result is a decent proxy for +1. Returning quickly could be -1/2.

Yes, it was called PageRank.

surely google's real "plus one" is it's page rank. a mechanism which is far more sophisticated and less prone to fickle bias.

why do we need an additional method to say "i like this website". the backlinks and google's original algorithm back in 1996 was supposed to be this innovation.

Honest question: the reason for such redundancy and overlap is because different Google teams want/have independence, because they can't communicate with each other and reach an agreement, or because they're afraid to piss off users with radical changes?

Synchronizing efforts has both costs and benefits. Costs are frequently underestimated, especially if you're outside looking in and aren't the one paying them. Communication has the well-known problem of tending to scale like n^2 (though I'm inclined to think it's somewhat more like 1.6, it's still a polynomial growth), and synchronizing two teams often ends up building more than just a leader <-> leader link, let alone three or more teams. It's easy to say "it should be done", it's a lot harder to actually pay the costs. Benefits are often oversold, too; yes, perhaps in this case Google is missing out on some huge opportunity, but even if that is true (which I'm dubious about), it would be the exception, not the rule.

Sometimes the costs still outweigh the benefits, sure, but it's often a more subtle analysis than it first appears. Imposing excessive synchronization requirements is a seductively easy path to some bad problems.

I have no inside knowledge of Google, but the mere fact of their size and general success puts a bound on how much synchronization between teams is even theoretically possible.

I'm puzzled by this too, especially with ChromeOS/Android.

The Google toolbar used to have a happy and sad face you could click on. Where that went or what it did, who knows...

Wait I found the answer: http://searchenginewatch.com/article/2048181/Google-Adds-Spa...

They probably already use these metrics, but there was no equivalent to the Facebook like button. I personally use neither of them, and when you look at the numbers of the FB-Likes always very low.

Can't like and +1 mean different things? I mean, I might like the YouTube video about the rooster crowing for an extended period of time, but in no way would I +1 it.

Sure. My point isn't that +1 should be all things social for Google, rather why isn't there +1 button on YouTube or in Reader? If it were there, people would use it. And if there are buttons there that aren't being used, such as 'like' and 'share', get rid of them. If they all get used, great.

It just seems like a great way to create a more unified social experience for users to leverage the thing that's working - +1.

google also records which search results are clicked by the end users, which is simply an implicit "like" button that was there since the beginning.

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