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New Data: Google+ Public Posts Decrease by 41% Over Past Two Months (89n.com)
55 points by zemaj on Sept 15, 2011 | hide | past | favorite | 91 comments

I used the hell out of it. Every day. And then the Real Name debacle happened. And I thought, "There's no way Google would screw this up. They'll retract any day now."

And here we are today. Early this week, I decided that was it. They obviously aren't going to see sense, and I can't risk losing my account. So I've stopped posting. I don't even check it, except when someone replies to something I've already posted.

If it weren't for Real Name, I think it'd be a lot more popular.

Say what you like about Facebook, but if they ban your account, you don't lose your email, documents, calendar, etc etc etc. You can't say that about Google.

I did the same thing. I can't even explain why but I lost all enthusiasm for it right at that point even though I was using my real name. The whole thing just seemed less interesting, less like a platform and more like a ploy, less new and more same-old-same-old. I think I also knew at that point that while conversation on G+ may be more civil it will be a lot less interesting. Certainly I was never going to discuss some of the more out-of-my-comfort-zone topics that I nonetheless find interesting there if I had to do it under my real name. I wasn't actively thinking this, but I just stopped checking it all of a sudden. Maybe I just got bored but I really think the real name debacle pushed it over a threshold somehow.

> Say what you like about Facebook, but if they ban your account, you don't lose your email, documents, calendar, etc etc etc. You can't say that about Google.

That's a little harsh. The people being banned from G+ aren't losing their whole accounts (well, not intentionally anyway). To do that you have to exhibit a level of maliciousness far beyond using a non-real name.

Is it harsh? I've found nothing that says you keep the rest of your account.

"When you get your account suspended on Google Plus, you lose Google Reader, your Google Profile (it is deleted from Google search) and any Picasa photos and photo albums." - http://www.zdnet.com/blog/violetblue/google-plus-too-much-un...

Google's own statement on what happens is just barely vague enough that I consider it subject to change at yesterday's moment's notice.

I think I also knew at that point that while conversation on G+ may be more civil it will be a lot less interesting.

Real Name policies don't necessarily make discussion more civil. Less of the low-grade trolling (throwaway posts lined with racial slurs) occurs, of course, but when people have reputations to defend the flamewars that do occur get a bit nastier and last a bit longer. Arguments that people would walk away from under anonymous conditions tend to spin out of control. There's an upper bound on the ugliness of an anonymous discussion that people break through when real identities come out.

Wikipedia has something like a Real Names policy: various by-laws that pertain to personal identity. This is because (a) decisions are made based on consensus rather than correctness, and "sock puppets" corrupt this process, (b) they have a hideously badly-conceived "3 revert rule" which is supposed to apply on a per-person basis (but actually means edit wars are won by the person who has taken the time to cultivate/level-grind convincing sock puppets), and (c) blocks and bans are supposed to apply to people, not accounts. What this means in practice is that an easy way to shut down an opponent is to accuse him of someone else's identity, and an easy way to grab power one hasn't earned is to cultivate sock puppets that look like other people (as pretty much all of Wikipedia's "admins" do). It's a revolting failure, and community problems are the major reason why Wikipedia is starting to decline.

"Say what you like about Facebook, but if they ban your account, you don't lose your email, documents, calendar, etc etc etc. You can't say that about Google."

You can say that about Google if you move your services out. I did that. I saw it as a choice between Google's superior mail, calendar and docs, with risk of losing it all, against any number of good enough choices, with no Google risk at all.

I used to rant and wish, along with lots of others, for tighter integration among Google services. Well, there's a dark side to that. I'm currently a fan of one egg per basket.

I've left my account intact (as far as I know) for the few Google groups I've sub'ed, and in case I need to use it in the future, but I haven't logged in for weeks. I don't miss it.

For me, the GMail interface is just too nice. The other stuff... Meh. I can replace it with other things that are probably better. But not GMail.

Changing your online life just to use Google+ is not worth it, is it?

Why does Google requiring a real name bug everyone, but not when Facebook requires it? I don't understand this outrage at all.

- Eric Florenzano

Because it's in direct conflict with what Google+ was advertised to be.

The core advantage of Google+, as marketed by Google, is to allow you to separate different parts of your life and keep privacy between them. You can keep in contact with people from work, from your private life, whatever -- and keep them all separate. This deals with the primary perceived flaw in Facebook: hardly any users cared about what Facebook knew about them, but they were very worried about what other people knew about them.

But often "keeping them separate" means not giving your real name. Artists using pseudonyms is the most common example, but there's many others: every day, millions of people take part in communities that they would not want to say at work that they were part of. Sometimes it's related to sexual fetishes/kink, unusual hobbies, fandom, or even things like sexual orientation.

Even with "circles", if the people in group B know you by the same name as the people in group A (say, work), you have no privacy at all. All it takes is one person from Group B to look up your real name and contact someone, and the separation is completely broken.

The idea of Google+ was to solve this problem: whether it's to avoid telling their coworkers about that drunken party last night, to maintain the personal privacy of a popular artist, or to avoid telling a bigoted boss that they're homosexual. This is what Google+ was supposed to do. But if people are required to use real names, Google+ doesn't actually solve this problem at all. It's just Facebook by a different name.

Exactly this. Also, because their public rationale for this policy is so obviously bullshit. If they're willing to lie to me about this, what else are they willing to do?

> Even with "circles", if the people in group B know you by the same name as the people in group A (say, work), you have no privacy at all

The communities that you mention exist IRL; do people use pseudonyms in real life in an attempt to protect their privacy? In my experience people nearly always go by their real name, even when they are doing things that they really wouldn't want their workplace to know about.

Why would someone contact your work to tell them that you were part of an unusual community? What would your work even say if a random person came and told them that? What you are describing sounds like it only applies if you are doing something so extreme and socially unacceptable that a random stranger who sees them on the street would think "I need to make sure this person doesn't get away with doing this".

I already said it. Because if Facebook bans me, I only lose Facebook. If G+ bans me, I lose multiple services, including 1 that is integral to my online identity.

I thought it was clear that a G+ ban does not affect gmail/docs/calendar/etc.

It's far from clear. Everything I've seen says otherwise. Please provide a citation.


If your profile is suspended, you will not be able to make full use of Google services that require an active profile such as Google+, Buzz, Reader and Picasa. This will not prevent you from using other Google services, like Gmail.

From the zdnet article, it sounds like the Gmail lockouts were unintentional.

[1] http://www.google.com/support/+/bin/answer.py?answer=1228271

That seems orthogonal to me. How is putting all one's eggs in one basket related to a pedantic requirement upon registration?

Because using G+ at all is vaguely risky to a vague subset of your Google services. People who have followed the rules to the letter have been suspended. Sure you can appeal. Maybe most people who do so win their appeal. But there is risk.

Because my brother's real name on facebook is currently "Penelope Wilbert Turnip". Facebook don't give two hoots, but G+ would.

It stretches into the debate about what a "real name" is, which far too many people have argued more eloquently than I could.

My guess: because it seems to bug tech people more than non-tech people, and G+ seems disproportionately tech people.

Facebook doesn't seem to enforce it.

Great question.

When Facebook started, Real Name policies weren't needed because the purpose was social networking on a college campus. A few "joke" profiles were created but, in general, non-RN profiles were ignored and therefore harmless. By the time Facebook officially set a Real Name policy in place, it had established momentum and a (somewhat negative) reputation.

The reason for the moral double standard is that people love Google and hate Facebook. Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil" and the company has done an admirable job of following that policy. Facebook is expected to be "evil" (in the Microsoft sense, not the Pol Pot sense, of the word) so a heavy-handed RN policy might disappoint people, but it's not a surprise.

What's actually behind a Real Name policy isn't "evil" so much as a bizarre and unenforceable mandate: You Must Use This Utility As A Social Networking Site. It's a very mandarin attempt to impose culture from the top down, when we know from experience that culture is emergent and can't be imposed on people without pissing them off.

I went one step further and killed my account last week.

I went a step further still and divested myself entirely of Google services. The real name debacle made me realize just how dependent on a single company I'd become and how little recourse I might have if that company cut me off. This was particularly troubling given how Kakfaesque Google's "support" is.

So now my eggs are strewn around in several independent baskets and I intend to keep it that way.

Some postings on how people distribute their eggs and into what baskets would be interesting.

For email I went to fastmail.fm.

Blogging I'm now doing at WordPress and also a static Jekyll blog on S3.

Contacts I'm keeping in Address Book and backing up by hand.

Calendar I'm just keeping on my Phone and backing up by hand.

I'm still figuring out what to do with Picasa. May just go for static galleries on S3.

I use NewsFire on my Macbook instead of Reader.

I'm using DuckDuckGo for searching.

I never really used Google Docs anyway so that was easy.

I still use Chrome but I've turned off everything (I think!) that sends my data to Google.

All in all this is more work than a single, centralized account but I feel better about it.

well, i decided to drop gmail because of this (at first i dropped search, but nothing else was as good at the time and search is pretty much critical for my work - and i still use disconnect, ghostery and adblock plugins, so my search and browsing in general are anonymous-ish).

i looked around for a different provider. the best i found was http://www.runbox.com/ - it wasn't as good, but it was the closest (the main feature missing was tags; their support was very good).

but in the end i ended up handling email myself (on a linux box). it's very much not the equivalent, in that i use a console client (mutt). but the part that i most needed - search - works well using mairix http://www.rpcurnow.force9.co.uk/mairix/ (very fast, flexible command line tool for searching maildirs).

unfortunately this doesn't generalise well - i can't imagine most people would be as happy using command line/curses based tools or configuring their own email services.

Oh how I miss MH. :) I'd use it now, except I've really gotten used to html email.

Yes! I've seen several times how people say that they'ev abandoned Google services and moved on.. but never to where.

Like, what's an alternative to syncing your own calendar and so on.

Nice tip on runbox.com.

I've been compiling a list of places that I could move to and use my own domain.

So far I had:

lavabit.com fastmail.fm zoho.com domains.live.com

Might give them all a go and report back in a Jekyll created blog post on S3 :-)

Seconded. I'm a bit interested in this, myself. Are there any comparable email services? Or calendar?

I started a thread at the top level: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2999815

Maybe you could start a spreadsheet on Google Docs. :)

How exactly do you do that? I don't see a way to just remove G+.

I did. You can remove your Google+ account but still keep all other services (I still use Adwords and Analytics).

If you're not going to completely leave, then I would recommend leaving your G+ account intact, and just don't use it anymore. Delete your posts and pictures if you like, but don't delete the account itself.

I believe I recall reading Google itself saying that if you delete your G+ account, that has the same effect as if Google had suspended your account (whatever that means from day to day).

So I believe, whether you self-terminate or suffer suspension) that you lose partial functionality on Picasa. You can still store photos, but anything related to sharing is dead. Don't know if that affects pictures on Blogger.

For Reader, I think you can still use it, but you can't share posts.

Or something.

I don't use Picasa or Reader so this was not an issue for me. Strange the way that each system seems to behave differently.

If you think in a level or two, it's not that strange. Although Google Plus gets the buzz, it's the Profile that's the real product; Plus is just honey for the flies. The purpose of the Profile is to connect your Real Identity with your activity, specifically your social activity, and to correlate with the activities of your network of connections. So sharing posts in Reader and pictures in Picasa are social activities, and therefore interesting to Google.

As time goes on, more Google services will take on more social activity. There's Data in them thar hills! Email, by the way, is the ultimate social activity. Google knows that, because they give you 7G space just for email storage. So expect your gmail account to some day be at as much risk of loss as any other Google service, by their TOS, if you run afoul of the Real Name policy, or any other anti-social policy that they come up with.

There might be a couple reasons why your Real Name connected with yours and others' activity is interesting to Google. Either they're trying to help you have a civilized conversation with known associates in the online equivalent of a fancy coat and tie required restaurant with an assortment of mysterious cutlery and gold rimmed crystal. Or they want to make ads more valuable.

I think I hear Occam sharpening up his razor.

Real Name. That sounds very much like Real Player, and seems destined to share some of the stink.

Am I the only one who is a bit disappointed with the slow speed of development of G+? When it launched a lot of users were quick to point out some of the larger issues they were having, and as of yet not much has been done to fix them.

Have a look at their what's new page: http://www.google.com/support/profiles/bin/static.py?hl=en&#... - mostly rather small tweaks, nothing yet that improves their circles concept (e.g. allow us to define which circles show up in our default feed).

Also, with regard to their new product 'huddles'; why haven't they integrated this with google talk? A lot of my friends use google talk, practically none of them use huddles. So instead of improving the groupchat on google talk (and maybe just release an iphone app already!) they roll out this new product that locks out desktop users. Anyone care to explain to me why they might have gone this route?

> Am I the only one who is a bit disappointed with the slow speed of development of G+?

Yes, definitely. When it came out I was blow away by the utility of the Android app which pushed my photos up to the cloud into an online gallery where I could instantly show them and share them. There were a whole lot of rough edges but I was sure they would get dealt with in short order - the functionality I was seeing was a break through, a killer app for me. But several months later, ALL those rough edges are still there. The G+ app still is not optimised for tablet in any meaningful way. There is no way to have have a hang out using your phone or tablet which is a huge use case. It just seems to be crawling along, presumably they are busy doing stuff but it doesn't seem to be focused on rapidly improving the user experience the way I was hoping.

this! the feature set of g+ is bizarre: huddles? hangouts? no use for it. games? no use for it; plenty of alternatives. photos? nothing new; plenty of alternatives. sparks? very low signal to noise ratio, poorly integrated.

circles are nice but limited.

events? where on earth are events? google calendar integration?

is it a social network or a work network? what's the point of g+?

the content of g+ is sparse compared to fb: e.g., friend of friend actions are private on g+, but visible on fb.

"sparks? very low signal to noise ratio, poorly integrated."

Poorly thought out, poorly implemented too.

You go to your Stream, and you see the aggregation of all your circles' streams.

You got to Sparks, and you see ... the same six or eight advertisements for canned sparks since the day you joined. How useful is that once you've seen it for three seconds? Yet they spend engineering time and electricity keeping this non-contribution up.

Wouldn't you expect to see the aggregation of your individual sparks when you click on Sparks? Of course you would. It's the same fucking thing as your stream, it's just search instead of posts.

(Yes, I sent feedback on that.)

Google+ is better than Facebook for lots of reasons except for one important thing - nobody's on it and they're still using Facebook.

I would much prefer to use Google+, I prefer the interface, I like the Circles idea - everything sort of feels cleaner. But I can't convince any of my non-geek friends to join. They just don't see the point.

For a lot of my 'non-geek' friends, the years of photos, connections, groups, etc makes the cost of switching too high.

For many, the idea of getting their photos out of Facebook is simply too daunting to consider.

They're happy to maintain a LinkedIn though, as that's seen as a 'different thing': for business.

Why do you need to get photos out of Facebook? Can't you just put a link on your Google+ profile?

Well, if you have years of photos, it may be an important part of your internet profile. It can be a way for you to define what you want to have shown with you on your profile. A simple link couldn't bring this.

At least you can still follow interesting public "celebrities" and other techies.

For me it is the same, except swap facebook for twitter.

The fatal mistake was having it invite/beta-only at the beginning. Google has enough experience scaling now that they shouldn't have needed to do that. I suspect that they lost a vast number of people with that and thereby a lot of "test" nesting posts (which would have got everyone feeling that everyone else is there rather than it being a ghost town).

They probably found the social network analysis from the Gmail sign-ups (knowing who recommends to who) to be useful. However the difference between Gmail and Google+ is that Gmail is inter-operable with other networks via a standard protocol, with social networking that is not the case and they should have gone for as many sign-ups as possible.

All that said, they have a higher number of people per unit of time signing up than Facebook did when they started so it will take years for it all to shake out. Facebook also used exclusive/slow signups, but that was linked to university prestige/tribalism/rolling fad rather than just an apparently random process.

My bias is that this had a big impact. A few years ago I might of asked around for a beta invite for the Next Big Thing, but after the Google Wave debacle I'm much less interested in being a tech lemming for an uncertain social networking service. In short: internet burnout.

Are there any women on G+? Like, any at all?

Ever since Google's decision to roll it out by providing invites exclusively to old white male technology bloggers, this has been an utterly male-dominated network. Is there even one soccer mom signed up to G+ in the United States?

Hint to developers: to make a social network, you need men and women to talk to each other.

(I also agree with the comments about the Real Name policy being very destructive to usage. Facebook, regardless of what their policies say, has a HUGE number of people using pseudonyms and very little enforcement against them. Nor do people have much to lose - okay, their friends list gets chopped down if their Facebook account gets dropped, but you can rebuild most of that in an hour. Google seriously threatens a huge chunk of people's lives if they cancel your account, and having Google executives proudly talking about how all this data will be really valuable to sell as an identity platform is Not Helping.)

I think G+ is a stunning example of Conway's Law.

They built a copy of their own organization.

I stopped converting friends and family when they fucked up the pseudonym issue. I see no evidence that they're going to do a better job than Facebook at running a social network. I no longer have any interest in supporting them, because of this issue. I'll use it if other people start using it, but I'm not going to push it anymore.

I spoke positively about G+ when I was first let in. I made an effort to correct that with everyone I had spoken to.

Well, the main problem with Google+ is that it is supposed to be social network, but it isn't.

When were the last time you saw, for example, someones wedding pictures? Or discussion about real life social events? Or anything social? That's right, never.

All you can see there is tech blog aggregation, couple of celebrities, some geek pictures and that's it. You can find more social interaction here on HackerNews or Reddit.

And then, you just stop sharing yourself and stop checking Google+ and go back to Facebook for social and other places for geek stuff.

I see all of those things on Google+ all the time. The thing is they are all posted to specific circles and not publicly. A 41% drop in public posts is only somewhat meaningful. Of my family members that post on Google+ most of them moved from posting publicly to posting privately to specific circles once they figured out how it worked.

g+ was dead the day they released it, I've said in a comment here before and I stand by it: google cannot launch a successful social product (where successful means it's a valid competitor to Facebook). They are too big, people put all their hopes and dreams on specific things happening which are unrealistic and they prematurely kill the product. Google could make a better product than Facebook but it would never take off and "beat" Facebook.

"told 'ya" (and got downvoted) http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2709330

Your comment would have been more interesting if you had explained why.

I think the reason is as obvious now as it was back then.

Facebook has the network effect, G+ hasn't.

Like morsch says, you probably should have explained why. My comment had something like 20+ points (I explained why in mine)

So much for Google's grand "identity collector" dream.

I don't know about that. How many people have "signed up" and are essentially transmitting their identity to google every time they search?

Even if you never use Google+ anymore, they've still got the browsing habits of the internet cognoscenti until people stop using their gmail and clear their cookies.

Didn't that already happen with any other Google service, like GMail or Google Docs? Log in, Google can track you.

Yes, but knowing the habits of "somename2000@gmail.com" is a lot less useful than knowing the habits of "John Doe, Vice President at Acme Computing"

The easiest way to accept if this data is accurate is to ask yourself how often you have used G+ since after it's launch.

The absence of momentum has suprised me. It seems users and developers were more excited about it. Now, big old FB is picking up momentum again.

They had their chance. It has passed. With lists and subscribe, I wonder what they will say is the real differentiation is from FB.

As a Google Apps user, I'm still pissed that I don't have access.

The crappy treatment given to Google Apps users makes me wonder if Google has some data suggesting that we are less likely to click on ads.

Or that the majority of Apps for your domain users are schools/companies/etc., combined with the fact that a social network for those users is harder to build (they have different requirement).

Yeah, companies that are paying customers, not just for the apps but for the ads themselves! Google should be copying Amazon and learn to care for customers, but instead they choose to imitate Facebook.

The problem is the majority of people using it now, are people who do not like social networking too much in general. But they were just excited about it in the beginning because it was made by Google. I am one of them.

But if Google+ wants to succeed they need to get a LOT of mainstream people on board, and get them all at once. They need to make them hear the name Google+ in all mainstream channels: TV, radio, magazines, from celebrities - EVERYWHERE. They really need to do a big advertising push, or something to get the attention of mainstream people. And they need to get a lot at once, so it doesn't feel deserted for each one of them.

Still doesn't work for Google Apps users - many of most prolific social contributors have migrated everything to Apps.

Though all of them have a separate Gmail account too.

I'm one of those who has to access G+ in a different browser. As an early adopter, a big fan of G+, and having a dual monitor setup, I make the effort, but I can see how it's a turn-off for apps users (especially as they're the paying customers).

Google's made a big effort to migrate many of its services to support apps customers and I'm sure they'll do it for Plus too. I'm live streaming the Salesforce conference right now, where they're touting the "social network for companies" line. Google is probably thinking about how to make Plus useful in this context, when they come to support Apps.

The numbers are interesting, but interpreting it is hard. I noticed several non-tech people getting an G+ account, using it for some days, and leaving, because hardly anything was happening. That might be bad.

But the graphs mostly documents power users (g+-Twitter syncing), that might start to share some of there (less article-like) posts just with their circles, as the personal networks grow stronger and become more useful. That might be very good for G+.

After all, G+ cannot survive as a blogging platform.

This is such an utterly meaningless number. Of course there was a big amount of public posts when it was fresh. Of course it was a hype. This says nothing about the long term.

Also why would public posts say much about a social network. I would imagine that Facebook's percental amount of public posts would go down in comparison to private posts. Does not mean anything.

When I used G+ virtually every post I made was public, and most of the ones in my stream from others were also public. That may not be the majority example, but I also doubt that it's a small minority.

Many of my friends joined, and after an early burst of posting, have stopped using it entirely. Since everyone is on facebook, and google+ doesn't seem to offer that much more for the average user, it isn't worth the trouble waiting for your friends to make the switch.

In response to davidw, http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2999668

How I divested from Google services. Others please reply with their own tales.

The first thing to realize is that, like most projects, you don't have to go from zero to 100% accomplishment in one step. Perfection never ships. My approach was to use the solutions that would get me off Google as quickly as possible, and then gradually search for better solutions. But you know what? None of these things are really that critical.

The second thing to realize is that Google services are really good, and in some cases you'll have to settle for something that's more than good enough, but not quite as good as Google. Risk vs reward, as always.

Gmail -> fastmail.fm and Thunderbird as my client (but they have webmail too). They've been around awhile and they have good credibility. I use their lowest paid plan, $5/year, so I've set up Thunderbird to download messages immediately, so as not to bust my storage limit. Their highest plan is $40/year and 10G storage; cheap and more than good enough. Their spam protection is OK, not as good as gmail's. In fact I had a minor episode of false positives, but it cleared up in a day.

Fastmail, if you're listening, I would pursue excellent spam protection (better than your current good enough performance) as an opportunity to win gmail (and probably yahoo) expats. The rest of your service is very, very good.

I have my own domain, and I just point my domain to fastmail now instead of gmail. Regardless of who provides your mail storage and transfer, I highly recommend having your own domain, it's cheap. Don't rent your identity from anyone. G+ may try to tell us that your real name is your most important piece of identity, but on the net your email address(es) is much more fundamental.

Reader -> Thunderbird. No, it's not in the cloud, but this was the fastest way to move. It's not my final step, and I'm slowly looking at other cloud solutions. I could conceivably stay with Tbird though. It's not a great solution, it was just the quickest to implement. It's rather clunky to add a feed, but reading is fine, and you can save posts just like email messages, in the same folders as your messages. That's kind of cool.

Firefox has something called Live Bookmarks IIRC, for feeds. I used it awhile back and I recall it worked pretty good, certainly better than Thunderbird.

Calendar -> Thunderbird. A little better than RSS above, but it's still not cloudy, and I haven't bothered trying to sync it with anything, although I think you can. Again, this was just the quickest way to get off Google in one swift move. I would like to find a cloudy/better solution.

Address book -> Thunderbird again. Fastmail has an addressbook, I think you get 400 contacts at my $5/year level. I haven't bothered yet. Besides, I'm using Tbird as my mail interface anyway.

Docs -> Libre Office, restructured text, my machine, DropBox and email. If you need realtime collaboration, that's going to be difficult. If you're on G+, Skud (+K Robert IIRC) has a thread on her efforts to move, and the alternatives are a couple (one?) good but cost-ish solutions; she opted to stay with Docs for now, because she collaborates with non-tech volunteers.

Picasa -> pick one. I've never been very social with pictures, email has always served me more than well enough.

If you think about it, email really is the uber-network. We should be building social networks on top of email; it's not captive, it's built on RFCs and it fucking works. I've always thought you could do a lot with imap folders.

Fastmail/Opera, there's an opportunity for you to be "the kid from nowhere ... Cinderella story." Not that you'd own the network, but you could really gain users if you led the way into social email.

Blog -> pick one. Tumblr, Posterous, Wordpress, roll your own. I've had Blogger and Posterous, I'd probably go back to Posterous in the near term and eventually roll my own. Tumblr and Posterous are more than good enough. While I was still using G+ I read a few positive experiences from non-tech people migrating from Blogger to Wordpress.

Search -> DuckDuckGo. They're awesome. Their tools are numerous and literally at your fingertips. They don't track you. Their results pages are uncluttered. And if you don't see what you like, they have a link to Google search right there on the results page. Awesome, awesome, awesome.

Being tracked by Google -> stay logged out of all Google services. Moving all your services out is obviously essential. Once you're no longer logging in, you aren't cookied and tracked, except for your IP when you visit a site that uses Analytics, but you can't do much about that anyway unless you want to use noscript(?).

Happy Independence Day.

Even though i would be sticking with Google for now, but i commend your compilation. IMO I would go with these alternatives.

Gmail -> +1 to your idea of personal domain. Though there are other alternatives like gmx, fastmail (as you mentioned), etc

Reader -> Thunderbird is not so great, there are many other clients which are far better feed readers like FeedDemon. Even Liferea and Akgregator are good.

Calendar -> Thunderbird and if you have some money to shell out Outlook is unbeatable. Also evolution is not bad either!

Address book -> Thunderbird and Outlook

Docs -> Ms Word or Libre Writer. MS Word has been around for quite some time and is really polished. Writer on the other hand is like an untamed beast with lots of feature.

Picasa -> Flickr, or if you want to get your hands dirty, you can try zenphoto on your personal domain.

Blog -> Blogger has become relatively old and i have seen many of the old blogs migrating to either Posterous or Tumblr. Obviously one can go for their own domain with Wordpress on it.

Search -> +1 on DDG. Its awesome! It has been my primary search engine for a while now.

The process of getting rid of google is very much akin to the process of getting rid of closed source. You may lose some functionality or maybe some polish or convenience but on the whole it is definitely doable.

The hardest ones to get rid of imo are adsense, adwords and docs.

For everything else there are reasonable replacements.

> I use their lowest paid plan, $5/year, so I've set up Thunderbird to download messages immediately, so as not to bust my storage limit... I have my own domain, and I just point my domain to fastmail now instead of gmail.

The plan descriptions on the fastmail.fm web site make it sound like you have to sign up for their $40/year "Enhanced" plan before you can use your own domain. It's still a good deal, obviously, but not as good as $5/year.

I use my own domain at $5/year. Their description is a little opaque. I think what they're offering is for them to manage your domain.

I set my mail at my registrar to forward to my fastmail account. I set my client (Thunderbird) to use fastmail's smtp for outgoing, and to identify me as me@mydomain.com in the From: and ReplyTo: fields. Exactly what I did with gmail. Easy Peasy.

You may like G+ or not, but these numbers are pretty much meaningless, and the title completely misleading.

Did they measure a 41% decrease of public posts? No! They measured a drop in public posts PER USER.

Moreover, this is only measured with users of manageflitter, which can hardly be considered a representative sample, so, where does all this excitement come from?

For me, I was using Google+ instead of Facebook for a while. Then I got busy, and dropped off the radar on both. When I came back, I just used Facebook instead of G+ because there were still very few of my friends and family there.

I'd be on it if they supported Google apps accounts and not just gmail.

Maybe they don't support Apps accounts because they know they can't enforce the Real Name policy on it.

Scenario: George Kibble from ABC Company has an Apps account from his company. He signs up for Plus, but puts in 'The Duke of Perl' as his 'real name'. Google cancels his account... Including his email! Now George not only can't use Plus, but all his correspondance for the company is lost, forever!

It would take only a few of those incidents to start a business riot.

A 41% drop from the "honeymoon" spike is really not that bad. A lot of companies have seen far worse.

Google+ is a great product, but what I think is happening is that "social" is starting to play itself out. It's not new and fun anymore. If Google+ puts forward a mediocre showing, it won't be a result of any failure of the product, but because it was a late entrant into a game that's winding down.

(I'd like to avoid too much discussion of Real Names. As ill-advised as the RN policy may be, Facebook has a similar policy. By the way, RN is not about being "evil". It's about requiring people to use a certain utility as a social networking site and not as "something else". A Real Names policy sends the message, "We want these use patterns only". The problem is that culture is emergent and "social" can't be enforced from the top down. When you try to control culture in a heavy-handed manner, you piss people off.)

I remember when I started using Facebook. I thought I was coming in at the tail end of the thing (October 2004) although, in hindsight, it was just beginning. The product was buggy and crappy, but it filled a real need on a college campus (getting in contact with people you met briefly) and it was fun. The weekend after it came to my college, we had people in the computer labs at 4:30am using Facebook.

The bureaucratic and cultural nightmare of "Real Names" wasn't an issue on a college campus, because a non-RN profile wouldn't have been useful in Facebook's original context. There was no need for a heavy-handed policy, as non-RN profiles would just be ignored.

"Social" isn't fun anymore. It's not that interesting a space. It's about as enthralling as an electric bill. Facebook is losing U.S. activity. All of this certainly isn't Google+'s fault. It's just that people are expecting more (but the amorphous "more" consisting of people not knowing quite what they want) from social and no one has figured out how to deliver it.

My best guess is that "social" is going to be dormant and very boring for the next few years. It won't "end", but it will gradually get blander. None of the major players (Facebook, Google+, and Twitter) are going to die but disruption and true innovation are going to be scant. Most efforts in "social" will be about scaling and shaving milliseconds off of latency benchmarks: important stuff, but very boring from a user's perspective. People aren't going to make friends they wouldn't otherwise make because a social networking site is 25 ms faster.

Then, there will be a radical revision of "social". It will be given a new name, as "social" has been used too much by douchebags. The disruption might come from a rogue group of "intrapreneurial" innovators within Google+ or Facebook. Or it might come from one of the lesser (but more interesting and purposeful) concerns like Meetup. Or, it might come from a startup that doesn't exist now. But I feel that there will be something exciting in social mid-decade.

What I think it will look like is a "programmable" ecosystem where people can develop their own "social" software, without having to learn complicated APIs and authentication systems. App Stores are a predecessor. Collaborative project support and multiplayer user-created games are next. Accessible and cheap "cloud computing" (i.e. relational databases that scale instead of the unmanageable horror that is sharded MySQL) will come later. My best guess is that we'll start to see the first innovations in this direction around 2013-14. What's keeping it from happening sooner is not a hard technical blockage, but a lack of interest from entrenched players. The best way to get into "social" right now and stand a chance of doing something interesting (not overnight, but in time) is to build tools that make genuinely interesting development, with low overhead and an allowance for part-time contribution, easier.

What about google+ hangouts ? It's new , it's fun, and maybe even radical (may make video chat popular).

It could easily be the new social: With it's currently addictive quality , plus more video content , plus social games.

But it has a few issues:

1. Scaling - it's to scale hard at the google level, maybe even hard to scale at the isp level (depending on demand).

2. High cost - it needs a different business model than the usual google adwords/data-mining models.

3. Hangouts could be a usefull asset in their fight for the tv and tablet markets. So opening it up depends on other considerations.

So maybe the current google+ is just an experiment(to test scalability and user response) and that's the reason for the limiting invite process and the lack of advertising .But when all the pieces we'll be ready they'll launch in full scale.

A 41% drop is not that bad if you manage to get millions of visitors to a WebMD type site. It's horrible if you're Google and want to be a major competitor to Facebook, let's face it, you're supposed to continue growing, not slowing down growth.

I never really understood anyone that thought Google+ was going to be the next big social network. It all comes down to dopamine. Google+ fails in supplying any dopamine rushes. Facebook doesn't fail as much.

I really wanted them to be. They definitely have enough talent to have been so. The way they described themselves, they were exactly what I was looking for. But (my opinion only) they turned out to be full of bullshit and meh.

But the majority of G+ users are probably going to disagree with me. They may not ever be a serious competitor to Facebook (and who says they need to be?), but they probably will make a lot of money with it.

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