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Why are you using Google Plus for Blogging? (zerodistraction.com)
53 points by alexknight on Dec 3, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 44 comments

You could make the same argument about Tumblr or Posterous, really. Fact of the matter is, there are huge benefits to meshing community and long-form commenting. Commenting systems like Disqus just aren't all the way there in terms of fluidity. If you don't have a platform of a certain size, your comment threads can look awful bare with the wrong kind of audience. G+ encourages commenting — and really intelligent commenting, too. In fact, it works almost like a hivemind at times, allowing users to build relationships in new ways.

Look at the issue less as one of ownership and more as one of friction. The reason why platforms like G+ are desirable is because they take away a lot of the friction that a thousand non-centralized platforms create. If someone figured out how to efficiently remove the friction from decentralized blogs, I'd eat my hat because that's how impressed I'd be.

I look at G+ as a supplement to blogging rather than a main outlet, however. I actually think it's better for longer thoughts, while I prefer shorter comments on my Tumblr site.

If trackbacks actually worked, they might help solve this in a distributed way.

I think not enough emphasis is being given to audience management. If I write a blog entry, it's public for all the world to see, and, more importantly, it's public for all the world to comment on. With Google+, I can limit who can see and comment on my posts.

With traditional blogs, you don't get that sort of fine control. Either you have a post visible to everyone, or it's private and only visible to you. Either you have comments open, or comments closed. Yes, you can moderate comments, but that gets to be troublesome for anything more than a trivial number of commentators.

Google+ takes away all those problems. Your posts are visible to only those whom you're addressing in that post. In essence, Google Plus allows you to multiplex a single blog among multiple audiences by making posts only visible to certain circles.

The same can be said about Facebook, so what makes Google+ unique in that regard?


It's a lot easier to find other people on Google+ based on interest. When I started using it, very few of the people I knew already were on there. I was able to search for other people interested in videogames, anime, programming, etc, and rather quickly I was part of a fairly large group of people reading and commenting on each others posts.

Discovery in Facebook is centered around groups and pages, which have a higher UX cost compared with posting a status update. On Google+, you can be found by anyone right away. And people use the sites differently because of this.

People make public posts on the assumption that what they write will be found by people they don't know yet who are interested in what they write. Facebook status updates on the other hand are usually always intended for people that the poster already knows, whether posted publicly or privately.

In the time I've been using Facebook, I can't recall once being friended (or now subscribed to) based on interests (as opposed to some existing connection). On Google+ however, I receive a new asymmetrical follow almost daily - and I'm someone with a rather low posting frequency.

This is what makes Facebook and G+ different.

You raise a salient point. I do agree as far as discoverability, Google+ one ups Facebook. As you said, Facebook has always been about connecting with people you already know, as opposed to Google+ where people add you to their social circles based on things they have in common with you.

This is the first explanation of the differences between Facebook and Google+ that has connected with me. I don't know that Google+ is what I want though --- I like finding people with shared interests, but I prefer in person.

Thanks for the explanation. I think your distinction makes sense. Facebook mimics my physical social circle very well--people I know in real life like classmates, friends, coworkers. I don't accept friend requests by people who I don't already know.

Thankfully my friends and I share many common interests, but that's a very limited audience. So I run my own blog where I post things that my friends might not be interested in, but someone will hopefully be interested in.

This comment thread is the first thing I've ever seen that actually made me want to use a social networking site. I might sign up for a G+ account based on this.

Based on Leynos's well-written post, I initially thought the exact same thing.

Then, I realised that Google runs Youtube, remembered all the recent changes in particular, my face turned green and I puked up a little inside...

If they can mess up such good service when it was handed to them on a plate, I have zero confidence in them in any new endeavours online, especially when the cost is my privacy for perpetuity.

So, thanks but I'll continue to stay well away from social networking sites.

Lacking a long history of privacy violations that culminated in the FTC decided to watch them for 20 years [1]. Also, as I understand it, not having ever used facebook, a much clearer and more accessible UI in terms of privacy control.

[1] http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/11/privacysettlement.shtm

It cracks me up all these hysterical posts about how top Google execs aren't eating their own dogfood by using Google+ for blogging, etc. If I were Larry or Sergey I think I might seriously consider attempting to salvage the last remaining shred of my personal privacy by not making my inner thoughts world readable.

Unless you're Steve Yegge, of course.

I use Google+ fairly extensively for mid-sized "blogs" of a few paragraphs at a time (usually anywhere from 2-4). I do maintain an actual blog, but lately I've started to copy paste any blog entry I make into Google+.

There are many advantages to using Google+: - Most notably, the audience is just much bigger, and the engagement is much greater because there is nearly zero friction to posting. I've been blogging for few years and G+ing (is that even a word) only since it came out, but I have ~40 subscribers to my RSS and ~1400 followers on G+. Audience is a big deal. People don't really use RSS. I get much more interaction on G+ than on my blog, and I like it.

- you and your (presumably good) content are much more discoverable, which allows you to grow your network and find more interesting people. It can also act as a nice easily discoverable portfolio. How often will a random person stumble by your blog? vs. How often will someone land on your G+ page? This will only become more and more likely as Google integrates G+ with Every thing.

- maintaining a blog has some weird connotations that I can't quite put a finger on. People sometimes ask me if I have a blog, and I always feel a little awkward inside saying yes. These connotations are somehow absent when I tell people I'm on G+. Maybe it's just the term and the way I hear it used, I really don't know.

I don't understand your concerns about who _really_ stores the data, or the like. Thank god I don't have to go through all that trouble just to be in charge of some text boxes on the internet. And so what if Google can use my posts to learn more about me and give me more targetted ads? I just see that as a win on my side once again-- I don't want to see mortgage ads on my banners or something.

"And so what if Google can use my posts to learn more about me and give me more targetted ads? I just see that as a win on my side once again"

Wow, so mind numbingly scary.

I think I just don't share the same fears as you do, or I misunderstand your comment. If Google gave me a 5-page questionnaire with drop down menus and fields to fill about me, and what I like, I'd want to fill it in. In my experience systems that know more about me can always produce a better and more targeted experience. It's a no brainer.

I'm all for services making money. It's not an insignificant amount of money to run something like Google+. I'm just saying there's a place for everything. I don't think using it as a blogging platform is sustainable in the long term IMHO.

Unless Google learns that you don't like to buy things and so stops wasting everyone's time and money.

Is there any difference between Wordpress hosting your blog vs. Google+?

If anything, Google+ gives me some additional flexibility like audience control. For example, I could write general long form content on Google+ for mass consumption and also use it as platform for sharing content with a specific set of people (in one or more circles). Why go to (and expect) other people to follow you to each different social site for content (images, status updates, etc.) when I can compose all of them from a single place and have fine-grained control over who sees each piece of content?

Just because I can set up a personal blog site (whether hosted myself or by others) doesn't mean I want to spend the time doing so. If creating content and making it available are my top priorities, Google+ appears to be a good, centralized place to publish.

EDIT: Removed a dangling "Having".

I answered your Wordpress/Google+ question in part 2 of this article: http://zerodistraction.com/blog/2011/12/3/part-2-why-are-you...

I find myself using more and more for smaller (than usual) blog posts. If I felt like doing something expansive, I'd write it on my blog and add a link to it in G+. Primarily, it's because there is an audience there. The ease of building up networks of circles makes it X times efficient to gain followers of your content.

Fair enough point, but I don't necessarily agree with that view. Why wouldn't you want to focus on building an audience on a site you control? You can link out to Twitter or Google+.

Like I said, the short pithy comments have their place too, but for me this strategy is what I prefer. Also, I haven't seen solid evidence that people are building larger audiences on Google+, unless you're someone like Robert Scoble. You have to have an established name in your industry, or at least that's the trend that I've seen thus far.

I have a blog. I even wrote my own blogging engine. But it's not part of anybody's habits to go to it. Most people don't understand RSS.

I could post to my blog and then throw links on G+ (earlier buzz), but the extra friction of clicking on a link caused comments (and therefore, I think, reads) to go down. So I need to put some thought into putting some content next to the link. But at that point the effort suddenly seems prohibitive for a short post. Far simpler just to throw it directly on G+.

I've tried twitter, but I don't have many followers and there's just too much attrition due to people just missing my tweets. Friendfeed/buzz/G+ have fewer longer posts, and so there's less churn on people's streams and less attrition. Posting something on them is less meaningless than on Twitter.

I tend to disagree with the post.

Yes you can use Disqus for commenting, but it happened more than once to me when I commented and totally forgot about it because I dont have that nice notification coming from the google or facebook bar. Sure you can have email notifications, but thats just not a nice way do handle it.

In a way, blogging a lot of times is not much more than just a comment/post itself and seeing what happens on google plus, discussion is vital. I don't think the system of blog-linking etc is really scalable.

In a way, Google Plus (and to a certain extend Facebook, Posterous, and Tumblr) present a more coherent solution with content hosting, commenting platform, notification system, following etc. in one place. And we know how people love convenience and a good user and consistent experience.

What i want when blogging?

- Free Hosting (free as in really for free, not cents and not having to setup some Jekyll or whatever)

- Posts

- Comments

- Gallery

- "About me"

I get all this plus the benefit of a locatioan-aware posts on my mobile, social network, groups, messaging, single sign on with my mail, calendar, docs, youtube, etc.

Also, in my experience my Google+ stream has a pretty high quality of posts.

Oh, and as i said, the Google Buzz-like location thing is nice, too.

And i get Twitter like public posts/streams. Following particular persons is nice. Befriending some page on Facebook is 90% of the time a subscription to advertisement in your stream. I, for example, follow a lot of photographers on google plus and it's nice, because the photo capabilites are nice, the posts are excellent and it makes my personal stream even better. On the other hand, i "follow" some pages of bands or cities or games i like on facebook and it's basically ads in my facebook stream with the occasional interesting post. Why not follow these photographers on facebook? Because it didn't "just happpen". On Google plus some people share the circles and voila, there we go with interesting persons (persons, not companies!). Now i have also quite a lot of googlers and musicians i'm following and it's mostly been only interesting personal posts.

Why not facebook? It's security/sharing settings are just too cumbersome. Setting up how my plus account looks like for friends, workmates and the whole world was intuitive, easy and fast.

That said: For me, Google Plus is so much better then Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook combined.

"""- Free Hosting (free as in really for free, not cents """

Yes, because a few cents, or, god forbid!, a dollar a month are totally too much for having total control over your content.

No, but the hazzle to pay and setup and maintain a server/software is worth more then a few cents, at least for me.

Especially if what i would build with Jekyll wouldn't hae the benefits of a hosted service elsewhere.

I don't use it, and prefer to host my own content. And because of that, my (non-techie) wife, who does read the posts that are conveniently collected and displayed to her in G+, doesn't read my blog.

You can talk about Reader and how she needs to set up another app and copy various URLs into it, but she's busy and lacking patience. G+ is a big red light on her Google search page; it's hard to not read.

Alex brought up a great point, which he may have thought was a throw away line:

"Let’s leave the pithy comments for disposable social networking services like Google+, Facebook and Twitter."

This is exactly how I see and use G+. I use it to scan multiple stories and bylines, looking for interesting content and stories. I'm not looking for long winded blog entries. Those just slow me down.

I feel the people who are using G+ do so the same way they do with Twitter and other social media platforms. They can consume large quantities of content quickly - which does not mix with long, detailed blog entries. The two are simply incompatible in my view.

One downside to Google+ for this kind of thing is that it seems to use a lot of memory on the client. Not a big deal for people reading on desktops, perhaps, but it can be a killer on mobile.

On my first generation iPad, long Google+ posts that have a lot of comments just kill it.

I assume enough people at Google use iPads that they are aware of this, so I haven't bitched about (this is the first place I've mentioned it) on the assumption that they'll figure out some way to make it work well on mobile. But until then, if I get the urge to blog I'll do it elsewhere and just post a link on Google+.

I think the default assumption with Google Plus is that if you're using it on mobile, you're using the mobile app, rather than the mobile website. At least, that's the way it appears to me, at any rate.

The problem is that there currently is no iPad app for Google+ so we're forced to choose between the scaled up iPhone app, a stretched mobile layout on the site or the only partially functional desktop layout.

512 MB of RAM is pretty low these days when it comes to browsing. Even without Google+, I heard that you can usually have only 3 tabs open at one time, or otherwise they would reload. Full websites use a lot of RAM these days. A site like Google+ can use a lot more than average.

I totally agree with hosting your own content or least aggregating it in a place you own/control after the fact.

Here's the thing: one's personal web space will likely never be a dashboard or natural hub for thier audience. Posting direct to social nets like G+ ensures more visibility and interaction than what the majority of people will get back on their blog. I think it has less to do with technical considerations and more to do with "where the action is at."

I appreciate all of the insightful comments. All of you have very valid points of course. Do what you feel is right for you. I'm thinking long-term goals though. I've been burned by using services like Tumblr and Posterous, but not in that they're bad services, just that it's much harder to migrate your data to a self-hosted solution after the fact.

I just migrated my WordPress blog to Jekyll recently without much difficulty. Data can be exported to Jekyll from Tumblr and Posterous as well (I'm not sure how well those migrations work though): https://github.com/mojombo/jekyll/wiki/Blog-Migrations

Thanks. I wish I had known about Jekyll back when I used Tumblr and Posterous. I gave credit to you for that suggestion in my part 2 follow up to last nights piece: http://zerodistraction.com/blog/2011/12/3/part-2-why-are-you...

See https://www.google.com/takeout/#custom:stream

(Choose "Stream", not "Profile") You'll get each of your posts as a separate HTML file, and even the file timestamps seem to match the dates the post was made.

> I see the appeal in it though, with the real-time commenting it supports and the level of engagement you get with it. That being said, there’s no reason why you can’t augment your own blog with Disqus commenting to get the same kind of features and results.

I don't see nearly as many comments on my site (with Disqus) as I do on my Google+ page. This is to some extent an apples-to-oranges comparison, but given that a lot of stuff that shows up in my Google+ stream is meant to go into my site, it's not that bad, and the disparity is like 4:1 or higher.

A few weeks ago I started thinking of Google+ as a blog for occasional posts due to high engagement levels. However, since Google Reader integrated with Google+, I've found that my G+ feed has a lot more noise as I share a lot of small tidbits through the +1 button of reader.

I'm now considering creating a commentless blog elsewhere to host relevant posts, but cloning content to G+ for comments.

You can use Google+ to write and manage your blog, but also host the content, with a simple tool I made: https://github.com/lylepratt/Plusify

As a part of serving the blog, it backs up all your G+ posts to an SQLite database. You can set how frequently you want to check Google for content updates.

"Obviously the immediate benefit is owning your own content from the top of the page to the bottom." - I guess. I keep a copy of my G+ posts locally (even though Blogger posts from ten years haven't gone away). Posting it on a blog or G+ doesn't affect the copyright. I still own the content.

Awesome discussion on this folks. I wanted to address some of the questions and comments, but I felt a more detailed reply on my weblog would be more appropriate: http://zerodistraction.com/blog/2011/12/3/part-2-why-are-you...

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