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Nonplussed (techcrunch.com)
477 points by pearjuice on Nov 10, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 236 comments

Experiences like this led me to leave Facebook, then LinkedIn, a while ago. I haven't deleted my Google+ account only because laziness and fear of an experience like the article's author prevent me from going to the site. People describe leaving as trendy, as if leaving had something to do with other people as opposed to the sites' own repellent behavior. For me leaving was easy and fun -- http://joshuaspodek.com/leaving-facebook-easy-and-fun. Experience has unequivocally shown me my life is better without them.

I have a feeling the market forces forcing Google, Facebook, et al into an arms race after your privacy and personal life will motivate people to leave more and more in favor of small players that do one thing well.

I expect people here will see the writing on the wall first that the sooner you get out the better. Yes, social networks have benefits, but they have costs too.

Deleting Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc accounts improves your life. Deleting them earlier improves your life earlier.

Facebook was already doing a good job driving its own users away.

All Google had to do was go under the Facebook tree, and pick up dropped users off the ground. It really didn't need to go climbing up the tree to pick them off the branches.

As they're climbing the ladder, their own users are falling out of the baskets.

Corny analogy aside, they're not even doing a good job integrating mail, youtube, google, google+. I can't count the number of times I meant to click "Settings" for youtube, and ended up going to either Google+ or Google setting.

All we wanted from G+ was "Facebook, but not Facebook". That's it. That's all. They managed even to fuck that up.

This is google's own version of "the burning platform" (that is, the open web, in some of the more paranoid exec's vision). They are doing everything they can think of to fence off their own portion of the web before it's too late. Every product division has been (or had been) instructed to come up with a plan to integrate somehow with G+. This current youtube disaster is one of the results.

The amazing thing was they managed to blow thirteen years' good will in about two months. All gone. When techies are seriously considering using Bing for search ... you know your brand's gone toxic.

If they'd just backed off in the nymwars, WE'D ALL BE OVER THERE NOW. Fucksakes.

I agree with this. Whether it matters if this good will is gone I don't know, but it might - I know my opinion of google has gone from extremely high to really low, and it is partially so low because of their importance, I believe they have a responsibility to act properly.

I truly believe they are opening a gap that others could exploit. Microsoft, so late to this party, with their userbase and technical know-how, with a lot of their ill deeds from the past forgotten or forgiven. If they decided that they are going to do it right, and not try to exploit users, they could become a threat again. I wonder if they are capable of this anymore though.

Or, reddit, with their substantial userbase of young, technically advanced, and influential users - if they could figure out the scalability issues, they could launch a youtube competitor, for example, and LOTS of people would move there very quickly, even if it is not as good, because they are (so far) known to be pure, whereas google has now proven that is is not pure, and dishonest (do no evil).

It's certainly not easy, but my point is, it's a lot easier when influential and vocal technical users have turned on you, and the degree to which they've turned.

tumblr! It just seems to slip under the radar for everyone, even though it has now, what, 50 million users?

Yep, Yahoo! has a lot of chances of screwing it up, but it's also the largest online pseudonymous social network I can think of.

reddit is an echo chamber even worse than here. i dread depending on its platform for any content

More to the point, it's a nasty community. (Second in nastiness only to Wikipedia)

The tone of reddit is set more by downvoting rather than upvoting. Any post on proggit about any language people actually use gets voted down by an army of bots written in languages that people don't use. Also, they're a bunch of communists because they'll vote you down if you drop any hint that (1) you're in it for the money or (2) you care about business in any way.

Reddit's negativity might make it spam resistant, but it will repell mainstream audiences and prevent their expansion.

You're describing particular subreddits, not reddit.

Reddit is actually the most powerful facebook-alternative in existence today. And I mean alternative in the sense of "community for online conversations" and not necessarily, "place to post baby pictures".

The sort of political and organizing power reddit has shown recently (say, with the SOPA campaign) is not thinkable on facebook or google+. An AMA on reddit has also become a required stop for actors/directors/authors etc. for promoting their latest projects. G+ can only dream of such reach and power and facebook is by design (and branding) not suitable for such "interactive-broadcasting" type of usage.

by your logic we should continue to use facebook then.

now, if you want to start to discuss effectivenes instead of size, take a look at slashcode voting system.

Reddit is not a monolith. There are thousands of communities for every interest beyond the defaults.

It did wonders for imgur?

Just one data point here, but I effectively switched to Bing for search (actually, DDG, but they use Bing among other things to get their results). In all honesty, I think that google's results are slightly better, especially when it comes to technical type of searches (maths, statistics, academic papers, etc..), but for the most common types of searches, DDG does just fine. Reasons for the switch? I was getting a bit upset by all these privacy things, and the NSA stuff got me over the edge 4 or 5 months ago. Not that my new setup is anymore secure, but I think that DDG does an honest effort to not actively screw me over, which is more than can be said of the other tech cos so I'm willing to encourage that type of behavior by giving them a shot.

The nice thing about DDG is that it's extremely easy to use the DDG browser interface to search google if you decide to do so.

In Firefox, if you have DDG as your default search:

  ctrl-k (next thing you type will be a search)
  !g     (A DDG "bang code," in this case "search google")
   whatever (this search will be sent to google)
<ctrl-k>!g whatever, and you're sent to a google search result page. Bonus, you get a better results page URL than google usually gives you.

DDG gets better and better every day. I noticed recently that if you search for a street address DDG gives you a map result from open street map, and gives you links to bing, mapquest, google maps and open street map. It's great.

And btw the DDG bang code for google maps is "!gm" and the bang code for google news is "!gn".

It was specifically the nymwars that drove me out, they wouldn't accept my legal, tax-paying name.

Well, that and it was a pretty vacuous experience.

> They are doing everything they can think of to fence off their own portion of the web before it's too late.

<cough> AOL <cough> <cough>

Yeah, I remember two or three years ago there was a long bout of Facebook rage here, and I posted what I would like from Google as a replacement (under an earlier account). And G+ became almost exactly what I was wishing for, except they went out of their way to make it suck.

"Experiences like this led me to leave Facebook"

I would go on a tangent to this, that I never got any actionable information or other life improvement from facebook. I tried, really hard, for six months, to participate and get something out of it, but it was just a huge time waster so I wiped it.

Although supposedly youtube is only (or mostly) used for trash talking comments on kitten videos, I have occasionally gotten actual useful data and experiences from youtube. Programming screencasts and the like. Also the videos I watch and comment on are of a professional-ish level I like being associated with.

So I'm finding the outrage hard to generate. If the whole world finds out my real name liked a university video lecture about simulating a vibrating 2-D plane using multiple stack computers solving differential eqs instantiated on a FPGA as a lab exercise at Columbia, well, I'm not going to ragequit youtube over it. In fact I think thats just great.

Its their property; if they want to drastically change its culture (to something I happen to prefer) its hard for me to feel bad about it. There was a cheesy falling apart barn nearby the Interstate not too far from where I live. The new owners painted it; outrage from traditionalists who would rather see it torn down than painted. What do I care, other than I happen to like the new paint job? If the complainers don't like it, they can put up their own antique barn and let it decay unpainted, or they could have bought the old barn.

The original author didn't like that the rabbit bathing video site decided to dump him, so shout out, you can't dump me because I'm dumping you first. Well all this high school dating drama is amusing for me to watch, but I have a FPGA video to get back to watching. And if someone finds out, that's OK with me.

Unlike facebook, youtube can demand a fair trade because its content is actually worth something. OK here's my real name, now let me watch something useful.

This might be the end of youtube as we know it, as a complete waste of time, I mean. It doesn't mean the end of the site.

Not everyone wants the stuff they do online completely public. I don't want a potential employer to read a stupid comment I left 7 years ago, or my family to read something I said about atheism, or my friends to read my political comments. Let alone having to explain why I just watched or liked some video, not even leaving a comment. Just because you use a website only for professional stuff doesn't mean everyone does.

Again with the "it's their right to do whatever they want with it, so you can't complain". First of all it's perfectly fair for people to complain or criticize a service. Especially if they use it a lot or depend on it. It's certainly frustrating to use a website for years and be forced to leave it or deal with the changes.

Second YouTube is basically a monopoly. There are not many other video sharing sites, especially with lots of viewers, to post videos on. And for viewers almost all the videos on the internet are hosted on YouTube and most content creators. It's not like we have much of a choice to just go somewhere else if we don't like it.

My thing about anonymity and Internet commentary is that neither the producers of content, nor maintainers of the medium, should be under any obligation to provide the consumers with an anonymous forum. This isn't even an issue of "build your own video streaming site with a comments system you like"; YouTube has a nice API. Build your own anonymous community. Or just use Reddit or whatever.

At one point, the comments were probably really useful to YouTube. They probably increase the virality of the content, before Facebook and Twitter provided new ways to share. But now, it's a liability. Advertisers don't want their product to be juxtaposed with unaccountable commentary, and advertisers are the ones that finance the whole enterprise, for better or for worse.

I'm really glad Google finally decided to do something about their video comments. They host some of the vilest commentary I've seen on any mainstream site.

Yes they do have an obligation. No one is going to use your additional commenting system over the actual site's system. You don't really have a choice but to use it. Limited anonymity is very important. People regret what they said years earlier. People don't want their future employers reading what they said online. People don't want to keep certain things private from their family. Youtube isn't a social network and they are trying to merge it in with one.

I'm not aware of advertisers ever caring about comments and if so that's absolutely ridiculous. Keep in mind they also allow anyone to post videos of anything at all short of porn and place adverts right over that. Plenty of forum sites have ads as well. I really doubt that was ever an issue and it's incredibly silly if it was.

Fixing the comments doesn't require removing anonymity or even censorship.

The problem with youtube comments is that it was a huge mainstream site open to everyone. Unlike niche communities that filter out certain kinds of people just because they don't go to the site. Second there was no sorting of comments at all. Anything anyone posted immediately appeared at the top. Like and dislike buttons had no functional use, they were a joke.

And the comments still suck and they always will.

Here's the thing, I used to write very polite comments on YouTube that could be divided in either opinions that added to the discussion or questions to the uploader but now this goggle+ bs is so annoying and inconvenient that from now on I'm not making any comments anymore.

But the racist idiot posting the most vile and offensive stuff you have ever read is going to sick around because he enjoys doing that.

I don't know what to do with your comment. I think every single person I know over age 50 on Facebook has gotten a lot out of it, for instance, if for no reason other than they used it to reconnect with old friends. But you didn't get anything out of it so you deleted it.. ok - is there some bigger point you're making? I'm missing it.

It sort of sounds like another one of those "I'm 22 and don't understand why other people can't just be true to themselves and don't want their real name associated with every single thing they've ever said or done" rants against old people, but I wouldn't slap that accusation on you.

I think people just want to say things sometimes without it hanging around forever. Like yelling out something funny in a crowd. What's wrong with that?

"is there some bigger point you're making?"

Sorry for responding late. TLDR of my long post is its a privacy market. The trade happens when both sides think they're getting the better half of the deal at the same time. FB is a classic privacy market which I got almost nothing from, so I'm not willing to trade more than a microscopic amount of privacy for it, in fact I'm not willing to participate at all. On the other hand, I feel I get substantial "stuff" in exchange for giving up some privacy on youtube, there actually is some worthwhile stuff there, so I feel its a fair trade. This market making balance varies pretty widely across different people at different sites. I could have just as well used HN as my example of trading off privacy (however little) vs what I get out of it (which is a lot) but FB is the standard market player for privacy discussions, so...

On the bigger picture, I suspect those who run YT know what they're doing, and this is a reasoned decision. You must give up this much more privacy to trade, means they are hoping / expecting the value of whatever videos they're shipping will improve to make it worthwhile. Or they just can't monetize anonymous cute cat video comments anymore so abandon that market sector, which is frankly not much of a loss to humanity.

I also get a lot of value out of youtube videos. I am pretty careful about never being logged in to google except to do occasional maintenance/checking on my legacy email addres, so I don't worry too much about being tracked beyond my IP, and I never need to leave comments anyway.

I'm learning a few instruments, and I find a lot of instructors use youtube for that. (Although I'm finding I prefer instructors' vimeo videos when they do it that way.) Some of them are very good. As long as youtube lets me view without logging in, I'm happy. I'll react in some rational way if they change that.

It's been a while since youtube started restricting access to video that have been flagged. I don't remember when exactly but in 2009 there were already videos explaining how to circumvent this "feature": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lUkrX7PZNok

Then there are the video you can't watch from third party websites and from certain regions and so on.

It is an improbable possibility that google will require to be logged in to watch youtube videos, but it's still could happen one day.

but you have option. like that fancy pants academic video? nice. thumbed up a silly cat video just to show someone later on your phone? too bad. its there now too.

It's very hard for me to imagine someone who wants to try so very hard to maintain a serious public image that they won't be caught liking a silly cat video on YouTube. That seems hilariously self-important.

Replace silly cat video with some video about a medical condition (I know I've gone to YouTube to check something relevant and medical before). And you can see how people start to feel uncomfortable when their identity is plastered all over the relevant page.

>It's very hard for me to imagine someone who wants to try so very hard to maintain a serious public image that they won't be caught liking a silly cat video on YouTube. That seems hilariously self-important.

Eh, I think this idea that we must live our whole life in public (to the /same/ public using the /same/ identity) is a bit insidious. Especially in these days of "cultural fit" - it leads to this idea that you need to spend your private life in service of your professional life.

If you have an unpopular hobby or sexual proclivity, keeping that out of your professional life, in many circles, could be even seen as polite; At the office? nobody wants to know about your love for furry fan-fiction.

Sure, cute cat videos are different from furry fan fiction, but... if I'm "following" you? I will "unfollow" if there are a bunch of cute cat videos. I mean, unless I'm following you for your great taste in cute cat videos. More to the point, if I'm evaluating you and, say, your long screeds advocating a political cause I find particularly distasteful keep coming up, I might have a hard time evaluating you rationally, on your skills. (Also, if I'm hiring you, I want you to be able to leave the bullshit at home. Leaving the bullshit in another identity helps with that sort of thing.)

I really think that multiple identities is the solution. You can have your cute cat picture identity, your furry fan-fiction identity, your radical socialist identity, and your professional programmer identity. I can choose to follow the identity I find interesting. I mean, yeah, if someone /really wants/ to connect your furry fan-fiction identity to your professional programmer identity, they can. However, if you practice proper identity hygiene, it becomes much easier for me (or another third party) to interact with the professional programmer, without dealing with your hobbies I have no interest in, or maybe even find distasteful.

Most of the "real name" folks seem to think that by making everything public, we will see that we are all weirdos, and become more accepting of our differences.

I guess that's my prime problem with the 'real name' folks; I think that it's just fine to do business with, or even relate socially to folks that have hobbies or political views that I believe are downright wrong. I don't think that 'acceptance' is required for that. I think that you can like and trust one facet of a person's personality, without liking other facets of their personality.

I want to be able to say "I think this person is a great programmer" without implying that I also endorse their badly written Spock/Kirk slash fiction, or their half-baked anarcho-capitalist political rants.

That's still one of the primary ways Google+ tries to differentiate itself as a social network. In fact I remember some of their commercials describing an almost identical situation. 'Circles' let you share things with only the people you know who care about them. I don't know how this works with YouTube, I don't use it very much. But it's implemented pretty well on Google+.

does plus let you display different names to different circles? I didn't think so (but maybe I'm wrong. I'm a big advocate of one browser (or one profile) and one account per identity, so I haven't really messed with circles.) - without that capability, circles are... much less useful.

No, it doesn't. All of my social circles are tied to me in real life in one way or another, so using a false identity isn't really something that's important to me. I can see how it would be in some cases though, especially if a particular social circle is entirely online.

Personally I'm a big fan of encouraging the use of real identities for reputation management in online communities instead of relying on fake Internet points. We'll have to wait and see how it all shakes down!

>Personally I'm a big fan of encouraging the use of real identities for reputation management in online communities

For me personally? I use my real name for most things. It's convenient. And in a "cultural fit" world, well, I am a "cultural fit" for my profession, so why not run with it? Nearly everything I've done online in the last decade has been under my real name.

That's the key, though. Being a 'cultural fit' means that the community is unlikely to have a problem with my personal life, and if they do, it's likely to be a minor sort of thing.

Actually, the multiple identities thing you talked about is one of the new G+ features on YouTube. You can create a G+ Page, which is treated as a separate profile across YouTube and G+. This Page is internally linked to you (but no one can see the original owner) and you can switch in and out of it by clicking "Switch Accounts".

Edit: forgot to mention, you have to explicitly connect the G+ Page to YouTube.


huh. That is pretty cool. I mean, there's a lot of room here for 'human factors' kinds of screwups, but... that looks like they are heading in a reasonable direction.

Note, that functionality is exactly what the author of the article is objecting to.

That's not typically how people operate though. When you go to your crazy culty church or your Socialist Workers Party meeting or your gun club or your polyamory potluck you don't typically go by a pseudonym, you just don't expect your work friends and your church friends to overlap, and if they do, who cares, your friend was at church too. The problem seems to be reconciling this with a world where you can google for people or add them on social networks where all these disparate things happen online. But even then, there's a simple solution--don't use social networks. Sign up for the gun forum, the polyamory forum, the culty megachruch forum, the Socialist Workers Party forum, and even if you use your real name or a traceable pseudonym, people would have to go out of their way to match things together, and with a lot of false positives along the way.

Google's stated goal is to organize the world's information. That (presumably) includes linking and making easily searchable all those pseudonyms at those diverse forums you use. Trusting that those bits of interaction will stay nicely in their own corners is like trusting that only your high-school buddies will see that compromising picture you just posted on Facebook.

but then why do you "like" or "+1" the cat videos in the first place, if not to make it known to the world that you liked them?

>but then why do you "like" or "+1" the cat videos in the first place, if not to make it known to the world that you liked them?

My point is that I may have 'cat video friends' who, you know, are in to that sort of thing, with whom I may wish to share these sorts of things.

My point is that while it's fine to have my cat video friends, I ought to have the option of not sharing my 'cat fancy' with other groups who may look down on that sort of thing.

well then it looks like you are not looking for the +1 button, but for something more complicated than that, an ACL'd endorsement of sorts. Right now the closest thing to that is to just reshare the video to your 'cat video friends' circle :)

I have liked a lot of things as thank-you or acknoledgement to the author. If I want to make something known, if I want to spread the word, I clicked the "share" button, that was its purpouse.

You can send a message to the author if you want to acknowledge something privately. The +1 button is there to make it publicly known that you endorse the content, that is its purpose.

thumbed up a silly cat video just to show someone later on your phone?

But there are lots of ways to share YouTube videos, forwarding a URL being one that does not even require any YouTube account or bookmarking for yourself to load it up later.

why would you click thumbs up when you meant bookmark? that's the wrong button.

I'm really psyched about Tent (https://tent.io/) as an alternative model. If people start to build apps around it, the promise is a system that puts storage and sharing into the hands of the user, not the provider.

And https://cupcake.is is a really dope free service people can use to kick the tires of it.

EDIT: Here is an example: https://siracusa.cupcake.is/profile.

Friggin' awesome. I have been thinking of a way to do social media but strictly under your own control, on your own server (until you decide to share something). It sounds like that's what these guys are doing.

Still, people like stranger-to-stranger social media as well, like with Instagram. I suppose that functionality will always lie with a third party, since no privacy can be assumed in that case.

I think the way you would do this on Tent is that you would choose from many CMS apps capable of editing your blog post type (presumably, these apps will spring up as the ecosystem matures). While you're still crafting the post, you can set its sharing permissions such that no one else can see it. Perhaps you want to share it with individuals before you go public.

One way to publish it would be to have your front-end platform act as a subscriber to posts with some type of "published" flag. This sort of paradigm would be amenable to having multiple aggregators acting as the front-ends for syndicating content.

Comments on your posts would themselves be Tent posts, created by readers and hosted in their own Tents. Readers could have some of their conversations on your content publicly, but could also @-mention other users by Tent Entity URL to have private conversations within their social groups.

I really think the sky is the limit, because the system puts the data in the users' wheelhouses, and there can be all sorts of innovation in presentation and interactivity, decoupled with many of the concerns about storage.

Platforms could still monetize post content that they create and mediate, it's just that users would be able to choose the platforms that serve them best, rewarding those providers.

I think there's probably a lot of stuff to figure out still, but I'm very excited to see where this goes.

Like the web, global search and recommendations can be easily powered by Tent search engines (actually easier on Tent than the web since content is pushed, not pulled). Tent also supports content licensing on the post level so users can choose how their data can be used.

the second I read "build apps" I knew this is not even close to an alternative models.

the only alternative model is decentralized, encrypted and pseudonymous/anonymous. Maybe something along the lines of btsync, btchat mixed with pursuit [1].

[1]: http://www.fp7-pursuit.eu/PursuitWeb/

Tent is decentralized-- most Tent apps connect only to the user's own Tent server (they aren't hosted and don't "phone home"). Tent supports client-side encryption and strongly encourages anonymity.

You just described Tent!

I am late to this party, so I doubt my comment will be seen but...

I think you are oversimplifying the pros/cons of social media. Facebook and LinkedIn are incredibly useful as networking tools if nothing else. I can maintain a network of people in many different cities and countries and keep up on family/friend developments without talking on the phone for hours. Plus it makes sharing things like articles, photos, and videos much easier. The list goes on and on...

As for privacy? Well, celebrities live with the absence of privacy as a requisite of becoming famous. We enjoy a free service with the implicit agreement that we are giving something of ourselves in exchange--our eyeballs and personal data for ads. It's up to you to make that choice, but you can't whine when you enjoyed a free service for so long.

Celebrities also generally receive large amounts of money and other perks for their loss of privacy. Facebook can film me 16 hours a day if they hook me up with a couple mil.

E-mail and blogs can do that as well.

I think you're underestimating the lengths people will go to in order to use the company whose products they are already somewhat familiar with. Google+ has certainly made a big mess of Google's accounts and settings systems, but I'll just stumble my way through all of that occasionally to avoid potentially getting burnt by some smaller company that I don't know as much about.

I found that unsubscribing from friends feeds and only following certain publications that are in tune with my personal interests has allowed me to stay with Facebook longer. More recently however I have been moving towards twitter / hn for my news intake and conversation, and Facebook has remained in my routine only as a 'bad habit'

Experience led me to not get a gmail when the service opened, actually I stayed away of anything google (except the search engine while it provided relevant results) since it switched from being a search engine to an ads seller based on profiling of people.

Then being hired to uncover people's identity from their online activity in times before so called "social networks" were coined led me to never register on friendster, myspace or any other followers of this trend. I failed to see the benefits of linkedin which still spams on a regular basis (if anyone knows how to stop receiving emails from linkedin...) and saw where facebook was headed in their attempt to be the new msn which for those who remember was microsoft attempt to destroy the internet by replacing it with a microsoft owned network which came bundled with windows 95.

I value freedom, therefore privacy, I refuse to be the product being sold and hate with a passion anything ads-based for I have experienced the web before ads which is the vector from which privacy invasion and surveillance came to be.

For some reason people started to offer money to display ads banner on websites but asked for at least a way to count and track clicks on those banners and It's been all downhill from there. For those who read TAZ by Hakim Bey he put the end of the potential of the web to put the people in power around 1996 when ads came to the web and turned it into a surveillance tool.

I am mostly for the ostensible cleaning up of YouTube comments, but what got me was that any time you share a YouTube video on Google+ proper or comment in a thread where someone shared a YouTube video, it automatically cross-posts what you said back to the comments underneath the video on YouTube. And that's not just for shares/comments going forward: it's everything you've ever shared publicly, ever. I'm now getting inane YouTube-level comments on stuff I shared months ago because I happened to share a popular YouTube video on Google+.

As part of the rare breed of people actually using Google+ proper, it's really turned me off from the whole thing. Even though I shared YouTube videos publicly and commented on publicly-viewable Google+ posts with YouTube videos, I intended to only post my comments and shares on Google+, not syndicated everywhere at a later date without additional consent[1] and especially not the cesspool that is the YouTube comment section. I don't really understand why anyone thought that'd be okay. And anecdote isn't data, but talking to other Google+ users I know, nobody seemed to be aware that this was going to happen: they all just thought the identities would be merged, but if you post on Google+, it'd stay on Google+.

[1]: I'm aware that there's probably some clause in their privacy policy that gave them the legal ability to do this, but Google is usually pretty decent when it comes to informing of changes to privacy/visibility options.

Ugh. This was my problem with Google+ too. Everything you do ripples out into the rest of the internet in a creepy way.

When I was freelancing, I emailed back and forth with potential clients through the Gmail interface. One day I saw this party pic of a 20-something girl with beer in hand, identified by the full name of a receptionist I had emailed with professionally but never actually met. It was a suggestion from Google to connect with her on Google+, which I'm sure she'd have been mortified by. I deleted my account that day.

This and TFA hit to the heart of the problem with Google+: Google has willfully refused to acknowledge or understand that singular humans have multiple personas, and that we do not and cannot allow those to mix. Your professional face is not the same as your close-family personal face is not the same as your secret webcomic artist handle is not ... you get the idea.

There are so many mundane variations on that theme, and then there are very serious ones: those seeking support for addiction, as survivors of abuse, or other situations that have social stigma or personal risk attached to them. Some needs are simply private in that way a vulnerable person needs secure anonymity lest the public light itself become a chilling effect, of which health concerns are a common example.

The architecture of Google+ is such that it is inherently inhuman in its disregard for privacy and for applying different "pen names" to the various situations of life.

> Google has willfully refused to acknowledge or understand that singular humans have multiple personas, and that we do not and cannot allow those to mix.

They may not acknowledge it, but they certainly understand it. The whole value proposition of Circles was initially that'd you'd only share what you want with who you want.

Agreed. When G+ first hit the scene, before Google's big push to own and publish the unified identity for every physical human, Circles looked like a promising experiment. A lot of people I know who were fed up with Facebook started exploring Google+ because of that.

Then Google changed directions entirely (along with the big management shakeup that flipped Google from a bottom-up org to a top-down org) and those ideas were effectively killed. And every single person I knew who'd been toying with G+ dropped it like a hot potato.

Please explain how the idea of circles has been killed.

I just went to the YouTube comment box, and right there is the control for what circles to publish to: http://imgur.com/3ZEB9Th

The main problem for me that in different circles I might have different persona (different name, different image, some parts of my identity not exposed - like my workplace). It is mask I wear is important not who I'm talking to.

G+ lets you control what circles can see your employment info: http://imgur.com/nuBP0Qz

Personally I much prefer that G+ (and Facebook, for that matter) lets you interact with real people and not personas.

The problem is that in reality you have different faces: coworker, father, lover and etc. Neither of these are less real and many of them not necessary has real name, you can be "Your Name" (without surname) for your coworker, "Daddy" for your child and "Honey" for your lover.

I just try to explain why Google+ does not work for me at all.

Ironic, isn't it?

G+ and YouTube support multiple profiles. You can create a G+ Page, which is treated as a separate profile across YouTube and G+. This Page is internally linked to you (but no one can see the original owner) and you can switch in and out of it in G+. You can explicitly connect the G+ Page to YouTube, which provides you with a separate YouTube profile.


That introduces problem that I accidentally use wrong profile/identity (e.g. I'm in a hurry).

I got freaked out by Facebook because I signed up there using a work email.

I think Facebook's recommendation system was using the data from other users' address books. As in I'd get a list of various people that I'd done business with in the past as suggested friends on Facebook. Those people had my address in their address book and I can only assume they'd uploaded their contacts to Facebook. Facebook retains that data. Here I am a new user. Wow how does it know I know such and such? I can only assume that it also works the other way: I join and I pop up in their account.

Google got into a mess with Buzz and the address book leaks, and email address leaks.

So there's a fine line here between privacy and helpfulness.

Agree! I still can't figure out how Google went into my Ipad Pictures app and stole a picture of me. I deleted it, but should have kept it for evidence.

I don't understand your example. Apparently the receptionist attends parties and drinks alcohol in her downtime, how is that an issue? That is not inappropriate at all.

I'd rather not have the people I deal with on a professional basis see pictures of me at a party drinking alcohol.

I don't care if it's perfectly legitimate and understandable behaviour, it's awkward.

And cross-posting G+ comments makes YouTube comments worse not better because many times when people share video on G+ the text is just the video title or something like: Must watch video title or "Checkout this video on YouTube". Showing these in the YouTube comments is useless spam. Also there is lot of "empty" comments with only a "shared this via Google+" thing which is even more useless. It's turning into something like the end of Tumblr posts with page long list of likes without any comment.

I find public facing popular G+ accounts suffer much the same, loads of useless comments. 140 comments that you can't be bothered to read. If you do ever read them, you'll notice no one else can be bothered to read so it's just a long reel of repetition in the main.

The Youtube comments used to just be weird as comments would refer to other comments, and then they'd get promoted and end up completely disjointed. At least now there is threading.

The "we're applying this change retroactively to everything you previously posted with an embedded YT video" aspect made me immediatly go through my posts and delete the embedded video (just a link doesn't trigger the comment cross-pollution).

If you'd re-shared someone elses video share, you're SOL. I deleted a few of those posts, re-posted others as URL links to the original (this loses comments, if any).

It used to be you could identify your YT comments from within YT. I've got slightly separated accounts on G+ and YT, and the comments originating from G+ don't seem to show under the YT account. I'm not sure there's any clean way to get rid of them.

I pretty much share your view of where my comments get posted -- I place them in a context, and that's where I intend for them to remain. The YT thing was (yet another) huge trust violation. Especially given that comment management tools are so pissedly poor on G+.

I wonder how much engagement Google/Facebook/et. al. lose from people who are about to make a comment/post a status/etc., and then thing 'Hm, no - this is private now, but what about in a year when they automatically change my privacy settings without asking me?'

Put another way, imagine I am a teenager or college student who uses Facebook.

1. Start to upload a photo from my phone of me and my friends doing shots

2. Try to figure out how (on my phone!) to set privacy settings so that my younger brother (who is my Facebook friend) and my parents (who aren't, but use the Internet and sometimes Google my name) can't see it.

3. Remember that Facebook has a history of "expanding" privacy settings retroactively

4. Think "Ah, fuck it", and send a Snapchat to my friends instead.

In reality it's probably not that common right now, but hopefully that may increase in the future. You can only pull the rug out from under your users so many times before learn to walk along another path.

I don't really want to dive into this conversation in any real depth, but I do want to point out that Google+, with old features or new, has never violated the ACLs that users set. If you set something to private, it remains private forever.

To do otherwise would be corporate suicide.

Disclaimer: I work for Google, but not on G+.

No, but Buzz was a horrible metadata leak. It's not like there's a guarantee no data will ever leak.

> I do want to point out that Google+, with old features or new, has never violated the ACLs that users set. If you set something to private, it remains private forever.

I know that, which is why I used the example of Facebook.

However, Google+ does make it incredibly easy to leak information that I would otherwise consider private accidentally.

For example, I can't use Google+ with my primary email address, as it's a Google+ account. However, because it's linked with my Gmail account (which does have a Google+ account), some people who have added me on Google+ have been able to figure out my Gmail address (which I haven't used for email purposes in years[0]).

I can imagine all the technical reasons for this, but that doesn't change the fact that it feels a bit wrong for a service to hand out my old email address (which I never give out anymore) to people I've met recently and who have added me on Google+ using my current email address.

Imagine your Google+ email address is something that you can't change, but don't really want people to see anymore - this isn't uncommon; it appeared in a New York Times piece just yesterday, in the context of college admissions[1]. Thankfully, my personal email address is much more tame than that student's, but that still doesn't mean I want anybody to know or use it nowadays.

Furthermore, it's incredibly easy to sign up "accidentally" to use Youtube with Google+ and your "real name" instead of continuing to use your pseudonym.

As for the distinction you point out - I know the difference, and you know the difference. But most users don't.

> To do otherwise would be corporate suicide.

Apparently not completely - Facebook's gotten away with it for years![2]

[0] This may have been fixed, since it was a while ago that I last noticed, but it was still the case for quite a while.

I would have to go through my inbox to remember the details of why this happened - I remember debugging and tracking it down. But the fact that it took that much effort to discover why my new acquaintances suddenly knew my old (personal) email address, and that I can't remember anymore, speaks volumes as to how easy it would be for a less savvy user to accidentally leak information that they wanted to keep private.


[2] http://mattmckeon.com/facebook-privacy/ - this graph doesn't distinguish clearly between those which were automatically retroactive and those which weren't, but that's a topic that's been well-reported and is easy to search for.

I'm honestly not sure how your email address would be leaked, vanity URLs are name-based and at least one of the reasons Plus uses ID strings was in order to prevent leaking any account details through the URL. I'm sorry that other people are figuring it out, that sucks. If you remember what happened and think that G+ has had a hand in the leakage, please feel free to ping me (my URL is in my profile) and I'll try to follow it up.

Personally I do feel that G+ has done a good job at communicating to users the privacy they do and don't have, as the ACLs were baked in at the beginning. I think users have had the possibility to be confused when data is being used outside the http://plus.google.com domain, like Shared Endorsements and the YouTube comments, as this opens up the worry ACLs are being violated. I think there's more work that can be done to communicate that this hasn't happened, such as putting the "Shared (publicly|privately)" on YouTube comments so you can see why those are there.

> If you remember what happened and think that G+ has had a hand in the leakage, please feel free to ping me (my URL is in my profile) and I'll try to follow it up

Thanks for the offer - I really appreciate it. I think it had something to do with group contacts in Gmail, but I can't remember. If I have some time today I might take a look.

To clarify: I'm not exactly mad at Google in this case, because I'm a developer and I know how tricky it can be to get these things right even in small, standalone products[0]. And unlike some people on HackerNews, I don't think this is a result of bad intentions. It's just that, every time I see something like this happen (beagle3 points out the example of Buzz below), I can't help but notice that users' trust is both fragile (easily broken) and unforgiving (no benefit of the doubt).

These things are tough to get right, but they're very critical for the long-term success of a product.

[0] Also, the consequences for me happened to be pretty mild, thankfully.

It sounds like it was a failure of design.

Then perhaps they shouldn't have taken the design into use until it was... usable. And it's really more than merely design in any case, it's at least a pretty core piece of underlying philosophy - connect everything to G+.

It's one thing to do this if you're a new service, with users that don't have all kinds of baggage with you - if your UI isn't great they can choose to accept it for the value you offer or reject it. But existing users it's almost a kind of fraud - you convince em to join under a false pretense but then change the rules half way.

I am a 22 year old kid and I can't tell you how many times this has happened to me. It even happens with snap chats actually, because of the apps that allow you to save a snap. I am noticing however that there seems to be a strong correlation between household income and internet behavior. My wealthier friends all have pristine online images, while the poorer ones tend to share more.

I'm pretty sure Snapchat notifies you if the other party takes a screenshot of your photo, though.

There are actual apps you can download that allow you to save a photo or video, not just the screenshot. I'm actually pretty baffled that people still don't know about them. Renders snapchat useless.

The concept of Snapchat is useless - it's literally DRM. It will work well enough for some folks, but fundamentally it simply isn't technically possible. At least not without a "trusted computing" model with remote attestation and so on.

No, its fundamentally impossible: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Analog_hole

You can prevent the actual bitstream from being copied with "secure" hardware, and most such hardware includes systems that verify output devices. Of course nothing stops you from taking a picture or video of the screen, but that's not making a digital copy. (Although, with a high resolution scanner, you could read every pixel and reverse the encoding and possibly end up with the same bit-by-bit value.)

They notify you but that other person still has the photo. It's better than nothing but it's not that helpful.

Unless you have a jailbroken phone...

See my post above, its an actual app.

The scenario you describe is precisely why I like G+'s circles; every post and every photo shared is shared with a specific subset of my contacts. The vast majority of my posts on G+ are targeted at only a fraction of my friends.

Facebook had this functionality for years before G+ launched and is built into the status update box.

I'm well aware of that, but the UI is nowhere near as convenient and targeted sharing doesn't play as central a role. "Circles" was the major differentiating feature when G+ launched.

Plus you can have closed user groups on Facebook. They work well....

> 1. Start to upload a photo from my phone of me and my friends doing shots

Just don't do this. Seriously. Don't do it. I don't know why people keep putting self-damaging things on the Internet. If it's on the Internet, you should consider it as public. Full stop. There's so many avenues for things to get out into the public (leaked passwords, website glitches, human error in general), that unless you're extremely careful about the dissemination of that information (hint: don't be /in/ the picture in the first place, or you've already lost), the data is as good as public.

Really, what did you gain by putting that picture on the Internet, anyway?

what's wrong with doing shots? you're acting as if it's universally unethical or something

what about this: someone is being odiously racist, so I write a brutal reply to shut em down. Should I also hesitate on doing this, thinking that some employer may infer my radical left politics from it and stop me from getting a job in the future?

All you need to know about common sense about what to upload online is that it changes, not only in time but from social scene to social scene.

[Really, what did you gain by putting that picture on the Internet, anyway?]

It is a memory. Doing shots isn't wrong or bad. Maybe doing 20 of them and then driving home from the bar is bad. Posting pictures is a way to relive a precious moment in time with others.

It’s not that I find Google or even Google+ itself bad. But the connections between the account, the Google+ profile, the Google profile, the various websites and contact lists

This is totally it for me. I have a few Google accounts (an 'original' one and two Apps For Your Domain ones for e-mail and work) and it seems Google has made Plus accounts for each and I have things spread around them all. I've seen stories where people tried to "merge" accounts and ended up losing access to their mail, etc.. so rocking the boat doesn't seem worth it to me.

I don't mind Google's (usually great) services but it's the binding together that makes me wary.

How do we reconcile Google Only Hires Geniuses with their executional incompetence across multiple (dozens of?) products?

Is it a pride of ego fallacy? They think they are the best and they can do no wrong, so they just keep doing things without thinking results through?

Too many logical programmers trying to have input on end users/UI/UX decisions where visuals and emotions are more important?

Too many 24 year old bro managers running around trying to make a name for themselves by manipulating people in flashy ways instead of quietly making the world a better place?

I agree with the sentiments, but most Google products worked better when they were done by logical programmers. They've all got much less usable since the fancy UI designers came in and screwed them up.

Good point. There's the genius of the original Google Search experience versus the new horrendous "three to five floating javascript toolbars taking up 50% of the screen" Google+ pages with unreadable URLs.

"Which post? Oh, post 43278947329849783223? Yeah, I liked that one too."

> They've all got much less usable since the fancy UI designers came in and screwed them up.

See also, the decline of GNOME. This isn't a problem unique to Google.

True. See also: The New Yahoo...

And apperantly Win8 too.

They were great when they were merely engineering products. Implementation of killer search. Implementation of smtp and a great improvement on imap. Etc.

Now that they're trying to program humans ... not so great.

This is one thing michaelochurch got right: Google imported a bunch of MS execs (Gundotra, etc) and didn't beat the MS out of them. The engineers lost political power to control the product.

I don't think you can blame the "genius" engineers. These seem rather more like business decisions. As soon as Google started talking about the total number of Google+ accounts as though they were in competition with Facebook, it became clear that the goal was to increase that number at any cost, including intrusive and downright anti-user tactics.

The only explanation as to why they are continuing to push forward on this front even in the face of increasing criticism is that it must be working, at least in the sense that the number keeps going up. However, these UX nightmares are eventually going to catch up with them and drive people away. In short, they are going to win the battle but lose the war.

I don't know but I have a feeling that the hippies are leaving Google, thus the quality goes down. That is why I never comment on youtube - I cannot do it anonymously, if its cat video. But the problems started on other products too. And my sample size of people that start to dislike google services have increased recently by fair share of average Joe type users that now find them much harder to use than before

probably they hire only one hemisphere of the brain

This is getting really bad. You used to have to have multiple google accounts due to various things (having multiple youtube or gmail accounts) & now they want to make you have to only have on account & there is no good way to merge them.

I can't believe this is their final solution.

As someone who likes to avoid posting too much incriminating information on social network, I think the main problem of this trend is that the Internet is turning into No Country for Lurkers.

I can't even favourite nor like a video on YouTube anymore without being subjected to the whole carrousel of signing up for G+. I get the impression that there's some asshole at companies like Google creating a Markov chain for bumping head-first into a registration wall for the most inane lurker actions.

And this is not to mention the absolutely awful situation of being locked out of my own list of favourites, because I am now required to sign up for G+ to export them.

Don't you love the Silicon Valley CEOs who say they want to index the world's information and allow everyone to share it - except this is becoming increasingly impossible on their own platforms such as Facebook, Google, and Quora.

I get that companies have to make money, but I think the companies' business models are perfectly aligned with their personal philosophies.

> I can't even favourite nor like a video on YouTube anymore without being subjected to the whole carrousel of signing up for G+.

But you can bookmark. Or does that not make sense on a phone? My galaxy has been in my sock drawer for a couple years now, I forget.

After I signed up on Pinboard, I've taken to save my bookmarks there instead. Still, an IFTTT script that saves to Pinboard, whenever I favourite on YouTube would be less annoying and also allow me to have my favourites on YouTube.

I use pinboard too, great service.

Google has really lost its way to do UX. Google plus and youtube are not the one ones.

I have no permanent way to disable Youtube asking me to merge accounts except goat sacrifice and writing directly to Larry Page - "If I rejected you 25 time why do you think I will agree on the 26th"

I had to use Google Maps yesterday - the mobile app. Few things of notice - scale was never given on screen. Also there was not a way by which you could measure the distance between two points.

There are numerous inconsistencies between their products - why is google keep hidden when you are at drive google.com and on and on and on.

I think that this could be case of either no dogfooding or extreme dogfooding - either no one at google uses their own services or they use only google ones and have forgotten that people in the outside world are not so invested in the google ecosystem.

It seems unlikely that this is by accident and that people at Google are not aware of how annoying it is.

Perhaps, just perhaps, they've decided they will make more money by forcing people to use G+. I see plenty of comments on YouTube, still of YT quality, with "Real Names". It's not like there's really a useful alternative to YT for most people. Google gets nothing from people commenting anonymously on YT. Annoying those people is no big loss - they won't stop visiting YT to consume. And for those that sign up with G+, they'll eventually gain more money from advertising.

This whole attitude that this is sheer UX incompetence is moronic.

(Now, with respect to the whole accounts management stuff and Google Apps and what not, that seems like technical issues.)

> Google gets nothing from people commenting anonymously on YT. Annoying those people is no big loss

The one message I keep hearing from people launching new youtube channels is "please comment". And as it happens, the comments on less popular videos tend to be of a higher caliber, too.

If Google drives away commenters from fringe videos, they will absolutely feel the loss down the line.

This would be fine if they actually provided a "I never want to comment. Never link my G+ and Youtube Accounts." option. But they keep asking forever.

How is it in their interests to provide a "I never want to link" option? They keep asking forever because they know that'll increase conversion ratios.

If people start leaving for an alternative service, then they might care. And who could launch an alternative? Yahoo? Microsoft? MS tried and bungled it like crazy (like everything MSN.)

About blocking the Youtube notification for account merge: add this custom filter in Adblock ||s.ytimg.com/yts/jsbin/www-linkgplusdialog* and it stops the pop-ups. Someone posted this a while back on Reddit, and it actually works really well.

The missing scale on Google maps is infuriating, IMO. How can you use the app to navigate around city streets if you can't easily see the distances involved?

(N.b. this is on iOS, I think Android maps has a scale?)

Just tested on my Nexus 7: the scale appears when the map is zooming, and then it fades away after a couple of seconds.

> You know what? Forget it, I don’t even want to comment any more. It was a dumb video anyway.

I went through this exact process and thought ("screw this, ugh!") several times before I just decided to stop hanging out on youtube and commenting on peoples' videos. I used to waste a huge amount of time doing this, but now I only sometimes watch things that others have discovered and shared with me. I don't comment or browse like I used to, and I'm sure their advertising revenue off of me has dropped off a cliff.

It also seems like the amount of intrusive/unskippable advertising has rocketed up, too, over the last couple of years while they were forcing G+ on the world. They're kidding themselves if they think I'm going to happily watch a 30 second ad before a 2 minute viral video.

I was annoyed/sad at first when they started making these changes, but now I realize I was mostly wasting my time doing that stuff anyway. So thanks, Google, for making your site less fun to use; it really has saved me a lot of time.

My though exactly. Perhaps the anger and frustration of this integration is rooted from people being upset about being more accountable (through the real identity) and cautious, and Google is simply improving the quality of comments this way?

AdBlock plus, buddy :)

Sadly I haven't figured out a solution for mobile platforms yet. I just don't watch videos with ads in them on mobile.

Hey all. I'm the author. I don't really have much to add here except that I was afraid the article, which I dashed off as all that stuff was happening, would come off as whiny. Hope that isn't the case. Thanks for reading and linking.

I think it's to the point and reflects my own thoughts. Thanks for putting it down in such clear words.

I very much enjoyed it and hear myself speaking the exact same sentiments in my head daily.

Thanks for the tip on blocking youtube.com cookies. Never thought of that.

I added it after reading it in another thread here the other day, would give credit if I remembered who mentioned it.

I feel the pain. Just this week I deleted my Google+ account, or profile, or whatever it is. I never used G+ after initially signing up, so I had no use for it.

Deleting the account seems to have had no ill effects. The deletion page did warn me that "third party sign on" would stop working, and I do use the Google third party login via OAuth because some sites rely on it, but nothing broke. Is there some kind of different "login with G+"?

I also moved calendaring and reminders to Fruux [1], and I have previously moved my email and contacts to Fastmail, and my notes to Evernote. I'm still on GTalk via Adium, though -- is there a good replacement for that?

Moving away from the big provides feels good. It feels liberating, in fact. Google and Apple provide whole ecosystems of services, and they really, really want you to buy into their whole integrated system, and they design their systems to stretch their tendrils as far into your computing experience as possible.

At least with Apple that's core to their long-established philosophy -- integrated devices that just work -- but I'm a big believer in decentralization. I want to pick the best possible system that integrates with everything using open standards.

[1] https://fruux.com

[2] https://www.fastmail.fm/

I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm all for this change, largely because of the crappy anonymous comments you see out there on YouTube, which was the point of this transition in the first place.

However, forcing Google+ onto people does have me wary as well. I don't mind using Google+, but it seems like Google's way to slowly worm their way into people using its social component. I admittedly am not sure why it affects me, but something about that does rub me the wrong way (although not enough to ditch using Google services). It's not quite insidious, but it does feel like it gives off the vibe that we are the product, even more than usual.

If you've seen what FB comments does on news sites - then you know that using real names doesn't really guarantee improved quality.

For many years, I was a paying subscriber to the online version of the Wall Street Journal. A highly select audience, you'd think. And yes, the comments on that were mostly rubbish as well ;-)

To be fair, it is the Wall Street Journal :P .

Using real names does not fix the problem completely, I agree - you easily see the effect on articles on politics on news sites, with the mass shill accounts.

However, I argue that it is a lot greater of a deterrent.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Anonymous Youtube comments suck, but anonymity enables people to express unpopular opinions. The real problem is tyranny of the majority. Attaching real names does absolutely nothing to solve the problem.

Google should be smart enough to build a proper moderation system and retain anonymity.

"The real problem is tyranny of the majority."

Tyranny of the minority, you mean. 50%+ of internet users are not racist trolls, for example. I suspect 50%+ of anonymous commenters are, at least in mass market sites without any Karma type system... like youtube.

I'm not seeing the problem in realigning global traffic such that 4chan and reddit get more troll traffic and youtube gets less.

There are plenty of media where people can still express them, including here. Reddit is popular for example, and still keeps people's anonymity should they choose so. I defend people's right to express their opinions, but it should not be the primary option to do so anonymously IMO - it has acted as a vehicle for people with unpopular opinions to repress those who disagree respectfully in many places online, rewarding overly aggressive people.

It is my opinion that that is a worse reality should it be the norm, and wish there was more pushback. I have developed communities that try to show a better way by example (& that preserve anonymity), but that route requires active moderation, something that would be too time consuming/costly for Google to do IMO (and would likely be subject to backlash from a more anarchist contingent anyway).

In the end, I work with the dynamic that exists in the internet to set a positive example - if people want to abuse anonymity, they are more than welcome to create their own communities that make that acceptable. I will just continue to work in my own circles to provide environments that allow free exchange of ideas with civility, and everyone co-exists merrily.

How has this solved the problem? My youtube account is still attached to a throwaway Gmail account. So what if it's now also attached to a throwaway G+ account that I never use?

> I'm probably in the minority here, but I'm all for this change, largely because of the crappy anonymous comments you see out there on YouTube, which was the point of this transition in the first place.

Up the number of characters you can have in a comment then and put some proper thread organisation in place. Regardless of what they hook it up to, there are limits to the depth of the conversations you can have in such a restrictive structure.

I think it should be restrictive. There's no reason for youtube comments to have the depth of threaded forums. They're comments - they're supposed to refer to the video.

If they don't, that's hardly the end of the world. Topics evolve in real world conversation all the time, that's how people think and make connections. The question's really how you organise things - how you filter attention, and what tools there are for that to allow people interested in certain aspects of the discussion to see the bits they're likely to be interested in. Not every video needs a full blown forum underneath it, but I honestly doubt that one would occur even if you made the threads groupable at arbitrary levels - there just wouldn't be the static central point of contact with multiple people checking back that a forum seems to need, (i.e. I can't imagine people would keep on and on reloading the video,) and some sort of decent threading seems strongly indicated.

If you lack such tools, it seems to me that the only things people are liable to post if you take the length restriction off is the full text of books to try and crash the browser, ASCII art of male genitalia, and links to some of the more ewww corners of the internet. In the time it takes someone to post something well thought out someone can post twenty ASCII penises after all. The low-effort to high-lols expressions seem likely to dominate over the high-effort high-meaning expressions.

Sort of like how Reddit decayed, but with a somewhat darker tone since the existing community in the comments is less well developed than they started off with, there'd be even fewer tools, less effective moderation and you won't be able to hide niche communities behind unknown lookup names as well.

To remove your Google+ account but keep your Google services running, visit the following link:


To remove your Google+ account from YouTube:

Go to youtube settings: http://www.youtube.com/account

Click "Return name to <name>, and disconnect Google+ profile"

I was an early adopter to Google+ but screw it, I'm sick of dealing with this crap.

I've had it with the whole online social thing to be honest - it seems to lead to nothing but evil deceptive tactics like the dialog box in the article with only one option. The internet used to be fun...now I get the distinct impression that everyone is out to get me.

What can be done to reverse this trend? Or to create something altogether different from the current "internet"?

Personally I think it can't be reversed. Its too profitable and there are too many sheeple out there.

As for something "altogether different". I don't see it happening. There are just too many powerful vested interest at work. e.g. We can't even get a HTML standard pushed through without DRM.

This might sound cynical, but personally I feel its the end of an era. The internet used to be the wild west where anything is possible. Now its become a commercial turkey shoot via dark patterns, micro-transactions, data mining and a dozen other buzzwords.

> Personally I think it can't be reversed. Its too profitable and there are too many sheeple out there.

The "internet," i.e. TCP/IP, is still there pretty much as it always was. Google's interface is almost all web on top of the internet, Facebook too.

Anyone is free to use anything else implemented on the internet. Fastmail makes a handy living at implementing smtp and imap on top of TCP/IP; their value is excellent implementation along with service.

It's always possible to sell good service.

You don't have to use the DRM parts.

And I agree, it is the end of an era, a really good era. But it's not the end.

> The "internet," i.e. TCP/IP, is still there pretty much as it always was.

That might be true to you & me, but to the masses the internet is google, facebook, twitter etc.

Yes you can build anything on it, but can you compete against an opponent that is bigger, more powerful, has networking effects on its side and is more willing to use questionable tactics? Service goes a long way, but it doesn't scale well and its not enough against those odds (imo).

>Anyone is free to use anything else implemented on the internet.

Are they? Its not really about what you are free to use, but more about what you can skip. See the author in the article...does he sound like he is free to not use G+? Plus there are powerful networking effects at play...I never wanted a FB account but my friends kept bugging me about it. In a practical scenario users have very little freedom to do what they want & it only gets worse if they're technically illiterate.

Its a pity that fastmail is US based...I was actually looking for a Gmail replacement that can support own domains.

Start paying for what you want.

The whole point of app.net was to create a social-network-type thing that served its users, because they were the ones paying for it. But it seems that most people prefer free stuff to non-evil.

I paid for app.net for several months. But, all my friends are on twitter.

I was going to use Google Code for hosting my projects, but, after this fiasco, I think I'll just use Github instead.

Hey, at least I'll get to use a DVCS. :P

In all honesty, though, while this won't hurt Google right now, it's going to come back and bite them in the rear end soon enough. If they keep making these kinds of changes, what's next? Having to sign in to Google+ to use Android? A Google+ feed on the Chrome OS deskop? Requirements for Google+ account with "Developer Privileges" to download Go?

Again, this doesn't matter much now, but it's going to hurt them later. It happens to the best of everyone: Microsoft. Apple. Google.

I do both Google Code and Github. GC feels unmaintained these days, and there is no option for paid/private repositories. GC is also removing their download service - Github did the same but then later provided "releases" functionality.

Github's issue tracker is terrible (try to prioritise things) while GC is a lot better.

The one thing GC does really well is they let you have multiple repositories per project. This means you can have an Android repository, a server repository, a web site repository etc and they can all be on the same page using the same issue tracker, wiki etc. I've asked Github to implement this but they aren't interested. When each repo has its own wiki, issue tracker, releases etc it is far too painful (eg you can't move tickets between projects).

That also helps for documentation. My projects have extensive generated documentation. With github you have to dump that into a branch, and put generated content into a source code control system is not a good idea. With GC you can just created another repository and put the generated doc there.

I personally prefer Mercurial over git, but that isn't a realistic choice with github.

On the whole, while GC has some nice things, I doubt it has much of a future. I wish github would pick up the multiple repositories thing.

Out of curiosity, why would you prefer having multiple repos over a few top-level directories in one repo?

Because they are completely unrelated code bases sharing nothing. With subversion you could check out subtrees but that isn't practical with git.

For my personal projects a common pattern is a repo for the source and a repo for generated documentation.

For work projects we have an Android client (in Java), iOS client (in objective C), 3 different server components that share no code (Python), various analysis tools (Python), a client customisation layer (mini-Python), our website etc.

If all those were in one large repository it would be a huge sprawling mess. Also remember that branches are repository global. There would also be constant updates because other parts have changed, nothing to do with the component you are working on.

Or use Bitbucket! Free private repos :D

Even Google is moving to git (see Go, for instance). Google Code is obsolete.

You know Google Code supports using git for version control, right?

GitHub is better anyway :P

Why would anyone consider using Google Code?

It's okay folks, Google is only doing what umpteen companies before it have done -- like a good citizen of the tech ecosphere it is paving the way for the next great company.

I may be mistaken, but I think the entire point of this recent change was to force people to use their real names and faces rather than commenting anonymously (due to the fact that youtube comment sections are typically the worst things ever), and if so it seems like google has actually achieved it's goal.

Now, whether it's a good decision to make it difficult/impossible to anonymously comment on youtube videos is an entirely separate discussion that I'm not taking a side on (yet), but I'd be interested in seeing a discussion about that here.

I see "improving comment quality" as the public excuse they use to keep you logged in to one universal account to make tracking you for advertising purposes easier. Binding this to a G+ account allows them to report that they have record-breaking activity on G+ every month, because everybody is technically forced to be logged into G+ to do any-goddamn-thing, and so it makes G+ seem like some tremendous success and makes more people "want" to use it.

The problem is that annoying the user doesn't really make them want to use it more. I thought G+ might've had potential at first, but seeing all the desperate crap that Google's pulled over the past few months has not only pushed me away from G+, but Google as a whole.

Besides, did anybody really care about the quality of youtube comments? Nobody ever read them with the expectation of gaining any sort of insight or knowledge. Even if this change does affect youtube comment quality, it won't change anybody's expectations of the comments. The only shift will be from "this video is totes retarded" to "this video is stupid."

Thank you for this! Seriously, I try and explain to people that the reason for conglomerating every service into one is to tell tales of high G+ user-base for greater ad revenue. It's like boasting about how Android has the largest phone deployment, while the UX and satisfaction of iOS far outweighs Android's ecosystem (no bias either way). Everything is turning into a big numbers sham with no care for the intelligence and technical navigational experience of user.

That's silly. The name attached to your poat has no effect on your trackability, being logged in does.

Where is the proof that "real names = better quality." That argument gets paraded everywhere but I've yet to see an actual study or proof of this.

Here's a recent paper: "Civility 2.0: A comparative analysis of incivility in online political discussion" by Ian Rowe of the University of Kent.


“an easy fix - anyone receiving welfare should not be allowed to vote anyway they are effectively children that simple change would shave about 40million off the voting rolls where they have no right to be anyway.”

“Many revolutions start with one small spark, President Obama has set this one off with his presser with the children and his use of the executive orders. The question is, is this the revolution that he had in mind? Time will tell.”

These are examples of comments the authors count as uncivil. They advocate for using real names so that people will not (dare?) post such things. I am of the contrary opinion. I think it is important that such opinions are posted and debated.

The criteria they used: "A three item index was developed to determine whether or not online comments violated standards of democratic discourse as defined above. If a comment 1) verbalized a threat to democracy (e.g. proposed to overthrow a democratic government by force), 2) assigned stereotypes (e.g. associate person with a group using labels), or 3) threatened other individuals’ rights (e.g. personal freedom, freedom to speak), it was coded as uncivil and the type of incivility was noted."

They also, separately studied impoliteness, which I assume we can all be in favour of.

Interestingly, they found civility increased, while impoliteness did not "However, unlike incivility, both [anonymous] Website and Facebook comments contained a similar amount of impoliteness."

Thus I would argue that the conclusion would be that using real names lowers the quality of debate.

Thanks for posting a first bit of data in this "personal anecdote about some bad Google product UX" trumps everything else thread.

So does that mean Google should not even experiment with the idea, just because nobody else has published data about it yet? Why does there need to be "proof"? It is Google's choice, just like it is your choice to use Google products.

I'm not saying they shouldn't "experiment" - experiment all they want.

It's when they parade out the idea that "real names = better quality" as the reason for a change - without citing it. Especially since it's such a cross-product change that effects literally every single one of their products.

I don't remember ever choosing to use G+.

I never said anything about choosing to use G+. You choose to use comments on youtube, and one of the consequences of that choice is that you must have a G+ page.

>but I think the entire point of this recent change was to force people to use their real names and faces rather than commenting anonymously

I think the entire point might have been to make user generated content as valuable as possible to advertisers by making sure every action on every Google related site can be directly linked to a real name and locale. I refuse to believe it has to do with anything beyond monetizing their user base.

Is there any evidence that adding real names to a previously anonymous service substantially increases level of civility?

Note that I'm specifically excluding sites like Facebook and LinkedIn that required real names from the start. I suspect it's a matter of whether users think of the site as being relevant to their personal identity. I'd even be willing to hypothesize that a random sample of Hacker News users considers HN more "real life" than a random sample of YouTube commenters who had g+ accounts crammed down their throats.

I though the option of using "G+ page" instead of your G+ profile name was there to preserve the Youtube pseudonyms.

Again, am I really the only one here that doesn't care about all this? :P

No. Me too. I sometimes feel like I should - defending privacy is like maintaining herd immunity - it only works if we all do it. But I don't especially care. I don't love Google+ but I find it easy to ignore. Easier to ignore than Facebook mainly due to the fact that no-one tries to interact with me socially on it.

But the only places I really post are here and Reddit. I email stuff to close friends and occasionally use Facebook when I'm invited to an event but that's about the limit of my use of social media.

In general - I'm quite happy to be logged into Google across all services. It makes Google Now slightly more useful and I can happily ignore all the parts of it that don't interest me.

And advertisers are welcome to profile me to their heart's content - they just don't seem to be very good at it. I've never clicked on a targeted ad so it's seems a lot of effort to no real effect.

No, I find it to be of little concern as well. I rarely comment on Youtube videos in the first place, and even if I did, I doubt I'd care about the G+ aspect. In fact, I'm one of the people who want all of Google's services to be tightly integrated, IF they can find ways to leverage that integration to create a better experience. To my mind, integrating Blogger comments and G+ was one of the success stories of that.

Unfortunately, G+ still has a ton of issues that I find infuriating, and while I actively want to like G+, I find it hard to do so. That part frustrates me more than anything, when it comes to Google and their services.

No. Lately I've been feeling as if I live in a bubble, that I must be missing something. People seem to be losing their minds over this and other Google(+) business, while I think it's all quite fine.

No, I have problems with this as well. Mind you, I don't have social media accounts (except a deleted Twitter account and a tumblelog for recording graffiti[1] from my mobile phone).

[1] https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/8403291/meaningless-miss...

For those who consider deleting their G+ accounts:

Don't consider it if you're using Android, as some core apps will stop working then (like the photo-gallery).

Yup. It has come to this. Disable or delete your G+ account and your Android phone no longer works.

Google is getting pretty damn creepy. I sure hope the CM-team can come up with some decent replacement apps for all the stuff Google is fucking up these days.

Damn it. I have a Nexus 5 pre-ordered. Well.

Unrelated: http://i.imgur.com/wbjCmbt.jpg

Changing faces of Google is a scary phenomenon.

The "real name" movement is an attempt to turn internet behavior into something more like a credit score.

From what I've read it achieves no detectable improvements, and in some places can bring out worse problems causing people to amplify themselves to reenforce ego (and vice versa become nastier to push others down to achieve the same goal). So it just becomes a pissing contest more than a credit score.

Thankfully they don't require proof of your name, or I wouldn't be called Kim Jong-Un.

>Thankfully they don't require proof of your name

... yet.

I cannot agree with the sentiment of this article enough. The dropdown in my Youtube shows 3 different accounts. One using my personal email address and then another two which were created channels with the same name. One is linked to my Google+ account (my main one) and the other for some reason is linked to another Google+ account Google created for me. That's 3 different Google+ profiles created for the one email. This is a joke.

I'm leery enough about commenting on different sites that use Disqus as it is.

The people at Google are really pushing for broad adoption of G+. If you think about it, it's pretty logical as they know Facebook is only going downhill and they are trying to get everybody onboard. The reaction I'm hearing a lot however, is they are being too pushy.

I've even had a few people who accidentally signed up for a G+ account ask me how to delete it because they kept receiving 'Top X posts on G+' mails without knowing what it is. I don't think a lot of good things come with this kind of tactic.

It would be better to just drop YouTube comments. They are a usually a cesspool of flamewars that add little value to the content.

Petitioning Google Google: Change the Youtube comment section back to its original form.


Stands at 80,445 supporters now.

I signed it, but it won't change anything. Either way, Google has a right to refuse, and even if they don't, it doesn't automatically mean we're saved. Google will continue to integrate Google+ with many of their other products.

At one point he says he wants to comment as something else so no one sees him comment, then he says he'll post it to facebook so everyone he knows sees his comment.

I'm not going to comment on anything else in the article, this just struck me as odd and obviously contradictory.

I've been trying to figure out how to delete Google+ for a while, without accidentally nuking some of the other services such as Picasa etc. Heard of folks losing a bunch of data (Youtube videos?) when they remove their G+ accounts, so that's a huge bummer.

Perhaps it's time to move on from Google Photos, flickr maybe? I don't want another social network.

Yahoo/Flickr/Tumblr is moving full steam ahead into Yahoo social network, completely ignoring why people still cling to them.

What yahoo social network? I mean, my flickr login is a yahoo account, but I don't think they're stupid enough to try and auto set me up a tumblr account with it.

Sigh, there's no way out huh?

Maybe Amazon will come out with a social network and a YouTube competitor. You can barely tell they own IMDB, and they seem content to stick with a policy of non-interference.

Imgur.com may suit you. It's dead simple image hosting.

Ever since Google Reader was discontinued, I no longer log in under my real account on my primary browser any more (I don't use Gmail's web interface either).

Frankly I think that's the way to go. Ideally, we'd have better identity support in our browsers to control which set of cookies to hand out based on which top-level URL we're visiting.

The OP makes a good point. But I can't be the only one who wants to watch that bunny video now. Since you're using their work to make your blog post more visually compelling, why not actually link to it?

Here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3_J0AMPPD34

Keep a separate Gmail/Google/G+ account for your phone and your desktop. If you want to get to your desktop email from your phone, Firefox for Android is less leaky than Chrome.

Don't build your life on other peoples digital plantations.

"Now there’s one less egg in my Google basket, and I never have to pay attention to anything that has the word “Google+” in it again — just like I did with LinkedIn (stop inviting me, everyone in the world), Pinterest, and a number of other things I had no use for."

Enough said. The dude is a typical Facebook user who is addicted to his only social network and upset about integration between YouTube and G+. Better commenting system and difficulty of creating fake user accounts will increase the quality of comments. I guess the people who complain like to troll or post some obnoxious comments, this explains the frustration.

Disclaimer: This is my first comment on HackerNews and probably my last. I'm not a hacker or a software engineer and don't really belong on the site, so don't comment. I'm just some random guy who plays a lot of video games, uses a lot of reddit and has a rough interest in the technology industry. By extension, I watch a lot of YouTube videos from various channels that offer playthroughs (or 'Let's Plays') of games. This is why I say the following:

Unfortunately at this stage I think you are completely wrong. I suspect that you don't use YouTube very much and so are not seeing what has happened. I'm sorry if this sounds snide, it isn't meant to.

YouTube had a reputation with some as providing the worst internet comments outside 4chan. I doubt few could imagine it getting worse. This recent Google+ integration seems to be an experiment on Google's part to prove how naive that belief was.

You can now post hyperlinks in comments. This has led to people spamming links to 'screamer' videos, including the potential to disguise these links as the comment expanding feature. Comments can now have seemingly unlimited length, or at least are massively extended compared to the previous system; This has led to people spamming ASCII art images of genitals, pedobear, naked women, memes like the super shibe 'doge', and reams and reams of repeating text like "#FUCKGOOGLE". Actual advertiser spammers are soon going to catch onto this ability, so the messages offering free copies of popular video games like Minecraft no longer have to come with the polite request to copypaste them into your address bar - they can just be clicked. This is just the tip of the iceberg in the first few days. I know I'm not alone in wondering how long it will be before someone finds a way to exploit these new comments as a vector for directly delivering malware. And even if the hyperlinks are removed, it has created a enormous new canvas on which trolls, children and idiots can paint their own brand of humour. There does not currently seem to be any way of blanket blocking URLs, instead needing a filter list set up with every potential combination of keywords and domains.

The kind of people who create and post this stuff are the kind of people least likely to care about creating multiple throwaway accounts or having this rubbish leak into other websites. Anecdotally it seems that people who may care enough to try and contribute meaningfully are now more likely to abandon the comments section and Google+ out of frustration (just as this article concludes with). This could be turn out to be nothing but a win for the trolls, especially considering that removing the new features enabling them would be to render the system identical to the old one.

I don't like the channel myself but a _very_ popular personality called PewDiePie has now disabled comments on all his videos due to the change. Other channels seem to be following suit or considering it. If you would like to hear a very honest spiel about the frustration these changes provide, search for a channel called NerdCubed and look at his recent videos for a video on the comment section. The comments that could be found under your average YouTube video were already enough to drive a content creator to exasperation as is. Rather than helping, this has seemingly made things significantly worse.

Hey Jon, great informative post! I wouldn't write off your potential contributions to this site just because you're "not a hacker or software engineer."

I know I'm not the only one here to say that if you like well-formulated discussions like those that arise from your post, stick around and be a part of HN...

Hey Google, Facebook and others - please implement reddit-style commenting system. Thank you.

What a bunch of whiny kids. The Google+ addition to YouTube is a great change.

Google is starting to collapse under its own weight, as all behemoths eventually do.

I agree, and I don't think it has to. Part of the problem is the strong growth expectation that comes with being a $0 dividend stock.

They should start paying dividend. It's the third largest company in the world by market cap, behind Apple and Exxon, and the only company of its size that pays no dividend.

Yet their earnings [1] (and share price [2]) keep going up and up. Maybe the point is that our perception of GOOG has changed and we all have a little confirmation bias.

[1] http://investor.google.com/pdf/2013Q3_google_earnings_slides... [2] https://www.google.com/finance?q=NASDAQ:GOOG

... or it's simply that profit dives lag behind reputation. Facebook's stock price is climbing as their users leave for Twitter...

Their first mistake was going public.

We should all be so lucky to make a mistake like that.

My god, how could you not?

"Billionaire or footnote, billionaire or footnote? Think. Think."

Nonplussed is a dreadful word. It means either: 1) so surprised and confused that one is unsure how to react; 2) not disconcerted; unperturbed.

Definitions 1 and 2 are opposites. So, is he perturbed or not? "This is totally weird", or "this is weird, but I can so cope with it". Who knows.

It's a play on Google+ - he canceled the service, so he's not plussed...

Nonplussed is also used to mean "uninspired" or "unimpressed" - like when something is perhaps a little out of the ordinary [there is an expectation that it will have an impact one way or another] but still doesn't really have an effect on; almost exclusively in the phrase "I was pretty nonplussed by it all" or a close analogue of that.

Certainly this is the usage I've heard and used for the last 20 years or so.

Those people are using it incorrectly.

Language is ultimately about usage. The dictionary I checked with confirmed this meaning as a US neologism, I'm in the UK.

You could class this usage as "perplexed" but with a specific flavour of 'perplexity at the unimpressive nature of the subject'.

US colloquial usage - where the original, subtle UK usage goes to die; see also "presently," and "beg the question."

That usage is incorrect. It's another case of a word misinterpretation taking over the historical meaning. It's from the Latin "non plus" meaning no further.

I'm not sure why you note the Latin etymology, that would tend more towards the neologistic definition IMO.

Like "no more?" as in "isn't there anything else to it?". I don't see how "no more" suggests being flummoxed/confounded. [Yes I know that's not how "logo-genesis" works]

no more as in I'm speechless and can say no more

I intended the original definition, not the corrupted one, but also as a pun.

People mistakenly use it to mean "not impressed".

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