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Ask HN: Google employees, why is G+ more important than your users?
353 points by dsl on Nov 17, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 274 comments
I would love to hear how Google pitches G+ and the disaster that is Youtube at this point internally. How do they keep morale up?

Internally, G+ is marketed as a unified login/account system. Management's stated reasoning goes something like:

  * It's silly to force users to have separate accounts for
    Google services because most users would prefer to have
    Gmail, Docs/Drive, YouTube, Calendar, and so on under the
    same account/identity.

  * Users who want to have separate public identities will
    create pseudonymous "Pages" for each of their identities.
    These pages will still be owned by the same account, so
    the user only has to log in once.

  * Users who are strongly opposed to a unified Google account
    are a sufficiently small population that it is acceptable
    to inconvenience them if doing so improves the experience
    of every other user.
By itself, these arguments are reasonable and could probably have been implemented without too much trouble (though "Pages" continues to be a confusing and unclear term). The problem is that the new account system was introduced at the exact same time as a social network, with the /same name/, and that the social network decided to inject a hard requirement of Facebook-style name validation rules into the new profile system.

Now the term "Google+" has become so strongly connected with the Google+ social network (and its infamous names policy) that any attempt to expand the Google+ account system is met with fear and outrage. I don't think upper management expected this or understands why the community reacted thus, just as they didn't expect or understand why requiring a Firstname Lastname format on the Internet was problematic.

I don't believe Google+ management is malicious, but they do seem woefully unaware of how internet-native communities behave.

It's equally silly to force users who'd established and clearly indicated they wished to maintain separate accounts for separate services, to integrate these.

Doing so where the user had clearly indicated they didn't wish that to happen was even worse.

Forcing users to not be able to independently toggle whether or not services were enabled for an account is another. I neither want my pseudonymous G+ account ("Edward Morbius") nor my personal Gmail account(s) (unspecified) to have any association with YouTube. I simply cannot independently disable the latter, and my data leaks across the services.

I've consequently been experimenting with setting up hostfile blocks of various Google services. I'm in a weaning-off phase right now (I'm trying to unwind my Google presence rather than just nuke it entirely in one go), and I can assure you it's painful. A proxy front-end to YouTube would be helpful. I already have been making extensive use of youtube-dl largely because the UX sucks vastly less than running YouTube through a browser (and in some related side commentary I've seen references that other folks offering streaming vs. downloaded video saw 4x the downloads than streams, for, I suspect, similar reasons).

So, the fact is that Google outed me (fortunately, a pseudonymous profile), despite my clearly indicating repeatedly "no" (and documenting some of those "no's" in earlier G+ posts. I'd even brought this up on a post of Yonatan Zunger's, and, despite his really well-inentioned "Edward Morbius Hrm? If you want to keep the names separate, why not simply click on that option?" response (and I've really got no reasons to doubt his sincerity), 1) the option isn't presented, 2) the workflow I'd think I'd go through doesn't accomplish what I'd expect, and 3) I've reached the stage of a) having lost my trust in the company to respect my privacy wishes and settings in future and b) not wanting to continue jumping through hoops to fix what they broke in the first place.


I don't know what the hell's going on with Google's management team, but something's badly broken. And I do agree with you that they utterly fail to understand the social aspects of communities.

> It's equally silly to force users who'd established and clearly indicated they wished to maintain separate accounts for separate services, to integrate these.


> I neither want my pseudonymous G+ account ("Edward Morbius") nor my personal Gmail account(s) (unspecified) to have any association with YouTube.

I disagree: in principle, making services and identities orthogonal is clearly the right thing to do. Having (for example) three different, unlinked identities, any of which can use or not use GMail, G+ or YouTube at the user's discretion, is clearly preferable to having a YouTube account, a G+ account, and a GMail account. If pseudonymous identity A doesn't want to use YouTube, then "don't do that, then". If the user later decides that identity A should post a video to YouTube after all, he/she can just do so. Under the old system, that would require the user to either give away the connection between (say) the G+ account and the YouTube account, or to create a fourth account - a second YouTube account - for identity A to use on YouTube.

The problem is that in practise Google is making a bags of the transition to the new model (or what they're telling jmillikin the new model is) - whether through incompetence, or not caring enough, or because they're duplicitous in claiming that they really want to support multiple (externally-facing) identities per Google user.

If Google wanted to offer combined accounts going forward, that would be fine by me. Though I'd also prefer the option of disaggregated accounts, and of disabling specific services on accounts.

If they wanted to offer the option of merging existing accounts for which there was an underlying connection, that would also be fine. Though I'd really prefer they not do it with interstitials.

Merging identities in express violation of stated intent, or simply not offering the option to decline, is simply wrong, and will inevitably turn into a major PR disaster, as this is.

No argument from me there, except that I think we'll have to see how big and consequential the PR fallout really turns out to be.

I've installed SRWare Iron [0] as a sandbox browser for GMail, Facebook, Twitter et al. It is a privacy conscious fork of Chromium (no data sent to Google except when you visit Google sites). It lags a bit behind the official release, but it's good enough for that purpose.

I use Firefox for the rest of my browsing, signed out of these services, and Chrome for webdev.

[0] https://www.srware.net/en/software_srware_iron_download.php

I don't see anything that would make me not trust SRWare in that thread.

The main problem I have with it is that it lags behind Chrome (currently two versions).

Since I only browse safe sites, I'm not too worried (almost only Gmail, I barely use the other two).

For me the simplest solution is keeping different accounts active in different browsers. I've not cheked all the options with youtube and such, so maybe it doesnt work for youtube alias, but it seems to behave correctly so far to have several accounts open at the same time but not merged.

That's largely what I do.

I'd been remaining logged into Google pseudonymously much of the time in an incognito Chrome session. I'd occasionally hop onto my other Google accounts in another Chrome session, though by preference I'd stay logged out.

Among the other benefits: simply not having to put up with the blasted Notifications icon every time I'm on a Google property.

> A proxy front-end to YouTube would be helpful

seen http://fixyt.com?

Thanks. I just saw that earlier today elsewhere. Think I may start using it.

First of all, thank you for responding publicly.

In hindsight what I really meant to ask was this:

Why is Google Plus (the social network) worth burning every other Google service and product to the ground in an attempt to drive adoption? Is Google really that scared of Facebook?

The fact that this post turned into a YouTube complaint fest highlights the bad decisions being made, but I am more interested in the big picture.

> burning every other Google service and product to the ground

I think this is a massive exaggeration. The people who don't care about linking their accounts (like me) aren't filling up the front page of HN with "The google plus thing is fine I guess" stories. I don't care if they ask for my phone number, I've got an Android phone so the data is all already there, and I like the security of having it text me to check it's actually me signing in from some new computer.

I genuinely find the level of complaints embarrassing. I've seen someone call being asked to create a G+ account "sickening". Sickening. What an astonishing first world problem, that one of the worst things happening to them is being asked to sign up for a free account with a company you already have a free account with. The horror!

If you think it's a first-world problem, ask yourself what the situation in a third-world or repressive government would be where all search and email traffic would be individually assignable and identifiable as it passed through the national firewall and surveillance systems.

What? It's the same sodding data, passed to the same company, how does merging two accounts that they already know are linked change anything?

Also, you can search without logging in, and sign up for as many different email accounts as you want. Are you honestly saying that google asking you to make a G+ account is a serious problem for activists?

I'm entirely confused by this. I have my G+ account linked with youtube. Just now I unlinked them, and changed the visible name from one that was obviously mine to a more anonymous name and posted a comment with absolutely no issue.

No picture, no name, no link to me. And this is from after linking the accounts and then unlinking them (which took under a minute to do and was pretty easy to find).

This option is not available for me. I can't disconnect my Youtube account without deleting Google+.

I also found no way to create a pseudonymous page for my Youtube Account.

And I've found no way to delete my Youtube account.

After searching and looking around in the user forums for some time I've gave up.

Does this link not work for you: http://www.youtube.com/account_revert

For me this link appears under the general account settings on youtube:


This is what my account settings page looks like:


I changed from my real name to somenamefortestingpurposes, and seem to be able to change this to anything else. I've also tested posting comments with this, and they don't appear with my real name.

I also have the option of deleting my "channel" which I think is pretty much the same as deleting my youtube presence.

Funny. Your first link returns http://www.youtube.com/oops and I don't have these options under general account settings: http://i.imgur.com/yOny4pC.png

What works for Youtube is to create another channel and use that channel and the created page to post comments via pseudonym. I can switch between my original Google Account and the newly created channel. I don't have an option for my primary account through. For this does not matter but if you had personal data in your old Youtube account there is no easy way to hide this information without loosing Google+ as far I understood that problem now.

Interesting, I wonder if this is different in different countries. I'm in the UK, maybe that's the difference? Or potentially the age of the account?

My best guess is this: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2657858?hl=en&ref_...

I linked the Channel to my Google+ accounts a few weeks ago.

I'm in the US and your link works fine for me.

NB: I get the same results nisa does.

So I guess you also missed the part where her comment showed up on her real name and it surprised her?

(and let me ask in advance not to give me that "she may have accidentally clicked some button on one of those popups and given permission" crap. That's like seeing the vampire's fangs in someone's neck and saying "But you invited him over for dinner!")

BTW I have my own story about this.

I actually have two Google accounts, my "real" one and the one I use to joke around on video game clips on YouTube. When Google strongarmed the second one into g+, I knew that even if I decided I wanted g+ for some reason, I would never, ever, ever want a g+ page on that YouTube account.

So imagine my surprise when I received an email beginning:

"This email was sent to you because you indicated that you'd like to receive Google+ Pages performance suggestions and updates"

Go to Hell, Google. I asked for no such thing, and if you somehow tricked me into accidentally not opting out of any such thing, you can still go to Hell. So if anyone says g+ tricked them into something, I'm going to believe them barring hard evidence to the contrary.

The accounts weren't "already linked". They shared some metadata. I was asked if I wanted to link them. I responded "no". Multiple times.

Persisting when someone says "no" is at best, disrespect, at worst abuse and, in the right contexts, rape.

Oh, did I mention I'd organized an ad-hoc anti-harassment policy discussion on G+ at the suggestion of Yonatan Zunger? Irony, it's got an enduring entertainment value.

Oddly enough, I was fine with a G+ account, in fact, that's pretty much the only part of Google I'd been using any more. The YouTube account was just to access videos, and I'd pretty much gotten used to purging its history regularly.

The actual harm to me? Pretty little. Both accounts were pseudonymous. For other people, not nearly so little.

And the message on Google's respect for its users and trustworthiness? Loud and clear: nil and nil.

> Persisting when someone says "no" is at best, disrespect, at worst abuse and, in the right contexts, rape.

I'm not sure I can continue to debate the problems of linking multiple google products together when a comparison is rape. Instead I'm simply going to repeat my original statement

> I genuinely find the level of complaints embarrassing.

What kind of crazy idiot are you? Seriously? Rape? Slightly deranged or what?

Calling the other names for making a (non offensive to anyone in particular) remark, just because he used a notion your particular culture finds "taboo"?

Not to mention the irony of being offended by the mere use of the word "rape" (to correctly describe the feeling of being continuously probed after repeteadly saying "no", without trying to offend anyone), while in the same time you find it acceptable to comment on his mental state ("crazy idiot", "deranged" etc), as if mental health issues are funny.

Is that what you consider responsible behavior?

Or were you just conditioned to think people using the "r" word are to be prosecuted, however innocent and justified their use?

I think what OP is saying is that they are arguably not attempting to drive adoption of Google+ the social network, but rather drive adoption of Google+ the single-sign-on system.

The fact that both things are tied so closely together is what's causing all the problems.

Personally it seems like they could have just stuck with the concept of a Google Account, which I think still exists anyway. Use that thing for single-sign-on and let people link GMail, YT, AdWords, G+ accounts to it.

They are essentially attempting to "rebrand" their identity system with G+ at the core. But what we are seeing is that there is major friction and unintended consequences when you attempt this kind of shift and have so many users with tons of different use-cases across different individual identity systems.

I don't envy their position, although I do think this was probably mostly avoidable, or at least a lot of the problems (especially with YT) should have been foreseeable, and so they really only have themselves to blame.

i don't think that is the case otherwise google+ would only be used for authentication without making this connection public.

It's silly to force users to have separate accounts for Google services.

I don't understand how this wasn't the case before Google+. I've had my Google account for years and it always worked on all the Google services I've seen. I've never had to use a separate account for anything.

Either you were very late to the party, or you have a very short memory.

Most people didn't have a "Google account". They had a GMail account. If they had Blogger or YouTube accounts, they usually had them before Gmail.

It was bad enough when Google started shoving those accounts into one and tacking services on people didn't ask for without politely asking them to sign-up. But now they are forcing people into an entirely new service that has the explicit purpose to expose them and to annihilate their privacy.

I wouldn't mind the principle of one single account for all Google services in principle, if a) I can have multiple accounts, b) such an account can be know as "honeybooboo666", and doesn't need my real name or phone number, and c) that account does not to automatically sign me in to services I didn't sign up for and I don't want to use on that account.

The latter is especially important so that anything "honeybooboo666" does on YouTube isn't accidentally registered under my other accounts of MyJob@BigCorp and MyRealName@Family

That's why people have separate accounts. honeybooboo666, MyJob@BigCorp and bowlofpetunias are very different entities, and trying to "out" them all as "MyRealName who works at BigCorp" is just not on.

Yeah. The only system with a separate login was ever YouTube, and I think that may have only apploed if your account was ancient anyway.

> The only system with a separate login was ever YouTube

Rewrite history much?

Every platform Google ever acquired had it's own login, and Google didn't have a login for a loooong time.

But all of that is besides the point. This is not about SSO, this is about an SSO fully integrated with a service geared at destroying anonymity and privacy.

I wouldn't mind a single Google login if that was what it was: a login, a username and password. Google+ is so, so much more.

OK, look: the other people who responded about orher systems Google had that had other login systems (hours before you) were both constructive (showing specific examples) and general not jerks about it... They also kept this thread about SSO on topic--jmillikin specifically states "unified login/account system"--nor did they then decide to respond this negative without any real argument. The whole point of this Ask HN was that a bunch of us dislike G+, but the goal was to discuss the reasons why G+ was being pushed internally at Google, and some people from Google were nice enough to actually respond, so let's do away with the random "service geared at destroying anonymity and privacy" rhetoric for a minute.

So: I'm sorry. I did mess this one up. I don't think, however, that my mistake was actually important from the perspective of the article. I've been using some of the services people are saying had third party login support now for many many years, and unlike YouTube I do not remember ever seeing any kind of disconnection between account models used on each. Maybe they were just integrated faster, or maybe its because I had a YouTube account that was ancient and had options that others long since did not.

But either way: it doesn't seem like SSO is an argument for Google+. Google already had single sign on, and to the extent to which it ever had separate login systems that it maintained for its acquisitions they were all rapidly merged. Maybe even in the case of YouTube (which I still feel was different, give that as recently as a year ago I remember still having the ability to manipulate my underlying YouTube account).

Forcing the account to use G+ does make it get forced to use the underlying picture and name from the other account. I can see that as being vaguely interesting. But that goes beyond a "unified login/account system".

You could even link your main Google account to your old-style YouTube account, and get the benefit of single sign-on, but still maintain your old YT identity separate from your Google one. So really I don't understand why Google thinks they're doing anyone a favor single-sign-on-wise: nothing has changed here.

Every Google acquisition with a pre-existing account system kept that system for a period of time (IIRC, typically years) after being acquired. AdSense, Blogger, and FeedBurner are examples.

Yep. Creating YouTube-only accounts was discontinued over 5 years ago, and as of 2011 all such accounts must be merged into a Google account.

> Internally, G+ is marketed as a unified login/account system

Wait, there's already Google account - a unified login. Is it not?

> though "Pages" continues to be a confusing and unclear term

Pages were meant to be confusing because you discourage multiple identities. Most people have no idea they even exist.

> I don't believe Google+ management is malicious, but they do seem woefully unaware of how internet-native communities behave.

I'd be glad to attribute it to stupidity, as well, but it's one big assumption to consider the whole upper management at Google+ (one of the crown jewels) "woefully" incompetent at the very subject they were put to manage.

You know a company has jumped shark when employees start explanations for their behavior with a phrase like "Management's stated reasoning goes something like:"

How can you object to this? The original post asked why Google engaged in certain behavior. The person who replied was not the one who made the policy, so he explained the reasoning of management.

If you are complaining about the fact that this phrasing suggests that jmilikin does not agree with management's stated reasoning then again I don't understand where you are coming from. I have seen some startups where every employee always agreed with all corporate decisions, but those were single-person startups that had not yet made their first hire. Disagreement is normal. Handling disagreement well is a sign of maturity. Being open about the reasons for the disagreement while still going along with it (and avoiding personal criticism) is a sign of maturity.

If anything, this reply reassures me. I think that the insistence on the use of "real names" with G+ and the use of G+ with all their offerings (even in the face of vocal and well-reasoned opposition by their userbase) is a sign that Google may have lost it. Hearing the reasons is (slightly) reassuring. Perhaps there is a misunderstanding which will eventually be corrected, rather than a conscious intention to screw over their users.

I believe that many internet flame wars are caused by inaccurate or imprecise statements. It is important to me to indicate the source and quality of information that I post.

What would you have written?

It's not that your phrasing is incorrect in any way, it's that the subtext is "Management has no clue about the real world, but this is what they claim. It may not be their real motivations, or true in any way, but the statements we hear are" - a level of distrust in management that requires that sort of disclaimer is a bad sign.

Its hardly "subtext", when the last sentence is "I don't believe Google+ management is malicious, but they do seem woefully unaware of how internet-native communities behave."

(I must admit I did shake my head at that and think "even at _Google_?")

For the record, I was not meaning to criticize jmillikin's remark. Rather, the tone and phrasing of the remark made it quite clear (to me at least) that Google now has, at least in some quarters, gravitated towards the common and pedestrian situation where employees and management are intrinsically at odds with each other, operating from vastly different perspectives, and having to work hard to even maintain civility, having essentially lost respect for each other. Phrases such as "their stated reasoning goes like this" implies that their stated reasoning differs from their real reasons, and by further implication, their real reasons are either wholly misguided, delusional, capricious, evil, or some combination thereof.

It's just a far cry from "do no evil", and the tone is wholly different than what I heard from early G employees, back in what I respectfully have to consider their heyday.

"I don't believe Google+ management is malicious, but they do seem woefully unaware of how internet-native communities behave."

After a while, the question of motivation is a red herring. The problem is the actions, and they've been told enough times that if they claim now how to understand then they're just stupid. They're not stupid, they're contemptuous - that's different.

There's another thing Google hasn't quite figured out, nor have any of the other big players in this space (Maybe Microsoft will, under a new CEO). They have to commit to being conglomerates, not platforms (not at a user visible layer at least). They need to run a multi-brand strategy or these troubles will only get bigger as user communities get more diverse.

Interconnecting all offerings of such a huge diversified enterprise is bound to create conflicts of interest. It doesn't work. IBM almost went bankrupt over it. It leads to idiotic decisions like killing Google Reader instead committing to serving a long tail of diverse communities.

> It leads to idiotic decisions like killing Google Reader instead committing to serving a long tail of diverse communities.

Reader was even more significant than that: had they actually been trying to make Google+ a desirable service, first-class integration with Reader would have brought a large, very active core of G+ users to launch the new service.

Instead, they shipped something which had obviously had almost no effort attempted — I'd say they had an intern do it except that most interns take more pride in their work — with things like mobile support being completely broken for at least a year, flaky desktop support and forcing a disruptive unidirectional model where you could share to Google+ but not see what other people were sharing, comments, etc. which had been the core of the Reader experience. Forget fancy things like clustering shares of the same URL, simply appending a "#googlereader" hashtag would have made the experience far better.

Toss in all of the strategic mistakes like waiting a year or two before taking spam seriously or offering better control over push notifications than uninstalling the app and they basically trained all of their early adopters to see Google+ as an unrewarding, un-QAed mess of bugs and noise with very little signal.

This would have been bad in its own right but an almost comical stumble when you really how many journalists, bloggers and other influential people used Reader heavily, ensuring that future Google stories for years were going to have a heavy note of “How will Google will let you down or exploit you” instead of the “Here's why you want to use this” tone which was pervasive during the era when Google was focused on making products you'd voluntarily use.

I've had nothing buy a joyous experience there. Spam? Don't add spam to your activity feed. Just remove it from your circles, gone. An intern built it? It's one of the most finely crafted, expensive looking pieces of social software that has ever been built.

Excuse me but what the hell is this fantasy about Google plus? I'm not convinced that Reader was shut down and that Google plus was meant to be its replacement, the products are just far too different. I don't know where or why that rumour started other than to suggest maybe it was born of this same ridiculous hate fantasy.

Maybe I'm Google's target demographic but every complaint I've seen stems from absolutely refusing to allow Google to change anything. And a flamboyant hate for a product they refuse to use no matter what, which is a very carefully designed and free social product.

> "one of the most finely crafted, expensive looking pieces of social software that has ever been built."

Glad you like it. I find it slow, clunky, limited, and information poor. And annoying, because it always puts pointless design tricks ahead of functionality.

I'm an admittedly harsh critic of G+ (though I very honestly wanted to like it).

Someone who's more inclined to be favorable is Robert Scoble. He worked under Vic Gundotra at Microsoft, and joined the service early. He's also had a long list of rather frighteningly consistent complaints:

https://plus.google.com/111091089527727420853/posts/9mA8XCdu... https://plus.google.com/+Scobleizer/posts/BKwDFRxJYqT https://plus.google.com/+Scobleizer/posts/LTr6RedEeVF https://plus.google.com/+Scobleizer/posts/QzCGxPkhNd8

As for finely crafted, I've got about 2000 lines of CSS I've written to take G+ from what Google shipped to this:


Wow that is awful what you made. What?

Care to be specific?

I'd accept a value judgement, but I'd be very curious as to what you do or don't like in particular.

> Spam? Don't add spam to your activity feed. Just remove it from your circles, gone.

For the first couple years, there was no way to avoid notification spam if, say, “Real Russian Pharama” added you to a circle. This included push notification spam for at least a year – they added a setting after ~6 months but it didn't actually work, requiring the iOS app to be uninstalled to stop it.

> An intern built it? It's one of the most finely crafted, expensive looking pieces of social software that has ever been built.

a) Scrolling the G+ timeline would show this is a very rosy depiction: notice how it's jerky even in Chrome? Hit the spacebar and notice how, unlike almost every other page on the web, you can't scroll? Now try touch scrolling on WebKit and notice that it's being faked in JavaScript, which is why it's incredibly janky.

b) I was specifically referring to the Google+ integration they replaced Reader's social features with: it went from something which provided a simple way to share items, see other public shares and comments on the same item and see what your friends had shared to a simple button which didn't work on mobile devices (the dialog was clipped so none of it was visible) for at least a year and there was no attempt to see other shares of the same item, aggregate the same item being shared by multiple people you follow, or make it possible to see Reader shares separate from, say, status updates by people in your circles.

> And a flamboyant hate for a product they refuse to use no matter what, which is a very carefully designed and free social product.

I tried using it heavily when it first came out. I still use it more than most other people I know but … much as I might have wanted Google to give Facebook competition, they just failed to produce a quality product. I was willing to put up with bugs at launch but when there were basic QA oversights which took a year to fix (i.e. notification spam above) it was really obvious that it's about making something they want to push as a wedge against Facebook rather than something you'd choose to use — when anyone who actually uses it could find basic bugs in a few minutes, so it's unbelievable that nobody at Google noticed or was able to fix them in anything like their normal timeframe.

  > For the first couple years, there was no way to avoid
  > notification spam if, say, “Real Russian Pharama” added
  > you to a circle.
Plus launched on September 20, 2011 -- that's just over two years old. The default notification setting changed from "everyone" to "extended circles" in October 2011, which blocked notifications when strangers mention you in a post.

The default for being added to a circle is still to notify you regardless of whether you know the other party, which seems to match the behavior of most other social networks (people like to know who's watching them).

  > Scrolling the G+ timeline would show this is a very rosy
  > depiction: notice how it's jerky even in Chrome? Hit the
  > spacebar and notice how, unlike almost every other page
  > on the web, you can't scroll?
Scrolling is smooth for me in Chrome on MacOS. The spacebar pages down properly, and shift+spacebar pages up. You might want to verify whether the behavior you're seeing is due to a misbehaving browser extension or user script.

> The default for being added to a circle is still to notify you regardless of whether you know the other party, which seems to match the behavior of most other social networks

This does not, however, generate a push notification to your phone as it did uncontrollably for much of Plus' history. Even after the setting was added to control this, it didn't work for a long time.

What this really came down to was the lack of prioritization: the follower model is closer to Twitter than Facebook, being very public oriented, so you're far more likely to receive notifications about complete strangers but the UI copied Facebook's notifications. This meant that most users were trained to ignore the notification bar on other Google properties for a long time as everyone they'd ever exchanged email with was pushed into the service. Anything more than casual testing would have made it obvious that they should have had a way to group notifications so e.g. replies wouldn't be flooded away and to prioritize "added you" less than "added you back".

> You might want to verify whether the behavior you're seeing is due to a misbehaving browser extension or user script.

Nope - vanilla Chrome on OS X (also Firefox, Safari and Opera). Similarly, even on iOS where you can't add user scripts at all, the touch scrolling is jerky and buggy, requiring a scroll/wait/scroll cycle to get it to scroll to the bottom of a comment thread.

It's not without some irony that I note Vic Gundotra's name has been circulated as a candidate for the Microsoft CEO position.

In some ways I feel he'd be the perfect successor to the legacies of Gates and Ballmer.

Gundotra spent 15 years at Microsoft before joining Google.

Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vic_Gundotra "Before joining Google, he was a general manager at Microsoft.[3] He joined Microsoft in 1991 and eventually became General Manager of Platform Evangelism. His duties included promoting Microsoft's APIs and platforms to independent developers and helping to develop a strategy for Windows Live online services to compete with Google's web-based software applications.[4] Gundotra joined Google in June 2007, after taking a one-year delay working on charitable endeavors[which?] due to a Microsoft employee non-compete agreement."

Maybe he never left Microsoft?

Maybe his true mission is to keep tabs on Google and given the opportunity, create long-term strategic blunders?

No, but Google has quite a few ex-Microsoft staff. I wonder if they are able to get away with things at Google that they couldn't at Microsoft? ;-)

That's a bit short. Consumers of coffee, biscuits, etc do not need to know their trademarks are owned by the same legal entity or their subsidies, nor would they benefit from this knowledge.

Completely the opposite with Google or Microsoft. You need to know that YouTube is Google because it has an impact on privacy things, and you arguably benefit from their link with single sign on, reduced complexity, unified notification center, etcetera.

You're repeating the justification for the status quo, but at some point these undeniable benefits of an integrated platform start to be dominated by growing complexities, weird interdependencies and conflicts of interest. I think we're over the tipping point now.

In terms of politics, the same could probably be said about the US, the EU or China.

this is a classic branding failure. Once something is associated with a category (i.e. G+ = Social Network) every time you try to associate it with another product or service (i.e. Universal Login) the messaging gets fuddled, and people get confused and it hurts the perception of both products.

This is the same reason Google+ was a poor brand name choice since Google is already associated with Search, making a new product with a line extension name just hurts both products ability to differentiate themselves...

This is why DuckDuckGo, and other new search engines are able to grow market share... Because Google started believing their own lore, and fail to accept that they simply don't understand why their initial branding of Google was successful, but all their future products they fail to establish strong brands with...

This is why Google Wave died, and many other google products.

I've never heard of "Pages" in the context of pseudonyms, only as a way to create Google+ profiles for (small) businesses. It's a bit confusing and ironically a search for it on Google isn't really helpful. How is a "Page" as a separate public identity treated differently compared to a pseudonym? How reliable is it to protect your real identity?

  > How is a "Page" as a separate public identity treated
  > differently compared to a pseudonym?
If I remember correctly there's some anti-spam restrictions on interaction with people not in your circles, but that was a few months ago and they may have been lifted. The current documentation[1][2] doesn't mention any restrictions.

[1] https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2848323

[2] https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1710600

  > How reliable is it to protect your real identity?
There's no public link between identities, so most pseudonymous use cases are met by Pages. Users with unusual privacy needs will still need to be careful, as adversaries could perform statistical analysis of text style or activity times to determine if two identities are owned by the same person.

But it is impossible to create a page if you already linked your Youtube account with a Google+ profile. I did so because I just did not understood what that page was all about. There is no way back. At least I could not find a way.

Go to https://plus.google.com/u/0/dashboard and click "Create a page"

Yup this works. But this creates a new Google+ page and I have no way to connect this to my (old) Youtube account. I can create a new Youtube Channel and another new page but this had no effect on my old Youtube Account and the data in this account.

Youtube also defaults to my real identity if I visit the viste. If have to manually switch identities.

Edit found the explanation: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2657858?hl=en&ref_...

Doesn't the pseudonym policy still require your pseudonym's "brand" to be previously established (as arbitrated by Google) in order to create a "Page"? Because that's kind of completely terrible for being the only way to separate identities.

Also, in theory I'm not opposed to a unified login (nor are most of the people complaining I assume.) I've simply lost any faith I had that Google will keep different identities on the same account separate, after years of slip-ups, mistakes, and "oversights".

Nope, pages don't have to be established at all; that requirement is only for using pseudonyms on a "personal" account. Hence the flood of Adolf Hitler page identities posting on YouTube.

I remember being Google very proud about the fact that they don't need your real name in order to track you with ads, a few years ago. But somewhere along the way, Google caught a lot of Facebook envy, also influenced hard by the media who kept saying Google will die if it doesn't create its own social network, and once Facebook creates its own search engine, it's game over for Google. Of course that was silly, because Google's search engine doesn't work just through social media signals, which is why Facebook's search engine could never have been as good as Google.

But anyway, the point is they caught this Facebook envy, and they wanted the real name policy, too.

Except YouTube has a separate identity. It's not ever google-branded. If people weren't told explicitly, it's not obvious that its a google site.

Google is totally right to not care what a "sufficiently small population" of users think if it improves the over all experience. The trouble is - that small population accounts for a very large portion of the popular videos. At the end of the day, youtube is nothing special without it's giant farm of servers and fast loading videos, which they seem to struggle with. Upsetting your power users almost never works out.. Some internet math.. Google + Youtube = Digg 4?

That sounds entirely reasonable for the 99% use case - you have one convenient login, pseudonymous accounts on different services, and the only problem is that Google knows your accounts are the same person. Which they could almost certainly work out anyway from IP addresses etc. Your accounts are not safe from government snooping or unethical behaviour by Google - policy, or individual malicious sysadmins - but you are safer from harassment by other net users.

What we have in practice is people complaining that their real names and photos are appearing next to comments on their previously-psudonymous Youtube accounts. Google seem to have flubbed either their user-education, or the mechanical steps put on offer to find what people wanted for their accounts when the policy was rolled out.

I don't know what was offered to Youtube users - were they given warning of policy rollout? Clear pages of settings to adjust when they logged on? Was a 'page' containing their current Youtube identity in place by default? These would sound like reasonable steps to take to avoid an outcry.

It makes sense to have a single sign-on system (although this also raises questions of privacy over what actions are tracked and recorded by Google - I'm guessing evrything possible is tracked and recorded).

Why doesn't Google provide a dashboard for all their services accessible from every Google service when you're signed in? The Dashboard presents all of Google's services with the ability to opt-in to additional services.

So, for example, if I sign up for a GMail account, my dashboard only shows I've activated the GMail service, but also lists all the other Google services such as Google+, Docs, Drive etc. You can use the dashboard to promote your services rather than cluttering the GMail interface with promos for Google+, Google Chat, Hangouts etc. It's a bit ironic that one of the stated goals of Gmail is to minimise distractions and yet the GMail interface is stuffed with promos for other Google services.

https://www.google.com/settings/dashboard may be what you're looking for.

Thanks for that link: it taught me something interesting.

Photos that I attached to a Gmail message were stored in my (never signed up for or desired) Picassa account. That is fucking batshit insane.

What is the difference? All they are doing is giving you a different way of accessing them. It's the same bloody company! It's not like they've created and passed the photos on to someone else, they're just in a bucket with "picasa" written on it.

The difference is that the user never knew anything about the Picassa service. It should be their decision (not Google's) to add photo attachments to Picassa. It is unsettling to find your photo attachments in email (which most people consider private) suddenly placed in a photo app you've never accessed or may never have even heard of. The feature might be fine if you ask users for their permission. Doing it silently without their knowledge is just poor UX.

Google needs to make it much clearer that signing up to a Google account gives you access to all Google services. Their current sign-up page shows a line of tiny Google icons which completely fails to convey this. The icons are one image in a row, so you can't even hover over each icon to see a tooltip description of what they are. Once again, this is just clumsy UX.

In my view, if a user signs up for a particular service such as Gmail, only that service should be activated. Other Google services are only activated when you actually decide to use them (i.e. don't create an empty Google+ site for me unless I opt-in to using that service).

> Google needs to make it much clearer that signing up to a Google account gives you access to all Google services.

Perhaps this comes from different expectations. When I signed up with google this is exactly what I expected, to have access to every service they offered at that time and all future services.

> (i.e. don't create an empty Google+ site for me unless I opt-in to using that service).

This one I can see more (although I'm not sure quite what happens here, I'd need to create a new account and have a look).

I don't think that is the point being made. The point is that there's been a lack of transparency on Google's behalf, and a lot of users, like myself, have grown tired of it.

Well taking this example, what's the lack of transparency here? All they've done is given you (not anyone else) access to files you've already uploaded under a different heading. That's it, and they were calling it "batshit fucking insane".

It breaks unsophisticated users' conceptual model of how these things work. Admittedly, that's a low bar and a difficult problem.

When I looked at the Google+ account I didn't want or ask for, the default picture was from an Orkut account I signed up for on a lark before Google bought them.

I don't think some people in this thread understand that having something stored on the Internet, and having it be public, and having it to be tied to other public identities, and those identities being tied to your meatspace identity are four different questions.

WTF !? I see on the dashboard I now can "manage my devices", click on it and ... get something like "Authorize the manager to use geolocation data" with _only_ an accept button.

I can't even say No ! This is way out of line. They lost it. It's not mismanagement, it's concious dark pattern all over the place. It rubs me the very wrong way.

Uh, looks like there is a misunderstanding about what that manage devices link is for. It takes you to the device manager, which allows you to track the location of your Android devices (which you've enabled it on). So it does need location data, that's not unreasonable.

Well, it that's the case Google should really start to be very careful about wording and explanations. How I am suppose to know ? After the fact by accepting something I don't want to ? Discovering it by bitching on HN is not the solution. If I want to manage my device, I don't want to locate it. At best a locator is a inner functionality a device manager. But the real question here is : is it misunderstanding on my side or misleading on Google's ?

It's ambiguous and given Google's recent trend I am a very lot less forgiven than i used to be. The more pushee they are, the less forgiven people will be, even the small mistakes will be less well received.

That's my strong and unobjective opinion. Google is getting too pushee to my taste. I pushback.

The second bullet is what doesn't work.

I heard this same line about a year ago, and I created a separate "page". That page is nearly unindexed. People don't follow the page, they follow my other two profiles. When they're searching for me, that's what they find.

What I need, in order to make that second bullet true, is the ability to HIDE my first-party login pages (people find them), associate my emails with that "Page" and login to EVERY SERVICE as that public identity. This means leaving G+/Maps reviews, this means Maps Location services, everything.

With "Pages" useless and broken, the logic of this system falls apart.

But it's obviously more than that. One example; YouTube content creators now get notified of comments to their videos on G+ instead of directly on YouTube (I have yet to actually find these notifications on G+, but that's another issue). So this is an obvious grab for more G+ users/activity. No one actually believes that this nonsense is all being done to provide a single sign-on.

If SSO is the goal, why can't Google simply implement alternative persona a la Yahoo groups that has the feature for more than a decade? You still have SSO but _can_ have different public persona per property, should users choose to do so. Isn't this a solved problem?

The problem with this is that most users don't want their YouTube account linked with everything else. They aren't a minority.

Verified/full names are incompatible with profiles/content that are public by default.

So I don't work for Google and I've never worked for Google. I do, however, have two things you might want to keep in mind:

1. Google, according to Wikipedia, has 46,000 employees. The number of employees who are in a position to influence policy regarding Google+ adoption over the Google suite of products is likely less than one hundred (or .2%). It is entirely possible -- likely, even! -- that the other 99.8% of those employees do not agree with the Google+ strategy. It is also entirely possible -- likely, even! -- that those employees are encouraged to voice their opinions internally (though voicing those opinions externally doesn't really accomplish anything extra.)

2. You can disagree with Google's tactics, motives, and end-goals, but I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't believe that the average Google employee is very intelligent. It is entirely possible -- likely, even! -- that one of these employees did a cost-benefit analysis somewhere along the line (likely before Google+ was released to the public) and discovered that the cost of pushing an umbrella identity (pissing off users, possibly lowering retention and engagement) is outweighed by the benefits of such a strategy (attracting 'whale' consumers, strengthening advertising profiles for consumers).

I don't know what you were thinking when you added those interjections to every other sentence but this post is condescending as hell.

I honestly wasn't trying to be condescending, and apologize if it came off that way. (I'll leave the original post unedited so it doesn't look like you're crazy or anything.)

That being said, Google employees, why is G+ more important than your users? is an incredibly loaded question and I think my tone might have stemmed from that.

>That being said, Google employees, why is G+ more important than your users? is an incredibly loaded question and I think my tone might have stemmed from that.

It doesn't seem very loaded to me. The implication is simply that G+ is bad. Nothing more. That's a reasonable implication for someone to make. It's not a 'have you stopped beating your wife' type of question.

Or the other obvious interpretation is - they place pretty much zero value on their users (or perhaps even a negative value on those whiny privacy conscious tech-crowd users that hang out on commie un-monetized sites like HN…).

That's a very strange interpretation to me.

They clearly care a lot about G+.

So why would saying G+ > users imply that the value of users is small?

Because the title implies that Google does not think that G+ is something users would want. There are people who genuinely like G+ and maybe even think it's awesome that YouTube now is so tightly integrated with it. So a title implying that Google did G+ because they wanted to exploit ad dollars from users without caring about the users themselves, IS a "did you stop hitting your wife"-like question.

Because the "value" that Google generates from (toa very good first approximation) everything they do – comes from advertisers not "users". While the saying "if you're not paying for it, you're the _product_" is old and overused – any pragmatic view of Google's motivations needs to take into account that in any engineering/marketing/management argument about a user-impacting decision, "but this is what the advertisers want" is going to jold _way_ more sway than "but maybe as many as a few hundred thousand privacy conscious users might (gasp!) SIGN AN ONLINE PETITION!"

(And cynical-me suspects there's been a meeting going something like "Hey Sergey? Notice how there's been all these revelations about us snitching everyone's private email to the NSA?" "Yeah Larry, what of it? We seem to be getting away with it - it hasn't even registered a blip in our revenue/profit charts." "Yeah, _that's_ my point. The stupid fucking general public DON'T GIVE A DAMN. You know all those requests our advertisers keep making about tracking real identities across the entire internet? We could _so_ do that!" "Yeah, but what about our 'Don't be evil' motto?" "Sergey, do I have to threaten you with leaking your redtube browsing history _again?_")

I think it's relevant to ask in the context of "just what the hell do you think you're doing when you get up every morning to feed this thing? You do actually have to justify that."

Actually you don't. Let's stop pretending that any you can't trace any product/service back to something "evil".

"Oh that MacBook you use for work...ya it was made in a sweatshop in China. How do you justify that?"

If "this thing" is Google it's fairly understandable why someone would work there.

It's only been in the past year or two that Google's been popularly seen as focusing on G+ to the expense of users and innovation. Internally a lot of parts of the company are probably quite similar to the Google of 2010 which everyone liked.

And if they hate social networks what are they going to do, move to Facebook or Twitter?

I didn't take it that way, for some reason. I interpreted them as friendly, and I thought they were helpful in making what I think is a very good point.

I write like that on occasion.

Pretty sure it's because my thought process isn't like a linear story. It's more like a series of contextually leveled bullets -- each inner statement adding some useful (albeit sometimes unnecessary!) information to the overall discourse.

I can assure you that people who write like that don't mean to be intimidating or rude. They're probably just trying to leave no gap unexplored! (Much like how programmers have to think!)

It was possibly - likely, even! - a botched use of classical rhetoric.

It is quite possible - likely, even even! - that this rhetorical flourish is contagious, habit-forming and memetic.


It's quite possible -- likely, even! -- that you used that interjection a bit much.

Not a google employee, but this disgusting mistreatment of its users may actually be a good thing if it blows up in their faces. My prediction is that the change to automatically showing the users g+ profile pic next to comments will be what gets them in hot water by empowering stalkers and trolls.

Here's a simple example, if you go to the video for Miley Cyrus - Wrecking Ball, there are the usual back and forth comments arguing her merits. However, you can now easily spot preteen girls if you were looking for that specific demographic, and then subscribe to them for more efficient creeping.

Shame on Google. This behavior is stunningly evil.

I hadn't considered this angle before. It's often touted that transparency would make online discourse safer and more accountable, but stalking is a very real scenario where it would not.

You'd think they'd have learned from that woman whose info got sent to a stalker ex by the Google Buzz account she didn't want.

What? Hasn't G+ always showed profile pics next to comments? I don't understand why that would suddenly become a problem just because it's now enabled on YT too. It only makes stalking easier in the sense that there's a greater volume of comments to stalk.

The point is that it makes stalking much more efficient and there's no way to protect oneself from it on YouTube without changing the profile pic. The current #1 submission on HN is from a woman slamming google for this problem [1]. On the YouTube side the poster of the current top comment on the Miley Cyrus video is getting hostile replies based on the profile pic being of a very young girl.


If you read the comments on that post or the HN thread you would see that you can link your YT identity to a G+ "page", where you can set the name and profile pic to whatever you want. It sounds like your real issue is with the fact they haven't made this more widely known, or part of the conversion flow. Your original complaint still makes no sense to me and just reads like more of the same knee/circle-jerk reaction.

I have seen this banded around a bit, and it really isn't a solution. I 'firewall' different social networks, my YT access and my Google+ access are usually performed in 2 very different contexts and I have no interest in people or personalities leaking from one to the other.

Now, you are offering a pseudo anonymous solution, but that is an insufficient firewall for my needs.

Maintaining privacy across multiple networks, some of which contain my personal life, some my work life, some my social life and some my internet life is hard.

There is simply no freaking way I am going to trust a company which cares a LOT less than I do about my privacy be responsible for maintaining it.

BUT luckily this whole thing really doesn't affect me directly, my firewalls have not actually been affected.

I was just hoping to communicate why the suggestion you are making is not actually an effective solution for anyone who cares about their privacy.

Preteen girls are not allowed to have accounts. That's COPPA.

Are you saying that no pre-teen girls have G+ accounts? Or that because COPPA gives Google some legislation to cover their asses if this kind of stalking were to happen, it's OK?

Well that will surely stop them.

Doesn't Facebook comments also show users profile picture? I've never seen anyone criticize the use of Facebook profiles for commenting, and I really don't see the real difference between this and using Google+ for commenting.

I have no idea what the official party line is... but doesn't it make at least a little bit of sense to unify two social networks owned by the same company?

One thought about real names: what does your contacts database look like on your phone? While I know a lot of people by their online handles, I also know their real name, and I typically choose to enter that real name into my phone. Maybe this is uncommon, but if not, if you're building a communication platform, it does make some sense for the user-entered data to follow this format. Is there some intrinsic reason that someone be referred to as "Jonathan Rockway" when you send them a message via the SMS protocol, but "jrockway" if you send that same message via Jabber? It then follows to wonder: if you're talking to your friends via YouTube, why would you use yet another nickname?

Maybe what people want is a unique identifier that only they know, and then choose to share a different name with different groups of people?

I don't have any strong feelings one way or the other, but I am interested in what other people have to say.

>> While I know a lot of people by their online handles, I also know their real name,

This can't possibly be true. I easily interact with 100+ people on various platforms. I don't know any of their names. I consider them "friends" in a way, but their real names are wholly irrelevant to me.

>> if you're talking to your friends via YouTube

No... You are having a discussion about the video. This is certainly not your friends.

You can argue this, but if everyone is friends talking to each other, why are there still so many people willing to blatantly troll people they obviously don't know?

I'm not sure what world you are painting, but this does not reflect any reality I am aware of.

I define friend as someone I'd invite over to my house. Those are the people I interact with on social networking sites and send YouTube links to.

Discussion forums are, socially, a very different thing than hanging out with friends, even though they both involve people and saying things. That's what I think HN collectively misses when talking about Google+ or Facebook; they think those are Internet Discussion Forums when they are actually something for closer friends.

You have to understand that very few people are willing to write this much on the Internet for public consumption by total strangers -- we are very unusual people, and most online services aren't designed for us. That's why we're typing hundreds of words into a Web 1.0 GUI written in a custom programming language, rather than using Facebook or G+ or Snapchat or whatever.

> You have to understand that very few people are willing to write this much on the Internet for public consumption by total strangers -- we are very unusual people

Seems you're a bit out of touch with "usual people" - or at least "usual people" under the age of 35. I do agree HNers are unusual, but if anything I would say they are more likely to be concerned with what they share publicly, not less.

You've missed the point entirely. That comment was about the nature of the content posted. Facebook, snapchat, et al are essentially click-click-clicking through pages heavy on visual stimulation and interacting through short bursts of text, now video and images too. HN is about reading and formulating arguments and exchanging walls of text in an environment completely free of visual distraction.

The type of person who tends towards HN will be different from the type of person who tends towards something like Snapchat on the above grounds.

Check the stats on reddit. There are a ton of people who want topic-focused discussion with strangers on the internet.

G+ seems to be trying to be both a public discussion forum and a hangout for existing friends at the same time. This is part of what makes it often unpleasant.

>> This can't possibly be true.

I would not be so sure. I know at least the first name of most of the people I communicate with exclusively over the internet. Easily over 50 people. Regarding real names being wholly irrelevant, it is true you can get by without knowing somebody's name, but I find that people respond more easily and you can have a more honest, personal conversation if you at least exchange first names.

>> No...

Now maybe I'm a minority here, but most of the things on YouTube I find worthy of a comment have either been uploaded by a friend or commented on by a friend. If I am using it for communication, I'm very likely not wasting my time calling out a random stranger because of their opinion of some random video or adding mine to the mix of comment spam.

I'm guessing you know my first name along most every person here on Hacker News? Color me skeptical. I consider my interactions here semi-personal. The interactions I have in other places are quite personal. There is a gift of anonymity, and that gift is the allowance to be a only a small part of your real person for a few fleeting moments.

There are many honest reasons I don't want my real name associated with everything I do. Sure, I have my real name posted in various places, but that is because it is my personal and strategic choice, not a point of coercion from a company. Choice is very important to me.

Just imagine this: suppose you wanted to blog about something that could possibly be embarrassing or things that you aren't even talking to your wife, parents, or best friends about. I'm not talking about murder or anything, but things about yourself that are deeply personal and you have nowhere to turn to vent or get advice. The fact is that you are not willing to be vulnerable to people in your real life, but you'd like an outlet and opinions from others about your situation. Believe me, I've posted things in forums and other places about myself that are deeply embarrassing and disturbing. I don't want my next girlfriend to know and I certainly don't want my next employer to know about this stuff.

There is a certain class of people that don't want their entire lives spread across the internet. Heck, I'd venture to guess that your email is not jason@_____.com, and if by some early-adapting miracle it is, most people you interact with is not.

Suppose you wanted to create a G+ account to talk about your frustrations with anything. Would you be willing to be honest and forthcoming if you had to use your real name? Would it be at all entertaining or useful to other people going through the same things you are?

By most of the people, I mean almost the entirety of my contacts that I talk with via IM, email, or Steam, and excluding the 5 or so people I've responded to on HN.

And regarding wanting to blog about something that could possibly be embarrassing . . . well, I am very open about things. Why should I be ashamed of my opinion or a particular circumstance? I think there is no reason to be ashamed unless it is directly my fault, least of all my opinion. If it is something I have done wrong, I should own up to it or talk about what I have learned. Sickness, addiction, emotions, opinions . . . these are all things I should be able to talk about or proud of, not things I need to hide behind a username to open up about.

I realize this is probably not indicative of how the majority of people feel in this situation.

> I would not be so sure. I know at least the first name of most of the people I communicate with exclusively over the internet. Easily over 50 people

Then it means you're really not communicating that much over the Internet. Just to give you my personal example (and I'm generally an introvert), when it comes to "Internet discussion" I'm more or less actively involved in: a tramspotting forum, /r/soccer, /r/the_name_of_my_country, some urban development blogs and of course HN. I think I only know the first name of 3 or 4 people out of the hundreds (tens of thousands, if you include /r/soccer) of people involved in these communities.

You don't know the usernames of the tens of thousands of people you "communicated" with in those communities either.

You're of course right (with a few exceptions), but I thought that was what made the web so great?! Granted, this are changing as we speak.

> If you're talking to your friends via YouTube, why would you use yet another nickname?

Who honestly talks to their friends via Youtube? It's really not a social networking site. People use it to enjoy watching videos and occasionally make a comment.

Judging from the widespread user backlash on the G+ & Youtube linking for comments it seems people quite prefer using a pseudonym when making comments on Youtube. For often good reason.

Also, although it has been discussed before, anonymity itself doesn't affect the comment quality on Youtube. From all the sites I've visited over the years where comments play a large role it's my opinion that a site's pre-existing and maintained culture determines the quality, apart from any moderation.

> Who honestly talks to their friends via Youtube? It's really not a social networking site. People use it to enjoy watching videos and occasionally make a comment.

This is the heart of the matter, Google views Youtube differently than everyone else. We use it to watch videos, not to communicate with friends, and don't consider it a social network - when we want to discuss a video with our friends we share it with them.

Google wants you to discuss it with your friends on Youtube (or G+) instead of posting it to Facebook (or wherever) and discussing it with your friends there.

  > Is there some intrinsic reason that someone be referred
  > to as "Jonathan Rockway" when you send them a message via
  > the SMS protocol, but "jrockway" if you send that same
  > message via Jabber?
Counter example: I'm internet-buddies with a person who goes by CUNT'N'PASTE. This is obviously not a name that complies with the Google+ naming policy, but it is the name they chose, and they should be permitted to use it. They were only able to register with Google+ by coming up with a fake name[1], and then spreading the word through other channels that they'd be using a fake name in G+ only.

They appear as CUNT'N'PASTE in my Android contacts app, because it pulls names from the Gmail contacts list, which I can edit so it complies with reality.

[1] Which makes G+ conversations confusing, because everyone has to remember that this person with the strange name in our comment boxes is actually Cunty, not whatever name G+ accepted.

Engineering is about making compromises. Given limited time, it probably makes more sense to support people with names like "First Last" because they are more common personal monikers than one-word obscenities with special characters in the middle. Yes, you'll annoy people named CUNT'N'PASTE, and that's regrettable. But you'll probably make a lot of First Lasts happy too.

It's important to balance the positives and negatives of a decision. On HN, we mostly see the negatives, since that's the sort of thing that people are willing to spend mental energy writing about on their computer. But surely some people like the new YouTube comments or Google+, right?

Here's an idea, tell your friend to grow up and use a socially acceptable name instead - revolutionary I know!

Here's another thought: in some parts of society this is a socially acceptable name!

The redneck parts - totally ;)


What really doesn't make sense is migrating someone to Google+ without asking, and then throwing them out since the account name didn't meet the higher name standard there. This has happened to a friend of mine.

Or telling them their real name doesn't look like a real name, and suggesting they send Google a copy of their passport. (Two friends of mine, one Swedish and one Israeli. 'Cos those people don't have real, proper names. And Google's policy totally isn't racist - it just has, uh, racist effects.)

> One thought about real names: what does your contacts database look like on your phone?

So my phone book is identical to a public identity, is it? Just because most people have contacts by their full name in their phone book, it means that everyone should use their full name publicly at all times and on all occasions? Because that's what you're saying.

I don't know about your country, but in the Netherlands this is why we have privacy laws. It's legal to have a calendar with birthdates which your family and guests see; it's legal to keep a phonebook full of personally identifiable data, but it's illegal to share either of those with any audience.

Note that, yes, that makes every Dutch person with the Facebook app conducting illegal activities. But it kind of sucks to sue all your friends for uploading your info, so nobody does it.

(Also, the answer to your question is: a mixed list of first names, full names, nicknames, and first name + nicknames.)

> Maybe what people want is a unique identifier that only they know, and then choose to share a different name with different groups of people?

Exactly, and that's what I'm doing. I don't have that many identities, but yeah I've got two or three that I share with different audiences. Everyone in that audience knows me by "lucb1e" and I even own a domain lucb1e.com. If I wanted anyone in that public audience to know me in any other way, I would have used another name. I don't want to use my full name. My full name isn't even a unique identifier and it's much longer than my nickname. In my opinion, full names are pretty useless most of the time.

Even my Facebook account has no full name, and people seem to know and recognize me just fine, even though I know many of them in real life (and they also know my full name).

But YouTube isn't really a social network. It's more often a video search engine. I don't want my search history on public display, attached to my real name. If I like a video, I don't want that to be visible if someone Googles my name.

Except the oldest one is a social network that respected privacy and anonymity at it's core, and the other one has a fundamentalist ideology of exposing everyone's real name and identity.

Google has owned youtube for 7 years and this year they decided to mess with people. Why?

Probably a combination of: having the idea, having the right infrastructure, and having a team of engineers to write the code and migrate the data.

I would have real difficulty sending texts to several friends (yes, the real-life kind that I invite round to my house) if my phone contacts forced me to list them under "real" name (rather than "lestaki" and "delph" and "raccoon" as they currently are).

I don't "want" a unique identifier; I don't mind having one, but I don't care having many. I already have different identifiers for different services owned by different companies, so why should I care that just because Youtube and Gmail happen to be owned by Google, it's an absolute necessity that I have the same identifier on both services?

I don't care and don't even need to know that Google search, Gmail and Youtube are owned by the same company; to me they are separate systems.

The "unique identifier" approach is solving a problem that does not exist.

Then, trying to force people to have a public "social" profile under their own legal name, under the cover of this non-problem, is just crazy and arrogant.

This is not supposed to mean I like the policy change, but most people I know, that don't have anything to do with technology, are rather confused by multiple accounts and are glad the account for YouTube and Google Search can be the same.

Imagine not insisting on unique identifiers at all. The horror. Your argument pretty much boils down to you being comfortable using real names. That isn't a great argument against letting other people do something else.

(This is one of those things where enabling consolidation is pretty much orthogonal to the interesting part of the discussion, which is really more about how much latitude the service allows users. Of course giving the option for consolidation will be great for some people.)

Ever since Google has been integrating all their services to Google+, I have been using Google differently now:

1) Anonymous or no commenting on YouTube 2) Using Windows 8.1 Mail app to access Gmail. Because seeing that Google+ notification icon is distracting and annoying me 3) Stopped rating apps on Google Play store 4) Stopped contributing reviews to Local 5) Trying to stop using Google's Web products in favor of apps instead because of that damn Notifications bar.

I understand using a single Google Account for all services, but linking them all to one service where that service acts as a Social Network is not a service I would want to use anymore. They acquired Meeboo bar, and it seems they want every service they own have that bar and I despised that bar. Totally the wrong direction to take.

Treating each service separately would have been better and giving the option to the user to show that bar would have been great.

Not a google employee, but here's my take. It seems like value in web ecosystem is changing from "views" to "verbs" -- like, share, etc.. actions that spread content rather than passively consuming it. Google has based its business on monetizing "views" and its competitors (fb) are building on verbs.

Also, Google has to maintain a forest of separate identities for everyone. (youtube, gmail, g+, etc). It's super annoying just to maintain one login. There's huge business value in consolidating those, even without adding features.

Finally, Youtube comments are a cesspool. Even when they're not racist or threatening, they're immature and, at best "wow that's awesome". They drive viewers away. I bet google wants to try to do-over comments in a way that makes them useful to people, not unsettling.

And I would hesitate to call it a disaster. Sure there's a lot of whining about it now, especially in tech circles, but every big interface change comes with a wave of whiners. We'll see in three or four weeks if anyone is complaining.

They'd certainly have a much tougher time doing this if there were another option for the masses, but for most people YouTube is it. Saying people are going to quit watching or uploading to youtube is silly, they'll go where? Vimeo?

They're going to keep tweaking it, people are going to adapt and learn, videos of cats falling off objects will continue to be uploaded.

ps: "How do they keep morale up"? Free food and big piles of money. How else do you do it?

This article that was submitted to HN had a section on Vic Gundotra that should have clues: http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2013/09/20/sex_a...

Former Googler here.

The vast majority of Googlers do not approve of G+ policies. However, Google has never been run democratically and most of the time that's probably a good thing.

Furthermore, the management has been much less forthcoming than usual about the thinking behind these policies. What they have said varies and usually sounds like excuses.

In short, don't expect actual information in this thread.

The vast majority of Googlers do not approve of G+ policies.

For me, this is the most critical statement in the entire Google+ saga. Most Google employees do not approve of a strategy that google is betting its future on. Has this ever happened before? Probably never before. And to me, it marks a clear beginning of the end of google as we knew it. The google we grew up loving was a google that put product quality before anything else. Everything else(such as market share) was a result of a good product. This is no longer true.

GMail and Instant both had significant internal resistance, as did several projects that were (rightfully, IMHO) canned. Meanwhile, Wave and Buzz were beloved by Googlers.

Much as it pains me to admit that I'm not omniscient, there are ample examples of products where the majority Googler consensus does not reflect the majority market consensus. There are also ample examples of products where the initial market consensus doesn't reflect the final market consensus. (For example, Chrome was beloved internally by Googlers, but was met with a lot of external skepticism when it launched, and then eventually became the dominant browser.)

> Most Google employees do not approve of a strategy that google is betting its future on. Has this ever happened before?

It was before my time, but I'm told acquiring youtube was unpopular. That seems to have worked out. I doubt it was as unpopular, though, and there was a lot less bet on it.

It seems simple, honestly. The likelihood that people will stop using YouTube because of G+ is nil.

It's quite the opposite for me. I've started moving my stuff off of Google as this was one of the last straws in my book. I'd already switched to using DDG and Startpage for my searches and am currently in the process of moving my Google apps email to my own server. When that's done I plan on deleting my Youtube and Google accounts.

This latest Google+ push has made me realize just how far Google is willing to go to capture more data on their users instead of focusing on providing the best service possible as they used to.

I'm sorry, but hearing geeks talk about quitting google as if it's some personal triumph (in nearly every google thread) makes the sentiment seem even more tone deaf and futile.

Sometimes thought leaders need to light the way when issues are not apparent to the masses. I have been saying for a long time that having companies own our identities is a bad idea.

What evidence is there that HN commenters are actually "thought leaders"? That sounds like just the sort of hubris the 4chan thread makes fun of.

Writing us off as "geeks" is absurd. A lot of us are high level developers, architects, consultants, and so on.

So are all of the people who worked on Google+. The notion that anyone here, or any individual at Google, is a thought leader whose own personal use of technology represents where the industry is going just because they're a high level developer seems like narcissism.

I don't think we should be completely written off as "geeks", you're right about that, but it should certainly be acknowledged that we're a small (heavily) biased sample of the general population and our preferences need to be taken with a grain of salt.

> A lot of us are high level developers, architects, consultants, and so on.

Which in the eyes of most people other than those you have listed, makes us geeks. If we're talking about leadership, it isn't so much how we see ourselves that matters, but how others see us.

The public at large doesn't really give a shit if some developers, architects, or consultants want to send a message by deleting their google accounts and refusing to use google services.

They care, it just takes a little longer at times. One day, a person wakes up and realizes that the technophiles are someplace else, all of those blogs, videos and snippets they've been seeing hit home, and they have been personally affected by a real name policy. It starts someplace.

or the technophiles look up and everyone's using whatsapp while we're asking why google isn't using XMPP anymore. This meme needs to die. Sure, gmail rode the wave of the tech-in-crowd to success, but there are far more examples that didn't, or did but went nowhere. If we were actually a good crystal ball it would be a whole lot easier to invest in the market.

What examples might those be? When I look at many products that had the tech-in-crowd blessing and yet failed, often it appeared to be because of lapses in user experience and some humility.

It doesn't require a crystal ball to know when a product solves a problem for users in a way that leaves a good taste in one's mouth.

However, I'm still discovering great products and apps from technophiles who have found solutions to problems that impact me. I've also left detritus behind, not because the awesome folks of HN said it was time, but because of well reasoned thoughts that start here (I tend to favor here) and in other technology springboards.

At the end of the day, I believe that mainstream ultimately wakes up. The kernals for change start small though.

Personally, I don't follow a compass held by just the tech pundits or mainstream - I head toward the smell of good user experience.

HN is legendarily an inward-focused bunch of SV startup-wannabe brogrammers, but it's also a pretty reliable weathervane for where hot technology is heading in the next year or two. And what companies have lost it in the eyes of the very smartest technologists.

> but it's also a pretty reliable weathervane for where hot technology is heading in the next year or two

I have seen very little actual evidence of this, unless we're talking tautological, "all the predictions that came true came true, just ignore the rest", weathervanes. Still waiting on those social-network-based search engines to reign supreme...

oh gosh 4chan talked some shit about us, we better all change our behavior now to meet 4chan's standards

Are you saying your less technical relatives don't ask you for advice on internet matters? And take it?

Exactly! That's how Google got it's popularity in the first place.

dude get off your high horse..

I would be willing to bet that 90% of extremely upset users are using Adblock Plus anyway, and a smaller amount (though significant, in this crowd) use NoScript or something similar to block Google Analytics altogether. It would be basically impossible for Google to even notice their disappearance.

t he alpha geeks have changed from sneakily answering questions with "let me google that for you" to "I've deleted all my googles". self-driving cars and tacky universal soldier glasses don't make up for losing the early adopters.

Same, I deleted Google+ last week so I don't have to look at it. I still use Google for Adsense, Analytics and search. I'm tempted to switch over to DDG, and explore one of the many alternatives for tracking analytics because quite honestly, I'm losing faith in Google to maintain my privacy. Adsense is tougher to replace, I use them for backup fill after selling direct advertising, but they're still one of the better networks.

I wouldn't be surprised if YouTube goes under in the coming years. Someone is going to create an alternative, and hit a homerun. YouTube is primarily about watching videos, and their video player is one of the worst available. Porn sites have offered much better video players for years, so what's holding up Google? It's been seven years, and they still haven't fixed it. Either it's not in their list of priorities, or they're incompetent. I don't care which one it is, they lose my support, and I'm ready to get behind the next alternative that's better in touch with the needs of users.

You are not a target user for google products and services, thats why they are not too worried about how you or users like you feel about it.

See also: Facebook. A lot of noise was made about facebook privacy (inside the HN and other tech eco chambers) and a lot of noise was made about people quitting facebook because of privacy. But in reality probably only .00000001% of facebook users probably quit because of privacy reasons, which is probably a drop in a bucket compare to the amount of new users they get everyday.

Google is doing this because they can. They are in a market dominant position with both youtube and Google search that they can afford to make decision, which in hindsight might not be popular with some users, but will close to nothing to harm their bottom line.

> But in reality probably only .00000001% of facebook users probably quit because of privacy reasons, which is probably a drop in a bucket compare to the amount of new users they get everyday.

Normalization is a tricky job. Your assumption is that the entire set of users were aware of privacy problems with Facebook. Out of the universal set of Facebook users, there would be two subsets - people aware of privacy problems and their ill effects and people who don't. You should check "how many people quit (or significantly reduced activity on) Facebook, once they found out about privacy issues and their effects" and then report the percentage.

It will harm the bottom line. When user experience isn't taken seriously, the effects will be felt - yes at the bottom line. Facebook is now admitting it has a problem in the "cool" teen department. Because of Facebook's privacy blunders, it has put itself in the spotlight whenever a change is needed to the ToS, DUP, or Privacy Policy. Does anyone really think that it costs Facebook less to deal with these issues (dollars and time)? Google will not be an exception. Someone, will come along and fill in the gap to make their marketing costs even more interesting.

Except Facebook is losing users in developed economies now. The recent talk has been about them milking the property for short term profitability, because they know it's doomed in the long term.

Anecdata: I know that a LOT of my friends have quit Facebook (or just stopped visiting) over privacy concerns and dissatisfaction with the UX.

From google's perspective, you (and other HNers) most likely belong to the tiny techie minority who would have blocked ads anyway. So you quitting the service wouldn't make much difference to their revenue stream.

That's because YouTube still has value (although deteriorating rapidly with or without the G+ issue). G+ has none.

The effect seems to be more that people gradually reduce their Google usage. I've cleaned out my private Google account, deleted my Google+ and after I migrated my mail it will be gone and subsequently replaced by a new G+ account of which every single letter is completely fake.

I am now actively reducing my youtube usage. Maybe it's a drop in the bucket, but I think a lot of people are getting tired of Google's bullshit.

Plenty of employees left the company due to the + obsession. Users too, I wouldn't be surprised

I use it a lot less, tbh.

In addition to what other people have said: Googlers love Google Plus. I haven't met a Googler (and, I know many) that doesn't love it.

After all, for them, it's not a barren wasteland. They have a very active network (coworkers/friends). I don't think this answers your question, however most Googlers like G+.

It's a much better product than Facebook.

But a better social product means nothing without an active network of users.

> It's a much better product than Facebook.

It's slow and buggy (i.e. it jerks painfully while scrolling on modern touch devices, it's sluggish on the desktop even in Chrome and they broke spacebar scrolling!), the photo upload experience doesn't work as reliably, search is embarrassing for Google and the timeline still doesn't do basic things like clustering shares of the same item or sorting based on what you've found interesting.

When Google can't compete with Facebook on technical quality, you know it's because of a management decision rather than lack of technical resources.

> But a better social product means nothing without an active network of users.

Lots of people tried it but they just found a marginally QA-ed bug-fest for the first couple of years which was clearly designed with the top priority of providing Google's ad sales team with tons of data to compete with Facebook ads and building a quality product seen as a cost of getting that data rather than the actual goal.

Better in what way? G+ has confusing and horrible interface, it's slow, and keeps asking me to import friends every single time I open up the page. That's not 'better product' in my opinion.

Better photos experience, better media embedding, better commenting (until Facebook later copied G+), better search, simpler privacy control system, better notification drop down, better mobile app, etc

Asking to import and nag dialogues, I agree. They need to stop that.

Compared to Facebook, it's beautifully designed.

That ... actually makes me wince a bit. For the Facebookers.


That's what it took for me to be able to tolerate the Plus.

Many hated it and left the company because of it.

From what I heard from Google employees, G+ has been highly prioritized over many projects (and some others which closed like google lab, reader, etc.).

Facing the social network giant that is Facebook, G+ has to become successful after many past failures, and to do so, they try to force their way through, and make it ubiquitous.

However, this Youtube chapter was probably a step too far, since very intrusive and noticeable.

YouTube comments were already a cesspool. Now, with added "shared via Google+", it has become unbearable. I added this rule in AdBlockPlus to block YouTube comments:


I'd be more concerned when they start forcing G+ on open platforms like the Web and Android. Maybe it's already started with Android KitKat shipping with Hangouts as the default messaging app.

The worst part is I can't even disable it if I am using my another SMS app, so now I have to clear two notifications for my text message and 50% of the time I usually end up in the Hangouts app where I don't want to be.

When will this madness stop?

Your other SMS app is broken needs to update to the new API that was introduced in KitKat, which should fix both problems:


Intercepting SMS required using a hidden API before. Now it's an officially supported feature.

My apologies then. I will contact the app developer.

As mentioned in my other reply here, KitKat added an API which explicitly lets users change their default SMS app. The way apps did it in the past required using a hidden API and wasn't guaranteed to work.

No conspiracy theories necessary. :)

Don't forget that one of the tacit reasons for G+'s existence is simply to have a reason to encourage G+ buttons on each page for further tracking of what's happening on the internet. Using a single identity helps to reconcile a unique user that help both the advertiser reach "uniques" and for Google to better understand that user's behavior.

Back to the point: Google's ethos is to track and analyze as much of what's happening on the Internet as possible. If, as an employee, you don't appreciate that this is Google's bread and butter, you simply may not care enough about these things to ever get worked up about G+'s account management.

From https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1319578 :

  > The +1 button isn’t used to track your visits across the web.
  > Google doesn’t keep a persistent record of your browsing
  > history as part of the process of showing you a +1 button or
  > otherwise use the fact that you personally have visited a page
  > with the +1 button.

Frankly, I don't trust enough to believe they won't change this in the future, or even that they're telling the truth now. Tracking people is the only way Google makes any money.

Actually, that's false. Most of the money Google makes from ads are not behaviorally targeted ads, but keyword targeted. If you subtract out YouTube 'behavior target' which seems more targeted based on what you watched, the portion of money Google actually makes from using 3rd party website tracking is quite small.

Agreed. I recently discovered that they even track you when using incognito. e.g. I got a youtube suggestion whilst in incognito that I had searched for 2 weeks prior & the type of search precludes the possibility of it being a co-incidence. So much for no cookies in incognito...

Incognito mode doesn't block cookies, it creates a separate cookiejar. If you have the same incognito session open for two weeks, every cookie from every site you visited still exists. If you want cookie-clearing behavior, you'll have to periodically close your incognito window.

This was with a fresh incognito session, so theoretically there shouldn't be a cookie.

A bit more trial & error shows that its possibly connected via IP...switching IP seems to confuse it.

Good to know, I'd never seen that before. But still they do keep the records for 2 weeks, and it's not very far-fetched to imagine that it's rolled up into some data store that can be attached to your unique identity (even if it isn't explicitly a record of every webpage one has has visited).

Okay, so the mere _presence_ of the +1 button in a browser doesn't track visits across the web. But when you press the button, "Google receives information about your Google profile, the URL you +1, your IP address, and other browser-related information."

If you click the button, it lights up in red and also shows up in the +1's tab on your plus.google.com profile (which you can make public or private). Since the +1 button is served from Google's servers and displayed via an iframe, Google of course receives client information when you click it. You're making a request to Google's servers.

It sounds like we're saying the same thing. I just was pointing out that this is all entirely consistent with the entire point of G+ being the "further tracking of what's happening on the internet."

+1 Anyone who has used Google Analytics knows that we can now sort page views by... age. Or gender.

There is also a dead comment by Gthrowaway1 in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6732425

What are you linking to? The only comment about what Gthrowaway1 said is about Gthrowaway1 deleting the comment.

I'm not sure if reproducing a dead comment violates some kind of unwritten HN guideline, but here it is:


Gthrowaway1 2 days ago | link [dead]

The Google bashing is well deserved. Even people at Google despise Vic Gundotra (just check memegen.googleplex.com today), yet this incompetent figure is allowed to continue alienating users and driving Google's brand into the ground.

Vic, do us a favor: Go back to Microsoft and never return!

Disclaimer: I work for Google.

I can't help but feel that if someone deletes their comment, its polite to respect their wishes and keep the comment deleted.

I don't think that the person who posted that comment deleted it. I think his account got hell banned.

Turn on showdead then scroll down to the bottom.

I see, I've heard Vic is notorious for forcing his own products. But if it's truly an issue, why does Larry allow Vic to exercise so much control? It sounds like the entire executive staff is to blame.

That is why I posted another comment with a link you should read.

I'm waiting for a Twitter video platform to settle these issues once and for all ... Google really needs more competition where users feel they are forced to do things because they have no choice.

That would be awesome.

These threads are already huge, but I'll take a bite.

I don't think it's G+ being more important than the users, I think it has more to do with YouTube. Currently, G+ is for nerds who care about anonymity and all the other things that Google is being criticized here. That's fine, I'm one of them.

However, YouTube is a shithole and it's likely that YT people don't care as much about what they sign into as long as all their stuff is there. That Google would try to move YT users on to G+ makes sense in a "slum clearance[1]" way.

The Real Name vs. Nicknymity thing is a real problem, and for me I don't think Google is handling right, but I do think they're handling it in a way that is not out of line with the values of a stereotypical corporate bureaucracy.

Google wants to know the real names of everybody on its services, I get that, but users who value theirs and others' internet identity do so regardless of whether it's under a real name or a nickname. That Google has been found to be getting back alley sex from the US Government does not help their case for knowing who you really are.

In my more cynical moments I think comments and such are a ruse to get more PII from their users for law enforcement purposes. But YT is also a shithole, and the ad rates against combined-identity demographics ain't sour neither.

1. http://freakonomics.com/2011/09/30/the-controversial-legacy-...

There used to be someone at google who would approve every UX/UI at pixel level. She now works for Yahoo!.

So really the only way to identify high quality information is by what some would call "peer reviewed, authenticated content". That means you know something about the person who generated the content and a bunch of people (who you also know something about) review it and vote it up. Thats why a large percentage of high ranked search results come from wikipedia and stack overflow/exchange and quora.

LinkedIn and Facebook are leading the market in the authenticated peer reviewed content business, which is locked in to their platforms, and which search engines cannot index.

Extrapolate ten years down the line, and that means a scenario where existing search engine leadership is severely compromised.

And thats why the push for G+. Its do or die.

tl;dr: the goal is to have search access to authenticated peer reviewed content, and to mitigate the risk of existing market leaders in that space from cannibalizing the search business, and with it the lucrative advertising business.

the only way to identify high quality information is by what some would call "peer reviewed, authenticated content".

That's not the only way.

It is a method that scales.

You can also identify content yourself, based on known sources (whether fully identified or pseudonymous), or based on the extant indicators within the text itself.

Traditionally the issue has been resolved through editors (not necessarily peer review) who would judge content on its merits and/or the reputation of its author(s). As Clay Shirkey has noted, "it's not information overload, it's filter failure", we've moved from pre-publication filters to post-publication filters. The incentives on and for publication have also shifted, with a huge increase in low-quality information being promoted (most of what's "viral"), something I'm increasingly getting sick of.

As for G+, as I've posted elsewhere (and Homer Slated points out very eloquently in a recent post), Google's formerly razor-sharp relevance algorithms are becoming increasingly vague. It's to the point it's becoming highly obvious to me, and it's very painfully manifested on G+ specifically.

Some of this might be attributed to SEO gaming of search, but tool design and selectin (see "What's Hot" and the extremely limited search and noise controls on G+) make me increasingly think it's deliberate.

Reading this thread I see some confusion about what YouTube and Google require with G+ account linking.

HN is full of smart people who work with tech all day every day.

Imagine what it's like for the average person trying to create a YouTube channel but trying to avoid leaking too much information to the creeps.

It's weird to me that Google would make things tricky for content creators on Youtube. These aren't people posting cat videos, these are people who are trying to build a brand and who spend time and money creating original content - some of it is "let's play" style video, or vlogging, but some of it is young people creating music video and sharing it. Pissing off those people leaves YouTube a wasteland of cat videos, adverts off the telly, and chopped up tv programmes posted without permission. Google can make lots of money off that, but it's a shame they don't want the original content.

G+ leadership thinks the internet is for brand management for bloggers, photographers, etc. They aren't being sadistic, they are simply generalizing from their own experience ad successful public strivers.

Personal private use is simply irrelevant to them. And you know, maybe it wasted time and the world would be better if people stopped having anonymous debates that don't win over any minds.

Google doesn't run cafes and bars, and they don't run reddit, and they don't want to. They aren't trying to kill Reddit.

HNers write their blog posts and seek discussion here instead of in the blog's comments. Redditors can post YouTube videos and discuss them on /r/videos

(not a G employee as well)

I scrolled through all the comments and at least in the first line I didn't see this yet, so I add it to this thread: Why does <X> piss of it's users? (doesn't need to be the big G)

A) Mostly people are using services that they don't pay for. But the service must be awesome. This kind of user is not so attractive to competitive, profitable companies. They don't add much but they cost much time, trouble, energy, money. If these users go away no company really bothers, even if these are 90% of the users. (keep in mind, I'm one of these troublesome users)

B.) Users that actually pay might not be unhappy with the results. E.g. a company that buys advertisement space from google will not mind if Google processes the user information more efficiently. Also a Google business account owner will not mind that his employees can't watch Youtube videos from his account that would be shameful to show publicly. Therefore I think the bigger part of the interesting cutomers might actually approve of the current changes.

C) Most users have not much power. They can basically choose between service A and service B but often both services exploit their users the same way (see G+ and FB). So even if they are annoyed as hell they might not even go away.

Now I'm really one of the people who is unhappy with Google as it is, but I think there are some very good reasons for them to do it.

Not a Google employee, just a satisfied member. As far as I can tell, these are the following flaws with G+:

1) It's idiotic that my URL must be FirstnameLastname1234.

2) GDrive storage (which I use to upload 2000px G+ photos) is unfortunately expensive when compared to Everpix's unlimited storage. Everpix would have been quite profitable at G+'s scale, too. If Google invested this much in photo enhancement services, why not allow us to pay $50/year for unlimited full-size photo storage?

3) Not enough participation by other people, though it's getting there.

4) I'll never review a Google Play app or Youtube video if I'm forced to publish everything with my real name. They should allow pseudonyms.

Seriously, are there other problems? It provides fantastic value for me in the form of auto-awesome photos and the eventual integration of Google Voice. My profile is completely locked down to outsiders and unifies my Google services under a single identity.

I just don't see what the problem is. At worst, it discourages participation on the Play Store and Youtube. In exchange, I get cool photo stuff and a pretty great social network. There are still improvements to be made, but I don't understand HN's antagonism. Quite frankly, G+ is welcome competition to Facebook. G+ has better design than Facebook, respects my privacy vastly more than Facebook, and provides incredibly valuable photo backup and enhancement.

Somehow I don't think that someone who is a cog in the machine has much say in this.

Maybe he/she is asking the non-cogs. Let's see if they speak up forthrightly, or give us another faux surprise "what the..." post.

DISCLAIMER: I'm not a Google employee. This is my guess.

Users doesn't make money for Google. Users are valuable only when they're in sellable state. Ad companies don't want to buy fully anonymous, bogus or false profiles. They want real personal information from real human. To increase efficiency of target reaching / marketing cost.

Until now, Google didn't need to worry about quality of their product - I mean their users profiles. Because that was valuable enough. Because nobody else could provided anything better.

But now it's a little bit different. Especially with Facebook. Facebook provides better product - more accurate, proven, related, real personal information. There's mostly no spamming, bogus, false account. They offer interconnected and very clearly tasted profiles. The most fantastic thing is all the informations are input by users themselves. So accuracy of the data is incredible. Google' product - user profile - is mostly tracked by usage history. So inaccurate. People refuse to input something on Google. This degrades quality of their product.

To the marketers, Google product - user profiles - are now inferior. Nobody wants to buy Google product anymore. Not completely useless yet, but it's not competitive product to what Facebook provides. If this situation continues, Google has to bargain a lot, and finally will lose the only their profitable business - ad selling. Ad is not just an empty space on a website. Nowadays, you can't sell ad in high price without targeting information. Google's targeting was best in old days, but now Facebook offers even better which makes Google product crap.

That's why Google is pushing everybody to their copy of Facebook - G+. To survive. By making money. G+ can make money by delivering quality user profiles to marketers. But you, the users, are just nothing if you don't offer that informations. Because without informations, your account is just an useless binary junk which can't make money.

If you still love Google, please, feed them your personal information. That's the only way you can keep them (and their services) to survive. Anyway don't forget that any further marketing junks are also your responsibility. That's what you pay for Google stuff.


If you think something wrong in my posting, please correct me. I also want to know if there's any other reason.

"They want real personal information from real human."

I don't understand why they would want that. The kind of analytics data you can get from a Google profile is much more useful to advertisers than vague demographic categories like age or location (I mean, you can guess at these categories from Google's data, but if you know that someone acts like a 23 year old woman from Austin, that's more useful for marketing purposes than knowing that they actually are a 23 year old woman from Austin).

You're right. Nobody want approximated, imitated, false, or empty data.

And you're wrong. Facebook data is not vague. People use Facebook to write about themselves. And to announce it to their friends. People don't lie to their friends. And that's the miracle of Facebook to marketers. People write truth on Facebook. Sheryl Sandberg knew it, so she didn't hesitate to get aboard.

Unlike Facebook, Google data is poor. They have only approximation and best-guess. People don't want to leave any personal stuff on Google. Google is a device for work, not a personal entertainment. They sometimes leave bogus data to avoid Google's tracking. Actually many people do. I had over 5 Gmail accounts for spam mailers and crappy web-service membership. That's the vague data. They can't even dream some relationship data between users.

I don't understand your story about 23yo woman. What marketers want to know is the only thing - how can I find a person would like to buy my product?. Everything else is just a clue and device to track them down. Age, sex, location, taste, marriage… All are just parameters. But Google has only that stripped down parameters. No more. Those parameters are better than nothing, but completely useless when compared to what Facebook offers.

Facebook offers: (1) whether the woman actually married or not (2) who's' husband (3) what's their jobs = income level (4) whether they have children and how old are the children (5) when did she moved recently. She don't need to write about her children. Because Facebook will analyze photos and will recognize children's age, race, sex, and current living location. In addition, Facebook also let you know how many friends she have, and how are their children… recursively.

If you're in a diaper company, which profile would you prefer? I won't even consider Google data. That's just a crap when compared to Facebook profiles.

Of course, those data won't be offered as is. That's illegal. But each companies know how to deliver those data to their customers. And obviously, Facebook is expected to have much more fine gained control on choosing advertising target. Marketers also know the difference of that methodology. "You can pin-point bombing on Facebook."

I think you underestimate how much Google knows about people. It seems to me that what you say is much less relevant to marketers than what you do, and in what you do, it's not obvious to me that Facebook has a big advantage.

On Facebook, you might fill in a field saying that you are married or that you have kids of a certain age. Google knows that you have made a number of searches about diaper price, or quality, or about using cloth diapers, and have spent time on, say, price comparison web sites or parenting forums. From this kind of Google data, advertisers would know to send you adverts emphasising the price of their diapers (rather than trying to sell you high quality, expensive, diapers), and they know this with more confidence than they could extrapolate from what you say on Facebook.

It's true that Facebook also has data about what you do (commenting and liking on particular updates and photos, for instance, and web traffic data from Like buttons on pages), but note that this doesn't depend, any more than Google's data depends, on the user being truthful about their own real-world identity.

If you reframe this question as "Why are your customers more important than your users?" it has an obvious answer.

Something that Google fails to understand, is that the company unifying the authentication experience cannot be the same company unifying the web experience.

I like having one authentication service provider, but I cannot have this provider holding hostage my services, my data, my history etc.

In this sense Microsoft is better, because they focus more on the product and less on the identity (since the business model is around licenses this makes sense). However this could change soon... Bing, Office365 etc.

If Google wants to win this battle they need to allow users to expose themselves with nicknames at least, different names per service even. Internally they will have their unique ID to which they can attach their marketing business model. However, I will still feel something is wrong about one company knowing so much about me.

This question should really be "VicG and Larry: why is G+ more important than your users".

I don't get what all the fuss is all about. Why would you want to hide your identity unless you are writing something crappy or being a troll on Youtube or Play Store. A single sign-on service is a great decision and that't the way things should be when you have multiple services from same company.

You guys don't mind using all services like Spotify, Quora etc that are so closely tied up with Facebook login. But when google tries to integrate it's own services it is so wrong? What are we, Hypocrites?

Coming to Google+, it is a much better designed and well thought off social network. What is the whole issue about?

"Why would you want to hide your identity unless you are writing something crappy"

Yeah like if you are Mexican and you made a comment online about drug cartels, and then you were disemboweled and strung up from a bridge as a warning to others.

> Why would you want to hide your identity unless you are writing something crappy or being a troll on Youtube or Play Store

Do people really think this?

How about: Why would I NOT want to hide my identity, unless I'm writing to people I know (and they know me as my identity)?

Try thinking this through. If necessary try to imagine what it's like in others' shoes. Please try to grant this the critical evaluation it deserves.

I have thought about this. Don't you think that the crowd at HN just goes too hard on anything Google does? Frankly i don't feel anything wrong is have a SSO for all google apps. There are always a way to hide identity if you truly want to be anonymous.

Agreed, there are some concerns as well. But again, aren't we living in an age where all our data is being sold to marketing agencies and companies. FB has been doing it since ever.

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