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Google Stops Forcing You to Join Google+ When Opening a New Account (seb.st)
107 points by sebst on Sept 20, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 45 comments

... why? Why do I care if I have a G+ account? That's the mistake.

Give everybody a free G+ and then never ever bother anybody about it if they don't use it. The mistake was making G+ obtrusive.

Well, and conflating the concept of "comment" and "share" in Gootube.

And making the "real names only" thing universal instead of a rule that users can enforce on people they interact with ("I don't want pseudonymous commenters").

And forcing me to pick a profile every time I go to YouTube (leave that until I start commenting/posting stuff, thanks).

Yeah,they totally went overboard. The last time I tried to check my G+, they had a dialog asking me for more personal information and wouldn't let me get past it. I closed the window and have not gone back to it since. I was once a supporter of G+ (since I really think facebook needs competition) but I'll likely never try it again.

The problem is that creating the account makes at least some small bit of my personal info public which I might really not want to happen.

Sounds like an easy default is to keep the profile private until the user chooses to "create" the profile.

Exactly. No public posts? No public profile. Mention to the user that they're doing something "profile-oriented" that's going to start appearing on their profile if you really want to do the silly "activity-log" approach to a home-page (that is, every YouTube video or Blogger post the user likes and comments appears on their page) - once the user starts doing actions in public, that's the time to lazily create the public page, and that's the time to ask the user the hard question of "hey, I'm going to start collecting all your public commentary and public likes into a single place so everybody can see the stuff you say and like, is this good? yes? Awesome. No? Let me set up a pseudonym for you to do that"

Google obviously wanted people who were active public commenters/contributors on their properties (YouTube, Picasa, and Blogger) to automagically be part of Plus, and that's not a terrible idea (obviously treating commenting and sharing as the exact same operation without distinguishing it to the reader is a terrible idea, but that's just a detail). But why foist Plus on all the lurkers? Lurkers don't add value to Plus anyways.

Well, they had to get their numbers for G+ up somehow...

This is how I feel about comment-voting systems and the universal up-vote/down-vote rule. I don't want information hidden from me just because some unknown majority has deemed it to be disagreeable.

I think the perfect comment-voting system would include a feature whereby comments could be filtered and sorted for me based on the up/down/sideways votes of users who I typically trust and agree with (which is based on my own up/down/sideways votes on their comments) and including that user's network of trust, to a diminishing degree.

G+ is a failure,let's be clear about that.

You cant force people into a social network.Sure You can merge different services under a single "login" system,but dont make it a social network where things are published on a public profile,that's insane.

People dont need 10 social networks...doesnt mean there is no room for competition,just that G+ didnt innovate,or try to have a fresh take on social networks.

> G+ is a failure,let's be clear about that.

I'm one of the few people who actually uses G+ by choice, and has done since public launch. But I'm not delusional about its glaring failure.

You try saying "G+ is a failure" on G+ and see the hilarity that ensues as people say "MINE is great", "You're not using it right", "Your link doesn't talk about metrics in [unspecified niche] where I assure you it's TOTALLY popular" and literally call you a Facebook shill. Good Lord.

I mean, I stick around for the few people and one community that isn't on Facebook. But G+ is a huge planned subdivision built in a desert, all the roads built but no houses, with a few people camped out around a fire going "WELL THERE'S LOTS OF PEOPLE AROUND THIS FIRE."

> I mean, I stick around for the few people and one community that isn't on Facebook. But G+ is a huge planned subdivision built in a desert, all the roads built but no houses, with a few people camped out around a fire going "WELL THERE'S LOTS OF PEOPLE AROUND THIS FIRE."

It can be (there's a Linux fire and an RPG fire, for example). The fundamental problem for me, as another long-time user, is that they started right ("G+ is Facebook you can control sanely") that then progressed into so many of the things people hate about Facebook (trying to ram it into places you didn't want it, the real names policy, and so on). Once they eroded the perception that G+ was a privacy-enhanced Facebook, it was a dead man walking.

I think the nymwars was the tipping point: they alienated specifically their seed audience of techies (people who had friends at Google to give them an invite), and those techies told everyone they knew "STAY AWAY". That's when I first heard the list of excuses I give there (particularly "it's hugely popular in some sector you don't have numbers for!").

I mean, bloody hell. People desperately wanted Facebook the application without Facebook the company. Google could have had that if they just hadn't fucked up and hadn't gotten greedy.

This is the sort of thing that says "never employ an ex-Microsoft exec under any circumstances". Just how much destruction of Google's brand was Vic Gundotra responsible for?

> Sure You can merge different services under a single "login" system

The thing is, Google already had that. I have a pre-Google+ account that I've never upgraded, and I've always been able to log into everything (aside from Google+ itself) just fine.

G+ did bring some unique things to the field, like Circles, but Facebook copied the functionality within a couple of weeks, before anyone really had a chance to leave in significant numbers because of it.

While I fully agree with your first statement, I don't think the rest follow.

Sergei and Larry (possibly mistakenly) felt like they wanted to rebrand Google as a "social network that manages all information you could ever want," as opposed to a "web search engine that also provides email, messaging, picture sharing, and a bunch of other random stuff." If you look at it that way, rather than forcing everyone into a social network, they were trying to pull everything else they offered underneath their G+ umbrella -- Imagine if FB started out as say, just messaging. Then offered "friending," basically to the extent of LinkedIn - see job info, school, etc. Then offered photo albums. And then one day said "oh all this goes into your facebook profile, we're a social network now." The end product would be the same as what we have today.

Would we would probably all be shoveling the shit onto them too? Probably. But that doesn't inherently make "facebook" a terrible product, or the idea of tying all those services into a single social network "insane," I don't think.

I think from a meeting-room/white-boarding level, what google was trying makes a LOT of sense. It makes Google's offerings more cohesive. That it doesn't happen to be the way YOU as a customer sees or wants to see Google was not considered (and that's their failure). They seemed to just be running on the vision of what the end product would look like, which would be a competitor for Facebook, but with VERY different, several unrivaled sub-offerings. Turns out they forgot that how they get there matters a lot too.

I also think they were on the pathway to innovating further, starting with Hangouts...no other social network where nearly all your friends were gave you multi-way voice+video chat, sharing the same YT video, etc. I think they could have done more, but G+ just sucked so much that it could probably never get any of its labs features off the ground.

I hate G+ as much as the next guy, and especially hate how Google tried to shoehorn such a bad product into every google user's lives. But that doesn't mean their vision was nonsensical. It was probably a bit of tunnel-vision though, and it unfortunately did not take their existing userbase's sensitivities into account. Oh well.

It's not that they didn't take their users' sensitivities into account; it's more that google plainly doesn't give a damn what their users want.

Where users asking to have their activity on youtube and gmail and photos all tied together (and public!)? I don't think many where.

Did users want youtube videos to disappear off the corporate site (marked private) because the documentation person said no when she was asked to add google+ to her paid google apps account? Probably not.

Did they think their users wanted another fb-style "privacy" settings (oh look, yet another thing is unexpectedly public, and we redesigned the privacy settings again to make it even harder to understand and to make things private.) Viz the fiasco with buzz, and with google+ name-search. You could either believe that pms in google are so stupid they don't know some users have people they really do not want to be contacted by, or you have to find an alternate explanation. And the one I've settled on is Google doesn't give a shit.

To be fair, this theory also accords the fact that google's users aren't you and me; they're advertisers.

I mean, Occam's Razor can lead you astray, but in this case I doubt it. The most obvious explanation also explains the majority of Google's behavior. First, Google executives saw facebook not sharing information such as friends lists and heard hints of facebook building a search engine far before this was public knowledge. They'd get this through friends -- the industry is a small world -- and also hiring patterns. Then they saw facebook refusing to let google crawl most of their site. Pants were shit. Founders were scared. Google decided that they needed to compete directly with facebook, and that having their own social network was more important than anything else. Aspie computer nerds who've never talked to a normal human being or enjoyed an easy conversation with a MOS where put in charge of social features, with orders to copy facebook or else. Users where forced to use Google+, whether they wanted to or not. Bonuses were tied to Google+ performance. Hell, someone inside Google thought "plussing" doesn't make you sound like a tool. And the rest follows.

IIRC what was innovative about G+ was the circle thingy. Can't elaborate though because I never used any of the social networks intensively yet.

I believe you're right when you say "just that G+ didnt innovate,or try to have a fresh take on social networks" - G+ failed because of that, and that's the whole story. They can't force people into something that's not interesting, new and/or revolutionary.

Well, just in g+'s defense, FB can be public too, and G+ posts have the option of being set to private, or friends only.

It's recognition of the fact that "social" isn't a good marketing medium. When G+ launched, Google employees were told that their bonus would depend on what they did in "social" products. For a year, Google obsessed on "social". In the end, it was far less profitable than search.

Facebook seems to have hit the limits of user ad tolerance. Myspace ran into that limit, and it killed them. It's not yet clear if it will kill Facebook.

It may be time for social network systems that don't have ads. Ones where you pay a few dollars a month on your phone bill. As computing gets cheaper, the cost of such a service drops, while the "free" ad-supported services keep running more ads. "Free" has an attention cost, and it may be possible to undercut "free" on perceived price.

Looks like they'll be getting rid of it altogether soon. The YouTube integration was the biggest fail. Why would I ever want to see comments from people who were sharing the video on their wall with their friends?

True. The G+ wall posting that are also displayed as YouTube comments are annoying. It hampers the reading experience of the comments and replies on YouTube.

Youtube still makes be choose a "profile" to log in as just to watch videos. Somehow I've wound up with 4, my original usename, a channel name, google+ name, and my real name.

The day I adblocked the youtube comments div was an excellent day.

Not a massive fan of the G+ Youtube comment merger but.. that would've been an excellent idea even when anonymous comments were a thing.

I think this is a really good answer to the question of "What do you do when [Google | Facebook | Microsoft] enter this space?"

Just because they're big and have scale of users doesn't mean that a) they can create a product that people want to use, b) failing that are able to force them to use this product.

Though it was a defeat against Facebook, this is a good sign for smaller companies: the behemoths aren't invincible.

>Though it was a defeat against Facebook, this is a good sign for smaller companies: the behemoths aren't invincible.

I'm not sure if that follows, considering G+ itself was going up against a behemoth in FB, not a small company by any means even a few years back.

Now if they will allow us to unlink our YouTube accounts. I put the YouTube app on my phone, and since I already am signed in with the Gmail app, it links my account. No choice is given and there is no way, that I know of, to undo this.

Yup. Incredibly frustrating since I have a business YouTube account and a personal Gmail account.

>> "I have a business YouTube account and a personal Gmail account."

This was Google's biggest mistake. They either didn't realise or didn't care that a huge number of users have multiple Google accounts and very good reasons for it. G+ works well if you have one account for everything. If you have 2 or more than that you're screwed.

I swap between a couple of different youtube "accounts" on my phone.

Is that what you want?

About damn time they stop trying to ram that down users throats.

So they are giving up now? This makes me so angry. The main reason I gave up on Google+ is because they are clearly not going to address the things that people see as problems. Like the useless notification scheme. I mean HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO PUT THAT ON AN OKR AND GET IT DONE!?

Get someone to own G+ who gives a fuck and give it another try.

Is there (somewhere out there) a protocol for a distributed social network where participants have control?

Sounds like Diaspora: https://joindiaspora.com/

Now if only they'd offer the ability to merge G+ accounts. Somehow, I have two. Which means I have two youtube accounts, which is a constant fiasco.

for all its vaunted collective IQ google has an astonishing propensity to make extremely poor decisions (I'm referring to the original strategy of G+ not the corrective and more decision like this one)

I suppose there is no remedy for the ills that can befall any large organization or for the fallacies which drive such poor decision making

there is a cold solace in that for the rest of us

G+, you coulda been a contender.

Yes, it could have. If Google hadn't managed to do every possible thing wrong with it. Seriously, the sheer number of bone-headed catastrophic screw ups involved in G+ is impressive.

The idea that Google could build a unified social network across all their platforms was good. The idea that Google could also make a Facebook-clone was good.

Every other idea they put into G+ after that was awful.

I think the design of G+ is gorgeous. I keep referring to it again and again. And as you say, the vision was great, but the execution of forcing everyone on it was odd.

Yeah, the design was the thing they nicked from Diaspora.

Oh my god, thanks the heavens.

The English idiom is "Thank heavens."

-- http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/thank+heavens

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