Don't panic: I still like G+ far better than Facebook or Twitter.
But this is so typical of Google: announce an exciting new product that really has potential but - because it is beta - understandably has some warts.
The weeks go by and the warts remain. The months go by and the warts remain. The effing years go by and the warts remain!
That's Google. A good example I have intimate experience (and disappointment) with is Webmaster Tools (see my gripes about that if you like). Google Calendar, Google Feedburner and other Google products suffer similar stagnation - really the only Google products that get regular attention seem to be Search and Gmail.
I really, really hope that G+ will not suffer the same casual neglect, but I am honestly starting to wonder. Yes, I know that there have been some new features added - for example, you can now import a CSV exported from Gmail into a circle. The feature exists - I've used it. But I can't find it documented in the Help files, which of course makes me wonder how serious Google is about building a quality product. It is mentioned in the "What's New" pages, which is at least something, but it isn't enough to make me feel confident that Google has full commitment here. The G+ team is obviously fully invested, but are they too understaffed or too burdened with other work to apply the needed polish? I do not know, but it worries me.
Of course, all of this may be just Google's usual close-mouthed secrecy and general disinterest in communicating with its users. Google's attitude toward users has always been bad, and sometimes it is very, very bad. Unless you are a big source of income to them, you are apt to find getting help or indeed just basic information very difficult - if you can get it at all!
The Google+ Help Forum is chock-full of suggestions, complaints and problems. So far, I don't see that it is any different than any other Google Help forum - in other words, very much ignored by Google itself in most cases. I hope I'm wrong, but that's the impression I get.
Let me say that again: I WANT TO BE WRONG. I hope somebody can pop in here and prove to me that Google really is on top of this and will not be letting G+ languish in a semi-complete state forever. If anything that follows is unfair to Google, tell me - I'd be so happy to be wrong!
My discontent comes from the feeling that Google is moving glacially slow. That's not necessarily a bad thing - thinking through changes carefully is better than splaying out knee-jerk changes that might cause other problems. But some of this still seems too slow to me:
What's the thinking on Circles?
Thousands of us have felt we need more control of Circles and Public postings. I'd like to be able to exclude some Circles from my Public posts and I'd like to be able to exclude some other Circles from my default stream. I understand that Google may decide none of that is needed, but where is the communication on that? Where's the roadmap, which way is the wind blowing? They've discussed the names issue openly; what's wrong with discussing structural issues with the same transparency?
Where's the iPad app?
OK. maybe Apple is at fault here, but if so, why not tell us? You don't have to throw mud at Apple; just say "It's in review, we hope to see it soon". The place to say that is at the link that Get Google+ for your mobile device leads to.- but it says nothing about iPad.
What about games?
We know games are coming, but not because Google has said so - that knowledge all comes from sleuthing and guessing.
I don't know, I'm sure there are dozens of other things that perhaps are not that important to me but may be important for the ultimate success of this project.
Google Wave died because people didn't understand it (amusingly, Google+ really isn't all that far removed from what Wave intended). Google Buzz got derailed by careless privacy issues. Google+ could very well die because of lack of momentum.
I certainly hope that I'm wrong.
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© 2011-08-07 Anthony Lawrence