Samstag, 16. Juli 2011

Why I'm not posting much on Google+ – or – My big problem with Google+

The "tldr"-version: Google+ has lots of nice things, but in its current state it does not look like a solution that could replace twitter (and for me at all. In fact I'd need something like tags or topic-streams (that people could select when adding me to their circles) for my messages before I'd feel more comfortable to write public posts on G+ more that occasional.

The detailed version: It seems the people that added me to their circles mainly know me from one of four aspects of my life:
  1. my work for and c't
  2. English translations of that work published on "The H"
  3. my contributions to Fedora
  4. this strange thing called real-life (good 3D effects!)
Sending out just one public information stream to those people afaics would only make very few of them happy; I'd feel like spamming them with crap they are clearly not interested in.

Among the reasons for that view are simple language problems: I was born and live in Germany and speak German most of the time – but I know lots of people from the US, the UK and other countries and most of them do not know more that five German words. Many of them added me to their circles nevertheless; I'm also in a lot of circles where I don't know the people at all; hence I don't know their interest in me or their language preferences. I could avoid annoying them with German posts by writing in English all the time when doing public posts – but that's a crappy workaround (one I suppose might annoy some of my German friends over time) and not a real solution for the underlying problem.

Yes, you are of course right, that is a problem on Twitter as well. But I solved that easily by using multiple accounts right from the start, which is not easy with G+. Using three accounts also mostly circumvents the problem I indicated in the beginning: Different people are interested in different things and only they can decide what they are interested in.

Here is how I do it with twitter:
  • My main account is @thleemhuis. Just like everybody else I use it to tweet things from my real life (including work). Most of the tweets are German, some are English; almost all of the followers are from Germany or understand German afaics
  • I use @kernellogauthor to tweet about things in the Linux kernel area I stumble upon; it is a kind of bonus and an additional communication channel for readers of my Kernel-Log (DE, EN). Almost all tweets are English (I assume most Germans that read the Kernel Log know English well enough) and kernel related. It has 266 subscribers (some more on and only a handful of them follow @thleemhuis as well
  • Many English speaking people also know me from all the contributions I did to Fedora in the past few years (I'm mostly inactive in that area right now); I follow them via @knurd666 and provide them with a English tweet there now and then; only a handful of them follow @thleemhuis or @kernellogauthor
IOW: I have three kinds of followers (something like 500 on twitter in total and 200 more on that seems to be interested in stuff I do, but there are only very few people (I assume less than 5) that follow all three accounts; and yes, I occasionally mention the different accounts on each other, so it's not a secret I use multiple accounts...

I'd really like to feed them with information from my life or work via Google+, too, but I can not see how to do that efficiently, because right now I have to know that people are interested in; on twitter those that follow me can decide on their own. That's why G+ seems so alien and wrong to me. Something like predefined tags, streams or "outgoing circles" people could select when they add me could help. But maybe that's to complicated; and maybe my situation is special and shows a problem other do not encounter.

P.S.: Yes, maybe I'm thinking to much as someone that wants to maximize the group of people he can reach
-- maybe that has something to do with my day ob ;-)