Goodbye, Google+: A eulogy for the last great social network and some good insight into what made it...

Goodbye, Google+: A eulogy for the last great social network and some good insight into what made it really great

Over its 20-year history, Google has succeeded wildly with products in a great many businesses: Search, Gmail, YouTube, Android and others. But it tends to fail with products that involve public social interaction. In fact, it’s earned a reputation as something of a social site serial killer. High-profile failures include Orkut, Buzz, and Wave. But even more obscure social properties also got “sunsetted” by Google: Spaces, Profiles, Wildfire, Jaiku, Schemer, Lively, Hello, Dodgeball, Aardvark, Friend Connect, Latitude, Talk, Helpouts and others.

For Google+ devotees, the noise level and engagement was overwhelming, with posts routinely achieving the maximum 500 comments and getting shared thousands of times. Because those comments had effectively no limit in size, getting through an active conversation required a lot of time and effort.

For fans, Google+ seemed to answer all the complaints everybody had about other social networks. Facebook spammed users with misleading and annoying advertising. Google+ didn’t even have advertising.

On Twitter, trolls and haters shamed people into silence and off the network. Disruptors were easily terminated on Google+—especially in recent years, when a single click let you delete, report, and block a commenter.

Search on Twitter and Facebook were (and are) terrible, whereas on Google+ it’s always been great.

Above all, Google+ was a place to have great conversations. The strong moderation tools meant trolls and haters were easily defeated. And so conversation flourished. Google+’s devoted fans simply couldn’t understand why others didn’t “get it.”

While Facebook has long been the place to connect with people you already know, Google+ was the place to connect with strangers who share your interests. Most people, it turns out, don’t want to connect with strangers.

Imagine a social network where geeks have higher follower counts than celebrities. Where there’s no advertising. Where trolls get crushed and ordinary people have a voice. Where smart people gather for long, detailed and interesting conversations. Where most streams aren’t algorithmically filtered. Where photographs appear at full quality. Where social networking engagement leads to actual, real-life friendships.

Imagine a social network that strikes fear into Facebook, and forces them to improve the site for their users.

Life was good for the Google+ faithful. And then everything changed.

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Goodbye, Google+: A eulogy for the last great social network

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