How Google+ Suggested User List Works
Google+ added a suggested user list late last week, making it easier for users to orient themselves to the Google social network--and prompting a lot of questions about how to get on (or off) the list.
Most of the conversation about Google+ happens on Google+, and over the weekend Google vice president of product management Bradley Horowitz answered some of those questions. How do you get on the list? "Be interesting," he said. There's a little more to it than that, but essentially Google wants to see you making use of features such as Google+ hangouts and otherwise engaging with other users on the service.
Also, it helps if you're already famous.
While many a social media guru was scheming to get onto the list, there were also those who wanted out.
Tech blogger and kingmaker Robert Scoble posted a list of 13 reasons he wanted to be removed from the list, saying he didn't want to be part of a list that also included Paris Hilton, disliked the whole idea of promoting a list based on celebrity, and didn't want his online community cluttered with people who didn't know who he was. Google complied. Scoble, who is employed by Rackspace to seek out great online technologies, is an enthusiastic supporter of Google+ overall, but warns that it should develop its own personality rather than imitating Facebook and Twitter.
On Sunday, Scoble followed up with his ideas of what a better system for orienting new G+ users might look like. Scoble envisions a system where new users could be exposed to featured posts from the most active users on Google+, so they would be making their decisions of who to follow based on the quality of the content rather than a celebrity name and a photo.
If you are already an active user of Google+, you probably will not see the suggested user list if you don't go looking for it. The "Suggestions" feature you see on your home page is more personalized, reflecting the shape of your current network and the list of people who have added you to their circles whom you might want to add back. You can see the more generic list here, which is what everybody's talking about. It includes prominent users from the categories Entertainment, Fun & Interesting, Music, News, Photography & Art, Politics, Sports, and Technology. For example, the politics category includes Jerry Brown and Newt Gingrich.
According to Horowitz, the list is not yet personalized, and the first step in that direction will be a "lite" personalization with different recommendations for users according to geography and language. Longer term, he wrote, "we intend to allow people to deeply personalize and connect with like-minded people that create great content around almost any topic they care about. Just as Google Search helps connect you to Web pages about almost anything, Google+ should help connect you to people who deliver content you'll find interesting--on any subject. Stay tuned!"
The initial picks were a mix of algorithmic discoveries of active users and staff recommendations of people known to have active followings on Twitter and elsewhere, he said. Horowitz did put out a tweet asking Twitter users with more than 100,000 followers to contact him about possible inclusion in the program, but in his post he said no one was guaranteed access to the list. Also, those who don't maintain a high level of engagement with the service will be dropped, he wrote.
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