I was one of the first people to join G+, but I never used it much. I made a page, but really couldn’t figure out how to use or promote it. While a lot of my gardening friends had accounts, they weren’t there much. So I went back to Facebook, started a couple of groups, made a page and was pretty happy. Then it happened — again! Facebook suspended my account temporarily because someone had reported me as a spammer. This was the third such suspension, so I was done.
Finding Google+ Communities
I went to Google+ in the meantime to just hang out and make a few more connections and work on my page that had been sitting doing nothing for a year. I looked on the sidebar to find my page, and saw “Communities.” What is this? I clicked and found something so wondrous it turned my world around.
What are Google+ Communities?
Communities are like Groups on Facebook, but better and they are FAR better than Google Groups! The main, and best, difference between G+ communities and Facebook groups is that you can have categories, or as some would call them, sub-topics, which are listed right on the left sidebar. This is far superior to the Files option on FB for storing information you might need again. You simply post a regular update, use the dropdown to put it under the appropriate category, and it is always there when you need it. I used these to store the Community Rules and some important threads that have resources worth keeping. I also made categories for off-topic conversations. You can drag and drop these categories into whatever order you want them, but whichever one you put on top is your default. I left mine at Discussions, but some owners are making theirs Introductions.
Deficiencies and Bugs in Google+ Communities
There are a few really annoying bugs in G+ communities, and a few things it lacks. Some major bugs are:
- The function to turn off notifications doesn’t always work, and you keep getting them in your mail and on your profile bar. If it happens to be a group that gets a lot of traffic, it can be very annoying.
- Right now, all posts to Public communities show up on your stream. There is a request in to let us choose which posts go onto the stream, so we’ll see what happens. in the meantime, it’s a pain having to scroll past them to get to the real stream posts.
The major deficiencies that are on the wish list are:
- Ability to pin posts to the top. This is something Facebook just got, so G+ will have to give us that as well.
- An easy way to move a post if you put it into the wrong category. Someone found a workaround where you share it into the correct category and delete the original, but you have to make sure to +name the original poster. Let’s hope that one is fixed quickly.
- Private categories. This is a big wish on most users’ list. Right now, every post to every category goes onto the main community wall. Users want to be able to make categories private or public. That would be great for a mod room that regular members can’t see.
- Category posting controls are another wish. Users want to be able to post to more than one category at a time. They also want to be able to make individual posts private, but that seems a bit much to ask.
So G+ Communities is off to a great start, but will it be the boost the site needs to push it past Facebook? I think it just may. I’ve already started five of my own and joined several more. Some are growing slowly, but I believe they will pick up. Many of the people I’ve seen are very excited about being able to be on G+ instead of FB. I’m hoping it takes off, and doesn’t fizzle out. It does give people one very good reason to choose G+ over Facebook.