Friday, September 9, 2011

Power Users Reject Suggested Users List : Google+

You might expect social media superstars to be giving virtual high fives and tweeting with delight at the idea of a suggested users list on Google+. It’s a way to be surfaced for new users, meaning more followers, and that’s a good thing, right?
Wrong — for some.

Since Google released the list late last week, web personalities have been speaking out against it. Tech blogger and commentator Robert Scoble even asked to be removed from it, citing 13 reasons the move made sense for him.

“I totally understand why Google did this list,” Scoble said. “It just isn’t a well curated list and so I don’t want my name associated with it.”

Scoble pointed out that Paris Hilton made the list, further fortifying his reasoning. However, Google+ VP of Product Bradley Horowitz said deeper personalization functionality is on its way. For now, it lets users in different regions and languages get different recommendations — but the goal is for it to become more topic based.

Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer, admits that lists are useful for the technorati. For average users, it makes less sense.

“A suggested user list will never help this tool go mainstream or keep the ‘regular people’ around,” Camahort Page said.

Another concern is that less-followed users making extraordinary contributions to the Google+ community will be overlooked. Alida Brandenburg, an accountant at Pandora, begs to differ.

“I ended up on there and I don’t even have 6,000 followers,” she said. “That may seem high compared to the average user, but then you put that against people listed in the same category as me, like Dane Cook, Paris Hilton and William Shatner, and it’s clear that this was not simply a numbers game.”

The list rotates featured users, so there’s no worry about anyone having a monopoly over it. 

So what are Google+ power users so riled up about? Their new favorite network becoming a popularity contest.

“It’s going to alienate people and lead to an inevitable followers war that can hurt the health of the social network and inflate people’s ego,” said Craig Kanalley, a senior editor at The Huffington Post.

The suggested user list wasn’t created for older users like the ones quoted here. Rather, it appears for new users to help them get acclimated to the service. It’s up to them to ignore it or use it as a guide for finding accounts to follow.

Do you think the suggested user list is a good move by Google? Or could it create the toxic follower competition some users fear? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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