Google Upsets Google+ Power User Wil Wheaton Again, What About You?

    June 30, 2012
    Chris Crum
    Comments are off for this post.

Geek celebrity Wil Wheaton is what you might call a Google+ power user. He’s actively engaged on Google’s social network, and has amassed 1,373,118 followers to date. That’s a lot for Google+. Google, however, keeps doing things with Google+ that are pissing Wheaton off, and if they’re pissing Wheaton off, there’s a good chance they’re pissing off other users.

The sources of frustration have mainly stemmed from Google forcing Google+ down people’s throats (as some see it), and blasting out features with usability issues. The shift to Google+ for local search has certainly irritated some users as well, even if Google’s grand plan may warrant such changes. Are you happy with the way Google has pushed Google+ thus far? Let us know in the comments.

Last month, Wheaton fumed about a feature Google was testing on YouTube, which placed a Google+ like button in the spot where the YouTube thumbs up button would normally be. It would prompt users to upgrade to Google+ when not signed in. Wheaton was worried about losing YouTube upvotes, though Google told a us a very small number of users were actually seeing this test feature, which may never see the light of day.

We had a lengthy conversation with Wheaton about whether Google is forcing Google+ down people’s throats. Read our whole interview with him here.

So why is Wheaton upset this time? It has to do with Google’s rollout of Events on Google+. At Google I/O, Google announced the feature, and it soon went live. Here’s Google’s promo video about it:

The rollout, however, apparently did not go exactly as planned. Here’s what Wheaton had to say on Google+:

Wil Wheaton

Did G+ roll out some new "invite everyone you follow to an event" thing? My feed is completely overwhelmed with "everyone's invited to XXXXX event" notices, and I'm having a hard time actually seeing posts from people I'm following.

Oh, and the spammer scumbags have figured out that they can make an invite to an event that's nothing but spam. 

Is there a way to opt-out of event invites from people I don't follow or have circled? Is this yet another thing Google rolled out without thinking it through clearly?

Some of the events Wheaton was getting invite spam for included things like: “Something in Columbia, Not Giving a Fuck Friday,” and “The Guild Wars 2 Release Date”.

Wheaton followed that up with a post on his blog, where he added, “I swear to the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it’s like Google has learned nothing from Buzz…and is actually doing this sort of thing on purpose.”

In case you don’t get the Buzz reference, Google pissed a lot of other people off when it first launched the now defunct Google Buzz in people’s Gmail inboxes, due to some privacy issues that resulted in lawsuits.

Wheaton posted a follow up post on Google+, where he talked about the new Events feature more. “It’s too bad that I’ll never use it, and will kill it with fire, because Google has, yet again, made a product that may be useful and cool, but forced it upon users without giving users any control over how invasive it is.”

He later added, “As a result, G+ is useless to me today, and for as long as it takes the company to actually fix this, assuming they ever do. Yeah, it’s a first world problem for me, but it’s also a problem for Google, because even if 1% of G+ users feel the same way I do, that’s a lot of people Google has unnecessarily pissed of and possibly alienated.”

Finally, Wheaton updated his blog post, saying:

It appears that Google engineers are actively working on a way to fix this thing, and that it may not have been intentional. I sincerely hope that that’s the case, and will just point out that, if Google didn’t have a pattern of social network behaviour to the contrary, I’d be way more willing to give Google the benefit of the doubt.

And it isn’t lost on me that my G+ experience is likely quite different from most people’s, I get that. If my opinion on this is somehow distressing to you because your experience is different, and you feel a need to be really shitty to me about it, I suggest you save us both the headache and keep it to yourself. Nobody is forcing you to listen to me.

In yet another Google+ post, Wheaton provides a response from Google’s Vic Gundotra:

+Vic Gundotra says “We are doing exactly what you requested. We should have contemplated and anticipated how people would abuse this and how painful this could be for celebrities with large followings.

We have pushed a number of fixes yesterday (some were bug fixes that showed up at scale). Expect more fixes today. Sorry for the trouble Will.”

Google+ Events could ultimately be a very important feature for Google+. After all, this is a feature Facebook has offered for a long time, and this means one less thing that Facebook can do that Google+ can’t. Google also has the benefits of Android, Google Calendar and Gmail and all of their users, to make this a very integrated, and usable tool. At Google I/O, Google announced that 400 million Android devices have been activated, with 12 new ones activated every second of every day. Google also announced that Gmail has 425 million unique users a month.

It’s going to be interesting to see if the feature turns out to be a big part of the user’s everyday Google experience. My guess is that it will play into Google’s future search plans. Google also announced Google Now at Google I/O. This appears to be Google’s way of decreasing your dependence on search, while still keeping you within the Google universe, by pushing information to you before you need to search. More on that here.

Do you like the direction Google is headed in? Share your thoughts.

  • http://www.travellerspoint.com Peter

    The flooding of streams with events is clearly not a great move, *however* I must say I’m really impressed with the events feature. It’s actually far more usable than Facebook’s dodgy implementation. I like the option to have photos posted live to the event board for example. Very nice. And the integration with Google calendar is also smart. Most importantly though, there’s a good place on Google to go and find out about public events. AFAIK FB does not have anything like that. This is why I prefer Meetup.com to Facebook. While I think Meetup.com still has better features than G+, I think G+ comes very close and at the very least definitely trumps FB on this one.

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  • http://www.karate-london.co.uk Rod

    Thousands of place pages have disappeared and all 12 of ours cannot be found on search. ‘Google does not support this location’ has upset many and after spending fruitless hours on the Google forum trying to get things back to normal, I have given up with Google – places – + – local or whatever it is now called.

  • Rickey Morris

    I also think Google has become far too invasive, and have been running a test. I put in Blocks against the Google Bots on my sites, and use, and encourage other search engines like Bing instead of Google. The result so far, we have dropped to 230 on last check in Classic Cars, and other categories, but our business has been mostly unchanged. Google sent a lot of traffic, but it was Tire Kickers, the valid visitors came by good links, and word of mouth, and repeat business. There is life after Google Folks, you just need to take that first step, and get away from this information stealing company.

    • Bill

      Totally agree…Depending on your product or service, good old word of mouth is still the heart and soul of a business. And is capable of growing exponentially over time. We have been on the Internet since 1998 and the number of clients we have from searches are perhaps 2% and we used to get 2000 visits a day.

      Thing with Google is they aren’t as much a search engine so much as an ad network. They keep saying Panda & then Penguin improved searches but keywords for our niches [we run affiliate networks as well as our business site] bring up results from 2009 ahead of us even though we update our sites daily. So Google is not only invasive and greedy, but just plain old broken…

      Another thing… When I search the Internet, I don’t want local results unless I am searching for things like Pizza or hard goods and services I need to use locally, like a Dentist or Auto Mechanic. So many types of goods and services can be delivered via the Internet now, weighting my results so heavily to local [.ca] for example, does me/searchers a dis-service…I could go on and on…I really hate Google and never use them anymore other than see how they have dumped on us lately.

      • Tim

        God post!

        I am all for a company innovating. I am all for change. But…. Only when it ADDS value to the end user…. Many of Google’s changes don’t build on their strengths, rather, seems to fracture their value into dust.

        They make billions off the quality content sites like ours brings, yet they penalize so that we conform to their corporate strategies of defeating bing and Facebook. I don’t like being a pawn (for free, anyways).

  • http://projectprofitsreviewz.com Reinaldo Lopez

    Google continues to bully Internet users and feel that they don’t have to answer to anyone. Further, Google should stick to what they have been good at “A Search Engine” not a Social Network. What I conclude by their behavior is that they feel threatened by the other 800 Pound Gorilla in the room “Facebook”.

    Greed has always been the demise of The Great and Powerful Ones if you just take a look at history. The Love of Power and Money is the root of evil and specially if loved more than what has got them there (The People and the Consumers)…speaks for itself.

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  • http://bit.ly/arnobie Arnobie

    This issue has been resolved by keeping everyone to be aware of its account setting. (see this thread goo.gl/o87OJ ). Not only Wil Wheaton but also Robert Scoble and others are freaking out about their calendar misses… This features is awesome that I can’t deny, and at in the very very first time, I am concern with my “Account Setting” how it shows to public, so does you? you can do it too…

  • Ryan

    I’m sick of Google. I deleted my G+ account about 4 months ago and never looked back.

  • H. Yavuz Yildirimturk

    I think Google Plus will be the end of Google.. integration with Google Places is now forcing users to use OpenTable to make restaurant reservations, Zagat for reviews, search your world, etc. I think they are becoming a portal like Yahoo did years ago. We like BING much better now. especially we love BING web master tools.

  • http://www.mindmagic123.com Hypnotherapy & Hypnosis – Los Angeles

    The main objection I have is raised here. That is that these “improvements” are inserted without consumer control. Probably based on a fear that consumers won’t buy into the latest gizmo. Even if it was inserted without consent, an opt in/opt out feature would help. Then the consumer would be able to choose, and alter his choice either way in the future. I also agree with the same issue with searches. I recall there was one way to alter search content that I took a while ago, oh yes, removing personal results, but more control over result content would eliminate many gripes. Holistic Hypnosis & Hypnotherapy Los Angeles

  • Tarzan2

    If a company had a listing on Google Places and accumulated customer reviews, then moves its physical location, Google creates a new listing for the new location and requires the company to join Google+ before they can access that new listing. The customer reviews and any associated images from the old listing are LOST. Google CLAIMS they are not able to migrate the images or the customer reviews to the new listing. I tend to think that they don’t WANT to move the data and are forcing people to join Google+. I’m the sort of person who will resist being pushed into something I’m not willing to do on my own, so Bye-bye Google!

  • http://harounkola.com Haroun Kola

    I like that its integrated with Calendar too!

  • http://www.lindyasimus.com Lindy Asimus

    I’m over my first shrill reaction to the Events launch. Thankfully Google seem to care about “celebrities” so we plebs might get a bit of relief too.

    That Events are automatically added to our Calendar is just ridiculous. While adding events that we accept to attend would be useful. Similarly why any random person in a Circle can turn up on a chat on my Gmail account and that become a chore for me to manage is stretching the friendship.

    Still early days with G+ and I am pleased with the network overall. Sad to say my Google+ Local is not ‘turned on’ yet which is irritating and especially given that Offers are not available in Australia, so no coupon option now available for Google Places.

  • WK

    I think Google is cool all in all but I am a bit tired of the spam associated with the new feature and wish they was away you could turn it off from outside of your circles. And if you really don’t like it why stay?