Google+ is still very young. The Google team behind the new social network continues to implement changes and tweak the design based on user feedback. So far, I’ve seen requests from users to implement features such as collapsible comments and circles within circles to make it easier to navigate the Google+ stream (a Google+ stream is like the Facebook wall — it’s where all the updates from your friends pop up). After last night, I hope another request is on their radar — how to handle comments to photos.
Here’s the problem: as of last night, if someone commented on a photo in one of your photo albums, Google+ would take the photo and dump it into your stream, presumably with the photo’s sharing permissions intact. So if your photo album was set to public, meaning anyone on Google+ can view it, that photo would land smack dab in the stream of all the people following you. If your photo album has lots of pictures in it and people comment on each photo, that means all those photos will become part of the stream.
That’s not such a big deal for we mere mortals. If I upload a photo album to Google+, I might get a couple of comments on one or two pictures, max. But if you’re someone like Felicia Day, web celebrity and geek icon, your photos draw more attention. Miss Day uploaded an album of around 20 pictures last night. Suddenly, her fans descended upon the photos, commenting on first one, then another. Soon, nearly every photo from Miss Day’s album was in my stream. And the comments kept piling on. Sometimes, Google+ compresses comments so that you only see the most recent ones appear. But other times you get the whole shebang and finding a post from someone else can be an exercise in scrolling. Finding posts shared by anyone other than Felicia Day was nearly impossible.
Felicia Day realized what was happening but by then it was too late. Fortunately, Google+ has a “mute post” feature that lets you hide any post in your stream. While I thought Miss Day’s photos were interesting, I decided for my own sanity to mute those posts. It’s not her fault that Google+ handles photos this way. Hopefully, the Google team will see that there’s a potential issue and will either change the settings so that comments only stay within the photo album itself or they’ll give us the option to allow commented photos to pop up in the stream.
To be perfectly fair, in most use cases this wouldn’t have been a problem. It’s only that Felicia Day is a celebrity and the type of people currently on Google+ tend to be the same who are fans of Miss Day. It was a perfect storm. Perhaps one day I’ll be popular enough to break a social network all on my own. A fella can dream, anyway.