Google Buzz Update

Just like I’ve flip flopped many times with Twitter, I have with Buzz too. This time I made a final decision. I’m finished with it. I did not like the UI one bit. I didn’t know anyone personally who used it. And it doesn’t look like the “active” user base is growing. Active meaning people who use it, not just stream other feeds into it.

I’ve “decommissioned” my Buzz profile. Unfollowed everyone, etc. It’s not for me. I would delete it entirely if it wasn’t tied directly to the Google Profile. I’d like to keep my Google Profile, so I’ll just keep a blank Buzz account open until they kill off Buzz like they did Wave.

Where I can, I’m trying to go to all of the social media, bookmarking, etc. sites that I’ve tried over the years to delete my account. Just kind of to clean up any outdated profiles of mine from the web. It seems only about half of sites allow you to delete a profile/service. So abandoned ones will always remain I guess.

Since I mentioned Twitter… I stopped trying to make it work for me, but also found probably one of it’s best uses. Niches. I’ve become more and more a fan of MMA, and since MMA isn’t mainstream, Twitter is a great source of information from the fighters and MMA news outlets. I’ve stopped following a lot of the “gurus” (social media, marketing, etc.) as Twitter became a forum for a lot of them to be too self-promotional. So now I follow a handful of friends and associates, some news sources, and good MMA sources.

I think I finally figured out how to tie all my social media profiles together

The challenge was to find a way to easily and selectively share to all of my top social media networks while avoiding duplication. It’s a pain in the neck when I find something interesting, and have to post it multiple times to get it out to all of my friends/followers. It’s also annoying to link accounts together, and have meaningless posts shared across profiles (e.g. Twitter in Buzz or Facebook).

Also, I don’t want to be one of those who simply have everything on autopilot–creating noise everywhere.

The answer, I think, is ping.fm. I tested it a bit, and it seems to do the trick.

From Ping.fm I can post the same thing directly to:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Buzz

I can post to those services separately too (without using ping.fm), to avoid noise in my streams.

I also wanted to push Google Reader shared items to those services as well, which can be done through RSS. Now the items are truly shared.

There is only one workaround–which I hope is fixed soon. To post to Buzz, you must have ping.fm post to Google Chat status, which then can be added as a connected site to Buzz. I hope ping.fm will allow direct posing to Buzz soon for a cleaner connection.

Also, to avoid duplication, I now have only one connected site to Buzz–which is the Chat Status.

Lets see how this holds up.

How I’d Fix Buzz, Which is a Mess

Wednesday I posted that it was a mess. It still is. Very messy. Today they released a feature that auto collapses comments on posts that have a lot of comments based on some kind of logic. There was a consensus in the comments of Buzz’s official post–that’s not what people wanted.

It stinks.

Someone made a great suggestion to make it more like Reader. Spot on.

Buzz should follow Reader’s interface. Only have a count of what’s new, what’s updated, and what’s read. And be able to:

  • Show New (count)
  • Show New  (count) and Updated (count)
  • Show All

Like Reader, don’t assume I read something if it’s at the bottom of my screen. Mark it read if I read it, or if I choose to mark it read. Today, if something is buried below the fold, Buzz assumes you’ve read it.

Like Reader, have everything collapsed unless I tell you open each (by navigating or otherwise). If I’m in the mood, let me just mark everything as read.

Basically, copy Reader.

Also, have @reply hotlinks next to everyone’s comments for easy referencing other’s. I still don’t understand how it’s done if you don’t know someone’s gmail address.

And finally, add a +follow link too next to everyone’s comments for easy adding. I choose to follow people based on their commenting. So that would save me (and I bet a lot of others) a lot of wasted clicks.

Good News, I’m Using Buzz. Bad News, It’s a Complete Mess

Don’t knock it until you try it. Right?

So I learned a week ago how to “hide” people I follow in Buzz from my Google Reader, which up until that point was the reason I refused to use Buzz.

A week in, there are more frustrations. It’s a huge mess.

First, manually hiding in Reader everyone I follow in Buzz is a nuisance. It’s necessary because otherwise, Buzz and Reader are duplicates and the noise is maddening.

Today I learned that all of my shared Reader items that got posted to Buzz had commenting turned off. That’s because you have to manually allow others to comment. You have to allow each and every person you follow in Buzz to this list. Ok, my first issue with Buzz is a preference (sort of, although it should be an OPTION). But this issue is a flaw. Major flaw. I won’t maintain this. Too much work. Instead there needs to be a “allow anyone to comment” option.

I apologize to everyone who can’t comment on my wonderful Reader shared items. Please mail your complaints to:
Matt Soreco
c/o Google Buzz Complaint Team
Mountain View, CA

My other frustrations:

  • When I’m typing a reply, sometimes the window is bumped down as I’m typing. I assume it’s because something new above was added.
  • The (new) count is useless. It’s hard to distinguish what’s new once you click on it.
  • I can’t figure out the @ reply feature. This might be user error. :-) Although I see others having the same difficulties.
  • All of the people I follow in Buzz are now in my contacts. Which is ok, but now my Android phone contact list is out of control. I know you can filter by contact with phone number, but you can’t by contacts with phone number and/or e-mail address (which is what I want).
  • I hate that it’s tied to Gmail. I hate that my sent items becomes cluttered with Buzz stuff.

The list is growing. I wrote about Resistance and Productivity before. I see Buzz as having a lot of nuisances that cause resistance. For me, these have to get worked out. I’ll bail. Like I did on other Google social media efforts.

Another Google Reader Annoyance

Fresh of my last post on why I refuse to use Buzz becaues it’s integrated with Reader (without the choice), I was reminded of another annoyance of Reader.

I like the recommended feeds feature, but once I say “no thanks,” that should be it. For good. Instead it keeps constantly recommending me the same feeds over and over and over. Enough!!!

It’s making the discovery of really good and NEW blogs slow and hard. I hardly use it because of this.

Also, I liked the “popular” feature that they had a few weeks ago. But they switched it back. They should have both.

Also, another thing about recommendations is that sometimes the feeds are too similar to what I’m already subscribed to. Lately I’ve been going through my feeds and only keeping one or two similar blogs. For example, both Mashable and Techcrunch cover the same things, so subscribing to both creates a lot of duplicate info. Adding more similar feeds would create even more duplicates. So my new motto is just follow one (or two at most) and trust that they cover what I need.

This is also why I’ve stopped following some people. Some people’s habits were to share similiar articles from different sources. I don’t need to read that Google Buzz launched from 10 different sources. One is enough thank you.

I refuse follow anyone in Buzz

Why?

Simply because Google won’t allow me the option to not also follow them in Reader. You see, Google assumes that if I choose to interact with someone on Buzz, that I want to also follow their shared items in Reader.

The result is duplicate noise. Too much for me to handle. I don’t need to see the same things in Buzz and Reader.

I prefer my Reader clean, so I can find articles from blogs I subscribe to quickly. I don’t want to sort through stuff my Buzz followees also share. Nine times out of ten, they are duplicates to what I’ve subscribed to anyway.

A simple solution is to provide an option to “also follow in Reader” or not. Or if you stop following someone in Reader, you should be able to “keep following in Buzz.”

Right now if I unfollow someone in Reader, it also unfollows in Buzz. And there doesn’t seem to be a way around this.

I wanted to give Buzz a legitimate shot, but this is a showstopper for me.

OPTIONS Google. Provide OPTIONS!

Does Google "Get" Social

Orkut. Know it? Probably not. It’s Google’s version of Facebook.

Friend Connect. Know it? You may have seen it on a few sites. Do you remember what it was for? I run the http://nycbbb.com/ site, which should be a slam dunk for something like that. I had it on my site for almost a year, and got maybe 7 people to “join.” Then I couldn’t figure out how to leverage it even if more people joined. The only word I can think of to describe the feature is fractured. Compare that to nearly 600 people I got to become a fan of ours on Facebook–in a matter of weeks. Interacting with the fans on Facebook is easy.

Latitude. Does anyone use that for any real purpose? I sure don’t know anyone who even uses it at all. So I finally shut it off.

Buzz. Fitting name. Like an annoying fly it had proved to me to be highly annoying. I want it separate from e-mail all together. I really don’t think it’ll ever become popular like Facebook or Twitter.

I guess you have to be in it to win it so to speak. But Google hasn’t had any wins in the social space yet.

Eating dogfood might be good for people who love eating dogfood

No, I have not gone mad.

“Eating one’s own dog food” is a phrase used to describe a company who uses the products it makes. They are essentially their own customer.

I had this thought at the tip of my tongue (or fingers), and one of my favorite blogs beat me to it. Outspoken Media touches on this in their latest post, How Listening To Your Bubble Costs You Money.

There are a lot of Google’s offerings and features of their offerings that are just plain weird. They don’t make much sense at all. I’m not alone. I read and post to their help forums. I see others with the same frustrations.

Perhaps Google employees, some of the most talented programmers there are, use products differently than your everyday lay user.

That’s my guess.

Who are they using to beta test? I would be an excellent beta tester for them. I know a lot about most of Google’s products. I’ve tried them all. And I become sheerly frustrated with some of them. GMail’s suggested completely unintuitive “all contacts” vs. “my contacts” feature. Reader’s automatically following of users you choose to follow in Buzz or “blogs I’m following.” GMail tasks not tightly integrated in Android’s calendar. I can go on an on. I’ve written about it before. I don’t enjoy dogfood.

I’m not a serial complainer. At least I don’t think. A lot of Google’s products are on the verge of greatness, but are one or two steps away–which they don’t seem to ever tie up.

Google Buzz. Will I Use It? Why I don’t use Wave.

It all depends on how widely it’s adopted by my social circle. I couldn’t wait to get a Wave invite. Once I did, I quickly signed up, sent invites to people I know. Then… Nothing. None of us use it.

I’m a fairly early adopter. Mainly to stay on top of and try new things. But things have to serve a real purpose for me. I don’t try something, then find a purpose for it. I usually try things that serve a real purpose. Wave alone, with no other friends using it, is useless. I assume my friends are like me and find no use for Wave. It’s a nonstarter.

When will it catch on?

I remember when I first signed up for AOL in the very beginning of it. At the time I felt like a computer geek for using it. I kind of was hesitant to tell people I went into chat rooms, because in the very beginning there was a negative stigma attached to it. Then one day I was talking to a friend who I least expected to use AOL, yet alone use a computer for anything. I thought right then, if this guy is on AOL then AOL is going to explode. And it did.

Similar “explosions” happened with other services and social networks I’m in. I can remember having a handful of LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends. Then suddenly, I was being bombarded with requests. They took off in my circle.

Some things will never take off in my circle. Wave is one of them. I wrote about adoption a while back. Wave is a communication preference in my opinion. A preference that relies on others adopting the same preference. If current communication channels (like e-mail) are working, then there is no reason to use Wave.

I foresee the same with Buzz. It’s a little clunky to use. It doesn’t fulfill a real need. My circle will probably not adopt it (rather they’ll stick with Facebook and Twitter). It’s just an extra. But I’ll be in there, to wait and see if it takes off.