Lee Daniels writes about #communities on G+

My communities
My communities (Photo credit: steven w)

Here is a great post that my friend LEE DANIELS wrote about)https://plus.google.com/+LeeDaniels/posts

Dec 9, 2012  -  Public
Please link to the original post to see all the comments (over 200)

I realize communities are new and things are still evolving and working themselves out and that there will be tweaks and refinements.  I understand that many people have misunderstood the purpose and use of communities.  I know we’re only a couple days in.
That said, when communities were announced, I wrote on +Ron Clifford's  post:
“I do hope, though, that this does not devolve into cliques and dilute the main experience and community. I would hate to see fracturing and elitism replacing the greater experience."

One of the great things about G+, the thing that drew me in and held me was the sense of a greater community of artists and visionaries and thinkers coming together and allowing for a unified experience.  Circles were and are the best and most innovative part of G+.  It was fantastic because you can tailor that experience when you wanted to, or experience the entire stream if you chose.  I met people, I learned things, my horizons expanded.  Not only that, but the exciting and synergistic whole it created still astounds me.  Now I see it starting to shatter.

I went to someone’s profile and was surprised to find a recent image that I thought I had missed. I really liked it and wrote a comment about it and why it was special.  I hit the post comment button and was told I couldn’t comment.  I looked and saw that it was posted to a new community.  I would have to join that community in order to comment.  This is someone whose work I think deserves more recognition.  You all will not get to see it and he’ll never hear my comment or many others because it was only posted to a limited community.  This has happened a few times.  Not that my comments are special, but it made me sad that I couldn’t say anything until I joined this very specific and narrow group.  This was an image he would have posted and that I would have seen in the normal course of things before communities.

In fact, my normal circles and stream are slowing down to a trickle because images and other content are only being posted to special communities and not to the general stream.  I have to click on specific people to see if they’ve done anything new and do I have to go to a community to see it and comment?  Am I going to have to click on individual profiles from now on in order to see what is being shared?

Now I have to go from one community to another in order to find the content I used to see regularly in my stream.  It is like going to separate sites.  It is tedious and irritating.  Now I have to wade through pages and pages of content within those community sites before getting to see content from the people in my circles.  Yes, sometimes I see great new stuff, but I tended to do that anyway.  It is incredibly annoying and a huge time buster.  And those are just public circles.  I suspect the private circle tribes are consuming a great deal more content that might ordinarily have been open. My current G+ experience is fractured and without the elegance it once had, without the control over how and what I see.

I gave up this evening after scrolling through a few different groups.  I could not find images I might normally get to see and enjoy and comment on.  It was a royal pain to jump from group to group.  Some of the commenting was just... well, bad.  And elitist.  And I saw the beginnings of the very cliques and behavior that made other sites fail.  I am seeing petty fiefdoms where moderators think they have been anointed and are the last word instead of guiding discussions. There are some wonderful exceptions, but I still have to go to one mini-site after another in order to find them.

I’ve been online a very long time and started participating in photo communities back in 1998, maybe earlier.  I remember the early days of PhotoBlink and Photo.net, for example, and how divisive they became and how everyone tried to game the voting and critique system and how the forums became full of ugly accusations and complaints.  The talent and voices of reason left and moved on.  Same with some other specialized forums, both photo and non-photo. I fear for that here.

The very thing that made G+ great was and is circles.   I could move through them seamlessly.  Now my circles have left for communities where I cannot chose to filter what I see or who I see.  My circles are still there, but they’ve become ghost towns.

The noise and spam and sheer volume in communities is overwhelming.  +Thomas Hawk  addressed this early on as have others.  I just saw a whole rash of images being shared that purported to come from one photographer.  The images are NOT, in fact, his.  They are not original material.  They are not credited to the original photographer.  And they passed right by all the moderators.  I know the moderators are still feeling their way, but had they been posted to the general stream, it would have been dealt with because there are more eyes.  I always think it is a genuine mistake and that people get confused about what sharing means, but I don’t belong to the community and couldn’t point it out.  But so far in the communities to which they were posted, the only comments have been how great the shots are.  I only saw them in the general stream because someone shared them from a community.  I will not join a community in order to comment on specific things I happen to trip over.

 The intent of communities was to augment, not to replace the unique Google+ experience.   Now I feel I’m being asked to give up the greater community and pledge allegiance to little tribes and only those to which I’m invited.  I never minded not being in circles because I could still see a lot of what was being posted publicly.  They were not exclusionary in that sense.  Communities are exclusionary and I fear that people will become disenfranchised and just leave altogether.  

This is not a doom and gloom post or even a prophecy.  I love this place, no one has more reason to.  I would just urge some thought.
The sky is not falling, but when I look up it sure is starting to crack around the edges.

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