It's been a pretty big week for Google, and Google+ itself. There were a number of articles proclaiming the end of Google+, because allegedly traffic dropped over 60% after it opened to the public. Then +Steve Yegge accidentally posted a long rant on Google+ itself, which was originally meant only for Google employees and colleagues to see. Interestingly enough, the most inflammatory content wasn't actually about Google itself, but about the horrible work environment at Amazon. The accidental post sparked questions about how easy it was for even a Google employee to get confused by Google+.
Finally, though, Google is doing some major cleanup. According to +Bradley Horowitz on Google's blog, there will be a "fall sweep" in which several products will be discontinued, in order to better focus on Google+. Among the to-be-discontinued products are: Google Buzz, Jaiku (a Twitter clone), iGoogle's social features, Code Search, and the University Research Program for Google Search. Horowitz went into some more detail on the lessons learned from Google Buzz, which was that privacy was "foundational to the product". You'll still be able to view your existing Google Buzz items in your Google+ profile, and you can always download the data via Google Takeout.
The search function in Google+ is now improved with real-time results, and the implementation of hashtags. Hashtags were originally hatched on Twitter, where people used hashtags as shorthand for trends, commentary, and to fit in their 140 character status updates. It helped consolidate tweets that were discussing the same topic, and helped identify trends. On Google+, the linked hashtag works a little differently. It basically is the same as a keyword search - that is, if you click on #google, you will see all results from the search for "google", and not just posts with the #google hashtag.
In the comments of this post by +Yonatan Zunger, he describes the original use of hashtags as a "bug". +M Sinclair Stevens argues that because Google does not use the hash as part of the search string, there's no point in even having hashtags. Some people are arguing for the use of another character as a specific identifier for a tag. +Andy Owen suggests using an ampertag, while +Gokul NK urges the use of an exclamation point.
If you want to master the hashtag on Google+, +Johnathan Chung explains how hashtags do and don't work on Google+. +Linda Lawrey notes that Twitter will treat any Google+ hashtags as separate links, and will not create corrresponding hashtags for Twitter. If you want to cross-post to Twitter, you should put your hashtag beyond the first line of your post.
Want to get a feel for how hashtags work on Google+? Here are a few to check out:
- #googleplustips - Funnily enough, this one brings up an old post from +Vincent Mo explaining that hashtags don't do anything.
Google+ search will also reveal results from your own posts, including limited posts. If you want to narrow down the search to your own posts, follow the advice of +Andy Staudacher. Add your name to your search term, and limit the results to Google+ posts.
+Nirav Mehta announced that you connect your YouTube account to your Google+ account. Just go to https://www.youtube.com/account_sharing, and click on "Connect" for Google+. You will then be able to see videos shared with you via Google+ on your YouTube page. (You may have to wait a few hours for them to show up.) However, you cannot currently share YouTube videos to Google+ via your YouTube account. You can also connect your YouTube account to Facebook, Twitter, Orkut, MySpace, and Google Reader.
If you have a Google+ account, you'll notice that the link to your Picasa account on your black navigation bar has disappeared, and has been replaced with your Google+ Photos link. If you want to go directly to your Picasa Web account, you'll have to manually type the link in: http://picasaweb.google.com/.
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