Having recently deleted my Facebook account, I hardly took time to realise how most of my networking would now take place on Google+ — which is how I preferred it in the first place. And the main reason I chose to switch, is exactly for reasons I have explained before in my four-part series of articles on Google+.[T]oday, though, as I was scrolling through my Google+ stream, a thread I had conversed in, with Olav Folland1, Mark Rodriguez and few other great guys, came to mind. In the pith, it turned out to focus on how certain etiquettes cannot be forced; so I decided to round-up a few that I could think of, similar to my older article on 16 ethics on Twitter. Right now, the list is short, but I expect it to grow with time (and the Google+ user base.) If you have your own etiquettes, feel free to suggest them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!
1. The +1 button is no less than a comment
I have noticed how an increasing number of people have been commenting things like Cool! or Awesome or LOL or Funny and so on. While this is all very generous, my suggestion is not to comment unless you are really adding something to the conversation, have so much to praise that you have to spill out words effectively by commenting or you are the OP. In all other cases, cool, awesome, LOL, funny are effectively equal to a simple +1.
The +1 button saves time, both the OP’s and the commentor’s and is generally received with no less enthusiasm than a comment. So if you can gesture a neat +1, don’t bother commenting; it works both ways!
2. Use the notification button sparingly
Google+ brings forth a new concept in the form of its notify option where you can ring a bell on somebody’s profile to let them know about the post you just made.
But everybody knows bells are noisy, so use them sparingly. People with a large following are the most likely prey to this unchecked notification spree many people go on. As Tracy Crawford pointed out, if even a hundredth of her followers notified her once a month, “it would be far too many!”2
Notification has its uses in times such as conversing in groups when notifying participants will prevent them from having the thread drowned in their stream by bringing their attention to it. But overuse of this for lame reasons such as just trying it out or to garner attention to one’s self is almost unforgivable–not to mention annoying if overdone. This isn’t Facebook, you have an open option not to force everything on everybody, so make the most of it; yet, minimise notifications even to concerned circles unless you can thoroughly justify what you did.
So the next time you think of notifying somebody, think again is it’s really (really) necessary. If it is, go ahead,; and if it is not, have pity on the other party.
3. To (re)share or credit?
It’s one thing to share somebody’s post; it is an entirely different thing to give credit to them. Well, they put it up, you better give them credit!
Of course, the original poster is notified of the share when you share it, but there are some things to keep in mind. Especially when you and the OP have followers in common, sharing soon after the OP shared it is pointless. It just appears in everybody’s stream multiple times. Added to this, if a post has already been shared several times, you can be sure it would have reached a large number of Googlers (and improved its chances of appearing in Google Search!)
The alternative is to give credit: this can be as a comment to their post, a separate update voicing your views (if they are numerous enough and go deep enough to be worth a read.) Even adding a simple adjective and +Mentioning them will make a visible difference.
4. The Circle Formula
Another major difference (and a great one, if I may add) is Google’s abolition of the You follow me, I’ll follow you attitude that really took nobody anywhere on other social networks.
When you circle somebody, do it genuinely, not fervently hoping they will circle back. However, when somebody circles you, take a look at their profile. You can never tell when an interesting person is around you until you endeavour to find out. But the point is that you can do it in the comfort of knowing there is no compulsion to circle anybody back. Unlike most other social networks, following on Google+ is not mutual and this allows for better connection between people.
The attention herders from point #2 above are present here too. One can find them strolling Google+ with rather useless comments to make, but make it often enough that you read their name over and over again until you decide to check their profile — or something to that effect. You get the point.
I think hangouts are where netiquette turns into etiquette, another fine example of how the Google+ formula reflects real life closer than ever.
I need hardly go into the decencies in hangouts: a web camera is not the sole requirement in a hangout. You also need a bucketload of respect and a tub full of politeness, among other things you ought to know by now. There is of course the social dictum, ‘Don’t talk when you have to listen;’ Or perhaps it says you should not talk over somebody else? Such manners we involuntarily adopt in daily life go a long way in making a hangout worth everybody’s time.
6. Huddle selectively
Just because you know calling many people will increase your chances of getting a positive reply, it does not mean you should randomly invite you 500-strong circle to a huddle.
If sharing posts is to selective circles, huddling goes twice the distance. When an Android and/or iPhone user decides to start huddling with the people in his circle, he is literally calling everybody for a casual conversation that often turns out to be aimlessly wandering with too many people saying too many things, picturing a different end. It helps to tailor your huddle to select people, all of whom you know would be really interested in the issue at hand.
Remember that a huddle is not a soapbox speech where one talks and the others have the option of disregarding them. A huddle is where people have accepted invitations to a group chat, so make their chat — like in all other aspects so far — worthwhile.
7. Scrutinise your shares
This is not so much a netiquette as it is something you ought to give time to. In short, avoid ridiculous talking cats (and cats playing pianos) and animated GIFs of any species.
Share things that you would enjoy reading/seeing if somebody else shared it and it came on your stream. It’s like that old rule of “do not do what you would not want done to you.” The point of Google+ is that a different, and even mature, community has formed around it which welcomes everybody so long as they know how to conduct themselves well. While on Google+ make sure you use, rather than abuse, the network’s features; and make double sure that you are not doing anything without the intention of enriching others’ streams.
Now these seven points are not the only unanimously agreed rules of netiquette on Google+, but they are a start. Personally, I think it is a list worth building so if you have your own views (or are opposed to any of the the seven already put up here) share it below!