Google+ Activity Guide

Although I use the internet from the very first day of public availability in Germany (early 90s) I never joined and engaged in any social network until April 2013. I made some faults followed by an intense discussion with Andrew Harasewych (owner of the community ‘Social Media Strategy’) on Google+. Our discussion (near to a fight thankfully with words) and a more conscious perception of what’s going on in communities convinced me (not in all points) to accept the rules.

Here is the article which brought Andrew into the arena when posting it to the community ‘Social Media Strategy’.

About communities

I was a bit confused about the fact that Google basically just gives feature descriptions of it’s network (see related links below) but if it comes to the more subtle facts you have to move off and walk on a rocky road.

It’s a shame that all the big companies (Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.) ignore the technique of mind mapping for help systems although it would shorten the process of learning drastically. To the present I didn’t find any rationale why mind mapping is not publicly used to explain things in a simple visualized summarization with an added link list for going deeper into the details if there is a need. There are many stats proving that mind mapping is the right and most effective way of presenting information but it’s still not used.

Today many people see friendly invitations to social networks and within a blink they can get their membership but the majority is not willing to read all the information published. Seamless usage without reading any documentation is what they learned when using a smartphone or a tablet. This experience is than transferred to engagement in social networks and in many cases it’s the reason for misconduct.

Some general information …

According to analysts we can divide people with an account on a social network into three groups:


What we see is the so-called 90-9-1 rule valid for communities with slight differences for the big networks like Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

The “90–9–1” version of this rule states that 1% of people create content, 9% edit or modify that content, and 90% view the content without contributing.
The actual percentage is likely to vary depending upon the subject matter. For example, if a forum requires content submissions as a condition of entry, the percentage of people who participate will probably be significantly higher than one percent, but the content creators are still the minority of all members. This is validated in a study conducted by Michael Wu, who uses economics techniques to analyze the participation inequality across hundreds of communities segmented by industry, audience type, and community focus.
This can be compared with similar rules known to information science, such as the 80/20 rule known as the Pareto principle, that 20 percent of a group will produce 80 percent of the activity, however the activity may be defined.
The 1% rule is often misunderstood to apply to the Internet in general, but it applies more specifically to any given Internet community.

The main faults …

As a moderator of the largest Apple related community on G+ my experiences with faulty behavior of members can be summarized as follows:

  • 1 Off topic
    A post is off topic if there is no or a non-organic relation to what the community owner intended.
  • 2 Multiplicity
    Sharing a post multiple times within the same community in a narrow timeframe is senseless. It points to the fact that the poster is not really an active member. Otherwise he would have recognized that his post is redundant.
  • 3 Link/Post littering
    Capture a link and post it without any further comments. Members of a community should know why this information was posted and why it’s relevant. Link litterers don’t take care of this basic rule valid for all communities. In many cases they even didn’t read what they have posted. Entering a search term in Google search, posting the links of the first 5 results would transform every community into a giant trash.
  • 4 Useless content
    If people post just screenshots of their smartphone screen or photos taken with the camera in a community dedicated to Apple and their is no suitable category, active moderators will remove these posts. It’s because their is no perceptible content. There are other networks like Pinterest, Flickr, other communities or the public stream in the poster’s profile where this ‘content’ can be posted. Usually these posters are not what we would call a rainmaker.
  • 5 Wrong categorization
    Google implemented categories to let members select what they are interested in. Many people do not take their time to choose the right category and always use the default value. So there are many posts categorized as ‘Discussion’ although there is nothing to discuss. You will find the Spam category in many well-organized communities on G+ to force members not to just litter posts but take their time to add value to a specific sector.
  • 6 Trolling
    In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog), either accidentally or with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.
    Neither Google nor any community needs trolls.
  • 7 Spam
    Electronic Spamming is the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages. Google automatically flags posts as SPAM if somebody posts the same content on multiple communities (cross-posting) within a narrow timeframe.

The reason for these faults are always the same. The poster hopes to raise awareness for what reason soever. All this might be allowed in other social networks but is not welcome on G+ and often punished by post removal or even a ban from the community if it’s done repeatedly.

I think I must not talk about the more general etiquettes accepted by the majority of people in all countries of the world. Breaching etiquettes is the worst scenario and usually followed by a ban and, in severe cases, Google suspends an account. We all can understand that people are in a dither from time to time. So stay cool before you write a comment, read it again, think about the possible consequences, and not until then tap on’ Share’.

The moderators behavior …

It depends upon the moderator (who is a leisure administrator!) how breaking of rules is treated. The usual case is that faulty behavior is followed by the removal of a post. A more elaborated (and recommended) way is to notify the member and tell him what he did wrong.

Here is a text template which can be put into the comment section of removed posts to let the member think about his posting behavior:

You are here in this Community as a guest. So you have to accept some rules. These are general rules set by Google as well as community specific rules set by the owner of the community.

Not welcome in the Apple Community are posts with useless content which neither provoke fruitful discussions nor give members useful information. If your post is just funny, expresses just a feeling, or contains just an image not related to Apple, or a screenshot of an Apple device and is not intended to start a useful discussion or explains an issue, it is removed because we have no category ‘Fun’ or ‘Photography’, ‘Feelings and Wishes’, or ‘Screenshots’.

It’s not allowed to post off topic but establish an artificial relation to the communities main topic by writing just an intro which pretends a relation to Apple. The communities topic is solely Apple and body content of text posts or of links must have a clear relation to Apple.

Keep it relevant.

Please read this G+ Member Guide by Andrew Harasewych as well as the clearly defined community rules to avoid

  • removal of your posts
  • getting banned from a community
  • being a link litterer
  • being a member just trying to get attention

There are many other communities available here on G+ where your post can be placed according to community rules (if there are rules!). As an alternative, just post in your public stream or use your Twitter or Facebook account to notify your close friends.

Looking on hundreds of profiles I recognized that members get many +1 when posting eye catchers but they usually have only a few followers. The reason is obvious: the internet is overloaded with images and people look at them for a few seconds and move to the next image often not even recognizing who posted the image. This is a behavior I will never understand.

We all know that big communities often are misused to get attention. This is not the right way to become a great member and to be seen as a rainmaker. You should take your time when creating a post and show members of this community that your posts are rich in content.

All this and many other useful suggestions can be found here:

Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Member Guide

Sad to say that in many cases there is no further discussion with a member whose post was removed although he was notified. He simply ignores what the moderator wrote down. This is always a strong indicator for people just trying to get attention. Usually they are no active members in a community. They just ‘post and leave’ but are not engaged in any discussion. It looks like trying to build a further profile stream within a community. The ban hammer follows immediately after posting again. Members should be aware of the fact that they are not customers but guests. So, to get rid of people who consecutively violate the rules is a painless action.

The moderators view …

If you want to learn more about communities seen from the moderator’s view I strongly recommend to read the

Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Community Owner Guide

The guide …

If you are a contributor or even a content creator you should follow these rules whether you accept them or not. Nobody should forget that he is a guest on G+ and probably use many other free services of the company. So it’s self-evident that there are just two ways to go: accept the rules or leave the community. Communities on G+ are created by individuals and everybody who joins a community has to accept the rules set by the owner. This is not only valid for social networks based on electronic information exchange but also for any other topic-related groups of individuals. I’m sure it’s the anonymity on the internet which let people think that communities in a social network are different from communities where interaction is based on personal communication.

So here is a mind map valid for members of Google+.
It’s based on a couple of articles I found in the internet. Authorships are mentioned in the links below and it’s strongly recommended that you take your time to read them all if you want to obtain all the benefits offered by a social network like G+.

The mind map was created with the app iThoughts HD for the iPad by Craig Scott, UK.


Tap on these images to see relevant parts of the map.

A reply from an ignoramus …

I notified a member because he was completely off topic.
The reply was

I live in a free country and I can post what I want.

He can do it if it’s legal and he publishes in his profile stream.

Think of it like this:

If you hate ties and suits would you go into a restaurant where this is obligatory? You can try it but the owner will not accept it. But there are many other restaurants where you can get delicious food without wearing suit and tie.

If you join a soccer club would you ask the goalkeeper to play tennis with you?

More needs to be said?

Summary …

Engagement in a G+ community can be followed by exciting experiences and you can get friends in all parts of the world. Exchanging opinions, getting useful tips, improving knowledge and personality might be the chance but only if some rules are accepted. Again, G+ is completely different from other networks like Facebook or Twitter. It’s a great offer from Google and it’s up to all members to build up a great network by choosing the right communities and contributing useful content. That at least was my painful experience.

Everyone is entitled to express his opinion on the internet.
But like in real life rules have to be accepted to avoid utter chaos.

It’s that simple.

Related links …

Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Member Guide
Andrew Harasewych
Google+ Community Owner Guide
The Social Media Hat
How not to use Google+
Paul Maplesden
How you can be a great G+ member
Google+ Information
Google+ Etiquette

Thanks for dropping by.