Google+, The Nicer Social Network for Photographers

Are You on Google+ Yet?  If So Please Post a Link to Your Google+ URL Here

For the last few weeks I’ve been thinking a lot about online conversations. It feels like I’m constantly in one somewhere on some site.

More and more for me these are happening on Google+. I used to spend almost all of my social time online in Flickr group discussion threads. I stopped visiting Flickr groups for a while due to personal harassment — but you know what, it wasn’t just me who left, the velocity of quality conversations in Flickr groups have gone wayyyy down more broadly speaking in the past year.

This is not just a subjective thing — it’s easily measured ojbectively as well. Flickr Central is one of the oldest/largest/most active groups on Flickr. Over there years (as counted by threads) 11,503 conversations that have gone on there. Some are very successful, some are not.

If you look at Flickr Central today you’ll see that the time stamp for discussions on the first page goes back two weeks. This was not always the case. It used to be that the entire first page of discussions in Flickr Central were from the past 48 hours. Clearly the velocity of conversations in this Flickr group has gone way down. I suspect the same goes for other groups as well. Many of the groups recommended to me as “groups that Flickr has noticed” on the groups page haven’t had conversations in months, in some cases even years.

Meanwhile, over at Google+, in the past year I’ve been involved in some of the best conversations that I ever remember happening anywhere on the web. Interesting conversations about photography and art and meetups and hangouts and all kinds of fun things. it seems like there is always some great conversation somewhere on Google+ to jump into.

Over the course of the past few weeks I’ve jumped back into a few Flickr conversations to see what it feels like. What I’ve noticed is that the tone of conversations on Google+ feels so much more positive than it does at Flickr. There’s so much less snark and bitterness and negativity overall. I hadn’t seen the difference so dramatically before, but after having been gone awhile it felt more evident.

This made me think about what Google+ was doing right for community that Flickr is not.

When I first joined Google+ one of the things that I noticed is that some of the more hostile individuals from many of the old Flickr groups showed up. Some personal attacks took place, they aired their gripes about different things, typical BS hater stuff — but you know what? These people were quickly marginalized and moved out of the way to create a more positive environment. I blocked many of these people and so did so many other photographers on G+.

A few weeks went by and these people were just as hostile and negative but they were basically shouting to an empty room. The majority of positive forward thinking photographers on G+ had tuned them out with the tools that we were given. What we were left with was a more positive filtered G+ experience. I went back a few days ago to look at a few of the accounts of people that I blocked and you know what — they are gone. They quit G+. By empowering a mostly positive oriented community these people found no audience to bitch at and they left. Meanwhile, more constructive social photographers on G+ carry on.

Now, one worry with filtering out criticism is that it hurts meaningful conversation because all conversation is not always puppy dogs and roses, but that also hasn’t happened on Google+. Lots of criticism has gone on in tons of threads. The difference is though that the criticism feels much more respectful than some of what I’ve experienced in Flickr groups. People disagree on Google+ they just do it respectfully.

By giving users more powerful blocking tools on G+ Google has built a nicer community. A nicer community feels so much more enjoyable.

Every so often I’ll find someone new who comes along and leaves some sort of assholish comment in a thread on Google+. It’s almost delightful at how easy it is to block them and make them invisible.

In poking around Flickr Groups over the past week I did find what felt like some high quality conversations to me, I read them, I lurked — but I didn’t participate. The reason why I didn’t participate was that I noticed some of the toxic types that I’d run into previously on Flickr or G+. I’m sure I would have jumped into these conversations if I hadn’t seen them there, but what’s the point of jumping into a conversation about fine art photography when you know someone is just going to be a jerk?

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  1. Mary Eikenberry says:

    I’ve never been on Flickr, but I have only positive things to say about G+ ….
    Mary Eikenberry

  2. The essence of great community building is giving the community tools to manage their environment… I think flickr should have added tools years ago, but instead Yahoo laid off a bunch of staff, released a crappy mobile app and then let the site stagnate.

    I agree with you about positivity on Google+. I didn’t experience too much negativity on flickr, but the overwhelming positive feelings on even a casual pass at my incoming stream on g+ inspires and makes me want to be a better photographer. Like flickr used to.

    Through Google+, I’ve met so many incredibly talented and genuinely nice people. You included!

  3. TimBob says:

    Been active on G+ since the early days. I’m not nearly as active as I used to be, but with the weather turning colder I’ll be picking upt he posting again…

  4. JJ Bentley says:

    anytime you want to talk about street photography and processing choices, ideas, etc, feel free 🙂

  5. Nhat Le says:

    I’m pretty new to the whole google+ thing. To be honest, its kinda confusing me. lol Will definitely take time to digest this but I read online that this is the way to go for photographers and since I am a me too type of person…….

  6. Julian Ortiz says:

    like I wrote in your G+ post, great post Thomas.

  7. Hans Schaefer says:

    Hi Thomas,
    Having been a Sysop of Compuserve once upon a time and experiencing the friendly atmosphere we had then ( after eliminating the bad apples! ) I totally agree with you that G+ is way friendlier and more respectfully reminding me of old times of yore!
    Now the negative ppl eliminate themselves which is good for all and I think respect is all it takes and of course enthusiasm for the common topic we all have to record the world as it is and add our own style to it!
    So keep up the good work and we all enjoy the good vibes!

  8. I have been on Flickr but never really got an discussion going. I have never looked back after joining Google+ well over 14 months ago. I have made friends with some great photographers and have been inspired by some great photo’s. The whole Google+ experience feels right and I love every minute I’ve spent on it.

  9. I’ve been on G+ since the early days and absolutely love it. I only used Flickr for a short period, still have an account there I think but is probably dormant.

    My profile:

  10. Ggr says:

    Too bad is full of Apple haters. I had to get out!

  11. Google+ has the best format for sharing ideas and having real conversations with other photographers. Hard for me to compare to Flickr since I got on late there, but Google by far has a much better interface.

    My profile:

  12. Interesting. Since I am relatively new to Flickr, having been active on Google+ for a longer period of time, it still feels novel to me. And I guess I haven’t been around either of them long enough to attract the haters. (Spam on the other hand seems to have improved on Google+ as well.)

    The one thing I still prefer on Flicker is the ability to shift-click a thumbnail and open images in a new tab. Makes it easier to explore a large number of photos.

    Community on Google+ can’t be beat. 🙂

    And since people are apparently sharing profile links, I can be found here:

  13. Bo Nielsen says:

    Very well written, Mr. Hawk I +1 that.

    My G+ profile:

  14. Mario Bucolo says:

    Hi Thomas, supporting the social photography and way to shoot, we are on the way to launch where anyone can find, and suggest, how to shoot best photos in great place, with a shared experience or alone.
    I will be honored if you can test our beta.
    All the best

  15. arsız bela says:

    Too bad is full of Apple haters. I had to get out!

  16. Ggr says:

    Yup. Beside G+ is not the only place photographers I care about post updates. Many photographers use more than one social network. I got tired of going to What’s Hot and Explore and find endless arguments about apple google and there rest. Get what you like and let every else choices be. Cannon or Nikon, Apple or Samsung, Play station or Xbox what ever.

  17. Clement says:

    I guess I just never actually “tried”, but I never really got into groups on Flickr.
    On G+, it all basically comes to you (or you discover things through serendipitous clicks) and it feels just “normal” to “+1” some post, comment another one, and you just do it.

    It is nice this way :).

  18. Neil Howard says:

    Great article Thomas.
    I too have found that I can have a positive conversation on G+
    In truth, the only reason I really keep putting photos on Flickr is for the Getty sales 🙂
    I find that contributing to the group discussions there always seems to bog down. The Management may have take my “explore ban” away now, but I just don’t care enough to promote images there anymore.

    Thanks for the article mate

  19. Prashant says:

    Thanks for the nice article

    G+ is turning out to be the next big photographer’s hub. I am enjoying every bit of it. The best part is that some of the best photographers hang-out there. I also stopped using Flickr from quite some time.

  20. I would agree. It seems Google+ have a different attitude as well as focus. I agree with many of the comments that are in this thread that your some wonderful photographers & artists here on Google+

  21. Ed Devereaux says:

    People are nice on G+ because they can not hide behind a fake name. Generally, openness always breeds honesty. That said, G+ does not serve me business wise to the amount of other sites currently. My daughter put it to me this way, G+ is stupid. My son said, what is Google plus. When the teenagers don’t want to use G+ the future is not good sign for Google.

  22. Google+ just released a new update called Community which is basically interest based groups. I would be interested in hearing your opinion on this. I had never really used Google+ much until this feature came out. Before then, I felt like everything was scattered. I do better with group conversation rather than individual conversations online. So all of sudden, I feel a lot more comfortable with G+ because of this and is now participating in quite a few photography group there.

  23. Completely missed that you already posted another article on the Google+ community. Please ignore my other comment. Sorry