Sunday, July 24, 2011

Learning to Help, the Google Method

Several million early adopters were invited to a pre-alpha project, and are currently pushing all it's features as far as the fledgling system will allow, and sometimes beyond. The Google+ project was launched with a feed-back feature that allows users to report problems, make suggestions and perhaps even gripe if they disagree with the way the system works. How many people will Google need to guide new users when they join Google+ ?

Dealing with all that feed-back requires a lot of people. Those people have to know a lot about the system, so where do those Google helpers learn their craft?

Before the invitations went out to those who joined the project, Google employees were using Google+ in-house, and gaining valuable experience that can be applied to the help/feed-back process. Many early adopters were pleasantly surprised to see so many Google employees ready and willing to be followed. How many of those Google employees that have been using Google+ are actually in training to help the new users when the project reaches it next goal, and is rolled out to the general public?

That's several questions, to paraphrase;

  • How many people will Google need to analyze feedback?
  • How are they being trained?
  • Are Google employees learning from this pre-alpha project?

A major issue has developed among the early adopters, and is pushing the feedback/help process to it's limits. Individuals are required to use their own names, or at least a name that they have been known by on-line. A related issue is on hold, while Google works out a solution for Business accounts, and how those entities are treated on Google+. While businesses are quietly waiting for new developments, the early adopters who use aliases are not happy, and are not at all quiet on the issue.

Some users believe that an automatic flagging system puts their accounts into a temporary suspension, while Google employees review their account. Given the nearly 20 million individuals involved in the project, even a small percentage would yield 10s of thousands of temporary suspensions to be analyzed.

There are indications that Google employees are more directly involved, and actively monitoring activity in what can be called Feedback circles. Rob Gordon was given a friendly warning from Joseph Robertson ( identity not verified ) that nudity was not acceptable at Google+. Joseph's words would indicate that Google employees are using the Google+ system to monitor multiple accounts. 

Google's projects ( Documents, Images, Chat, etc ) have experienced people assigned to help it's users on those particular projects, but Google+ is brand new, and looks to be larger than anything Google has attempted to roll out so far. If Google used some of those experienced helpers on Google+, they would still need to learn about Google+, the problems and of course the nature of those users. ( Early adopters aren't really the same as the average user. )

As it stands, those users with questionable names are being suspended, reviewed and many are being reinstated. Some others have launched new profiles, with their proper names. One way or another, the project is moving forward and folks are learning. Users and Googlers alike.

The next hurdle for Google Feedback? Business accounts, which are possibly the major target of Google's social efforts and a wide open field for revenue.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Over the Bridge

I love Illinois, but we have some terrible ideas concerning taxes here. Why in the world would this State levy taxes on stuff that people will travel out of State to get? It doesn't make any sense.

Gasoline and tobacco are taxed far less across the Mississippi River, in the State of Missouri. All the money we spend on these items should be spent here, in this State to support our local economy. I wouldn't be making this trip if Illinois had a rational tax plan. I'd be spending about $100 here, and that could generate taxes for this State, and help our small businesses as well. Instead, we travel across the bridge and support their economy and their State budget. They really must think we're foolish over there.

Us for putting up with it, and our leaders for making it so.