aNewDomain — This week Google announced an overhaul of sorts for Google Plus, the search giant’s eponymous social network, setting the focus on the Communities and Collections features of the service. For regular users, the new focus is logical, as Communities and Collections is one of the best uses of Google Plus. The implementation so far, however, has left many users of Communities confused and upset about one of the best community tools: Events.
Events in Google Plus is a convenient way for communities to plan and track community activities. With Events, a community member can create an event, invite guests, sync the activity to users calendars, manage and track RSVPs, share event photos and schedule community Hangouts. Such functionality is a powerful tool and is part of what makes Google Plus Communities a popular service. While this feature is available in (as Google calls it) “classic” Google Plus, it is currently not available in the new version of Google Plus.
While Google has been clear that it is in the early stages of rolling out the new Google Plus, and they will be adding and removing features, early indications are Events may be either depreciated or discontinued. Google indicates a reduced Events presence in the help section of the new Google Plus: “In the new Google+, you can only make new events in the Android app. To make events on a computer, switch back to classic Google+.” One is left to wonder if the Web version of Events disappears entirely once everyone is migrated to the new Google Plus.
In a Google Plus post asking for clarification on the future of Events, Google Product Developer Luke Wroblewski said, “Events is still accessible on G+ classic & Android. Nothing more to announce just yet. Sorry! But it is on our radar.”
If Google indeed relegates Events to the Google Plus app, or removes it all together, it could render Communities useless for a vast swath of users.
Linda Wright is a retired professor who participates in two different Buddhist communities on Google Plus. “We do some posting in the Google Plus pages, but the heart of the community is the Hangouts,” Wright said. “Being able to connect with people all over the world in conversations that are life changing. We can contact people who are home-bound or schedule challenged to discuss our meditation practice. We do hangouts that are actual online meditations, as well as discussions of topics of interest.”
“The Event Pages in Google Plus was a good way to do that. We could describe the Event and provide a link in one place. Those interested would reply, so we could get an idea of how many people would be there. We will have to do some kind of workaround to provide easy access to the hangouts.”
Community owner Gene Parish expressed similar concerns. “I run a small active community of D&D players. While we are not big our community is typical of hundreds, if not thousands, of other similar groups of people who use Events to schedule RPG’s. This makes it easy to send out an event regarding the game night and not only to have a time on there for everyone to refer to, but it also lets the GM see how many players have committed to come, who can’t, and who is unsure and gives them something to work with.”
“Since many groups, mine included, are made up of players scattered across the country, this is quite useful as is the way it integrates with hangouts so we can meet up online. For other users this multi-platform software can be useful from everything from business conferencing to scheduling a time to talk to friends and family in distant locations. Why G+ would even consider dropping this functionality is beyond me.”
If Google does depreciate or eliminate Events, it could very well drive users away from its Communities, the very service it is trying to advance via the new Google Plus iteration.
Photo courtesy: Mike Olsen