If you’re on Google+, you know you can sort people by circles. I want to tell my ‘Clients from Hell’ people stories about this, or my ‘WordPress’ people stories about that. But what they don’t have is a way for me to say ‘I only want to see Otto’s WordPress stories.’
I know, that sounds really basic and simple. Public shared circles.
Circles are a way for me to target you, but not helpful when I want to be selective. So far, no social media product has addressed this. With a blog, I can follow a specific category or tag via RSS. Provided you’re not being a jerk about things, any site using WordPress has the ability to follow a tag or category. https://halfelf.org/tag/wp/feed will show you all my WordPress posts. (However. Many people are assholes and redirect all their feeds to one location, usually FeedBurner, in the interest of getting advertising revenue. http://freelanceswitch.com/, I’m looking at you, and it was a dick move that made me stop following your site.) While this relies on my personal honesty and accuracy, it makes things easier for the reader to find what they want. You can follow the same logic on Drupal via their nodes, WordPress’s CPTS and so on and so forth.
So why is something that simple and obvious hard to manage on a social site?
It’s a numbers game. Your site, you’re in control of how you tag and categorize things. I do it differently from many people, who do it differently from others and so on and so forth. While this difference is great (go diversity!) it means that ‘tagging’ a topic on Google is up to the person making the post. I may call it WordPress, you may use WP, and now which one do I follow?
The best solution I’ve come up with is that when you add someone to a Google+ circle, you can say ‘All posts, posts tagged …’ and then you get a list of ALL the tags someone has used. When they add new tags, you would get notified (like you do when someone new follows you). “Bob has added a new tag called “Home Brew.”” Then you can decide to follow it or not.
Of course this relies on Bob’s honesty, and sometimes he might forget to tag things. I do all the time on Tumblr, because they removed tagging from the forefront of my screen. WordPress’s habit of keeping them right there on the sidebar by default actually helps me remember that this is an important part of my social face. It’s not just who I am, or what I’m saying, but what I’m talking about.
If you’re interested in some of me and not all of me, that should be easy to share too. After all, I may love my friends, but I really don’t care about Glee, and I’d like to be able to ignore all tweets labeled ‘#glee’ now and then.