Thoughts on the new Google Plus comment system
I have experimented with other platforms, but I have ultimately decided that Google's Blogger is the blog platform that best meets what I want to do with my blog. If I had the whole thing to do over again from back in 2003, I would have stuck with Blogger the entire time instead of jumping around.
Blogger's comment system has needed an upgrade for some time now. You can use third party commenting systems such as Disqus and IntenseDebate with Blogger, but Blogger's commenting system itself has been stuck in the past for a while now. Google has finally stepped up with the new Google Plus commenting system. As cool as it is, though, I cannot help but think of this as a huge missed opportunity.
When Google Plus launched two years ago, there was some huge buzz surrounding it. I signed up right away but I didn't do anything with it for several months. Google eventually allowed you to merge your BlogSpot profile with your Google Plus profile, and you were given the option of posting to G+ when you posted something to your blog... but posts would not be shared on your G+ profile automatically. Furthermore, Google never opened its API to allow things like Hootsuite, Twitterfeed or NetworkedBlogs to post automatically to a G+ profile.
Google Plus has a large number of users, but it has not come anywhere close to challenging Facebook's supremacy in social networking. Part of the reason for this is the bungled rollout for the service. Blogger already had a large user base, so G+ should have had full compatibility with Blogger the day it launched when the buzz was the highest. Had this been done then, that would have had a much bigger impact than it has to this point.
It does not help that the "circles" system on Google Plus is not at all intuitive like "friends" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter. "Circles" does not pass the "grandmother" test - if your grandmother cannot figure it out in less than a couple minutes, you need to simplify it. I consider myself to be a tech-savvy person, and it took me a while to wrap my head around the "circles" concept on Google Plus. I still don't think I can explain it in ten words or less.
As to the comment system itself: It is really cool but it definitely needs improvement - especially if Google wants the comment system to challenge other third-party comment systems for platforms like WordPress. (There is a Google Plus plugin for WordPress.)You must have a Google account to comment using the Google Plus comment system, while Disqus and IntenseDebate allow you to log in using an existing account with another service. There is no way to comment without logging in, which is allowed by Disqus and IntenseDebate and even Blogger's old comment system. This should be fixed right away before people lose interest.
The integration of comments with Google Plus is really cool though, and shows some real potential. If I share a post on my Google Plus profile, it shows up as a comment on the blog, and any comments to my post on Google Plus also show up on the blog. Furthermore, if someone else shares the post on Google Plus, it also shows up as a comment on my blog, as to the comments to that post on Google Plus. This accomplishes two things: It allows you to see comments from multiple sources in one place and can be used to increase traffic to the blog.
It actually gets better. The cross-platform comments between Blogger and Google Plus is retroactive! So if you shared a post from your BlogSpot blog on Google Plus in December 2011, all of the comments on that post now show up as comments on the blog. Now that is really cool and a very nice feature.
Like I said before, this commenting system should have been implemented two years ago when interest in Google Plus was at its peak. That said, if Google makes it possible to comment without logging into Google, and more heavily promotes it as a commenting system, this could help overcome the bumbling manner in which Google Plus was launched - but the opportunity to maximize the new social network's reach has been lost forever.