December 27, 2007

Sharing is Caring in Google Reader

A little while ago, Google added a neat feature to Google reader. It’s the ability to automatically see subscribed items that your friends are reading (and sharing) when they use Google Reader.

Basically, when they’re doing their blog reading, they click “share” and suddenly, all their Google Talk friends will see that blog post when they log in to Google Reader.

I used to display my Google Reader shared items on my blog’s front page, but I removed that widget because I was doubting that anyone ever checked it. But I will continue to share items in Google Reader on the off-chance that some of my Google Talk friends use Google Reader and might be interested what I’m reading.

If you want to share what you’re reading, and see stuff other people are sharing, here’s what you do:

  1. Use Google Reader to read your favorite blogs. (Why?)
  2. Use Google Talk to add your other little Google Talk friends to your buddy list. I just added the folks to my list of contacts in GMail, which does the same thing.
  3. Click the “share” button when you see a blog post you want to share.

The rest is done by the magic of Google. Right now I can see Mike’s and Julie’s shared items. It’s been useful; one of Mike’s shared items informed me that Google has added some new privacy features to the shared items functionality. Google scores!

Posted by James at December 27, 2007 2:30 PM
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This is horrible. I do not WANT to see everyone’s feeds every time I use Gmail, Calendar or Docs. Right now that is what is happening. I don't mind this in a static sidebar on someone's blog, but this is invasive and ANNOYING as all get out. It is like being forced to watch those awful pop up ads all the time. I already deleted Google Reader and erased my own feeds so that I wouldn’t irritate others in the way I'm getting irritated right now.

Google needs to put up an opt-out of other’s feeds feature in addition to their flimsy and convoluted opt out feature they hastily added to the reader on the user end this week in response to the backlash from angry users. Nothing will get me to stop using Calendar, Docs and Gmail faster than this continuing as is. Google: the new Microsuck.

Posted by: leslie at December 27, 2007 3:11 PM

It's a privacy NIGHTMARE. When I went in to delete my old OPML file from Google Reader, I found a person in there who was able to see my shared items and I have NO idea who on EARTH the person is. And it was a full name, not a nickname. Not everyone I have chatted or emailed with is someone I want to share things like political beliefs or hobbies with, and with no way to create groups for your information, it's an all-or-nothing approach. I, like Leslie, chose nothing.

Posted by: pippa at December 27, 2007 3:21 PM

Odd, but I've never noticed it in GMail, Calendar or Docs. It makes sense to me to see it in Reader.

I agree - there should be an opt-out on the user end, but I am surprised that there was a backlash from people who were doing the sharing. I guess it was a "Worlds Colliding" thing, but what do people think is goign to happen when they click "Share?"

Posted by: James at December 27, 2007 3:26 PM

OK, I see where you're coming from.

There's a difference between contacts and friends. Google really should have thought more about that before launching this.

These online information companies are stumbling into some hard lessons about what their users want, and how not to launch a new feature.

Posted by: James at December 27, 2007 3:32 PM

You can easily hide the feeds that you don't want to see, so I don't find it invasive at all.

Then again, I can see only two feeds. I might feel differently if I added contacts to Gtalk frequently and had to keep hiding new shared feeds.

Posted by: Julie at December 27, 2007 9:54 PM

Google's buddy list/contact feature has been half-baked for a while. I wish the Google Talk buddy list was separate from my e-mail contacts. I have no desire to share either list with Google Reader but that doesn't bother me as much because the world is welcome to read any article I decide to share.

Posted by: Mike at December 28, 2007 8:11 AM

Julie, it's a matter of degrees. I, like a lot of people I would assume, often end up using Gmail for work and personal contacts. I have a LOT of feeds. A lot. Some for work, some just funny personal reads or friends to keep in touch with. Why shouldn't I be able to share the friends feeds with my husband but not people I contact for work? There is no sorting, no hierarchy here, and that's the problem. So I deleted everything.

It's also the history that's a problem. I hadn't used Google Reader in MONTHS. There were items on there I wanted to share with friends at the time, but since then, more contacts got added. You then have to constantly manage your shares?

Posted by: pippa at December 29, 2007 12:33 AM

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