Yalim's Lodge

-1 for Google +1 (the saga continues)

My blog post -1 for Google +1, in which I argued that no one is using +1 because there is no benefit a user gets from +1’ing anything,  generated a lot of comments here at this blog and at Hacker News. I would like to thank everyone who contributed. The comments really helped me to form a better opinion. In this post, I want to do a round up of the discussion we had. It seems to me that it all boils down to these three points:

There is indeed no personal benefit from +1’ing anything

As the Google video at the bottom explains, you +1 something for the benefit of others. There is no personal gratification whatsoever. It is like donating an organ to a complete stranger because even in giving an organ to someone you know, you get the personal benefit of spending more time with him. So in a sense, +1’ing a web page is morally a superior action than donating a kidney to your brother. It is a pure selfless act.

Most people confuse Google +1 with Google+ and rightfully so

A lot of people thought the article was about Google+. Some thought +1 is just an extension of Google+. Some argued that when there are more Google+ users, there will be more +1’s. As it stands today, Google +1 and Google+ are two separate products, with virtually the same name. This fact alone makes me think that the whole thing is not thought out that thoroughly.

Give it time, It’s a field test

Some people were of the opinion that I should be a little easy on Google because +1 was not even beta yet but just a field test.

First of all, what is a field test anyway? I know terms like alpha, beta, closed beta, public beta and what not. I’ve never heard of the term field test in software development. I actually googled the phrase “software field test” just to make sure I am not behind the times. The first page of results mostly come from Nokia web sites which is not a good reference, I must say.

Second of all, assuming there is such a thing as a field test, what is being field tested here exactly? The propensity of human beings to click a button for the sake of clicking it?  The percentage of people who are more likely to donate an organ to a complete stranger? The ability of consumers to distinguish between two products with the same name?

It also occurred to me that LinkedIn launched its social sharing button roughly around the same time as +1 was launched and is doing fairly well. Although I failed to find concrete numbers, some indirect calculations I made and my personal observations on LinkedIn show that it found its place on the Web.

So how long is long enough to form on opinion on Google +1?


I suspect Google will eventually tie Google +1 to Google+ and we will get the immense satisfaction of sharing a link with our preferred Circles. I just would expect this happen immediately with the launch of Google+.

I am pessimistic about the usefulness of +1’s in improving search results though. Can anyone lay out a use case for me where a +1 can be used to improve search results in a groundbreaking way?

Update: As of August 24, 2011, after nine days publishing this post, Google tied +1 to Google+. It is noteworthy that in the blog post announcing the featue, they talk about how many daily views the +1 button has had so far but not how many times it was actually clicked.

The effects of linking +1 to Google+ remains to be seen. I will be watching closely and blog about it if necessary.

Yalım K. Gerger

  • http://collentine.com @collentine

    There is no “personal benefit” of Facebook liking anything either.

    Most people would like Google+ to be accessible for companies as well. They need more time connecting everything up…

    Main use is as a “stamp of approval” by your network. It’s not immediately visible but whenever someone in network google’s a term closely related to site you +1′d the site you liked will be pushed up in ranking and also be more likely to be pushed than a site with no recommendations

  • http://www.gerger.co Yalim K. Gerger

    Actually there is a personal benefit. Your friends get to see that you liked something and can comment on it. This way you get the engage with them.

    I understand the ranking up idea behind +1 but it is useless if no one +1′s anything which is the case as far as I can see.

    Additionally, I am pessimistic about the usefulness of +1′s even though it was used widely but that’s a different topic.