Google’s social network. Google+ has many great features. Circles, which make it easy to talk to just your friends, co-workers, family, whoever and free video-conferencing via Hangouts. But it’s best feature, for those of us who’ve been on mailing lists, online forums, discussion groups and lately social networks for ages, is the ability the power to tell people to shut the heck up and make it stick.
You know what I mean. There you are, talking with people online about Linux, the Cubs, whatever, and some jackass starts going completely off-topic; declares that someone else is an idiot, and on and on. We used to call people who did this trolls, and the arguments they could start, flame wars. Anymore though, I don’t know it we need special words for them. Trolls are everywhere and people flame others with no real reason what-so-ever. I guess these people’s dogs ran away so they kick people around online because they don’t have dogs to around to kick anymore.
Be that as it may, while I can’t do much about these twits in most online forums, Google+ gives me the power to enforce civil behavior in my discussions. First, Circles let me pick and choose who can see particular items I want to share. In those, if someone in say a circle about rock and roll can’t stand someone else in the same circle, I first ask them to not let their personal animosity spill over into the conversation. If they can’t, but they’re otherwise civil, I can just drop him or her from that particular circle.
But say you’re like me and you tend to put a lot of stuff up for anyone and everyone to see and comment on in your public steam, what can you do about J. Random Idiot from hijacking the conversation? Google Plus’ answer is a feature that my fellow writer buddy J.R. Raphael likes to call One-Click Jackass Control™.