How the modern web 2.0 social web irritates me by hiding discussions

January 27, 2013

Recently an interesting discussion of my entry on what systemd gets right broke out on Google+, including both interesting stuff and some things that I want to respond to. What sucks about the modern Web 2.0 social web is that I found this discussion basically only through luck.

Oh, I knew that someone on Google+ had linked to my entry and had a bunch of readers; I could see the Referers from plus.url.google.com come rolling in in my web server logs. But in common with a lot of other Web 2.0 sites the Referer values were of absolutely no use to backtrack to the actual discussion; they were encoded and basically generic (if I visited one of them I wound up on a little interstitial 'you are about to visit an outside website, are you sure?' page).

This is more severe than my earlier irritation with Twitter about this in that G+ is actually hiding a real discussion from me (okay, people have real discussions on Twitter too but perhaps not quite as much), a discussion that in many other circumstances might have happened in the comments section of my entry (where I could directly see it and address it). Of course this is partly the result of a deliberate design decision on G+'s part; G+ wants you to have your discussion on G+, not on some outside site. From Google's perspective what happened here is not a bug but a feature.

(This is unlike a similar issue with Facebook because the discussion here on G+ is public, not private.)

This is nothing new, of course. I just feel like grumbling about it since I was so directly reminded of it.

Sidebar: How I found this discussion

Someone in my Twitter stream had linked to an earlier Lennart Poettering G+ post that reacted to the whole 'FLOS vs Unix' thing and mentioned systemd in relation to that. It struck me that if anyone on G+ was going to link to my entry at this point it might well be Poettering, so I backtracked to his G+ page and there it was. Had his earlier post not appeared on my radar I would have had no real clue.

(I knew that Poettering knew about my entry because he left some comments on it.)

Written on 27 January 2013.
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