Science Engager’s Circle

Science Engager’s Circle

The Science on Google+ Community (http://goo.gl/uhJCN) is approaching 100,000 members!! To celebrate, we are making changes to the community categories to increase engagement and to highlight high quality posts (see http://goo.gl/EPPOAn for details). We are also starting a new Science Hangout On Air called “Posterside Hangouts”. The first Posterside Hangout will be announced soon! We also put together this really great circle of Science Engagers. Every profile and page in the circle can be found in the Science on Google+: A Public Database (see http://goo.gl/Yz8KR to access the database). Thanks to everyone who is following and contributing to the community and page! 

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30 Comments


  1. Congratulations on 100k. For most of us, the number of followers aren’t important. What’s important is content and engagement. Science on Google+: A Public Database has both of those. Well done.

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  2. Allison Sekuler I had you in my circles (I think you came in via Fraser Cain ), but had not really noticed since a lot of your posts are not science related (and google does not show all posts). This one post is a blockbuster (enough to wonder, why I had not shown closer attention)

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  3. Thanks Able Lawrence – and thanks for engaging on the OP. Most of my posts are science-related, but I also do post in areas of photography, higherEd, Canadianism, and general geekiness (those aren’t all mutually exclusive of course; for example, I sometimes do science posts linked to original photographs I’ve done – I meant to do one of shark eggs today, but got sidetracked by the grid cell story bcs it was so cool).


    We actually started ScienceSunday at the intersection of Art and Science, but have been thrilled to see how much it and the G+ science community, including SoG+, have developed over the past (almost) 2 years. Always great to find more folks like you to circle!

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  4. 94 smokin hot scientists (I know I’m still not, but maybe in future ;))…Cool!


    Thanks to Science on Google+: A Public Database for great efforts to circle all science engagers from different field of studies who not only shares quality content but also explain it in simple words so that it’ll understand to other folks.


    Looking forward to have more engagement with all of you!

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  5. By the way, Able Lawrence, it was a huge mistake for G+ to start selecting posts for us to see from our circles. If I circle someone, I want to see all their posts unless I set the pings otherwise. That has created a major impediment to engagement in science (and other areas).

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  6. John Hammersley – Quick clarification. Amy Robinson has been hosting Science on Google+ HOAs for several weeks. These HOAs are interview style hangouts where Amy Robinson, Nic Hammond, and Jason Davison interview a single person. I will be launching a new Hangout On Air series called “Posterside Hangouts”. The first episode should be next week. In these HOAs, 3 to 5 researchers will present their research findings in a poster session-like atmosphere, and presentations will be grouped by discipline.


    Thanks, Able Lawrence. I know Allison Sekuler and am familiar with her posts-  they’re great!. This Science on Google+: A Public Database circle is different from previous circles. I typically take profiles/pages in the database, group them together in some way, remove inactive profiles/pages, and share the circle. In this shared circle I created an event to let everyone know about some important changes to the community and the event date/time signaled the time of the circle share. I also included both pages and profiles in the same circle. Most importantly, rather than using circloscope to remove inactive people, I asked people to introduce themselves and to tell me about their research interests. Only those individuals who commented on the event post are included in this circle.


    I really enjoyed putting this circle together and learned a lot about the individuals in this circle. Expect more of these event > circle combinations in the future. In a month or so I will post another event asking people to briefly describe what they are currently working on. Those individuals who comment on the event will be included in the next Science Engager Circle.

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  7. Allison Sekuler – I think I agree about the recent (serious) change to how posts are distributed – when matched with the current users expectations, habits, and history, feels like a mistake.


    I leave it vague because in the long run, and for the majority, it’s probably for the best.  I just wish that this had been communicated much earlier, because it made a lot of previous ‘work’ (organizing my circles, etc) almost mute.


    In the beginning, the G+ was too powerful,  and no one, or at least not enough people used it to its potential.  Then they made a few changes along the way to correct for this, including communities which really spun the topic based organization around to the front.


    Anyway, as in the previous version, the complexity of G+ gives it more power, but it requires more input from users, which in general (as any of us who moderate communities know) is an uphill battle.  So you can adapt your habits to the new G+, but it takes some new work.  People are still important, but content is generally put first.  Content includes what those people (that you follow) engage with, which is also guided by who they follow, etc.


    I think that there was some kind of “reset”, or at least that’s the net effect.  Think of it like painting a room in your house.  You’ve finished one coat, and now it’s dry and you can see that it needs another coat. (the 2nd coat will be less work though)  If there are people that you really want to see their posts like before, visit their page and engage their posts.  Be careful about topics though!  There’s a limit to how many topics can be effectively managed for each person, and you have to make the topics you want to see the ones that you engage with much more than any others.  This makes being eclectic and  following certain people ‘heavily’ more challenging – but it can be done!

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  8. Chris Robinson – I think the “opt-in” method of putting things like this together is better in the long run, but harder to get going.  The main benefit seems to be that the person behind the scenes doing the work has much less to do!


    I also think that making it a little bit difficult  to get through is a good thing, and will act as a filter!  : )

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  9. Allison Sekuler There is another problem that makes the recent changes inevitable. The amount of people using g+ and those who post stuff have increased. Then there are the people who unload everything they see (the kind who post everything they see on physics.org) without critical thought. (You are defined  as much by what you dont post as by what you post). Ever since I started restricting to one post a day, my engagement has improved. (Other things I post under various pages I own – I own more than a dozen pages dedicated areas of interest to me ranging from Quantum Gravity Quantum Biology Fibromyalgia etc along with related communities (some entirely private dedicated to alumni associations and professional organizations). The amount you can read are limited. While seeing everything is ideal, you cant do for any body except a select elite. I have two circles which are 100% volume. The rest I would rather be given a selection of the best rather than pretend to see everything. Days when there were very few people in G+ are gone. 

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  10. Able Lawrence – very true.  I started a year ago, so “those days” were over before I knew G+, but I still learned on the system that was as Alison spoke of – you had someone circled and you saw most of their posts.


    Google knew all this from the start, and they are and have always been “search” related – and that was more about topics than people.  But now they are layering in the complex blend of the 2.


    One thing you can do, Allison Sekuler is to use a reader (I use Feedly) to bring back together what G+ has pulled apart.  You can also do what Able mentioned, but I find it too tedious to have to visit all the pages, communities, and people’s home streams in order to get what I want.  Instead, just have them set up as an RSS and you can browse those select few, along with some pages, etc – all in the same place.  You can also include searches as an RSS, which is how I started the idea.


    You have to re-prime the pump of G+, with the topics and people that you want.  It would seem that having your circles set upin large part would be enough, but it’s not because the next level G+ also includes what those people are posting and engaging with too – and it’s not all what you want (or have indicated by your history).


    It’s like knowing your neighbor based on front yard activity (like a yard sale), but knowing nothing about the parties they throw in the backyard.  The people that go to those parties are part of their history too, but not yours.  This is why you can still see crazy shit in the “what’s hot” stream, though in practice, that stream is now much better attuned to your taste than before.

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  11. That’s one of the problems for sure!  If you did use G+ set up for topic driven output, as it’s designed for, then you immediately had one of two problems: either you have “no history” because you posted privately (anything less than extended), or you posted public and (unless you are religious about hash tag use) watered down the ability of G+ to categorize what you are most likely to want & interact with.


    Clearly the masses went with public, as that is the one that left the door open to being seen (and circled) by people who came in and used topic searches to find posts of interest.  So introducing the Communities brought that back into balance.  Now it just has to all be integrated.


    I’m convinced that one of the keys to this new set up is the 3 hash-tag limit that G+ uses, in something analogous to “efficiency of the Dealer” at a card table in a casino.  That and the idea of limiting your posts, which you commented that you saw an improvement on after doing – I did too.  The people that literally post every link to every science news item were popular 1 year ago, but now I find them to be falling way behind.  There’s just simply no way G+ is going to show all your posts if you do that – everybody gets the same # of “cards” to start with. 


    Those people have very low engagement/post scores, which suggests to G+ that it’s just fluff.  The new system needs to see who engages with your post, and what their primary (3 #) topics are too.  When these 2 areas have good overlap, you’re going to be happy with G+.

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  12. I started getting traction when the communities came, and I started working to create the ones I wanted to see. Probably because of communities, I got a boost with the dynamic SUL’s in April. System now (rightly) favours people who add value, rather than just post links. I am still digesting and planning my post for tomorrow. Being better with perspective is important than being the first.

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  13. Malthus John – thanks for your comments/suggestions. As someone who’s been on G+ since the very beginning, and posting public for almost that whole time, I sometimes feel like the folks who reminisce to their kids about the good old days ;). I’m pretty selective in who I circle – I only circle 1 for every 150 or so who circle me because having been on the Science SUL a lot of random people circle you – but I still have 1000+ folks circled. I actually like having a wide range of posts coming into my stream – it’s like an intellectual smorgasbord – so ideally all the posts from all those folks would be there without me having to visit each person’s page (even 1000 is too many). I could try the collator options, but would rather G+ trusted us to make our own decisions about what we find interesting.


    Communities don’t really cut it for me because, in general, they just increase. the noise and mask the signal (ala Buddhini Samarasinghe ‘s recent post): people post random links with no context, and post the same thing in multiple places since it’s not always clear how the communities differ (there’s ScienceSunday, 2 SoG+ communities, STEM on G+, and myriad specialized science communities; in the photography world, where I also live, it’s even more chaotic). I think that’s where the value in a curated page like ScienceSunday falls – we select posts to share and add information and context – and I think Chris Robinson ‘s similar movement in the direction we’ve taken at SciSun (e.g., with moderator’s choice, and science content hangouts) will be good to differentiate this SoG+ community and add more value.


    The private communities, like top community owners, 100k+ users, etc have been useful in helping address some of the common issues that affect more active users in those groups, and so far that’s where I’ve seen the communities do the most good for folks like me so far – but those end up being more like our old concept of circles. I think the approach Chris has been advocating is interesting because it’s a way of combining the open access/open publishing advantages of communities with the more curated and content-rich advantages of the curated pages. If it works, could be a model for other communities, which would be a + for everyone.


    Just my 2 cents (Canadian, so that’s like 2.07 cents for us ;)).

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  14. I almost feel guilty about having this conversation here, but I guess the circle is out – so mission accomplished.  Plus this circle is about people who want to improve the quality of science posts and engagement.


    Does anyone here still frequent any science forums online?  I used to, but haven’t in a few years, and wonder if they have dropped a lot in participation.  That is essentially the direction I think G+ communities should go – we need a landing page that is not a free for all topic catcher for one.  And when a new comment is made, it would bump a topic to the top again.  I can’t understand why this hasn’t been done.


    One problem with this whole topic is this is social media, after all.  The history is basically all about “me” – that is what set it apart from online forums, where it was 100% topic driven.


    The days are not far off that all of these places will appear and function more seamlessly as “one” for users, like email does now.  This will almost certainly be accomplished through ‘apps’, or other open platform software – and that will change the dynamics of having one mega-corporation in charge of the whole thing, contrary to FB or Google’s (apparent) desires.

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  15. Malthus John Perhaps, G+ will become more like Flipboard in usage, or get reduced to another mag there, at least for the masses. Remember the early days of online chat rooms where we made friends from across the globe with the enthusiasm of kids. We lived through it again in Google plus (before that in Facebook, but there relationship never went beyond farmville or Mafia war games.

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