The problem with Google+ used to be that joining it gave you nothing. You needed to circle some people. Those people could potentially read what you wrote. For them to actually see it in their stream, however, they would have to circle you back. Alternatively, you could just post for all to see, but that doesn’t announce yourself to others, thus they won’t circle you, thus they’ll never see you in their stream.
Now, if you keep posting to your circles, and somebody new stumbles upon your profile, they see nothing. If you did not any public posts, then there’s nothing to see. That’s why people kept saying that you had to list your interests on your profile for others to figure out which circle to put you in. Hopefully you would in turn—based on their posts you saw—put them in the appropriate circles. This situation was better if you posted publicly, but it also tended to annoy some people: they just want to see posts on a particular topic, not see your political ranting and all that.
I sent Google feedback saying that I wanted to announce some of my circles on my profile such that people would automatically know how to sign up for them. Instead, we got Communities.
I think that in addition of working like instant forums, Communities can work just as I intended. Here’s how: Pick a circle like RPG. Instead of posting to the circle, post to the RPG Community. Tell others that this is what you are doing, eg. on your profile. The others add you to their circle and join the RPG Community. Now they’ll see your RPG posts without ever going to the Community. In fact, neither you nor they will ever “look at the Community”. All you’re doing is tagging the posts. This works because if you have circled people and they post in Communities both of you joined, you’ll see their posts in your stream. This way, the simple membership expresses interest in a circle. What do you think? It sounds like an excellent solution to me.
The benefit is that you, as the author, don’t need to circle your readers. At the same time, newcomers can go to the Communities, check out who writes interesting stuff and circle the authors. It’s no longer symmetric.
The drawback is that now all your posts are effectively public—and obviously so since you posted to a public Community. If you want to draw a thin line, you can switch of the setting “Show your Google+ communities posts on the Posts tab of your Google+ profile.” Unfortunately, this also stops announcing your interests unless you link the communities you are posting to from your profile.
There is also the additional drawback of potentially annoying the people that want to treat communities like a forum. I’ll have to try it in order to know for sure.
Yet another drawback is that people that have me circled but haven’t joined any of the Communities I am using will not see those posts. I used to post to the RPG Circle, but now I’m posting to the RPG Community. If they are in my RPG Circle but haven’t joined the RPG Community, they won’t see the post unless they visit my profile. Well, to be honest I haven’t posted much of anything at all, but that would be the plan.
My current RPG communities:
I don’t think joining communities for systems I don’t use or Google+ Hangouts makes much sense (since I get to play a lot offline).
My current software oriented Communities:
Any other suggestions?