Google+ Debuts Suggested User List, Says Not Just for Popular Kids

Google+ is piloting a Twitter-style suggested users list that Google VP Bradley Horowitz says includes those who "literally engage" people -- judged by reshares, +1s, comments and Hangouts -- and won't be dominated by the elite once personalized SULs roll out. Although Google+ does not have a list for every interest area just yet, Bradley says this is a "bug" and hints that it will eventually become comprehensive.

On the Google+ SUL: celebrities like Paris Hilton, Snoop Dogg and Taylor Swift but also popular travel photographer Trey Ratcliff (nearly 81K followers) and nonprofit expert Beth Kanter (463 followers). Categories include broad topics like entertainment, music, news, politics and sports. A number of celebrities joined Google+ in its first month and Google recently added verified accounts.

Bradley responded to questions and speculation in a Google+ post early this morning after tweeting yesterday that for the SUL pilot he wanted to talk to people with 100K+ followers on Twitter.

Twitter faced criticism over its SUL in early 2010 because it wasn't clear why certain people were chosen, included people who were already popular and didn't deliver the increase in followers that were expected [ current Twitter SUL by category here ].

On whether the "rich will get richer" Bradley responds, "Not necessarily. In order to retain a position on the list, a user will need to continue creating compelling content."

Google has struggled with how much "human touch" should influence the results of its main search algorithm, enough to spur government  investigations into its search practices [ see our story ].

But Bradley makes clear that the SUL is not all algo because the service is still so young: "As such, in addition to algorithmic ranking, we’ve seeded the list with some folks we knew were either already creating great content on Google+, and/or were known to be interesting on other systems. Consider them hypotheses we’ll test."

Bradley later linked his post to one from Alida Brandenburg, a Pandora employee who made the Google+ SUL and responded to criticisms of the SUL in general.

Alida wrote, "I ended up on there and I don't even have 6,000 followers. That may seem high compared to the average user, but then you put that against people listed in the same category as me, like +Dane Cook , +Paris Hilton, and +William Shatner, and it's clear that this was not simply a numbers game. I'm small fries compared to these users."

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