I really want someone to provide a viable alternative to Facebook.

This week Google launched Google Plus. Before long I got an e-mail from someone inviting me to a “Hangout”. Clicking the link took me to a page that told me I wasn’t allowed in. Clicking the link to unsubscribe from such e-mails took me to a 404 page. That’s not social networking, that’s spam. I flagged it as such.

Also, a few weeks ago someone flagged my Google Profile as violating community standards. All the information in it was accurate, there was no swearing, no nudity, and no indication of what specifically they were objecting to… So I clicked the link to have it reviewed again. Back it came, rejected again, no explanation, with my photo removed. I tried a different photo, clicked to have it reviewed again. Rejected again. So I deleted the whole thing.

At that point, Latitude started failing on my Android phone. It turns out that there’s an undocumented dependency between having a Profile and using Latitude. So I created a blank private profile and submitted that. It was approved.

So this month Google told me I wasn’t allowed to post a useful public profile, invited me to a social networking service and then immediately told me to go away, and spammed me. This suggests to me that Google as an organization still doesn’t understand social networking.

I also tried to set up Friendika. After hitting three successive technical roadblocks and wading around in PHP internals for hours to try and debug them, I decided it just wasn’t very robust, and gave up. I mean, I’m not an idiot, I can deploy WordPress in minutes.

Earlier in the year I tried Diaspora. That seems to work, but so far nobody much seems to be using it. I’m giving it another try. Development progress seems to be relatively slow.

Update 2011-07-01

Well, I’m now in Google Plus. First impressions: It’s basically Diaspora, with an interface that’s more like Facebook. I still don’t see any value in wasting my time entering profile information until they fix their transparency issues, but it’s as good as Facebook for the things I use Facebook for–sharing links, posting occasional casual photos, and not much else.