Google+ has gotten me thinking about ways to control the signal-to-noise ratio on social networks. I've got a few more suggestions for them.

The term "signal-to-noise ratio", for anyone not familiar with it, refers, for example, to how much of the sound coming out of your stereo speakers is music (signal) vs. how much of it is static (noise).

On social networking sites, it's the same: signal is the stuff you want to read, and noise is stuff you don't -- for example, what your friend had for breakfast, local news from the neighborhood of somebody you're only interested in a business relationship with, half the stuff posted by someone who works in two niches, the 5 millionth blog post about Google+ (oops!).

One of the benefits of Google+Circles is that it's potential to improve your signal-to-noise ratio. By only sharing content with the people who you think will be interested in it, you're sending them less noise, and vice versa. And if you want to connect with people who mostly talk noise to you, you can put them in a Circle that you don't listen to much. (As I said yesterday, this would be more convenient if Google+ had Spheres.)

But there are ways Google+ could do even better. Here are my latest suggestions:

  • Google+ let's you "mute" a post, so that it won't keep popping up to the top of your Stream whenever someone adds a comment. This feature should have its own button instead of being buried in a drop down menu. The more people you'll follow, the more you'll want to use this, and the more you'll want it instantly accessible.
  • Enable the use of Circles not only to include groups who can view a post, but also to exclude groups. The main reason I want this is so that I can share things publicly (so that people who aren't in my Circles can see them) without adding noise to the Streams of people who I don't think would be interested. For example, I'd like to be able to share business-related content publicly, but shield my family from the noise by excluding them. This feature needn't block my family from seeing the content -- it could just collapse it down to a small "Antone shared something that he doesn't think you'd be interested in" indicator that they could click to view it if they wish.
  • Enable tagging of posts and filtering based on tags. For example, if you're following somebody who posts business and personal stuff publicly, or posts about multiple niches, if they could tag each post as "personal", "niche a", "niche b", you could set up filters to block (or collapse, as in the previous suggestion) things that are "noise" to me. Perhaps the tags for each post could be listed along side it, and clicking a tag would bring up the option to filter it out. Since you might be interested in, for example, personal posts from family members, but not from business colleagues, each filter would apply (by default, at least) only to the one person.