This was inevitable. And I think it is a bold step forward into something awesome. Google+ communities. Could this be the next big circle? In many ways, yes. In some strong ways, no.
I strongly suspect the reason for cuommunities to happen within Google+ is based on how people use Google+ right now. Since most people don’t really have the full gamut of real life friends there right now, a lot of the activity is happening around community based interests. For example, at least once a week I see someone sharing a circle of ‘scientists’, or ‘googlers’, or ‘entrepreneurs’, or ‘developers’. You get the idea. Most of what I’ve posted is tech stuff. And now I mostly post to my developers, and ‘geeks and techies’ circle. More importantly, when you add someone to a circle, you see all their posts. Not just their posts on the particular interest you followed them for. Not so with communities. People sharing to a community share to it because they want to talk about their interest. This is why I pondered the question, could communities be the next big circle. After all, Google lets you share directly to the community only.
But what about the strong ways it isn’t the next big circle. Here’s the problem. When it comes to our circles of people we’ve found in an interest, we know who we’ve got. We know we’ve got passionate people and not fanboys. Even when we take a shared circle, if there’s noise in there from certain people we can remove them from the circle because it’s our circle. And that’s the key point. Our circles are for us. A community is, well, a community. Like it or not, the Dota2 community is going to pick up LoL fan boys and they’ll come along to troll about how the hero that’s been adapted from Dota 1 is just a copy of their precious LoL hero (while in fact their hero too has been adapted from Dota 1). And when that happens, there’s nothing you can do about it. Sure, the community manager can kick them out (I hope) but in the end, trolls come in greater numbers than community managers. Private groups isn’t an answer to this. It may be really high quality content, but the openness of having someone unknown come in to your world and discovering great stuff and in turn sharing more awesomeness will be sacrificed.
Thus, depending on how the communities feature continues to evolve, it’ll be interesting to see whether it becomes a place of continued awesomeness, or a long thread of YouTube like comments