Google Plus Comment Notifications Algorithm Updated

yonatan-zunger According to Google+ Chief Architect Yonatan Zunger, Google+ will now send you notifications for new comments in large comment threads, but only when a new algorithm determines it is likely you’d want to see such notifications Google+ used to stop notifying you when a comment thread in which you had participated reached 100 comments.

In some cases this was a good thing. Some threads of popular posts end up being little more than dozens and dozens of “nice post!” comments. Getting notified of all those is nothing but annoying. So Google had made an arbitrary rule to cut off notifications after a thread reached 100 comments.

However, many users had complained about ending up in the dark about comment discussions they wanted to keep up with. Perhaps they had been engaging actively and then were later dismayed to find out the discussion had gone on without them.

So Yonatan sat down at his awesome new keyboard–which he claims practically called out to him, “You must code!”–to craft a new algorithm. Now you will get notifications of comments beyond 100 in a thread, but only under conditions where it is likely that you would want to see more comments.

According to Yonatan, some of the criteria in the new comment notification algorithm are:

  • Your comment was one of the last 10 comments (approximately, there are subtleties here) on the thread, or
  • You were explicitly +mentioned by the commenter, or
  • It’s your thread, or
  • We have some other reason to believe that this particular comment or commenter is going to be especially important to you, or
  • A bunch of other relatively rare but important corner cases.

He says that he first rule is the most important one if you’re on a generic conversation.

What do you think about algorithm-izing comment notifications? Is this a good compromise? Where else could Google+ or other social networks use this kind of noise filtering?

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Google Plus Comment Notifications Algorithm Updated by

Mark is Director of Digital Outreach for Virante Inc. Mark helps businesses build strategies to increase brand influence and attract natural links and social signals. He has a special reputation as an expert on Google+ and Google Authorship. A former teacher, Mark has worked directly in Internet marketing since 2005, but has been involved in social media and online community formation since the mid 1990s. When not helping Virante clients improve their online presence, Mark participates in competitive storytelling, plays with a Dixieland street band, and (surprise) spends more time on the web.


  1. Tessie L'Amour says:

    I think it is a good idea, especially if you are actively engaged in the conversation (commented in last 10 rule). The best thing about the algorithm is that now that it is in place, they can tweak it as need be.

    The one other area of notifications where an algorithm would be well suited is that where an individual plusses dozens of posts in a row. I have woken up to 90 notifications, with about 80 being from a single person’s plusses. I think the notification feature could detect a series of plusses and aggregate them after about 10 (i.e., so and so gave a +1 on thirty additional posts).

  2. It is a good idea if the algorithm succeeds in guessing which comments you will find interesting. Personally, I like to review all comments but do not want to get a notification for each one. One solution that works for me is using Engagio ( to manage Google+ conversations. It keeps the the full thread of my conversations in the Engagio inbox. They have also introduced a new feature that allows you to follow conversations without the need to participate in them. Also, you can search conversations in your inbox which is another nice feature.

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