The “circles” model has always been a bit confusing on Google+. While it works great for posting content to a specific “circle” of your friends, it wasn’t an effective way to get a group of people together for ongoing conversations. With the launch of the new “communities” feature on Google+, that problem has been solved.
The new feature is clearly modeled after Facebook’s “groups”, but takes it a bit further. You can create public or private communities, easily set notifications per community, and they’ve just updated their mobile app to take advantage of this new feature. In addition, the spam controls have been well-designed — I’ve seen a few posts appear in communities in which I moderate that say “This post might be spam” and give you the option to remove it before it goes live.
It’s ultimately not much different from Facebook Groups, but it fills a substantial hole in the list of features on Google+.
Here’s a quick video showing how it works:
The best way to experience this new feature is to simply go out there and try it for yourself. Visit the main Communities page and search around, or join one of the existing communities on topics like Evernote, WordPress, Google Earth, Parenting and thousands of others.