Check Your Google+ Tags, Folks

Some recent blog posts led me to read this fascinating post by Kameron Hurley on women's roles in history and fantasy fiction. Here's a brief excerpt:

And when we talk about “people” we don’t really mean “men and women.” We mean “people and female people.”  We talk about “American Novelists” and “American Women Novelists.” We talk about “Teenage Coders” and “Lady Teenage Coders.”

Now go read the whole thing, I'll wait.

I enjoyed the post, and I wanted to share it on my Google+ page. So I linked it, only to learn fairly quickly that Google+ has added some kind of new automated tagging system. Here's how the link looked after posting it:

Notice the highlighted word in the top right corner?

I posted an article about women and sexism, and it got tagged, without notifying me or giving me any input in the decision, as #Cow.

Now it's obvious that this happened because the word "cattle" appears in the title of the linked post. I saw the tag right away and was able to delete it. But I think this shows a potential problem with automated tagging.

If I'd been in a hurry I could easily have missed the tag, making it look as if I approved of labeling the article in that way. (Looking back over my recent G+ activity, I did notice a second nonsensical tag.)

I can understand why they'd want things tagged and categorized, but if a post is going out under my name then those decisions shouldn't be made for me. I'm sure I'm competent enough at sounding like a jerk on the internet without Google trying to help that along.


  1. Yikes! I haven't really used Google+ all that much, but I don't know if I ever would have noticed that if I did.

    That article you linked was excellent, by the way. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I really liked the article, that's partly why I got so "oh no they didn't" when I saw that the G+ link might have been interpreted as me calling that blogger a cow.


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