Sunday, July 03, 2011

Friend Recommendation in Google+

When I clicked on 'Find and Invite' in Google+, the results recommended me Larry Page and Sergey Brin among the people I know. Interestingly, the page recommended Larry ahead of Sergey by seven people. (The number of people between Larry and Sergey was higher initially, but it decreased to seven by the time I was writing this post as I added some people as 'Friends'). Obviously, I was intrigued! I have never met any of them before. Moreover, Facebook has never recommended Mark Zuckerberg as a friend to me. So what is going on?

On a bit of digging, I found that one of my Google+ friends has them in their friend's list. So that explains why Google+ is recommending them as the people I know. But why would it rank Larry ahead of Sergey for me? -:) May be, because at this time, there are approximately 12,000 people who have Larry in their circles, but only ~9,000 people who have Sergey in their circles. Surely, Larry is more popular than Sergey :)

But does Google+ only recommends people to me who are friends with my existing friends? The answer is no. Not surprisingly, it seems to use multiple strategies. One strategy is obviously, 'Friends of Friends' for recommendation. That seems to be the easiest approach. The other strategy seems to be a 'Gmail scan'. Without scanning my Gmail, it will never have recommended me people who are not even on Google+. This is an interesting strategy because there are several options on how to implement it. One option is that Google+ scans my inbox for conversations. That is the easiest option. The other option is to scan my inbox for emails from people that are on the same listserv as I am. Finally, the third strategy seems to be a bit of mystery. I will call this the 'Other' strategy. Google+ recommended me people that are not 'Friends of Friends', and with whom I have not exchanged an email and I think that we are not in the same listserv.

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