It's safe to say that the earlier accounts have a decent number of followers (circlers) and still get passed around in shared circles today. Of course, I was quite excited about the Google+ account (actually, circle) transfer tool once it was finally announced in July 2012, and took advantage of it to merge the middle account to my current one. The important part to me was that it brought all those who had me circled — my "circlers" — from the old account to the current one. Reconnecting is fun!
That meant I had two accounts remaining: the very first one, and my current Apps one. No problem, I thought; I'd be able to merge the very early account to it as well, by using the transfer tool a second time, in six months — as widely reported by tech press and blogs (ahem), and as documented in Google's own help file for the process as recently as February 13, 2013, the date of this post (click these screenshots to enlarge):
|"You won't be able to use this tool with these accounts again for 6 months."|
My first transfer completed on July 21, 2012, and I waited until February 1, 2013, a bit more than six months, to try to merge the circlers from the other pre-Apps account. I went through the process, and saw this during the transfer process:
|"You can transfer your connections to or from a Google Account only once every 6 months."|
Well, great, it has been more than six months; let's do this! I got to the final screen of the process, and...
|"...you won't be able to use this tool with these accounts again for 6 months..."|
"The target account migrated already and cannot migrate again right now."
...uh, what? OK, I thought, let's give it some time... I waited a while, and tried it again on February 11. Still no go; still the same error message. What could possibly be wrong here?
I posted to Google+ asking for someone behind the Google+ Help account to investigate. The response was as follows; emphasis added by me:
"Apologies for the confusion - accounts that have participated in a migration previously are unable to migrate ever again. We'll take steps to ensure this is clearly communicated during circle migration, as we can see that some resources suggest that this restriction is lifted after 6 months."Where "some resources" refers to the initial announcement of the transfer tool, press coverage of the announcement, documentation for the tool, and even the screens guiding the user through the tool itself. That is, everything ever posted that said a word about whether this tool could be used again. Those "some resources". There is nothing on the whole Web that I can find suggesting that the Google+ circle transfer tool is a one-shot deal... well, until the response above.
I followed-up to my original Google+ post explaining this as new information, which contradicted all public communication about the transfer tool. Was this an oversight when implementing the tool? A six-month lapse in judgment? Or a change in policy that conveniently wasn't mentioned until someone actually tried to use the transfer tool a second time? (I certainly hope not the last option.)
Two days later, I still haven't heard anything else from the usual suspects who tend to handle this sort of community relations. That's odd, because real bugs tend to get pretty quick response from some of the good folks in G+ management and development; they're usually quite a pleasure to interact with.
To say the least, I'm disappointed. I now have two Google+ accounts, one an orphan that will never re-connect itself to the place I actually post content and comment on others' posts. There's a lot of early adopters connected to that orphaned account, and while I may have them circled in my current account, I can't see their non-public posts in my primary account, as they don't have the "real me" circled.
I can still hope that I'll be able to update this post, to say that Google actually followed through on their original promise, rather than broke it permanently. Time will tell.
[Update 18-Feb: The plot thickens! In an not-quite-related post, one of the G+ developers said "[Todd] ran into issues with a second merge and we're working on fixing that." See, I told you I was hopeful...!]