After moving my “essential” stuff (Mail, Contacts, Calendar) away from my old personal Google account, I wanted to clean up a little more and thought that it would be a good idea to merge my Google+ profile (that I had been using with a separate account, so it wouldn’t clutter my personal account) back with the other account. Thankfully, Google provides a tool for that as part of the “Takeout” services: the Google+ Circles Transfer. Can I have a box for that?
After a wait of 7 days (in case you change your mind?) the circles transfer started on July 4th in the early afternoon, and was completed on July 6th. For a period of 48 hours, there’s “limited functionality” according to Google, which means both profiles (source and destination) are locked. When I tried to log in however (just checking if it maybe wouldn’t take that long;-) I was greeted with this message:
Notice the red bar. It appears that this message is automatically displayed when a profile is locked, as is the case during a circles transfer, but quite obviously, it’s highly misleading, and should be replaced with a more fitting message (after the 48 hour transfer time, it simply went away, without the necessity to “Take Action”).
After the transfer was complete, I noticed that the moderator/owner status in communities, and community membership was not transferred to the target profile/account account at all – major bummer! Luckily, for the communities that I owned I had fellow members that were moderators long enough already, so that I could transfer ownership to them immediately; otherwise I would have had to wait 2 weeks before being able to transfer ownership from the old account to the new account. I also have to ask “invite only” communities for membership again now. That meant quite some switching back and forth between the two accounts until I caught everything.
The entire circle configuration (which circles are shown in the stream, which are “Your circles” etc.) is not transferred, either. I had to go through the configuration for each of my circles and adjust it (I’m using a setup with a dedicated “Reading” circle, since the normal “Home” stream does not reliably show all posts, at all, even though it is called “All” – I just hate it when some computer algorithm decides what I get to see, and what not; same reason why I recommend lists for using Facebook).
I was aware that no content (posts, photos, reviews) would be transferred to the new profile, and that was ok, but I wanted to transfer my photo albums from the old account to the new one later (via the old Picasa Web Albums transfer tool) but when I clicked on the link in the confirmation email, all I got was a “500 Internal Server Error” message when signing in with the target account. It doesn’t seem to work anymore.
One of the biggest oversights IMHO is that the profile is not updated in any Shared Circles – a day after the circle transfer, over 200 people had added the old profile to their circles, because it is contained in some shared circles. From my point of view, if an app like circlecount.com can determine the shared circles in which a certain profile is included, it shouldn’t be too hard to update that with the circles transfer tool (it sounds like a search and replace for the profile number to me;-).
After all these glitches had been fixed manually, there was only one thing left: downgrade the old profile, ie. remove the Google+ functionality from it (I will eventually delete it altogether because I don’t need two profiles, but for the moment, I’ve replaced the profile picture with an “Old Profile” info text and a link to the new profile – just in case anyone who added it cares, which I doubt, but anyway…). After selecting the downgrade option, there’s a big fat info text (before commencing the delete), and it said that no photos would be deleted – however, after confirming the deletion, the entire “Photos from Posts” album had been emptied (except for one post shared in a community), which confused me. I sure had deleted some of the posts, but it seems that deletion of the Google+ posts automatically deleted the photos that were shared in them.
I’m glad that I could transfer my followers/readers/friends that way, but the rest of the experience leaves quite a lot to be desired. It’s these little things that make a difference, and Google pretty much fails to deliver a good experience with that transfer service. Yes, one could say “better than nothing” but hey, if there’s so many quirks, who tested that stuff? Everything’s a beta, and the users are the QA? You betcha…
Summary: circles transfer is not recommended.