Google Plus is using its Notifications feature to teach people to NOT return to Google Plus.

How can that be? People get confused and uncomfortable in social networking  when people they don’t know, and don’t feel like they have a commonality with, try to add them as friends. Yet, these “friend”/circle adds will be the bulk of your Notification items if you’re a light user of Google Plus.

And then Google Plus makes it even worse by only showing you a bunch of first names you may not recognize… So you really feel like these are people you don’t know and are unconnected to. And you need to make another click to get details.

Normally, a well-designed Notifications system will increase repeat usage and create a habit of checking for the newest notification. Instead, Google Plus has managed to support Anti-Habit Creation… avoiding checking Notifications. Facebook has a better design because the “Friend/Circle Adding” is in a separate notification section, and the right-most notifications are generally things you’re interested in, including people confirming you as a friend, mentioning you in a post, writing a response to your post, etc.

Adrian Scott is a pioneer of social networking, having founded Ryze, was a founding investor in Napster, and currently helps companies build & ship technology and grow their metrics. Follow him on Twitter