Even though you’re on Google+, which is optimized for viral sharing, your conversation can’t be shared on the Google+ system because you selected “Lock this post.”
Because you created the original message in the conversation, you retain all Ninja powers. For example, you can edit and change the original post all you want, while others in the conversation cannot.
You can also edit and change all your comments. You can’t edit, but you can delete, the comments of other people.
Perhaps most useful of all, you can delete the whole thread when the conversation is over. This deletion is absolute and irrevocable, and erases any trace that the conversation ever took place.
Like a Ninja, you were never there!
But wait! One more Ninja power: You can retain a copy of the conversation for yourself forever on Google+, and make it only appear to vanish.
Here’s how to do it: Use the post’s drop-down menu and select “Unlock this post,” then share the post only with yourself. Delete the original. Once you’ve done this, the post will vanish for the others but continue to be available to you.
If you want to make it even easier to find in the future, you can create a new Circle called “Ninja mail,” and add only yourself to that circle. When you share the post with yourself, instead share with the Ninja Mail circle. When you want to see all your Ninja Mail, just select that circle.
Everyone should make their own decisions about when to use regular email and when to go full Ninja.
Here are some scenarios where Ninja Mail might be better than email:
* A private conversation with your spouse while you’re both at work.
* A brainstorming session where you feel people will be freer with ideas if they know the conversation isn’t “owned” by the company and can’t be forwarded within the company email system.
* Quick-and-dirty crowd-sourcing of text where you want to retain control, but simply get feedback. (I used Ninja Mail for this column to get feedback from my friends on Google+, for example.)
* Conversations related to career moves that don’t involve your current company.
* Communication when you suspect that hackers or unscrupulous IT personnel are snooping on email.
* Any communication where you don’t want a record to exist after you’re done.
Ninja mail is not email. It’s a Google+ post where the invitation to interact is sent via email.
When recipients use Gmail in a browser, it feels to them exactly like email, and they may be freaked out by your mysterious Ninja power to change and delete what’s in their inbox.
Some Google+ users have “notifications” turned off, so they may not get your initial invitation. If they don’t reply, just copy the URL of the post and email it to them via regular email.
Those who have Google+ accounts under different email addresses need to be re-invited with their Google+ address before they can comment.
If you send Ninja Mail to an @Facebook.com address, Facebook will probably “hide” the message in a subfolder of the Messages folder called “Other.”
Even though you selected “Lock this post” to prevent sharing on Google+, recipients can still copy and paste the thread or capture it with a screen capture. In other words, it’s not a secure way to interact with people you don’t trust. Ninja Mail is not appropriate for some kinds of email, including official company business where the company wants you to use their email system.
The solution to all these caveats is a little trial and error, and also open communication with the recipients about what you’re trying to accomplish. Once everyone is on board, it’s great to take conversations “offline” into a private space with powerful capabilities far beyond regular email.
The bottom line is that Google+ isn’t just a social network. It’s a powerful communication system that for some conversations is vastly superior to email.
And Google+ can be especially great for those Ninja-like conversations where you want to appear out of nowhere, execute your plan while retaining total control, then vanish into thin air.