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"Circles" were a feature of Google+ which made these things possible, from a given user's perspective:

  • I can categorize people I follow
  • I can choose a particular category of people to "read" at any given time
  • I can choose a particular category of people to be allowed to view something I post
  • I can choose a particular category of people to notify of something I post

In other words:

  • by viewing a circle, you could see a list of users and a stream of content from just those users
  • those users could be notified whenever you posted something to the circle
    • This is a bit like a hashtag that someone else creates and can uniquely curate (good) but from which you can't unsubscribe (not so good).
  • those users could be given exclusive access to whatever you posted to the circle

What they don't let you do:

  • categorize incoming posts (so you don't have to include or exclude everything someone lets you see)
  • let people categorize themselves (so they can determine which of my posts they want to see)

Admin duties for a circle could not be shared, to the best of my recollection.

See also communities, for a G+ feature which addressed those missing features.