Shared publicly  - 
In a previous post on the realnames controversy, I suggested that it tangles together a large number of issues that Google probably shouldn't try to solve all at once. Now I'm going to try to name and tag all these issues as an aid to discussion. This list may be revised as I receive comments.

Another point of this exercise is that many of these issues are orthogonal to each other and can be addressed with technical and social mechanisms that are separable. Some are purely about execution while others reach into philosophy and values.

APPEALS: The appeals process after name rejection is obscure and quirky. There's a perception of one set of rules for employees and friends of Google and another for eveyone else.

SPLATTER: Rejection of a G+ name sometimes seems to disable access to other Google services. It is unclear why or when this happens.

TAKEOUT: Some have complained that name rejection disables the takeout service, so their data gets jailed.

NAMEFORM: G+ doesn't cope well with names not in personal+surname or surname+personal form. Admins have shown a tendency to mistake these for forbidden handles and can them.

BRANDS: There's a felt need for people to be able to declare stable, transparent aliases ("personal brands"). This is the Lady Gaga/Skud/ESR case I've already discussed at

ANONYMITY: There are people for whom being traceable to their meatspace identities is dangerous - political dissidents under repressive governments, members of sexual minorities, stalking victims, some LEOs. They have a legitimate need for handles.

PSEUDONYMITY: For other people, handles are a means of identity construction for one or multiple social roles. They wouldn't mind per-role reputation tracking but want the freedom to experiment without consequences to their meatspace identity. Unfortunately this can shade into...

HOOLIGANS: For still others, handles operate as a mechanism to enable or license antisocial behavior (this is predicted by Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory). The problem this raises is how to suppress HOOLIGANS while enabling ANONYMITY and PSEUDONYMITY.

These issues don't have as many tight couplings as one might assume. APPEALS, SPLATTER, TAKEOUT and NAMEFORM are execution issues that I think many people have mistaken for Google policy stances - better communication from Google would probably resolve them and indeed some may be fixed already. NAMEFORM is probably the trickiest of these, not for values reasons but because of large cultural variation in forms of naming.

BRANDS can be separated from the execution issues and from the ANONYMITY/PSEUDONYMITY/HOOLIGANS group. The infrastructure required to solve BRANDS could later be combined with permission bits to address ANONYMITY/PSEUDONYMITY/HOOLIGANS, so it probably makes sense to address this first.

The serious values conflicts are all, I think, in the ANONYMITY/PSEUDONYMITY/HOOLIGANS group. I may try to analyze these further in another post.

+Vic Gundotra +Bradley Horowitz Are you listening?
Owen Blacker's profile photoDavid Brenner's profile photoKara Moon's profile photoAndres Soolo's profile photo
The association between hooligans and pseudonymity is illusory. With all due respect to the fine young men at Penny Arcade, they're confusing identity and accountability.

The solution to hooliganism is to make people accountable beyond a single account. Don't let people sign up again after they've been banned.
On the contrary. The association between online depersonalization aided by handles and flaming/trolling is quite well documented. +Peter da Silva, as an old USENET hand you should know better than to deny it.
I'm not claiming that the effect doesn't exist, I'm arguing that the cause is not how people are identified, it's whether they risk anything by their behavior. Consider the case of Portal. Portal was a horrible mess on Usenet because there wasn't any association between handles and portal accounts. Richard Sexton wrote a classic post asking that Portal create that association, so that Portalites who were problems could be killfiled and otherwise dealt with. This wasn't because we wanted their real names... the portal login names were just handles too. This was just so they had a persistent and accountable identifier.

And, again, as an old Usenet hand I know that using a real name, or a real looking name, doesn't keep people from being flamers and trolls. Most of the biggest flamers and trolls on Usenet were using their real names. They just weren't accountable because the distributed nature of Usenet and their connections at multiple sites meant they couldn't get kicked off.
The division is PSEUDONYMITY and BRANDS on one side, and ANONYMITY and HOOLIGANS on the other.
I remember being struck, many years ago, by how much more courteous the Rialto, the SCA Usenet group, was than most others. I think the reason was that the people posting there were quite likely to at some point meet in realspace, or at least have friends in common. So bad behavior online had effects on realspace reputations that mattered to people.

I don't know to what extent that observation would generalize to other usenet groups or different sorts of online interactions.
Still, for most people using a real name or at least a stable digital identity means that by trolling, they will at least be risking their reputation. For the classic, persistent troublemakers that doesn't matter. But at least in a system like this where listening to someone is an opt-in thing and faking communications from someone else is relatively much harder than in the Usenet, that has an effect. In particular there might be a tipping point where the tenor of the whole forum/network starts to moderate troublemaking.
Allen Gwinn wrote it actually, called me and asked to help to get other poeple to post it. Rissa had the finest artistic execution of it. (Oh, look, another well known handle).

" The association between hooligans and pseudonymity is illusory" - I wouldn't say this.

rec.ponds, that I created in the 80s has been usable for over a decade because of shape-shifting trolls and Google unwillingness to do anything about their accont holders. When xxxxx was a VP there I asked him about this and he said that usenet was a sewer and there's no point wasting soap cleaning it and that Google has a very low priority assigned to Usenet surmised as "don't know, don't care".

I'm really leery of psuedonyms, but recognize the obvious "good" ones; not that this is because of reputation, that is a psuedo with a reputation or history is fine, many times better than a real name, and that it's new ones or ones that change quickly that are "an issue".
Oh, andI think there's one excellent reason for Google to insist on something "real" in the names: they're just building the network and much of it is being manually imported from existing sites. Having real names makes people more easily recognizable, which probably eases the transition.
yes, the main pb is in anonymity/pseudonymity/hooligans.

The point is that It has be thought about as a continuum, not as three separated groups.
e.g. A worker may use a pseudo to be anonymous to his boss's power on his career. Political activists can be seen as hooligans by their democratic governments...

I'd say that once the first points you figured out will be solved, this last (and bigger ?) one has to be solved case per case.

Hard job ? but hey, shouldn't it be the one Google should spend its money for ?
What +Richard Sexton said. PSEUDONYMITY encourages HOOLIGANISM because it lowers the social cost of acting out, whether or not there's a risk of getting kicked off.

Now, it may be that allowing PSEUDONYMITY with mechanisms to punish HOOLIGANISM is the better choice anyway. But denying there's a tradeoff and costs associated with that choice isn't helpful.
I've been discussing this among my persistent circle of online associates and I have another notion that so far no one really buys. Since Google's core business is their data mining to target ads, wouldn't it make sense for them to want to increase the reliability that one user_id equals one real human being? Could this whole handle business be a bit of a distraction from the real issue, which is data cleansing?

If one uses a real name on an account, this seems to me it would increase the likelihood that they are using the associated Google products (GMail, gCal, Voice, etc) in their lives in a way that increases the usability from the data mined there. If they insist on some sort of standard here, be it strict real-names, or something more moderate like ESR proposes. they are beefing up the predictive power of their advertising targeting.

I mean, who uses an obnoxious handle to make airline reservations or conduct online commerce?
+Eric Raymond this "mechanisms to punish HOOLIGANISM" could rely on users, with a kind of "report as hooliganism" button.
I'd say that a network with no place for pseudonymity is just bad for social innovation. Wich means people can easily - at low social cost - criticize what exists (in any fields - politics, business, culture, personality), and people can easily - at low social cost - try new ways...
A compromise? Let "fake IDs" on, but identify them as fake (red instead of blue names?) and give me the option of never seeing a red anonymous name in my stream. Too cowardly to use your name, then I'm too lazy to read your post. Fair enough. For that matter put "corporate" accounts in green, let me filter out those spammers too. Unless specifically placed in one of my circles, or something like that. I see no point in a binary solution of yes/no.
+Richard DeWald I also think it's all about data mining, from google point of vue. The point is they have to make a tradeoff with our social needs, we customers/users...
At the moment, you can report any initial post as abuse, and on your own posts, any comment as abuse.
What's missing, is the possibility to report any comment as abuse. I wouldn't advocate a button for it (too easy to "gang up" on someone) however.

Google can then check who is being reported by how many different users, and initiate an action.
Not at all. The Monster is making a perfect point; the old adage that "you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide" is something we should expect to hear from PATRIOT Act apologists, not seasoned technologists.
+The Monster is on a side trip, again, more all or nothing thinking, exactly the technique that will not solve the problem. Either I can stay out of social networking or I must have webcam in my bedroom is the wrong way to phrase it. Binary thinking just ... doesn't work. Like it or not, Mr Monster, its a market... If you don't want to participate in a privacy trade, fine, but don't be annoyed if others reciprocate with you, unless you bring something else to the table to trade, something thats really good, a lot better than "no one knows my name nahh naah". A perfect solution is to automate it... I'll trade you my meatspace name for yours, if the deal is off, no point in reading... Thats the core of my "color the real named blue and the fake ones red, and allow filtration by color" idea.
+Richard Sexton your rec.ponds example isn't about pseudonymity. Persistent pseudonyms aren't shapeshifting, they're not hopping from one identity to another to avoid accountability, they're maintaining a reputation under that identity. They are, in fact, BRANDS.

Banning obvious pseudonyms won't provide any protection against shapeshifting trolls, they'll just use WASPonyms instead. Putting people with persistent pseudonyms into the same pile as "shapeshifting trolls" is seriously missing the point.

It didn't matter whether the identity of a Portal user was their "real name" or not, it just mattered that it was stable. That's what was missing.
I haven't always agreed with Eric, but this is a well thought out discussion and I'm enjoying it. Plus the participants make me feel like we're back in USENET days.

Momements ago Scoble posted justifications for anonymity and examples of current sites doing a good job at it.

I view some of this as a trust model. A verified system option would work well for creating implicit trust. An anonymous handle should also be supported. Google has an interest (for legal reasons, plus their business needs) making sure that handle is matched to a real identity, but that does not have to be revealed to the public.

Facebook also had a policy against false identities.
Consider spamassassin tweakable filtering coefficients. My view of the privacy market might be:
Signed by a GPG key in the Debian ring of trust = +10 score
Plain ole named human being = +5 score
Anonymous = -5 score
Each +1 to a post earns it +1 points
Being in my circles earns +10 points
Being in my extended circle earns +6 points
If the score is positive, google completes the privacy market transaction and I see the post; anon, real name, GPG signed, whatever.
If the score is negative, google does not complete the privacy market trade transaction, thus I never see the post.
Somebody who loves to read anonymous posts, is free to change their anonymous score from -5 to +100. Someone who won't tolerate posts from people not proud enough to sign their name on them, might change their anonymous score from -5 to -100.
Make a market, let it solve the problem.
I think +Vince Mulhollon's proposal is sound in principle, but may be unusable because the "privacy trade" is too complex for most users to be able to model in their heads.
Richard DeWald is right -- they're staking everything on this because (IMHO) they're trying to turn into the identity service and this is the only way to do it. They've hooked you with all sorts of giveaways, and here's the end game. Reverse AOLing. Oh, and I fell for it, totally conscious I was. But the circles thing is beautiful. That's how identity should be. But I think they've sort of showed their hand too soon -- buy into this, and we control your everything. I'm still not sure if I'm ready to sign on that line. They're offering some beautiful stuff, but the downside is too expensive for me. (Yes, I use gmail, google phone, google docs, blogger, the whole 9 yards).
Oh, and I believe in pseudonyms. Having all your speech instantly attached to you for everyone in the universe until the end of time? What a horrible thing.
+Eric Raymond +Richard Sexton I'm arguing that pseudonymity as it is being used in the discussion of Google + is not the same as unaccountable anonymity, and does not lead to hooliganism. I have been in so many communities where pseudonyms are common or even universal, and so long as the people involved had skin in the game they were well behaved. Similarly, when people are using their real names but there's no consequences to bad behavior, there's no restraints.

That's what leads to hooliganism. Unaccountability. If you're using a persistent identity, which is what's at issue here, then it doesn't matter if that identity is a real name, or looks like a real name.

In the context of this discussion, pseudonyms are much much closer to BRANDS than ANONYMITY.
+Eric Raymond I think +Vince Mulhollon 's proposal might be easier for people to swallow/understand if it were part of a more generalized priority system for the news feed wherein low enough priority news/comments/etc. never get shown.
We have a very popular neighborhood blog here in Seattle ( which initially had a very lively discourse on all types of neighborhood gossip and politics, and plenty flamewars between pseudo-anonymous cowards (a site login was required, but realnames were not). Most of the negativity was simply curmudgeonly grumbling, which is very representative of the area. The site recently changed policy to force use of Facebook login to post any comments, because they were concerned about the perceived negativity of comments. Volume of comments and with it any semblance of public discourse and debate dropped immediately. Of course the flame wars stopped as well. But now controversial topics such as local homelessness, marijuana reform, politics, crime, neighborhood development, transit issues, get no comment at all where before they would have sparked heated debate. Linked to their public Facebook selves most people are only likely to comment positively on non-risky topics. Most comments now amount to: "Yay!"

Certainly in the public sense, there is a value to anonymous or pseudo-anonymous venues for discussion. It's Google's choice which way to go on this decision, and like many sites they will probably block anonymity for business reasons, public accountability, orderliness, and perhaps even national security.

I tend to prefer the freedom of community-policed posts and comments, such as Slashdot moderation, Wikipedia posts, or Craigslist flagging. As a social networking and blogging site I'm not sure where G+ fits into that realm, but I imagine if it had a reach of a few billion users it could be a pretty powerful forum for debate and an opportunity lost if all of that debate were non-anonymous.
They could require a real name, make the display of it optional, and allow a pseudonym as an option, which would be the public name/handle people would see. This seems so simple I must be missing something...
In particular, check that second link - Goblin's correspondence with the G+ abuse pseudonym (they're not using real names either) is quite amazing. The abuse person is all but asking him to make up a WASPonym. Funnily enough, his name is important to him, and he's refusing.
I like +Theodore Nordsieck 's idea because some sparks of mine need +100 if anything ever shows up, and others are like "eh".

One way to work around the excessive complexity issue is a 3-way switch / dropdown:
1) Privacy trading market pro-anonymous rules
2) Privacy trading market anti-anonymous rules
3) Privacy trading market custom rules
Default current users to #2 since that is the present mindset. New users have to select upon signup. Seems simple enough?

Another odd idea, oddly enough inspired by +The Monster is to allow identifiers other than name to be part of the privacy trading market... If he's not willing to use his name, but is willing to use his employer and job title, his little girl's school, his location, his cellphone number, or whatever, maybe that makes enough trust for me in who he is, for his posts to pass the filter, even if I never learn his (his?) legal name.
+Vince Mulhollon If I'm using a pseudonym, why should I care if you trust me or not? I'm not here to get thousands of followers... this isn't twitter. I'm here to talk to people who actually know me.
Google doesn't seem to be making any attempt to stop false identities so long as they look whitebread enough.
ANONYMOUS can be served through an anonymizer. As in "I know this person, and I put my reputation behind them, and will shut them up if needed." It's a technical fix, where I can create a sub-account like Russ Nelson-Handy which everyone recognizes is a different person. They have their own profile and login and password, I have no access to their account, but I can suspend their account.
PSEUDONYMOUS can be served in the same manner. Maybe my name wouldn't be part of their name ... but it would definitely appear in the popup with something like "Russell Nelson is this person's sponsor."

Note that these could be chained, so that +Skud might point to +Russell Nelson which might point to +Eric Raymond, so people would see my name, not Eric's, but only Eric would know that Skud is really Kirrilly, or however you spelll herrr name.
One of the costs of false identities is when the false identity is somehow proven false (patently does not exist, as opposed to is not a persistent identity) all digital assets, trace, and reputation of that virtual person might end up destroyed. And you see, it's the people who might be classic candidates for it who will be utterly destroyed with out recourse, the further into the Internet age we go, as they are most likely to thrive quietly, productively, behind pseudonyms.

Imagine if you were one of these people who had a zillion videos on youtube that a multiple of zillions of folks out there had links to, picasa albums, gmail, and g+, and suddenly Google decides you are not real, and it all disappears poof! So saying "I am the author Mark Twain" or "I am the artist Andy Warhol" might not work for you so well here.

Particularly consider the case of the poor schmuck Andy Warhol. Not only is he operating under a false identity, but the guy is in violation of a bunch of corporate trademarks, has abused the likenesses of a number of celebrities, and has slandered a number of very powerful people. He's never getting his digital shite back.

If only he had put his name down on G+ as Andrew Warhola. But nooooooo....

Now, consider the more celebrated and famous Andy Warhol. Things went very different for him, because he is a celebrity and a brand, and his commentary on the cult of celebrity and intellectual property was so far ahead of most artistic expression. Totally viral. Got lots of ad clickage. Yuh.

But struggling artist, dissident, blogger, gay, left, libertarian, right, purple, star-bellied, whatever kind of geek or freak Andy? Toast.

If you ask folks like HRW, GVO, RSF, or Amnesty or any of that range of folks, you will hear as many of these stories as you care to hear from communities with smaller language groups and state owned telecoms, in particular. But I imagine it scales.

Even if Google eventually agrees to a TOS that says they get your government ID and the public sees only the pseudonym, that doesn't protect you from the interference of governments in any country Google has operations in, I would imagine. They are really better off not requiring that information, regardless of value.

It will only take a few arrests or disappearances for edge effects to be dramatic.

How many times have the geek community, civil libertarians, libertarians, risen up against a universal ID system in a single country? And here we have a nice system that promises to span borders and wants to be the online social infrastructure of...everything.

It's so much better if they just figure out some baysian way to deal with hooligan pseudonymity, so the rest of us can manage persistent reputations without having to make "Don't be Evil" any more newspeak than it has to be.

I just question if this is about civility. Corporations don't generally put civility ahead of this much pain.

Besides, Eric could probably tell you, at least some 35 years ago, he'd probably have been happy to go into a restaurant with a shirtless Shava. (Would I have really? Hmmm....) What is +Vic Gundotra 's problem? :)
+Shava Nerad Last time I saw an indicative image of you, you'd kept enough of your looks that I'd still go into a restaurant with a shirtless Shava. Yeah, they'd throw us out, but the superior (wo)man cares not for such trifles when a grand gesture is in progress.

Seriously, I think most of the downside risk is best addressed by a staged appeals process and a guaranteed that takeout still works for N days after your credentials have been canceled. And we want that guarantee anyway for other reasons.

Your general point about the centralization risk of a global identity system based on Google+ is well taken. But that future may be difficult to avoid, if only because a working digital identity system has so many advantages for the majority who don't think they have any reason to fear it.

The only real solution is to hold Google's feet to the PR fire about takeout and then demonstrate an ability to compete - that is, spin up our own ID systems if it looks like Google is going down a bad path. The hackers you and I know could do that if we had to - and, hopefully, the fact that we could do it is the reason we'll never have to.
+David Gerard Those are real concerns, but orthogonal to my point. Given that Google is determined to enforce a real name policy, doing it that way would allow them to satisfy their business interests (and possible law enforcement interests, a possibility I haven't seen bring up) while readily supporting branding, pseudonimity, and (to the extent you trust their stewardship of your private data) anonymity. Deciding what actually is a real name is a problem they have now, and will continue to have, so long as they require you to present one under any conditions at all.

Another issue I haven't seen discussed: How do they intend to handle people with validly duplicate names? I once knew a singer named Aaron Lewis. At the same time I had a coworker of that same name. Neither one of them was the lead vocalist for Staind. Who gets the name? What are the others to do, since they can't use that name, but are required to do so?
Doesn't it just make you wish Vernor Vinge were on G+ :)
+Sampo Syreeni "Having real names makes people more easily recognizable, which probably eases the transition."

Actually, forcing real names has made many people less recognizable to me. I know a great many people only by their non-real names; when they show up here under their real names, I have no idea who they are. I have a growing Circle called "I think I know this person from SOMEWHERE," and a growing number of people who are hovering right outside that circle, as well.
+David Friedman "I remember being struck, many years ago, by how much more courteous the Rialto, the SCA Usenet group, was than most others. I think the reason was that the people posting there were quite likely to at some point meet in realspace, or at least have friends in common."

I'm assuming that the irony of the fact that those personal interactions were largely pseudonymous is not lost on anyone here, either.
+Terry Poot "Another issue I haven't seen discussed: How do they intend to handle people with validly duplicate names?"

They're already handling it by not handling it. When I went to reply to +David Friedman , above, I had to choose which of three different David Friedmans already on G+ I was replying to (made only more difficult by the fact that their tiny, tiny pictures all looked at first blush vaguely similar in that way that all pictures look similar for sufficient values of tiny).
+Ray Radlein Fail. :( Oh well, Unlike +The Monster there isn't another person in the country with my name, as best I can determine. Of course, that's more of a convenience for other people than for me. But the John Smith's of the world are going to get enough incorrect references to drive them to distraction.
+Terry Poot Yeah, it's times like this that I'm glad I am -- since the death of my uncle, at least -- the only "Ray Radlein" on the planet. Just as I'm bummed that a lot of the old school friends I'd love to reconnect with via G+ have unsearchably-common names like "Tom O'Brien" or "Kevin Wallace."
I used to be glad I had a rare name, too. Now I want to use a pseudonym because I have a rare name.
Well, I figure that having a unique real name I've used online for decades at least gives me a certain type of credibility when arguing for pseudonymity. :-)
+Ray Radlein I'm talking statistically, and on a hunch, of course. Not about you specifically.
It could be a possible compromise is to allow individual people to register a business account for a pseudonym. People keep describing pseudonyms as brands anyway (and in some cases that's definitely true).

This doesn't cover all categories, of course. So it's not a comprehensive solution.
I have what a friend called a very "web 2.0" name. When search engines came out and some clever soul indexed the USENET archives, I thought, "Well, did I ever really want to run for public office, anyway?" And I decided along the way I'd lead a completely transparent life, however complicated that was, and be a privacy advocate. This may seem paradoxical, but it makes a great deal of sense to a small town minister's daughter. Situations such as this seem to bring out the least examined in most peoples' unexamined lives around these topics.

Three persons' annoyance at the troll who makes it through the bayesian rules, or a funny name who makes them feel uncomfortable, trumps another person who is actually endangered by a government, a stalker, or a former abuser.

Because of the first three peoples' inability to accurately assess risk, the last person is asked to either place him or herself in real danger or to opt out of society in favor of the people with bad assessment skills.

Taken up one level, because of the inability or unwillingness of someone to assume the burden of teaching people to properly assess risk, blameless people are exiled from our fellowship. (Yes, I am a liberal, all you libertarians can now take out your firearms and fire at will.)

It just pisses me off. I want to find a solution to teaching amygdalically people how to assess risk so that they understand that someone with a funny name, or (in the classic case) the dark skinned person driving the nice car is not inherently a threat.
+Eric Raymond What about name collisions? Currently there's about four or five people that show up when you search for my name, and it's surely worse for people with more common name combinations. At a first glance you can't be sure which one is the person you want (they can link you to their profile beforehand though) and by the looks of it you can't search by a unique identifier either (e.g. their gmail address). They could allow searching by nicknames (or the 'other names' field) but it'd probably still be an issue for people who don't use such fields.
I don't know that there is any better way to handle name collisions than what Google is doing. This seems orthogonal to the issues under discussion, to me.
It seems like everyone in this discussion regards the nym issue as something of a commons. Everyone is contributing their identity (and all their content which is digital identity currency). This contribution of "self" creates a shared public asset of "community".

How then shall we curate this great asset? One person's troll looks a lot like another person's dissident or minority. The great calling is to eliminate both false positives and false negatives. This leaves limited maneuvering room.

If we see this as a commons, how does Google see it? I doubt they are so generous. They have commercial not community objectives. 
Ah, but you see, the herdsman gains no benefit from the herd if the herd does not thrive, breed, and grow happily.

Google's commercial interest in our social network is dependent on the quality of our social experience, and possibly even more on the elaboration of the network effects of the "completeness" of our social nets.

Why am I on Facebook, despite the fact that I rather much despise it? Because if I were not, I would not be in meaningful and regular communication with most of my family, and a good many friends.
I see both sides of this argument. The Monster is correct. Some people, even ordinary ones, have a legitimate need for privacy. I have on the other hand been annoyed by numerous anonymous trolls who just hide behind their keyboard.

Perhaps we could have the Gallagher bad driver solution, with a good driver add on. I envision a troll festooned with red darts. However, being a contrary sort, and often having my comments taken the wrong way. I could find myself so festooned, simply because I'm not going along with the tide.....,I'll accept the risk. If I get too many red darts...well that is a form of feedback.

I do like the idea of adding information to the mix, so you know whether this is a meatspace person or not. I like the Idea Vince M. has...make the info available and let the market decide. I don't think color codes are too complicated, most people can spot the bad driver and that IS complicated....darts just save you scan time. If the pseudonym is not festooned with red darts, but green ones....I'll have a look.

Speaking your mind without reservation is important in exploring difficult issues. I find that I do hold back quite a bit, just to maintain the peace, even online...When it involves meatspace/employment/family it can get mighty complicated...Yay! LMAO
Here we have a case of asymmetric interests. Google needs to do the minimum to keep you around and contributing to serve their interests. On the other hand you are seeking to maximize your personal utility from the commons (according to your utility curve and resource constraints).

This is a clear imbalance. What this group has been discussing is a gray space, heavily influenced by values and perspective. Would Google have to sacrifice some of their asset utility to gain some form of benefit for some and harm for others? I can't answer the question since I'm not in Google's shoes. But I can see the question looming.

For the longest time +Everyone said Google was all about engineering and algorithms, not the social web. Is it a surprise that they've taken a sort of engineering approach to it?

I may have a herd of sheep. But it doesn't mean I give them Champagne to drink. 
It is after all Google+..not Your+ or Our+ Champagne, but, can I at least get a beer before shearing?

Sharp clippers at least?

Why do we enter the chute?


Never mind.......
+Monty Roberts. I don't say that as a signal for giving up. I'm just trying to understand where the vested interests lie. Helps understand the leverage needed for change 
Not giving up Dennis. Just pointing out we go willingly. Knowing what we give up. I understand the downsides, but the utility is becoming irresistible.

I am fortunate that my name is shared with a fairly famous person. He runs interference for me. I'm hard to find on the net and have avoided social media. I'm a private person, but even I see the light......

I have a need to stay in touch with my students. Networking is becoming very important, and I think it will be more so in the future.

Just oil the clippers first, that's my only request. ;-)
+Monty Roberts What about non-anonymous trolls? I've run into quite a few in this ongoing discussion. At least they didn't seem to be using a funny name. They could have been using a WASPonym.
+bunnyhero (wayne a. lee) I would define a plain old human being as being someone google hasn't detected as a fake ID and tossed out. I agree I'd be no good at evaluating Indonesian names, but an Indonesian citizen working at the Google Indonesian office would probably be pretty good at evaluating...
Real name != legal name. There are plenty of people who I have meet in real life who know me only by my online "handle." Enough so that I will answer to it as easily as to the name I was born with, and is just as "real"as my birth name. Hell, I spent two years being known to all but my family by a name different than my birth name sure to a paperwork mix-up at the school I went to. There are plenty of people I'd prefer know only one or the other, though. It is still a valid identity, though, and one I would prefer not to lose. To a certain extent, I would prefer to use different names to different Circles, since different Circles know me by different names. Google can, and probably does, know that both my identities are the same person; which takes care of the major issues with pseudonymity, which is accountability. 
Expansion on the free market concept: Add lifetime donation dollar value to anonymous profiles with mandatory public setting. Add a filter saying I don't want to see anonymous profiles with a dollar value below $X.

For that matter, add a filter that says I don't want to see anyone who hasn't donated more than $X dollars.

Spammers and astroturfers cannot survive with a cost over pennies per burner account. Trolls can survive more money, but at least their sorta socially redeemable if they donate enough money, so I could tolerate them. Sure he's a jerk, but he donated $100 to the cancer society so he's apparently not all bad ...

I would assume a partnership could be forged between the mighty GOOG and the United Way? I believe I once used united way to donate directly to the EFF out of my paycheck, so there's both generic fund donation potential and also specific donation potential.

Heck I'd like a filter to display any post from anyone who ever donated more than $500 to the EFF, just on general principles. Kind of like how the Debian-private email list permits business spam if and only if a check for $1000 is cut to Debian. Or maybe it was $5000.
Gee, I hope there's some math in there for people who put in time on code/activism, too. That could be an interesting calculus though.
[pardon OT: shameless self promotion, btw, particularly in this agglomeration of folks -- I am newly looking for gig(s) preferably primarily telecommuting whether salary/consulting since I'm caring for my 90yo mom -- who was studying botany in the freakin 30s just after Marie Curie, y'all! Pls check profile for LinkedIn] [sorry]
I'm fine with any tools that let people who don't want to see "Bob the Cat" in their stream automatically hide, mute, block, or otherwise filter them out. Bring on the verified accounts, the contributor accounts, the high-scorers.

This is a social network, right? It's about talking to people you know, and you want to know. So long as I can talk to my friend "Bob the Cat" and he can talk to "Resuna" why should we care whether people who don't want to deal with "unverified" accounts can see us?
+Shava Nerad That's an easy enough solution; My profile has a "donate money to somewhere in Vince's name" button. Mostly I am the only person who clicks it. However I can very well click on the "donate money to somewhere in Shava's name" button. I call on the powers of the mighty GOOG to handle microtransactions; you only need 100 people to donate one cent to reach a buck. I don't know if you should be happy or insulted that I'll donate one penny in your name LOL. Anyway one dollar is probably enough to make spamming too expensive, so the free market most likely should settle around a filter value of a buck or so... I also call on the power of the mighty GOOG to "do something social" to encourage such gifting. Sorta zynga-farmville-ish gift giving except real money is being donated. Unfortunately that business model is probably patented or something.
+Richard DeWald If Google can come up with a system of Registered Pseudonyms - where the pseudonym is associated privately with the real name, with only Google having access to the link - then the automated data mining can use the link without any person seeing the connection. This also enhances accountability, because complaints to Google directed against the pseudonym will be associated with the real name account.
+David Brenner My objection to this is that PII associated with the real name may as well be the real name, generally. Considering the policy acumen of the Google staff weilding the banhammer, I suspect anyone calling these folks up to say, "Hi, I'm officer friendly, and your user randomnym is suspected of being BAD, can you give me his PII?" would roll over and give the caller fuck all everything. This is really common. Most ISP and online services say "We reserve the right to release your personal information on suspicion of wrongdoing."

When I was general manager of a community network back in the 90s, we'd get law enforcement through the front door maybe every month or three looking for the entire email lists of some nonprofit who'd pissed someone off. And the front desk would politely ask them to wait and come get me, and I'd say, "Good afternoon, officer, could I see your subpoena? Failing that, do you have a warrant?" And the guy (invariably, as it was never a woman) would blink and say, "No one else ever asks us for a subpoena."

I found this really disturbing. These guys were always asking for the dumps of entire mailing lists -- contact info and content for months -- of nonprofits who afaik were doing nothing illegal but working on advocacy that might run them contrary to the status quo. If they were doing something illegal, then the law should make a case.

We also had cases where ex's tried to social engineer usernames and passwords for their ex out of tech support. This is so common, that many ISPs have a FAQ to cover it. Often they aren't smart enough to pose as the ex or law enforcement. Often they are. This is a case where the username is usually known of course, but it's just an example of how vulnerable a service can be to getting available information phished out of it if the information is available and the personnel isn't trained up and pretty savvy.

So no, I'd say, letting Google know the PII associated isn't necessarily a solution I feel safe with. We've already seen that Google is pretty slack about a lot of security and privacy issues with their services on a technical basis. Their staff is slack on policy. And their policies are mercurial and capricious (no offense to any goat-boys present).

If they don't need a real name -- if they can't come up with a Damn Good Reason (tm) -- they don't need it. People who bring in content and good networks who never spend a dime bring in network effects. People who don't have a real name but have a paypal account associated, say, can still have their real identity obliquely associated without having to trust it to Google, and reduce the points of failure.

I've written elsewhere why, as a marketing professional, it's actually desirable to have multiple marketing profiles per person. Briefly -- you buy office supplies at work, and you shop for vacations at home. As a marketer, I'm ok considering those two entities, and treating one or both as a nym. Marketing has been doing this since catalogs got printed and sent to offices and homes a hundred or so years ago.

The laser focus of treating them separately actually improves my ability to avoid wasting energy and avoiding having you block me because I contact you inappropriately, say, to throw a gorgeous ad for a gay all-inclusive resort in the Bahamas on your screen while you're at work, and maybe at your work that might not be ok.

Nyms are just good. Yesterday I spent part of rush hour at Google Cambridge with a sign that said, "Hey G+! Would you teach your children to use their real name and address online? Me neither. Allow pseudonyms." It's just good online hygiene. Stop thinking "hide" start thinking "protect."
+Shava Nerad Wow - you already know I'm gay! - excellent marketing. ;-)
Good points, very helpful.
10% -- I just must have good instincts ;)
+David Brenner You write "This also enhances accountability, because complaints to Google directed against the pseudonym will be associated with the real name account."

I'm not sure I understand this. If you don't pick a funny looking name, Google doesn't ask you to do anything to prove that you're who you say you are, so complaints against an ostensible "real name" account are already less accountable than those against a "funny name" account.
+Peter da Silva I think it's a hoot. I have a real name but it's a funny name, and I'm accountable because my PII is all over the web (even though I'm a privacy advocate, go fig).

But someone could come on G+ under a name like Brian Donovan (I'm totally picking that at random except that I live in Boston so it's common but not too uncommon for around here). He would look entirely "normal" to any Google staff screener. He (or she, behind the keyword, who would know?) could do or say anything. And does it make me more or less accountable? Far less.

Because, you see, if I had a pseudonym, it's likely it's one I've used persistently. That's my experience, in forensics, anyway. People are phenomenally dull that way. I traced the back story of a set of people in Second Life who were profiled in the WSJ through a bunch of web forums through clues from their SL avatar names and various bits, some years ago, and did some amazing open source investigation, just on the basis that people like to use the same nym where they can.

So there's a hope a nym -- even a poorly behaved one -- could be traced forensically.

A Brian Donovan though, might be picked at random -- as randomly as I just did. And unless you could trace them by IP through their internet provider (no proxy/Tor use or whatever) or their dropping some clue in conversation that let the person they were stalking, say, know who they might be, or some gross error like that? No way to track them.

So yeah. That's a red herring. Nyms are not less traceable than real names. Sometimes, they can be far more traceable, because they are often used as reputation markers, including by very stupid malicious people who leave obvious tracks.
Just looked, btw, there are about 40 Brian Donovans on G+ right now. I'd be a face in a crowd...
The whole "accountability by real name"thing is a hoax, since google can't prove that a wasponym is a fake identity. Eventually, G+ is going to go outside of invite-only, and at that point, the malicious actors can soon up as many fake identities as they like.
Wasponyms can be defeated by social reputation, or failure thereof... [/raw thought]
Oh, look. I was right. They want to be the identity service and they're willing to make this their fight. :)
Musical: Chicago
Track: Cell Block Tango
< bradley horowitz, vic gundotra, schmidt, brin, page in 1920s flapper burlesque, in a cell block, you know the staging>


You had it coming
You had it coming
You only had yourselves to name.
You had to come here
You had to do it
And then your friends would all do the same!


ok ok, yes, I have a really really really weird imagination...
+David Brenner Awesome!

Vic Gundotra, sitting on the hood of his Mercedes, with the Bollywood style production of Razzle Dazzle? (a song that could stand Bollywood treatment, for sure)

While all the nyms in another corner do the Chandni Chowk bhangra half of the production of Hey Shava Shava! (sorry, so totally could not's the ringtone on my phone, too -- freaks people out! ;)

ok hey it's an old thread, I'm allowed to sillify it, yes?
Add a comment...