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Identity and Reputation Circle

Pseudonymous users made more - and better - comments

Are you ready to let the pseudonyms in, officially? I am.

Pseudonyms, trolls and the battle over online identity :: http://bit.ly/zpioF3 via +Mathew Ingram Image from Discus.
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Joe Betsill's profile photoJeff Jockisch's profile photoGideon Rosenblatt's profile photoBill Slawski's profile photo
55 comments
 
Interesting. I guess I can see both sides of it. I can see how being anonymous 'opens' up people, which could lead to more comments and maybe better. But I would think you would get more trolling like comments. On the other hand I a very impressed with the engagement factor on google+. I have witnessed far more interaction on g+ than I ever did on my blog. Maybe there is a case for both - and now on g+ it is I presume easy to set up a dummy gmail account and come on google+, so maybe we have the best of both worlds.
 
Why do you think people will produce better content if they are able to hide behind a fake name?
 
Google are not interested in permitting Psuedonyms in.

They knew it would beo ne of the first things asked for.
They launched with an anti-psuedo policy.
They had numerous excuses ready to doll out when people asked.
They made all the empty noises ...
... then did nothing about it.

I've seen them say it was a policy opted for as it will generate a sense of Trust and Safety.
I disabused that by creating an account and impersonating Googles +Frances Haugen, jsut to show that a real name and real face means nothing (yes, G may be/were (are?) considering a "real photo" policy too!)
I've seen them say (via googles +Brian White ) that it is a security/privacy issue - they cannot gaurantee real anonymity/privacy to those using psuedos (which leaves me wondering about all the other G platforms/services/tools ...).
I've seen them cover suggestions/reasons/-excuses- such as more open, honest, encouraging real interactions etc.

What they fail to mention is that one of the first (and most common?) suggestions was an authorised account, and a sub account with a psuedonym.
So G would still know who/what/where/why/when/how etc. - the same as a "real name" account ... but the public would only ever see the psuedo.

I can only assume that Google thinks that silent gays, quiet crossdressers, those holding religions unpopular to their area, those who have suffered abuse etc. have no real place on the internet.
Maybe Googles precepts of "nice" automatically disclude anyone who isn't "out and open" about who/what they are?

Personally - I stand by/for the Psuedoname usage,
I have from the beginning.
Some of us have had psuedos for years ... some even before there was a Google.
It is part of the internet lifestyle, community and one feature that made the net what it is.
Personally, Google have no right to tell people that they are not permitted to use those names, nor shut out those who may suffer if they used their public names.

As for the troll aspect ... there really aren't that many trolls ... and shooting them down isn't hard.
G have had numerous valid/viable methods suggested.
They simply don't want to do any of it.
 
Sorry, not enough difference (~%10) between Real and Pseudonyms to be meaningful in any way. Flawed study in many ways.
 
+Pam Adger
Who said "fake name"?

I've been "Autocrat" for years.
Google were happy to make be a Top Contributor, and for me to help Thousands of webmasters out in their forums with that name.

Then you have hundreds/thousands of others who have had alternative names (not fake!) for years ... one of my favourites is Incredibill.

So no - not Fake ... merely alternative, better known, more established etc. in many cases.

Just because someone uses a name other than their birth given one - does not automatically make them a fake, a fraud, a troll or up to no good.
If someone is a "bad apple", giving them a real name is not going to achieve much - they will lie anyway.
 
Last we heard, +Vic Gundotra promised a solution to this vexing issue.

I expect Google to allow pseudonyms that are linked back to a base verified identity. In other words, you get to present yourself with a pseudonym to the world, but Google knows who you really are.

The question will be, how closely will they guard that privacy?
 
+Pam Adger Some will hide behind a pseudo. Others are known by a handle and prefer that identity.

When every comment traces back to you, some types of trolls might be avoided, others not. But there are things people will not say truthfully when they know it will be forever tied back to them...
 
+Gary Tivey Why do you think the study is flawed and/or that the difference is inconsequential?
 
In the study there is no indication to those judging the comments whether the id is real or "handle", but anonymous is pretty obvious. This introduces a natural bias that should not be there. If anonymous comments were not allowed, the study might have more meaning. Also the %10 difference is negligible for this type of study. Should have been conducted by some independent entity without an agenda.
Thanks +Jeff Jockisch
 
+Jeff Jockisch Every so often I see a checkmark next to someone's name. Can you tell me why? And if it is so that the people with whom you are interacting will know you are a real person, do you know How does one get that checkmark from Google?
 
I'm for allowing them in too. Thanks for sharing this good (if perhaps not perfect) data, +Jeff Jockisch. It's counter-intuitive, to be sure, but I get it. The problem is that this interferes with one of the important reasons that Google launched Google+ in the first place, which is to build identity and social graph layers into the web. They could not afford to cede that to Facebook. See +Marc Canter's post on this: http://marc.digitalcitymechanics.com/2011/09/16/it-begins/
 
I don't think you can.

If you get blocked - you can send in details (fax of passport etc.).
But you cannot currently apply for the "tick"
 
Healthy skepticism is good, +Gary Tivey

I'm not really seeing how bias hurts anything here. If you do throw out fully anonymous, and claim the difference is insignificant, you still end up with: no difference in quality between fully IDed and pseudonym...
 
+Meg Tufano The check mark means that the public figure or celebrity name has been verified with Google as being the actual person and not a fake. It's not intended for the general public as far as I'm aware.
 
Anonymous names seemed to work out pretty well for the following people:

Alexander Hamilton (Publius)
James Madison (Publius)
John Jay (Publius)
Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain)
Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot)
Benjamin Franklin (Silence Dogood)

I could probably go on with this list all day, but the truth is that there are very many valid reasons to use anonyminity when writing, whether as a whistleblower, or to create equality in how your message is received, or to protect your private persona from those who might want to undermine your message, or to protect others who might receive a backlash from those who might question your motives or words, or even because you don't like your name or it isn't what people actually call you.
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt If anyone cares, I do not use my real name on Facebook so I'm not sure why Facebook would have a leg up on Google? And, honestly, I probably would not have used my real name on G+ except that I am a particularly good rule follower (;')) and those were the explicit rules when this experiment began.

WHY would I not want to use my real name? Because we are having some very intense political, religious and other kinds of discussions and I have students (and relatives and neighbors) whom I do not think should know my opinions (might interfere with their own) or my politics (trust me on this, there are places in the U.S. where the political has become insanely violent (when Clinton was running, ALL of the Democratic signs were repeatedly taken down in our town in Tennessee, the Democratic headquarters was threatened repeatedly, personal slurs were off the wall). More importantly, we are in the middle of a terrorism war and knowing someone's religion could be dangerous (in a whole lot of directions). I am still hoping for a button that will block a certain circle from being able to read certain postings but JUST for those postings.

That said, as +Jeff Jockisch posting about reputation has been developing, if one did not use one's real name, benefits (such as job offers) would not occur. (I am finding that the job offers are spinning out of some things I've written on G+, but are being posted to me on Linked-In which is an interesting phenomena.)

Finally, and I really do not know why I feel less worried on G+ about what I might write––part of it is the circles (even though that's not foolproof as we all know––part of it is I think that the quality of the discussions on G+ started out and has remained at such a high level that I'll stay with the real name policy so people can read my publications elsewhere and––so far, at least––most of the people with whom I have been discussing ideas seem to be using their real names (I know because I've looked up their other writings elsewhere (unless they are ALWAYS using a nom de plume ;')).
 
Pseudonym != anonymous. I can hide nearly any information from other people on G+; Why not allow me to pick and choose who can see my real name? Google will know my real name (or, at least, the name I give them) but that doesn't mean I should be forced to let anyone see my real name. Maybe I'm a gamer, and I want my gamer circle to see my name as LeetShoxer04 (or whatever) because none of them actually know me as my real name. The block function would still work. The report function would still work. There's no good reason to force real names.

This, of course, assumes that I give them my real name. As long as I don't use something stupid like Seymore Butts, they can't actually tell if the name I give is my real name.
 
+Jeff Jockisch As to the article, I think the logic of the real names policy was actually a logic for a SAME NAME policy. In other words, you cannot measure the influence or reach of a person if they change their name on different venues. And it is the metrics that Google and others are trying to create. Those metrics get all screwed up when Person A is also Person B, C, D and E.

To see an example of the problem: my husband and I shared a New York Times online subscription this year and it was a riot when the Times was "suggesting" articles to us! Mixing two people's interests makes for really stupid suggestions. It goes back to the posting from +Gideon Rosenblatt about geo-information yesterday. If I lie and say that this photo I took in Paris was in Istanbul, it screws up the metrics.

Funny story from years ago about the development of GPS on early phones and going toward the question, do we WANT to know the truth about Person A? A tech friend of mine was at a meeting where the presenter was showing off how well his new GPS invention was working. He turned on the screen and said to the group, "This is where my wife is right now." And it showed a photograph of a motel. ;')
 
+Grace O'Malley Thanks so much. It has been a puzzle to me for a while now! I pity people who have the same names as famous people! ;')
 
+Gideon Rosenblatt Thanks for the link to +Marc Canter 's article. I now "grok" (;')) what Google is doing and it makes so much sense, especially for enriching search. I am already half in love with Google because it has made my life in academia SO much easier!!!!! Not only does Google Scholar get me the scholarly articles that might have taken me months to research ten years ago (and did), but they tell me how many times that article has been cited in OTHER articles so I can tell what ideas the specialists in the field are buying into (there's a good example +Jeff Jockisch of reputation using a KIND of number that I can accept because the citations are in peer-reviewed or other kinds of publications, not just how many times the person spoke his mind, nor even how many books he sold, neither of which numbers can tell me if the idea is influential and probably intelligent.)
 
+Joe Betsill Well, actually, they can know if you are using your real name if you are doing business with Google as in, say, putting advertisements on your Blog, buying websites through them, etc. I don't know if they'd take the time to do it, but there probably already is an app for that! ;')
 
+Pam Adger I'm not sure of the reason why a "fake" name might open up people . . . there are certainly the political and religious reasons I spoke about earlier, but I also think that a nom de plume has been around for so long because people would prefer not to have the people whom they meet by accident or in commerce (the grocery clerk, say; or their kids' teacher) know that they are the person who just wrote a book that included a really juicy sex scene, or a really controversial political or religious idea, or stuff like that them there. I'm not sure, but didn't Benjamin Franklin publish "Poor Richard's Almanack" anonymously? ...<edit> Sorry, +Bill Slawski , I somehow missed your post first-time through. Lately posts have been coming in out of sequence every so often. Not sure of the issue. (My response to a post is ABOVE the post.)
 
+Lyndon NA and +Meg Tufano I simply used the word fake because I am on my phone and it is hard enough to type short words. Don't read an opinion into my comment because there wasn't one. In fact I asked a question. I didn't provide my opinion at all.
 
+Pam Adger I don't think I was responding with any kind of negative connotation to your post, I was speculating on the question itself which is fascinating, isn't it? "A rose by any other name . . . " ;')
 
So do those who are well known for their other than birth names post better content? I can see a case for these names being allowed if g plus was a revenue generater but it isn't. Also those who want to use a different name can create a brand page.
 
+Meg Tufano yes but I wanted you to know why I chose to use that word anyway because you were kind enough to answer my question :)
 
+Pam Adger I understand! ...The article that I think gets to the heart of the matter better than any other is the one that +Gideon Rosenblatt posted a link to by +Marc Canter . I finally see the full picture of what Google meant by "integration." The most important idea in the article, in my opinion, is that Google has a big stake in keeping G+ (and the internet in general) open. I did not quite realize that Facebook is its own fiefdom, that Google cannot get its little advertising hands on. Essentially, if I understood the article correctly, when one is on Facebook, one is outside the venue of what Google can "see." Facebook, then, has all this fascinating information (NOT) it can then metric for selling whatever Facebook sells (I guess ads too). [Money: all of that part of the world (money) has remained a mystery that I do not care to delve into unless I'm trying to figure out why our economy just collapsed ( quick answer: because AIG sold ten liability policies on a single house, multiplied a zillion times, pressuring the economy to burn down the house. )]
 
+Meg Tufano +Jeff Jockisch +Bill Slawski I agree that there is a need for anonymity in public discourse. History has shown that it is necessary in many respects. The real issue is how some modicum of decorum is maintained. Examining the data in question I would say there is no compelling evidence that Pseudonymous posters will be malicious, but there is no evidence that they are not. For me the issue is that there is no legal framework for it. A person consenting to the Terms of Use of G+, Twitter, or FB agrees to provide accurate information. Even if they don't it is not very difficult for the proprietors of these sophisticated services to determine who you are and be forced to divulge that if so ordered by a 'court of competent jurisdiction'.

If you wan to have anonymity, the terms of use must allow it. But it is not in the interest of any corporation to do that as they expose themselves to unwanted liability for the behavior of unknown persons.

As for some altruistic aspect of G+, I do not consider that to be the case. The firewalls of FB and Twitter are in place because those companies are protecting the database which they have built and continue to build at great expense from being stolen by Google and/or other robots that wish to access it without paying. Any reasonable business would do likewise. Wikipedia is the only archive that comes to mind which does not. Many others permit access without payment and rue the decision. That has contributed to the death or dismemberment of many forms of publishing.
 
+Grace O'Malley I expect G+ may be proactively avoiding the issues that Twitter and FB have encountered with so-called 'impostors'. There are issues with control of a person's name and image and potentially with so-called 'moral rights' associated with fictional characters. "Pseudonyms are people just like corporations." Just ask SCOTUS or wait for someone else to be the test case.
 
+Pam Adger
And those that want to +1 something, but not let their associates know about it?
What if you have some "secret" that you want to participate in, but such actions would basically socially screw you?

As for the pages concept - that is a nice idea .... but no idea if G will allow you to do that.
I've create the autocrat page .. but not used it yet.
Chances are, if I try, it will get blocked.
Unless you know of anything from G that says we can use it for psuedo?
 
+Eugene O'Donnell I second +Jeff Jockisch comment about positioning; and add that I have had trepidation about this entire G+ endeavor from the beginning because there is so much possibility for harm. My father was a lawyer and repeatedly said there is no defense against a good liar. If you are using your real name and someone else is not and they have some reason to do you harm or for no reason at all (I'm thinking grafitti and vandalism) you are "out there." We are sitting at our firesides and enjoying this brief respite from inanity (especially enjoying a respite from the current inane political "conversation") on G+, but we will, I am sure, some of us, regret our honestly expressed opinions. On the other hand, what has been my most interesting experience so far on G+ is that I am finding people of integrity with whom to share intellectual discourse. The other name for that is civilization.
 
+Lyndon NA +Eugene O'Donnell +Jeff Jockisch I got a very cryptic message from +Steven Sudit on a thread today (someone whom I do not know personally) that said he could not comment on a certain idea but that he was reading the thread avidly. What was interesting to me was that it was almost as if he was asking me to figure out why he could not comment. Maybe political? Personal? I'm not asking him to "out" why he could not comment, but my point is that there ARE plenty of reasons one would not want to speak one's mind if you knew that XYZ was listening. This is not a Big Brother issue, but one of reasonable behavior among people who know the score. I happen to live in a pretty rarefied atmosphere of being in academia without being of it. (Long story.) But I have learned that I got really lucky that I did not get the jobs I thought I wanted because the fiercest battles of all regarding what you say are fought in the academic arena. I thought that Stanley Fish (one of my favorite thinkers and the author of the book, "There is No Such Thing As Free Speech and It's a Good Thing Too") got it just right today in his editorial today in the NYT.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/09/the-digital-humanities-and-the-transcending-of-mortality/

I cannot wait to see his follow-up tomorrow. But this is about intellectual honesty and the way we really discover new ideas, not about the politics of letting others know where you stand.

I've had to become a little more courageous since joining G+ because I really do think what I think (;')) and being able to defend my ideas has been salutary to my flourishing as a human being. Google Plus has been a plus for me . . . so far.
 
+Lyndon NA Not sure why Google would care about you using a Page as a pseudonym, especially since it ties back to your primary account... I actually created a Page for my pseudo, but then realized it would be a lot of work to switch or use both...
 
+Jeff Jockisch
How does you "+page" relate/trail back to you?
As I understand it ... if you create it on the quiet (you don't share it when you make it), it technically stands "alone" from "you" ?
(Or have I missed a glaringly obvious link somewhere?)
 
+Steven Sudit
Okay, I have to ask ... are you stating that you are a Google Employee?
(Your previous statement alludes to it, but doesn't actually state it categorically ... so I thought I'd try and get it "solid" :D)
 
+Lyndon NA That's my understanding, but he could be CIA pretending to be Google... :)
 
Ah, the left field has arrived. ;')
 
Correction: (Baseball, not politics.)
 
Friends, I found some more info on the Disqus study:

*This is only using Disqus content, of course, but the data size is fairly large with 60+ million users and nearly half a billion comments.
*We define anonymous users as users that are completely unverified. Pseudonym users are registered users that are able to choose what they’d like to call themselves. Real name users are those who’ve chosen to identify with Facebook when posting.
*This isn’t an exact science and our methodologies aren’t lab-quality. However, we were careful to not misrepresent (even to ourselves) what our data showed us. Above all else, we dove into our data in order to better understand identity dynamics for improving the actual product.

http://blog.disqus.com/post/15638234811/pseudonyms
 
Confirmation : +Steven Sudit does indeed appear to work for/at/with/in Google (email sent and received).
(That, or is a very good hacker :D)
(Oh, that would be scary! :P)
 
+Meg Tufano +Jeff Jockisch Rules! We don't need no stinking Rules! :-P Would that it were so. Every activity needs rules so we know when we are cheating, or might get punished. See +Steven Sudit . If he posts he is technically violating his Employment Agreement and probably Google's Social Media Policy. Soooo....

How can we be somebody else AND still be us and not have to worry that our alter-ego can be unmasked. Bad enough when you are Superman. Perhaps fatal for Iranian or Chinese (or American) political dissidents.
 
+Meg Tufano
I wish there weren't any ... but it seems when I do/say things ... I seem to have just fallen over some (and landed on the wrong side).
:D

+Eugene O'Donnell
Now that is thinking!
Indeed that could be a major problem ... and likely a valid "reason" from G as to why they cannot guarantee privacy via psuedonyms etc.

Fortunately - I'm a smarta**, and have a solution (within 4 seconds of reading your insightful (and correct!) post).

You can apply for a Psuedo once you have a real account.
You get 1 shot.
It is not associated with your original.
Your original is not associated with your psuedo.
The only note on the server is "X has a psuedo" and "X has a real".

That way, even if the badguys, good guys, goverment, terrorists or bored teenagers do hack ... they cannot associate the accounts.
Whatever associations there are are short term and temporary whilst doing the setup.
:D
 
Well, it has a few draw backs - there is no direct association, thus no direct accoutnability to the "core" profile.
That said, if you had your psuedo blocked ... and you wanted it reactivated or a new one ... you'd have to explain the cause... which could get interesting, as the only way to request one would be from your real account.
That could be interesting :D
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