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Hi everyone,

Today we made a small but important step in allowing people to be known on Google+ in the way that they’re known in the rest of the world. I’m very happy to announce some updates to our names policy, and some associated new features of the service.

We really appreciate all of the feedback that we’ve gotten around this issue: it’s from active, engaged and passionate users who care about getting these things right that we can build the strongest communities.

As +Bradley Horowitz says below, this is not the end, only a milestone: We’re going to be watching and listening to feedback, and will continue to evolve this going forward.

And now, finally, I can answer your questions. :)
Bradley Horowitz originally shared:
 
Toward a more inclusive naming policy for Google+

With Google+, we aspire to make online sharing more like sharing in the real world. And during the Google+ signup process, we've asked users to select the name they commonly use in real life.

Since launch we've listened closely to community feedback on our names policy, as well as reviewed our own data regarding signup completion. The vast majority of users sail through our signup process -- in fact, only about 0.1% submit name appeals.

When we analyze the set of all name appeals on Google+, we find that they generally fall into three major categories:
- The majority (60%) of these users want to simply add nicknames.
- About 20% of appeals are actually businesses (who are inadvertently trying to set up their business as a Profile, rather than using Google+ Pages which were intended for this purpose.)
- And the remaining 20% would either prefer to use a pseudonym or another unconventional name.

Today we’re pleased to be launching features that will address and remedy the majority of these issues. To be clear - our work here isn’t done, but I’m really pleased to be shipping a milestone on our journey.

Nicknames and Names in Another Script

Over the next week, we’ll be adding support for alternate names – be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script – alongside your common name. This name will show up on your Google+ profile and in the hovercards which appear over your name. In the next few weeks, we’ll be displaying it more broadly as part of your name in other areas of Google+ as well. So if you’re Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jane Doe (Smith), or Saurabh Sharma (सौरभ शर्मा), you can now communicate your identity the way you want to.

To add an alternate name, go to your Google+ profile, click Edit Profile, select your name and click on “More options.” (See attached photos)

It’s important to remember that when you change your name in Google+, you’re changing it across all services that require a Google Profile.

Other Established Identities

On Google+, we try to flag names which don’t represent individuals, such as businesses or abstract ideas which should be +Pages. Sometimes we get this wrong, so starting today we’re updating our policies and processes to broaden support for established pseudonyms, from +trench coat to +Madonna.

If we flag the name you intend to use, you can provide us with information to help confirm your established identity. This might include:

- References to an established identity offline in print media, news articles, etc- Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license
- Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following

We’ll review the information and typically get back to you within a few days. We may also ask for further information, such as proof that you control a website you reference. While a name change is under review, your old name will continue to be displayed. For new accounts without an old name, your profile will be in a non-public, read-only state during the review. Either way, you'll be able to see the status of your review by going to your profile.

For more details, check out the Google+ Names Policy: http://support.google.com/plus/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1228271

To reiterate, the features described herein will be rolling out over the next couple days.

Today is a small step towards improving the ways in which you can communicate your identity on Google+. We will be listening to feedback from the community and will continue to refine all aspects of how we handle names and identity over the coming weeks, months and beyond.

Thanks for your continuing feedback and support.

Bradley and Team G+

#googleplusupdate
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Yonatan Zunger's profile photoClement Mesnier's profile photobrian botkiller's profile photoKaleh Kohler's profile photo
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Sai
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1. "Another script"? That would be Latin charset, for people whose primary language is in another charset. Why should English get privileged as the universal default for their "primary" form of name?

2. "with a meaningful following" is extremely objectionable to me.
a) it's complete weasel wording
b) it cements having pseudonyms as a privilege of celebrity

Both are unacceptable. Normal people need to have pseudonyms too, as I think has been extremely well established. (cf. http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Who_is_harmed_by_a_%22Real_Names%22_policy%3F)

3. If it's on your driver's license, it's not a pseudonym. And if it's not on your driver's license, that doesn't mean it's not your legal name either, in common law countries.

4. It discriminates against people (like me) with unusual names. Why do we have to show identification or fame, but the real pseudonyms ("John Smith" et al) don't?

5. Google+ still can't be your first identity online if you have a nonWASP name… but Facebook can. "Google+: your second social network." Seriously?

I'm sorry, but the only difference I see here is that you're now listing the nickname field on the hovercard and profile. I see no substantive policy change. Fame was already an obvious and hypocritical exception to the policy; now you're just open about it.

And this took half a year?
 
+Scott Jordan We aren't announcing the precise thresholds because (a) that would just be an invitation to game it, and more importantly (b) we're going to be adjusting them a lot as we go along. And no, of course "trench coat" isn't his legal name -- we don't require that. That's the point of this update. :)
 
+Sai . You're asking all of the right questions, so let me give you systematic answers. I'll start with the easy one, and write a separate comment for the big one:"Another script:" No, the Latin charset isn't privileged. Your name has to be in any single script (as per UTR-39); your nickname has to be in a single script; but they do not have to be the same script.
Sai
 
+Yonatan Zunger I understood they don't have to be in the same script. But the example given ("Saurabh Sharma (सौरभ शर्मा)") pretty explicitly says that the native script is the "other one". That's rather rude IMO.
 
+Yonatan Zunger firstly, this is a step in mostly the right direction and I'm glad to see it. I would be interested in a response to Sai's other comment, though. Surely celebrity should not be a prerequisite for choice. In that regard, this policy change seems to continue to willfully miss the point: it is not our responsibility to explain our choice of name to you, but rather your responsibility to explain to us why that choice is something we should not have. So far Google has abjectly failed to do this.
 
+Sai . Saurabh is actually one of the PM's on the team, and he uses Latin script as his default script. :)
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+Yonatan Zunger Then that's not a good representative case to use for internationalization, eh?
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Also just to be really blunt about the obvious: this update in no way addresses common names as in the common law right to change your name. Purely common-law names — like mine was a mere year ago! — are full legal names, but they're often not on your ID.
 
+Sai . True, but if I put in a name with two non-Latin scripts, fewer people would have been able to read the post. :)
 
All I want to know is if I can change my name to brian botkiller, the name I've been known as for years on the internet and professionally, and not get locked out of my gmail account and other important bits, since I am a paying customer of Google's.
 
OK, +Sai .: Here's the big answer.


First of all, you might ask why we have a names policy at all. (i.e., why we don’t simply go with the JWZ proposal) One thing which we have discovered, while putting some miles on the system, is that it is indeed important to have a name-based service rather than a handle-based service. This isn’t a matter of functionality so much as of community: You get a different kind of community when people are known as Mary Smith than when they are known as captaincrunch42, and for a social product in particular we decided that the first kind of community is the one we want to build. In order to do that, we want to establish a general norm that the names you put in to the system should be names, not handles.

So one thing that our name checking flow tries to catch is handles, which should normally be nicknames, shown in addition to a name. The other important thing it’s trying to catch is people who are creating individual accounts, rather than +Pages, for non-human entities such as businesses or organizations. The behavior of +Pages is deliberately restricted in the system, and we don’t want people to be creating fake human accounts to circumvent that. The name check turns out to be a very powerful tool to catch these.

Our name check is therefore looking, not for things that don’t look like “your” name, but for things which don’t look like names, period. In fact, we do not give a damn whether the name posted is “your” name or not: we will not challenge you on this basis, nor is there any mechanism for other users to cause you to be challenged for this.

There are two main cases where the name check screws up. One is false positives: people (such as you) who have unusual names which get flagged because they looked like handles. Being able to appeal via things such as drivers’ licenses is useful for this case, since it’s a simple “oh, we got this wrong.” The other case is people such as +trench coat, who are so well-known under this handle that it would be bizarre not to let them onto the system under this name. For this case, we allow appeals based on being well-known under the name: thus the ability to prove the “established pseudonym.” We’ve deliberately set the threshold for that latter case fairly high for now, but we intend to continue to tune it; the objective is that the frequency of such names should basically be the same as their frequency in meatspace.

So to answer your questions one-by-one:

(2) “Meaningful following” only applies to cases of established pseudonyms which do not look like names. The definition of “meaningful” is deliberately vague so that we can tune it, so that it behaves in a natural fashion.

(3) That’s correct; drivers’ licenses are for false positives, not pseudonyms.

(4) Unusual names will indeed hit friction, because of false positives. We’re trying to minimize that, but it’s going to take some trial and error.

(5) Google+ can absolutely be your first identity online. No matter what your language, no matter where you come from. The “established pseudonym” logic should apply to a very small subset of people. If some groups are seeing a higher false positive rate than others, that’s a bug, not a feature, and we have the data available to spot this situation and remedy it.

Does this answer your questions better?
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+Yonatan Zunger I didn't say you had to use two non-Latin scripts. Latin is a perfectly fine second encoding. But the primary encoding, for non-Latin-script native speakers, is their own, not ours. Ours is the transliteration.

/queueing on the rest
 
+Sai . You can pick whichever script you want as primary or secondary. Neither I nor our codebase cares.
 
+Sai . Good point... we could have picked an example with a non-Latin primary and a Latin secondary.
Sai
 
+Yonatan Zunger I'd suggest you edit to do so, and ensure the policy documentation reflects the same. It's a pretty big difference. (still thinking on your large comment)
 
So, Yonatan, it looks to me from reading the new policy text like there is still an expectation that I have to fill in my "real" name as the primary name and any pseudonym by which I am known in the "other names" field. If this is not the case, the text needs significant clarification. If it is the case, then this is really still inadequate.
 
+Scott Jordan "Google has set up a situation where the user must gamble their pseudonym on whether or not they will be deemed as legitimate" You phrase it as a gamble. What are they losing if their pseudonym is rejected? simply the opportunity to call themselves 'potato salad' when no one know them by that name anyways?? a gamble implies a significant loss.
 
+Scott Jordan I did. I decided it was unnecessarily confrontational, and I didn't wish to leave it as I appreciate and respect Yonatan's level of engagement.
 
+Scott Jordan I assume he got suspended before 1PM Pacific time today, which was when we updated the policy.
 
I'd like to thank +Yonatan Zunger for being open here and replying to questions. I have yet to see this on another social network.
 
mostly just subscribing myself to the comments here. In short, I approve.
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+Yonatan Zunger Addressing your response:

1. I understand and actually agree with wanting names over handles. Handles are often (but not always) reasonable to handle (ha) as 'nicknames'. I think they should be included in + mentions also, but there we're talking less a matter of principle and more one of implementation.

However, the two aren't strictly separable. For instance: +aestetix aestetix. It's his handle, yes, but it's also the name he goes by all the time IRL. It's how I met him. I happen to know his wallet name, which is different, but even so I and most of his friends call him "aestetix" most of the time.

Is it his "handle" or his "name"? I would argue it's both, and he has more than one legal name under the centuries-old common law understanding of the term.

Indeed I would argue that the only worthwhile point of such a policy is to have people identified here as they would be if you met them at a party IRL. But that's not something you can prove or verify other than by asking the person themselves.

2. Why can't non-celebrities have pseudonyms too? I'm no celebrity and would probably have been rejected under this doctrine. I see no substantive justification of this policy.

3. Drivers' licenses do not capture false positives against common law names. Consider (just for instance) the many trans people whose drivers' licenses reflect a different name than the one they go by IRL.

Also, I consider it objectionable a priori that I should have to show my ID — something you don't even verify in any sensible manner — merely because I have a weird name. What do you think the reaction would be if Google+ applied this policy consistently, requiring ID from everyone who wants to sign up? (Forget about the workload of doing so, consider simply the evilness quotient.)

Evil policy + discriminatory application ≠ less evil.

4. That's not really a substantive response. How do you intend to minimize the problem for people with unusual names?

5. Dismissing the number of people who need to use pseudonyms, and saying "well it works for the privileged majority", isn't really a good response here. Again: how do you propose fixing this bug?
 
+Yonatan Zunger I'm very pleased that online reputation is now considered on par with offline reputation. Very. It really bothered me that Google wouldn't take that into account previously.

A couple questions.

1. How do I get my name approved in advance? You don't want to invest in a social network only to discover that your credentials aren't good enough. I have another name that has a (in my mind at least) substantial following elsewhere. It has a Google+ account, but obviously I haven't been posting publicly. I don't want to invest time and effort building relationships and making posts only to have it flagged and not pass your criteria. (cc +Chris Stehlik)

2. I'm confused by your statement that Google+ can be your first network. How can it be my first network if I'm just starting out using a not-on-my-license name? It seems to me that if I am, for instance, a closeted LGBT and I want to start networking with similar people, I'm going to have to start on Twitter or some other place and only come to Google+ after several years if I've built a following. Am I missing something?
 
+Yonatan Zunger You mention that one of the things Google discovered in running the site has been that real names are better or needed in some way. Can you elaborate on this? Is there any actual data to back up that statement?
 
What do people think about this announcement? I've got a poll at http://goo.gl/m75xj

+Yonatan Zunger thanks for the engagement! I'm still thinking about my reaction but this is great perspective.
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+Yonatan Zunger "I assume he got suspended before 1PM Pacific time today, which was when we updated the policy."

That reminds me: when are you going to be sending out emails to everyone previously suspended in #nymwars , telling them that it's okay to come back now?
 
This is the most common current version of the name I've been using online since 1983. I'd really rather go by just the first name in Google Plus: this last name was picked up as a result of another social platform that required me to have two names, and didn't allow me to pick my own last name, so it's kind of accidental but it's the one people are likely to recognize me as now, for the community I use it in... and I don't want to confuse things by changing my Google Mail account name.

I was using this name on Buzz, but when Google Plus launched I didn't want to risk losing access even temporarily to my Google Mail account, so I deleted this Google Profile and all my posts. I hope I'm not making a mistake now, reversing my decision.
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+Scott Jordan Indeed. But Google could at least try for an apology.

… as if.
 
+Yonatan Zunger thank you for engaging in the discussion and making improvements. The aspect of the new policy that is still concerning is the need to have a "following" in order to justify the use of a pseudonym. This disallows nonfamous people who are using pseudonyms for personal reasons, for example an LGBT teen in a prejudiced small town or an abuse victim. These folk may not have an established online identity with the pseudonym and a legitimate need to use the pseudonym.
 
+Sai . Taking your questions one at a time:

1. "aestetix aestetix" may in fact be a good example of the second case, a widely-known handle. I don't know him so I can't guess.

2. We are deliberately setting the threshold well below "celebrity." There's a reason trench coat was one of the examples in the post. You are the sort of person we would want to pass.

3. Yes, that's a known issue. We need to develop good signals for common law names. The "other online or offline information" is meant to help with this case, but do you have some other suggestions?

4. I need to see the data before I can answer that question more precisely. A lot of it depends on just how many unusual names there are, and what problems they're encountering. We've got a very serious (and senior) team staring at all of this stuff carefully to see what we can do to improve it. If you have suggestions here they will be most welcome.

5. Name-shaped pseudonyms should Just Work. Pseudonyms which don't look like a name in any culture are going to be the hard case. These do seem to be genuinely rare -- most people who use handles use them in addition to names, and most people who use pseudonyms use ones which look like names. That doesn't mean that they aren't important, just that from a prioritization perspective we wanted to help the most people first. What we need to develop is some way for people to emerge non-name-shaped pseudonyms on the service, but that's a harder problem.

6. We have been discussing the sending out of such e-mails but don't yet have a schedule. Hopefully this post will generate enough noise that a lot of the people who were suspended will hear about it even before we have a chance to e-mail them.

7. We updated Bradley's post to make the non-Latin script the primary. Thanks for the suggestion. :)
 
{same as in +Natalie Villalobos post}

Okay ... the awkward questions for Psuedo's ...
:D

1) What took so long?

2) What about the reasons originally provided by Google for not permitting Psuedo's at launch?
a) Trust and Authenticity
b) More engaging and encourages interaction
c) Worries over provision of Privacy and real Anonymity
d) Concerns over "trolling" and "being bad" because you have a non-real name
?

3) Are there rules "guidelines" about multiple accounts if you want segregation of activity?

4) Any plans of "associated" profiles, so that G will know that profiles X and Y are the same person, and are simply different "aspects" ?

5) Will there be different monitoring/treatment/responses of/to/for those using Psuedo's (will they be monitored more closely for spam/misbehaviour)?

And I loved this line;
"... Since launch we've listened closely to community feedback on our names policy ..."
Not exactly difficult - tons of people basically shouted out about Psuedo's ... and G's response was a bit lame/inconsistent.

Awkward questions and negativity aside - thank you!
I cannot tell you how glad I am that this is now possible.
Those of divergent sexual persuasions can +/post in peace, those suffering abuse can speak in safety, those that have hidden lives (such as cross dressers) can + without fear of sufferance, those who have lived under other names for years online can now have their "real" names back.

A shame it took so long - but you got there in the end,
and that is what counts!
 
+Kee Hinckley

1. We try to do this quickly. I can't give a firm guarantee about times, but we try to have any potential problems checked and tagged within days of name change or account creation. Perhaps we need a mechanism for someone to say "I'm worried about this, please run me through the name check now?"

2. If your not-on-your-license name is something which looks like a name, just use it. You do not need to do anything else. If your not-on-your-license name looks like a username rather than a name, that's the hard case which we haven't solved yet.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Thanks for the details. I think I just have the one open question. If I'm not sure if my account is "name shaped" and thus might require additional verification…how do I request verification prior to investing time and energy in the account?
 
+Yonatan Zunger I can solve #2 for you! Just stop caring what people use for a name. Problem solved.
 
+Scott Jordan What we don't want is for a very large number of people to start using CaptainCrunch69, and then to run in to problems later. We're deliberately ramping this up slowly.

+Kee Hinckley We don't have a way to do that yet, and it bugs me a bit. I mean, there is the fallback that even if you get suspended you can change your name to a different name, and you don't lose any of your data, but that won't solve every single case.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Can you address my question about the data behind the decision that real names are desirable?
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+Yonatan Zunger 1. Your response is besides the point. Please suppose for the sake of my question that he isn't "widely known"; that my description is simply accurate of his friends and his behavior IRL.

It happens to be that he is in fact a public speaker and so forth. Pretend he isn't. Or for that matter, suppose we're talking about Fizz, another friend of mine who's still suspended, and about whom I could say basically the same thing.

Try again. :-P

2. Please give examples of the low end for what is adequately "well known". What kinds of online references count?

Also, please note that while the policy before has claimed that e.g. Facebook, one's own website, etc., were acceptable proofs of identity, in practice, this was a complete lie. Consider e.g. the treatment of Skud (among many others).

Will this de facto rejection be changed? Will it be changed retroactively, to fix the problem for people who've already been suspended?

3,4. Well, let's start with an easy example and work our way towards less well documented ones.

Is this adequate? http://infotrope.net/bio/my-name/

5. Define "name shaped", if even just from a statistical analysis POV.

6. Not good enough, any more than the policy to date of merely posting a banner on someone's profile is good enough.

Google has done real, severe damage to its reputation. An email of apology, laying out the change in policy and how to act on it, should be sent to people who were previously suspended.

7. Yay on that. Will update my post.

8. what +Gary Walker said: You claim evidence that a no-handles policy is better for discourse. I've seen zero proof of this, and indeed proof to the contrary.

Please provide evidence to back up your assertion.

9. What about the case of multiple distinct identities? Someone in +Bradley Horowitz's thread raised the very relevant issue, well documented by sociologists, that people IRL have different names in different contexts.

Are users permitted to have multiple G+ accounts, for instance one under their wallet name and one under a pseudonym?

Please note that Pages are not an answer to this; I am not including business identity, but actual personal pseudonyms.
 
+Lyndon NA

1. A lot of things. Getting road miles on the system really helped -- see my answer to #2 below. That let us understand what really was and wasn't important to building up a healthy ecosystem. Working out policy details was actually fairly subtle; things which look simple in a post are the product of tremendous amounts of detail. And there were some technical challenges; e.g., rendering nicknames in a deeply internationalized way is surprisingly subtle. I might post about that separately, actually, it's kind of interesting.

2. a) We thought this was going to be a huge deal: that people would behave very differently when they were and weren't going by their real names. After watching the system for a while, we realized that this was not, in fact, the case. (And in particular, bastards are still bastards under their own names.) We're focusing right now on identifying bad behaviors themselves, rather than on using names as a proxy for behavior.

b) This does, in fact, seem to be the case -- people seem to interact really differently when they see names and when they see handles. This is one of the main reasons why we continue to think that this distinction is worth preserving.

c) If we tried to do "split identities," where e.g. Google knows all of your identities in one account and shows the right ones at the right moment, then I would lose a hell of a lot of sleep over the risks to privacy and anonymity. This is part of why we don't do that. I think that it's much better if we don't know anything that would be fundamentally bad for us to know; there is less risk of disaster.

d) See a). I am in fact working right now on a troll-hunting project. :)

3. There are neither guidelines nor rules. Use your common sense. (Or do you have a more specific question?)

4. Not at the moment; see 2c for why.

5. No; part of the point of this launch is that we do not try to differentiate "real names" from "pseudonyms," only names from handles. The only difference in treatment is that we have extra scrutiny on handles before letting them into the system.

6. Yeah, we went really quiet for a while. It's a lot easier to get actual work done when you aren't trying to do PR all the time. :)
 
I'm not sure I've got this right, but is the gist that only automatic checks are made that a name is appropriate? People then appeal for false positives. Otherwise if you get past the sign up page, you won't have a problem?

edit :and pseudonyms are allowed, as long as they are either name shaped, or in common use elsewhere?

edit edit: in theory leaving the only unhappy people those who want a new non- name shaped pseudonym, or want to use a non-name shaped pseudo that doesn't meet the "wellknown" criteria
 
In fact, +Sai ., I'll just tell you some of our top open issues right now:

* Still no support for titles (Doctor, Reverend, etc) in names. This is really important in some communities. Fix known, we just have to do it.

* Show the nickname in a wider variety of places. The priority of this depends a lot on how people start actually using nicks.

* Mononyms. :) Right now these all trigger the "handle" check, and that isn't going to scale well in, oh, say, Indonesia. Real fix needed.

But before we do any of this, we want to get this launch right, adjust the thresholds and so on so that legitimate users aren't being kicked, and so that the overall PITA factor for those people who are affected by this goes down. Expect some trial and error, and a lot more of me going around and asking people questions in the near future.
Aliaras
 
+Yonatan Zunger Pssst: did you know the "click here" link to submit an appeal is broken, at least when trying to change one's name to something G+ flags as handle-ish?

-Someone who's just signing up for the first time thanks to this policy change
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Also to add to my #3,4: Consider the following system: Your bot looks for normal-looking* names and flags others. If it finds a non-normal-looking name, it says: "You appear to have entered a handle / business name. Is this really the name you would introduce yourself as if you were introduced to someone IRL? If not, please enter your name-as-introduced-IRL here [ ], and we'll call that your nickname instead. And here's how you can make a business Page. But if we're wrong and it really is your IRL-intro name, just prove you're a human."

Then have some sort of appropriate level of captcha. (As far as I'm concerned, the email threads are basically captchas… ones that, by the way, your support team are failing.)

If they say "yes that's really how I introduce myself", you say "okay, our bad, have fun" and be done with it. No demand for ID of any kind.

What exactly is inadequate about this approach? What would it let through that would be problematic and cannot be addressed through other means (eg AI spam/abuse handling)?


* I'm deliberately avoiding "common" for this sense and I suggest you do too, as "common as in what your friends call you" and "common as in normative" have nothing to do with each other.
 
There are alot of subcultures on the net, what if one's pseudonym is well known, but for the most part only in that subculture. Would this qualify? One can look at any fandom community and have a bunch of examples of this. Most of my circles are utterly dead and lifeless due to them giving up when they were suspended.
 
+Sai . (Sorry, I posted my last comment before I saw yours...)

1. So we're talking about the case of someone who wants to be known by a handle, something distinctly not name-shaped, but isn't widely known by that name -- basically someone who wants to emerge a non-name-shaped handle on the service. I freely admit that this case is broken and is not yet fixed. I do not have a good answer yet, but I intend to talk to a lot of people (including you) and see what we can figure out.

2. Yes, this will be changed! We claimed it would work but it didn't work particularly well, and this fact pissed me off no small amount. Considerable work has been done on the backend process to make sure that it now does. No firm numbers on what the low end is; I want to see the data over the next few days in particular, to see what the range of numbers in practice really are and what these communities look like, before setting the threshold. "Nonce" names or freshly-emerged ones will definitely be below the line, but I'm hoping that most other things are above the line. We aren't doing retroactive changes for various reasons, but we're trying to get the message out for people to come back.

3. Yes. Skud is definitely on the OK side of this, and was in fact one of our mental test cases while we were developing this. If you ask me about thresholds below Skud, I dunno, ask again later.

5. This is a long answer, let me give it its own comment.

6. I think you're right.

8. Not a no-handles policy, but a rare-handles policy. I don't have data which I'm at liberty to share, but we got very strong feedback about this one, especially from less technical users, and also very disproportionately across genders: women liked handles a lot less than men. (This is somewhat reflected in the populations which have the highest density of handles: e.g., people who are old-time Internet users and whose handles date back to usernames)

9. Yes, you should use multiple accounts in that case. (I've got a comment somewhere in that thread about why we don't want to do multiple identities within the same account, because that would be both a product and a security/privacy nightmare) Agreed that +Pages are not an answer to that.
Aliaras
 
+Yonatan Zunger Awesome, thanks! Sorry for bugging you over here about it.

Oh, and, if it wasn't obvious, thanks for the new policy :)
 
+Yonatan Zunger Can I ask if this is recognition of the right under European law to be represented by a pseudonym in any public directory for a communications service?
 
+Sai . Actually, the approach you describe is pretty much what our new name appeals flow looks like. If we ever flag you, the dialog it runs through basically says: "Did you mean this as a nickname? If so, do this. Did you mean this as a business or organization? If so, do that. Did we screw up and is this actually the name you want to go by? If so, click through here and we'll deal with this." Clicking through on the latter takes you to the appeals process, which gets more humans into the loop.
 
WRT multiple identities, I agree. In fact, now that Chrome has introduced multiple profiles, I've de-linked my three Google accounts and am using different windows with different preferences and themes. It's a much more secure option. Putting that separation in the browser rather than the service is much easier and much less prone to errors (both user, and programmer).

+Yonatan Zunger Also, I can understand why you don't have upfront checking, both from the standpoint of support costs, and dealing with spammers. I don't like it, but if I were trying to implement the policy the way you are, I'd probably end up avoiding it initially too.
 
+Sai . OK, and now to answer the really damned tough question of "just how the heck do you define name-shapedness?" And I can't go in to too many of the technical details, but the zeroth-order answer is "using humans, boosted by computers." Humans look at names and flag things which look like they aren't names; anything which is flagged gets reviewed by lots more humans, cross-checked, vetted by people with cultural familiarity, etc. This process tries to err on the side of treating things as OK. (!) We also build up computer models to basically cache this and handle the "easy" cases automatically, since obviously having humans do everything doesn't scale. The goal is that most things which are marked as "not a name" are genuinely cases of something being meant as either a nickname or an organization; whenever the appeals process is triggered, and even more so whenever something passes an appeal, that's a sign that the first-stage check failed and we need to improve our rules. So then we can look at the pattern of appeals, see if there are classes of names which we are systematically getting wrong, and learn from this to improve the process and reduce the chance of someone being sent through it incorrectly.
 
How would one go about proving an offline, well known, alias? If I'm reading this right, it should be allowed, but how do you document it? I suspect asking me friends to submit affidavits to G+ so I can use the name they all call me might not work very well.
 
+Dan Boger There was a Google employee who tried the affidavit approach the first time around. Under the new policy, I'm thinking that might actually work.
 
Oh, maybe it'll work for Google, which would be a step forward. That said, I doubt many of my friends would agree to it, nor do I think it's a reasonable thing to ask for.
 
I understand that you might not be able to answer my previous answer directly... I'll rephrase. Clear yes or no answer, is the intent now to allow Pseudonymous use within policy so long as a 'normative name' is used for the Google Profile identity?
 
+Dan Boger That's actually one of the hardest cases. The new appeals form lets you submit pretty much arbitrary print or online documentation; I suspect that in the cases that you're talking about, it would end up with an e-mail back-and-forth and trying to figure out something suitable to the particular case.

+Jay Blanc Not sure exactly what a "normative name" means, but the intent is that names are OK, handles are generally not, but there are exceptional cases in which handles are OK as well.
 
"Normative name" would mean "A name that looks normal in context".
 
Example case. Jane Dewler-Smith wants to use Google+, but for various reasons does not want to go by her name in public on the service. She instead signs up and uses the name Chris Davies. Will Google allow this use, even should they discover it not to be her name?
 
(I love it when I can answer a complex question with a single word)
 
+Yonatan Zunger What kind of monitoring/review process is there going to be for the people handling the appeals (in other words, those applying this policy)? To rephrase in a more cliche fashion: who will watch the watchers?
 
+Amber Yust /me waves. Also see what +Yonatan Zunger wrote earlier about "whenever the appeals process is triggered, and even more so whenever something passes an appeal, that's a sign that the first-stage check failed and we need to improve our rules. So then we can look at the pattern of appeals, see if there are classes of names which we are systematically getting wrong, and learn from this to improve the process and reduce the chance of someone being sent through it incorrectly."
 
+Amber Yust Well, +Liz Fong-Jones is physically in the room with them right now, as she just hinted. :) While she won't be there forever, we do have a fairly sophisticated system of cross-checks in place; something doesn't get rejected unless a bunch of people check on it. We also routinely update the training process and refresh it with the team, and I intend to personally go through that process on a regular basis in the next few months to see how it compares to what we're seeing in practice.

+Sebastian Kirsch Hrm, interesting edge case. Not sure what would happen. Personally, I like it; it looks enough like a name that you might not notice it in conversation (and I do speak French) but it's funny, too. No official statement on that one, need to think more.
 
Considering the watchers were failing at implementing the previous policy, as written, I'd like to hear if that end of the process has changed as well.
 
+Dan Boger That end of the process has been overhauled very seriously, which was part of what took so long about doing all of this. :)
 
Coming from the opposite direction, I was under the impression, and liked it, that true anonymity was not available under Google+. That a social network based on names (whatever that name may be), meant that a poster was taking responsibility for what they posted, and that sock puppets and throw away accounts would not be tolerated and that intolerance would be built into the system and not simply be a policy that was enforced when someone complained of abuse on the back end (leading to an endless chase after trolls who discard accounts as quickly as they create new ones). How does the new policy address that ?
 
+Kee Hinckley I'm actually also here to hand the torch off to the Google Books team before I go back to school. So I wasn't lying, just omitting some information :)
 
+Chris Stehlik We definitely want to discourage sock puppets and throw-away accounts, but that isn't something you can really achieve via a names policy. It's a problem of the analysis of people's behavior, which is much more subtle. (And we are working on it, but I can't talk about details)
 
+Chris Stehlik Actually, I'll tell you one pointless detail: The project that is dealing with the hunting of trolls is code-named BEOWULF. But for some reason, the lawyers are objecting to my ripping people's arms off and nailing them to the doors pour encourager les autres.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Wanted to alert you that I had mistyped in my earlier comment and just corrected it. "That true anonymity was not available on G+" is the phrase I meant to type
Aliaras
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+Chris Stehlik the problem is, people can sign up as sock puppets/trolls under realish names (Joan Anderson, say) and then be jerks all they want. Or be jerks under their actual real names for everyone to see-- for example, Rick Perry in that ad about the gays. Pseudonymity (DIFFERENT from anonymity) doesn't factor into it.
 
+Aliaras Vehsra So, interesting thing: when we first launched G+, we thought that people would be total bastards if they weren't tied to their own, very durable, identity. (Which was one of the drivers behind the original names policy) As we got more miles on the system, this was replaced with the concern that people are total bastards, period. We are therefore putting some nontrivial work into hunting down general antisocial behavior and dealing with that directly, quite independently of names.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Strange I am very much of that opinion as well and have seen less of the bastard behavior on G+, but perhaps I just am luckier here and have had less time to be disillusioned with humanity. :)
 
+Chris Stehlik The bastardy has been unevenly distributed. Women have been getting it more than men, for example. At the same time, people have been forming an incredible community here, which is especially amazing given that it built from zero to 90M users in six months. There's a tremendous amount of great interaction; the bad interaction is pretty rare, it just needs to be cleaned up.
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+Yonatan Zunger 1. I'm glad that, at least, you recognize this case as broken and in need of fix. And I'm happy to be part of the conversation on how to fix it.

As a slight correction: "Fizz" isn't her handle, it's her name ("relsqui" is her handle). Her wallet name is yet another thing that I don't really consider socially relevant. (+aestetix aestetix is a somewhat unusual case in having the two be the same.)

2. I'd really like to believe you on this one, as I would on your response re. name appeals flow.

Unfortunately, for this I can't take your word on it, because:
a) you're still not giving any clear guidelines for what counts as acceptable validation, and
b) official policy has, to date, wildly differed from enforcement

How does Google intend to regain the trust it's lost in the overzealous nymwars enforcement to date?

I would point out that there are still people with pending enforcement cases — Fizz included, just as an example (cf. https://plus.google.com/103112149634414554669/posts/cbAhS1FgfD8) — and also many cases of people just getting ignored.

What will be done about these?

I'm also concerned by your use of "numbers" here in describing the requirement. Will Google be looking at something like website hits or number of friends on other networks? This doesn't seem like a thing that is legitimately quantifiable to me without being a transparently cynical matter of celebrity.

3. What makes Skud OK? Is it that she's well known within Google, that she's a public speaker, that she's popular, that she has owned infotrope.net for a decade, …? I think she's clearly a case of someone going above and beyond any sane requirements (and even so she got told to piss off and use her wallet name only — rather insulting and something Google's never apologized for).

Most users cannot or will not go to those lengths.

(BTW: /ping +Alex Bayley)

5. From examples I've seen, your support team obstinately insists that people's names aren't names.

What exactly is better proof than "this person asserts that yes it's what they want to be called"? How do you prevent your classifier from merely baking in the circular logic of their existing biases?

8. Your response sounds like you are referring not to any real evidence that people with handles actually post worse content, but rather that other people ignorantly think they do. That's not relevant at all. It's completely circular; all it says is "people think that nyms are abusive". Come on, you're a better scientist than that.

See http://blog.disqus.com/post/15638234811/pseudonyms for one rebuttal based on relevant data.

Data I'd accept could, for instance, be a correlation of abuse reports of content (not of names) to type of name used, normalized for distributions.

9. I agree that firewalled accounts, and possibly an account-switch tool like the gear menu if users are willing to tell Google the connection, is the correct way to treat this. I've considered eg treating one's multiple names with privacy settings and can't think of a method that doesn't have a major chance at leaking.

However, this sounds like a policy reversal that should be explicitly advertised. Previously, Google has said that people may not have more than one account for the same human. Are you willing to make "you can have multiple accounts for your distinct personal identities, and in fact we recommend it" an official statement?
 
+Yonatan Zunger Thanks for the redirect to your thread. I had noticed earlier that Bradley had thrown a mention at trench coat whom many of us have missed greatly. I dove right into Bradley's thread without visiting trench's profile. Once I saw him mentioned again here I visited his stream and it is really encouraging to see good things happening there. I will remain curious of course because I know at some point Google Wallet is going to come into play (says so right on the box) and it will be interesting to see what happens then.
 
+Yonatan Zunger You realize the irony here, that people will have greater confidence that, for instance, Bug Girl is who she says than that Kee Hinckley is? Because you will have verified that she owns her blog, but I have no way of doing the same.

I'm hoping that ownership verification will eventually become available. You already have it automated elsewhere, and it seems to me that it would help automate your validation process. I own the site, pagerank is high, name is on about page. Now have a person double check to make sure it's not an organization name.
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+Yonatan Zunger , is there a bug with the stream? Some posts are not appearing in my main stream. You are in my Circle but this post did not appear in my stream. The Google+ page is also in my Circle and the post by Google+ about this naming policy appeared in my main stream for a short time before it dissapeared. So I have to click on the Circle on the left column to find the post.
Edited (7:42PM): The volume slider for my Circles are set all the way to the right.
 
+Sai If you enter a single name, you'll automatically be routed through appeals, which will result in your name being set to display one name only once approved.
 
Thank you for fixing this. I've returned, as I promised I would if Google ever fixed their policies. I'm Zorin everywhere online, and have been for about 17 years now. If I can't be Zorin on a particular site, I likely won't use the site.

I wish you had not screwed up in the first place, though; I think G+ lost a lot of its initial momentum by not allowing pseudonyms from the start.
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+Yonatan Zunger Also: I'm very interested to know what your proposed fix is for titles; where else you'll be showing nicks or nyms; and how you are going trollhunting. The crunchier the better, naturalement.
 
+Sai They've said in the past that multiple accents were fine as long as they were real name variants. That's clearly necessary if your to have a work account and a personal one. So I assume it's fine if one is a pseudonym.

I disagree with their releasing numbers about what makes you "real" online. It's no different than their pagerank algorithm. It has to remain both hidden and constantly changing as the Internet changed. That's the only way it will stay effective.
 
+Sean Saguansin +Scott Jordan Diplicate reshares may still be eliminated from the main stream. Put all users into a single circle if you really want to see every single post.
Sean S
 
+Scott Jordan , all my Circles have the slider set all the way to the right and has been set to the right ever since they launched the volume slider feature.
 
+Sai

1. Agreed. We'll talk more.

2. Regaining the trust is going to have to happen through doing this carefully, through increased communication (e.g. me being here), through having the right people in the room who can testify credibly to the world about it. (e.g., +Liz Fong-Jones is physically in the room with the people doing the name checking) The fact that official policy has, to date, wildly differed from enforcement seriously pisses me off and I will personally be putting my foot into any asses needed to make sure that this does not happen again.

I can't give any clear guidelines, yet. But this is something that we do take seriously, and I think that more clarity and communication can only help in this case. Let's give it a bit of time to bake, and hopefully we can come up with something clearer; I like the idea of telling people more rather than less.

3. All of the above. I agree that she went above and beyond any sane requirements, and I don't think she should have ever had to go to these lengths. In fact, her case was one of the big motivating factors that made it possible to get this policy changed.

5. It's important to remember here that these unusual names are, in fact, very unusual -- even under the old policy, we were looking at a < 0.5% trigger rate, and far fewer than that which were triggering because of unusual names rather than, say, having two different scripts in their name. The classifier is training to get the (huge number of) easy cases right, not the hard ones; those are always going to be passed off to actual humans.

8. Actually, it's not that people think that nyms are abusive at all. It's that people react differently to seeing that they've been circled by John Smith, versus seeing that they've been circled by CaptainCrunch49. Various categories of user tend to react very negatively to the latter, say something to the effect of "who are these strange people?!," and log off and never come back.

There's a lot of clustering asymmetry in this, however. Generally, if you know at least one person who has an unusual name, you're likely to know a lot of such people; i.e., people with unusual names travel in tightly-connected clusters. That's largely because these names tend to be tied to particular subcultures. The problem we're really encountering here is of culture clashes: people from one culture absolutely freak out when they encounter people from a very alien culture. That's actually a very deep problem which affects a lot more than names, and it's one that I'm spending a lot of skull sweat on lately. (I can tell you more off-line) If we can find a good way to deal with that, then the handles problem goes away too, and we can just revert to the simple jwz solution.

9. Hrm. I have nothing new to say on this subject today. Neither about the gear menu and multi-login, nor about support for multiple profiles in Chrome, or what you could do with them.
Aliaras
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+Kee Hinckley What I'd like to see (and I think what +Sai is talking about) are the numbers which indicate that widespread handle-use would be damaging. There's no way to game that other than to use realish pseuds (already explicitly allowed under this policy), unlike the pagerank algorithm. Also, no way for money to be made on it. +Yonatan Zunger, it'd be nice if you could talk to someone about making that data available, as it'd be interesting for people who're following #nymwars as well as academics of various stripes.

Edit: and scooped by the comment just above me, which posted while I was typing. Do you know why people of vastly different cultures are encountering each other like this? I've seen the Scoble effect, but aside from that, I'm not sure that people usually circle people they don't know (that is, I circle people I don't know who are well known/public figures, and I circle people I know, but I don't circle random strangers).
 
Overall, thank you for this discussion +Yonatan Zunger. Unrelated side note: Threaded comments would make reading this exchange MUCH EASIER. Please consider threaded comments, rather than + tagging people and having to flip back & forth.
 
Where can I file a name appeal before getting my account suspended? I make heavy use of Google services, so fixing my name and simply hoping it won't get me suspended again is not an option I wish to pursue.
 
+Kee Hinckley All of the thoughts you say about ownership validation have occurred to us as well. Stay tuned. :) Also, w.r.t. to the troll-hunting team hiring: Do you have your own broadsword?

+Sean Saguansin Not sure, and I'm fairly buried in this stuff right now. Let me check on this later.

+Sai Alas, I can't give details about unreleased features. Especially not in writing in public places.

+Dawn Burnell Yeah, I know. We need better ways to handle posts with large numbers of comments, the single-undifferentiated-thread is a pain in the ass.
 
+mathew murphy We don't have a way to do that, but it's a good point. Let me think about how we can do this.
 
One small question - and I apologise if it has already been addressed, my brain has got fried from reading through all this. Would the use of an initial in the last name field be classed as sufficiently name shaped? e.g. Yonatan Z?
 
Zunger, you are doing an amazing job, keep up the good work! Thanks for being so open and honest with all of the G+ Users.
 
+Chris Stehlik There's a pretty big security problem with the assumption that "real names" will provide any degree of reputation assurance. That is - who is "real"? I assure you that you have no reason to believe that I am real.... in so far as this name has any meaning beyond this discussion. But don't worry - I am real... trust me. It's not like I could randomly generate an acceptable pseudonym (http://goo.gl/7cjtm) with nefarious intent.

+Yonatan Zunger as always... when you've got the clear to comment... said comments are always interesting and insightful.
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+Liz Fong-Jones Yes, but how does someone with an existing binym profile enter one name? What's the exact series of steps? Previously it's been fairly difficult to even find the name appeal. (Anyway, please redirect mononym related discussion to the post I linked, which I'll share w/ groups.google.com/group/mononymy)

+Yonatan Zunger 2. We'll see, I guess. I do think it's a very good sign that you're finally engaging substantively about these issues in an open manner. I hope that open discussion continues, and is reflected in equally substantive policy change.

3. Is there any subset of what she did that'd be clearly acceptable?

5. The actual humans have fucked up. See eg the extremely rude thread I linked above detailing Fizz's case.

Also, there's a circularity involved here. You are, necessarily, missing all the cases of people who were too dissuaded by Google's obstinate policy stance to even bother appealing — or, for that matter, who were unsuccessful in their appeal. Your classifier probably thinks Fizz isn't an acceptable name, given that her appeal was rejected. (Or at least, they stopped responding to her for good when she asked to speak to a supervisor, which is equivalent.)

8. You nicely dodged my accusation about statistical circularity. Kudos, but I see what you did there.

However: this is indeed a culture issue, and one I'd love to discuss more in depth here or elsewhere.

Part of it, I think, is the paucity of current circle notifications. All you get is a name, avatar, and either an epithet or an ambiguous statement about circle overlaps. (It doesn't seem to distinguish between followers and followees on either side, so it's something like 3^2 possible meanings?)

That's adequate for mere recognition, where the substance of "who the hell is this person and why should I care that they followed me" has been conveyed out of band.

It's rather inadequate for anything better, and I think that's the challenge you need to meet here. This is no different than, say, the de-'othering' of queers; the more people know, the more it's normal, because it's tied to other cultural overlap. I think that analogy applies for your example too. Yes, many people will have a hostile initial response to us "weirdos" (in both senses). But it's not ethical to say "well, shut them out then"; rather, the appropriate systemic treatment is to bridge the gap.

So for instance: one could give the followee an inline preview of the follower's maximally attractive-and-representative post. (Further discussion of this particular part I think is off topic for this thread, I think. Another thread! :)

9. Hopefully that changes soon. You already said something quite substantive here, I just want it to be said officially.

PS I own both a steel katana and a jo (and bo, and various more subtle things). I think they're more appropriate weapons than a crude broadsword. :-)
 
+Yonatan Zunger Bravo, a very good move that many people waited for a long time.

However you need to also quickly add the option to request a name verification for pseudonym AND real names. If I want to do some business with "Joe Smith" I want to make sure he is not a fake name. If you need to build some confidence in your name you should be able to provide enough credentials to Google to prove who you are. This is a similar process as using certificates with email.

On the other hand, if I'm a political activist who has important things to say anonymously, I surely don't want Google to check my drivers licence ! And I'm not going to wait that my pseudonym is well known on other networks to get approved by G+

So the real challenge is to provide a mechanism to build trust in the system yet to allow pseudonyms for people who don't trust the system. Real names are helping a bit for the first objective but are bad for the second one. The new policy is going to help the second objective but is unfortunately going to weaken the first one unless we can easily get certified names.
 
+Sai I'm more partial to small knives at close quarters…Trolls don't move very quickly.

+Yonatan Zunger I'm very tempted to gather up a bunch of your comments ("…As we got more miles on the system, this was replaced with the concern that people are total bastards, period.…" "…I will personally be putting my foot into any asses needed to make sure that this does not happen again…" and the whole thing on clustering of names) into a post, but I thought I'd ask first…I know I'm sometimes more open and blunt in comments than in posts. But I think they do far more to describe the meat behind this change than any of the official pronouncements.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Thank you for addressing the issue. I would point out that "feedback" and data are not the same thing, but I'm sure you already know that. It would appear that you are attempting to engineer how the service is perceived by the uninformed lay(wo)man rather than how it actually is. I wish you the best of luck with that. Needless to say, I think you'd do better to craft a response that works from data on actual behaviors rather than on people's opinions about potential behaviors (which is just a long-winded way of saying "prejudices").
 
+Yonatan Zunger One other question about process. If an account is flagged, do you now send them email telling them?
 
+Kee Hinckley I'd agree that Yonatan's comments are more interesting than the official announcement. I'm just not sure why this is being characterized as "support" for pseudonyms rather than "support for pseudonyms for people who have money, status, or fame."
 
+Sai

0. To get a mononym, edit your name, set the family name to a single dot, and go through the names process as usual. At the moment all mononyms trigger appeals, this is a known issue.

2. Conversation good. (Although after the past 4.5 hours, my brain is turning to jell-o) There will be more.

3. I don't want to commit to particular thresholds, but I think that her role as a public speaker, her established presence on infotrope, or her general popularity and well-knownedness are each individually strong enough signals.

5. Yes, that's a problem. I'm going to start by trying to solve the problems which I can fix, and then hopefully get the people who were dissuaded to see that it's no longer as fucked-up and try again. I will also be sitting around with my hand on the controls for quite some time.

8. It wasn't a total dodge. I just said that the computer model itself isn't the part that's going to have to deal with statistical problems. :) Humans, OTOH...

First of all, you're completely right about the paucity of circle notifications, and in fact that's something that's been on my list lately. They don't give you nearly enough context. Orthogonal problem but hopefully fixable. What you're suggesting about showing an optimal context is a really interesting idea -- let's have a longer conversation sometime in the next few days, I want to pick your brain about a number of things.

I completely agree that "well, shut them out then" is not the right thing to do. But I'm currently stuck between shutting out a small number of people, or creating an environment in which a large number of people (especially women, and especially people who are already feeling uncertain in the online environment) feel a hostile environment and get shut out, too. I do not like being in this situation and am actively trying to work on real solutions which will allow us to bridge the gap, and make this a good environment for everyone. I'm very sensitive to notions such as de-othering and that was actually one of the main things which drove me to work on this problem. Today's step is progress, in that it opens the doors for some big groups of people, but it's not complete.

In particular, some groups that I think will win from today: People whose primary script isn't Latin [who were getting the "who the hell is this?!" treatment a lot]; people who don't want to use their legal names [which includes people with stalkers, <trauma> survivors, and so on] and who were afraid to use the service under the previous rules; people who had well-established handles but who didn't mind them being shown in conjunction with their names, but were effectively undiscoverable under their best-known names. Trans people who were concerned about a demand for their driver's-license name. Some groups which didn't win yet: subcultures, especially Western subcultures, where "unusual" names are more common; people with mononyms. Overall, we have some pluses, but not yet nearly enough. I am very serious about solving this broader culture issue, and not excluding anyone, but at the moment I'm just relieved that I managed to make as much progress as happened today.

10. On second thought, edged weapons are of dubious use against trolls. What we really need is fire. (Damned regeneration...)
 
+Kee Hinckley I'm often more complete in comments than in posts, but it's expected that if I discuss something publicly, that other people may discuss it further elsewhere.
 
+Olivier Moreau Verification, for things like businesses and so on, is a very important feature and we want to do it right. It will come but it isn't there yet. NB that many people don't need it, so that's an interesting signal in itself.
 
+Gary Walker Because a) they are claiming it's only a modicum of status and fame (we'll see) and b) they claim only a small subset of pseudonyms need to meet those requirements (they'll see).
 
Pasting this reply on behalf of the aforementioned Fizz:


"Hopefully this post will generate enough noise that a lot of the people who were suspended will hear about it even before we have a chance to e-mail them."

The difference is that if you email us, we can reply. This conversation, by definition, is happening in a medium where the people most affected by it cannot engage. I've asked someone to paste a reply for me; sorry it's so long, but I didn't want to beg the favor a bunch of times for shorter comments.


"Why would they come back after they way they were treated?"

For the above reason, mostly. Also because G+, for reasons have yet to determine (lacking the opportunity), attracts people I'm interested in following.


The question of minimum-proof is obviously of interest to me, as someone who isn't famous but uses an atypical name. What if I can get four people in this thread (and at least two Googlers who aren't) to vouch for me verbally? ;) (I don't actually think that's a good idea, I'm just amused that I could do it.)


"That end of the process has been overhauled very seriously ..."

Tell them that. I haven't gotten a reply to my last email about it in weeks.


"'Fizz' isn't her handle, it's her name ('relsqui' is her handle)."

And this is what I've been trying to explain, in that email thread, for months. "Fizz" is the name that everyone uses for me in real life--family, friends, colleagues, instructors, classmates--and has for nearly two decades. As such, it is 100% in compliance with Google's original policy. I was still suspended for using it, and when I finally managed to reach someone by email, I was jerked around and insulted (as Sai linked to the transcript of).


A non-name-related request: When you reference gender (e.g. in the context of harrassment statistics), please remember that there are more than two of them. It will not always be relevant, but sometimes you seem to be using "men" to mean "people who aren't women" or "women" to mean "people who aren't men," which of course is ignoring a lot of them. Much like Sai's objection to the use of the Eurocentric "another script" when "non-Latin script" was intended, this is an important point of inclusivity that it's easy to forget when you're already one of the included. (Getting profile gender options which don't literally "other" nonbinary people is a can of worms I'll worry about opening when I can actually use the service.)


"The fact that official policy has, to date, wildly differed from enforcement seriously pisses me off and I will personally be putting my foot into any asses needed to make sure that this does not happen again."
"I agree that [skud] went above and beyond any sane requirements, and I don't think she should have ever had to go to these lengths."

This is great to hear, but at the same time makes me wary of the effectiveness of this thread. If you feel so strongly about it, and it's still broken, it doesn't seem like talking to you is going to help. Please convince me I'm wrong, though.

I am glad that you're here talking to us, but forgive me if I withold my thanks for it until I actually see change. I'm doing my best to write civilly, but I'm angry about having to deal with this. If the original name policy had been enforced as published, there would not be any need for a new policy; I'll wait to see how this one is enforced before lauding it.
 
+Kee Hinckley It seems rather a pointless distinction to me...honestly, who cares if someone else knows me by that name? If it prevents my friends from finding me, that would seem to be my problem, not Google's. I may, after all, intend that.
 
+Amber Yust Thanks for forwarding this. Fizz:

WRT the forum, you're absolutely right. I would love to engage in other fora, as well as over e-mail. I'm busily engaging here because that's what I've been doing since launch 5 hours ago, and haven't had time to do so elsewhere. My hope was that in the very short term, word would get out to those affected... and that after that, we can reach out explicitly.

As far as the process overhaul, the overhaul literally kicked in five hours ago. If you send me a link to your profile (you can e-mail me at <redacted>) I will make sure it gets in front of the team tomorrow.

As far as gender, I could have a very long conversation with you about that and look forward to doing so after you're on the service. :) I suspect that we agree about this.

As far as why I feel so strongly about it but it's still broken... I felt strongly about it and spent several months working to get everything retooled, which meant building a consensus across the entire executive staff, implementing new engineering systems, writing new policies, training new teams... and the cutover point from the old to the new was at 1300 Pacific time today. You are seeing this just as the switch gets flipped.

And please don't laud it until you see it. I want this to work, and for it to work requires that it get a serious, critical eye from people without a vested interest in the status quo. That's why +Liz Fong-Jones is sitting in the room with the appeals team, and that's why I'm here talking to users today. I want to earn your praise.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I'd double + your last comment if I could. Thanks for all the hard work and especially for the engagement.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Just one last question: does addition of a nickname affect the search by name in Google ( outside of G+)? I mean right now I type my name and all my comments just in my face(looks that I have nothing better to do, which is not true :-). If I add the nickname, does it mean that in order to find all my public exposure somebody has to know exactly how my "name" ( real name+ nickname) is displayed in G+ or the search will based on the name part only?
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+Yonatan Zunger 3. I have to pin you on the principle behind this one. You are still saying, essentially, that only well-known people get to have pseudonyms.

Please give a rational justification for denying pseudonymity to non-well-known people. You've so far not done so at all, and they are disproportionately the people who need psuedonyms for various privacy and security reasons you're surely thoroughly aware of.

5. Again, we'll see. I think this is something that needs outside review.

So… suppose I publicly declare myself as an outside ombudsman for inappropriately failed name appeals, and ask everyone to forward to me cases of name appeals that they feel were improperly rejected after having re-appealed after today. A sort of second-level appeals process, as it were, for when the support team fucks up again.

If I forward them to you, will you ensure they get fixed?

If you're right, this will never get used. If. :-P

8. I like the meta-dodge there. :-P But fundamentally, classifiers can only ever be as good as their training data. (Although… I do wonder what would happen if you sic an untrained classifier on it. Could it induce the appropriate groups? Hm.)

I think that the issue of environment is indeed a tricksy one. However, I think that it's correct in principle to side with freedom of expression over freedom of ignorance. I can see people thinking handles or weird names are weird, but offensive?

If the latter, it seems to me that the real problem you have is not how people are reacting to weird names as such, but how people are reacting to strangers. And part of the service you have to be providing here is making people less stranger (sic) to each other.

Re. your win list:
* People whose primary script isn't Latin — agreed. This is good improvement.
* people who don't want to use their legal names — not agreed at all. You currently require them to be famous and/or to disclose to Google their wallet identity. Neither requirement is OK.
* people who had well-established handles — again, "well established" is weasel wording there; you already had a de facto policy of special treatment for famous people, so this is not even a change
* Trans people who were concerned about a demand for their driver's-license name — I don't see it; how is this any different now?

I agree it's some progress, but … seriously, so many months for this? I find it very hard to believe that internationalization of nickname displays is that hard. As such, this seems to be a delay of executive obstinacy over policy, not of actual technical implementation difficulty. If we were talking something that took a month to improve, it'd be cool; but for this much time, when you knew these issues were present even well before launch?

10. Steel knife + magnesium & flint = very hot fire. I have those too. :-)
 
I have a few questions. My boyfriend's name was flagged as 'not complying with the name policy' a few days ago, despite following the first name/last name format. The name he had can be proven as an established identity, (as can mine) due to the fact we have used them for years on different websites. He was suspended for a few days, but during that time he changed his name and it was accepted.

Just a little while ago, however, his name changed on it's own to his birth name (despite never putting it into the G+ system) and he cannot change it back. He does NOT want his birth name displayed for personal security reasons, and the 'Send Feedback' thing is nowhere to be found right now.

My questions: 1. WHY did his name change ON IT'S OWN to his birth name without warning, 2. HOW can he get it changed back to what it was either earlier today or before the flagging, and 3. WHO do we contact/WHERE do we go to submit proof of 'established identity'?
 
+Sai as a trans person, I can specifically speak to this concern.

If your name is name-shaped, which the vast majority of trans folks' new chosen names are, then you'll not be asked for wallet id, period fullstop, and if all goes well, you'll never be challenged in the first place. If your name is not traditionally name-shaped and brand new, you're on the exact same footing as someone cisgender who has a chosen name that is not traditionally name-shaped, so there's not necessarily a discrimination issue there per se; in either case, the remedy is to show that people do know you by that name. At no point is it required to show your legal name. Does that help?
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+Liz Fong-Jones How is that different from previous policy?

Also, how do you show that people know you by that name, without being famous or disclosing your wallet name?

(I suggest avoiding the term 'legal name' here, because the name you normally go by is a legal name even if it's not recognized by your local car tax department bureaucracy's monopoly on ID.)
 
+Sai In that if you are trans and your name is not traditionally name-shaped, you have additional recourses for demonstrating that you are known by that name. And you'll note that the requirements don't say "famous", they say "meaningful."
 
[[I'm going AFK for a bit now; need to recharge brain. I will return later!]]
Sai
 
+Liz Fong-Jones "Meaningful following" is weasel wording it. I'm blunter. :-P (How many microScobles are we talking, here? Most people have virtually none.)

What additional recourses are there, if you're someone who isn't an online celeb and isn't comfortable disclosing wallet ID?
 
I have little to add to this conversation, because I use a 'normal' binym and and comfortable being classified as male. I do have regular internet handle that I use wherever I go, but I do not use it as my common name. Google's policies have not affected me directly in this area.

However, I want to express how glad I am that people can discuss concerns like this seriously and intently, with Googlers who handle the issues directly. +Sai, you are extremely well-spoken and an excellent advocate. +Yonatan Zunger, thank you for taking so much time to respond to all this material. Given how long it took me to just read this comment thread, I can only imagine you have both put a lot of time and energy into this and other conversations on this issue. You are excellent.
 
+Sai I think we're down to "So we're talking about the case of someone who wants to be known by a handle, something distinctly not name-shaped, but isn't widely known by that name -- basically someone who wants to emerge a non-name-shaped handle on the service. I freely admit that this case is broken and is not yet fixed. I do not have a good answer yet, but I intend to talk to a lot of people (including you) and see what we can figure out." for that case, as Yonatan said earlier.

As was said - identities stuff is a work in progress, but good to at least fix the things that can be fixed now, even without tying everything up nicely with a bow on top of it.
 
Although my boyfriend's situation isn't due to a trans issue, I do think it applies to the matter at hand. The username he was using before HAD his birth name of 'Eric' in it, but the last name was different, in that it matches mine. This is so people can easily get in contact with us through the other, and so people can identify our relationship to each other on-sight.

We have both actively used the 'Coldfire' surname for OVER 5 years on at least one different site. In Eric's case, it's more a matter of his own privacy wishes, but he has at least one established, long term profile to prove that he is recognized by the 'Coldfire' surname; in fact, because his birth name is fairly common, it's easier for people to connect with him when he uses the 'Coldfire' surname because they can associate it with him rather than some other random Eric with the same last name.

In my case, however, it is effectively my real name. My birth name is EXTREMELY unique due to the spelling of my first, last, and middle names, and I do not feel comfortable using it widely on the internet. If you type my birth name into a search engine, you will find next to nothing relating directly to me. If you search for 'Kitana Coldfire', however, the story is much different, as it connects people to my dA and various other accounts on sites I visit at different times, just for example. My art has also been featured on other sites under 'Kitana Coldfire'.

Is this enough 'reasonable following' to make them established identities, or do you want us to legally change them and mail you the paperwork before we don't have to worry about the bots coming after us?
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+Liz Fong-Jones Let me summarize the delta:
a) nicknames are now to be supported for partial inline display, when previously they were only for search and profile details
b) execs like +Yonatan Zunger are now freer to engage in substantive discussion
c) mononyms are supported for display
d) promises that hopefully the profile support team will stop fucking up as much as they have been
e) unofficial implication that having multiple profiles is to be permitted
f) maybe previously suspended people will get an email. maybe an apologetic one.

Same as before:
a) sufficiently famous or cloutful people get to use pseudonyms
b) people using a normal-looking name don't get asked about their name, be it pseudonym or otherwise
c) insulting "community standards" and "appeals" rhetoric about weird names
d) mononyms are still are treated as violators of "community standards" by default
e) people aren't communicated with directly; it's presumed that they'll come here to read about it after they've already been alienated

Have I missed anything?

Nearly everything on the first list is pretty damn mushy and, substantively, only a minor change in display, not a major change in de facto policy.


I agreed that yes, it's positive progress. And sure, good ≠ perfect, etc.

I just don't see that this represents all that much progress, relatively speaking.
 
+Chris Stehlik What's the gamble? Getting your google account suspended along with access to all the other non-G+ services you might be using. Losing access to email or docs or analytics or others for any amount of time would be extremely undesirable.
 
I've just created my account with the reassurance that: "In fact, we do not give a damn whether the name posted is “your” name or not: we will not challenge you on this basis"

Sannse Carter is my name, but not my legal name, so I've been very reluctant to join. I'm still somewhat dubious, given the many examples of past issues... but l'll give this a go.
 
This seems a token gesture at best. You can have a nym if and only if you're famous / epeen-ing enough to have a "significant online identity". What of the more recent to the network? Or those needing to hide behind a nym for persecution or one of the many reasons people may choose to disconnect with their families?

Due to later areas (like report impersonation / theft etc) requiring photo id, you can have a nym so long as any of these apply:
a) you're famous (newsflash: Not everyone wants to be - see above)
b) you go with a pseudo-real variation and hope G never spot it or have no need to contact G
c) it's on your ID
d) have no real-life need for anonymity

Actually writing this reminds me that I don't have photo ID: My passport is expired and my driving licence is old enough that it's a simple piece of paper, officially printed. What am I meant to do in the case of impersonation (not that I expect it frankly, but you never know), theft of photos etc?

So bluntly you want an identity that can be tied to self, entirely for the benefit of your customers, the advertisers.
 
- I started using my pseud in 1990. On dial-up BBSs. Which I verify how?
- Then I started using it on Usenet. Google now has some of the archives but a lot of my most active years disappeared into the ether.
- I've used it on LiveJournal since 2001 and have made thousands of posts and comments there. But I locked 99% of my posts down years ago to prevent clients from finding them. I have also intentionally kept my "friends list" small (around 150 people) because it was personal writing for the most part.
- I don't use it on Facebook because of their policies. So I mostly don't use Facebook. And I keep my list small there as well because I don't want a lot of noise or to inadvertently share something with people I can't trust.
- I don't use it on Twitter; I just use a version of my real name because the only Tweeting I do is for my work.
- And I sure as hell don't use it here, particularly now that Google has made it clear that if my pro page http://www.drsheilaaddison.com is ever going to get ranked appropriately in a search for my name, I've got to have a G+ account associated with it that links to it.

So I have a 21-year-old pseud, that at one point in my life was better known than my "birth name" to the majority of my friends, which almost certainly wouldn't pass the G+ test because I'm not famous and never wanted to be famous under it. (Oh, maybe I could scan in some old DJ flyers! Wait, I tossed those in a move years ago...) And which I don't want to publicly link to my real name, but thanks to search engine/social networking bleed through, if I use it, I link it. So thanks for nothing G+.
Kosso K
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What about single name pseudonyms? I am known as 'Kosso' - everywhere and have been since the early 90s. It's annoying to have to add the K after my name. If I were to be MyFirstname "Kosso" Mysurname, less people would know, identify, engage or trust me.

I would like to simply be +Kosso
 
Data point. +TheBlack Box appeal was refused. I've asked them for more details on what other evidence he/she offered, but all I know for sure is that owning a group of 2500+ members on SecondLife wasn't sufficient.
 
This fails to address an actual use case I had:

1) Blithely posted to USENET under my real name.
2) Got LOTS of creepy email. For no other reason than my name. Including the guy who insisted that he WAS going to find me when he visited my area in a few months.
3) Freaked the heck out.
4) Friend suggested that rather quit the Internet forever, I use a pseudonym.
5) Changed my name to a pseudonym, which was deliberately not something my parents would have known me, so that I would not be implying that I was using my real name. (Note: I was still using my email address, so this was in fact a completely persistent identity.)
6) Magically, even though I was still using that same email address, harassment dropped from lots of creepy mail after posting anything at all to... none. Even though my posting style or content did not change. Even though I posted quite a bit more after changing my name. (I did finally get to through scary "I WILL find you" guy that he was scary, and even got an apology. It took a lot of work and was scary, though. Note: he was emailing me under his real name! From his place of work! That's what privilege looks like; I could know his real name but still be justifiably concerned about my lack of recourse when he did not take no for an answer.)
7) Had lots and lots and lots of great interactions under pseudonyms for many many years thereafter. The next time someone started trying to stalk me, he bounced off my pseudonym shield and it was a lot less scary. Also, people generally didn't even start, a refreshing experience. I know from talking to woman friends who do post under their feminine real names that I got a lot less hassle than they did, over the years. I certainly got hassled a lot more on MMOs where I played female toons, or other sites where I played someone who was more visibly female, even though 90% of people would probably guess that my pseudonym was female.

So, please, tell me, if I were that same completely idiotic 18 year old newly minted woman now, and posting to Google+ as my first ever online service, and learning (surprise!) from the oh-so-lovely Google+ culture that maybe I don't want to do it under my real name, but don't feel like making people think that Jane Smith is my real name... what do I do? I didn't have a "following". I didn't have an established pseudonym. And it sticks in my craw to have to use a WASPonym where, if I'm going to go to the trouble of establishing an identity, I had might as well a) make it a nicely unique search string and b) I can have a name that indicates my gender subtly without being a creep magnet. I don't want to hide being a woman, but being a creep magnet gets exhausting, and perhaps when I use a feminine pseudonym the potential creeps are imagining a 56 year old basement dweller and veering off to find some Jane Smith to bother instead. (Still sucks to be Jane Smith, but I can't fix the world.)

Basically, you're telling us that we have to lie if we're not celebrities. A LOT of us prefer to use pseudonyms that are obviously nyms, both because it does not put us in a gray area of potential misrepresentation, and because it significantly reduces our harassment. And we find it quite insulting that it is assumed that we are acting in bad faith simply for using a nym, an important and longstanding component of not just Internet culture, but Western written culture. (For all I know there are also nom de plume traditions in other cultures, but I am out of my field there so won't claim anything in that regard.)

As a woman, your name algorithm has done NOTHING for me. As I described above, stalkers and trolls will often quite cheerfully do so under their real names. (And I used to handle USENET and email abuse reports -- this is not only my personal experience I have to go on. Lots and lots of people will cheerfully spam, troll, and harass under their real names as well, even to the point of getting an account they are paying for removed.) Many, many, many, online services have managed to build really stellar communities using handles and pseudonyms, even at user counts approaching the point where I noticed that Google+ was often even worse than USENET at a time when the male to female ratio was much bigger than Google+'s. I count Google+ as fairly sub-par as far as its handling of blocking and bullying goes, and I have seen enough bullying and trolling to make me unpleasantly nostalgic for the rowdier USENET groups. It's not a cesspit by any means, and it has some primitive blocking tools, and you can build good communities if you are willing to be aggressive at moderation or private or obscure (look at any much-followed woman on this site and you will see examples of what I mean), or I'd leave, but it's not "doing it right". It's "barely above the bar, and sometimes I have to squint to say that." Given that there are so many friendly, pleasant, and non-harassing services out there that allow handles, in clear contrast to the general behavior here, it boggles me that it's still Google's party line that handles magically make discourse worse and that people should jump through ill-defined extra hoops in order to be allowed to use anything that even looks vaguely like one.

I'm certainly not speaking for all women, just myself, though a good many of my woman friends have expressed that they will never post in public on Google+ or that they will not come here at all specifically because of this policy. They aren't going to feel very grateful about being "allowed" to use Jane Smith, either. Especially since they could have all along if they wanted to, as long as no one reported them for it. They'd like to use their actual pseudonyms that their friends actually know them under without having to be a celebrity to do it.
 
Some questions that remain to be answered:

What does Google intend to do to address the loss of reputation that it has suffered over this issue? Does it intend to apologize to the users that were affected?

It appears that you've conceded that a large part of the original stated motivation for the "real names" policy was unfounded. What evidence is there that simply asking users to assert that the name they've given is the one they commonly use, as +Sai suggested, wouldn't achieve the desired remaining motivations?

If I understand correctly, existing accounts of users who are found to have non-normative names can still be immediately suspended until they can provide the required proof that they are known by that name. Why immediately? If the intention is only that pseudonyms be rare, what harm would be done by allowing use of the account for a grace period while the user jumps through whatever hoops Google thinks they should jump through?

By requiring users with non-normative names to provide specific documentary evidence of their name, Google is effectively saying to these users, "We don't trust you, by default. Prove that you are not lying to us." I find this arrogant and impolite.

As +Sai points out (and I have not seen this point addressed so far), common-law countries allow someone to adopt a name just by starting to use it, and place very little restriction on what it can be changed to -- it certainly does not need to be a name that is common in that country's culture. No formal documentation is required, and the resulting name is a (not necessarily ''the'') legal name for the person. It is a very common practice for people to go by such a name for years, or most of a lifetime, without formally changing it. Why does Google+ require a more stringent test of what constitutes a "real name" than the legal systems of these countries?

I see mention of driving licenses, but I don't have a driving license. Is there an American Cultural Assumption at work here that everyone who matters drives a car (and that no-one who matters is under 17 or whatever the minimum driving age is in their country)? What other forms of ID are acceptable? Presumably passports, but not everyone has one of those either.

Some minority groups may have reason to have ID that does not give the name that they use in most contexts. For example, a trans person might delay changing their name on their official ID if they sometimes need to pass as their birth sex. Doesn't the policy discriminate against such groups -- which also happen to include many people with non-normative names that are less likely to pass the initial filter?

Even if someone does have a form of ID that you accept, why would they want to show it to you? When PayPal asked me to send them a scan of my driving license or passport after I changed my name, I told them exactly what I thought of that idea and closed my account. (It wasn't the only reason I closed my PayPal account, but that's off-topic.)

I at least hope that scans of ID that could potentially be used for identity theft are a) transmitted over a secure channel, b) only accessible to a small number of cleared staff, c) securely deleted immediately afterward. Is that the case?

Are multi-script names (i.e. the name alone or the alternate alone doesn't pass UTR #39) still allowed if the user provides evidence that that they are known by that name, or are they completely disallowed? (By the way, UTR #39 was produced at the behest of the IETF International Domain Names Working Group -- a quite disfunctional group with some profound collective misunderstandings of Unicode -- and I wouldn't be in the least surprised if that algorithm gave a significant number of false positives for names in some cultures.) [Edit: actually, http://www.unicode.org/reports/tr39/ #Mixed_Script_Detection explicitly acknowledges that the algorithm has this bug: "Allow combinations of scripts that are expected to occur together. For example, Japanese text commonly includes Latin, Han, Katakana, and Hir[a]gana."]

[On a slightly different topic.] What is the rationale for not applying name changes to posts before the change? I can see that users might or might not want name changes to be applied retrospectively. Shouldn't they have the choice?
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+Yonatan Zunger Further reduxing some important comments in +Bradley Horowitz's thread and above that I think you glossed over answering or that are inadequately signaled in the official messages and flow:

11 (,~9). One has to create an entirely new google account to firewall an identity. Editing it inline isn't enough, because that leaks history all over the place. (And create one with Tor etc to really firewall, because I'm sure y'all are doing supercookies and other tricks to detect persistency. Not an acceptable risk when there are malicious state level actors sometimes involved.)

12 (,~6). The current messaging in no way makes it clear that you can input any damn name you want. Nor does it really explain what "name-shaped" is. This isn't a small detail — it's rather crucial, since this is what determines whether someone gets scrutinized or not. +Sheila Addison (and several others in +Bradley Horowitz's thread, and +TheBlack Box on er own stream) make a pretty good case of what I was talking about re people with varying amounts of (accessible) online identity but with perfectly legitimate names.

Selective enforcement of this is a huge problem; cf +Wael Ghonim as one prominent example of why.

I think you need to very explicitly, officially (both as policy announcement and as part of signup / name edit flow), say
a) "you can put whatever name you want in there, we don't care" (giving examples of last initial only, middle initials, pseudonyms, etc as perfectly acceptable inputs) and
b) exactly how to be assured that your name won't be later thought not "namey" enough and used as cause for suspension

For (a), I think the appropriate prompt, socially speaking, is "use whatever name you'd introduce yourself as at a party". That's basically the social context you're trying to hook into. It needs to be explicitly distinguished from "real name" / legal name(s), because you're in the hole here on communications about this.

For (b), I think two things would solve it: that once reviewed, you are permanently in the clear against the accusation of namey-ness, and that you can preemptively trigger review if there's any doubt, to prevent it being held over you for later.

Also again, this whole namey-ness thing isn't really tenable further than just asking someone what their name is. People have some pretty crazy names, as I'm sure you've found in researching this. Ultimately, their name is whatever they say it is. +Joe Thompson is right that you're contradicting yourself in trying to have it both ways.

The whole idea of namey-ness reminds me of +Robert Scoble's comments some time ago, pretty explicitly saying that he wanted other people to have to use common-as-in-culturally-to-him names. I find that pretty deeply troubling and offensive; it's naked ethnocentrism. You're not going to refute this subtext without being very open about what your namey-ness criteria are.

And yes, obviously all the spambots will be namey. They already are; this is surely not at issue.

13. There's no assurance against challenge of one's "namey-ness", let alone against an accusation of impersonation or the like. Again, this is a significant problem re selective enforcement. +Matt Holmes raises a very good point. Currently, your resolution process for impersonation claims mandates photo ID from both parties. Is this going to change? If yes, how?

(And, again just pointing out the obvious: you yourself said that the true meaning of the extant "report fake profile" functionality is "virtually unknown". cough Whose fault is that? :-P)

I think +David-Sarah Hopwood and +Gretchen S. raise damn good points in this regard. I've yet to see any explanation for why simply accepting "yup that's the name I want people to call me" for an answer is inadequate.

14. Having to re-enter the same name, enter a magic '.' as the last name, etc., are total hacks. People should not have to know these magical incantations.

15. Your name change flow has several problems. See https://plus.google.com/u/0/103112149634414554669/posts/4KAEskCqXdd

16. +TheBlack Box says that your name review emails are now coming from a noreply address rather than profiles-support@google.com. This is obviously a problem; the review emails should actively invite further response, not be nameless, responseless form letters.

17. +Violet Blue makes a fairly good point about your stats: you're not seeing how many people this doesn't work for, because you drove them away. The number of people who will appeal is probably lower than the number offended by being asked to do so.

I think you need to be much more careful of confirmation bias when looking at your stats. Remember how constrained they are. GIGO.


(BTW +Kosso K: groups.google.com/group/mononymy)
 
re: the broadsword comments. I'd be willing to acquire one, but I'm much more adept with Claymores. And yes, the plural is a hint that I mean the new-fangled kind.
 
Following on from my earlier post, and summary posted by +Sai made me realise I'd accidentally brought up a small but actually quite important point:

I don't have photo ID: My passport is expired and my driving licence is old enough that it's a simple piece of paper, officially printed. Photo IDs are not mandated in UK law. There is no legal requirement for any form of ID. Banks etc frequently have to infer ID from copies of correspondence.

Sure, photo card driving licences and passports are quite common here, but they are a very long way from universal.

What are UK citizens meant to do in the case of impersonation then?
 
+Yonatan Zunger Quote. -

5. Name-shaped pseudonyms should Just Work. Pseudonyms which don't look like a name in any culture are going to be the hard case. These do seem to be genuinely rare -- most people who use handles use them in addition to names, and most people who use pseudonyms use ones which look like names. That doesn't mean that they aren't important, just that from a prioritization perspective we wanted to help the most people first. What we need to develop is some way for people to emerge non-name-shaped pseudonyms on the service, but that's a harder problem.

So, that's me scuppered then despite the fact that I have used Technogran as my name for years on YouTube, Blogger and Picasa. Want to find out where else I'm well known on the internet/ Just Google my name, only takes a few seconds! ;) (and when can we have some emoticons on here?)
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+Techno gran I happen to think that "Technogran" is perfectly well name-shaped.
 
+Liz Fong-Jones Liz, during the review process of someone's pseudonym, do you ever Google that name to see if its widely used on the internet and where? When I appealed about the use of my name 'Technogran' I was refused mainly because I suppose I didn't supply enough sites where I use it. But why can't you as a team just use your own search in order to verify it? Okay, I admit I don't use Technogran on every site I use, usually because that name was already taken on that particular site (such as Twitter for example, where I had to call myself Technogranma instead) but I always stick to that name and have done for years if its available.
My online friends also often refer to me as TG in comments for example.Just wondering as it only takes a few seconds for you guys to prove that person DOES use that pseudonym and has done on different sites. :)
 
"This isn’t a matter of functionality so much as of community: You get a different kind of community when people are known as Mary Smith than when they are known as captaincrunch42"

I have to disagree.

It wasn't the names themselves that was creating these types of communities, but the control over the noise/signal ratio. I really think it's Google+'s filtering controls that really make it stand out as a different community, not the naming policy.
 
+David-Sarah Hopwood Good points. One I think I can answer. Based on +TheBlack Box's experience, it appears suspension is not immediate. That account was denied approval last night and will be suspended on the 27th.
 
+Sai What, with the enforced gap (space) in the middle? Okay. I can't change it anyway (see my latest screen grab) it won't allow me to put it in the first name field and follow that with a 'dot' so its staying as it is for now. Keep up the dialogue Sai your doing a fantastic job.
 
+Scott Jordan Furthermore, I know many people who came here with handles and signed up using real looking names because they knew there was no point in trying the handle.
Norv N.
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Thank you for the work on this, all, and for coming out in the community to answer questions, +Yonatan Zunger, it will make a difference for a number of people, even with... the disappointments we had along the way, that pushed quite a number of people away.

Reading many comments (not all yet, sorry), I feel there is still a disconnect somewhere, something that is bound IMHO to cause issues as implementation and further steps progress on this.
The policy still states that it needs "your name" (as in "commonly known by"), it does NOT acknowledge the aspect you mention in these comments: that it doesn't need to be your name , but a "well formed name". (whatever problems the latter poses, it still isn't at all synonym to the first).
IMHO this is bound to making confusions in implementation. Allow me to cut to the chase here (sorry for not having much time):
The policy itself does not need (if my understanding of your comments is correct) to enforce, to make a "rule", out of: this G+ name being your name, and/or you being known under it by friends, coworkers, readers, etc. It could simply say:

"the username for G+ profile should be a well-formed name" [followed by: try setting some rules here, of course there are edge-cases and problems, but they're there anyway; allow exceptions, such as apparently non-well-formed names, but which are well known in certain communities, therefore acknowledge they may be allowed, with documentation asked for it].

Unless this understanding is missing some essential point, there are huge advantages this approach would have, IMHO. People who wish to be recognized by a community or another, will choose anyway a name they're known by (it doesn't need to be enforced). Of course they will, anyway. People who do not wish to be recognized, for abuse/profession/etc reasons, would use a well-formed name which fits their choice. But, more importantly, none would be offended...
People get very particular about their identity, and this isn't something to play with... If they want to use a name which doesn't seem "well formed" by some "shape"/syntactic rules, but they care about it, and know the syntactic rules G+ accounts usernames should have, they will much easier agree to change a few bits in their intended name, to adapt to a simply syntax-type rule, than to rules which sound discriminatory. Like everyone does, on various sites, acknowledge that sometimes digits are allowed, sometimes they aren't, sometimes characters are allowed, sometimes they aren't.
This would address the "captaincrunch42"-type names, not without bumps, but with much less or no offense brought to people, over their name.
 
+Yonatan Zunger

* Mononyms. :) Right now these all trigger the "handle" check, and that isn't going to scale well in, oh, say, Indonesia. Real fix needed.

I am still not clear about how the new policy relates to mononyms. Are mononyms that are not supported by identity documents allowed?

If all mononyms are triggering the "handle" check, what happens when the user appeals? Will they still be required to send identity documents, or does the review team automatically approve them if their name meets the "name-shape" requirements. Many may be single name pseudonyms like [Technogran], [Kosso] and others that are not mentioned here. Will those be allowed automatically, or would they have to provide "Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following."
 
+Yonatan Zunger +Liz Fong-Jones I am working with a user in the Google+ Discuss forum who reports having been suspended (and under review) for months for using [DJ Spin] which is a pseudonym.

I encouraged him to "kick" the system into moving forward and "edit" his name by submitting the exact same name [DJ Spin]. I was hoping that the automated system would recognize the name as a suitable "name-shape" but that didn't happen. Should the name have been automatically approved and his profile reinstated, or is the fact that he has a slightly modified message stating that his profile is suspended and being reviewed, the expected behavior?
 
+Yonatan Zunger I don't understand when you wrote " Verification, for things like businesses and so on, is a very important feature and we want to do it right. It will come but it isn't there yet. "

As far as I know, G+ is already providing verification of VIP pseudonyms and VIP real names (ex Lady Gaga and Eric Schmidt). This verification process build far more trust than the "real name policy" that was in place until yesterday. Trust is not only for doing business but to be sure you don't talk to someone doing usurpation of identity.

Since yesterday, everybody can create a pseudonym but as far as I understand, you are going to verify them (they must correspond to a real life "pen name" or they must be known somewhere else on Internet). Thus verification is not in the future, it is now !

Furthermore, someone can use a pseudonym but, like in many other site (Twitter, Skype, HuffPost, etc..)" Google may must be legally compelled to disclose certain information like real name and IP addresses (it's all logged, isn't it?). So some law officers can verify who posted something.

So all that to say, there is a lot of verification going on already but it's not yet very explicit how it is done.

I think G+ would be ideal with five different level of names that can be easily recognised by users :


1- Verified real names to do business (Linkedin style) - available only for VIP (ex : Eric Schmidt) with an unknown procedure.

2- Real names for standard users who want to be found easily by their friends (ex: my name) - that's available since day one.

3- Verified pseudonyms for people using a "pen name" in real life or Internet (ex: Lady Gaga) - that's the new option since yesterday

4- Pseudonyms without verification to provide relative privacy but with IP logging to answer requests from law officers in case of very bad behavior (ex: Joe Troll) - this is not available or at least not permanently

5 - Totally anonymous posts like it's done on some networks like Ushahidi to permit to political activist to inform the rest of the world with big problems with their government. - this is not available
 
+Olivier Moreau No, Google are not going to be verifying each and every pseudonym. As long as a pseudonym looks like an ordinary name, they're not even going to check it out.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I understand your need for some time off this brain-frying thread. As others have said, I really appreciate the way you have taken the time to engage with us here and your openness in answering people's questions.

I hope you will come back at some stage with an answer to my question about using an initial instead of a last name. To my mind this would help a lot with the issue of people wanting/needing to avoid disclosing their full name but at the same time not wanting to use a totally made-up name instead. I've been using Berale because there was a requirement to show a last name, but I'd much rather not pretend that it really is my surname, I'd be a lot more comfortable using the initial of my real surname. And I know plenty of other women who feel similarly. (On Diaspora I opted for "Meirav Lastnamovich" but somehow I don't think you'd allow this here, right?)
 
+Meirav Berale With 90 millions users it is quite obvious that Google cannot verify every name ! But they can if they want or if someone clic on "signal that profile". Thus I maintain we are now allowed to case 3 but not 4 (not permanently) end even less 5...
 
+Olivier Moreau My comment was in response to what you said:
"Since yesterday, everybody can create a pseudonym but as far as I understand, you are going to verify them (they must correspond to a real life "pen name" or they must be known somewhere else on Internet). Thus verification is not in the future, it is now !"
That is not at all what I've understood from +Yonatan Zunger's comments. Since yesterday anyone can create a pseudonym, and 1.Google are not going to verify them, and 2.there is no requirement that they must correspond to a real life pen name etc.
 
+Meirav Berale Sorry but this strongly suggest that G+ has the possibility to verify you name (real or pseudo) :

If we flag the name you intend to use, you can provide us with information to help confirm your established identity. This might include:

References to an established identity offline in print media, news articles, etc- Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license
Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following
 
"This isn’t a matter of functionality so much as of community: You get a different kind of community when people are known as Mary Smith than when they are known as captaincrunch42, and for a social product in particular we decided that the first kind of community is the one we want to build."

A discriminatory community may be the one you wish to build, but it is not the one I wish to participate in, and is the reason I haven't been participating within it. Why can't I be in a community that welcomes both Mary Smith and captaincrunch42? I think you are being purposefully divisive.

I'll keep participating within a different social community, not because it's better, but because yours isn't. Be better, and do so in a way that I can trust, and you'll have my participation. Until then, I won't add any validation to your approach.
Kosso K
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+Sai Thanks for the input here. Incredibly useful. Also thanks for the link to the mononym group (awaiting 'approval'). ;)

btw: I notice the auto-complete for your name just now inserted the '.' surname again. Has this 'fix' from before been reverted. Or is it another case of this system not being the same with features for all people all the time?

I'm very reticent to change the 'K' to a '.' - as I had it originally back in June - which caused me to be suspended for a while already - as it will probably re-trigger that.

Oddly, a while ago, after being reinstated, I had a tick next to my name to 'prove' it was me. Then the next day, for no reason, it was removed.

All this has been rather a sad experience and has put off a lot of my friends from bothering to join this network.
 
I am severely disappointed with the new policy for being okay with people pretending to be someone else (Hi, I'm Tine, but call me Jane Doe), but clamping down on actual pseuds that may have been in use for years (Hi, I'm Tine, but call me by the "handle" I've been using consistently to exchange tens of thousands of comments with you since 2002, okay?). How is that not the worst hypocrisy ever? The pseud is actually me despite not looking like a name, Jane Doe is something I picked a second ago to disguise myself.

But thank you very much for the depth of the post itself and most especially for your level of engagement in this post. It has made me change my mind from just deleting my G+ account to sticking around for now.
 
+Tine Hagl and +Scott Jordan Come on guys, you should ask for a refund ;-)

Things are far from perfect and changes are slow to come but I believe the G+ team and people like +Yonatan Zunger are doing serious effort to provide us a very nice tool taking into account our requests...

Remember, Rome wasn't build in one day !
Bob O`Bob
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I just can't understand the driving need behind any of this. IF a person will engage in any level of correspondence to defend their choice of name, then you are not dealing with a bot, period.
Beyond that, controlling names has just flat-out no demonstrated relationship whatsoever to the behavior of the people using those names. Behaviors considered disruptive should be moderated or rejected when those behaviors occur.
If other people are afraid of "captaincrunch48" then those are the bigots who should get the hell out.
 
+Yonatan Zunger broadsword jokes aside, I would be pleased to donate a few days of my time if it could help fix these problems and make G+ a decent home for the people who have so far been turned away by poorly thought out policies. Keeping up with these threads the past 24 hours has seemed almost like a full time job anyway.
Sai
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+Yonatan Zunger 18. What about pseudonyms that include titles, eg +Kiki Sanford aka "Dr Kiki"? You say you don't handle titles per se, which is understandably delayable, but this is not really the same kind of usage. Cf. +Scott Jordan's comments above.

19. If someone has nontrivial blogging posted to their stream — basically enough to convince +Matt Cutts that they are a human and not a spambot or troll nonce — can we agree that that is prima faice evidence that they are in fact human enough that their name should not be messed with?

If reasonable review indicates that they are just advertising or acting as a Page type entity, and the name is ambiguous, then I think asking them to demonstrate good faith or switch to being a Page is OK. (Though obvious: you need a feature to convert profiles to/from Pages.)


+Kosso K The group approval is me — really just making sure people joining are mononymic-identified and not spammers/trolls or something. Nothing crazy. You're in. :-P
 
+Yonatan Zunger
First, and possibly most importantly ... Thank You.
For not only replying - but applying so much of your time/effort to all of this (and it's a heavy post/comment set).

Please bare in mind that anything that sounds "bad" in the following is not personal (though, from reading your posts/responses, you seem to have a spine/stones, and aren't as fragile as some of the Googlers I've encoutnered - so things should be fine :D)

.

So ... where to begin?

----
Okay ... the awkward questions for Psuedo's ...
:D

1) What took so long?

2) What about the reasons originally provided by Google for not permitting Psuedo's at launch?
a) Trust and Authenticity
b) More engaging and encourages interaction
c) Worries over provision of Privacy and real Anonymity
d) Concerns over "trolling" and "being bad" because you have a non-real name
?

3) Are there rules "guidelines" about multiple accounts if you want segregation of activity?

4) Any plans of "associated" profiles, so that G will know that profiles X and Y are the same person, and are simply different "aspects" ?

5) Will there be different monitoring/treatment/responses of/to/for those using Psuedo's (will they be monitored more closely for spam/misbehaviour)?

And I loved this line;
"... Since launch we've listened closely to community feedback on our names policy ..."
Not exactly difficult - tons of people basically shouted out about Psuedo's ... and G's response was a bit lame/inconsistent.

Awkward questions and negativity aside - thank you!
I cannot tell you how glad I am that this is now possible.
Those of divergent sexual persuasions can +/post in peace, those suffering abuse can speak in safety, those that have hidden lives (such as cross dressers) can + without fear of sufferance, those who have lived under other names for years online can now have their "real" names back.

A shame it took so long - but you got there in the end,
and that is what counts!
///

1. A lot of things. Getting road miles on the system really helped -- see my answer to #2 below. That let us understand what really was and wasn't important to building up a healthy ecosystem. Working out policy details was actually fairly subtle; things which look simple in a post are the product of tremendous amounts of detail. And there were some technical challenges; e.g., rendering nicknames in a deeply internationalized way is surprisingly subtle. I might post about that separately, actually, it's kind of interesting.

2. a) We thought this was going to be a huge deal: that people would behave very differently when they were and weren't going by their real names. After watching the system for a while, we realized that this was not, in fact, the case. (And in particular, bastards are still bastards under their own names.) We're focusing right now on identifying bad behaviors themselves, rather than on using names as a proxy for behavior.

b) This does, in fact, seem to be the case -- people seem to interact really differently when they see names and when they see handles. This is one of the main reasons why we continue to think that this distinction is worth preserving.

c) If we tried to do "split identities," where e.g. Google knows all of your identities in one account and shows the right ones at the right moment, then I would lose a hell of a lot of sleep over the risks to privacy and anonymity. This is part of why we don't do that. I think that it's much better if we don't know anything that would be fundamentally bad for us to know; there is less risk of disaster.

d) See a). I am in fact working right now on a troll-hunting project. :)

3. There are neither guidelines nor rules. Use your common sense. (Or do you have a more specific question?)

4. Not at the moment; see 2c for why.

5. No; part of the point of this launch is that we do not try to differentiate "real names" from "pseudonyms," only names from handles. The only difference in treatment is that we have extra scrutiny on handles before letting them into the system.

6. Yeah, we went really quiet for a while. It's a lot easier to get actual work done when you aren't trying to do PR all the time. :)

---

1) Not being funny - but how comes no one asked "us"?
You have a huge user base ... the initial crowd are all basically IT savvy, many having been online for years/thousands of hours.
We could have (and I believe we did :D) tell you.
Further, many even pointed out the different use cases, scenarios, poster types etc.
So no real reason for it to have gone the route it has.

2) Sorry, but not seeing any mention of Googles original excuses reasons for the lack of psuedo support.
On the one hand I was told that it was for Trust and Engagement, on another I was told it was a Security/Privacy Concern.
I even resorted to creating a fake account and emulating G's Frances Haugen to make the point that the Trust was a crock.

2.a + 2.d) Trust is not in a name, not of itself. In an "established name", yes ... but that has little to do with it being "real" or not.
I'm Autocrat - have been for years. Those that know me will either view me as boisterous and rude, or direct and honest (no middle ground?).
I was a Google TC in webmasters for Years.
If that wasn't sufficient for "trust", then what is?

2.b) I'll probably get shot for it - but ... forget the bigots.
At the end of the day, it's in the same classification as those that judge people by colour, creed, origin, ethnicity, accent etc.
If people are so short sighted as to pre-judge based on an avatar or name, then to be honest, they aren't really worth socialising with.
Further - it's been pretty much a standard option from the start of the Net, predating G.
Just because some moron mill (facebook) implemented a similar approach doesn't mean it's right.
(Sidenote: it may simply be my own warped perception - but has anyone else noticed that those who dislike "fake" names and "fake" photos are also unable to discuss things with those who hold differing opinons, and get incredibly snotty?)

2.c) See 4 below

2.d) For the sake of clarity - define "Troll" for me/us.
There are cases when I see words like "troll" or "flamer" used to label someone - primarily because they hold a different opinion/perspective, and don't agree with the originators sentiment.
In other cases, it may be someone who gets al ittle heated, emotionally charged or attached to a subject matter.
Neither of those are really "trolls".
Trolls are those that intentionally sow discord, stir the pot, cause a scene and are basically rude from the outset based on no reason other than to cause problems.
Discerning the difference is no small feat (if you manage it right, I'll buy you a beer! (or a soft drink if you prefer :D)).

How about the flipside? How about hunting out the "unicorns"?
You know, those people who sit on high, and insult those they deem beneath them that happen to disagree with them ... or that call up "supporters".
Such "people" are every bit as destructive and anti-social.

3) Merely seeing if there were restrictions on those that intended to use Psuedos, specific requirements or if there were additional policies or stuff to "catch" people out :D

4 (+2.c)) You don't technically need to associate the accounts.
You need a proper account to start with ... you get a G+ profile with it.
From there, you can setup a "psuedo" and/or an "anonymous" profile.
You flag the original account as "has psuedo", you flag the psuedo as "has original".
If you get your psuedo blocked - you would need to apply to it to be revived, or ask for a new one ... which would prove interesting :D
Done.
No cross-associations, no shared accounts ... you screw up, you get shot.
Single deal, single chance.
Yes - some peopel may abuse it ... but they only get to do so once.
Lets face it - you monitor IPs, you track UA data, you can spot the posting patterns, associations and content/style ... so even if they tried to generate another fake account - they couldn't get another psuedo, as they need to confirm who they are in the first place.
Yes again - a few may slip throuhg - but it's an infinitesimally small figure!

5) So there is a difference :D
It's a somewhat sensible one ... but it does sound more like a "lock down" approach, rather than a "monitor" approach?
It's simply there to re-inforce the whole "only known psuedo's", and prevent the "you want anonymity"?

6) It going quiet/PR takes time.
I thought Google had hired someone for the PR.
Further - you all have regular meetings - surely it wouldn't have taken much time/effort to compile a short update and post it somewhere?

Additional:

At the end of the day ... I'm left wondering if this is a half step measure to see if it goes "quieter".
Maybe, if G shuts up the noisy "we want our handles" crowd ... you can slip out and no one will really worry about the tiny "anonymity" crowd.
I'm hoping that isnt' the case in twice: first that isn't what G is/was planning, second that it doesn't go quiet (I'm hoping the "handle" crowd aren't that self-centered.

I'd happily give up my opportunity to use my "name";
if it meant some closet homosexual could post in peace,
or someone who cross dresses can +1 their favourite site without publicly suffering for it,
or someone suffering spousal abuse could chat to others online and have a hangout with a support group without fear,
etc. etc. etc.

I know that these may be a tiny % ... probably barely 1% in total ... but that is an improtant 1%.
I get accused of beign a G basher ... but when I look at situations like this, and the lack of support at launch ... I think it is justified.
I've been left wondering if it is some sort of "social judgement" from Google Corp that you should not be a closet case, or secretly cross dressing ... and it's "their" attempt to alter society ... as I see no other possible reason for such an oversight/failure.

So please - be honest ... are there realy plans (blow, even intentions!) to provide Anonymity to those that could really do with it?

-

And again, many/much thanks for all the time/effort on the comments ... as well as the tone/style.
Nice to see a bit of attitude from a Googler (most seem far to nice/fey).
Keep it up!
 
Is anyone doubting the need for threaded discussion any more?

Until that is available, I suggest more people use what I call "explosion" by taking a specific sub-topic into a new post, and supplying an explicit comment to the effect of "please branch detailed discussion of {sub topic} to {link}"
 
On the subject of trolling - as noted by +Lyndon NA that's actual trolling to cause offence and escalate things rather than mere intense disagreement, there seems to have been a spate of that lately on G+. Having a real name (or sufficiently namey handle as it's impossible to tell which) didn't in any way ameliorate things. Trolling is a people thing not a name thing. Made worse by the dynamics of interacting on the net.

Providing adequate reporting, blocking and management tools will help, enforcing a normative looking name will not.

and +1 for +Bob O'Bob 's suggestion of threads :)
 
+Bob O'Bob
Threads, responds to ... you mean all the "common" things you see existing else where/in other pre-existing formats etc.?

Well, normally I'd say fat chance - years of watching G re-invent the wheel and devs that do't seem to believe in replicating things, even if "good" has made me mroe than jaded (and bald!).
Yet ... maybe.
G+ does seem to be developing and including things much more rapidly than G has developed before ... and the devs don't seem as fragile?
 
+Scott Jordan

I'm guessing that it matches a "pattern".
A "real name" in many western countries generally consists of 2 or 3 parts.
Each "part" may be a single uppercase letter, or several letters that may/no start with an uppercase letter.

Thus you may have;
A Something
Andrew Something
Andrew S

but you cannot have;
Andrew
Something
as you need 2+ parts

Throw in that certain words are not (usually) names, than names don't generally consist of 5+ parts etc.

Does that help any?
Aliaras
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+Yonatan Zunger Two quick questions for you:

1. If a name appeal is denied, can we resubmit it, especially in light of the no-reply email?

2. Would you like long feedback here, another post, in a message, or by email? (or not at all)
 
the "no reply" email is pretty hypocritical of Google
 
+Scott Jordan I'm pretty sure you could choose that name, because there's nothing I can see which should trigger the review, and we've been assured that the "report fake profile" doesn't actually flag names.
 
OK, back and I'm going to try to work through some of the backlog of comments.

+Kitana Coldfire I don't know the details of your various online presences and so on, so I can't give a firm answer, but it definitely sounds like the right sort of thing. Which is to say that even if you were tagged for review, you would probably not have trouble getting through it.

+Kosso K Mononym handling is admittedly not good at this point. All mononyms are presumptively triggering review, and are being held to the same standard as highly non--name-shaped handles such as +TheBlack Box. We don't yet have a good answer for this but we will.

+Kee Hinckley +Sai Actually, +TheBlack Box did get approved, this morning. (NB the completely unsuspended profile under that name which I'm linking to) I'm not sure why you think he didn't.

+David-Sarah Hopwood Account suspensions aren't actually immediate; there is a grace period of the sort you describe. With regards to types of ID, driver's licenses are just an example we've been using as a shorthand in this conversation. What the form actually requests, as one of the options (not the sole one!) is "scans of official documents (such as a photo ID or passport), newspaper articles, or other printed media that refer to you by this name." These are in fact transmitted over encrypted channels, with access highly limited, and are deleted immediately after the conclusion of the review. Multi-script names are currently allowed after review, but we're probably going to modify that rule shortly to something more sensible, which basically prevents people from turning their name into a jumble of random Unicode. (I could go into way too many technical details here)
Kosso K
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+Yonatan Zunger Thanks for responding. Much appreciated. I am slightly worried about following the method described by +Sai to change the K to a dot, then go through the 'appeal' process, after reading that someone lost a lot of prior posts after eventually being reinstated.
Sai
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+Yonatan Zunger If +TheBlack Box got approved, your communication with him sure sucks. Cf. https://plus.google.com/108580562690057205363/posts/TtFX6j6ZWvx & https://plus.google.com/108580562690057205363/posts/JWaXwh3eNVV (note the comms status at the time we commented — it's only been changed since 16:09 ET)

Also: your crypted transfer is only applicable to stuff submitted in the initial form. If Support demands ID by email — and they have — then it's going over just plain email. Y'all don't even have a published PGP key. I don't have to spell that out.
 
Two simple questions distilled from +Jon Pincus's thread here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115324919838980591640/posts/WRhgfgJuz4a

1) If I pseud myself... and then share something I wrote under my professional name... and other people re-share it with the tag "[pseud] originally shared..." People searching for my professional name are going to get my G+ pseud because Google will prioritize the shares in search, y/n?

2) If I pseud myself... and then create a professional profile as well... People connected to my professional profile are at some point going to be offered my pseud account as "someone you might know" because Google knows I own both accounts, y/n? Particularly if personal friends who are connected to my pseud account also choose to connect to my pro account, creating lots of connections between the two?
Sai
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+Sheila Addison As a response to (2) that +Yonatan Zunger probably isn't allowed to give: if the two identities' visible friends have an unusual amount of overlap, I can probably find out that the two are highly probably the same entity. "Visible" includes both explicit privacy settings on the friends list in your profile page, and implicit things from any interactions you've ever had with each other publicly that I can scrape.

If you're seriously concerned about maintaining a privacy wall between the two, you're going to have to not have them know each other and probably have separate sets of friends etc.

Of course, not many attackers would go to this length to deanonymize you, so it's a tradeoff. How serious is it if discovered, how likely is someone to try how hard, etc.
 
My name change "appeal" yesterday was approved. But nothing was changed. So apparently the clock didn't get started. I have tried again. If there's a technical issue with the punctuation character, that is a reply which would be acceptable to me, so please ensure that the people sending the non-replyable email will inform me of the actual facts, instead of just repeating the boilerplate " Your name has been updated on your Google+ profile" when it was not.
 
Is anyone else being forced to enter a captcha code several times a day, just for repeatedly refreshing a busy thread like this one? I suggest that the code watching for "bot like behavior" could use a tweak, but there didn't seem to be any feedback facility.
 
+Matt Holmes Impersonation is a different question, and I'm not the expert on it; +Saurabh Sharma might be able to tell you more about how that works.

+Techno gran We might search by Google, but it's much more likely that a review will work if you give us some links to start with; relying on us finding the information which is most representative of you is by its nature chancy. "Techno gran" (with or without the space) is IMO very handle-shaped, rather than name-shaped -- if I bumped in to you at the local Tesco and you told me that was your name, I would certainly be quite surprised -- but from peeking around at your presence on the Internet, it's also what I would describe as a very well-established name. I saw you mentioned in a comment that you can't change your name right now, but I can't find the screen grab you're mentioning so I'm not sure what's up with that.

+Norv N. The phrasing here is aimed at the (>99%) common case, where the name you enter is "your name" and the meaning of the phrase "your name" is unambiguous. (We shouldn't lose sight, during this conversation, that for the large majority of people this isn't actually nontrivial) If the text were to say "your username" people would think they needed to make up a unique ID like yonatanzunger1832b; if the text were to say "your name on the service," people would think they needed to pick a name for this service, and that they probably shouldn't use their commonly-used name.

That said, I think that you raise a good point about the phrasing. I'd like to make the phrasing be something which is straightforward for people for which this isn't ambiguous, but which doesn't have offensive implications for people for whom it is. If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

+Kaleh Kohler At the moment, all mononyms are triggering the "not name-shaped" check and are requiring manual review, in which we do require some supporting evidence -- either legal docs, or proof of established identity. This is admittedly incorrect and needs to be fixed, because it makes a culture-specific assumption about name structures which isn't universal. In Western cultures it actually does work to several nines, to the extent that we can handle the remaining cases on an individual basis and using some common sense, but this obviously doesn't scale to, say, Sumatra.

For DJ Spin that isn't quite expected behavior, but the "kicking the system" part has had some issues. If he changed his name to exactly what it was before, it might not have taken -- a trick in that case is to change it to something else, then immediately change it back to DJ Spin. (Yes, you can do that) If that still doesn't work, send me a link to his profile.

+Scott Jordan You can absolutely create a +Page for a pseudonym. I haven't been encouraging that even quietly because I didn't want to imply that Google was saying "oh, you've got a pseudonym, go be outside the main stream of the system over there;" but for those people for whom +Pages work, by all means go ahead and use them.

WRT what you're saying about a "name verification tool," or some other way for someone to preemptively check, I think that's a good point -- we're talking about it now. People definitely need more predictability.

+Olivier Moreau We are not, at this time, doing verification (check-mark and all) as part of name review. Verification says something much stronger, that we're basically vouching for your identity, and we don't yet have a general system for that. We absolutely intend to, it just isn't ready yet.
 
My concern is that Google's real names policy clashes with their policy of incrementally tightening integration across service offerings, resulting in inadvertent and unintended public disclosure of one's identity across contexts, hence the need for strong segregation from the start and/or better pseudonyms. Requiring real names may be "necessary" for, say, Google+ profiles but I'm alarmed that suddenly my Picasa album photos are publicly linked to my "true" identity, and to my comments on Youtube and other venues. Google gets to unilaterally define and chagne the boundaries of "communities" in ways that effectively exclude individuals (who must remain vigilent and can only opt-out, if even that choice is available)
Best advice is to log out and stay logged out until Google service is needed and / or use multiple browsers for multiple identities, both practices which I routinely practice now, but which Google is making more and more difficult to sustain. :-(
 
+Sai - I'm not concerned about hackers, just Google/G+'s own algorhythms. If Dr. Fancypants is connected to my Dr. Sheila Addison account, I would not be chuffed if Dr. Fancypants is at some point asked "do you know Little Bunny FooBar? Add her on G+!" Or if Dr. Searchcommittee puts Dr. Sheila Addison into Google, and gets G+ results from Little Bunny FooBar's account, outing that pseud to them and leading them to search for it as well.

And a solution which says "OK so your personal friends can all follow your pseud but not your pro account" suggests
- my friends aren't interested in reading my pro stuff (some of them are)
- some people in my life aren't both friends and colleagues (some are)
- my friends can't re-share my pro stuff (some do)
etc. etc.

Which may well be moot even if I set things up that way because Google already knows I own both accounts.
 
+Bob O'Bob The need for threaded discussion -- or at least, for some better way to structure large comment threads -- is really, painfully, goddamned clear. Sigh.

+Lyndon NA

1. How come no one asked "us"?
Because "us" volunteered more than enough information without being asked. :) Seriously, we were listening the whole time, and were very aware of the different use cases, scenarios, poster types, and so on. We're actually aware of quite a few other types which don't get much traffic on this thread. This is something which is a bit hard to discuss here, because the people on this thread are actually rather culturally homogenous: generally people who have been on the Internet for quite a while, who are comfortable with handles and who have many friends who have been known by their handles for a long time, often people who have been in lots of meatspace social situations where being known by your username is a common thing. I understand this, I'm all of the above as well. But we actually have a lot of user types who are very different from this, and we got a lot of feedback (both explicit and implicit) from them as well. The hard thing about putting all of this together is to build something which can do something valuable for all involved.

2. We had a lot of reasons at first, and we rethought them a lot after we got some more experience with the system. We thought that the persistence of names would have a big impact on user behavior; it turned out not to. The trust issue was the impersonation issue, which is still a legit issue, but it's a separate one from the names policy as a whole, although they were briefly conflated. (Getting people to carefully separate out their ideas and concerns, so that we could see what really was and wasn't important, was about 80% of the work of this change)

2d. I think you gave a pretty good definition of troll right there. I'm not really looking for trolls alone; my real concern (in this other project context, now, not names policy) is looking for all sorts of antisocial behavior which basically makes people want to leave and not come back. To say that this is difficult would not be incorrect.

4. We thought about doing that, but it was complicated, and it creates some huge risks if people accidentally associate two identities. Privacy risks, information leakage risks, and depending on what you're doing in those identities, getting taken out and shot risks.

6. We could have, but we decided it was best to update when we actually made a change, rather than saying that we were going to make a change. Trying to have giant public debates while you're in the middle of changing things is a recipe for nothing ever getting done.

7. Well, yes. I hope that this does in fact satisfy a good number of people and that it does get quieter as a result, because more people are happy. But as far as "anonymity" -- what do you mean? Does the ability to sign up as Raj Patel or Guy Fawkes count? Or would anonymity only be meaningful in Alma Whitten's sense, of being fully signed-out of the system and as untraceable as possible?
Sai
 
+Sheila Addison Right. The problem is that this information can leak — for instance, if one of your friends mentions both profiles. So it's in this gray zone of being semi-private.

Not saying you're wrong at all to want this, just that it's legitimately hard to provide.
 
+Aliaras Vehsra

1. Do you mean if one was denied in the past, prior to the policy change? Or if one is denied now? If it was denied in the past I would suggest re-triggering it; the best way to do that is to change your name to "foo bar" (or whatever) and then immediately change it back to whatever you want it to be. (Sorry, that's a hack)

2. Well, long feedback here seems to be the order of the day. :)

+Scott Jordan You bring up a really good point by implication, that there's no clear signal to a user that their name was marked OK and that they don't have to worry about it being flagged in the future. Being discussed now.

+Sai (Sorry, I haven't gotten to your big comments yet -- trying to scan through the shorter stuff first) You're right, submission of supplementary data via e-mail is a security issue. We've already got a bug filed to improve this so that you can use the same mechanism for all subsequent submissions.

+Sheila Addison +Jon Pincus What you're saying depends a lot on what you mean by "pseud yourself." (i.e., do you mean changing the name of an existing account? If so, that does not break links to the past of that account, so it is not a secure thing to do if you want to strongly disassociate the old and new names. We deliberately don't change your name as it is shown in old posts just to make it really visibly clear to you that this doesn't work, so do not do it.) Also, what +Sai says is very important and should not be ignored.

+Bob O'Bob Let me check up on that appeal and see what happened, that sounds weird.
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+Yonatan Zunger: Lyndon1. I suggest you actually tell us what the other use cases are rather than being coy about it. Just 'cause they're not ours doesn't mean we can't try to incorporate them too.

Lyndon2d. May I suggest that, in looking for antisocial behavior that turns people away, you take a long hard look at Google's own official communications? Again pointing out the obvious, but it does fit your definition.
 
+Yonatan Zunger

1)Multipel parts here;
Listening: The listening part is good - but G still needs to work on methods of acknowledging things, as it often seems more like G is deaf/ignorant.
(Personal experiences have resulted in being asked for feed back multiple times for the exact same thing ... so it's not bias, it's experience :D)
Savvy and non-savvy: Indeed, not the easiest situation. That said ... if there is a "natural" segregation based on experience/comfort ... so be it, no real harm, and over time it would likely result in migrationary groups/waves.
So it shouldn't technically be a big problem.
(Does that mean there is a vocal majority as well as a vocal minority?)

2) Ah ... applying quality to feedback/information ... what joy.
Again though - this could be seen as a problem in the general approach/handling?
Maybe if there was a charted listed with indicators of % of interest, priority assigned etc. - people would "know" what was happening ... and give you the opportunity to flag issues that are confusing/require more details.
You should be able to flag/visually cue items that people have submitted so they can see if they need to add further.
It would also permit more interaction.
(Of course - the view could be taken that it would permit consolidarity and organised pressure...)

2d) Antisocial posts ... not a trivial issue.
Of course - there are limits - you cannot automatically detect what I "personally" may find offensive, but what offends "groups" should be easy enough (relatively speaking :D).
Inclussion of Semantic detection would probably go a long way (fishing to see if G is using it yet..... (be kind, go on :D)).
You should also have a huge list of reports/blocked by now to do the ML from ... so you can auto-flag alot of the less obvious/non-logical/non-maual additions
With all of that - I'm sure you'll manage just fine :D

4) You are not responsible for peoples idiocies.
If I create a separate account, and start making it obvious that they are related/the same person - that is not Googles fault, it is my own.
If I get shot for being a naive tit - my problem.
On the other hand - if you get hacked, and someone can identify my with a simple table lookup ... or you state I have anonymity, then get subpoenad, you become liable (unless you have exclussions/exemptions etc.).

6) More than understandable.
Then again - that's what announcements and 1-way communications are for :D
jsut telling peopel you are looking at X next week;
may provide more insights/responses
may lessen the idea that you aren't looking at it
You have the resources - test it out and see which works better :D

7) Okay - clarification and specific examples.
At present - if you are a closet homosexual ... you cannot really publicly +1 any gay/lesbian sites.
The same goes if you are a transgender/crossdresser/transexual and don't want everyone you know to know.
G has provided no means at all for such interactions.

Throw on top things like G+ "could" be used by support groups for the vulnerable - bar the Privacy/Security flaws (such as I can see +John Mueller comment at times when I shouldn't as I'm blocked!) ... things don't look good.

A selection of minorities and social-abnormals are basicly excluded from either the social aspects, or the SERP interactions.

Is that any better/clearer?

By having an "anonymous" account (or sub-profile or what ever is opted for) that is Not publicly linked to your "real" profile ... you enable certain people to interact with safety, without fear, without the risk of being ostracised due to their secual preferences, religion, political views etc.

.

+Sai
Coy isn't part of my make up :D
It's jsut simply "jadedness" kicking in.
I've made these points/scenarios numerous times since the launch and my arrival, including to several Googlers.
Years as a TC and being asked to repeat my findings, observations, suggestions and complaints has resulted in me bsically being, well, sick to death of repeating myself.
So I resort to a few examples with a general statement instead of applying tons of my time/effort, only for the high-chance of being asked to do it again 3 weeks down the line.
 
This seems like, if not the best place to ask this, at least a place where someone who knows the answer might see the question and reply: Where can I go to appeal the fact that my name appeal failed? I re-joined G+ this afternoon (I had G+ before, but downgraded when I became afraid I'd lose my Gmail account if my G+ account was flagged for a name violation). The mononym + . that I put in for a name did trigger the review; a few hours later I was notified that the appeal was denied. I put in my mononym as first and last name and that was accepted, but it's not the form my name should have. So:

- How can I appeal the appeal?
- Why is my display name showing up in some places as aedifica (as I'd like it to), and in others as aedifica aedifica (as I had to enter it to pass the review)?
 
+Yonatan Zunger Thanks for the tip! +DJ Spin is now back in the game and is a very happy camper! (Even if I can't +mention him.)
 
+Yonatan Zunger thanks once again for your engagement. I'm interested in the studies showing women on Google+ are uncomfortable being circled by "handles". In an overwhelmingly male environment where there's a lot of harassment going on, it's not surprising that women who don't have experience with pseudonyms are uncomfortable: they're very likely to be creepy guys. I understand that you're not at liberty to disclose the data, but a few questions that that leap to mind:

- Results on G+ were presumably influenced by being told that "real names = civility". How did you account for this in your testing enviroment?

- How do you account for the results being so different than the situation on Twitter, Dreamwidth, and elsewhere? Is there other research that's consistent with your findings?

- Did you get experts in diversity-and-technology involved in constructing the experiments and interpreting the results?

jon
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+Lyndon NA I was addressing +Yonatan Zunger's response to you, not what you wrote. I don't think you're being coy, and I can't really stand to either. ;-)
 
+Jon Pincus I was surprised to read that about discomfort with handles; I am a woman who is uncomfortable when a recognizably male name circles me out of the blue (hasn't happened from a recognizably female name yet, funny that) but quite comfortable being added on social networks (such as Dreamwidth) that do use handles. I'm willing to believe I'm an outlier on that, though!

+Sai Thanks!
Aliaras
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+Yonatan Zunger: It was denied today. I talk a bit about what I did below, but wanted to know whether I should resubmit with more evidence, or just leave it.


As for what I was trying to change it for...I have been trying to be allowed to use the name "Aliaras" on the service. Today I found out my appeal was turned down, and wanted to give feedback on the process/result/etc as it pertains to the "handle-like things for people well known by them" bit.

When I submitted my request, I provided a single link to my strongest piece of (online) evidence that I have been using this name (my livejournal, which has been around for about eight years now). It's unclear whether this is the best approach or whether one should submit a bunch of links (blog posts, less-used accounts on other services, forums I haven't posted on in years but back in the day spent a lot of time on). Additional clarity in the directions/prompt would be useful.

When the request was denied, the email did not allow me to reply -- it wasn't a conversation. I have no idea why the request was denied (not enough friends? not in long enough use?) so I don't know if there's any way to improve my case.

I'd like to use the name "Aliaras" here, because that has been my name on the internet almost since I joined up (which, granted, wasn't as long ago as it has been for some). I've been using it primarily in fandom contexts, but have since branched out to talking about social justice, feminism, and sexuality as well. I do this under this pseud to provide some distance from my meatspace identity. An additional complication to my problem is that I had a bit of Famous on the Internet under my wallet name, which makes me less likely to talk about controversial subjects. All I want is to have a nice nerdy talk with all my fandom/feminist friends under the same name I've been using for years, but since I haven't been hugely known, I can't show the kind of numbers Skud can.
Aliaras
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Addendum to previous comment: it's frustrating that the request won't let me type up, say, a paragraph of text. I'd have included the last paragraph with a few citations otherwise.
 
I think my questions from last night got looked over in the mass chaos, so I'm going to combine them into a new post if that's alright. A few days ago, my boyfriend's name was flagged as 'not complying with the name policy', despite following the first name/last name format. The username he was using before HAD his birth name of 'Eric' in it, but the last name was different, in that it matches mine. This is so people can easily get in contact with us through the other, and so people can identify our relationship to each other on-sight. He was suspended for a few days, but during that time he changed his name and it was accepted.

Last night, however, his name was forcibly changed, without any notification, from the new name that had been accepted, to his birth name (despite never putting it into the G+ system) and he cannot change it back. He isn't comfortable with his birth name displayed suddenly and without his consent, and the 'Send Feedback' thing is nowhere to be found right now.

We have both actively used the 'Coldfire' surname for OVER 5 years on at least one different site. In Eric's case, it's more a matter of his own privacy wishes, but he has at least one established, long term profile to prove that he is recognized by the 'Coldfire' surname; in fact, because his birth name is fairly common, it's easier for people to connect with him when he uses the 'Coldfire' surname because they can associate it with him rather than some other random Eric with the same last name.

In my case, however, it is effectively my real name. My birth name is EXTREMELY unique due to the spelling of my first, last, and middle names, and I do not feel comfortable using it widely on the internet. If you type my birth name into a search engine, you will find next to nothing relating directly to me. If you search for 'Kitana Coldfire', however, the story is much different, as it connects people to my dA and various other accounts on sites I visit at different times, just for example. My art has also been featured on other sites under 'Kitana Coldfire'.

So in short, my questions are: 1. WHY was his name changed to his birth name without warning, 2. HOW can he get it changed back to what it was either before the flagging or forced name change, and 3. WHO do we contact/WHERE do we go to submit proof of 'established identity'?
 
+Kitana Coldfire Um, I'm not sure. That's not supposed to happen. Could you fork off a separate (private) thread with the three of us? (I'll need to see his profile to have an idea of what happened)
 
Sure thing, lemme just give him some warning.
 
+Yonatan Zunger - 'What the form actually requests, as one of the options (not the sole one!) is "scans of official documents (such as a photo ID or passport), newspaper articles, or other printed media that refer to you by this name."'

It seems odd to me that printed media should be what is relevant here when we're talking about a name to be used on an on-line service. Are people who have consistently used a different name on-line than off-line to be left out in the cold? As for newspaper articles, even if Warhol was right about everyone having their 15 minutes of fame, not everyone has had it yet, or under the name they're currently using.

Re: "official documents", my Change of Name Deed is proof under UK law that I have this name. However, it's also something I knocked up in Microsoft Word from a template on the web and printed myself. Is that sufficient? In other words: what do you mean by "official"?

Anyway, the fact remains that I consider requests for photo ID from people and organizations who should have no need to see it, to be offensive and intrusive. (I suspect that there may be another American Cultural Assumption at work in the development of Google's policy -- that people carry photo ID and are routinely asked for it by random strangers. I've always found that quite disturbing when I've visited the states -- and not just because my ID for a long time had an incorrect name and a photo that didn't look anything like me.)

'These are in fact transmitted over encrypted channels, with access highly limited, and are deleted immediately after the conclusion of the review.'

If this is intended to be the case, then there needs to be a strict policy of Google staff never asking for these documents over email, and actively discouraging that means of sending them, instead directing people to an https upload form at a clearly recognizable Google domain. (Yes, I know the latter is still potentially vulnerable to social engineering attacks, but it would be an improvement. PGP just doesn't have the usability for this even if Google did have an advertised public key.) I'm not conceding that asking for photo ID is a reasonable thing to do in the first place, mind you.

'Multi-script names are currently allowed after review, but we're probably going to modify that rule shortly to something more sensible, which basically prevents people from turning their name into a jumble of random Unicode.'

I'm glad you recognize that UTR #39 is not going to be sufficient. Hypothetically, would symbols such as ⚥ be allowed as a nickname, for example?

You didn't answer the questions about whether Google will apologize to the users that were affected, and about the rationale for not applying name changes to posts before the change (which admittedly is a separate issue). Thankyou for addressing my other questions. Are answered questions in this thread going to be collected in a FAQ?

P.S. count me in also for the discussion on gender markers. My gender is not "Other", it's bi-gender.
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+David-Sarah Hopwood Don't forget also that merely uploading an article about "David-Sarah Hopwood" doesn't prove that you are that person. Or even that that person is the same one as the one in the deed poll you drafted. Which is why I think this whole thing about uploading verification documents of name is patently absurd to begin with from any kind of security PoV. :-P

Re. gender: how would you feel about the proposal I made in the 'about my gender' link on my profile, namely that you have a dropdown list as now of female/male/other for pronoun; if you select 'other' then it uses neutral gender pronouns as language-appropriate, but lets you manually edit the displayed text. AFAICT that covers the cases, given that bigender isn't linguistically supported (for pronouns and agreement and so forth). (Also, I'm interested in that conversation, of course.)

Re apology, see the point "6." above in my back & forth w/ +Yonatan Zunger.
 
Hi, +Yonatan Zunger I'd like to second +Sai 's recommendation of the disqus study on the relationship between nametype and quality contribution:
https://disqus.com/research/pseudonyms/

The summary: "the most important contributors to online communities are those using pseudonyms. In our data, they accounted for 61% of total comments. These contributors also comment more frequently - 6.5 times more frequently than anonymous commentors, and 4.7 times more frequently than commentors using a real name (via Facebook). " According to the study, pseudonymous users' comments are on average more positive than other identity types, based on likes and replies.

I hope that Google can learn from these results and other data, and focus on reducing bad behavior (spam, trolling, harrassment) rather than using names as an irrelevant and counterproductive proxy.
 
Sai - of course if it were really about security, then it would make no sense to allow culturally expected names to sail through. This is actually a rare case of a company coming clean about the fact that what they care about is only the false perception of security :-/

I'll look at your gender proposal; sounds like a good start.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I'm going to call it a night before long, but I just wanted to let you know I set up the private thread a few hours ago, as per your request. However, if you need any additional details, I'll do my best to answer any questions you have first thing in the morning.

Thank you for being so willing to personally work with us in order to solve this issue.
 
So, something I don't get - in the US corporations are people too (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood) - on that basis, how can you argue that corporations have to have a +Page rather than a regular account? Perhaps gender should be (M/F/Non-of-your-business/Corporation), and be done with it?
Sai
 
+Robert Collins 'Corporation' isn't a linguistic gender. Also US corps are legal persons, not natural persons; even our law distinguishes the two, as does Google+. :-P
 
Wow! Security, privacy, usability, utility (both to google and the community) and PR. This is a very difficult needle to thread. This is before the service goes live and people do things or need/want to do things that end up working out differently than anyone could reasonably expect... The old saying about a battle plan never surviving first contact seems appropriate. One thing that interests me is the creative way technologies are used in unintended ways (eg the arab spring). one nice thing about the internet is the ability to find a modicum of safety and anonymity to express unpopular our contravercial views. In a society with very controlled state or corporate media the internet has become a valuable and at times literally a revolutionary tool for disseminating truth in opposition to power. Can you reassure those of us who recently rallied to defend the integrity of the internet that G+ has a legitimate role to play in political as well as social discourse (keeping in mind that like many other humans my social life does not exist independently of my political life). I think most of the fear people have regarding trusting google with nontrivial aspects of their their online identity involves the very public and voyeuristic nature inherent to social interaction and other forms of speech expression online. This seems to be a system people really want to use to really be ourselves (there are other services for superficial interaction, g+ offers intact personalities a safer way to socialize online). We can finally have meaningful multifaceted online social interaction in deapth with an appropriate intimacy/boundaries/privacy balance in a safe secure environment free from fear of retaliation and reprisal from an employer, the state, that random perv/troll/bully overthere... Maybe even safely meet new people... This tool you've built can almost do this and its tantalizing for the freedom it represents but its not quite there yet... How do we get the rest of the way home? How does the microcosm of this discussion reflect the vision for the service and its role in the media ecosystem. This policy stuff really matters, you've built a serious media platform bundled around some powerful communications tools and linked them to peoples social lives and identities. Fascinating technology I can't wait to see what it will become...we live in interesting times. Thank you for the work you've done here and the care you've taken addressing everyone's concerns! I look forward to reading your response.

 
+Sai
Ah - apologies ... and thank you for the clarification.
(I was wondering how I'd been "coy" :D)
 
Please consider revisiting your stance on anonymity, particularly regarding linking pseudonyms with legal names. It is an unfortunate fact that in much of the world, legal requests for identification that Google can supply will lead directly to human rights violations. Apart from the moral issues, it is a PR disaster waiting to happen.

With the current situation, it seems possible to open an account under a pseudonym and, with great care, keep it anonymous. However it can be taken down at whim by anyone by reporting it. It does not seem that G+ will be the 1st social network for people in many parts of the world, including entire continents.

Where I live, my local social networks on Twitter and Facebook are significantly made up of pseudonyms and that proportion is growing with awareness (eg. thanks to government warnings that pressing the "like" button on Facebook posts could lead to prosecution and 15 years jail - http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/25/thai-facebookers-warned-like-button), and we don't even have to worry about more severe punishments for expressing opinions such as public stoning. I think the Arab Spring will remain on Twitter for now.

If this is not going to change, it would be worth making this clear to people on signup (Google complies with local law enforcement including access to non-public data?). It is understandable that you may wish to avoid this unasked for responsibility, and there are other social networks for people wishing to hear about politics and social change.
 
+Yonatan Zunger at the risk of being a total pain, may I just remind you I'm still waiting for an answer to my question about using an initial instead of a last name. I'd like to know for definite before hitting that button, it would be a bit silly to lose my account now - but I'd much rather not carry on using this made-up surname. Using the first letter of my real surname would suit me best, it would keep my private info private but there'd be no question of pretending. I've seen plenty of people use this format, but I'd really like to know if it's safe or if changing to that format now could trigger a query.
 
And if it is all right to use an initial, please write guidelines of things that are explicitly okay in a document somewhere that is reachable from profile creation. It doesn't have to be right up front, but it is important reference material, and it degrades public perception of Google if the only documentation of a policy is stored in a thread somewhere on a Google employee's + stream.

Also, give people back their period. It's useful English notation to indicate that it's an abbreviation, and shows up on actual legal documentation in most English speaking countries.
 
+Stuart Bishop You said:

With the current situation, it seems possible to open an account under a pseudonym and, with great care, keep it anonymous. However it can be taken down at whim by anyone by reporting it.

Not according to Yonatan Zunger. In the other G+ thread started by Bradley Horowitz, I asked:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/113116318008017777871/posts/SM5RjubbMmV
Does this mean that other users will no longer be able to report a "name-shaped" pseudonym as a "fake profile" and cause a review to be triggered?

Yonatan's response was:

That is correct. In (little-known) fact, "fake profile" never reported someone for "this is not your name." But all that button triggers is a review of "this is not a person, but a business or a wombat or some such thing."

I realize that what he thinks happens when the reviewers get a hold of user reports may have (in the past) been (or continue to be) different than what he expects ... but ... I would at least give the newest approach a chance before writing it off entirely.

Please also note Yonatan's response to one of +Sai 's points is:

The fact that official policy has, to date, wildly differed from enforcement seriously pisses me off and I will personally be putting my foot into any asses needed to make sure that this does not happen again.
 
Couple of comments to toss in...

1) I'd say it's very difficult (to the point of utter absurdity) for Google to claim that only a small percentage of names were squished, appealed, had trouble with, etc. I fall squarely in the "wants to use a pseudonym, NOT a 'name-shaped' thingie" camp, but I chose not to tangle with Google's policy for fear of losing access to a gmail account I've been using for years. I'm sure I'm not the only such example. So I would say the number is much higher.

2) "Meaningful" is still undefined. I can appreciate you don't want to be too explicit in order to keep some from gaming the system... but you know what? Someone who goes to that amount of trouble, someone who is replying to correspondence, etc... that person is very likely not a 'bot or a spammer -- all of whom will simply choose "name-shaped" handles and get right into G+ without a hiccup.

3) I think the disqus research is extremely interesting and is something Google should pay close attention to. I would also like to point out Etsy -- where I regularly engage in commerce using nothing more than a pseudonym, with other people using nothing more than a pseudonym. And I've never had any issues at all. So I'm not sure what's driving this "name shaped" obsession here, really. The entire Internet basically has already proven that things work just fine regardless of the name or nym a participant is known by.

4) I have a story practically identical to Gretchen's: I initially started online in the late 80's, using my full (rather unique) name, address AND phone number in my .sig! (I almost can't even imagine anymore.) By the end of the 90's (when I had simplified my name thru marriage & had moved several times), I had dealt with two serious stalking threats -- one of whom published the wrong street address for me (and endangered someone else with my name), and the other who scared me sufficiently that I dropped offline for nearly 5 years. I'd read but not post, and that [read, I mean] only sporadically. Finally I started up again using LJ which had sufficient privacy guards that I felt more comfortable about it, and that's when I established this 'nym. So, I have serious, serious issues, especially for women, about forcing people to use their real names online. With a 'nym, even one that made it pretty clear I was female, the specifically gendered hate male I'd get (and that I've seen many, many women online get, as well) all but disappeared. That's actually one of the reasons I made private my gender field. It's strange how some of these things work.

5) (Off topic, sorta). Threaded discussions are absolutely wonderful (I speak from years and years on Usenet). BUT they are horrible if you don't have the right reader to display them properly -- and many of you (newer to the net) people clearly have never seen how a threaded reader works. Don't make conversations threaded until/unless there's some mechanism to display the threads properly. There's a reason threaded convos just don't work on blogs and web pages. Don't know what a good solution is, since you'd have to encode the thread reader into the browser itself (or possibly as a huge giant extension/plugin -- but then everyone would make their own or there would need to be differnt ones because the threading mechanism on Wordpress would be different from FB's would be different from G+ would be different from Blogger...) I suppose Google could put its own thread displayer here, but this is bloated enough as it is -- I hate to think of how G+ appears on slower connections, or less powerful computers :-/

6) Integration of services flat out sucks. I was on Youtube and Blogger before they got assimilated, and to say that I was displeased to have those aliases merged willy nilly with my gmail account is putting it lightly. I destroyed my Blogger account and everything I'd done on it rather than merge it, and I have not interacted on a Blogger site when I discovered that if I was logged into my real gmail account, Blogger was automatically using that to sign my (intended to be anonymous) comments!! [That is the kind of bullshit Google keeps pulling, and has for years, that I keep objecting to, and is why you guys are sandboxed into a separate browser to keep your fucking nose out of where else I am on the 'net.] Youtube was slightly different, since I didn't comment there, but I did get rid of all my play lists and I've only started using it now in conjunction with my wordpress site. The integration of acquired services is very problematic because of the buildup of entirely different sets of identities on those services, who suddenly have to decide what gets exposed or deleted.
 
+Scott Jordan "Fake profile" == "this is not a human at all, it is the profile of a business or a group or an abstract idea or something and it should be a +Page".

"Impersonation" == "this person is not only not who they claim to be, but is deliberately attempting to convince other people that they are me, and I can prove it." That has a much higher bar and a completely different process around it.

(We're working on a text revamp to make this clearer)
 
I have an even more horrible story: my first email account was my student ID number, which was my SSN. Seriously. Luckily I happened to know a computer security expert who took one look at that, turned white, and wangled me an account on a friend's server and taught me how to access it.
 
In light of the recent news that youtube is being merged with other Google services with no opt-out, I'm about to burn my youtube account with extreme prejudice. It's not even that I'm watching weird stuff; it's just that youtube has no business being combined with the other services unless I say it's all right for it to be so.
Sean S
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I'd like to know about using my last name initials also before I change it. Is it permitted?
I'd hate to change my last name to an initial because this will change it in other Google products but when commenting on posts, it is nice to not have my real name linked with my real name. Nickname is used already in Google Places and Google forums so it would be nice if it was implemented on Google+.
 
This comment is part of the meta discussion about threading, not directly on the topic of naming.

When folks are using numbered lists to help follow subtopics in a thread-like fashion, perhaps each number should be broken out to a separately submitted comment. This will facilitate readers to +1 with greater granularity, which may be helpful as feedback to assign priorities to the work portions needed to satisfy various suggestions. There don't seem to be limits to numbers of comments in a discussion (and even if there are if might be helpful to test).
 
+Sean Saguansin We have product-specific nicks in a few places, but there aren't likely to be any in G+. They're frankly security risks -- people use them for "secure" reasons, thinking that they won't be associable with their other names, but we can't really guarantee that.
 
+Yonatan Zunger -- I'm satisfied with the solution of multiple accounts for identity compartmentalization. It isn't a perfect solution by any means, but it's a really hard problem, and I think it's a cleaner solution (especially given the incomplete but improving back end support for multiple signins) than compartmentalizing identity within a single account. I also like using nickname fields displayed along with an account name in order to associate multiple identities together.
 
Well, it took quite a long time (and even press[at]google ignored my requests about the case), but I am glad that there is finally a nice step in the right direction. So thank you, +Bradley Horowitz and +Yonatan Zunger and good luck with future updates and optimization.
 
+Yonatan Zunger
"...
We have product-specific nicks in a few places, but there aren't likely to be any in G+. They're frankly security risks -- people use them for "secure" reasons, thinking that they won't be associable with their other names, but we can't really guarantee that.
..."

That's a question/issue I raised with +Brian White Months ago.
G have permited "psuedos" and "nicknames" in various products ... and it seems permitted people to believe it gave anonymity?

+

Anyone want to scan through all this and summarise?
:D
Aliaras
 
My only concern with the loss of product-specific nicks is that people HAD BEEN relying on them for anonymity, and so a change that goes back and changes it everywhere in the past is risky.
 
+Lyndon NA -- I've put up a summary (slanted towards my personal hot buttons, no doubt) of what I think are the key elements that have changed over here: https://plus.google.com/102376799902430080799/posts/Jdwyt2m1E16

Re: legacy product specific nicks, can Google takeout handle pulling data from one account and restoring it to another? That might be a way to restore compartmentalization, if so -- spin off a new account for the nick, pull the data from that one service down from the old account using Google takeout, push it back up to the new account. Cumbersome and I don't know if it works, but a start? I'm pretty sure there are methods to move accounts in iCal and Reader, at least, using this technique, but I don't know if it works for services like Youtube or Docs.
 
+Gretchen S. I like that idea; we don't support it directly right now, but having a sort of "reverse takeout" could be a really awesome feature, not just for identity compartmentalization but to ease migrations of all sorts. +Brian Fitzpatrick, an interesting thought to file away.
 
+Gretchen S.
Thank you very much ... I'll go havea peek :D

+Yonatan Zunger
Really sorry - as you probably feel slightly bludgeoned by all this,
but ...
can we discuss other aspects of this as well please?

Primary on my list is the general initial handling (or lack of) for the psuedos, and G Corps initial responses/reactions.
Have accounts locked down, the (potential?) lock down of other services associated with teh account, the (potential) deletion of data,
etc.
Was all of that real?
How did it end up that way?
Was it policy, or simply implementation?

Second is the "reasoning" for the whole no-psuedo affair - as different G staff provided different reasons, and little/no overlap occured?
How comes?
Did people get different briefs, lack of updates to all/delays to some, people were guessing etc. ?

Third (and far from least) is the "minorities at risk" : do you know what the plans are for those (as I outlined above, and others elsewhere have covered) that could seriously use "anonymity"?
Will G supply such a practice/facility, or are people advised to simply generate a new account and use that for the "secure" aspects (on their own heads if they make it obvious of other account association)?
 
+Lyndon NA Brief response, since I'm buried in a lot of things right now. The initial policy was different, and it was based on a number of reasons, such as the theory that permanent names encouraged good behavior (turned out not to be true) and the theory that name-based services have a different ambiance, and lead to different collective behavior, than handle-based services. (Seems to be true) A lot of the policy revision effort consisted of trying to filter through all of these things, understand the different reasons that different people had in their heads, (which often weren't as concretely formed as people thought they were) tease apart the ones which actually were meaningful, and write a more narrowly crafted policy to just focus on those areas.

Some people were upset with the initial policy and its handling, and I hope that the changes that we're making now, as well as our effort to communicate more, can go some way towards mending those fences.

With regards to your third point, it depends on what you mean by "anonymity." If you mean that the name on your account isn't associated with you in meatspace, I think that we support that right now. If you mean an account without a name at all, I doubt we will ever support that.
 
OK. So I have two names by which I am known. One of them looks like a European latin-script name with a very uncommon last name, and the other is KodiaK. I can identify at least 50 live humans who, if they saw me and wanted to get my attention, would say, "Hey, Kodiak!" (the second capitalization is silent.) And they would have my attention if they did that. So I signed up for a second account specifically to communicate with people who know me only as KodiaK. When asked for my last name, I entered a . Can't do that, need to provide online evidence of use of the name. Well, I can't do that, since I only use it in face-to-face interactions. So I changed it to "hasnolastname," inadvertently violating the name policy which prohibits complete sentences (Take THAT, Tom Waits!) so I could post this.

Am I correct in my understanding that I will not be permitted to use KodiaK as a mononym (absent a campaign to create a meaningful online presence) until this "broken case" is "fixed"?
 
Thank you very much for the time/effort (through all of this) +Yonatan Zunger :D

okay - that lot makes sense ... a shame it happened at all ... but you appear to be heading somewhere and correcting as you go, which is great!

And as you appear busy, no rush for the following (if at all).
1) Lets assume I'm slow and a bit thick (did I hear someone snicker? :D) ...
... is it now a case of anyone can create an account and use any name (within reason, without being offensive etc.) and use that account (again within reason, no abuse/trolling/offensive posts/content etc.) as a "normal" account?
Thus I could create a 2nd account and have a degree of "anonymity" with a new profile, new name etc. ?

2) Any idea how this may impact the use of G+ profiles/+'s in the SERPs/Places etc.?
If I have an anonymous account with leittle activity, will my +'s count for nothing/less than my more active account?
Will such an account be viewed as "untrusted" and carry less value?

And again, thanks to you (and the others involved, as it's likely many) for getting these changes in the works and implemening them!
 
+Lyndon NA 1) Yes, modulo the rest of the name policy as being discussed here. (2) Well, accounts produce signals of trustworthiness (from a search perspective, not from an interpersonal perspective) and those could potentially have significance in search, and in any other ranking-based problem. A recommendation from Joe Blow doesn't convey the same thing as a recommendation from someone well-respected.
Sean S
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Are last name initials permitted? For example, "Sean S".
Sai
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+Yonatan Zunger a) /reminder, you haven't responded to my megacomments :-P

b) I think that eg +Cindy Brown's comment #6 (& +Scott Jordan's followup) really needs to be addressed. It's not G+, but there's no place for us to talk about Google meta stuff like this integration push, so I think it's absolutely fair game given that G+ is the de facto centralization of Google Identity. And it is essentially identical to the security issue we discussed as point #6 @ https://plus.google.com/103112149634414554669/posts/4KAEskCqXdd

Google should never be integrating two profiles (including across different services) without giving at least as blindingly clear a warning about the consequences of doing so as of changing your name, and also some kind of migration tool to let you say "no, don't integrate these, split it into a new account instead" (something that indeed I think +Brian Fitzpatrick is perfect for, though I really hope it's not a dump-and-import but just a simpler inline budding).
 
Hmmmm ... the concept of trusted and untrusted accounts is a bit of a problem,as that means some sites will be disadvantaged in the SERPs.
I guess it may be a "balanced" issue, as the majority will suffer the same untrusted user issue - but those with "out and open" users will benefit.
Will it be "degrees" of trust, or simply a Y/N approach?
(the former would permit at least a little more balance to my thinking)

The name policy thing has finally put my fears at rest then - thank you for that :D
 
8. Actually, it's not that people think that nyms are abusive at all. It's that people react differently to seeing that they've been circled by John Smith, versus seeing that they've been circled by CaptainCrunch49. Various categories of user tend to react very negatively to the latter, say something to the effect of "who are these strange people?!," and log off and never come back.

I wonder if allowing people to (optionally) specify how they know you, or why they want to follow you could help with this. Or even if (optionally) showing which circles they've added you in.
Being able to directly see which people you have in common with said person, from the "Added you on Google+" notification message, would certainly help as well.
 
+Lyndon NA That's the general problem of search; you see a bunch of links. Each link conveys that someone is saying something about something else. Understand what it is saying, who is saying it, and what that tells you about the thing being referenced. Even if you just think about HTML links between websites, that's a fundamental sort of issue, and is a deeply nuanced matter.
 
+Sai Haven't forgotten, just slammed. My day is oscillating between pseudonyms, engineering problems, and Nazis.

I hate these guys.
 
+Sai Actually, the pseudonyms, engineering, and Nazis are three separate problems. Such is the day of a chief architect.
Sai
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+Yonatan Zunger Dood, I was setting you up for a punchline. What happened to your sense of surrealist humor? :-P
Sai
 
+Scott Jordan The functionality you're describing is better captured by #tagging, not circles. See the post on my profile about it.
Aliaras
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+Yonatan Zunger Realizing you're slammed (and thanks for all the time you've spent on this thread!) -- while most of Long Comment is feedback, is there a quick answer to whether it's okay to submit a second (different/better/changed) request for review after the first one has been rejected?
 
Hey +Yonatan Zunger... is there any insight you could share on the interactions of people with perceived "real" names vs. handles? I'm pondering over whether this demonstrates various aspects of social interaction and threat identity. My take is that people feel safer with "real names" than something blatantly foreign to their subculture like handles (mostly based on "real names" supporter comments). I believe this is false security. :) But I find it interesting none the less on a people-do-these-things level.
 
+Paul Hosking (and +Sai +Gretchen S. +A.V. Flox who may also be interested, because I think this is going to the heart of a lot of things... and something which I'm understanding better and better over the past few days, in no small part thanks to these discussions)


It's definitely an issue of perception, not security. But handles are only used in a fairly limited subculture, and a lot of the past intersections of that subculture with the broader culture have been negative: people associate handles with trolls on forums. Even very net-savvy people can be wrong-footed by them; for example, if you invite people to a party and see a bunch of handles ack, if you don't instantly recognize who those handles are, that's creepy. (Unrecognized people are coming to my house??)

Obviously, not everyone with a handle is a bad actor, but handle namespaces have acquired this rep in spades.

We definitely want to build a common-name namespace on G+; that has a lot of advantages of a non-technical sort. (For example, you meet someone at a party and can search for the name of that person and add them, without having to exchange usernames; or you can find your old colleagues without having to know their current username) These are huge things from a product perspective.

The intersection of name and handle spaces is difficult, and I don't have a general solution for it (yet). Given that, I want to default to aggressively building a name-based space. That's going to cause some false exclusions for people whose names look like handles, which is a short-term cost that I think we have to pay at least until the general norms are very solidly established. But hopefully we can revise that going forward.

That's also leading to one of the themes that we're seeing come up in manual reviews: it's a much better signal when someone is using something that might be a handle in a name-based space (such as meatspace, or other name-based spaces online) than when they're using it in something which is openly a handle-based space.
 
+Yonatan Zunger so I'm kind of pondering on the "handle" issue. Are we looking at something as being a "handle" if it is... temporary? The point you made about going to a party with a bunch of handles reminds me of the old BBS meet-ups I'd occasionally go to. Everyone wore sticky nametags with their handle. "Oh wow... YOU'RE 'Dr. Dread'?" and "Dude... have you met Cinnamon? She's totally hot!" and occasionally "Yeah... see that dude over there? He's totally here for the meet-up. He just hasn't decided to walk over yet. Who do you think that is?" So here we have social environments off-line and on-line blurred. And at that point... is the "handle" distinction also blurred? (Though I'll admit the subculture is massively out-numbered by broader cultures found online today).
Sai
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+Yonatan Zunger Your example of unrecognized handles at a party RSVP: that's a problem with unrecognized, not with handles. Big difference! :-P

I have to question you on "easy search" though. It's actually harder to find me if you only know my name, and not my handle. There are a gazillion Indians named "Sai". (I'm not exceptional in this regard; if anything, it's understatement. Most people, definitionally, have names so common that they're bad UUIDs.) Also in general I think what you really want here is really social consistency; you want them to use the same name on G+ as they would at a party. In that, I actually agree! (And it's why I've advocated for prompting that triggers the appropriate social cues, rather than the current prompting that triggers formal cues.)

But that's something they should get to decide, in both situations. Deciding for someone, even by implication, how they should be identified is very rudely presumptive.

What exactly would you count as "very solidly established" norms if the current situation isn't it? I'm really at a loss to imagine a more-normed situation than you already have.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I'm having a hard time finding an entry point to the discussion about handles because we don't know what handles are, or even who decides if something is a handle. As far as I've seen, the response to "what is a name-shaped name?" has not been very helpful. I'm guessing that [Obvious Nickname] [Familiar Surname] is not a handle. I'm certain that CaptainCrunch49 looks like a handle, because you've used it as an example, and by extension I assume that anything that ends in Arabic digits probably looks like a handle. So I'm guessing that SanDeE* is also a handle. But N!xau can't possibly be a handle, because it definitely looks like a complete name in a culture.

I understand that it's extremely difficult to articulate standards for what a handle looks like. What's making this even more complicated is that we can't rely on "Yonatan Zunger shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of names he understands to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps he could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But he knows it when he see it..." because you're not discussing names that look like handles to you, but rather names that look like handles to the people who are scared by names that look like handles.

This complicates things.
 
+Brian Fitzpatrick +Yonatan Zunger I was thinking about this last night after talking to a few people, and so am happy to see the side discussion on it here. The catch to Google Takeout/import is that the thing people are going to want it for most is Blogger, and that means you've got to somehow take your followers with you too. I know a number of people in this boat. And while I'll happily excoriate them for using one account for two very different identities, that doesn't change the fact that they are in the situation, and they are faced with either moving their property to another Google account or completely shutting it down and starting over. (And note, you've got the issue of maintaining the blog name as well.)
 
+Kee Hinckley -- this makes the concept of inline budding even more attractive: split the service(s) away, leaving connections, data, everything intact, but change the profile associated with it.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Interesting thoughts on handles. And I actually agree that being followed by a handle you don't know has a stalkerish feel to it, despite the fact that I've regularly interacted with people who use only handles for thirty years (and used "nazgul" as my handle for the first ten or so).

But your "meet at a party" example is interesting, and perhaps explains why handles aren't likely to go away amongst people who need to remain pseudonymous. If I meet someone at some parties, I don't use my name, I use my pseudonym. As you say, it is convenient for them to then be able to easily follow me. But needless to say, my pseudonym does not have my photo on it. Your example depends on having a recognizable photo, and people with pseudonyms do not. So if I give them something name-shaped (I'm growing to like that term), they will enter it and get a list of possible matches where they can't easily tell which one is me. (Some will have pictures, but of course, some people put up pictures of their baby, or anti-sopa icons, or whatever.) For that reason, I think people in pseudonymous communities tend to try to pick very unique names—because it makes them easier to find. I know when I went looking for my pseudonym, I spent quite a while trying to find one that a) meant something to me and b) was available as a domain name. (Don't me started on domain squatters—the best thing we could do to the Domain system is up the yearly cost of domains to $25 and nuke their business model.)

What this means is that the goal of creating a name-shaped community is always going to be running up against this problem, because you're assuming that to find someone I know, I use an algorithm like "name + picture + location + job", but if I'm using a pseudonym, all I can safely provide is "name". So then they have to dig down and look at my profile description or my (possibly non-public) posts. So there's a lot of pressure there to use non-name-shaped pseudonyms, and I'm not sure how you're going to address it (but I wish I knew if mine passed the test).

WRT to not seeing a lot of handles in Google+ signups, as others have pointed out, you're self-selecting. More specifically, virtually all of my friends on my pseudonym account use mononym or dual-word pseudonyms elsewhere, but when they came to Google+, they changed those into name-like variations (or completely new names—it's been pretty hard sorting people out).
 
+Gretchen S. That is probably the easiest way to implement it for Blogger. Just allow someone to change the administrative account. It's a useful feature for lots of reasons.
 
+Stuart Bishop I'm unclear what you mean by "it can be taken down at whim by anyone by reporting it". Reporting it for what? If your pseudonym is "name-shaped", you won't be suspended for that, and if you're setting up a new identity then I see no reason why you can't go "name-shaped".
 
Is a "name shaped" pseudonym dishonest because it looks like it could be "real"? :)
 
+David Guild There's "not name-shaped and caught by algorithm at setup" and there's "not name-shaped and reported to Google later". For instance, Google's algorithms might think "Owah Tagoo Siam" was name shaped. But a person might realize that someone was calling themselves a goose, and report it. This is an acknowledged hole in the system. I could join Google+, build up social capital and devote quite a bit of energy to it…only to have my account shut down.
 
+Paul Hosking I think that this applies to both nonce and long-term handles, although nonce handles are fairly uninteresting in this context. I totally remember those sorts of parties, but I've seen fewer and fewer of them as time goes by. I go to places with the same sorts of people now and the fraction of people who have a username next to their name on their badge is getting pretty low.

+Sai Definitely a problem with "unrecognized," but I've observed a significant difference in the response to "unrecognized handle" versus to "unrecognized name."

So this is actually drilling into something else which I realized this morning and wanted to bounce off of you. I'm seeing two different ideas coming up in this conversation:

(1) Identity is fluid: people are known by different names in different contexts, and by different groups of people.

(2) Names are personally important: to deny someone the right to use their name is to implicitly deny the validity of their identity, and such this is a moral issue.

When you combine these two ideas, you get a curious notion -- that people use multiple identities in multiple contexts, and to prevent them from choosing which identity they use in any particular context is a moral issue. I can understand that argument, but I don't think that I agree with it.

I'm instead coming to think that by conflating this, we've actually conflated two different kinds of identity problem, with different underlying social dynamics.

One case is what you might call "core" identities, names/identifiers which are extremely personally important to a person, so that to deny them is to implicitly deny their personhood. The other case is multifarious identities; for example, when a person has built up a reputation in one circle under one name, in another under a second name, and so on. This latter case applies not only to handles and so on, but even to much more common things like professional names. (Take, e.g., the case of a writer who uses multiple pen names in multiple genres, and who has built up a brand identity under each) In the case of the latter, while I think that it's advantageous to a person to allow them to interact in a particular context under any particular identity, I don't think that it's a moral issue in the same way as the former case.

I think that we've accidentally conflated these cases in our discussion, and I suspect that several of the people on this thread fall into each category.

I'm making a tradeoff in this service by restricting the space of names to things which are, by some criterion, "name-shaped." On the one hand, the exclusion of handles has a nontrivial cultural effect, because handle-based cultures such as Internet fora, YouTube, some parts of fandom, etc., have established cultural norms which are (on the very large-scale average) ultimately somewhat similar to one another and very different from those in many name-based cultures, such as G+, FB, or meatspace. Since we have made an explicit decision to make G+ a name-based culture, and since the large bulk of our users come exclusively from such cultures (i.e., have little or no familiarity with handle-based cultures), there are significant culture clash risks associated with culture mixing and we've chosen to resolve those by basically excluding handles. (With rare exceptions for very established handles, which is an exception people are used to because they see those cases as intrinsically exceptional; as an extreme example, Lady Gaga) On the other hand, this excludes identities which come from handle-based cultures.

When the excluded identity is in the second category, then this is frankly working as intended: I'm trading off one virtue of social health (building up a unified culture on G+) against another virtue of social health (allowing as many identities as possible to be represented on the service). However, when the excluded identity is in the first category, this is a tradeoff between a social health virtue and a matter of recognizing personhood, which I would consider a "moral virtue." This sort of tradeoff prompts an understandable moral revulsion, for the same reason that offering to buy someone's children would; it offers an exchange which mixes moral categories.

The resolution that we're aiming for amounts to attempting to structure the name restrictions as narrowly as possible in order to attain the social health virtue of building up a name-based culture. Unfortunately, when working at large N, even a very small probability of collateral damage means that people will be affected, and as you well know, under the new policy identities in the first category are still getting flagged. (And even getting flagged for manual review is a cost; it signals that a person's identity must be questioned, which is at its root hostile) So we do several things to alleviate this: first, to have actual humans in the loop for all exceptions, including me (and a few other senior people) as a last-tier reviewer. Second, we are steadily (post-launch) reevaluating our metrics, the set of people who are undergoing manual review, what we are learning from them, who is passing review and who isn't, so that we can better identify those first cases and minimize the pain for them. And most of all, we're continuing to try to craft the policy to be as narrow as possible. The sign of health in the system is that most reviews are rejected: i.e., if someone is getting flagged they are genuinely not supposed to be in the system. Since Monday’s launch, about 99.2% of cases submitted for manual review have indeed been rejected, out of which only about 0.2% were even slightly ambiguous; the large majority have been clear cases such as people wanting to know why their business couldn’t be their personal identity.So this is a good sign, but it still means that there were a few dozen people who were asked to prove their identities when they shouldn’t have been. (Many of whom are on this thread) That means that there’s room for improvement.

This is hard because I’m making a tradeoff which will, when it errs, inflict a moral harm on people. This leaves only two choices: to not make the tradeoff, counting any moral cost as too high, or to make it and attempt to minimize the collateral harm done. I think that the virtues of building a name-based culture on this network, compared to a handle-based culture, are significant enough that I’m willing to make that tradeoff; this was not a decision come to lightly, but one which has cost me a number of sleepless nights. (Not least because the people harmed most by this are, in my heart, “my people” -- these cultures of old Internet folks, and fandom, and so on and so on -- you all know who you are -- are the people I grew up with and the ones with which I have always felt most at home) But at large enough N, even a very small probability of harm turns into a nonzero number of people, and to completely avoid that would mean to never do anything.

None of which justifies the pain and anger which I know some people are feeling over this issue. I understand it and know that it is a consequence of decisions which we, collectively, and I personally have taken. But looking back on it, I do think that the overall structure of the policy -- or at least, of the refined one we released on Monday, and the refinements that I hope to add to it in the future -- minimize harm as best as I can.

Per mea culpa; also, some days it sucks to be an officer.
 
+Kee Hinckley I would point out that, if you do end up joining Google+ as "Owah Tagoo Siam" (what language is that, btw?) and build up social capital, that capital itself would be evidence of an established identity if it ever came under review. You might think of it as a recursive hole in the system, or you might not, but if someone is already evidently an active and positive member of the G+ community, that's a pretty good signal that we shouldn't take them down.
 
+Scott Jordan wrote: Um, letting the circled person see the name of the circle they were put in would be bad. What if I put you in a circle called "jackwagons"? See my point?

Yes, I do, and that is why I (apparently not clearly enough) noted it as an optional setting. However, I do realise that this would probably over-complicate the adding process...
Anyway, it's outside the scope of this discussion, so I'll not pursue it further here. :)
 
+Kee Hinckley At least it's a hole in the right direction -- it's a hole that lets you accidentally build up (and preserve) capital under a name which normally would fail, rather than a hole which causes built-up capital to suddenly vanish.
 
+Yonatan Zunger True. Related question. If our hypothetical iffy pseudonym (whether existant in the nonG+ world or not) is flagged by some good G+ citizen, and reviewed and determined to be fine, will they every know? And thus be able to breathe a sigh of relief? (Kind of going back to the "how do I know when it's okay for me to commit to G+" problem.)
 
I think it's a false premise to correlate "name shape" with "communities which behave like Facebook."

Contrast youtube and Internet fora with Making Light, LiveJournal, and Flickr. The difference here is moderation, not name shape. In the former case, these communities were left to languish unmoderated for far too long, and weeds sprang up. In the latter case, they were weeded from the beginning, and it built exactly the kind of community you would like to see here on Google+ -- a more harmonious community than exists here or on Facebook, in my personal experience, and predominantly pseudonymous.

Meatspace is, in my own experience, almost entirely anonymous. I do not know the names of a majority of people I interact with in meatspace. In some cases I may have a handle on them which may or may not be pseudonymous, or semi-pseudonymous. (First name only, for example, with the understanding that many service workers use a false first name in those circumstances.)
 
+Kee Hinckley We don't have a UI channel by which to communicate that a name has been reviewed and marked OK. This is a known issue.
 
+Gretchen S. Agreed. (And I don't think that "behaving like Facebook" is necessarily the target we're aiming for. I actually like the Google+ culture much better... although I admit I may be biased) There are many, many things which shape the dynamics of a community. The names policy is really just one thing out of dozens that I'm dealing with, most of them having something to do fairly directly with this broader problem.
 
+Yonatan Zunger In the case of the latter, while I think that it's advantageous to a person to allow them to interact in a particular context under any particular identity, I don't think that it's a moral issue in the same way as the former case.

So in my case, because my real name is name-shaped, and the name by which I am known to a small circle of friends is not name-shaped, it sounds like my situation SHOULD NOT be fixed? And if I had a handle-shaped primary name, but participated in a community where I was known solely by a name-shaped pseudonym, then not allowing me to use my handle-shaped primary name would be a moral problem, but the fact that I am also allowed to use my name-shaped pseudonym is a happy accident.

You don't seem to entirely exclude the possibility that a human might have two distinct names by which they have a moral right to be known. Is that what you're getting at with the "meaningful online following" and the "official documents" - is that actually what it means to you for an identity to be a "core identity"? If I file my taxes as Mark Twain, but my driver license identifies me as The Mad Hatter, and I have a blog where I am known as Aristotle, then I have three core identities. On the other hand, my actual case appears to have only one core identity, the name by which my government knows me. I can even imagine a human with no core identities - if Pikachu does not identify at all with Pikachu's government name, but the only people who know Pikachu have no online presence, it appears that neither identity qualifies as "core." Is this where we're going?
 
Regarding statistics: Most of my circles aren't on Google+ at all, even though most of them no longer operate fully pseudonymously, because they didn't trust Google even though they might have elected to sign up under their wallet names anyhow. Some left, some declined to join after they heard the news that pseudonyms were not welcome here. Of those who remain, many are afraid to submit for a name review because they don't want to be rejected. Many of them have expressed to me their fears of posting in public on G+, even simply comments, because they're using their names. So they can't engage in these discussions and they don't want to engage with the name review system. So they will be invisible to these statistics, because they do not trust the process enough to engage with it.

Look at the people asking if they can change their name to <Firstname> <Lastinitial>. They are afraid of losing their account for doing something so simple -- an entirely common and unremarkable Western abbreviation.

Challenging the name of someone with a long-held alternate identity is, for some people, akin to telling people who change their gender field that they must "prove it" by submitting documentation before that field may be changed.

I know that many people's connection to their alternate identities is not nearly that deep; but for some people it is indeed a moral issue, and the fact that it's tied up in multiple identities doesn't make it less so -- it even doesn't make it less so if they are use multiple identities themselves, and attach to some and not others. Even identities that start out as silly jokes can become oddly real at the point where all of your friends are calling you by it in real life.

So -- that's part of the cost.

I feel like you could have gotten a community that was predominantly "name shaped names", with the same community feel that it has now, with a velvet glove instead of an iron fist simply by not making a big issue out of it. Most people would have obeyed the forms that implicitly requested that name shape (and in fact did), and a small minority wouldn't have, and if the first were scared then they would have quickly realized that they had nothing to be afraid of. This is a lot of why I was so surprised by the nym issue, after how quickly the mandatory public gender field was addressed. It's not even a gender binary anymore! (You still can't select 'rather not say', but at least it's a ternary choice, you can set it private, and it's no longer setting us all to Male by default, big advances from the first iteration.)
Just... keep re-examining this assumption, please. Go look at healthy pseudonymous communities, especially at how they educate newcomers into their culture. I know that you have a big scale adoption issue here, on the verge of going extremely Eternal September on you, but I think, judging by how instinctively my mother adopted using handles on the two online sites she uses, that you are possibly overestimating their fear of the unknown when confronted with handles. (She's not here, but she's not on Facebook either.) It's entirely possible that only a few dozens of people would have been as badly hurt on that end, too, or even fewer.
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+Yonatan Zunger One of the tricky bits with handles that originate in fandom or old internet culture is the mission creep that happens when you start using that handle for everything else. For example, my name ("Aliaras") absolutely started as a fandom handle. But then I started using it for blogging and sexuality community stuff (to the point where, at the right party, I would introduce myself as Aliaras). And especially because of that association, I can't just add it as a nick to my wallet name.
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+Yonatan Zunger I've posted a draft of a megapost about this issue, since your prompt directly ties: https://plus.google.com/103112149634414554669/posts/gu9ycN5DjtV

I think it's not quite right that we're conflating; rather that there are orthogonal issues. (See the 'levels' concept in my post.) One can approximate it to the difference between identities (the core thing) and hats.

For instance, you have at least three hats I interact with: Yonatan Zunger, G+ systems architect; Dr. Zunger, physicist; and Yony, cool guy I know socially. They have different names (and multiple names each, even — eg Yony has a handle, which is a kind of name) of course. But they are all facets of you, the assemblage-identity. They're not firewalled things, they're continuous.

It bears noting that an identity can't really be named; only aspects of it can, because those aspects are contextually mediated, and names are social handles.

However, you in all likelihood do have firewalled identities that I don't know of that aren't part of the one I just described. They might reflect different aspects of your personality or the like. They invoke security issues. We hacker types think of them natively, but even normal people (eg +Sheila Addison above) do have a sense of this — it's just less robust on security concepts.

Also, something that's actually a weakness for hacker-type thinking, they aren't truly fully distinguished. Close friends for instance will often know both identities — but they will also know not to bridge them inappropriately. This doesn't map as well online as off, because the line between private and public is much sharper here. I think this is an unfortunate but necessary unnaturalism of firewalling that can be bridged by private social communication. (E.g. people will tell their friends privately what their alters are.)

Identities of course must not be linked without really explicit, informed opt-in. The Big Google Integration thing I think is a serious mistake in this regard (cf the posts above of people having to nuke an identity because it got linked against their will) — a mistake that can be ameliorated by the simple strategy of asking, basically, "is this a different identity or just a different hat?".

(Further: anonymity is refusing to disclose identity; pseudonymity is having another identity.)

I agree that the moral issue really is about identity, and that hatting is more a display issue.

I also think the latter can totally solved, though. I don't think eg it's obligatory that G+ think names are 1:1 with profiles; why can't I + mention you as "+Yony", having it refer to the same entity? Lacking that stilts really fairly important social cues about context and connotation of invokation and so forth. This is a ("mere") UI design issue. An important one, for having natural social interaction, but not a moral one.

tl;dr: I think we mostly agree, but I frame it differently, in ways that I think are more usefully optimizable.
 
Semi-related: it would also be nice if we could alias people. I have some people in my circles whom I just know from IRC, but as long as they don't add their nicknames (which might be never when they don't want that link between their real name and pseudonym being publicly indexed), it sometimes is hard to remember who actually is who.

While I've hacked together a simple user.js script (https://gist.github.com/1235561) that allows me to hard-code nicknames based on userids, this is far from ideal.

Ideally I want to be able to add a note to a user, and/or add a personal nickname/handle to them that would:
- make it easier to recognise the person in my stream.
- make it easier to find the person in my circles.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Verification says something much stronger, that we're basically vouching for your identity, and we don't yet have a general system for that. We absolutely intend to, it just isn't ready yet.

Will that identity service be optional?
 
I posted the results of the "snap poll" at http://goo.gl/uqUfR. Quick summary: 75% of the responses went for "wait and see" or "not significant progress".
 
+Yonatan Zunger there was a very important point in what +Gretchen S. said at 5:17. I think that Google is underestimating an important potential asset in G+ by conflating the perceptions of civil behavior, with perceptions of names. Gretchen mentioned that reason for the positive cultures in Flickr and LiveJournal is the practice of moderation, not the naming. This distinction is very clear in, say, the Atlantic blogs, where Ta-Nehisi Coates' blog has a genius comment section, and other bloggers, on the same site, also using Disqus, have horrible, anti-social sewerpits of comment sections. They use the same tools, but some blogs are moderated and some are not.

One distinction and potential asset for G+ is that every poster is the moderator of his/her own threads. And posters may prefer different styles of conversation - some may prefer more rough-and-tumble and others more politeness - the point is that some standard of normative social behavior is held up.

So, the cultural attribute (and the software signals) to encourage moderation is critically important and a potential major asset for G+. Names are a red herring.

If some people are prejudiced against "odd-shaped names", the way to deal with it isn't to encourage that prejudice. The way to do it is to create even better tools to enable moderation, and make reputation visible, and then in many different ways foster the use of those tools.

You acknowledged yourself that Google needs to do a much better job at handling names from a variety of cultures - mononyms from Indonesia, names in various scripts, and so on. Won't the same people who are prejudiced against handles be prejudiced against alternate scripts???. I myself have some prejudices against names in some scripts where there are online denizens who spam - but the solution isn't to reject a person, but be able to quickly see their content and judge if they are a spammer or a person.

Google has seen the light and realized that it is impractical, wrong, and bad business to discriminate against people with names from nonAnglo cultures. Now, it would be even better for Google to build on its modest moderation tools, and build more reputation discovery tools, and encourage their use, so that people can be judged on the content of their character rather than the characters in their names.
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+Yonatan Zunger Also a thing about +Gretchen S.'s post above: it should be made a lot clearer upfront, both in policy and at the outset (not conclusion) of name change flow, that if the change is rejected then the worst outcome is the status quo, not banishment.

Of course this is parallel with "don't change your name to something that shouldn't be linked", which is a different use case.
 
Oh, and comments need permalinks so I can link to what Gretchen said. And G+ uses soft and hard return characters backwards from FB, which is confusing. On G+ a hard return is a paragraph break and a soft return is "enter", and on FB it's vice versa.
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+Yonatan Zunger Something that bugs me:

The official announcement says that you can have a pseud only if it has an "established following". The open provision is only for inline nickname display, which is not the same thing at all.

Your comments have said that anyone can have a pseud if it's namey enough, and only less-namey pseuds (whatever that means) have to have a following.

These are directly contradictory statements. If your comments reflect official policy, you should announce them as such.
 
+Yonatan Zunger the adversity and culture clash issues fascinate me. I'm rather piqued by the idea of seeing culture clashes on G+ and the implication that "community" isn't as heterogeneous a term here as people tend to treat it.

I think you have the right of it in that "those parties" are diluted in this modern era. But the associated subcultures do persist even if they represent a smaller percentage of population as that population expands around them, never having taken part in that subculture. Such subcultures tend to become isolated and soon slip under the surface being dominated by larger subcultures.

I believe I've seen that in play. I got used to a certain tone of interaction on G+ while it was invite-only and I fully expected that tone to take a hit when G+ went public. But all in all, my personal experience didn't pan out that way. YMMV - I've heard others claim that it has. And it dawned on me some time ago that my circle selections has largely provided a buffer against other cultures that I'm less interested in. I know those cultures are there though. I only have to swipe over to "Nearby" on my mobile or dig through mass replies to major engager hub profiles (which I began limiting) to see plenty of examples.

So with that in mind... how often to cultures clash?
 
Great discussion all. Totally agreed with +Gretchen S. and +Adina Levin (and Kathy Sierra and Caterina Fake and Anil Dash and everybody else) about the importance of moderation in creating the kind of environment you want. If Google+ had devoted as much effort to moderation tools as it has to name policing, it would be much farther along today -- and would be a much more pleasant place, with a better gender ratio.

+Yonatan Zunger, I really respect how deeply you are grappling with these issues and your openness in sharing your thinking and feeling process here. And agreed that it's quite right to view it in in terms of a moral obligation as well as the technical and business issues.

To me it's really striking how similar the claims being made now for the superiority of a "name-shaped name" culture look to what Google was saying six months ago about the superiority of a "real names culture". It doesn't jibe well with experiences elsewhere, and it doesn't seem like you reached out to the most marginalized groups (or really understand their needs). It affects the same marginalized groups. At the personal level it puts you in a conflicted position. At the business level it installs you as the name police. So both morally and from a business perspective I think you should look very closely at that belief, the data that supports it, the expertise of the people involved, the processes, and whose voices aren't getting heard.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I sympathize about being in the hot seat for hard decisions. And am greatly encouraged and heartened by the fact that you are thinking about these issues in moral terms with compassion for people affected by those decisions. And I strongly urge you to re-read this statement.

"there are significant culture clash risks associated with culture mixing and we've chosen to resolve those by basically excluding handles"

Substitute this minority with other minorities where there are prejudices and concerns about "culture mixing." It reads really badly, doesn't it?

The right way to deal with prejudice is not to exclude a minority which is stereotyped by a majority.


Crossposted and adapted from a comment I posted on +Gretchen S. ' thread.
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+James Richard Sheldon Not quite. Madonna was her given name. It wasn't her full name and still isn't her full wallet name. Whereas eg "Sai" is the only name I have (though it wasn't any part of my birthname).
 
+Sai Well, +Madonna still isn't a pseudonym. I will concede, though, that under a full name policy +Sai would qualify and +Madonna would not.
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+James Richard Sheldon It's a clipping. "Pseudonym" isn't really well defined though; there are gray areas. Which is part of why I think that pretending there are sharp lines here is silly. :-P
 
to paraphrase +Jon Pincus , it seems to me as well that you've moved from the "real names" plan, which proved to have no actual science behind it, to the "name shaped names" plan, which likewise has no actual science behind it. There has been some progress here, but that almost certainly is not included.
I say if there are bigots who can't cope with handle-shaped names ("well, there's your problem"), let them exercise their 'block' and 'ignore' buttons, or gtfo.
 
Thanks everyone for the comments and support because I cannot understand why Google is still reviewing my Name under their Naming Policy and the irony is Culture Monroe is my birth name.
 
+Bob O`Bob I'm trying to imagine the study which would show that people are frightened by handle-shaped names without defining handle-shaped names. I suppose you could ask them to subjectively rate the names on a fear scale (presumably there's a Wong-Baker pain scale analogue for fear?) and then allow them to select from an inventory of reasons why they might be frightened by a name, one of which is "it's handle-shaped." (May as well include "it includes a title or honorific," "it has unusual or unnecessary characters," "it's a secondary online identity or avatar," "it represents a family, business, or other group of people," "it's been changed more than once in the past 30 days," and "it's offensive, consists primarily of symbols, or is a complete sentence" in that list while we're at it.)

Now that I put it that way, I'm sold. Time to get IRB approval!
 
If "Culture Monroe" is handle-shaped, then we definitely can't accept the claim that handles are only used in a "fairly limited subculture." Many cultures that exist without the benefit of the internet have many members whose first names are not used in social contexts at all, entirely replaced with a common noun that would never be given to a child at birth.
 
+Yonatan Zunger What are your thoughts about the people who have jobs that require them to avoid social networks. Some of those people, I dare say, are on G+ already, using name-shaped pseudonyms. Is that perfectly OK with Google now?
 
+Yonatan Zunger From your exchange with +Kee Hinckley about the hypothetical Owa Tagoo Siam scenario, do I understand correctly that though it isn't possible for someone to report you for using a pseudonym, it is possible for someone to report you for using a handle and thereby trigger a name review?

I'm asking, because with all the lack of clarity about what does or doesn't constitute a name-shaped name, this would mean a lot of people still having reason to worry.
 
(Back and catching up again...)

+KodiaK hasnolastname I'm not really sure if this should or should not be fixed. The "core identity" notion isn't something which shaped the policy text -- it's something I'm only coming to understand now, largely through this conversation (and the other ones going on in parallel). I think that what makes an identity core is the person's relationship to it, which is fundamentally not something which can be externally measured. And therein lies the problem; optimally I'd like to have very strict restrictions on peripheral identities and loose restrictions on core ones, but there's no easy way to probe "coreness" from the outside. Legal documents can be a way to probe that, simply because the barrier to a legal name change is so high (especially for, say, legal mononyms) and so people are really unlikely to have an unusual legal name if it isn't a core identity. But that's obviously not going to be the case for every core identity.

Asking people what they want to be called, as +Sai recommends, doesn't work well because a lot of the users of peripheral identities -- especially semi-malicious users, i.e. people who are basically advertising their business as an "identity" -- have an incentive to game the system. And these bad uses are actually the lion's share of even the appeals; as I mentioned in that comment, more than 99% of the manual reviews we've gone through since Monday have been in that category. Core identities which fail the name-shapedness test are very rare by any standard.

So this leaves us in a state where the thing that we want to let in isn't directly detectable, and we're left with using proxies for it. One proxy approach is to create a high barrier to entry; make it hard enough to get through that you have to really want it in order to get through. That does indirectly filter out weak peripheral identities, but it also puts an onus on core identities to prove themselves which is itself a harm.

I'm not sure what to do about this yet, nor about what the right thing (in the moral sense as well as in the practical sense) would be to do in your case.
 
+Gretchen S. Yes, the statistics definitely have a nontrivial "ghost effect." It may not be so bad simply because of the numeric scales involved. If I make the conservative assumption of a 5x ghost effect (i.e., for every appeal, there are five people who didn't), and assume that the appropriate denominator is 3-day active users (people who have signed in in the past few days -- I'll assume that anyone who cares about this, and has signed in within the past 3 days, has heard about it and so has had a chance to decide whether or not they want to appeal) then we're still looking at an effect in the range of about 4.5 standard deviations. Changing those assumptions around doesn't move it very much; no matter what, we're looking at fairly small groups within a fairly large population.

The <firstname> <lastinitial> stuff is under discussion; you and +Meirav Berale have both asked for clarification on that, and we're having a conversation in-house. I'd like to be able to give people firm guidance on this one way or the other.

I definitely agree that we could have gotten this community without creating as much of a furor. It wasn't done well at launch time, frankly because we were so busy with so many things that this policy wasn't a high priority. We picked something, went with it, and (as with pretty much everything else) decided that we would tune it later. Right now is "later," but as you say there are still some people who are going to be very upset by this.

We are most definitely in an Eternal September. Building, maintaining and cultivating any uniform culture under these circumstances is a tremendous challenge, and the names policy is only a small part of that. (I'm actually likely to have a number of threads/roundtables on that more general subject soon, which I hope you'll all join in on -- I've rarely seen as thoughtful and interesting a bunch of people)
 
+Sai I like your mega-post draft; it seems that we're thinking on related lines. I think that you're right, there are quite a few orthogonal issues at play here; identities, hats, and security. I do think that there's a real core/peripheral distinction w.r.t. identities which is separate from the "hats" issue, but this makes me wonder if we can use these ideas to break down what should happen in each case:

* Core identity: Should be usable as the primary name of an account.
* Peripheral, non-firewalled identity, AKA "hat": Should be usable as an alternate name and/or +page, subordinate to an account.
* Peripheral, firewalled identity: Should be a separate account. (Question: If it's peripheral and non-name-shaped -- assuming the whole "virtue of name-based space" hypothesis -- what should this account be? If we only want non-name-shaped names to show up as primary names when they're core identities, that suggests that this identity out to be a subordinate entity to a second account, but then what should that account be named? I've been assuming that these accounts should be subordinate to "John Doe" accounts, but that seems a bit less than optimal. It could be that subordinating them to an account named after an obvious name-shaped pseudonym (such as John Doe or Guy Fawkes) is the best approach)

WDYT?
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+Yonatan Zunger [re comment 3 up] I think you made a significant mistake just there: if people "are basically advertising their business as an identity" or are malicious, then you are not talking about the shape of their name. You're talking about their behavior.

I have no problem with using someone's content to ban them for trolling/abuse or to force-migrate what is unambiguously a business profile to being a Page. The name can even be a very slight indicator of this. But you're confusing the issue by conflating the two. If someone's behavior is a problem, by all means nail 'em for their behavior.

You're trying to do the equivalent of classifying the content of email (spam, abuse, OK) from only the TO: field. That doesn't work all that well.
 
+Filip H.F. Slagter Agreed re: aliasing. One of the changes we want to do going forward is to allow nicks and other alternate names to be more findable and usable for things like +mentioning, etc.

+Amy Redstone Yes, verification will always be optional. It's something which would take a nontrivial amount of user effort to get.

+Adina Levin I am 100% with you on the subject of moderation; improving our moderation tools is a ranked priority and part of this improving-culture matter. And not just explicit moderation, but any number of tools to smooth cross-cultural interactions. Alternate scripts are absolutely a problem and in a very similar way to handles, and we're working on dealing with that, too; but that's a large-N problem (there are several scripts, for each of which there are millions of users who work solely in those scripts) so it requires a fundamentally different approach than this small-N-in-a-large-field problem. All of these issues are pretty much top of my mind right now.

(And +1 to permalinks for comments, especially on mega-threads like this!)

+Sai Yes, you're right -- we didn't underline that enough. Let me state it explicitly: If you change the name of an existing account, that change triggers a review and it is ultimately rejected, the consequence is that your name stays what it was before the change. This will not lead to account suspension or any other negative consequences.

+Paul Hosking They clash more often than I'd like. One important difference between Google+ and networks like Facebook or LinkedIn is that Google+ has an asymmetric connection model; this means that you can easily end up with followers from a different culture (which I'm using in the broadest possible sense of the term) than your own, who are reading your public posts, commenting, etc. The more public a user you are, the more this happens. You don't get quite as many cross-script interactions (cf +Adina Levin's comment) simply because anyone who is monolingual in a language with script X is unlikely to want to follow someone who posts only in script Y, but there are plenty of culture clashes to deal with nonetheless.

This problem then splits up into a small/large problem: how you handle interactions between a small number of "large" cultures (i.e., cultures with large numbers of members) doesn't necessarily scale to the handling of large numbers of "small" cultures. Everything in these cases is potentially different: harder to identify where the boundaries are at which friction can happen, harder to spot that these groups exist in the first place, and different interaction remedies might be needed. I suspect that a lot of people's unhappiness around "low-quality comments," for example ("hiiiiiii" and the like) is actually part of this culture clash. (Separate thread...)
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+Yonatan Zunger I for one am much more creeped out by the idea of being followed by a bunch of people named "John Doe (capcrunchthefirst)" "Sally McPseudonym (aliaras)" "Guy Fawkes (theanonymouse)" than just being followed by handles. I agree with earlier comments about showing the most interesting/insightful/characteristic post of a user with the add, and I would think that would help ameliorate some of the culture-clash challenges. That way, you get to see someone's content, which might make them look more "normal" (or more like a giant nerd -- but still, like a person and not like a robot/creep).

I'm curious to what degree the really techie people (often with handles from the old internet) and the fandom people (often with handles from that culture) adopting and promoting G+ would have helped/hurt the platform. As it is, both groups got burned and have the problem where half their friends aren't on G+ due to names issues.

Edit: better phrasing of above, is there any numerical data on the tradeoffs between fewer culture clashes and a more open platform in terms of users, ability to make cash off advertisers, etc?

Lastly, for a decent example of name and handle shaped things interacting, what about comments on BoingBoing? Those seem to be pretty decent (y'know, for comments sections). Another example of moderation over names as a predictor of quality.
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+Yonatan Zunger And another comment, this one from Fizz (same Fizz as +Sai mentioned and +Amber Yust relayed from from above):


I submitted an appeal a few days ago, heard nothing, and resubmitted it today. For links, I supplied this thread as well as https://plus.google.com/103112149634414554669/posts/cbAhS1FgfD8 and http://www.facebook.com/relsqui (context given below). In the document-upload section, I supplied the following, in a text file:

----------------------------

Pardon my workaround for the lack of comment field.

My name is Fizz. "Fizz" is what my family, friends, colleagues, etc. call me in real life, and have done for most of my life. It is not a handle. If you Google it, you're unlikely to find anything related to me, since it's also an English word. Because it's not my wallet name, I don't have official documentation for it; because it's what I use in real life, I don't have online documentation for it. The linked G+ thread has some of my friends referring to me by my name in it, though.

My handle, which I've used on the internet for many years, is "Relsqui." I could easily provide many references for this as a well-established handle; as of the last time I went through every page of them, all the Google results for that string refer to me. The linked Facebook profile connects this handle with my name. (It also displays a surname, which I don't want to use on Google+. I don't want to use it on Facebook either, but I haven't found a way not to.)

I don't want to use my handle, for which I can provide lots of evidence and support, on Google+. I want to use my name, because it's a social network and I want to use it to connect with people who know me in real life. I will happily use the existing nicknames field to supply my handle. As I understand it, this is completely in compliance with Google's policy.


ETA: This is now the second time I've submitted this version of this appeal; when I didn't get a reply after a couple of days, I remembered that last time I tried, it didn't work until I supplied my gmail address in the contact field (rather than my actual canonical email address). You might want to make it clearer that that's what you want--or, you know, let me use my real email address. ;)

That makes this my fourth submitted appeal. If I get a helpful and respectful response, it will be the first time. (See email transcript in the provided links.)

----------------------------

Writing that helped me articulate what sits so wrong with me about the "show online documentation" policy. I can show online documentation for my handle, of course--that's what it's for! Using online instead of my real name! But I use my real name online much less often, so I can't support it nearly as well.

In other words, I can't fulfill Google's requirements to prove it's my real name BECAUSE it's my real name. That seems like a design flaw.

Also, on the topic of account integration--I mentioned this in an email to Yonatan, but for others in the thread--I learned recently that no one can view even my completely public pictures on Picasa any more. I can only assume this is because of my G+ account suspension. I don't know what whoever made that design choice was thinking, but the effect is simply that of being punished for not lying to Google about my name.
 
+Aliaras Vehsra side note - interesting you brought up Boingboing as I think +Xeni Jardin was a victim of a prime example of jerks being jerks no matter what they call themselves.
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+Yonatan Zunger Stats: Honestly I wonder if even 5x lurker ratio is adequate. You need to include people who changed their names to something they resent, who changed to something fake fake (sic), who never touched the service, who got rejected by the automatic system and never bothered to appeal, etc. Triggering the appeal itself was not easy in the old flow, and even now the "did we mess up" link is pretty small, with an intimidating flow to complete.

Plus there are just all the people who are taking your defaults rather than a better one. The current flow really comes off as "papers please" not as "hi what's your name"; as a result, many people are going to assume they need to put in their Official Name rather than one they would rather be called. (Side note: I wonder how this works crosslinguistically for prompts, given eg the significant semantic difference between "What is your name?" and "Comment vous appellez-vous?".)


To me there's not really such a thing as a "peripheral identity" (though by all means, define it and try to convince me the concept is useful). It's true that different identities aren't wholly discrete IRL, but for our purposes we must make them so (because of intrinsic security issues). So humans have many identities have many aspects/hats have many names have many name-displays. No identity (in my sense) is more or less important; some may well be more or less commonly used of course, but that's not the same thing at all. I don't like reification of 'core' vs 'alters'. (I've used 'alters' a few times; I only use it to mean 'the others' wrt any particular one.)

The difference between having multilogin or linked Page control, and having separated accounts, is only a security one against insider action (malicious employee, hacking, subpoenas): i.e. whether Google knows the link. It's not really an identity difference for the user, though of course there's security vs ease of use tradeoff.

I don't really understand your long paren'd question; rephrase / exemplify?


(Comment permalinks hopefully go with hyperlinks; 63 char post links inline is already massively ugly.)

Hopefully your official messaging (both policy statements and in-flow) will start reflecting your comments here. Hint. :-P

Re culture: hopefully y'all will support full inline autotranslation at some point. (Set your reading languages, everything else gets translated to your primary without needing to poke it first.) Also side note: I wonder if it's possible to automatically add appropriate cultural commentary / explanations to translations, of the kind that appear in high-quality pro translation (eg annotated Shakespeare texts).
 
My goodness. I should have known that the notification box just decided to give up on letting me know of more activity here. Resubbing, not only so I can vouch for Fizz above, who I miss sorely from G+.
 
+Adina Levin The parallelism with other minorities is not lost on me. That's why I'm trying to shift to dealing with all of these issues as culture-clash problems, and systematically approaching those.

+Culture Monroe You aren't being challenged because of being handle-shaped; it's because your name is unusual enough that it's tripping the "wait, is this a human at all?" question. We have a lot of people trying to sign up individual accounts for their bands, or their travel agencies, or whatever -- that's what you're getting confused with. Right now the communications you get, and the review processes, aren't really distinguished for these two cases; we should probably do something to change that. In your particular case, with this being your legal name, the review process should be especially quick and simple, and if it isn't, please let me know. (/cc +Cheval Rex +Chris Koeberle +Scott Jordan +Sai -- NB this is a "non-human detection" issue, not a "handles" issue)
 
+Sai My gut is that 5x is inadequate, due to the reasons you mention. I think "never touched the service" in particular is a huge category, considering that the service was openly antagonizing them.
 
+Amy Redstone Yes.

+Sai Yes, you're right – masking a business as an individual is behavior, not name. I brought it up because name checking is actually the most sensitive and efficient detector of that particular bad behavior; it doesn't work very well if the account's isn't named after the business, and so you end up with a lot of people being flagged for being named "Deluxe Vacations" or something like that. The mechanism of name detection is being used simultaneously for two very different purposes, and it's this other purpose which caught up e.g. +Culture Monroe.
 
+Aliaras Vehsra Fizz -- did you not get my e-mail reply on Tuesday? I want to work with you out-of-band on this. If you can't get through the review process, that's a bug in the review process which we need to fix.
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+Yonatan Zunger I think it bears emphasis that "is this a human or a wombat" and "is this a person or a Page-y thing" are really different things. Wombats aren't allowed at all; businesses are required to use Pages, which is amenable to migration in place.

I'm suspicious of behavior detection just from names. It's confusing the two things. "Deluxe Vacations" could be a perfectly amusing name for someone to use to blog about their cats and C++. :-) What you really want to hit is the implied behavior, so do that rather than this prior restraint on the name. If they merely have a name in the system, and aren't acting at all, who cares? If they are acting, boom, now you're talking behavior. :-P
 
+Yonatan Zunger - I asked Fizz, and got this: 'Oh, ha. No, I hadn't gotten your reply--I just checked, and gmail had flagged it as spam (it has the red "may not be from whom it claims to be" banner on it). That's pretty hilarious. I'll pick this up out of band, now, though. :) Also, I wonder how long I can go asking a different friend to comment for me every time.'
 
+Yonatan Zunger I suspect you are right about the "Hi, that was a very nice post." comments being cultural differences. +Linda Lawrey gets tons of those. I keep thinking, "Just hit the + button!" Of course, in many ways "Newbie" is a culture unto itself, so it's hard to tell.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I am glad that you are seeing these as culture clash problems, because that will hopefully lead to better resolutions. I am over 40, and I remember clearly that when I was young, there were arguments made very seriously that African-Americans and women should be restricted from certain public roles, such as sales jobs, because they made other people uncomfortable, and would not be accepted. Prejudice is a problem, but society came around to the fact that the way to deal with the prejudices was not to exclude the minority.

The fact that some minorities are larger than others isn't a particularly good reason to accomodate prejudice. In the US, Jews are a small religious minority, there are fewer Muslims than Jews, and even fewer Wiccans. Does this mean that it is more ok to exclude the smaller minority? I think most people here would consider the idea appalling. Some participants in Google+ might be offended and appalled if they are followed by someone with a pentacle in their profile photo set. Will Google exclude pentacles from profile images? Of course not.

Might Google want to make it easier for someone to see at a glance if they want to follow someone with a thumbnail of a few key fields that people use to make the decision? That would be a good idea.
 
+Kee Hinckley +Yonatan Zunger my experience falls in line with those observations on culture. If I want to feel smug about "Endless September", I just have to go look at a nexus of other cultures - Nearby or a highly followed individual like +Robert Scoble, +Mike Elgan, +Chris Pirillo, or even more so +Lady Gaga. My interests tend to be more focused so I only follow one of the previously named individuals and those that I do follow tend to fit smaller subcultures. My own personal culture clash experience is managed and minimal. Though there are individuals like +Alex Grossman who seems to be going out of his way to pluck individuals from different subcultures that demonstrate a willingness for respectful conversation / debate. He's been fostering some very interesting conversations from sometimes very different view points (some times more successfully than others :P ).

The culture question is very interesting albeit probably a rabbit hole from the original focus. I'd be really keen to see a spin-off thread if +Yonatan Zunger had the inclination / time to pursue it. We could call it "After N*Y*M".
 
+Yonatan Zunger There's another class of people with handle-shaped names that I haven't seen mentioned in this discussion. The focus has been on the netizens and con/gamer/second-life citizens, but in the Sex-Blogger and BDSM communities (I think FetLife just passed a million users), handles are used extensively online and offline. I would say that most of them fall into the grey area of being name-shaped (or name-shapeable), but often using common words. That means they are more likely to get caught in the "when will I get suspended" trap. There was an initial influx of people from those communities at Google+'s launch, but with the previous name policy, most went silent, used more name-shaped names, left, or only posted privately so as to avoid suspension. This group falls into your "peripheral, firewalled identity" category with a non-name-shaped name, but I hesitate to call it a secondary identity, because it is core to the existence of those people both online, and offline. Needless to say it's also a community that has been very alarmed by issues like suggesting users using people's address books, and the increasing integration of different Google properties. I have many friends whom I would have a hard time convincing to come back now.

On the subject of cultural differences and creepiness. The sex-blogger accounts, even the inactive ones, are getting an inordinate number Indian and Arabic-named followers, most of whom appear to only post in their native languages. I mention this only because it's not a behavior I've seen for those same people on Twitter, and I don't know if it's a difference in the percentage of users from different countries, searchability, or the long-form, multi-media medium. I'm not advocating any particular change as a result, it's just a datapoint you might not have come across.
 
+Kee Hinckley climate change?! My mother was a saint! I mean... yeah... at some point, there's going to be friction just because people are like that.
 
* +Yonatan Zunger wrote:* Agreed re: aliasing. One of the changes we want to do going forward is to allow nicks and other alternate names to be more findable and usable for things like +mentioning, etc.
Sure, that makes sense. But if a user refuses to specify a nickname, or doesn't supply the one I know them by, it still won't be of use.for me ;) Hence, being able to specify personal/private nicks/labels for other profiles would be useful.

Must say that this thread has been quite interesting for me personally as well by the way. Especially with regard to naming conventions, or rather the lack of them. It has also taught me a couple of new terms such as meatspace, wallet name, mononym and name-shaped.

It also reminded me of how versatile people are, and how wonderful it can be to have people from different cultures and with different backgrounds, together in a single conversation, working together to find a solution to a common problem.
The openness and willingness to listen to each other's standpoints is refreshing and educating. Having these discussions is also a wonderful way of meeting new people.

man.. I love the Internet...
 
+Yonatan Zunger I think "peripheral, firewalled identity" is a reasonable description of this portion of my identity. I have friends who know me only as KodiaK, but I have no close friends who don't know my full name. I have many friends, acquaintances, and employers who only know my full name, and are not aware that I have friends who know me as KodiaK. But I suspect my willingness to consider this aspect of my identity as "peripheral" puts me in the minority of people who have a firewalled identity. I definitely believe it is damaging to create a category of "peripheral, firewalled identity" and not admit the possibility that a person might have plural "core, firewalled identities."

This is what I seem to be getting as Google+'s policy:
1) "Handle-shaped names" are dangerous to the service.
2) Turning actual humans away solely because they only have one name, and that name is "handle-shaped," is morally incorrect and/or should not be done.
3) Actual humans who wish to create multiple accounts to represent their multiple identities may do so.
4) The benefit of allowing someone to use a "handle-shaped name" does not itself outweigh the hazard of allowing users to see "handle-shaped names" in use.
5) Therefore, humans who have a non-handle-shaped name which they are willing to use may only avail themselves of 2) above if they happen to be able to meet whatever standard is set for the benefit of the people being protected by 2). They are not the reason 2) exists, and their concerns are not considered in setting the standards for 2).

I'm not 100% confident in 5) - in particular, I'm not sure what the standard is for separating the people who 2) is intended to benefit, and the people who happen to be allowed to avail themselves of 2). If I blogged under this identity, for instance, it appears to be the intent of the current policy that I would easily be able to get my name changed to a mononym. However, it's clear that - even if I did blog under this identity - I am not a member of the class of human who 2) was created to benefit.

I disagree on 1). Even if I concede 1), I disagree on 4). But from the beginning, Google+ has vehemently argued for both positions. But regardless of what I think the right way is, I want to understand better what Google+'s way is. I think we're getting a much better picture of what sort of person-with-a-handle-shaped-name Google+ is interested in accommodating, and I will try to maintain my optimism that Google+ will eventually see the benefit of allowing identities such as this one to participate in the service.

As a footnote, I'll mention that a good chunk of the people who know me as KodiaK have "peripheral" names that match ^[A-Z]?[a-z]*[A-Z]?[a-z]*\ [A-Z]?[a-z]*[A-Z]?[a-z]*$; some of them would even pass without exception on a resume.
 
+Sai I agree that you can't do behavior detection just from names, but for detecting businesses it's actually an extremely high-correlation signal. And if you blogged under the name "Deluxe Vacations" to talk about your cat and C++, that sounds pretty firmly like a handle, a peripheral identity, and a hat all at once. The one person in 10^X whose core identity is actually named "Deluxe Vacations..." well, that's an exceptional case to be handled via an exceptions process.

+Dan Boger Obviously, Fizz will have to iterate through commenting via every single person on this thread. An achievement would presumably be unlocked.

+Adina Levin I certainly agree that the size of the minority shouldn't affect treatment. But as a practical matter, the size of the minority, as well as its nature, will affect the mechanism of fixing problems. For example, if we're talking about the collision between Roman and Sinitic scripts, we have two huge groups of people, and the fixing mechanism might involve transliteration and translation tools. If we're talking about cultures where it's acceptable to say "nice boobs u marry me?" to a woman that you have just met (and believe me, there are some, and they are not numerically small) meeting women from Western cultures in public posts, the fixing mechanism is going to be pretty different. And when the overall problem is "how can we expand Google+ to serve the largest number of people," and different subgroups require different mechanisms to integrate them without triggering lots of clashes, a lot of the prioritization is going to be done by group size. Which is sad, and doesn't accord with our normal moral notion that the value of a person or group is independent of their population, but is a real practical concern that controls how things get dealt with.

+Scott Jordan What happens is that someone gets a notification saying "captaincrunch42 has added you to a circle." To someone who isn't personally familiar with handle-based cultures, that basically communicates "you have been dropped into one of those Internet forums that you've heard of, full of creepy trolls and perverts." It's not an effective moment to teach people about software mechanisms or cultures; people just leave, right there and then. This problem is actually a lot broader than handles – for example, there's a long-running problem (not just on G+, but on lots of asymmetric services) of women getting followed by a bunch of men, and saying "crap, who are all of these guys who are stalking me?" and backing off. It's not because there's a real issue there; you and I both know that if someone adds you on G+, all they get to see is your public posts. But quite a few people, even relatively technically savvy people, still get that powerful emotional reaction and back off completely. User education, and giving them the tools to do things which make them feel comfortable with all these "strange people" (e.g. people with handles, or men) adding them are key things which we're working on in general. (And yes, if those start to work really well, that might lead to a change in names policy)
 
+Coyote Too I thought of that community too, and I suspect that there are quite a few people on this thread who are familiar with it. Same logic applies, although in this case it's often harder to figure out what to do with reviews because these identities don't often leave signatures in places which are easy for a reviews team to spot. (Either online or off) If you have any ideas on that subject, I'd love to hear them. The identities are definitely either peripheral/firewalled or core/firewalled, which create two different sets of problems.

On the subject of culture differences, sex bloggers, etc., you noticed that too, eh? That was one of the things that got me thinking about these questions as issues of culture in the first place.

+Filip H.F. Slagter I've been enjoying this conversation a lot, too. The personal/private nicks thing has been discussed, but it's a massive implementation pain in the ass. (So many product questions; in each circumstance, you have to decide which name to display; when you render a post, you have to decide what name to render for each person based on all sorts of settings in the person's profile and the viewing user, which means that you have to fetch and ship all of that data to the frontend and do so without hurting page render latency; and so on and so on. We've thought about this, but I seriously doubt we're going to do it any time soon)

+John Kessel Actually, the photo/avatar thing is at least as big a deal as the names thing, it's just even harder to fix. I wish I had a decent approach to that; it causes even more clashes and for all of the reasons that you mention. (People's response to being circled by someone with no picture tends to be poor; people's response to being circled by someone with something fairly abstract isn't quite as bad, but is also fairly poor. Drawings etc which are recognizably of people, or at least of animate objects, tend to get better reactions. Then you have people who put up photos of their kids or pets, or photos which are completely unintelligible unless enlarged to nearly poster-size... etc etc.)

What you say about the binarization of our choices, between either name- or handle-based communities, actually goes right to the heart of what I'm trying to work out about cultures right now. As several people are mentioning, there are a lot of points where cultures can clash, and the name/handle clash is actually a pretty small example of that; we need systematic solutions to all of these. We need ways for a lot of cultures to coexist on the system, and for people to be able to interact freely within their own cultures, and when cultures meet we need ways to smooth that meeting and help people get to know one another and start to form friendships and relationships across those lines. This is what I would consider to be the major thrust of my work right now – and needless to say, it's a hard problem.

I can't comment on your detailed proposal only because to do so would require that I talk a lot about our own product roadmap, and how those features would interact with what you're talking about, and so on – stuff which I can't discuss for the obvious reasons. But I like the approach that you propose, for the cases of handling these unsiloed subdomains. (Of course, those subdomains presuppose that these are groups with a self-recognized organization, and someone capable of issuing said verifications, which is great for things like schools and businesses but not for subcultures. But that's OK; no one solution will fix every problem)

I think that people who are uncomfortable with culture clashes of all sorts should get over themselves, too. But if I want to encourage this, it's going to have to be done through delicate channels – "de-otherization," to bring back a term that +Sai mentioned earlier. That's generally achieved by letting groups encounter one another in positive ways, and getting people to recognize members of the other group as something familiar. (Two books which are shaping a lot of my thinking in this direction right now are Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of our Nature, for its discussion of increasing radii of sympathy and so on, and Putnam & Campbell's American Grace, for its studies of how tolerance has been spreading through American society over the past few decades. I think that there are some very useful insights which can be derived from there.)
 
+Yonatan Zunger re: "crap, who are all of these guys who are stalking me?" and backing off. It's not because there's a real issue there; you and I both know that if someone adds you on G+, all they get to see is your public posts.

Maybe adding something like a "See which of your posts this person can see" link to each profile (or the profile popup boxes) could help with that.
I know you can already view your profile as a specific person, or anyone on the web from your own profile page, but perhaps making that functionality more accessible could be a reassuring way for people.
 
+KodiaK hasnolastname I don't think that thinking of this chunk of your identity as peripheral puts you in the minority at all; rather, I think that there are lots of different reasons for which people end up with peripheral identities. I don't argue at all that people only have a single core identity; my list of intersections of core versus peripheral was more to drive ideas of what different software implementations might have to provide. Multiple core, firewalled identities could simply be handled by multiple accounts.

Also, this whole core/peripheral/etc discussion is something which just came up in the context of this thread; it isn't part of the policy, it's something we're working out as we talk right here.

One of the underlying principles which was driving this policy was that handles are dangerous to the service. (Which is, I think, a flaw of the service not yet being able to moderate cultural interactions effectively enough) That led to a policy built around "name-shapedness." A second principle, which hasn't really affected the policy yet at all because it only came up here, is that core identities are something which should be protected, and peripheral identities less so. A practical limitation (not a principle) is that it can be hard to tell unusually-shaped names from handles, and as a result we end up with manual reviews, proof of identity or following, and so on. A second practical limitation is that we can't yet moderate interactions well enough, and the cost of the bad interactions to the service as a whole was high, which led to the Draconian solution of simply cutting the smaller of the two groups out of the system – i.e., rejecting names which don't fit a certain mold.

None of this is what I would consider optimal, not by a longshot. I think that if we can solve the cultural interaction problem, we should be able to open the doors wide and not have a names policy at all. But that's conjecture, and based on solving that problem.
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+John Kessel The avatar analogy is quite apt IMO. Also FWIW: verification of claims (walletname, site ownership,@university.edu or @employer.com ownership, etc) is something I promoted way back in my first megapost on this issue, so yeah, that. I don't think it should be reified to naming the kind of account, but certainly verifiable claims of this sort are important facets of identifying yourself and the groups you belong to.

+Yonatan Zunger Every time you talk to someone, you're talking to both a name, hat, and identity. Handles are just identity-bearing names that happen to take the form of usernames; they're not really first-class things as such in my ontology.

So here's a thing: at the core what you're trying to do is block things at the door based on names, rather than block or Page-constrain problematic behavior. What is your justification for this?

Re your 'captaincrunch42': like I said, fix is better intros, not banning 2600hz.

What is your fix for "nice boobs u marry me?"? O.o

also /reminder numbered megacomments :-P
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+Yonatan Zunger Fizz says: "is my achievement a working account?" XD
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+Yonatan Zunger Re name display: I agree that full poster/viewer pairing is hard. Here's a not-hard version that handles the 90% case:
* a user can specify multiple name displays / hats. (E.g. for you: +Yonatan Zunger, +Yony, +Dr. Zunger) All entries must be public. Want a nonpublic entry, get a separate account. One is designated as the default, and is used for the profile, hovercard, and other defaulty cases.
* the user when posting, or the mentioner when mentioning, can use any of those name displays they want. The chosen name display is shown to everyone.

It's just two extra fields — 1:M list of acceptable +handles & per-post field of what name was used which you already have btw — and zero extra permissions / privacy logic. A little bit of extra display.

Re core vs peripheral protection, I think you're thinking of it wrong. What needs protection is the link; that John Doe is, say, Slutzilla on Fetlife is a private datum. But that Slutzilla exists tout court isn't really.
 
+Sai Re: name/hat/identity: Yes, definitely. I think these are simply interesting ways of slicing the problem.

And yes, this is a case of blocking at the door based on names, which is admittedly a grade-A hack. In fact, my opinion is that pretty much any blocking at the door is the sign of a hack and should be removed. If I can solve the cultural interaction problem, or at least ameliorate it, we can eliminate that. Agreed that the right fix is better intros. Got any ideas?

(I do actually have some plans re: "nice boobs u marry me," but can't discuss those as yet)
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+Yonatan Zunger I did mention one idea for better intros above (snippet & link the bestest post to show off). ;-)

Need more? If yes give me some use cases to mull on. (Also, glad we agree on what counts as a hack. :-P)

FWIW: I think that most of the specific use cases you've mentioned so far (e.g. business entity as a person) are really behaviorally detectable issues that can be handled with existing moderation methods, not issues of cultural clash. Principle: trust but verify / don't do prior restraint, do moderation.
 
+Yonatan Zunger One place scene names tend to get used in a traceable online setting is fetlife; to check there, you do need to have a login yourself, but once logged in there's amazingly little privacy and you can fairly easily tell whether someone's maintaining a presence under a particular name. Of course, the problem there is that it's a unique-username place, meaning that someone may not have been able to get their actual scene name and had to choose something weird for their login. The meatspace community takes privacy very seriously, of course, which means that there's a general lack of recorded name use...it's a tricky one. The performing/teaching/presenting portion of the community can of course point to advertised classes/shows/whatever under the name they use there, but the less public people do present a verification problem.

I feel terribly predictable coming out of the woodwork to make this comment. :) While here, I'll note that I consider myself to have two core firewalled identities. My birth name is primarily for day-job sort of people, and I religiously keep it offline everywhere but linkedin. (I'm not under any illusions that a company couldn't find out details about me if they really, really wanted to. But I consider it my responsibility to keep my weirder life off of casual google searches.) My pseudonym/handle/scene name is what I've been using everywhere else for 11 years now, and hell, at one point I dated a girl for a month or two before she knew my birth name. (which was entertaining because at that point she realized she was friends with my ex...but that's the queer female community for you.) I'm trying to figure out if I can legally use Dana on the paperwork for being a part owner of Wicked Grounds, even.
But at this point it would be terribly hard to pick one and say "that's ME". I might be an edge case, but I'm not unique.
On the "not unique" part - just about everyone I know that's in a similar situation has walked away from G+. Personally I wouldn't have checked back in, even after the press release, because I read it, thought "adding nicknames attached to my real name is ENTIRELY UNHELPFUL" and ignored it - but then I saw your name in a news article and came to read the thread. (The timing was great; I had just thought "I wonder if Yony has time to meet up for lunch any time soon?", saw the article, and knew exactly why you were too busy for lunch.) The thread sounds way better than the press release, really, so I'll be logging into G+ again, because I do like the system.
 
+Yonatan Zunger To clarify, I believe I am in the minority of people with firewalled identities, in that I am willing to entirely give up my ability to use that identity on Google+ simply because it's "peripheral." It may be the case that firewalled identities whose owners consider them peripheral are more common than I imagine; I'm just clarifying what I believe.

I do understand and respect that the newly identified core vs. peripheral distinction was not explicitly considered when shaping the current policy, and when I was trying to sum up what I believe Google+'s stance to be, I did my best to avoid directly referring to those concepts. However, from what I can tell, Fizz and I are similarly situated in terms of our ability to meet the standards required to unlock a mononymous account - both of us could easily get a live human to vouch for us, but neither of us can point to a "meaningful following" or an "official document." However, you seem to be interested in promptly resolving Fizz's problem, and not mine. That's fine! I, too, would MUCH rather you resolve Fizz's problem than mine. But where does that come from? It seems to me that it's because Fizz's identity which does not meet the current standards is a core identity, while mine is (by your definition) a peripheral identity. Is there another distinction I'm missing? Why is it that Fizz ought to be able to use the name Fizz, and I ought not be able to use the name KodiaK?
Sean S
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Regarding <first name><last initial>, yesterday I changed my name to be my full first name and last initial and submitted an appeal. I was approved less than an hour later. I read your comment above about you still discussing this issue in-house. In the future, if using a last name initial isn't permitted, I hope others and I who were approved to use a last name initials are not penalized for this and have to revert to using our full last name.
Sean S
 
Because comments are indexed, I changed my full last name to an initial as a work around so that people cannot just search my name and be able to find every posts in which I made a comment. But I still want those who knows me to be able to find my profile so I added my full last name to the "Other names" field under the "About" tab and also added my full first and last name in the field underneath my "real name" at the top of the page.
 
It took me 20 seconds, thumbing at top speed with two thumbs, to get to the bottom of these comments on my iPhone.

Now to scroll back up and figure out where I left off.
 
+KodiaK hasnolastname I didn't say you shouldn't – I'm using Fizz as a guinea pig to work out various issues of the review system, that's all. Do you have a review pending, too? If so I'd be interested in comparing yours to hers, I'm learning a lot from all of these.
 
@sean using a less unique name to try and make comments less findable is not so good for discoverable reputation. In disqus, I can look up the comments that another commenter has made and see that the person is reasonable and not a troll, before engaging them. I want to do that in G+ also. Hopefully Google will make this easier.
 
+Adina Levin ....and here I was running around during the invite-only phase inviting every "Paul Hosking" I could find just to muddy the waters. Damn.
 
By the way, I'm also reading, just have been super slogged with other stuff. :)
 
+Yonatan Zunger Twitter does a pretty good job with intros these days. Their short snippets sent by email include: handle, name, bio blurb, location, # of tweets, following, and followers. It is almost always enough to tell whether that is a person ok to be followed by or a spammer or other scum to block. If the snippets are ambiguous the first couple of posts usually make it clear.

Signs of sleaze include a spammer-style or come-on-style blurb, no posts, and following many and followed back by none or a few.

That amount of content could easily be put into the notification dropdown and the full page too, and people could scan and choose. It should be easy to perhaps mouseover or expand to see an excerpt of the last couple of posts. Currently G+ only gives you name, photo, and a "job" field - not so useful, and I can see why people might be using name as a bad proxy.
 
Ok, I just tried to change my name to Firstname + Initial and got a message saying it doesn't look like a name. Clicked to appeal but the message that came up was asking me to confirm that that name really is the name I'm commonly known by. This kind of surprised me as I thought that game was over, but I guess it's because of the non-name-shapedness? (I clicked Cancel. I can't say that Meirav M. is the name I'm commonly known by.)
 
I honestly think the "problem" of people who don't want to participate where people are using handles will totally solve itself. At the very least, Google will not have to expend any resources filtering them out. And they'll come back slowly anyway.

And for those curious about the "nice boobs" comment type problem, it's very closely aligned to fighting spam. People who make a comment like that once can be ignored, and the ones who are really trouble won't be able to keep it down to a dozen. All it takes is logging all complaints and triggering rules on threshold counts ... more detailed logging ... and somewhere after that, if the correct resolution is still not clear, you get a human involved.
 
+Scott Jordan the Incoming stream still works in the original way on my Android tablet. It's not quite as nice as the browser version, but fully functional. For that reason alone, I have disabled automatic updates for that app; but there haven't been any yet.
 
+Kee Hinckley yes the G+ mobile app is in desperate need of one of those grab-handles that forms when you scroll,. and can be grabbed like an old-style scrollbar's moving block. But, as I just wrote, I wouldn't accept an update right now.
 
Dear lord, finally caught up. Any possibility of letting us put a "pin" on a convo in order to quickly find where we were on a thread of this size o.O Just something that only the person putting down the pin can see again later on.

One thing that would be nice is a way to choose how you want your name displayed -- while keeping all the info that shows on the profile/about exactly the same. That could let some of us fine tune the way we appear without necessarily stripping our profiles of extra info.

Some very good commentary here but for now I'll just +1 the good ones and sit & catch my breath for a bit.
Sai
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+Cindy Brown Ha, yes. Another variant: marking things read and by default or toggle showing you only everything you haven't read + the last 1-2 comments for context.
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+Cindy Brown ,
One thing that would be nice is a way to choose how you want your name displayed -- while keeping all the info that shows on the profile/about exactly the same. That could let some of us fine tune the way we appear without necessarily stripping our profiles of extra info.

Exactly what I was thinking.
Sean S
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Control of + mentions of your name
Since we are supposed to use our real names, we need some control of comments and posts where someone has +mentioned us, whether the +mentions are good or bad.
Yesterday I changed my name and I'm going through all the posts I commented on to delete or edit my comments so that it appears as "Sean S" and not my full first and last name. However, there are comments in which someone +mentioned me and I have no way to delete those unless I individually send a message to each person, which can be tedious. It would be nice if we were able to have some control of those comments. I'd like to be able to delete comments or posts in which someone mentions me. Or at least flag the comment so that the person receives a request in their notifications to delete the comment.
Sean S
 
I agree with marking things read. Right now I use mute post to hide posts I've read. However, if I want to go back to read the post that I've read or ignored, it's hard to find if you forgot the person or page that made the post.
 
I think the plus-mentions are actually stored as the numeric ID and will be re-rendered automatically. OOPS, a little research (this thread alone is enough) shows me otherwise. Sorry.
 
+Sai (hey, why's the dot there again?) Have you ever played with some of the old Usenet readers? Such as trn?

(Huh, the dot went away when I published my comment. Weird. )

OK, when I do the plus thing with your name, it comes up with Sai . and looks that way while I'm editing the comment, but when saved, it corrects to just Sai -- odd.
 
+Sean S Hmm and your name is coming up with your full last name, at least during edits. In any case, I was going to say, I'm surprised the + mentions don't correct themselves -- too much work? It would be nice to have some updating mechanism in place...

(Yep, corrected itself to just S after saving. Caching issue? Very confusing for me if I'm not aware you've changed things (I matched by avatar :) )
 
+Sean S (You still show up with your full name in the + mentions list, I wonder how it will look after I've posted..if it shows your full name, I'll edit it Apparently it just showed up in the + mentions list and not in the final post. Probably the same issue +Sai has with the dot. Maybe the +mentions list is cached for a too long period?)

I agree that we should have some more control over mentions. Perhaps being able to have the mention reduced to +** when you flag it, just as with tagging e-mail addresses.
Sean S
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+Cindy Brown , when you change your name, it warns you that anything that you've posted or commented before changing your name will not be changed. Google+ doesn't automatically go back to your old posts and comments to change your name. The only thing I've noticed that do change automatically are tags in photos.
 
Interesting, since the avatar updates across the board when you change that. So the indexing is completely different for the two.
 
I'd expect resolving mentions to follow name changes would be some sort of clean-up.... though not necessarily instant.
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+Sean S Control over mentions isn't tenable, as +Yonatan Zunger was talking about earlier re security. If you want "Sean S" and "Sean Saguansin" to not be linked, make a new account because it's basically impossible for you to achieve that through moderation. I actually agree here that it shouldn't be supported, because that gives the illusion of security, which is even more dangerous. (It should however be very well signaled that if this is what you're trying to achieve, you should make a new account instead. Most people can't reasonably know the security issues underlying why this is true.)
 
+Yonatan Zunger I have not yet filed an appeal, based on your earlier comment: "I'm not sure what to do about this yet, nor about what the right thing (in the moral sense as well as in the practical sense) would be to do in your case." I'm going to go ahead and attempt an appeal now, and we'll see what happens.
 
What +Sai said. Even if Google did elide all old mentions, it can't erase the fact someone like archive.org may have saved copies, crawled, etc. and may have a past record of the names associated with a given profile URL. If you want to be bulletproof safe against cross-linkage, make a new account.
 
+Yonatan Zunger So what happens now to someone who
a.) Used G+ for months with a pseudonym
b.) was suspended two months ago
c.) appealed with an offer of proof that this pseudonym had been used both online and off for decades, including in newspapers and magazines before the invention of the Internet
d.) was turned down flat by what appeared to be a computer-generated message
e.) did not have the account closed by Google as Google threatened to do

Will Google be re-evaluating these cases? Does this person have to go through the appeals process again? If so:

1.) What kind of proof of use is realistically acceptable to Google? Having written articles under that name isn't proof of readership. Belonging to organizations under that name isn't proof of popularity. Conversely, having a popular Twitter account under that name isn't proof that the name is used anywhere else. Basically, I want to know if going to huge efforts to gather a wide range of information will be a waste of time.

2.) Should someone who actually goes by a mononym wait for Google to become comfortable with that concept before appealing, thereby saving the effort of going through the process two or more times? (Once for the mononym + required-fake-last-name and again for the monomyn alone.)
 
Tactically Google would be very wise to clarify that first name/last initial (and presumably first initial(s)/last name) are acceptable pseudonyms. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are a great real-world precedent for this. It doesn't address the fundamental underlying philosophical and business issues but it's another step on the path it seems like they're trying to take of being a kinder gentler name police.

> This problem is actually a lot broader than handles – for example, there's a long-running problem (not just on G+, but on lots of asymmetric services) of women getting followed by a bunch of men, and saying "crap, who are all of these guys who are stalking me?" and backing off. It's not because there's a real issue there ...

I agree with looking at the problem more broadly, but to address it I think you'll have to recognize that there are some real issues here. Getting followed by a bunch of men sends signals about the environment. If it's the kind of place where women get stalked and drive-by harassment is frequent, the more guys who follow you the more likely it is that you'll get hassled. For people like me who doesn't enjoy overwhelmingly-male environments, it's a sign that this place isn't for you. And the experience may lead somebody to check how they could protect themselves from potential stalkers and they realize that they don't have many tools.
 
So if I submit the moniker I've used on various sites starting with dial up AOHell days you are saying that without some meaningful following - whatever that might mean - that it may not be approved? What if I use my paternal grandmother's maiden name as a pseudonym out of a sense of honoring the loss of her sister - my great aunt and a very important person in my life - it would be denied? I - like everyone else here - am trying to get some clarity on this.
 
+Sai OK, time to address your megacomments. I hope I catch all of the points.

3. I'm not sure if this is still the right point to discuss after the other things we've brought up since in this thread. The intent definitely isn't to deny pseudonyms to non-well-known people; we are trying to minimize the handle count, but as mentioned before, that's a temporary measure until we can deal with the culture issue more directly.

8. Much of this overlaps with #3 above. A few things don't, although much if this has been covered in the thread since, too. But to reiterate, people who want to use names which aren't their legal names but which are generally name-shaped are in the clear independent of fame or wallet identity. For handles, yes, there is a problem.

11. Yes, absolutely.

12. I think you're right about this, and we should think about how to revise the text. I like the general approach of "use whatever name you'd introduce yourself as at a party," although we'd probably have to massage that to make it sound better. For (b), this is an issue that's come up several times, and it's been added to the TODO list: we need some kind of user interface which makes it clear that your name has been sanity-checked and is now stable, and we need a good way to force that check ahead of time. Predictability is very valuable in its own right.

13. We are going to make it clear that there is no mechanism to challenge anyone's "namey-ness," and are revising the text on the reporting flow to make that unambiguous. That entire flow frankly stinks as it stands. The question of resolving impersonation claims when at least one party doesn't have photo ID... is a good question. I'll bring that up internally and we'll think about it. I suspect that in the short term a lot of those might end up getting escalated to me. (Whee, I'm CSR level 4)

14. Agreed. Bad UX is bad. That will be fixed probably as part of the more general improvement to mononyms, which we're going to need no matter what.

15. Post noted, bugs will be filed. This is good feedback, thanks.

16. Another good point, we'll discuss and see what can be done.

17. Yes.

18. Pseudonyms which include titles will automatically trigger manual review. Same review rules as for anyone.

19. I'm actually having a very interesting internal thread right now about the use of this kind of evidence, and hope to have something concrete to say about it soon. I think that if someone is systematically producing a lot under a name, be it blog posts or paintings, that's very powerful evidence indeed and we should let them in.

(BTW, when I say that we're actively revising our policies about what constitutes evidence in the face of what we're learning from turning it live, I really mean it. We've been spending a tremendous amount of time talking about various cases and evidence types, and we've even been reversing a number of rejections because they showed us new aspects of the problem which we hadn't thought about before. This is a time of tremendous flux in the rules, because we're learning so rapidly -- both from the appeals we're seeing, and from the conversations we're having)

Also, one more UX change that we're almost certain to make is that we're going to add a free-text entry field in the submission form, asking something to the effect of "Is there anything else we should know?" or "Is there something in particular we should be looking at?"
 
What +Yonatan Zunger said about "tremendous flux in rules" - the data that's been flowing in about the names people want to use, and where they've used them before is really helpful. If I spot something where a rules change would cause someone rejected earlier to be allowed, I'm trying to proactively raise the affected cases for reexamination.
Aliaras
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+Yonatan Zunger +Liz Fong-Jones When all this is more stable, are you guys going to be issuing another official thing about the names rules with updates? Because there are definitely people still reacting to the OP, which is different than the current thinking several hundred posts down.
 
OK, time to go through comments and answer them again.

+Sai The existing moderation methods in G+ are fairly minimal -- I'd like to build them up, and tune them so that they help particularly with culture clash issues. That's one of the major tools I'm interested in.

+Dana O'Shee I'm glad you're back, and +1 to everything you said. Lunch will be considerably more possible once this stuff settles down. :)

+Meirav Berale +Sean S Still working on the whole initials thing, I'll comment again when I have an actual answer.

+Cindy Brown We have the first version of that bit -- with nicks, there are three display options: Joe Hominid, Joe "Random" Hominid, and Joe Hominid (Random). (These are internationalized appropriately and how we do that is actually interesting enough that it may merit its own post) We may have more options in the future, that's under discussion.

A pin in mega-threads would be seriously useful. We actually need to redesign the way large threads are structured in a much deeper way.

Oh yeah, and the dot thing when you mention when you're editing a comment, which turns into the non-dot version of the name in the final post: Known issue, just a small bug. Will fix.

+Sean S You can't delete or modify other people's comments, sorry. :) Actually, more broadly: When you change your name in the product, it deliberately doesn't go back and change your name in past entries. This was a tricky choice, but the reason we did it this way is that we can't do it reliably: there are far too many places in which your old name could have appeared. We decided that it was worse to give the appearance of identity isolation when that wasn't actually happening, because that greatly increases the risk that someone will use this for a hard-isolation case and end up being compromised. The consequences for that are just too high. It's not pretty either way, but this way fails safer. +1 to +Sai and +Liz Fong-Jones's comments on this subject.

+Susie Sutton If you had a review rejected under the old policy, there's no open review ticket so you'll have to restart the process. Just go in and change your name to go through the flow again. (There's no real way for us to know which old reviews are still meaningful, so we need to do these)

As I mentioned in a previous comment, we're revising the policies very rapidly right now, so it's hard for me to give anything resembling concrete guidance. But proof of a good-sized community which knows you by this name (and which ordinarily knows people by names, not usernames) is generally good, as is proof that you've done a lot of stuff to establish yourself as this identity in other ways; e.g. shown up at conferences, written a lot of material, etc. Deep is better than broad; fifteen accounts on different services with no content or interaction are cumulatively pointless, but one page that shows a lot of interaction is great.

+Jon Pincus What you say about the real issues and the environment are exactly the point. This isn't just about the appearance of culture clashes, it's about actual culture clashes as well. We want to prevent things like drive-by harassment, and do exactly the sorts of things you're mentioning.
 
+Aliaras Vehsra I think we'll need some kind of communication, but I'm not yet sure what form it will take. So much information to take in!
 
Fair enough on the updating or not of previous mentions/comments etc if one revises one's name. I was thinking more in terms of OCD tidying up; if it's a 'nym/privacy/even security issue that makes sense, and I'm fine with compartmentalizing different identities into different accounts entirely, not within the same account (heck, that's what /I/ do).

And Yonatan, YES YES YES on more moderation tools on the comment threads!!

Hm, maybe adding numbers to a long comment thread in the meantime (kick it in at say about 50-100 comments)? I'm almost at the point where I comment by way of leaving a bookmark for myself when I return to & catch up on this thread -- which doesn't help! :)
 
(Don't want to go much further afield, but some way of marking particular posts of interest in order to find them more easily? This has long disappeared from my stream, and it's only the extra browser tab I'm keeping on this particular post & refreshing me that is letting me keep tabs on it. (Er, so to speak.))
 
BTW, since several people have asked: Yes, FetLife counts.
Aliaras
 
+Yonatan Zunger Does someone on the verification team have a login or something, then?
 
+Aliaras Vehsra I don't know if they do yet, but presumably we'll need to set that up. I suspect that it would be frowned upon by HR for me to ask the team if they already have accounts there. :)
Aliaras
 
+Yonatan Zunger Haha, probably :P Hey, you guys could be the first mainstream company on there! (probably? No idea what non-BDSM companies would be on FL...)
 
I more wonder how the people on FL would feel about a mainstream company being there :)
Aliaras
 
Was joking, 'cause yeah, I figured :)
Sai
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+Yonatan Zunger You don't need to ask if they have a FL account. Just say 'please make a stub one for confirmation purposes', and probably discourage being logged in as their own account if they have one. ;-)

Also, something from chat in the summary doc (h/t +Bob O`Bob +Liz Fong-Jones): what about having a short set of questions at the start of the name change (or for some of them, signup) process, e.g.:

1. Is NewName of a group or business you want to represent, as opposed to your own personal name?
2. Is NewName a name you are comfortable being publicly linked to OldName?
3. Is NewName a mononym (single word name)?

Basically, just a few questions, assuming good faith, that ensure people are in the right flow and redirect appropriately w/ information if needed.

(I wouldn't ask whether NewName is a pseudonym, because I don't think you should have that information.)
 
If you would take a look at my profile where I list all the other places on the 'net that I have a presence under my nick/handle, what I want to know is if that's sufficient information to constitute a meaningful presence (or was it following). I really don't want to submit any kind of name change without knowing the likely result, and things seem really up in the air right now.
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+Cindy Brown If you get denied, the worst result should be that you keep your current name.
 
+Cindy Brown Please submit your appeal; you won't be penalized in any way if it doesn't go through, and it's possible that a denied appeal might be reversed down the road given the rules are being adjusted in response to user appeals.
 
Whups, the thread stopped notifying me somewhere around comment 325....

Re: firewalled core identities. I have in fact operated that way in the past, and known plenty of other people who have. Eventually I no longer needed the separation and collapsed to a single core identity where most of my friends also happened to know my pseudonym; that's why I haven't ever attempted to use my nym here because ironically in combination with my name it is more revealing than this form of my name. I have also always vigorously separated my work and personal identities even when I was using the same forename in both. (Which wasn't always.) Because of how atrocious computer gaming sites are to women, it is a necessity to firewall any identity used on gaming sites from meatspace locations, whether core or peripheral. (I do like to game. I am not fond of the atrocious behavior, though, and seek to minimize it.)

Re: ghost statistics. By my own personal count, which is definitely weighted towards pseudonymity because the bulk of people I knew online prior to coming to G+ are the people I met under a pseudonymous core identity, as well as inexact and unscientific because I didn't write these incidents down as I went... it's a lot more who positively asserted to me that the name policy was either going to affect their use of the site negatively or cause them to not use it at all. I am taking this particular sample only from people I did not meet on Google+, but who I knew prior to using Google+. So this isn't a bunch of nym warriors; it's a sample from a heavily interlinked and thriving set of social circles that attempted to import themselves onto Google+ and mostly failed. (Four circles, predominantly, but with a lot of interlinks between them. Two of those circles originated from two sets of college friends; the other two originated online and were oriented around online social activities.) I haven't analyzed gender balance but I'd say it's roughly 50-50. It's also mostly white and then Asian geeks, old enough that they no longer maintain pseudonymous core identities even if they did in the past. At this point we all have gotten married, swap stories about our kids, know each other in meatspace even if we started out knowing each other exclusively pseudonymously and online, etc.

The slightest effect is from about 7-8 people, slanted towards women, who have stated that they were going to still use it but be skeeved out to some degree, and this includes me; I have had a major chilling effect on what I am willing to post on G+ because of how virulent some of the anti-nym people got during the early stages of the nymwars, and the concept of them showing up on my doorstep makes me sick to my stomach. I basically have to make myself speak up, because I can see by direct observation how many people are bothered and don't feel that they can speak up. Mind you, I post all sorts of minutia and detail in public elsewhere because it is a safer community there with robust moderation and access to full pseudonymity. So the compare and contrast in comfort levels is very apparent to me. I have seen several friends ebb off in posting quantity who fit into this set; they have returned to posting on those other safer sites. Many of them have expressed to me that they understood the issues and were rooting for it but did not have the resources to engage personally.

The second set is about 7-8 people, predominantly women, who have stated that they will continue to use G+ but not ever post in public, and minimize commenting on other people's public posts. Another example of a chilling effect. Some of these are in professions (such as medical) that are highly at risk if anyone connects an online identity to their professional identity, so being forced into their names has really bothered them. Most of them have other pseudonyms that they would have loved to be using all along. They would prefer to be able to switch to these established pseudonyms rather than to come up with a name-shaped pseudonym. I've had at least 5 people thank me for speaking up on their behalf because they are afraid to.

The third set is about 4-5 people who tried it and quit in disgust because of the policy. This was more men than women.

The fourth set is about 3 people who told me on other services that they were not going to try it at all because of this policy. 2 women and 1 man off the top of my head. One of them is willing to use their real name on other services, but distrusts Google largely because of this policy although other privacy issues affected their decision as well. One of them loathes their birthname but has never had a legal namechange, merely going by another name in preference; I would describe that more as a nickname than as a pseudonym since they use their last name and used that nickname as their pseudonym.

There are also a great number of people on other services who didn't respond to offers of invites to Google+ at all, even if they were posting things like, "I really hate Facebook."

There are 2-3 active and several more quiet pro-nym people from these circles. (Active: a lot of their stream is on these topics. Quiet: A minority of their stream is on these topics.)

In all fairness I can also report that I have one friend who despite a former fully pseudonymous experience is an anti-nymmer and doesn't understand why the policy bothers me.

I've also had about 10 people express that they are sympathetic but don't think it affects them directly. About 5 express (either directly or by posts in their stream) that they wish I would shut up about it already. Probably more have thought that. :) My circles feel really fragmented now, too -- about half the people who tried the service are quiet or gone now. Remember that these are social groups who don't maintain pseudonymous identities anymore, even though they might have in the past.

Somewhere between half to a third of the people who came over from Facebook and other sites, hoping for an alternative with better privacy, remain here in some form, though quite a few of them are only mirroring important stuff from other sites to reach the audience of people like me who have left Facebook. The rest have passively (gone silent) or actively (made an announcement) quit. Most of the quits have been over this policy. This is very unlike my experience of other social network uptake rates, where usually a lot more people migrate in and a lot more people stick in the long run. (I would attempt to analyze Ravelry uptake and stick from these circles, but alas am not a Ravelry member myself, being all thumbs. Judging from cross-posts from there, though, it's very high. In fact it's possible that more people have stuck on Ravelry than on Google+, even though G+ is general purpose and all that jazz.)
 
I submitted my appeal 19 hours ago; I've not yet received any response. The process was very clear that a response might take several days, so I'm not particularly alarmed by that. But one thing I'm surprised no one has mentioned is that it's kind of hard to figure out where you would go to make sure that your appeal was actually submitted. I think I'd be happier if I got an email notifying me that my appeal had been received and reproducing the information I submitted.

(You can see that you submitted an appeal by going to your profile, where there's big red box text informing you that you have submitted an appeal. Interestingly, it also says "At all times, you can continue to make full use of Google+ and all other Google products." - this might be a nice place to mention that continuing to use your current name might result in permanent references to it littering the service.)
 
Whee, lots of stuff to respond to. But before I get to all the comments, I wanted to give y'all an update. We just had a meeting where we discussed types of evidence that we look at in reviews, and there were a few things I wanted to communicate that are good evidence:

* Presence online on social networks of all sorts, or other places where you can demonstrate that a community knows you by that name. Best if this is a community which is normally "name-based;" so e.g., places where everyone goes by a username aren't as good.

* Blogs are good signals too, either if you can show that you have a lot of readership (via some kinds of stats or analytics) or if you can show that you've been producing a lot of content. (The logic is that if you've put a lot of time and energy investment into your name, that's a pretty good sign that you are known by it and committed to it. The other logic is that if you create a lot of good content, then we obviously want you in the site anyway)

* Many other kinds of creation are good signals, too. For example, this morning I approved +Indigodruid on the basis of his paintings; he's been working as an artist for many years, signing his name to this work, and as he pointed out in an e-mail thread, that's a pretty substantial commitment right there. There are obviously lots of other possibilities along these lines. (His evidence, btw, was a pointer to a portfolio of his work)

* Interactions in the offline world are good, too. For example, if you're appearing at conferences under this name, or a member of professional associations. (And yes, that happens! Think about writers and pen names, for example)

* Another good signal is for how long you've been known by a name. If we can see that you've been going by this name and having a community for a long time, that can change the interpretation of the rest of the information. It's good to add.

This list is by no means exclusive, but it's meant to be directional: anything that shows evidence of a sizeable community, or of serious investment in the name, is a good sign. We're continuing to revise these standards a lot on a day-by-day basis (in no small part thanks to feedback from all of you!) and these revisions have systematically been in the direction of more openness. (Start narrow, evolve more widely)

Also, please remember, if you're putting together a review packet, to put in the big relevant things, rather than expecting our team to discover them. If you happen to, say, have a Twitter account with hundreds of thousands of followers and a nonstop stream of tweets, and don't mention that, then we will have no idea.

We'll probably have a separate post about this at some point soon, but I wanted to get you all in the loop now.
 
+Yonatan Zunger Thanks for the update! This intersects with something I was thinking about, and makes me really wish that I could see what I submitted as the appeal. Here's where I'm at:

I realized this morning that I have been using the name KodiaK since 1993, and that that in itself probably is important information in determining whether I ought to be allowed to use that name on this service. But since it wasn't mentioned as a factor when I submitted the appeal, I don't recall if I mentioned in the appeal how long I've been using the name.

1) I can't tell if I submitted a piece of information in my appeal.
2) I can't update my appeal to include that new piece of information.
3) I CAN change my name again, which takes me into the exact same appeal process, but I can't tell if this is the right thing to do, especially because at one point I saw the message about only being allowed to change my name once every 30 days - this makes me worry that bad things will happen if I submit a new appeal.
4) All of this is much more relevant right now as the rules are in flux, since in the time between submitting the appeal and receiving any response, I've learned that there was information I should have attempted to communicate in the appeal, but might not have. But it will still be relevant once the rules are settled, because people will still realize an hour later that they forgot to mention something important.
and alse
5) I didn't have any relevant URLs to submit because I have literally no online evidence to submit, so I just typed up my justification for the appeal in the URL section. I don't actually have any reason to believe that this information wasn't just thrown out when I clicked submit because it wasn't URL-shaped.
 
+Sai Agreed about the questions in the name change process; we've actually already got some text of that sort (first dialog box of the review flow) but we've got a bug filed to go over all of the text and re-review it in the light of these discussions.

+Cindy Brown What name would you want this to argue for? BEG? (I'd be really averse to encouraging browneyedgirl65, because that is a classic username; maybe it's something which belongs in the nick field?) But as +Liz Fong-Jones said, submit your appeal, and then we have something concrete to discuss. That's the best forum in which to dig in to a particular case.

+Gretchen S. This is a really great sample to understand, and I think that all of the people you describe are people that we would actively want to come on to the site. Looking at those groups one at a time:

The first group sounds like they really want robust moderation and pseudonyms. Would the "name-shaped" pseudonyms which we now allow suffice for this group, or do they want specific pseudonyms which don't have that shape? (And +100 on robust moderation; that's a completely separate thread, but it's very definitely on my radar)

The second group sound fairly similar, and since you mention their established pseudonyms I'm assuming that this community formed on some username-based space. (It also sounds like they care a lot about firewalling, pseudonymity, and moderation) If username-shaped handles weren't available, period, do you think there would be something else which would make this group feel comfortable joining in? Or is that issue really a blocker for them?

The third and fourth groups seem harder to reach, because they're concerned about a matter of principle rather than of practice. I'm hoping that we can build an experience sufficiently compelling that they'll change their minds, but I understand if they won't.

The other groups that you mention seem in line with a lot of the people that I've encountered, both personally and through research as part of this project. They seem significantly more privacy-conscious than the average, which I'm assuming is selection bias. (That's actually been one factor which really shaped the dynamics of #nymwars, since people interested in privacy, pseudonymity, etc. tend to cluster)

So the conclusions which come to the top of my mind from your data are:

1. Tools such as moderation, and the ability to keep out creeps, harassers, and stalkers are of critical importance, especially for women who wish to post publicly. Ditto pseudonymity -- people don't want to have to post under a name which can be traced to their other identities, especially their physical-space identities.

2. We have some significant communities which have formed in username-based spaces which would like to migrate over to here, but they face a roadblock in that they would either have to reset to entirely new names, to use those usernames in addition to new names which they would have to generate, or do something else. These are all obstacles to adoption but at least for most people, aren't infinite -- if the space here is sufficiently compelling they would do so.

3. Other people absolutely want to come in under a specific external identity which would fail the name-shapedness rules, and these people continue to run in to significant friction.

Would you say that this is a correct appraisal?
 
Can you specify what you mean by "classic username"?

(I do have "AKA browneyedgirl65" in the nick field, my huge frustration with this is that it doesn't /show/ anywhere except on the profile page. I would like it to be far more visible. "Cindy Brown" still jars, it just isn't right.)
Aliaras
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+Yonatan Zunger For your community #2 there (and again, my example of this is fandom), I think the only way they'd wind up coming in and adhering to the "name-shaped" rules would be to do so with usernames in nickname field + names that scream "pseudonym" -- deliberately fake and/or the names of fictional characters ("Kara Thrace", "Bruce Wayne", etc). Would those kinds of pseuds be okay (name-shaped) or challenged (nobody is actually named this, ever, we all know that's batman, etc)? Relatedly, can one +mention by nickname?
 
+Meirav Berale Did you try to change your name to [Meirav M] without the [.]? If I'm not mistaken, +Sean S seems to have been successful (at least initially) with changing to [Sean S] (without the [.].
Sai
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+Yonatan Zunger Um, somewhat obvious question: is the review team Googling reviewees?
Sai
 
+Cindy Brown Would you be happy with "Cindy Brown (browneyedgirl65)"?
 
+Yonatan Zunger Would +Indigodruid have been acceptable (as in, would never be reviewed or had to worry about a review) had he signed up as Indigo Druid?
 
+Kaleh Kohler I tried both with a dot and without a dot, both got the same "doesn't look like a name" message with an invitation to appeal. I believe that's what Sean did - appealed and got through. I stopped and didn't appeal because the message wanted me to say that it's "the name I commonly use".
 
I agree very much with +Aliaras Vehsra's last comment. I don't have experience of fandom but I came here from a social networking site where you don't have to show your surname, and when I came here with other people who know me from there, I thought: if I have to use my full real name then I will have to hide from these people - otherwise my privacy over there is lost.
 
Cindy (browneyedgirl65) might work, or better BEG65 (Cindy) if I must have a name shaped thing in there somewhere. But actually let me unpack my "what is a classic username" question a little bit more: is "trench coat" a "classic username" and why or why not. And if it is allowed, but browneyedgirl65 is not, then why not? And that goes back, I think, to what exactly does "meaningful" mean in this context. I really don't understand why his username was approved.
 
+Yonatan Zunger -- most of the ones who still desire pseudonyms would want to use their longstanding pseudonyms, which are largely mononyms or binyms that would fail a name shape test because they're dictionary words or what have you. The majority are probably undocumented thanks to being used on now-down social services and not using formal blogs. (We pretty much just packed and moved to other venues as that tech aged, though there are still a few private servers kicking around.) Our names look more "nameish" than "handlish" but are clearly pseuds. Of the lot, I think I know two who naturally used to use name shaped pseudonyms. One who used a name shaped pseudonym that might get flagged or might not. The rest? Clear pseudonyms. None of them objectionable, but all of them obvious. I personally would not be very happy with a name shaped pseudonym because I prefer clear pseudonyms. That's part of why I tend to use mononym pseudonyms or clear binym pseudonyms. I like it clear up front. Most people I know who use pseudonyms feel the same way. I'd rather name as Paleostylist Soroptomist or Ohwa Tagoo Siam than Jane Smith or Tiffany Jones. It's not about being a speshul snowflake, either. We want to be clear. (Not to say that I feel like it's bad for someone to use a name shaped pseudonym. That's their choice, and they may want to not get the kinds of negative attention you can get for using an obvious pseudonym. It's a trade-off. I'm just saying that there's a reason we all gravitated towards these non-name-shaped names even though we could type in anything we wanted.)

Quite a few prefer the half-measure of semi-pseudonymity in the form of initialism, but were unsure if they could do it themselves. (For the record, I've never had a name review for my own initialism.) Many people, including myself, who are currently using initialism are nervous because they know they are in a gray area even though we were told explicitly by +Natalie Villalobos (in a thread marked Beware the Leopard, early in the nymwars) that we could. Until it's possible to initialize without going through a review process, it will feel like each case is subject to review, and the act of review feels hostile to people who want that semi-privacy, even if it's over in an hour or doesn't require documentation. If it requires documentation it feels excessively hostile. A few people did initialize despite their disquiet, because they felt it was superior to them to be at risk of losing their account than it was for them to use their full names. And, call me a stickler, but give new initialized people back their punctuation, please! It isn't all that hard to build an automated name checker that only allows the period after a single capital letter.

A lot of the objectors actually don't mind posting under their wallet names, and do (and some of them reveal or link to their wallet names even on pseudonymous sites), but have left because the policy itself makes them feel unwelcome because their friends are unwelcome. To these groups, it looks like a lot of "really not getting it." Actually, thinking of the "announcement of leaving due to policy" list -- that was mostly people posting under their own full names, who operate fully under their wallet names, leaving due to principle. And, yeah, I don't think they're coming back. They were highly disgusted. It's really not just people who are directly affected; it's what you see around you. It's the little punch in the gut I feel when a Culture Monroe I didn't know from Adam gets flagged and has to submit ID, because I know how bad that would feel if I had to. Imagine how much more visceral that little punch gets when it's your friend, or you.

(Well, I wouldn't submit ID, so if I'd been flagged due to my grey area initial prior to the option for name-shaped pseudonymity, that would have been a great way to keep me from agitating on-site, I guess? Because I would have been so out of here.)
 
+Yonatan Zunger Regarding your information that women liked handles less than men, and that "old-time Internet users" have the highest density of handles, if you can't share the data, could you provide some general context for it? The most basic question would be, What population was this information drawn from?

You're making really broad claims here that will probably find their way into other discussions. Could you clarify the constraints on those claims?
 
I would question the one for women as well, as that isn't borne out by my personal experience. It could be accidental -- old timers preferring "classic handles" and simply a higher percentage of old timers being male? In any case, I prefer persistence of name -- whatever form the name -- because then it's easy to filter as I wish. It's the ones that run thru 50 aliases a month that drive me nuts.
 
Since we take inventory of the reasons that would not be a user to use the service and not appear as an attempt to use a pseudonym I created a new account under a pseudonym (name in form, for ease of display) so I can share with (hopefully) a degree of anonymity. My apologies to all situations in which Jean Boyers get to be like mine - I certainly am not really a Jean Boyer.

I am an Android developer. Having a good relationship with Google is important for my professional development. I have personally no reason to use a pseudonym on Google +, but I had friends, and I was sure they would not use this service unless they could use a pseudonym . One has to use the service, but did so by violating the rules and hope to avoid having their account destroyed. I wanted to speak against this policy because it has damaged my ability to use and promote the service. However, when I saw how vindictive, arbitrary and capricious important Google employees were in communicating how untrustworthy anyone who had the desire to use a pseudonym must obviously be, it had a chilling effect on my desire to battle with the division of a company that has some indirect control over my ability to earn a living. It would have been nice, back when Google + was first denying input on the subject, to create an account under a pseudonym so I could add my impressions to others that have been ignored. Thus, the policy itself was not only my main reason for not using the service, it was also the only reason I wanted to violate the policy.
 
Yes, I do distinctly remember a thread very early on, where Google employees were egging people on with a "go GET 'em!" attitude, toward searching out and reporting anyone with the temerity to use a nickname, even if that user had never posted or commented.
(if anyone does bother to search for it, make a copy before posting a link)

Also, I'm reporting the following to feedback right now:
When I open a tab on a long discussion thread (LONG like comments well into the hundreds), I can wait for my browser cursor to change back to normal and then scroll to the bottom (via the "End" key or by dragging the scroll bar slider) and yet after another second or two, the scroll position JUMPS upward.
 
+Yonatan Zunger on the subject of dealing with unwelcome strangers - it takes 3 clicks to block someone who shares spam or other ick with you, if you see it from a notification in the web UI. It should just take one.
Sai
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+Cindy Brown Not disagreeing with your desire, but as a stopgap, you should know that you can have "Cindy Brown (browneyedgirl65)" right now. Edit name -> more options -> nickname -> 3rd dropdown. Try it out.
 
OK, I tried that, and I got a scare message saying the name you have chosen appears to violate google's name policy.

Boo, hiss.
 
Boo, hiss indeed
but that could only be a bug, the parenthetic suggestion is official
Sai
 
+Jean Boyer +Bob O`Bob I haven't seen those threads. I've seen plenty of non-Googlers saying that, and there are Eric Schmidt's public comments rather strongly implying that, but neither seems to be what you're referring to. Link?
 
+Cindy Brown Known bug that numbers in nicknames currently are triggering review. This will be fixed, but in the meanwhile, if you submit it, it'll almost certainly be approved. Sorry about the inconvenience!
 
I'm feeling a little obtuse here. Not sure how to submit it for approval. The dialog box with the scare message just gives me two options: save and cancel, and save only keeps the scare message and cancel stops the whole thing. It doesn't let me put just browneyedgirl65 in the nick field w/o choosing the display option with the nick in it, either.
 
+Yonatan Zunger +Liz Fong-Jones has the case been addressed of private content under a stable pseudonym? I use a handle on DreamWidth journal, but all the content is friends-only. You could screenshot the dreamwidth display showing many posts, and showing a set of friends, but that would of course disclose the private content. Also I have blogger blogs that are private content, and should be under that same pseudonym to avoid mixing with my name in case some Google account glitch reveals the private content.

In my case, I am under no hurry to solve these problems and can wait til Google provides better support. But what about others who have well-established pseudonyms used for private content. Does the FetLife example solve the problem (I dunno, not on Fetlife). Does the Google rep need to "friend" the person on DreamWidth or FetLife to see their history of content to approve them? If so, feels intrusive to me.
 
+Adina Levin No, on FetLife friend counts and most postings [unless explicitly acled] are visible to all other FetLife users. On DW, my belief is that even if you can't see the content, metadata is still visible at /profile even when logged out (but can double-check).
 
(rather off-topic, but I occasionally get an Error 500 while refreshing this discussion)
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+Cindy Brown Follow the steps in the images @ https://plus.google.com/u/0/103112149634414554669/posts/4KAEskCqXdd — you want to do the exact same thing as I did.

+Yonatan Zunger The thread is quickly approaching the 500 comment limit. I'd suggest you make some provision for that in case it goes over. Actually for that matter, bug to file: if you do have a limit, whatever it is, make sure there's always at least one extra comment available for the thread owner (like in unix saving space for root).
 
Hello +Yonatan Zunger , Google should require a small purchase ($ 1 is enough) to be made with a credit card, confirming a real name & associated identity. Thereby, people can be prevented from registering at Google/G+ with pseudonyms.
 
+Sai I'm (probably) having the same issue as +Cindy Brown . In my (our) case, there is no option to appeal.

In your photo stream it says "Did we screw up? Click here to appeal" (or some such thing.) But when I got the "Your name doesn't comply with our rules" message, that appeal option wasn't there... Just "save" (which repeats the "Your name does not comply" message) or "cancel" (which leaves you with the name you came in with.)

In my case--and maybe +Yonatan Zunger can confirm my theory and maybe even give me some hope, taboot--I'm trying to add my old nom d' keyboard (and up until tonight when I switched over, blogger/blogspot profile name) to my Google+ profile as a nickname. The problem is, the name is "repsac3", which contains a number (obviously), and it is likely that # 3 that's flagging it as a nickname.

If necessary, I have scads of evidence proving that I'm well-established as repsac3 online--indeed, one would probably find more hits for repsac3 than for W James Casper, were one to google both; nearly every service I use or have used has had repsac3 as a user name going back to 2003, and honestly, my real concern is there'll be folks wondering who this W James character is, if I don't include repsac3 as a nickname on my profile, etc.

But without the ability to appeal...

I'm hoping that's being worked on--and that my # 3 will get a pass as part of a nickname, when it is--is what I'm saying'...
Sai
 
+W James Casper Could you take a series of screenshots like I did in https://plus.google.com/u/0/103112149634414554669/posts/4KAEskCqXdd and post it? You're presumably seeing something different than what I did. The link is small but it should be there.

Your handle will definitely get flagged and have to be appealed (something I disagree with but that's another matter), but you should be currently clearly given the option to appeal.
 
+Yonatan Zunger, thank you for hosting this conversation.

I wanted to comment on something +Gretchen S. said: 'A lot of the objectors actually don't mind posting under their wallet names, and do (and some of them reveal or link to their wallet names even on pseudonymous sites), but have left because the policy itself makes them feel unwelcome because their friends are unwelcome. To these groups, it looks like a lot of "really not getting it."'

YES. I am one of the people in this ghost statistic. I joined G+ in late June 2011, and left by August 15th, in disgust, after witnessing what Google was doing to people I knew. Even though personally I don't mind -- actually, I prefer -- posting under my wallet name.

I still don't have a Google+ profile for my main Google account -- this is a dedicated #nymwars account, peter.kaminski.nymwars@gmail.com. I hope someday that I'm comfortable enough to come back and use Google+ for socializing again -- I really like it as a product -- but I'm not holding my breath for it, either.

Quick background on me: online communities for 25+ years, including BBS, BIX, USENET, words-l, Flickr, Twitter, both as participant and community manager. In product development and management of consumer and enterprise Internet service businesses for ~18 years, including experience streamlining customer support and abuse departments. Early early adopter. Geek's geek. Library and information sciences enthusiast. Amateur sociologist and ethnologist. Search engine lover since Archie. Happy Google Search user, 1999-2011; moved to Bing after Google+ fiasco. Still using Android, Google Maps, Google Wallet -- but ready, willing and able to leave those too, if need be.

Some thoughts:

PK1: Google, as an organization, needs to do much better communicating with its users about what's going on. As things stand now, it's a hodge-podge of transparency and complete opacity; punctuated bursts of chatter and then absolute silence. In any partnership, including that of user and service provider, this sort of communication pattern is really hard on the trust relationship. That's the way Google needs to see it; right now, as an organization, y'all don't.

I understand how hard this task can be, having been in similar situations. And I think it's not a simple fix. You'll need to rethink how you do product/service vision, and development, and the speed with which you can roll out products and changes. Maybe you need to listen better to early users, internally and externally, before rolling out so much.

You need more people in buffer roles, between the vision/development people and the public -- development folks need quiet time to work, while the public needs to be hearing from the organization regularly (and in a clear, unified voice). Even this discussion, as gratifying as it has been to read publicly, might have been better done between Yonatan's team and a customer council, made up of a group of folks similar to those commenting here.

PK2. I think this has already been said, but I think it bears repeating. Moral judgments can't be made on a statistical basis. Either you're treating people right, or you're not. Treating 99.99% of people right, and 0.01% of people wrong is not 99.99% right; it is 100% wrong.

PK3. Google has been trying mightily to build a gilded cage that instantiates perfect behavior. Google should be building a vibrant set of communities where people expect good behavior from each other, where bad behavior is easy to flag, and where bad actors get moved out of the system quickly and fairly.

PK4. I am multiple personas. I am a different person for each of my circles of friends. Does Google know that? What are they doing about it? Is one "name-shaped" handle and a nickname really going to help me render my prismatic self? As moot said, "Identity is prismatic." As moot said, "It’s not who you share with, but who you share as." This is a hard problem, no doubt; but the whole focus on shapedness of user identity just focuses and exacerbates the problem.

I miss Google Search, and I especially miss Google+ -- in the short time I was using it, it was one of my favorite social platforms, right up there with Flickr Beta, probably still my all-time favorite. The breach in trust I felt from Google was really hard to deal with. I hope Google will be able to earn my trust back.

I look forward to the time when Google is cultivating strong communities, with strong features for moderation, introductions, and reputation discovery as part of the service. Strong communities with the right tools build civil cultures. Getting there would make even this painful phase worthwhile.
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+W James Casper Um… yeah, that's not cool. WTF, +Yonatan Zunger? People should always be able to at least submit a review. :(

+Peter Kaminski PK1: I'd add: not just buffer roles ('cause that connotes "people who tell the plebs ever so nicely to fuck off"), but both-way communicators. Human bug tracker interfaces, as it were (and hopefully the real thing too). ;-)

PK3: … and where good behavior is rewarded and systemically supported/encouraged/primed. Moderation works both ways.
Sai
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Via email:

My name is Dunes, I've been known as Dunes for over 30 years. The majority of my friends, acquaintances, and contacts know me as that and nothing else. I'm a musician and artist but I don't have a "following", or at least not one that I can use to prove to Google who I am. I don't understand why I should have to though. Google doesn't get to decide what my name or identity is, I do.

I originally created an account with my "real name" because I thought I had no other choice and I wanted to check out and be a part of Google+ even though that diminished my experience, what I was able to do, or wanted to do. I have followed The Nym Wars for months now and considered myself a victim of this war on individuality and anyone whose identity doesn't fit in the nice mainstream North American or European box.

Then this week after the announcement on the new implementation of the policy, or whatever it was a statement about (fairly incomprehensible) and after reading this thread and others, I went to my account and changed my name to "Dunes" with a period. That triggered a rejection and an appeal which was rejected. I have now deleted that account and created a new one as Dunes which was immediately suspended because I again used a period in the first name space and put my name in the second field as I understood I should.

The things that are infuriating to me at this point are the arrogance on Google's part and the double standards Google is employing. I'm not as famous as Madonna, I haven't sold as many records or have as many fans - I've actually worked my whole career in relative obscurity but that doesn't mean my identity is invalid. I'm not as well known as Sai, Technogran, Skud, or Stilgherrian but I expect to be treated with as much consideration and respect.

I now wait to see what Google will do with me, but if my name and identity are not accepted I have decided I will not be a part of Google+.
 
Money Quote: "I think this has already been said, but I think it bears repeating. Moral judgments can't be made on a statistical basis. Either you're treating people right, or you're not. Treating 99.99% of people right, and 0.01% of people wrong is not 99.99% right; it is 100% wrong."
 
I have the same problem +W describes (mobile G+ app is not filling in names nor does it allow editing of posts/comments) where only save or cancel (no appeal) are given. I will double check tomorrow when I get back to my computer.

And I would listen to Peter Kaminski -- wow, another blast from the USENET past...
 
Peter da silva is right. Do you know what was about the worse thing? Seeing will fucking i am get his own pretty nym with nary a fucking peep from google. Not cool.
 
+Yonatan Zunger I was pointed to you for help from Google+ help forums. I am Greek so I wanted to add the Greek version of my name in Greek as well so that it would read George Koklas ( Γιώργος Κόκλας) ( greek spelling of the name in the parenthesis, in case you can not see the characters ) . Previously, my name was registered as Giorgos Koklas which was a mix of the both that I used for obvious reasons.

My main name was changed to George Koklas as I wanted it to. However, I received an email, saying that my nickname was NOT approved!!!???

Why was the Greek version of my name not accepted? I thought the new name policy allowed this. I can not try a change again for 30 days as my profile page says. How can I rectify this... Any chance you can help figure this out??

Thanks in advance.
 
+Sai re:Dunes I also find it frustrating that individuals who don't have the "following" that more high profile individuals have are still going to be denied the opportunity to represent themselves as they desire ... and this issue definitely still needs to be reviewed, even if Google does not change the way they evaluate these specific situations.

However, until if and when Google modifies the current stand related to what is a "meaningful" following, is the alternative of adding a Google+ Page for [Dunes] to the personal profile acceptable? I know that pages do have some limitations, but that could be an alternative if Google does not alter their guidelines regarding what will be acceptable in the way of Names on a personal profile page.
 
+Peter da Silva What happens when you try to use [Resuna] for a Google+ Page?

Is there anything pending under your personal profile? If so, that could contribute to not being able to establish such a Page. The underlying personal profile has to be "in good standing."
 
I get a Google+ page, which is absolutely useless for the purpose. It's like being an invisible vampire: you can't go anywhere without being invited, and you can't even ask people to invite you. You just sit and wait for people to notice you by some kind of magic osmosis. It's a passive web page, fine for businesses and hobbies, but pointless for actual people.
 
+Peter da Silva Thanks for the clarification. I had misunderstood and thought you meant that you were not being allowed to create a page.
 
+George Koklas People are off work for the weekend, but I'll look into that for you on Monday morning. That definitely seems like a bug in the process. Thanks for letting us know!
 
+W James Casper and +Sai In regard to the lack of an appeal option being visible when trying to add a nickname, it would be interesting to know which browser each of you were using. There is a topic in the Google+ Discuss Help forum, where another user reported some differences between what he was seeing with one browser vs another.

When he was using the latest Chrome Dev build (18.0.1017.2) with no addons he couldn't even see:


The nickname you've chosen appears to violate the Google+ Names Policy.

In order to see that line, he had to use IE9.
That topic is located here:

Nickname Blocked/Policy Dispute
https://groups.google.com/a/googleproductforums.com/d/topic/google-plus-discuss/TW2FzB8rL6c/discussion
 
+Kaleh Kohler I'm using Safari Version 5.1.2 (7534.52.7) on a Mac (OS X 10.7.2, 3.06 Ghz Intel Core i3)
 
Hi, +Yonatan Zunger I am very happy to hear that the restrictions on handles from nonfamous people is intended to be temporary until there are better ways to reduce the "culture clash" when someone afraid of a handle sees one. I am also glad to see the resolution for folk who patiently waited to be able to use their pseudonym, like +Technogran . It is good to see Google acknowledge the need for pseudonyms, and to accept that a user may have more than one account, including a pseudonymous account to talk about personal or political topics that should not be associated with their name. I hope that Google continues to improve on this issue, and heals more of the trust it has damaged among people hurt by the early handling of names.

However Google's new announcement to be consolidating its services goes in the opposite direction of the above improvements. Without asking users consent or giving options, Google plans to combine data from its different services in a variety of ways. This will provide many helpful benefits. Personally I am eagerly looking forward to enhancements to integration among mail, calendar, docs, contacts, and voice.

But some people - including me - have services on a single account that really ought to be partitioned in separate accounts. For example, my Blogger account really ought to be under a pseudonym. The personal content is protected, but I don't want it linked to my profile in case there is any issue with the privacy setting.

Rather than unilaterally merging content across services, Google ought to give people choices about which content they are happy to have merged, and whether there are any services they wish to keep separate. For me, as mentioned the ability to split off blogger to a separate account would solve the problem. Others may have different preferences for services they wish to separate - perhaps Youtube, or Reader. Pausing the plan to merge content until you give users the ability to control what services are combined within one account, or separated (perhaps across accounts), is the right thing to do.

Merging people's content without asking for consent and giving control is losing some of the good will Google is gradually regaining with improvements to name handling, and creating even broader problems.
 
+Adina Levin , that is probably the clearest succinct statement of the problem and need for account "splitting" that I have seen. I suggest making a base post of it, for separate discussion. This thread will soon run into comment count issues andseems to have already lost the ability to trigger notifications.
 
+Bob O`Bob done. I reorganized the standalone post to focus on the service merging with names as a supporting point.
 
+Adina Levin This is such a good comment and full of common sense. I agree with every word you say Adina.
 
Using latest opera browser available on a 11.04 ubuntu install
 
<I wonder if, later on, I'll wish that I had left a stub comment, too.>
 
Great discussion all ...

Returning to Yonatan and Bradley's characterization of this as a "first step in the process" I've tried to distill some suggestions for Google to take as potential next steps. Which do you agree with? Are there any I overlooked? Please vote and add your own at http://goo.gl/4KgEK -- and please +1 and reshare it to get it to "what's hot"
 
+Yonatan Zunger In Bradley's thread, in response to a question I asked, you responded:

Our name check is therefore looking, not for things that don’t look like “your” name, but for things which don’t look like names, period. In fact, we do not give a damn whether the name posted is “your” name or not: we will not challenge you on this basis, nor is there any mechanism for other users to cause you to be challenged for this

In light of this, I am having a difficult time understanding how the established profile name for +Culture Monroe came under scrutiny. If there was no mechanism in place for others to report the "name" why was Google evaluating the name in the first place?
 
+Peter da Silva That's an interesting theory, but how do we account for all the other active profiles that include "culture" in them?

If you do a Google+ search for "culture" and "View all" under "People and pages" there are a good number of profiles that contain "culture" that should be "Pages" but are currently only personal profiles. Why have they not come under the scrutiny of Google?
 
+Peter da Silva The problem with +Culture Monroe, according to +Yonatan Zunger in this thread, was "+Culture Monroe You aren't being challenged because of being handle-shaped; it's because your name is unusual enough that it's tripping the 'wait, is this a human at all?' question."

We kind of need a flowchart at this point. If your name is name-shaped, it can't be challenged for any reason except that it is also business-shaped (or it forms a complete sentence, or other things we're not talking about in this thread.). If your name is handle-shaped, it can be challenged on that basis alone. If your name is your actual name, it will survive a challenge for being business-shaped or handle-shaped. If your name is not your actual name, it will survive a challenge for being handle-shaped only if you can convince Google+ that you're entitled to use it.

Looking at this more closely, I see that +Yonatan Zunger did not actually state that "Culture Monroe" was name-shaped, only that it wasn't being challenged on the basis of being handle-shaped. So we don't actually know if it's name-shaped or handle-shaped, only that it's definitely business-shaped.

As far as I know, we've not seen any reports of someone having their account suspended because their name-shaped pseudonym was business-shaped. +Yonatan Zunger has not (in this thread, which is the only one I'm sure I'm following 100%) expressed an opinion on what would happen to such a person. He did identify that "And if you blogged under the name 'Deluxe Vacations' to talk about your cat and C++, that sounds pretty firmly like a handle, a peripheral identity, and a hat all at once," although it appears from that statement that "Deluxe Vacations" is definitely business-shaped and handle-shaped.
 
Hi everyone,

So now you know what my stub comments were for: in case we ran in to the 500-comment limit. :) I’m going to use this comment to do a batch response to comments that I hadn’t had a chance to get back to yet, and then I’ll use my other stub to try to put in some final notes.

(BTW, this is very possibly the first thread in the history of Google+ to trigger the 500-comment limit in the context of an actual conversation. Normally those only trigger on things like Britney Spears’ posts, where everyone is saying “we love u britney!!!!” More on that matter later.)

+Cindy Brown +W James Casper +Sai +Kaleh Kohler There’s a stupid bug which is preventing nicknames with digits in them from going through. We’ve got a fix in-flight, I’ll post when it goes live. Sorry about that. (BTW, there aren’t any appeals for bad nicknames, because there also aren’t any analogues of the names policy. No rules about being common or what it looks like or whatever, save that it doesn’t have things like junk Unicode in it. And junk Unicode (etc) is forbidden outright)+George Koklas, your case was a bug, too, and your nick should now be fixed.

+Adina Levin As +Liz Fong-Jones said, we don’t have a solution for names used only in a private context as yet. If you have any ideas, I’d be happy to know.

+Peter Kaminski +Peter da Silva With regards to point PK2, I agree completely; but sometimes you have to make hard tradeoffs. (cf my “core identities” comment above -- it directly deals with this point) I also agree with point PK3, and in fact this is a major direction of my work right now. And point PK4 is harder than it looks. +Sai has an interesting thread going on about this right now.

+Sai With regards to the “Dunes” e-mail, this actually looks to me like an excellent use of the nicknames case. I looked at the web sites you sent about this name, and they show pretty clearly that you go interchangeably by “Dunes” and another name (which I’ll redact for purposes of this thread), even on the same site and in the same context. So while I understand that you want to go primarily by that name, I don’t think this case is obviously parallel to (say) +Sai or +Fizz ..

+Adina Levin You posted this comment as a separate post, and I responded there:
https://plus.google.com/u/0/101746196094367799224/posts/Ag1zZXU8fKU It’s a good comment and we are specifically not going to do the thing which sounds creepiest. Let’s discuss over there. (Or perhaps, let’s get someone who’s working on that particular project over there, so that they can answer with the most certainty)

+Kaleh Kohler There’s no mechanism for others to report “this isn’t your name;” there is a mechanism to report “this isn’t a name,” namely “fake profile.” So to clarify +Chris Koeberle +Culture Monroe: When a name first comes in to the system, it goes through sanity checks for a few basic things: that it isn’t a handle (i.e. the whole name-shaped business), that it represents a person and not a business, and that it’s basically sane from a Unicode etc perspective. At the moment, all three of those checks dump you into the same review process, which is a flaw; and furthermore, those checks are running only against your name and not against your profile as a whole, which would have probably caught this case before it got sent to review. We didn’t notice this case earlier because false positives on the “this looks like a business” have been really rare; you’re actually the only case that I know of. I’m sorry that this happened and we’ll be looking in to revising our procedures to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
 
Regarding the issue of names used in private context: Perhaps G+ invitations could be turned back on, even though they're not needed. They, or something very similar to them, could be used as a voucher system. People well known in a private context are moderately likely to be wanting to bring that identity to G+ because some of their friends are already here. It's not a solution, but could be a palliative.

<it seems I guessed right about the stub comments; interesting "trick">
 
So now that we’ve hit the 500-comment limit, I thought it would be a good time to pause and take stock of the conversation that we’ve been having over the past week.

First and foremost, I think that it’s worth pausing to remark on what we just did here. #nymwars is a contentious subject, one that’s emotionally near and dear to many of us. Yet in this conversation, and in so many of the other conversations that I’ve been involved in in the past week, people have been systematically constructive and dedicated to understanding what’s broken and what can be done to improve it, rather than to merely arguing and yelling. This thread alone has been perhaps the single most epic thread in the history of Google+ so far: 84 contributors, writing a total of almost 65,000 words (the length of a novel), mentioning one another 550 times, and +1’ing each other’s comments over 1700 times: and there wasn’t a single comment which I think that any of us would construe as a troll, arguing for arguing’s sake, or in any way less than in good faith. That’s an extraordinary achievement for any public conversation; to achieve that on an issue like this speaks volumes about all of the people involved, and about the common culture which we are building.

A tremendous number of good points came up, and I for one learned a great deal from this thread. As a direct consequence of this thread, about two dozen bugs have been filed (ranging from bugs in the UI to plans to rewrite important chunks of text in the product); the underlying names policy has had several significant changes (e.g., a shift away from being based on simple evidence of use to including things like a history of creating things under the name); and perhaps most importantly, I got a much deeper understanding of what the underlying moral and practical issues are around names and identity, where the remaining problems are in the policy, and what would have to be done in order to rectify them.

And make no mistake, there continue to be deep problems with this policy. +Sai and +Gretchen S. have perhaps described it best, as being an ugly hack to cope with bad interactions between the “nym-phobic” and the communities in which these are a fundamental part of individual identity. As +Peter Kaminski said, a wrong against 0.01% of the population is no less a wrong for that, and we need to eradicate this and open Google+ up to everyone. I’m going to be thinking a lot about this in the near future: digesting the outcomes of this thread, having many more conversations with all of you, and thinking about how to build cultural awareness (and more importantly, cross-cultural interactions) more deeply into Google+.

I thought about whether I should fork a continuation thread, but I think that at this point that wouldn’t be the best use of our time: The conversation has already split to a number of interesting independent subthreads, and we all could use a bit of time to think this over and digest it. Even the best conversations are helped by the occasional break.

There are a lot of places where this conversation is continuing, and I don’t want to list them here because I’ll miss some and comments are full up -- so I’ll fire off a separate post about that. I’ve also taken the liberty of creating a circle for myself with everyone on this thread in it, and I’ll share that with all of you as well.

Thank you all, again, for talking to me about this -- I don’t remember the last time I learned so much in the course of a single conversation. You all rock.

Yonatan Zunger
 
My birth name, which has been flagged for reasons that are understandable, yet very frustrating. My given name on my birth certificate, drivers license, and every other legal document is John Classick. I can find no way to appeal this, and Google has given me five days to figure out how to prove who I am. What do I do???
 
Google are still missing the point.

1) People are known by different names in different circles - i.e. at work, the name is different to socially. 
2) Sometimes people know one name and not the other. Sometimes, they know both, but one is preferred.
3) Sometimes people CANNOT use a real name online (e.g. victims of abuse, e.g. professionals who wish to separate social and professional life).

Google COULD allow name customisation like this by allowing us to associate 'name known by' with a circle (and if someone is in more than one circle, they'd choose which name they preferred to see).
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