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Nymwars strategy.

A lot of people have asked me what the best strategy is wrt the #nymwars, i.e. what will be effective in making Google change their policy?

First let me tell you what won't work:

1) Carefully explaining to Google people how their policy is broken and how many people are unfairly affected by it. They already know this, have done for months, and don't care.

1a) Leaving comments on Vic's, Bradley's, Natalie's, or any other G+ team member's posts. They have turned notifications off and aren't paying any attention.

2) Boycotting G+ and/or Google services in general. Unless you have a hundred million friends who'll do it along with you, that won't make a difference. They'll just be glad they've got rid of the whining Internet weirdos and left the place nice and clean for the type of people they want.

3) Polls, memes, change-your-avatar-for-a-day, and other "slacktivism" techniques where you try and get people to do some simple act online to show their support for the cause.

None of the above will make any difference. Trust me on this -- I have enough insight into Google and G+ and the management thereof to know they don't give a flying f--- about any of that.

So what will work?

First let's talk strategy. Google Plus is Google's attempted answer to Facebook. They are shit-scared of Facebook's increasing dominance of the Internet and people's pageviews and attention and information, and want to claw back as much of that as they can.

In order for G+ to threaten Facebook, it needs to get widespread mainstream acceptance. Not just among the Internet nerds who were excited by GMail and Wave and stuff like that, but by the sort of people who type "facebook.com" into the Google search bar because they don't know how their browser works.

Vic and his team believe that those people (shorthand: "the mainstream") are scared off by Internet culture, pseudonyms, and the wild and wonderful diversity most of us love. When they talk about "dress codes" what they mean is "we don't want to scare off the mainstream people".

Now, I think they vastly misunderstand who the "mainstream" really are, but just for now, let's assume that there is a big white homogenous middle-class mainstream that all has two-part names and no privacy concerns, and that those people will use G+ if it seems safe and friendly enough.

So here's what we need to do:

1) Reach the mainstream
2) Convince them that G+'s names policy makes it unsafe for them to use G+

Or at least credibly threaten to do so. Ideally we force a policy change before actually scaring everyone off. I'd rather see G+ survive with good policies, than fail with bad ones.

And so, here is my advice regarding how to fight the #nymwars:

1) Get coverage in the mainstream press. Not just the online/tech press (TechCrunch, ZDNet, etc) but the stuff non-techies read/watch/listen to. We need to be in the New York Times, the Guardian, on NPR, the BBC, and so on. (Internationally, of course, but especially in the US, English-speaking countries, and Western European countries, since those most closely resemble the imaginary "mainstream" the G+ management are aiming at.) Email your favourite newspaper, call your community radio station, ask your local news channel if they'll cover it, do everything you can to get the press to pay attention to this.

2) Work the angle of how this affects ordinary "mainstream" people, and how widespread the effects are (your phone might break! your website's search ranking might go down! your kids are at risk!). The My Name Is Me campaign (http://my.nameis.me/) shows how a range of mainstream people (including parents, teachers, religious people, etc) are affected.

3) Spread awareness of the press coverage in the "mainstream", eg. by sharing those news articles etc with our non-technical families, friends, and acquaintances. "Like" them on facebook, share them via email, etc. Don't let this just be a bunch of nerds violently agreeing with each other. When talking to your "mainstream" contacts about the issue, focus on how people with normal names, or with very understandable reasons for privacy, are affected. Point them at http://my.nameis.me/ to help them understand it's not just an internet nerd thing.

So, in short, that's my advice. Get the word out to the press. Make the mainstream aware of the issue. Make it a big enough deal in mainstream culture that Google are worried about people running scared from G+.

If anyone's interested in working on this more intensively, please get in touch with me. I'm putting together some press-related resources and a team of people who can talk to the press, and I'm looking for anyone with experience/interest in dealing with the press, and/or people who've been affected who would be willing to talk to the press, to join us.
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114 comments
 
Great suggestions. Now you need to find non-weird people to make your case to the mainstream: most "mainstream" people will look at mynameisme and say "if these are the people Google+ is banning, I feel so much safer". Where will you find the non-weird people? :)
 
+Fedor Pikus I'm very nearly as non-weird as people get and yet I'm in the middle of this--very squarely so. I don't want to use a pseudonym and, frankly, I tend to be more suspicious of people who do than of people who don't. That is irrelevant. This is about what is and is not right. It is a matter of principle. Google has attempted to address speech about those principles with marketing. That insults the intelligence of everyone on either side of this issue. It cheapens us and it cheapens them. It will not be borne.
 
+Fedor Pikus Really?

Roger Baker, a pastor in the United Methodist Church: http://my.nameis.me/361/roger-baker/
Clo, director of the international NGO Reporters Without Borders: http://my.nameis.me/353/clo/
Malte Spitz, a member of the executive committee of the German Green Party: http://my.nameis.me/419/malte-spitz/
Rachel, a Rabbi who has won awards for her blog posts about Judaism: http://my.nameis.me/129/velveteen-rabbi/
Grant, a Cambridge, UK based mathematician: http://my.nameis.me/246/grant-olney-passmore/
Amir, a political blogger from North Africa: http://my.nameis.me/173/amir-ahmad-nasr/
Andromeda, a librarian who used to be a teacher: http://my.nameis.me/227/andromeda-yelton/
 
+Rainyday Walker I don't know about you being non-weird... Don't get me wrong, I support what you are doing. But if you did a test, approach a random shopper in a mall, show him your posts, and ask what he thinks, the majority will probably say something like "gah, some sort of activist, probably a troublemaker, if G+ bans him it'll be good for us all, won't affect me, I'm normal".
 
+K Robert I would like to see what material you put together. While I have no experience in speaking with the press, this issue is a repeated thorn in my side. (I posted the same link also: http://goo.gl/Tqt1r)

My name currently on G+ is reversed as a sort of experiment to counter the argument that Pseudonyms hinder creation and or maintaining of any real connections. A small step that may yet get me the ban stick, but yet I feel a conviction to the issue.

I'd like to be of service.
 
+K Robert Ok, I'll grant you the pastor, may be the Rabbi. The rest... remember, you are trying to reach "normal people" (that's not you or me, as far as Vic and crew are concerned). A "normal person" will say "they banned Andromeda and Clo? Won't affect me. Greens are all weird too."
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not supporting the RN policy or banning of weird people. I'm trying to view your effort from the point of view of a random guy eating his lunch at McDonald.
 
+Fedor Pikus That's what we're trying to change, man. I'm no activist. I'm just a guy. I still don't know why this particular issue has struck a nerve with me at this particular time. That's something I'm trying to hash out in my head right this instant.

I do know, however, that it's not just furries, weirdos, hackers, and "other" people who are affected by this. I believe, wholeheartedly, that if we put that in front of the people...if we make it real to them, make them realize that it's not somebody else--that it's their spouses, children, teachers, ministers, friends and neighbors who are affected by this--then they will want something else. Skud is making the point that in order to do this we have to get mainstream media attention.

You are right that people won't care while it's an issue affecting the "other." People never have cared about that. But this issue affects all of us. That is powerful mojo.
i Cjay
 
Why don't you let Google finish the damn product first before we all go ape crap over whatever, You know I got my account suspended for iCjay and I had my real name in my account, I sent Google my photo Id and I spammed the crap outa their form with about 50 or so emails with my info. They fixed my account back up in an hour and a half, and even sent me an apology like a cherry on top of a cupcake. It's Google's problem NOT mine!
i Cjay
 
Nope +Sam Vilain. Just Google+, the rest of my account for gmail and such was fine.
 
CJay, if you don't want to participate, you're not required to do so.
 
+Rainyday Walker If you had someone who was fired for posting something any normal person could post (careless remark, risque comment, bad joke) because his employer saw it on Facebook (or G+, but Facebook has been around longer) -
that's an example of something which "affects all of us" and will get attention of "normal people".
Mainstream media, on the other hand, will probably lap up the story of some political activist posting from an oppressive country, or of a battered woman in a shelter who uses social media as support network or to help with job search.
 
Christian - "beta" applies to the software. This is intent, which is clearly not changing if we just leave them to it. And you should know that by now.
 
Going back to Skud's insights ...

First let's talk strategy. Google Plus is Google's attempted answer to Facebook. They are shit-scared of Facebook's increasing dominance of the Internet and people's pageviews and attention and information, and want to claw back as much of that as they can.

And thus far it seems like G+ is working well on this front: a lot of people are posting that they like it better than FB, and FB's response has been spectacularly weak so far -- in fact FB has gotten noticeably buggier as it puts stress on engineering. Games are on the way thanks to Google's investment in Zynga, and business pages are coming. What could possibly go wrong? The decision-makers at Google clearly don't yet believe that their naming policy puts their success at risk. So I very much agree with Skud's suggestion of working to get more MSM coverage and reach "the mainstream".
i Cjay
 
You know I was the first person to bitch about this whole issue and not one person gave a crap or even took a look at my blog post. And now everyone is all OMFG! You people wouldn't know how to protest a wet noodle the right way online if it was in your soup bowl. So +Rainyday Walker I'm not hearing it. Your right, it's your problem on an individual case by case deal. Get your account verified by Google Plus Right away, Don't waste anytime with a suspended account. Send them a State Issued Photo Id and your good. Here's the link to get legit... http://www.google.com/support/profiles/bin/request.py?hl=en&contact_type=name_appeal&rd=1
 
+Christian Jay Marshall I'm not suspended. Why would I want to go through that process. Further, why would I want to bother given what I've already determined about it. YOu should read my blog, man. Stay on top of this stuff.
Read this then get back to me.
http://goo.gl/KrjH4
K Robert
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Christian's been blocked. My space my rules, don't have time to deal with his nonsense.
 
+David Gerard they don't look at it as compromising search results. In general, they see G+ etc. as a way of improving search result quality, and don't care about the potential of biasing their search results against people who prefer pseudonyms.
 
+Christian Jay Marshall While Google is finishing the product, years potentially as G-mail did, how many people will have to jump through the hoops of submitting a photo ID to prove they are who they are.
What you consider a cherry on top of a cupcake would be the real world equivalent of getting stopped on the street, having to show your ID and allowed to carry on... skipping away being said cherry.

Hardly an experience Google is advertising on those uber-cool 3 minute videos used to entice us all.
 
Seems to me the root of the problem is Google's extreme opaqueness in the face of all this. As +Shava Nerad has pointed out elsewhere, this is completely inconsistent with the idea of taking the lead in social media. Perhaps there's some way to use mockery to get this point across to the mainstream... like: "Google: trying to provide a 21st century service -- with 20th century customer support" [insert photo of people waiting in line for food during the Great Depression].
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I'm interested in helping if I can.

Separately, while I agree with you that 'slacktivism' won't change Google's policies I think it will help spread the word about the 'nymity debate. I was reached by this means and became a supporter and I've managed to spread the idea to others this way. I think there's a potential base of supporters within G+/Facebook that can be reached and reasoned with and would support policy change if we could reach and activate them.
 
I agree with +Alan Wexelblat that online activism campaigns has value reaching people (and potentially getting some 'earned media' coverage). The Facebook TOS protests in early 2010 were a successful example of this. However I also agree with Skud that unless we can get millions of people involved these campaigns aren't likely to register with Google; they will simply shrug it off as "a few discontented people". So, it's a means to an end.
 
Off topic: I read it as "Nyanwars strategy", and was confused.
 
How about "get Bruce Schneier to write extensively on the subject"? Worked for changing TSA's policies (sure, it's not implemented yet, but they're publicly talking about it).
DrWex
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+Rainyday Walker what would you like me to do? I'm volunteering. I've weathered one suspension already (and put that in my Bragging section of my profile). Also, I'd prefer not to derail the comment thread here. I am in significant agreement with what I see as the major thrust of this post; I just wanted to say that I think there are a class of people like me still out there - potential supporters that haven't been made aware/reached.
 
+Alan Wexelblat Have a look at my public post stream. we have a name change protest ongoing. In general though, spreading the word and being vocal about this is more important. The name thing is just symbolic and, imo entirely optional.
 
+Clay Caviness You know, man, I would like that SO much more. Let's make google fix this and start nyanwars with all the free time we get as a result. :)
 
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well, these type-facebook.com-into-the-google-searchbar people that you refer to as the mainstream are a damn hard nut to crack.

i have friends that fall into this category. these still-using-aol-and-i.e.-because-change-is-scary people are also prone to dutifully filling out every bit of info requested, wherever they encounter it online, use their full real name in their only email address, and etc. they can't seem to wrap their brain around the idea of the internet being a different realm of human interaction with advantages and disadvantages compared with the real life personal kind. google's apparent crafting of things with the hordes of these folks in mind, while unfortunate and cynical, is likely a business model which is strategically logical
 
+archer rehcra I don't have a great deal in common with them either, but I believe it's a mistake to underestimate them. The fact is, that if the issue is put to them the right way they will understand it and understand its impact for them.

IMO it's a harder sell to the suits than it is to the crowd.
 
there really seems to be a fundamental difference in the way these folks' brains function--good friends, excellent, wonderful people, but when it comes to things computer/internet? impenetrable. the shields go up. the eyes glaze over. fingers in ears lalalalalallalala
 
+archer rehcra Then it's not about the internet, is it? It's about whether or not their kids are safe, whether they can have privacy on the internet, whether their boss can look over their shoulder.
 
"Hey, remember that dumb comment you typed on a friend's post that one time? Google+ does. And they have a search engine to let everyone on Earth find it. Under your real name. Forever. "
 
"Hey, remember that time you got drunk and passed out naked? Well Google+ does. That is you tagged in that photo, isn't it?"
 
Well, if I still remember it I wasn't really drunk :)
 
I believe the best way to explain this to the guy on the street is to express it in terms of things that people on the street do…in "real life", not online. They don't think they use pseudonyms, but they are wrong.

When you go to the bar/hairdresser/coffeeshop/resort and you meet up with strangers and talk about your respective work, or the problems with your kids, or your marriage? You're using a kind of pseudonym. Because those people only know your first name, and they don't have an easy way to track down where you live and where you work and where your kids go to school.

Those are things that everyone does offline. We just want them to be able to do it online. And to do that, you need to be able to post without using your full birthname.

But online has new problems too. Online people know your full name, they can trivially that and a photo or something you posted last month to figure out where you live. They can stalk your conversations. Your kids can grow up and start reading the conversation you had about your marriage. These make that ability to not use your birthname even more import.

I wouldn't use the word pseudonym anywhere. (And certainly not "nym") Do it in terms that make sense to people. We want you to have the right to not use your birth name everywhere you go. You have that right offline (don't use "real world" either). We want you to have that right online.
 
Do you wear an ID tag at work? A "Hi, my name is __________" sticker at conferences? Do you wear them home, or take them off the minute you get outside? Why do you keep your driver's license in your wallet, instead of a pocket on the front of your coat, so you don't have to dig it out when you need ID for a check or credit card? How would you feel if you were required to wear a government ID tag with your name, address, phone number, and government ID number in a visible location anytime you left your house? Why? Are you ashamed of who you are?

Having the choice of when and what personal information to share is something everyone takes for granted.
 
I wish you luck, even though I settled on the pro-real-names camp. For what it's worth I'm not sure that http://my.nameis.me is very convincing for the mainstream. The cases there are too "expert":

People who genuinely need anonymity - Respected, but the obvious question is why join G+ as your alias?
People who chose an unconventional name - These are noble edge cases. Google will accept them eventually (sorry!).
People who are known with a conventional name and an alias - Aesthetic choice already supported well enough in G+ profile.

I think +Fedor Pikus or +Michael Kerney make better mainstream arguments. Notice they're a bit lowbrow. But if you want to argue about online privacy for average people, or kids, you need everyday arguments like "your boss/teacher/ex can Google you".
 
+Fedor Pikus Uh, Fedor, do you consider (from the front page) the author of the Gopher protocol, a United Methodist pastor, and a member of the Executive Committee of the German Green Party "weird"?
 
+Betsy Hanes Perry Yep, all weird, aside from the pastor.

Get me a Republican congressman. Get me a megachurch pastor, or a talkradio host.

Point out that "Jesus Christ" wouldn't have been allowed on.
 
+Betsy Hanes Perry My standard of weirdness is not a good metric if you are taking the fight to mainstream :) For average person, the Green guy and the Geek guy are weird almost by definition, the pastor is probably normal.
 
The ones that are "not-weird" are not the ones that will get noticed by the audience you're thinking about, unfortunately. Face it, the US is in conflicts where a certain number of dead/crippled civilians are collateral damage, where our immigration service is dragging its feet on processing asylum requests from Iraqis who face torture/death because they "collaborated with" our troops. And the majority of people are okay with that. They've got their "monkeysphere" and don't get too concerned about anything that happens to anyone outside it. A minister or rabbi who wants anonymity just isn't going to create any outrage.

OTOH, the number of people who don't want to even hear about LGBT issues is still high. I mean, there's no other explanation for George W. Bush's second term. Those people just need to see one person there who wants a pseudonym because they're gay and fear discrimination, and they'll think, "Good. Any social network that doesn't include people like that is the one I want to be on." It's ugly, but it's the reality, especially once you get away from the major cities and their suburbs.

We'd like to think bigotry is something from past decades, but in some communities it is the dominant point of view.
 
+Alpha Centauri Yes and no. There are plenty of communities where bigotry in general is the norm where bigotry toward the person you know is unthinkably rude (yes, I grew up in the schizoid south).
 
But again, the people featured on My Name Is Me are people they don't know, so they're not persuasive.
 
+Alpha Centauri That's why we want to try and reach out via mainstream media and bring the issue to their living room. We have to make it something they can care about.
 
This is all why you need to target it at them. It's like owning guns or not taxing the rich. It's not that you have a gun or that you're rich, it's that you don't want someone taking options away from you if you think you might be there some day. I think those examples are good, but the more everyday ones we can get, the better. The lawyer, the teacher, the government employee, the factory worker.
 
+Kee Hinckley The law enforcement officer, the PTA member, the student, the parent and the teacher.
 
Be careful how you proceed; when some cops got in trouble because their pseudonymous racists posts on a law enforcement forum were traced back to their IP addresses at their jobs, it didn't create a lot of sympathy.
Krikket
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FWIW: I'm not convinced that adding the names of the G+ staff to messages is useless. At least one has come forth and said he does read every one of those messages. After I paraphrased another staff member, I was contacted in a private message, "Did I say that?" Err, I'm now on the train. Give me an hour, and I'll check. <30 minutes later> Sorry. Looked like I goofed, I took down the message and posted another saying that I misrepresented a Google staffer by accident. (To paraphrase) "Cool. I'm not upset, I just wanted to make sure I didn't say anything that blunt about our policy." (Implied, he's not allowed to make certain comments.) Also, apparently if you use the word "legally" they are required to stop reading the message at that point.
 
Perhaps the community of mothers who blog are our best examples. What is more mainstream, wholesome and easy to connect to then mothers talking about their kids?

The unforunite thing is we are fighting phantoms, we know that the mainstream is an illusion, we have to sell to google that this illusion likes nyms.
 
David, you are so right about selling nyms to phantoms. Google is dreaming if they think they will sell Circles to the IE6 crowd, let alone persuade them to tear up roots and move. What they potentially have is the next generation of Internet users as they outgrow Facebook. That generation has cut their teeth on WoW and gaming and have no misconceptions about names. What they are selling to is the previous generation.

Nonetheless, selling privacy to the mainstream is an important cause.
 
Facebook have always had a similar "real name only" policy, and it I recall it used to be enforced more strictly than it is now (i.e. hardly at all). What made them change? I could be totally wrong on this - I'm not a serious Facebook historian - but as I recall they quietly stopped enforcing it once they HAD hooked the mainstream.

If that version of history is correct, then the best way to get Google+ to drop the policy is to HELP PULL IN the mainstream. Get all your Facebook friends onto G+. Get your parents onto G+. Get your co-workers onto G+. Once G+ has achieved critical mass it won't need a "dress code" any more and it will stop being enforced and eventually atrophy into oblivion.
Krikket
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That's not pro-nym. That's repeating a promise that they'd give a warning before suspending accounts. That they didn't honor. Google has proven to be hypocritical about this stuff.
 
I'm actually very encouraged by Google's announcement. The reaction has been uniformly negative. Maybe it's my imagination, but I don't think that would have been true a few weeks ago. I don't know if the pro-names camp is no longer as certain, or just tired, but either way… Also, the arguments people are making in comments are much more focused and supportable. (Except for the "name per circle one, which doesn't allow two nyms to talk to each other, let alone the other issues.)

They are continuing to repeat the "more like connecting to people in the real world" line, and each time they say it they sound less convincing because whether or not you support pseudonyms, it's obviously not how we connect to people in many social spaces.

But what I believe pisses people off most, and is upsetting even the people who don't care—who just want to see the problem resolved so we can stop talking about it—is their repeated refusal to directly admit that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. They are trying to pretend that there's not an elephant in the room, and it looks pretty silly.

Should we really be having this discussion anymore in a public circle?

I re-read the community guidelines just now. They really don't even allow for first or last initial? That's bizarre. They obviously tolerate it. I have at least one friend who was reinstated (from "Iam Sparticus") to "JB lastname" (which amusingly is not his initials).

I'd really like to see a publicised list of people who have been suspended (make that now "threatened with suspension") for drivers-license names. That sort of thing makes even real-name advocates upset.
 
A few months ago I was at a dinner party. A friend and former co-worker, very tech-savvy, was pasionately telling everyone that it was important for them to remove their birthday from Facebook because of the threat of identity theft. While she was doing this, I Googled for the site that tells you people's birthdays, entered her name, guessed from readily available data which was her, and then turned to her and told her when she was born.

Okay. So I'm not the most politic person to invite to a dinner party.

But my point is, most people don't really know how easy it is to get that info from your legal name. Even if they've heard it, they don't know it at a visceral level. It might help if we pointed people to a few of those sites.

That said, the vast majority of people will not stop giving away that info because nobody wants to believe they are a target. It's simple psychology, behaving like you're a target is hard, so you convince yourself that it could never happen to you. Hell, I'm one of them.

So our message should not be "don't use your real name, lock down all your info". It shouldn't even sound like that. There are lots of people trying and failing to send that message. Privacy has trade-offs, and most people aren't willing to make very many of them. (It's nice getting all those happy birthday messages from "friends" you haven't heard from for 365.25 days.)

Our message should be that you should have the right to withhold your legal name if you would like to. And to convince people that there are legitimate reasons to want that. People don't like having rights taken away from them, even if they have no intention of ever using them.
 
Among the people I know in "the mainstream" they are already scared off. These are the people who blog pseudonymously on Blogger, not to make money, but just to share with their friends and family and perhaps fellow hobbyists. They guard their identities closely because they are scared of identity theft. That's the story that makes the evening news. Email phishing, other scams, and spam have made them leery of providing too much information.

They do not see the risk benefit. G+ does not offer them anything that they can't do in email or their blogs but it opens them up to new risks. (Really -- how can Google think it will sell the +1 system to these people?)

Not one of the people whom I've invited to G+ -- people with enough Internet-savvy to blog -- to already be sharing with strangers -- is willing to accept my invitiation. Why? Because, they feel that they don't have the same level of control over their identity that they have on their blogs.
 
I've had very little response to my invite offers on Facebook. My techie friends there largely already had invites. The non-techie college/high school crowd are not early adopters, and they've already found their friends. Google doesn't offer to help them find new friends, just better ways to share information; that's a hard sell to people who don't think about their relationships at a meta-level. And frankly, I find it hard to describe why I prefer G+ sharing to Facebook. It's not circles. It's more that it's a group of people who are interested in ideas. (In fact, even Scoble alludes to this). If in fact the appeal of G+ is not the service, but the culture established during the initial seed, Google is going to be sorely disappointed on the direction the service takes, or it just may take along time to drawn in the people they expected. It's very hard to move a cluster of related people; especially in an older, non-tech-savvy crowd. 
Krikket
 
+Kee Hinckley, FWIW: in regards to JB... JB just sounds more professional than Jailbait, which is what his friends (including me) as well as family (IE: mother) call him...
Wendy B
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I don't like the notion of "scaring" the mainstream. I don't like the idea of "threatening" anything and feel that those words and related tactics should not even be considered in this strategy. Threats don't seem to work on Google any more than everything listed above does.

But I do like the notion of taking this to the mainstream media and using sights like MyName to help the mainstream understand why people might wish to use pseudonyms. Step one is encouraging the people that MyName is looking for to submit their profiles to increase the various sections.
Krikket
 
How do you submit them?
Krikket
 
Thankyouthankyouthankyou!
 
Note that MNIM is seriously oversupplied with sex activists and Internet culture folks at present. We will probably be politely declining people from those areas for now, unless they bring something very new to the discussion.

What we need most right now are mothers, teachers, professionals in non tech fields, and performers (musicians, actors, etc.) 
 
I'll submit an "I am a father and a son" one this weekend. I'll also ping some mom-bloggers I know.
 
It would help if the submission form in my.nameis.me were more obvious. I keep losing it. Supporters won't find it. A link in the "How You Can Help" section would really help.
Wendy B
 
Agreed. I had to hunt around to find it and am now sharing that specific page on my profile.
 
Also, it implies on the page (finally found it at http://my.nameis.me/make-a-statement/) that it only wants celebrities. That's one reason I haven't submitted one before now. If we are changing that, can we fix that before I start sending out requests to people to help? +K Robert
DrWex
 
+Kee Hinckley I tried to find some way to submit to my.nameis and was totally unable to find a submit form.
 
Warning: posting from phone so please excuse brevity etc.

MNIM doesn't actually want everyone and their dog to post statements on the front page. We want a well curated selection of people who can speak from a range of perspectives, and be considered persuasive/authoritative. You'll notice I don't have a statement posted, because wonderful as I think I am, to most people I'm just some Internet weirdo, and that's not going to convince anyone who's not already convinced.

So basically we're looking for people who are either 1) "famous" (or at least notable or able to officially speak on behalf of an organization or community) or 2) offer a new perspective (that's why we do have a few Internet culture types, but don't need more.)

And yes the form is intentionally a little hard to find because we don't have the ability to sort through hundreds of unsolicited leads and gently turn them down. (And trust me, we don't want unfiltered posts on the front page... we've had some seriously sketchy stuff come our way already.)
Wendy B
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The reasoning is sound, but at the same time, the priority should be placed on getting the word out in order to fill the ranks with the appropriate people. If that means you're going to get some more of the crap, then you're going to have to deal with it. Means to an end.

I'd be happy to volunteer to help sift through the detritus.

Otherwise, I think you're shooting yourself in the foot by making it harder for the legitimate potential profilers to make a statement.
 
+K Robert Can you at least put a link under "How you can help?" I found the submit form 20 minutes ago and I've already forgot where and lost it again. If you need help filtering, I'm glad to help. I do worry about not appealing to the everyday person, but if we can at least pick up some prominent bloggers, that would help. Right now nobody is going to find that link unless I give it to them.
 
Ok the bit you missed is how I'm PHONE ONLY right now. I am mostly offline other than about one hour a day from cafes, and have some personal stuff going on that needs most of my time. Tomorrow I'll be home and my work patterns will shift, but for now, no, I simply cannot deal with a flood of submissions. Nor can I even bring in others to help til tomorrow.

What you're also not seeing on the background is the mailing list where we are coordinating outreach and contacting potential writers. We have a list of people and a pipeline for getting qualified leads, editing statements etc.

Sorry if I sound cranky but I haven't been online properly in 24 hrs and I have to pack my bags and kiss my loved ones goodbye and get on a plane in an hour or so, so please, can you all gimme a little time and space on this?
 
Amen to that. Have a great trip Skud!
 
+K Robert Sorry to bug you. Two things. One. I've been meaning to mention that the my.nameis.me site is really gorgeous and you did a great job. Thank you. Two. If you want help (or to add me to the mailing list), my address is my fullname at gmail.com.
 
So, I'm at the airport now and have ~ 1 hour of internet before my flight. I'm probably going to post this as a top level thing as well but for now, here's a summary of where we could use help with MNIM:

1) Lead generation. We have a spreadsheet of people we're contacting, including many high profile people we'd like to get contributions from (this list includes Lady Gaga, for instance, but also some more accessible ones.) We need people who are able to go through this spreadsheet, reach out to strangers, and ask them to write for us. You need to have the confidence to essentially cold-call quite famous people without freezing up and not knowing what to say. You need to be able to write a persuasive email to each person you contact, ideally customising it to their own interests and background. In our experience so far, we need to send out about 10 emails to get one statement.

2) Editorial. When a solicited statement comes in we need to post it to the site. This involves editing the text, adding links, making the picture look good, etc. You need to be confident with using Wordpress, editing prose, and image editing. You may also need to go back-and-forth with submitters if there are questions about what they've written. Each post will take somewhere between 15 mins to an hour to post, from the time it comes in, depending on how much back and forth is required and how quick you are with Wordpress and your image editing software of choice.

3) Handling inquiries. We get a lot of general comments and unqualified leads, and we need to figure out who to get back to and what to say to them. This requires a lot of tact, as we often have to say to people, "thank you for your support, but we can't take a statement from you at this time" or similar. (Eg: we are over-supplied with sex workers at present, have had offers from people whose writing quality was extremely poor, have had offers from people representing groups who would bring disrepute to the site, etc.)

4) Website. If you are good at Wordpress configuration and tweaking (as in, you can competently edit themes, install and configure plugins, etc) we could use someone to help us with the site layout etc. Your CSS skills should be pretty solid -- better than mine anyway, and mine's moderately decent. You should also be familiar with version control systems (github, specifically, because that's what I use) and, ideally, the Unix command line.

5) Social media outreach. We have a Facebook page but it's pretty simplistic. If anyone has the skills to make this really shine, that would be great.

All this work is coordinated via a mailing list, which currently has ~6-8 people on it. Unfortunately, most people currently on the list haven't been able to devote much time to it (because they have jobs and lives and stuff, which is absolutely understandable). However, because it takes a certain amount of time to bring new volunteers up to speed and manage everything, I am going to say that we can't currently take new volunteers unless you can commit 1-2 hours a day for at least the first week you're involved. Otherwise I'll spend all my time integrating new volunteers and we still won't get the work done.

So, if you've read all that and you want to join the team, drop us a note via the contact form on our site http://my.nameis.me/contact-us/ (Or just email me, if you have my address -- it's skud at my domain, unsurprisingly.)

If you are not able to commit to being on the MNIM team but still want to help us out, here's what you can do:

1) Help us contact people who would make great statements. We're especially looking for mainstream-acceptable people, and high profile ones. Note: much as we love Internet geeks and sex activists, we're over-supplied with those, so no more for now please! One area we're particularly lacking in at the moment is mainstream performers -- musicians, actors, etc. People with mainstream name recognition would be fantastic. We'd love to get Lady Gaga and Jon Stewart, but actually, any musicians/actors who use stage names would be great. If you are friends with anyone who'd make a great statement, you can point them at our "make a statement" page at http://my.nameis.me/make-a-statement/ (We'll then review and get back to them. Poor quality leads via this page will just clog up the works, so please don't send everyone and their dog there.)

2) People who are just generally supportive and would like to leave a comment can do so on the supporters page we recently set up (http://my.nameis.me/supporters/) This is where we tactfully try and send people who aren't appropriate for our front page.

3) Just keep spreading the word, especially to people outside the usual geek circles. Share the MNIM website with your family or high school friends on Facebook or wherever, help people who don't already understand the issues to understand them.
 
Great suggestions Skud and thanks for everything you're doing!
 
I shall scout around for the most boring people I know who might want an autonym. (Teachers are a hot prospect, for example. Though most seem to just bow to the pressure to conform.)

I am happy to annoy famous people, because I have learnt through music journalism that they are relatively normal humans though a bit weird from being artists. Hardest part is getting through the layers of flappers.
 
Looking at the "mainstream users" that Google's trying to appeal to, +Mike Swift shared a link to Hitwise's very interesting analys of Google+ early adopters at http://weblogs.hitwise.com/bill-tancer/2011/08/google_plus_innovators_and_ear.html ... for example:

One of the predominant early adopter segments in the chart above is A03, Kids and Cabernet, described as “Prosperous, middle-aged married couples living child-focused lives in affluent suburbs...Currently, Kids and Cabernet index at 268 in their visits to Google+, and make-up 2.9% of visits to the site. Interestingly, when we look at this segment’s stats for visits to Facebook, they index at a mere 68 and make up less than 0.7% of visits to the leading social network.”

Other early adopter segments include "status seeking singles" and "full pockets empty nest". So, we should think about messages tailored to those segments.
 
What if there was a FF (or even Chrome?) browser add-on that would allow javascript for the essential services people want from Google, but block a lot of the stuff that makes them money without providing any value for the users? Like blocking javascript for Google domains when the domain in the browser navigator window is not a Google domain. I don't know programming, and I don't know exactly what the domains like google-analytics.com, googleapis.com, googlesyndication.com, googleusercontent.com, gstatic.com etc. do, but I know there are lots of times Noscript shows them being used on a page that has nothing to do with Google. If people started recommending a program like that to protest the real names policy by blocking ads, that would get the attention of the very people pushing that policy, I should think.
 
You know, you should really get some evangelical preacher or KKK leader or someone blocked, and then get Rush Limbaugh to vomit about it for a while. It shouldn't be too difficult -- he already hates Google. That would push it onto the Fox News circuit, which would probably give Vic and Brad a right scare. (Also, once Fox news reports on something, NPR will pick it up and do a report about how Fox news is reporting on this thing, and isn't that interesting and/or wacky? So they'd be getting it from all sides.)

+Eileen K Carpenter Various ad blockers already exist. They have not seen widespread adoption, and I expect that they cost Google practically nothing. Even if you somehow made them extraordinarily more effective at costing Google money, the execs would likely write it off as part of the cost of establishing ES.
 
One of the saddest things about this is how, whenever an account is banned, the discussion loses all comments made from this account.

In some cases, this is a grievous loss. Kee Hinckley (+Kee Hinckley), Jon Pincus (+Jon Pincus), Rainyday Walker (+Rainyday Walker), all respectable contributors themselves, have agreed on the high worth of a comment by Kai Dracon, but that comment is now missing. (Anyone has a copy?)

Kai Dracon's profile leads to 404; it should lead to a page stating that the profile existed but has been banned. Do you feel like you're living under a dictatorship yet?

Worse than disappearing Kai Dracon's identity, Google also disappears his/her valuable contribution to our discussion. This is a great example of the censorship of public discourse that Google's policies make possible.

If banning is as arbitrary and remedies as uncertain as they seem to be, that means that whatever effort and value I add to the social network might be wiped out and annihilated arbitrarily.

Where is my incentive to contribute something of value? Why participate?
 
Note: Kai Dracon -- https://plus.google.com/109980606822461212417 -- who apparently said something here yesterday which several people agreed with strongly, seems to have had their account suspended sometime after their popular comment -- and the comment is therefore no longer visible. (Anyone got it cached?)

Smooth move, Google.
 
I have a copy of Kai's comment. I'll repost it when I'm back at my computer.
 
Here's what Kai said, rescued from my email:

+Kee Hinckley Perhaps a better way to "sell it" to the average person might be something like this? "Services like G+ force all users to reveal their Full Name in a way that anyone on the web can identify and trace, even people such as government employees, children and minors, women in sensitive positions, minorities and the disabled. With the Internet's power to track people and dig up information on them, isn't that like being forced to display your Full Name, family photos, even your address or phone number everywhere you go on the street? Every time you sit down at a restaurant? Every time to go into a sports stadium?"
 
Thinking about strategy ... it seems like Joseph Smarr is the key tech guy, Bradley and Vic the business decision makers. One thing I notice is that all three of them are came to Google after being elsewhere (formerly at Plaxo, Yahoo, and MS). What does "old Google" think of this policy? And what about people who joined Google right out of college? Those groups may well be internal allies.
 
+Jon Pincus My understanding is that this decision was extremely unpopular at Google. That's why Skud says there is no point in reasing arguments against it to the management. They've been presented with counter-arguments for five months, they've heard them all.
 
Looking at it differently, there's an internal power struggle. Thus far, the "name police" are winning. How do we change the balance of power? Especially if the decision is extremely unpopular internally, it's not tenable long-term.
 
Apparently I completely misinterpreted Google's announcement of the new four day grace period. I thought that was in addition to the existing review process. However it appears that it replaces it completely. In other words, you have four days to change your name. Period. There's no review. There's no providing evidence (not even an ID). Change it, or leave. (And as we have seen, leaving is disabled all kinds of stuff, so you're really better off changing it to Jane Doe than turnning it off.)

If correct, that means Scoble is right, the policy is a "looks like a real name" policy. And Google decides what looks real. Of course, it completely puts to a lie the "so people can find you" crap.

See http://technicalmoksha.blogspot.com/2011/08/pseudo-name-aftermath.html for a description and picture of the suspension screen.

Am I correct? What happens if the Google cops show up and I change my name to the same thing in Cherokee?
 
Kai Dacon confirms that there was no email notification and no link to challenge the suspension. That leaves open two questions:
1. If you change your name, do they ask for an ID?
2. What happens after the four days, do you get a link then?
3. What do you do if they are wrong, and it is your legal name?

Yes, my math skills are a bit off today.
 
Wow, that's... wow.
 
thought so. I think they must have some data which tells them there're a huge amount of real name militants out there and you need to keep them happy to succeed in social. Even Tom Anderson thought the real name is one of the reasons how Facebook successfully lured away Myspace users......
 
"real name militants": again, if they would have shared this argument up front (assuming that is among their genuine reasons for this policy), that could have gone a long way towards building an understanding. Instead, they prefer to leave us in an information vacuum, which nature will promptly fill with apologetics.

We already get this kind of nonsense in enough other areas of life; why would we voluntarily subject ourselves to more of it?
 
Now — I find this strategy convincing, and I want to help on the sane side of #nymwars — is there a sensible write-up anywhere that I can get help from when contacting mainstream media? I'd be more than happy to go poke all the major Swedish news outlets — we're still sufficiently in the middle of summer that they're looking for good stories to run — but I run out of things to say too quickly.
 
+Andromeda Yelton we've had several posts without photos actually...

http://my.nameis.me/427/rosemary-edghill/
http://my.nameis.me/3/francesca-coppa/
http://my.nameis.me/221/carmela-ciuraru/
http://my.nameis.me/393/cory-doctorow/
http://my.nameis.me/440/thedod/

... but we do ask people to use a picture that "represents them" (book covers, organisation logos, avatars, etc are all fine.)

We absolutely welcome and respect people who want to write for us under pseudonyms and/or using non-identifying images. Actually, I would love to get a statement from someone saying "My name is Bob, and I'm a Google employee who's not allowed to speak on this issue under my own name" ;)
 
In the past, FUD was often used by companies as a means to damage their competition and/or drive prospective users/customers away from their competition. In a novel strategy, Google seems to be FUDing themselves with their names policy. IMHO, losing access to Gmail is a very scary prospect for many people online, to say nothing of fear of loss of other Google services like Docs, Picassa or YouTube. Shooting themselves in the foot! Or being so blinded by the $$$ potential of associating user content with a "real name" that they may well cause G+ to never come close to challenging Facebook or Twitter for users or user-minutes.
 
I have said this before, but we need to put together a comprehensive list of all the Google services that break if they decided to suspend you - the list is extremely extensive. That post by Google VP +Bradley Horowitz where he implied that nothing much would happen other than Plus and Reader if they decide to suspend you, was extremely misleading, and because I believe him, I gave Rainyday Superstar the advice that she should reactivate her account thinking not much would happen if they suspended it. I was completely wrong about that and I feel horrible. A good and comprehensive list that includes all things impacted - Feedburner, Youtube, etc, would help with this strategy. A good place to start would be on Rainy's blog - sounds almost like Google tries to wipe you off the internet if you run afoul of them. See: http://RainydaySuperstar.com
 
I wish you luck with this strategy, but I can't see how it can possibly succeed. The number of people who are both knowledgable enough and who care enough to take the issue seriously and avoid G+ is a small fraction of 1% of the potential world-wide user base.

+M Sinclair Stevens identified a group a pseudonymous bloggers who won't come over to G+ because it would jeopardize their anonymity. I see their point, but how many such people are there? If you're talking about Facebook type numbers, even 1 million users barely make up 1/10 of 1%.

The best you can hope for is a widely publicized example of harm done to an ordinary person. Not a techie, not a serious blogger, but some grandmother who has the misfortune of having the name Angelina Jolie and gets booted by Google, or whatever.

Don't get me wrong. I am personally very seriously concerned about the erosion of privacy on the Internet, and the emerging attitude that personal privacy is a bad thing. I do wish you luck and support you're giving it a try. I accept your premiss regarding what won't work, and I don't know what will work so go for it.
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