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How Real Names improve Courtesy: from a comment to +Violet Blue's thread.

(adding content so that people need to click through to see a vile, misogynist, ablist and ... rant) This is a comment posted under a real name. It is, I hope, exactly the sort of content G+ doesn't want.

It is a profound misunderstanding of the real world that knowing somebody's identity leads to polite discourse. People who are impolite remain impolite whether or not they join a social network. If you want to create a widespread service, you are going to have to put in thought-out filters to make it possible to hide content from rude people; relying on the illusive security of "nobody would say that if they were afraid of their social circles rejecting them" doesn't remotely address the problem. Some social circles are just fine with ad hominem attacks. There is no reason to believe that the guy I'm quoting's friends disapprove of the way he's talking, and as long as he has a circle of friends who support him, this behavior is going to persist. The solutions to this are (A) nobody ever posts publicly on a provocative issue and (B) ... well, that's why they pay people who understand social behavior the big bucks. (They do, right? Them and teachers?)



Mark Baker - +Violet Blue Some sort of whinner? All I see her doing is crying about google. Time to remove the sniveling bitch. Or maybe create a new circle and call it "Sniveling Bitches". I added her a week ago and all I see her doing is bitching about Google and crying about some sort of Persecution. OK I understand you work in porn. So do I, big fucking deal. Where do you think Google got most of it's money? Fucking Porn! So why do you think you will get Google Fried? Idiot. I have strong doubts Violet Emo Tard Blogger will get Removed from G+. Please. STFU. G+ is the winner of the long search for Google to get a foot hold in Social Networking and then we got Violet Blue sniveling about getting censored. Shut up with NSFW. Please you have any idea how many miles ahead G+ is regarding content?
Stop. Just stop... Please. Most everyone I know in the Adult Industry right now is proud of Google for not killing our content inside G+.
I read Posters like her all over the place.
So while people like her snivel about some sort of ID problem because they have some sort of self branded dumb emo name they forget just how far G+ has raised the bar and elevated Social Networking while screaming about meaningless pathetic self centered rants. Please again... GTFO, STFU.
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I do think that anonymity can lead to less civility. I think driving, because it's anonymous, can be an example of that. But identification is no guarantee. I cut my "net" teeth in the Well, where you owned your words, and where there was a sense of people. But I believe they allowed pseudonyms.
 
Don, I cut my 'net' teeth on the pre-AOL USENET, where you owned your words. Then I went to a job interview where my employer-to-be asked me about my opinions on infant colic, for which I owned the FAQ. After that I started using a pseudonym. (P.S. I got the job.)
 
I think, and I am hesitant to get into this potential flame-war, but I really do think that many of the folks, including the VP responsible for this messy Google+ identity policy (whose name I forget), who seem to subscribe to this conceit that Real Names are important in establishing identity and that only real name identities can be trusted, are folks with a GREAT DEAL OF PRIVILEGE.

This relates to some issues I've been encountering with some colleagues too. I've noted that the ones who seem to simultaneously hand me the keys to their castles in a rhetorical context AND expect me to be polite to them after they've seriously baited me have a very high statistical correspondence to being highly privileged people who are not good at thinking critically about that privilege.

I have similarly noted that folks who are used to being treated civilly by everyone (i.e. have a lot of privilege) and also who know a lot of folks who are used to being treated civilly by everyone seem to focus on the perceived threat of anonymous contributors being abusive (conveniently forgetting that folks like Bernie Madoff operated quite successfully under their real names).

Meanwhile, folks I know who are not burdened by so much unthinking privilege seem to be less concerned about both pseudonymity and anonymity.

Obviously just an anecdotal testimony, BUT I think also kind of telling.

I think, on further thought, that privilege may contribute to a form of confirmation bias for folks who are burdened with a lot of privilege.
 
+Malcolm Gin Yeah, I think you're absolutely right. I see this as a woman - it's amazing to me, the number of men who don't seem to realize that identifying yourself as female online can be a real liability. Women are constantly under threat in this culture - and that doesn't just stop in the supposed safe sandbox of the internet.
 
"Privilege" has become one of those terms that's bandied about too casually, but in this case it's the glaringly appropriate word. The people who are setting these policies are people whose online identity is, as a post I shared pointed out, part of their professional brand. If you work at Google -- and expect to work at Facebook or Twitter or Amazon should you ever move on -- you know that being gay/transgender/having purple hair/whatever isn't going to be considered job-preventingly outre. As I used to say when posting under my real name, "Any employer who doesn't like what I post isn't going to like me, so they're doing both of us a favor." That's an astonishing luxury.

Out in the real world, people are punished for what they say, for what they are. Out in the real world, people can lose their careers, their friends, their families, for what they say online about who they are. And those are the people that comfortably well-off Googlers, ensconced in their wealth and hirability, are making decisions to out. (I get to say that about Googlers, because I was one. I had friends who were gay/transgender/purple-haired, some of whom are among those publicly protesting this policy. I don't recall having any friends that were poor, for obvious reasons; or that admitted being socially conservative, for the reason that that wouldn't have been a comfortable thing to out at Google.)
 
As a 20-odd year Well member, let me say that Don is misremembering: on the Well, a "pseud" is a user-chosen tag that appears with each posting....along with your actual login, which 98% of the time was linked to your real name. The Well has, over the years, allowed a tiny handful of people to sign up using not-real names, like the no-longer-very-famous Bay Area writer Alice Kahn, Wavy Gravy (not his legal name :), and a few other folks.
 
Oh, and the Well is the ultimate proof that using your real/legal name doesn't lead to civility.
 
Seriously? I have seen so many Well-ites pointing to it as a bastion of online courtesy. (I tried it early and bounced off the user interface, IIRC.)
 
+Lisa Hirsch - yeah, anecdatally, I was a member very briefly in 2000 or so, and I don't remember pseudonyms.

I also remember the Well was better than Usenet, say, but not by much. And +Betsy Hanes Perry , yeah, the interface was eventually what drove me away too - it was really hard to search.
 
Anyone claiming the Well is a bastion of online courtesy is either lying or reading two private conferences and the classical music conference.

Well conferences vary a great deal in tone, from the ones called weird, flame.ind, and politics on one end of the spectrum to, say, classical music, where there've been heated discussions. There are periodic flame wars, period outbreaks of nastiness encompassing multiple conferences, and some people who are just jerks no matter what they are saying or where.

What, you didn't like Picospan? I far prefer it to just about any other interface: it's lightweight, fast, and highly searchable.
 
Missed Moira's comment - mine in response to Betsy.

Were you using Engaged, the web interface? It's antiquated junk. The command-line interface has a great search tool.
 
I wonder if Mark Baker is, in fact, writing under his real name.
 
All interesting points. I do often misremember as well. 
 
"well, that's why they pay people who understand social behavior the big bucks. (They do, right? Them and teachers?)"

Oh, SNERK.

And this ex-teacher/current editor wants to start a social network where asscaps and really awful grammar preclude posting.

It will have a booming population of....19 people?
 
I'm still on the Well and I think it's a lot more civil than other online places I go, where people can pop up and say something nasty and disappear. On the Well people know who you are and if you're an asshole, they can put you in a killfile.
 
+Erin Griggs you are being excessively pessimistic. I would suggest that your community might make low four digits.
 
This is true, +S.P. Zeidler I'm afraid my dealings with the DMV today and for the last 2 months have warped my objective opinions to an all-time low for competency.

I'll say...1500 people. Even 5000, if I spam the NCTE & ALA mailing lists!

Please excuse my bad mood. I dined on pessimism pancakes with a side of bitterness beer today.
 
+nign . + Skud's list (I am going to keep plussing her till she's back) says she heard from multiple non-Americans. http://infotrope.net/2011/07/25/preliminary-results-of-my-survey-of-suspended-google-accounts/
+Kai Dracon Well said. I have an acquaintance who behaves atrociously online, has for years, and all his friends say "He's so niiiiice in person." Who you are is who you are. (I may add that he uses his real name, and posts proudly and at length about how people using pseudonyms are bad.) And "security theater"... that was me.
 
+nign . Damn. That adds a new unpleasant twist to the whole thing.
+Kai Dracon Honestly, I chalk it up to cluelessness -- which is bad enough -- rather than malice. Some people are unable to empathize with a life situation other than that of the highly-educated highly-paid employee in an industry that tolerates social deviance (assuming it's the right kind of deviance). Seriously. I have debated many people in and out of Google on these topics, and some of them simply cannot project themselves into any life but their own, or, worse, believe that people who don't have their lives simply didn't work hard enough. If you're "weak" you deserve to be. The whole concept that many, many people are bound into their physical communities, that picking up and leaving isn't an option for reasons both emotional and economic, just whizzes over their heads.
 
Bear in mind that Google is not a monolith. I maintained two identities while at Google, and I was cheerfully open about that. I know other people who did as well. The difference between my ex-coworkers and me is that I can now speak freely without appearing to speak for Google. (Which is another reason that pseudonymity was good for me.)
 
It does look more and more like this is some idea of the US security agencies. I hope not, but...
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