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(This was originally a comment I made on another post, but I think deserves greater circulation).


I had a really amazing experience today on Google+. In the comments of the post where I announced I wanted to have a hangout later in the day to discuss how people use Google+ Profiles, someone said "Dear Frances, I'd like to request a more intimate hangout with you. Thanks. :)" and another Google+ user (+James Pakele ) commented back to the original poster and publicly said "That's highly inappropriate...". Which was awesome.

Many men don't appreciate how many seemingly civil places on the internet degrade mystifyingly fast into really hostile places for women. Prominent women bloggers frequently get sexual comments on their posts or even threats against their physical safety. I felt so incredibly proud for the Google+ community when I saw James prompting to the poster that it wasn't appropriate to say something like that about me.

Would this have happened in a place that didn't try to encourage people to interact like they would if they were talking face to face? In place that didn't associate people's names with what they said? Who knows. All I do know is there was clearly a sense of "this is a place where civility manners" because others were willing to speak up and make it a place where I could be comfortable being me.

And for that, I <3 you Google+ users!
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Just read your comment in the original post and I think it's great that he was called out by another user. The community here is excellent!
 
I've noticed that several people have self-identified as Google Plus community managers so it seems that certain levels of community moderation have been planned for. (I'm sure one of their jobs is simply to review the "report abuse" flags).

I was watching this weeks TWiG and +Leo Laporte mentioned that someone (a female who was also a public figure) had already said they were getting tagged in photos of genitalia. Highly disturbing. It's great when a community expects certain standards and self polices, but there will always be abuse and there needs to be multiple ways of dealing with that.
 
But the question is will this still be true in a few months once the rest of the world gets their hands on it?
 
I usta introduce my security people ("Staff" is what I had us print on the back of t-shirts. Just "Staff".) by saying they didn't want it so'z they'd need me and/or backup.
Vibes ... we're exquisitely sensitive. (Which doesn't mean becoming arch. Quite the opposite.) They should move as though naturally interested towards whatever caught their attention. Is all.

namaste
 
I'm in fear once this thing goes live we are going to have to use our entire 5000 "people in circles" limit on putting people in the "Blocked" circle....
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I didn't know it was going to incite this type of reaction. I believe the two did have a one on one hangout and perhaps it wasn't as inappropriate as I had feared. And I did apologize, if in fact, it wasn't as inappropriate as I had first suspected.

However, the comment itself could have very been worded a little better if it was, in fact, not meant in an inappropriate manner. And that's what I want to get across to people, and sometimes it helps coming from another guy and not just being bombarded by women, as when that's the case it is often seen from a males perspective that the women are simply overreacting and, to a point, written off.

I'm a big... HUGE... Google fan, my friends and wife are TIRED of hearing about all the cool Google stuff I use daily and my new tip or trick of the day/week/whatever...

I've been an active user of Picasa and Buzz for a while and have even written an article on how we could Get Google Social (thekanakatech.blogspot.com) earlier this year. Of course, at the time I had no idea this was coming....

But, Google+ did come and it's a great thing... I don't want this thing to be fouled up for any reason. Google has done a wonderful job with this and is continuing to ask for user feedback, and reacting on that feedback, like no other company I have ever seen, it makes me proud to have been rooting for them all along...

I feel that as a community, when something is inappropriate the community should address that, and call them on it. Just as in person, I won't stand around and watch some guy make lewd, harass or beat a woman, so it is in the virtual world as well...

Thank you +Frances Haugen for the acknowledgement, I hope it encourages the community as a whole to react the same way...
 
People are rude and ridiculous everywhere its a part of society and but im glad someone had the right stuff in there head to stand up for the well being and respect of you and others in general.

Just because the internet a (and this site) isn't personal to the point where you can see everyone face to face in person, human beings are still here. This is a site where people should feel comfortable sharing and and socializing with others and not have to be worried about being harassed.

I'm definitely going to re-post and share your story and i encourage others to do the same as well to spread awareness on how people should behave and present themselves on a public open site... We aren't on myspace anymore.
 
+James Lawson-Smith I think it will not be perfect but it will be better if we, the first line of users try to instill this type of community acceptance/nonacceptance from the ground floor, as we are leading the way right now...
 
+James Pakele Yep - the original poster is actually a friend of mine (who has a tendency to speak a little forwardly), but it was nice to see that when people didn't know that back story, they (specifically, you!) spoke up.
 
+Frances Haugen We'll we are the selected few that have been granted the opportunity to lead the path on this platform and, perhaps, just as important as feedback and bug alerts so is it to set a standard way of behaving... I fret the possibility of this turning into something like the Engadget or BGR commenting sections... Something I believe I posted a comment about in your original post... I'm all for real names and faces... I did apologize to him and explained that my concern is for the platform and the community... please pass on my true appologies, as my first was was labeled with and "if"... Aloha to all!

Let's make this platform wonderful together!!!
 
Jeff (there are so many Jeff Moores I can mention link you), we could do similar things here, we could just post to extended circles, which is basically friends of friends. It would be sad to have to resort to that though, as the openness of Google+ is part of what makes it great.
 
Additionally, if someone acts in an inappropriate manner and the rest of the commenters dog pile that one person... they will get the message that what they did was wrong or could be perceived as wrong, and hopefully not make the mistake agan...
 
+Frances Haugen you make a good point about the conduct that often comes with anonymity. I'm not convinced that this is about knowing people's names.

I definitely believe that face to face interactions benefit from our cultural foundations. I've long wanted for cars to be equipped with a p2p audio network so that everyone in the same area can say things like "excuse me, can you let me in, I'm trying to make that exit" and "you go, no you go, no you go. :)

I don't believe that requiring a name on a profile will ensure good behaviour. I think that as users create roots in a community then their desire to preserve standing in that community is what really matters. It doesn't matter if you go by +Jane Doe or +Frances Haugen. What matters is that other people know you and that you care how the community sees you. Should Google+ have a reputation metric? How would it be used? How would it be abused?

I think a lot depends on the initial membership of the community. In this the Google+ invite model has done well. YouTube is a great counterpoint. Growth in YouTube wasn't along community connections. All growth in Google+ is via invites. By definition almost every interaction is with someone who knows you and someone you know. Except for the celebrities.

By virtue of being a Googler and the Product Manager for Google Profiles you are a celebrity (you're within shouting distance of the top 200 followees on Google+). This makes you more interesting and more discoverable. It also requires you to be less selective with respect to hangouts. All these are sure fire ingredients for attracting bad behaviour. It is indeed a credit to the Google+ community so far that such abuses are rare (I do hope they are rare).

By the way, even as I advocate supporting and allowing pseudonymous accounts, I heartily cheer Google's Product Managers for taking a personal approach. Google's single greatest asset is it's users' trust. Real people working on real problems reaffirms that trust. It wouldn't hurt to repeatedly articulate the internal culture and practices that ultimately earn that trust.
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+Frances Haugen , did you see +Randall Munroe 's excellent post earlier in the week about how G+'s mandatory inclusion of gender in the profile helps contribute to this hostile atmosphere? As a self identifying girl geek, I don't like having to put my gender on my profile; too many men take it as an invitation to see this site as an extension of OkCupid if "female" is listed. Gender should be optional. Since it is not, I, and many of my friends, have opted to list our gender as "other." However, we find this unsatisfactory and potentially offensive to those communities who identify as transgender or third-gender; we would prefer gender remain optional. Since this is not a dating website and the female (and other gendered population) is indeed vulnerable, this sort of information should not be used for identification purposes, and should be considered optional and non-mandatory.
 
Hi Monica - We've heard the feedback about gender and we're exploring appropriate solutions. :-)
 
Not to condone poor behavior or dismiss the good deed done, but I think it's important to remember the first rule of Internet forums / chat / etc. Someone is going to go there. Between trolls, idiots, youngsters, and people with actual problems, you can't reasonably get to a point where public discourse on the net is not going to involve noise of all flavors.

Very often the only response that doesn't prolong the problem is to ignore the person in question.

Hopefully, someone will build a reputation system on top of Google+, which should help filter out a great deal of the noise...

 
p.s. "mitigating flames, noise, sophistry and other forms of entropy will naturally allow the system to as though "promote" the subjective narrative" (the last being my code for discourse and story) ... my mission statement from heh a while back.
It's partly architectural e.g. no moderator of any sort ever in HG? Oh ... we managed huge global conferences on IRC using a coupla tactics, but... okie dokie ...
 
What a great story. But the conversation shouldn't stop here. I believe that Google is really making an important statement about privacy by virtue of implementing the circles concept. Really understanding how they work will make the experience here much better in the long run as I think the beta period is demonstrating. I read earlier on in the thread that someone was concerned whether this sort of self-policing would continue once the audience increases.

I think monitoring your circle strucuture will at least give you some sort of control over who flows into.and out of your conversations.

The flipside of privacy is respect and decorum. At the moment things are evolving and fluid so much of would otherwise be codified rules are unwritten but at some point a code of conduct needs to be written and enforced. Perhaps even the community at large should be part of drafting it? I think that the launch of G+ is presenting us with the opportunity to set a new standard for social media. Let's take advantage of it.
 
The problem with not requiring gender is the lack of knowledge about pronouns. So when other people write about a person earlier in a stream, the other person will have a choice of (a) using one gender -- and risk being accused of gender bias, (b) using the awkward s/he construction which is incredibly impolite and no one would do, or (c) using "they" which is grammatically incorrect; it is the plural you. Three bad choices.

Much better if we can instill a sense of community responsibility and to ostracize those who show themselves unready to participate.
 
That's awesome. Very encouraging for the community.
 
Although it would be a technological solution to a social problem, what sort of opportunities would be presented by being able to filter G+ content with a sliding 'Ignore Inappropriate People' widget which turned down the volume of those so flagged by members of one's own circles?

This would be a different approach from the current paradigm of reporting people or posts for review by community managers and instead would be more akin to a system of reputation, enhanced by the relevance of the judgement of one's peers.

Based upon the crowd-sourced judgement of one's specific (and by their very nature trusted circles), one could choose how easily others are ignored and their posts hidden from your G+ experience. For a different individual, with a different set of circles, that same 'inappropriate' person's behaviour may be less troubling and thus their tolerance both by peer judgement and by personal selection would be higher.

One of the drawbacks is that it could be a silent process; or perhaps that's an advantage. Individuals are neither alerted to the judgement of others nor wittingly penalised for their behaviour. On the one hand, where is the chance to learn? What would be the benefits vs drawbacks of alerting an individual that a post or action had been flagged as inappropriate? On the other hand, silent disapproval would reduce the opportunity for abuse of the system in targeting individuals.

There may be a danger of an unshakeable smear upon the reputation of new arrivals to G+ who take some time to learn to modulate their behaviour but are initially flagged by many of one's circle as inappropriate; people change and learn; thus a form of half-life to such negative reputation might be useful, allowing it to ebb away and their posts to reappear again as their score falls below one's chosen level of tolerance. If they still appear inappropriate to a certain circle, as their posts reappear they continue to be flagged and they dip back down in 'volume' in one's stream.

This approach might have the unintended consequence of fracturing the entire G+ infrastructure into different strata of circles, clustering around certain stable ideas of what is considered appropriate and mutually ignoring one another. But then this is a little like sociological clustering anyway.

In short, a -1 button? :)

Is there any benefit in committing to technology what is essentially a process of social learning? The concept of using circles to microsource relevant sociological data intrigues me but perhaps accountable online behaviour is a deeper issue.
 
This is great, and thanks for sharing it, Frances. This community will be as good as we collectively insist on its being.
 
It will if the folks who are here now establish a culture of not tolerating that sort of thing. I refuse to be pessimistic about the outcome of an experiment prematurely.
 
+CoLLiN PagE We have a good opportunity to help it stay at a certain level... as we are inviting our friends, whom we hopefully have at least a little influence over and them their friends and so on... at some point the flood gates will open, but hopefully by then we can maintain a certain level of respect and decorum...
 
I am somewhat optimistic that the level of mature interaction achieved so far will be maintained if only by virtue of the fact that there is a name and identifiable account attached to the comments here.

That absolutely has to be maintained. Lack of anonymity goes a long way towards encouraging self-monitoring.
 
We have a chance to shape this community from the very beginning. So refreshing to see the level of intelligence of the people involved so far and the type of discussions that brings about.
 
This really made my day! I have really high hopes for the future of Social Networking on the internet, but the "its the internet, anything goes" mentality has always kept me a little reserved about the whole idea, I know that I don't want my family and significant other to be faced too often with that which makes up the vast majority of the information world, which I myself have become somewhat desensitized to.

This by far was my happy thought of the week! Makes all my G+ crusading with my friends that much more worth it ;)
Thanks for sharing +Frances Haugen
And thanks +James Pakele for being the catalyst!
 
Are you serious somebody would really do something so damn childish. Hats off to +James Pakele your a gentlemen and a scholar and many +1 to you man. +Frances Haugen I would like to say sorry for having to even put up with something like that. It makes me angry that someone would actually say that to you. And the men and women and Google to make Goggle+ possible keep up the awesome work you guys got something thats for sure.
Jason K
 
James, way to go man.

And We <3 you too! Google, you rock! Seriously.
 
I got two private messages for an 'intimate hangout' since I joined here and reported both users. G+ is limited to a mature and educated audience for now which is probably why the percentage of such incidents is low. Not to sound biased, but I am from Pakistan and live in the Middle East so speaking from experience, once G+ is open to the middle eastern and south Asian communities or cultures that are patriarchal or even the younger hormonal crowd, it is going to get nasty and G+ administration and we as users will need to create better filters.
 
I'm sorry to see saddened every time I see this happening on G+ the internet. People need to grow up. When you say "Many men"... it makes me wince a little because there's almost this expectation on a lot of social media where men are going to act like this. It's embarrassing to the rest of us.

edit: read more of the comments here and understand that this wasn't happening.
 
This is where a -1 button could help moderators keep track of what needs attention..
Can't wait until the problem grows into a norm..
Glad you brought this up, +Frances Haugen
 
Good to hear! I got fed up with online communities a long time ago because so many people are emboldened by the supposed anonymity of the net and behave like idiots. Let's get real people connecting to real people!
 
Hi Brian - Part of what I found awesome about today was that it was a man who stepped up and said something. Men are incredibly important change agents in building communities that are inclusive for everyone. :-)
 
+James Pakele (( I fret the possibility of this turning into something like the Engadget or BGR commenting sections ))
Youtube is probably even the lower standard, but yes, the system has to accomodate or terribly mar this incredible social interaction & discovery space.

+Michael Winser (( long wanted for cars to be equipped with a p2p audio network so that everyone in the same area can say things like "excuse me, can you let me in, I'm trying to make that exit" and "you go, no you go, no you go. :) ))

>>> Hah hah --- that's funny! -- and a great visual -- and yet we all know that specific implementation of civility will lead to more crashes as the known rules of the road get overridden by politeness, which itself creates then its own set of problems… But totally catch your drift and agree of course re face to face and real names.

+Michael Winser (( Should Google+ have a reputation metric?: ))
+Aaron Sherman (( Between trolls, idiots, youngsters, and people with actual problems,….someone is going to go there. ...Hopefully, someone will build a reputation system on top of Google+, which should help filter out a great deal of the noise... ))

>>> It's the heart of why Amazon's ratings are the most trusted on the entire web -- their "real Names" system has been around for over a decade, and their reputation system has been extremely well refined with multiple weightings of input where there are ratings of raters, etc… Bottom line is, they have had 15 years head start to produce that methodology.

+Nic Alderton (( In short, a 1 button? :) )) Nic. I have no idea why this is so sacrosanct in some "circles", though i fully understand the danger of its being used as a spite button, and as a substitute for disagreement with content- vs "this is disrespectful or an inflammatory comment". However, ratings systems must always be multi-dimensional, not just some numerical aggregate, which I am sure you would agree; thus why people fear the " -1" or the "dislike" is because they having dine the work of developing such a multi-dimensional, multi-factored weighting system that prevents/safeguards against " -1" abuse.

Factors in weighing the influence one's vote would produce would including join date, how many threads one has started in that time, how those have been rated --- many others but those are just many of the "secret sauce" that goes into a great ratings system where there is proportional weighting to one's click of a button. If your reputation is that of a naysayer who consistently downrates content you hate -- as shown by how people rate your ratings, then your overall weight for any click-rating you give should be assigned very little influence.

Similarly, I must add, if one is a constant sycophant routinely lovingly giving +1s to everything their favorite tech blogger says no matter what the content, then based on the aggregate "ratings given by others to the quality of the ratings you routinely give out to others", you might acquire a weighted reputation which is numerically the equivalent of "dittohead", and thus your influence should be dialed down as well when you click that +1 (or -1 if it came to pass)

But those are just a few off-the-top-of-my-head factors that would help regulate in an egalitarian and community self-policing way, the onslaught of lowbrow hit-and-run comment-bombs, or sexist and other inappropriate behavior for an enlightened community. There are many many others.

But this is a wheel that need not be reinvented. Forum software has been around since the late 1970's way-pre-web, then enhanced greatly since deja-vu and all that came after it, but particularly the enterprise software innovators such as vBulletin. This has been their "life's work", and they've mastered the rating up/ rating down, and display control granularity components to hide/ mask/ remove posts within a mass community. Which is why i scratch my head in bewilderment at why sites like fb resort to ape-man crude thumbs-up systems. They are such entry-level data.

Finally, +Frances Haugen Thanks for elevating this point, and making it a front and center issue. Even since Day 1 of public beta, users here have been anticipating the devastating impacts that will be had on the system when the YouTube style racist, ignorant, angry crowd appear and start firehosing the place with their mentality.
 
There always will be people, who think a social network is built to get in "touch" with the other gender. And if there is the opportunity to have a "video chat" that for some users means "Cyber Sex" just from the word "Video Chat". I think there were and are so much dirty sites in the internet, what are used so often by such persons that they are not able to understand that a video chat may be helt for a business or other objective (friendship driven) conversation.

Such persons I would block at the first word about it as I understand this as an affront and insult.

I always think, would they act in the same way, when they meet another person in the streets?
 
+Richard Hoefer You're right, of course, an entire community-wide system would be open to abuse. What I find interesting about the ability to leverage the concept of circles is that a hypothetical -1 button replaces the implication 'This comment is inappropriate' with 'This comment is inappropriate to me - and if you trust my judgement, perhaps to you too.'

Essentially extremely complex emergent phenomena from set theory.
 
So glad this happened... I was a little embarrassed, I must admit, to have seen the original message and not said anything -- I failed to think to do so until +James Pakele did, and then all I could do was +1 it.

Why embarrassed? Because I know better, having long been someone who shares around the following document in various circumstances such as this one:

http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Encourage-Women-Linux-HOWTO/

Linux or not, I think +Val Henson's points are quite apropos to circumstances such as this one (friend explanation notwithstanding), including the (previously mentioned in this comment thread) importance of the fact that it was a male who first commented about it.

I'm really glad, though, that someone did say something, so that I could at least +1 it.

Thanks, too, +Frances Haugen, for talking about it, to further raise awareness. I really hope this can somehow be a comfortable place for everyone -- women, men, transgendered people, minorities, people with disabilities, etc., etc., etc. If it could be that and stay that, what social influence could it have on the world at large? Wouldn't that be cool, if a virtual place like google+ could positively influence the real places we live and work in? Perhaps I wax philosophic, or idealistic. Ah well. A person can dream. :)
 
+Nic Alderton I really want to come back and re-read this and think through it. I have gone to sleep last 2 "nights" at 6am, then 1pm the next day, and now tonight i have to sleep !! (damn G+!!!) it's 1:20am here.... But seriously... (here's where bookmarking would be handy -- but alas, i can't even grab a link to a COMMENT, only to the parent thread)... I am intrigued because I get thebasic concept and it beautiful -- what you just said --- and i am so into that next generation modeling for large complex systems of people. So i am going to email myself this thread and tryto poick this up with youn again after i re-read it. thank you. I would love to be able to get all of the +Pattie Maes MIT Media Lab people who pioneered colaborative filtering in a room with the best thinkers here on all of G+ and frikkin nail this... I'm so sick of a potetially easy solution just never being addressed because nobody will do it . They keep opting for the same simplistic formulas are archaic.

Breakout thinking is called for, and I like yours! good night.
 
I have bad experiences with such "-" or "dislike" buttons. They bring dispeace into the community, because one will use it just to bother the other or to make themselves important, other will use it directly to insult the other. On the other side, there will be users, who understand each "dislike" as a personal insult... No, there is nothing good in such "dislike" Button. The best is to be able to block a person, who insulted me and for the initiator of a discussion it should be possible to delete insulting or spamming comments (which will come for sure!).
 
+David Lindes We are just trying to make the world a little more Googley. One can hope we can make the world a little better with all your help.
 
@Ted Sunder - "we can make the world a little better." For this I go with you.
 
+Nic Alderton and +Ted Sander and Any Other interested Parties ---

I did, in fact, take NIC's Ideas from above and create a brand new post using the framework of this thread by +Frances Haugen , plus my own sets of feedback herein (which included excerpts of other people's feedback from here, though nowhere near all), and set up the ability to rif further off of Nic's concepts -- for those interested. I think he's really onto something.

Here is the link to my post:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/112760224652737508626/posts/FkgHJfZ49kT

"COMMENT FILTRATION SYSTEMS for large discussion threads & social networks, to discourage or police crude, sexist, racist, other inappropriate language & behavior:"
 
Hi +Asra Nadeem I am from the Middle East myself and I see your point. I get it that we do have a male dominated culture that easily abuses women because we don't have a social standard that we follow towards women who are exposed to the world and expect that women self police themselves and exclude themselves out of places that might get them harassed. This is both sad and unfortunate.

On the other hand when my mother got on facebook (I setup the account for her) I repeatedly told her that facebook is a public place and that she shouldn't have an expectation of privacy and that anybody might send her something offensive or even see what she is posting from afar. The way we should deal with abuse is to not surrender to it and fear that it will happen. Abuse is a product of it being practicable and tolerated. My mother wanted to see her distant family's photos and to let her out of touch because of incoming abuse was grave in my opinion. I know she can handle what comes her way and I don't have the mentality of wanting to protect my mother from what she might see online. I will protect her will power by supporting her emotionally and not letting her drop social networking because of abusive behaviors of others. One consequence of wanting to protect women online by asking them to be more prudent and reclusive is that they end up being out of any dialogue discussing them lest they get abused. Our only hope is to dart forward pushing women to get online and not being complacent with the status quo. Having a proactive stance like the one showed by +James Pakele is what makes our streets and daily lives civilized.

I don't think we can enforce civility online in any automatic way. Technology has weaknesses and there will always be ways to circumvent protection barriers, like when people use extra or different characters in a heinous word's spelling so that an automatic filter doesn't pick it up. Also computers can't easily pick up meaning from sentences that might not have any offensive word but in context are inappropriate. Removing profiles is ineffective because new ones can be setup. Even our civilization old legal systems (all of them) have always had exploitable loopholes and are constantly being fixed and fixed again.

WOW that is a lot text I've punched on the keyboard. Still this is a topic that needs constant discussion. In my opinion we can't expect or accept our online lives to be policed for us as much as we don't expect or accept our in-person presence to be policed. We need to speak out when we find a behavior offensive. This is a kind of social pressure that we use everyday with the people we see face to face although we don't talk about it extensively since it is second nature and ephemeral (it doesn't get recorded for others to see). We are as good as we choose to be and we get treated the way we allow people to treat us. In other words we shape our environment as much as it shapes us.

Open the flood gates Google+
 
+Walid Damouny - I agree with what you are saying. The sad part is that as a woman in this part of the world you actually get used to filtering abuse, harassment and baises with a stride and which is why most of the women end up in abusive relationships and situations because education and awareness about these instances is really low. Most of the filters that we have in our offline lives can be replicated online as well. The only difference is that here there are more cultures and thus a greater need to know exactly what buffers are required.
 
+Walid Damouny Nicely put, let the society police the society. If, as a society, something is deemed unacceptable, then it should be pointed out and attention called to the incident, not by an authoritative figure (like Google) but by the society member, jury of your peers and all that. +Asra Nadeem if individuals are being inappropriate call public attention to that fact, let them know that if they insist on behaving that way, EVERYONE will know they are behaving in such a shameful manner... and I (hopefully WE, the society) can have an impact on whether they, or others, choose to behave that way going forward...
 
+Asra Nadeem Yes your concerns are true, but I am the kind of person that stands in the face of problems to take them down rather than expect to have a policing system that meets agreed upon standards. I know I am the odd one in this kind of debate because I come from a conservative culture but my personal experience, that I can't claim represents everyone, has been that standing up against the wrong doing is more effective than having a policing system set in place. The reason being every rule can be bent but a cultural behavioral expectation takes into account the context of the situation and applies pressure on people who misbehave.

Having multiple cultures to interact with will be confusing in a funny way because what might mean one thing to one group might mean another thing to another group. In the end it will be a learning experience to many and that's a good thing in the long run. I still reiterate that we can't build enough systems or buffers to deal with what we will face even in our in-person lives. The reason our in-person lives are acceptable to us right now is because we and the people in our vicinity have become accustomed to a form of behavior. Travel to another country and you will feel a little discomfort when treated because people will behave slightly differently than you usually expect. Now we have to start learning being accustomed to a different kind of vicinity: an online vicinity.

As to women, my position is still the same one I subjected my mother to: Don't step away when someone tries to abuse you because in the end you (all women, my mother included) will lose what social networking can give you. We need a Middle Eastern Oprah Winfrey.
 
Hey, the "me at circles of other" don`t count right. It shows juts a few people, not all.
 
When +Marissa Mayer took comments from the audience at SXSWi, it was creepy how many guys started off with fake sultry "come hither" voices saying "Hi, Marissa." I'm sure most thought they were just joking around, being playful--maybe even friendly. But none of them would have addressed +Vic Gundotra that way. Whether they intended it or not, it was demeaning. It demonstrated that no matter how interesting, intelligent, or powerful a person Marissa is that they saw her first as a sexy chick they could chat up in a bar.

Let me stress that in this situation I didn't interpret their behavior as overtly threatening or aggressive. It simply made me mentally cross that guy off my list--not socially, but as someone I'd never take seriously professionally.

I think there will be plenty of social gaffes on G+ at first. But I also think (or maybe it's just hope) that the system encourages self-moderation. For now, I feel very comfortable with the levels of control. I hope I can say that a month from now.


Thanks +James Pakele +Michael Winser +Charles Chism and all the other people who step forward and speak up for their colleagues. You lead by example. Let's build a community here that expects the best from people, rather than settles for the worst.
 
Kudos to +James Pakele for doing the right thing.

I wonder - is it possible to create some kind of peer cred rating for a Google profile?

I see the downsides with a "-1", but if a repeat offender profile somehow can be "discredited" into something like a "Hellban" as coined by Jeff Atwood ( http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2011/06/suspension-ban-or-hellban.html ) - that would make the community largely self-moderated.

Maybe a "Timeout" where the offender won't get access to comment in others circles for a certain period.
 
As a Community Manager, I have to say I agree with several other posters - good community management involves both the staff and the community itself. I'd love to see a culture where bad behavior is removed, reported and people move on. I've never enjoyed communities where the comments are overwhelmingly negative. We should all make these problems go away so our discussions can stay focused on the great things everyone shares here. Hearing a small "poof" and seeing the bad ones vanish is good enough for me! :)
 
I totally agree with you. Note the response to Marissa Meyer here: Each of her posts appears to provoke a pavlovian type reaction from otherwise rational looking men: its like she's throwing data (words, photos) out at them and like obedient dogs they catch it, saliva all over it and then race to fetch it back with a response. Sometimes appropriate and sometimes not!
 
+Aryeh Primus On the subject of pronouns for people who obscure their gender. I've done so many times on line, and know the consequences. When someone "he"s me, I may roll my eyes at the default assumption of maleness, but I expect it, and know I brought it on myself. I'm hardly going to get personally offended. On the other hand, I appreciate "they," despite being formally incorrect, because it means that the other person has thought about the fact that not everyone they're talking to is a man unless marked otherwise, and quietly points that out to the rest of the conversation.

Furthermore, I, like many people I know who want to hide/turn off the official gender field are nevertheless clearly implicitly coded with one gender.
 
when can we expect a jobs site based on our profile, or games using open social, or even a dating site for people
 
i just noticed adding a + helps me tag people like @ used to help me tag people in facebook LOL
 
+Ajay Ohri Yes. You can use + or @ to flag someone's attention . But in private conversations use it with caution. The "+" sign means "add" and in the G+ world, it means you are adding them, inviting them, into the conversation.

So, if you've limited the conversation to a specific circle, ("Things I Don't Want to Share With My Boss") don't @mention your boss in any conversations directed to that circle or he'll receive a notification and probably pop over to the conversation to see what you are saying about him.
 
The more I think about this the more I think the solution is simple and personal. Google+ has a Block circle but it also needs a Muted circle.

As +Aaron Sherman said, the proven way to deal with offensive behaviour is to completely and totally ignore it. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=DNFTT

In real life this can be difficult. Hecklers gonna heckle. But on the internet each and everyone of us can decide to mute someone and then from our own point of view they simply disappear. The "Mute this person" UI needs to apply in Google+ discussions, hangouts, everything.

A personally controlled system is impossible to abuse. Delegating that decision to "the system" makes it subject to abuse.
 
+James Pakele it's not public. Like other Circles it would be possible to infer that I've muted someone simply by noticing that I never seem to notice what they say. However, my decision to mute should be personal and not public.
 
What a great -- and important -- thread! One small note to +Michael Winser who said he has "long wanted for cars to be equipped with a p2p audio network so that everyone in the same area can say things like "excuse me, can you let me in, I'm trying to make that exit" and "you go, no you go, no you go" - There's a great analog solution to that problem that I learned while living in Italy for many years. You roll down your window and wave and gesture like mad to the other driver while pointing to the exit (nicely of course). :) I do it here too, to the surprise of American drivers. And it usally works here too. We all fall in love with new tech but it's important to remember that there are actual humans behind the car windows & the Google+ profile. Thanks +James Pakele for doing that!
 
+Walid Damouny - I agree with you 100%. I am the 1st woman in my family who finished university, went and worked abroad and started traveling alone. Not to forget I am 27 and not married, which is not strange at all unless you belong to a culture where women get married when they are 18. So yes standing up for what you want and not shying away is the key. However, it is not an easy choice. :D
 
It is definitely the case that you think more about who your friends are and what they (and you) say, when you know that all your other friends will be seeing their replies. This is unlike Twitter, where you don't see replies of people who you don't follow.

That said, I'm afraid that civility will decline as more people join. This has been true on every other social network I've used, from "The Con" on DTSS back in the 70's, to Usenet and on.

I did want to raise one issue, because it's been a sore point with me on Google+ from the start. Google+ has emphasized privacy, so expectations are far higher than with Facebook, which started life assuming that you had none, and has done a remarkably good job of upholding that standard.

You said, "In a place that didn't associate people's names with what they said."

I am a strong believer in reputation and persistance of identity, and both of those cause people to think more about what they say. However there was an implication (possibly unintended) in what you said about the Google's requirement that people use their "real" names. I keep my personal life separate from my work. I use a different name for my personal life. There's no attempt to defraud, it's obvious it's not real. It has a reputation, it has a paid Flickr account, it has accounts on major social networks (Facebook excepted of course). It has a domain, a blog, and a reputation that is very important to me. It also has one key feature—Googleing my real name won't find it. G+ gives me tools to keep my private life separate from work, but that is not the same. My personal life isn't private. I have things I want to say publicly. I just don't necessarily want my kids to read them.

What I don't understand is why Google insists that I must use my real name, and not the identity by which I am known to thousands of my friends online (and in cases where I trust them, in real life)? I now right now that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are using Google+ with their protected online identities, and they do so at the risk of having their account deleted at any time. Why is Google so insistent that everything I say publicly must be tied to a physical identity?
 
I have to agree - I've found the people in general on G+ to be polite and helpful, and think that it's up to everyone in here now to set the tone for when it opens for the public. I'm a huge fan of Hangouts, and most of them I've been in are me + 9 guys and no one has ever been a pig (or maybe I'm just not the type of woman that attracts rude comments). So to the men of G+ -- THANKS!!
 
Awesome post and thanks. I've experienced one of these "occasions" as well but it was related to a surprise chat box pop up. I quickly and easily fixed THAT issue. (Thank you Google!)
 
The problem is, if you don't have places where the default is to know peoples identity, anonymity usually brings out the worst in people. You rarely end up having a community. You rarely end up with conversations that are "real", unless they're about how FINALLY you can be a bigot/racist/sexist/troll I always wanted to be in public. Not every topic in the world needs to have it's identity and in turn, it's politeness stripped from it.

Take this exact situation for example. If these weren't real people with real names, how do you think the real comment stream would have looked? 1 comment that was both badly typed and misinterpreted... how many real comments do you think you would have been made?

I always, always support anonymity. I think it's important. I think the default-to-anonymous model a lot of places take are what ultimately destroy them or keep then as niche systems floating along in the universe :)
 
There is a big difference between an anonymous comment system where anyone can enter a throw-away identity, and a social network where you build up a set of relationships over time. Nothing in Google+ prevents someone from creating a fake identity and slapping a nasty comment on something, but it will be very clear that you aren't a real person and very easy to block you. (Until of course, the spammers get here with their automated systems, but that's a different problem). There is no national internet ID system, so Google can only enforce this policy when someone complains. However the policy that fake identities make be deleted, this puts anyone with a fake identity at risk and encourages them not to speak out. Given that I probably created that identity particularly because I needed an anonymous platform to discuss my views (being gay, setting up a protest meeting in Israel… (http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/07/10/0438252/Facebook-Helps-Israel-Blacklist-Air-Travellers)) I am even more likely to be flagged by someone who dislikes my opinions and called to Google's attention. So in short, we have a policy which has no impact on drive-by rudeness, but does discourage controversial public speech. The key here is the problem people complain about is one associated not with anonymity, but with identity persistence. Open comment systems provide no persistent identity, I can change who I am every day. Social networks provide persistent identity. And while I'm sure that someone with a persistent anonymous social identity is somewhat more likely to feel free to be a jerk than the guy using his real name, I know enough jerks who use their real name to know it's not a huge distinguishing factor. Overall, the benefits to society of allowing anonymous persistent IDs are greater than the costs. That assumption is a fundamental part of the US view on anonymous speech, and it is one that I feel should be reflected in Google+ as well.
 
+Kee Hinckley I completely disagree. I can take any comment stream I see on youtube vs. any comment stream on public videos on Facebook and I know the quality on Facebook will be much, much better.
 
Of course it will be better. And if we all have to submit our social security number, it will be even better than that. And if nobody was allowed to speak or do anything anonymous in the United States, there's be a lot less public dissent. The issue isn't whether it's better, the issue is whether the incremental improvement is worth the price. Are you really saying that I should not be able to have a public discussion about the trials and tribulations of having teenagers, or having a sex change operation, or being gay in Alabama, without the risk of upsetting my family, losing my job, or getting lynched, just because it makes comments somewhat more civil?
 
+Kee Hinckley no but there's a balance, and plenty of places you can post anonymously without it being in all places at all times. I agree there should be places to post those things. I don't agree it's everywhere anonymous all the time.
 
What do you mean by "anonymous". I mean, how do you know that my name is really "Kee"? Sure, you can google me and find 27,000 hits. But if you google my other identity, you'll find 30,000. The only way in which one is more anonymous than the other, is that you can trace this one back to a physical address. And that is precisely why I have a second online identity. I am arguing that the fact that I have to create a social circle and invest time to make my persona "real" is in fact the thing that provides enough balance to make it worth while for Google to allow. And in fact, systems that require you spend some time posting before you can comment are a good analog of that. My "anonymous" account has just as much invested in my identity and reputation as my real one.

And secondly, what do you mean by "places"? I created that account specifically because I wanted to be able to socially interact with people online. Are you saying I should be allowed to post, but not comment on people who aren't following me? Or until I've been here after a certain amount of time? Those both would provide good balance, spam protection, and help in promoting civility, and interestingly, they would do so without discriminating against "anonymous" profiles, all accounts would be subject to the same restraints.

Adding this afterwards, thanks to edit.

I think what Google really needs here is first, a clause saying they can close accounts for abuse, fraud or attempt to deceive. (Hopefully with some kind of way to appeal.) And secondly, a way to enforce community standards. AIM used to have a feature, I forget what they called it, I called it "dis". If you got an inappropriate IM from someone, you dissed them. Each time someone did this to them, it took longer and longer for AIM to accept their posts. Until finally they were stalled for some period of time. Imagine if I could thumbs-down a comment for abuse, and if enough people did it, that person was no longer able to make comments until some time had elapsed. Pseudonyms (and that's really what we're talking about, not anonymity) are a red herring. What we really want to know is how to make people more civil in a community space. That issue applies to "real" and pseudonymous accounts alike.
 
I'm fully aware that nothing on the net is anonymous forever. But there are degrees of protection, and different people need different levels. As it happens, I don't really care if people who know me by that name, also find out my real name. For my particular case, it's not outing I care about, it's what people see when they Google "Kee Hinckley".

But WRT your comment, that account has it's own email, it's own domain, and it's own email server. Yes, some digging around in DNS might let you associate it with me, but that's true for other people who use my mail server as well. I could have provided more protection if I cared, but I didn't set this up to start a revolution, I initially set it up to discuss (of all things) my failing marriage in a place where my kids wouldn't find it when they Googled my name.

After several years and over a thousand followers (and quite a few changes in my topics of discussion), the persistence of that identity online is just as important to my personal life as this one is to my work life. The fact that my social network discussion was pretty much limited to Twitter and blog comments was frustrating; Facebook was clearly off-bounds. When Google+ started up, with it's heavy emphasis on privacy and control of relationships, and the companies understanding of the social issues of pseudonymity under repressive governments, it seemed like this was a company that would be far more receptive to pseudonyms than a former college dating site. Thus the huge push from myself and others (inside and outside of Google) to have this policy changed.
 
I agree; well said. I didn't post the links because I agree with them, quite the contrary. I actually went on a job interview once in 2009 and didn't get it because the woman interviewing me had searched for me on Facebook, noted that I had been wearing a different wig than I wore then (I had just finished going through chemotherapy at the time and was regrowing my hair) and asked me if I had medical issues. When I said yes, she said that since they were a small company, they weren't looking to hire anyone that had anything as seriously wrong with them that they would ever require chemotherapy! I switched my name on Facebook that very day, but as for that job opportunity (and the bias that went along with it).... it was lost.
 
I can see that, Kee. For sure. I still don't personally think you can keep the same level of maturity with anonymity. I think the burden of blocking so many people is really hard to manage and you end up with another MySpace. The potential for abuse without reputation is just so great. In an ideal world you wouldn't need identity to have real conversations, and it could be anonymous. The amount of abuse that anonymity provides is really frustrating. If a solution could be found that I can't think of or I have never seen achieves both, I wouldn't hate it. I'd be all for it. I just don't see a way to have both anonymous profiles and a prolific social system where spam and trolling are at a minimum.

Unpopular ideas (either locally or globally) should not be a reason for banning people. Safety for people who need to speak publicly about social issues are also important, I just don't know if G+ is a place I would want to frequent as a "social network" with rampant abuse of an anonymous system. The real, good reasons you have already illustrated I completely agree with. The problem is that from experience I suspect an overwhelming majority will use it for SPAM, abuse, and trolling.

With circles and disabling resharing I have been able to post things here I would not on my facebook because the ease of limiting the viewable access is so much greater. I think it could be improved by simply adding the ability to disable sharing while composing items. I think that is something they should do sooner rather than later, and in a way where it's hard to actually get it wrong. If you are posting to circles and do not post to "public" the default should be for it to be unsharable IMO.
 
Yes, the fact that there's a race condition while you run to make something unsharable is really bad. And also, I agree that Circles are a great way to promote privacy amongst friends (although you need a certain degree of trust there, and I've suggested that if someone reshares something and ignores the warning, it should automatically strip out the identity of the original poster—if I limited distribution, obviously I'm more concerned with privacy than attribution.)

I do think that we have a limited hiatus before the spammers hit, and once they do, pseudonymity will be the least of our concerns. I've seen how spammers bypass Twitter's controls. They create dummy accounts whose sole purpose is to friend lots of people, including the spam accounts. Those give the spam accounts the appearance of reality, and then once the appearance of a social network is in place, complete with randomly generated and hijacked tweets to make it look real, then they launch the spam from the spam-specific accounts. I look forward (in a clinical way) to seeing how Google deals with it.
 
I think, it is okay to get the warning that a certain message (or status) was published only to a specific circle. But when I think and see there are not violenced any rights or feeling of anybody, I can share this post even publicly - like an interesting video or newspaper article I think that it was worth to give to know more people...

The spammers nobody can exclude anywhere. It depends on our behavior against them, whether they have a chance or are just ignored.

Further it was interesting to get to know, who REALLY stands BEHIND the spammers? I can imagine that this are powerful industries as they have the time and money to organise these spammer actions.
 
Very important discussion, i feel this is what is going to make or break G+. Removing anonymity will surely reduce the amount of profanity that we see in YouTube video comments. Now having a moral police to say what is except-able and what is not, is dangerous territory...That is encroaching into freedom of expression. The very thing we are trying to avoid.
 
I wonder if this doesn't speak more of the people surrounding you than the people of G+ as a whole. Either way. Hooray for people pointing out the right thing without being asses themselves.
 
I love Google+ while Facebook feels just like everybody is there but not really doing anything, yeah Lisa just planted some flowers or Tom can't find the remote, but it doesn't really bring the sense of community as Google+ does. Everyday I log onto Google+ and I always find a discussion or an idea, or a new way to think and go about doing something. I can honestly say I don't get that experience with Facebook, I always got on to see if anyone messaged me or commented on my post, I love Google+ it is a community filled with those who want to make it the best that it can be.
 
Deepak Nath: I think you've completely misdiagnosed the issue with YouTube comments. The trouble with YT comments on popular videos is that there's a big stream of comments coming in for an audience that is transitory (when are you going to rewatch a video before the conversation you're having scrolls off the page?). Less popular videos (which almost by definition the average youtube user is less likely to come across) have much better comments (when they have comments at all).

Something like Google+ or, the most similar prior art that I can think of, LiveJournal, don't need to have that issue; stuff sent to circles, or even extended circles, will deal with a much less transitory audience, and will almost certainly have less traffic than a popular youtube video.
 
My problem with the freedom of speech/freedom of expression argument is that people feel like they need to have a captive audience for their speech/expression. I completely believe in your right to say whatever you want. I completely agree that G+ should allow you to post whatever you want on your own stream. I don't think that should mean that everything you say on someone elses content should be OK. A response post linking to the original post gives you your freedom of speech/expression without forcing the people who wish to enjoy a particular piece of content to view your SPAM/Profanity/and less often, sensible argument or dissenting message you actually need anonymity to protect.
 
"people feel like they need to have a captive audience for their speech/expression" ... an impression formed by having lived with folk who have the concentration span of a pop machine.
I can't fault folk who feel that way. We're adaptive; it's existential. (Which I factored into "participatory deliberation", but I'd have to have a captive audience to get any more than that out.)
As that crack-pot commie put it, "Point ain't tuh commentate/pundit on it, point is to grapple with the suckah!" (My version.)
 
I find it rather interesting that the facts who seem to honk the most about "free speech" are the ones who can't tolerate "free criticism and ensuing consequences" of their free speech. The word "free" in that phrase is not the same as the word "free" in "Get Out ofJail *FREE!*" card.

In any case, until Google is the Government (wait for it!), your First Amendment rights aren't actually terribly material here.
 
While I agree anonymity can create an environment where some people feel freer to behave poorly. There are many cases where one has a perfectly valid reason to have more than one identity or to use a name other than the one on their government issued ID on-line.

First consider the case where one uses a pseudonym professionally. This is common with writers, actors, artists, and radio personalities. It can be for any reason from wanting to keep one's personal and professional life separate, to avoiding confusion with someone else, to the pseudonym simply sounding better when said out-loud.

Someone with a professional pseudonym might want a page under that name for their fans and another under their real name for family, friends, and neighbors.

One reality of this day an age is someone might be better known in on-line contexts by a pseudonym such as "SQLkitten" rather than ones real name. Forcing this person to use their real name might actually make it harder to find them.

There are a number of reasons one might want to keep multiple on-line identities separate. Most people aren't necessarily comfortable about sharing every aspect of their lives with every other aspect. I may not want people in the environmental activist community knowing I work for a chemical company or vice versa for example.

Which brings up another point. The ability to have an identity that is not linked to your government ID name is very important when it comes to political activism. Even in the US for some people there is no way they will participate in any political discourse if it can in any way be linked to the identity they use professionally. In many parts of the world the consequences of political activism can be much more dire and can include everything from being denied entry to having family members or yourself jailed.

A pseudonymous identity can be linked to a real identity relatively trivially in most cases, but people should at least be allowed the option.

Finally even pseudonymous identities have reputations associated with them. I am a member of a number of on-line communities where bad behavior has caused members to be shunned and most members are using pseudonyms. I've seen bad behavior be relatively unchecked in communities where almost everyone was using a real name (or something that looked like one). The real differences are how relatively close the members of a community feel to each other and the general level of tolerance for poor behavior among the members.
 
I agree. I think that possibly more people online know me as fairyhedgehog than know me by my real name; and I initially tried to keep the two ids separate as I didn't want counselling clients to be seeing my personal details, information, and general quirkiness.

I was never rude just because I was using an alias, nor were other people that I interacted with who did the same.
 
I love how you can use Google+ as a blog type entry thing.
 
Let's compare the number of online threats done by Anonymous people vs people that put their own name to it..
If you've been threatened before or know someone who has been threatened/bullied, it is hard to think of this as a valid debate..
:-)
 
It's very heartening to know that someone at Google keeps these issues in mind. On that same note, is there any chance you could take a look at the current weakness of the block feature so that women can have a few better options to defend themselves? Right now the block feature is kind of a one-way street: I can't see them, but my potential stalker can still see me. In fact, they can still have me in their circles and have my public posts delivered direct to their stream. Frankly, I find this terrifying.
 
It would be fairly trivial to set up a tool that turns a public profile into an RSS feed, and deliver that into some sort of reader. I would not be surprised to see services pop up that do that automatically.

In related news, I just noticed that Frances has RSS enabled on this profile. I didn't realize that was an option. I will have to pay more attention to that now.
 
Most of the time, awkward is funny. So I find that it's usually best to give people the benefit of the doubt and/or roll with the graffiti a little bit.

There's nothing wrong with spicing up our hermetically sealed existences with a little juvenile and immature humour.
 
FIRST RELEASE OF HANGOUT PLANNER ( Beta version ).. Thx To try it..
log into www.hangoutplanner.com

Hangout Planner allows you to search for Google+ hangouts that suit your interests find out when and where hangouts are on, and tell others about hangouts you are having.
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