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Playing the other half of the coin for a moment and soliciting discussion of an analogy/thought experiment (definitely not necessarily Google's opinion):

Dinner parties have dress codes, either implicit or explicit. It's just as jarring to show up in overalls at a party where everyone's wearing suits and dresses as it would be to show up in a suit for a beer after a day's work at a machine shop. How we dress, what tones of voice we use, and so on all depend on the venue, and it would be unreasonable to expect any venue to accommodate everything. Online, our profiles are the equivalent of how we dress. And Google+ is equivalent to a fancy restaurant's ambiance with white tablecloth where the dress code is 'khaki or slacks, collared shirt'.

And although this restaurant is the newest and hottest in town, there are still many other restaurants you can go to depending upon your mood and price range, ranging from your local coffeeshop (for instance, Diesel Cafe in Davis Square) where you can show up having just rolled out of bed to the Ritz Carlton where you have to put on a tuxedo or fancy dress.
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Colin McMillen's profile photoLiz Fong-Jones's profile photoErica George's profile photoJim Blackler's profile photo
41 comments
 
As long as I don't have to wear heels, I'm happy.
 
As I recall, restaurants with dress codes once had extra ties and jackets for under-dressed men. They still would look a little out of place, but not glaringly so. Is that akin to require people to use a name that "looks like a real name," so they won't disrupt the atmosphere? (Practically speaking, doing so would be really hard.)
 
I agree this should not devolve into /b/ boards. I like the cleaner atmosphere as opposed to The Site That Shall Not Be Named. The problem with a "fancy name requirement" is, who gets to decide what that requirement is? A Western standard of naming looks "fake" to much of Asia, and vice versa. Simply because I do not encounter them regularly, I would see many non-Western names as "fake". Were Google based elsewhere, Westerners would be the outsiders and we would be having that problem of being "fake". Someone's name being found in a dictionary doesn't make it less real, just as Rose being found in a dictionary doesn't make it less real. Looking at a profile, how do I know that person is "fake" as opposed to having a name I am not culturally familiar with?
 
In some posh restaurants, if you don't have a jacket and tie, they'll lend you one. This is why I'm in favor of 'fake' names as long as they're 'real' sounding (yeah I know, super-subjective) and your're not impersonating anyone, and you don't have a dozen sock puppets. It is about ambience. There are millions of sites featuring PaloAltoDude and bieberlover100, G+ should be a bit special.
 
G+ can of course throw any sort of party they like, and invite any sort of guests. What I am trying to do is talk the party planner into realizing that some of the people in the feather masks and the six-foot capes would add life to the party ... not to mention all the people who own nothing but overalls.

My concern is that Google is has actually said that if you're worried about real-life retaliation, you shouldn't be using G+. Link here. http://lauren.vortex.com/archive/000880.html

That is barring a lot of people from the party, and disproportionately bans female (see Kathy Sierra), non-heterosexual non-cisgender people, and in general anybody whose real-life opinions could conflict with their ability to earn a living or maintain good relations with their families.
 
+Liz Fong I'm going to nitpick a bit. You start with a dinner party analogy and then move to a restaurant analogy. They're very different. A dinner party is a private function and you can invite whomever you choose. A restaurant is a public accommodation and is restricted, by civil rights law, as to how it can restrict itself.

Google can invite whomever it wishes to the party and set whatever rules and dress codes it wishes. But we then all need to remember it is, in fact, a private dinner, and not public restaurant serving the entire public equally.
 
+Jessica Polito I guess the analog to that is the idea that you sign up with your real name, but are allowed to use a pseudonym in your profile. (Which lessens the problems, but makes it crucial that RN never leaks)

+Naomi Seyfer That's a bit ramatic, I'd say. Yes, requiring a real name is not a policy friendly to many LGBTQI people, but likening it to "not inviting the riffraff", or even a "don't hold hands" directive is overshooting the target,

+Nicole Ickes I do like twitters "Verified Account" approach, or something similar to it. Maybe, as said above, the need for a real name for registration, but the possibility to use a pseudonym.

Overall, I believe at some point there must be change to the real name policy - simply because it won't scale across regions (See the Asia problem mentioned above) or even across large numbers of users. (The autocomplete box presents only 5 users - what if there are 6 John Smiths, e.g.?)
 
Signing up with a RN and then having branching accounts from there, maybe? That's a bit of a fantastical solution, especially when you get people with multiple alternate identities. Any risk of relating the RN to the nym could range from deadly to life privacy boundary.

I wouldn't say it's deliberately exclusionary to GSM people. It has the effect of doing so, but intent is different from effect.

As for verified accounts: I don't think that's fair, because that puts the onus on other services that offer nyms to provide score keeping until the person can verify and move elsewhere.

What I think ought to have happened was to allow accounts to exist in whatever form, and only if it is reported to take action on it. Not call it "fake", but a "spam" account or something like that. If they aren't doing anything harmful/illegal, who cares what the person calls themselves?
Norv N.
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Google can organize parties or rather, offer the environment and let people organize their parties/hangouts/circles. As long as they are fine with dressing codes adopted together, for the respective party/hangout/circle/online community, I don't think "the master maker" should impose a limiting view.

+1 to the idea in the last post (as well as elsewhere): police behavior, not names.
 
+Norv N.: Agreed. I think their operating policy has come out to be "don't be evil" instead of "don't look evil". Case in point: Darth Vadar got suspended and reinstated in the same breath :D
 
Darth Vader changed to 'Dave Vader' I believe and was unblocked (I saw that profile listed as Dave for a while), then changed back to Darth Vader after being unblocked. Hi, whackamole :(
 
:( We can't have the Force be with us?
Norv N.
 
... Can't decide whether to find it fun or sad.
 
I wonder what would happen if Jesus joined.
 
Impersonation of religious figures and of fictional characters is still impersonation, even if done with intent to amuse rather than harass.
Norv N.
 
I can understand why religious figures may be truly problematic, however I admit I don't really see why fictional characters would be?
 
^^I'm with Norv. And then there's the odd ones like the FSM and Invisible Pink Unicorn.
 
... how do you know it's Pink? Hee.
 
I did proper sacrifices at the Holy Altar of the Search Bar in the Church of Google, and it told me it was pink.
 
"Google+ is equivalent to a fancy restaurant's ambiance with white tablecloth where the dress code is 'khaki or slacks, collared shirt'."

So, does that mean that MySpace is a trashy underground nightclub where everyone is doing psychedelics, wearing glowing jewelry, and tripping to the strobe lights?
 
^Ha, yes. They're actually going to cater it to musical artists....then they'll rename it RaverSpace.
Norv N.
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+Liz Fong I've been thinking what sounds wrong to me, in your original post metaphor. (apart from the consequences discussed here and elsewhere). I think that it's the reasoning behind their requirement, that "any restaurant requires fancy clothes, otherwise you're suspicious, clearly you're [insert here malicious intent]".
No, it's not any restaurant. It's a choice that each restaurant makes. They're free to make it, however be honest about it. If I don't wear a tie, don't let me in, it's your choice to make, but please don't tell me I'm clearly not there for eating or meeting with people. That's not about ties, you know.

If I understand correctly the history of online social networks (please correct me if wrong, I have never spent enough time with one to be sure), someone said at a point "this is what socialization is all about: your real person interacting online". Understood as: your full name and traceability to your ID papers.
This definition of "socialization" is incorrect. Even in "real life", there are many people in particular times of their lives, that are known by their first name or nickname, by a wider percentage of their acquaintances, not by full names. Take a teenager/young person - speaking for myself, I know for sure that during my youth, in the times when I was "socializing" (there was also years when I was a hermit), I went out and met a lot of people my age and we knew each other by first names or nicknames. Not because last name was any "secret", but it wasn't relevant for just about anyone.
Was that less of a "socialization"? Allow me to doubt it.
At that time of their lives, the more people "socialize", the higher the percentage of their acquaintances known by their first names or nicknames even, is. (way higher than their family and close friends)

(yes, as one gets into adulthood, they may introduce themselves more often with full name than first name, but that doesn't change the above)
 
I think 99% of the benefit could be gained by allowing each person to choose which "restaurant" they want to attend: in preferences you could say "I only want to see posts / notifications / friend requests from people with Real Names", or "I want to see all posts despite the name".
Norv N.
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Well, I have to disagree, +Colin McMillen ... for more than one reason. People have explained elsewhere why "real name" is not always uniquely defined and it's not always legal name. Apart from that, IMHO the simple insistence in making a difference between "real names" and "the others" will continue to fuel the debate and the suspicion between people. As if "the others" are the pariah you may choose to accept, but pariah nonetheless. Entertaining the dichotomy will continue to imply to a number of people that "the others" are "hiding something".
Sorry, I think I may be expressing myself very unclearly.
 
Norv: agreed that it's a choice every restaurant makes (see where I pointed out that there are fancier restaurants and more casual restaurants). This one happens to have picked moderately dressy (you needn't use your legal name, but you can't use an arbitrary name).
Norv N.
 
Well, I hope it will at the very - very - least accept that "arbitrary name" accusation has to be proven first by the accuser, than the accused.
 
It is easier to prove that you yourself are using a name rather than that that someone else isn't using a name. Shifting the burden of proof to the accuser isn't going to work well.
Norv N.
 
Well, if I accuse somebody, I'd better know why I think he/she needs to be accused. Suspicion alone shifts the burden to the accused, but suspicion without basis as well as suspicion based on something.
(edit: typo)
Norv N.
 
I apologize for my lack of knowledge here, I have to wonder though, is the last paragraph true?
>> Other animals with major followings online include Mark Zuckerberg’s pet dog Beast, as well as those who have become famous without the help of such celebrity endorsement.
I'm not really on Facebook and I don't really know.

If it's true, though, isn't that ironic to a level I can't even qualify?
 
I confess to not knowing enough about Facebook to have understood that difference. Thanks, +Liz Fong
Norv N.
 
Ah, okay. Thank you.
 
+Liz Fong An interesting analogy. Frankly, it is just as good to be the Ritz as it is to be Diesel, one has fine dining and the other has Poly Boston.

I think Google needs to decide if they're really intent on being the Ritz or not. They've just opened the doors and many of the folk who are wandering in have said "nice place, are you really sure you want that kind of dress code around here?"

So, the question the company needs to answer is whether or not they want to stick to that kind of clientele (which is actually ok but is, unfortunately, going to cause a lot of our friends to wander off), or whether they want to accept the people who're walking in the door.
 
+Saul Tannenbaum The question is, why is pets having Pages on Facebook or G+ a problem? Unless you friend them, you don't care about them.

Conceptually, the space on social networks is unlimited, and you only interact with the subset that interests you. The "rest" does not affect you in any way, no matter if it exists or doesn't. (Yes, I also fail to understand Wikipedia's deletionists ;)

To go back to the original analogy, I believe social networks do have the potential to be Cantor's Hotel. (And as such, policing them with limited resources - humans checking name validity - is bound to fail). There's enough room for many dinner parties in the same house. [Edit: Removed mental leap that was odd even for me ;) ]
 
+Rachel Blum Um, because the restaurant I want to go to won't let cats and dogs frolic through the diners? (Service animals, a different story.)

(In reality, I was just being a smartass and seemed to have missed the mark a bit.)
 
I am utterly baffled by the "It's ok to lie, as long as you don't tell us you're lying" logic here.
And I am equally baffled why Google, the behemoth of the Internet, insists on not letting people use the Internet to share information and relations as they choose. Circles are self-organizing. If you're hosting a party, do you insist on everybody in the city conforming to your dress code, on the off-chance that one of your guests may look out the window and see somebody not in the same dress code?
 
Sorry if this may have been stated above and I missed it in skimming comments.

The main flaw I see in this kind of argument is the assumption that we're all at the same dinner party, period. On other large and healthy social networks there are subgroups and subcultures and whole chunks of people in one who utterly don't grok people in another. Think about the very different experience of Livejournal to someone who is there because of fandom, someone who is there because it is the Russian blogosphere, and someone who is there primarily to follow the Davis Square local community. None of those three people is using Livejournal wrong, but they are each using it differently. And each of those three people is an important part of what keeps Livejournal a healthy social network. Tell two of them their use is wrong and to skedaddle, and risk the whole system weakening.

Because of those different uses, each of those three users will "dress" a little differently. It's jarring in the extreme for someone to show up to a fandom conversation on LJ "dressed" in ther professional legal name identity, unless they're say an aca-fan wearing their RL-journal hat. It would be equally jarring for "HarryPotterLuvr11!!OMG" or whoever to wear that identity while commenting on a Russian dissident's post.

In real life, we don't wear the same clothes everywhere. I find, for example, the shirts made of not very breathable fabric that I wear to my current temp job rather constricting, but they're what's appropriate there. At the end of the day I can't wait to change into my "me" clothes. I view a "real names only" policy as the equivalent of demanding that we all be dressed in work-appropriate attire, 100% of the time. And I don't want to be constrained by some rayon shirt and toe-pinching shoes when I'm trying to go about having my online social life.

If Google wants G+ to be that fancy white tablecloth place, then they have to accept that they will never, ever beat Facebook, because we already have places in our lives both online and off that demand strict professionalism, and really don't need a new one as badly as we need an actual social network. If Google wants G+ to be an actual honest to gosh social network where people feel comfortable locating a huge swath of their online lives, then it needs to accept that not everyone wants to use it as a fancy-dress restaurant.

It feels like Google is talking out of both sides of its mouth. On the one hand, G+ is supposed to be the absolute best new restaurant in town, the one that will mean you never need to eat anywhere else, the one that will mean you forget what it's like to consider "restaurant" and "G+" much less than synonymous. And on the other, it's "if you don't like the rules, leave."
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