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Via +Adina Levin comes news that Kaliya Identity Woman has had her G+ account suspended because Google doesn't like her name. Given she has been working on identity under the name 'Identity Woman' since, well, it feels like forever, the irony of this almost burns.

Google+, your "real name" policy is wrong. Please, just stop is now, and let people be whom they wish to be. If people misbehave, then let's deal with that misbehaviour in partnership: You give us the tools and we'll report the spammers, fakers, griefers and trolls. We'll work with you to keep G+ a civil, enjoyable, creative space.

But don't go round trying to decide what is a name and what isn't a name. It's not your position to tell us how we should call ourselves. It's not your position to decide what's a 'real' name and what isn't. It's not your position to audit our identity.

Right now, you're being nothing more than a corporate bully, throwing your weight around and being the very griefer you say this policy is supposed to discourage. Shame on you.

Still, the solution to this is simple: Reinstate everyone you've suspended. Remove your current name policy. Collaborate with the community on how best to moderate bad actors. If you need some sort of identity policy, let us help you write it. And, finally, apologise to everyone you've bullied. There are lots of them, so you might want to start now.
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Scott Wakeman's profile photoKevin Marks's profile photoSuw Charman-Anderson's profile photoAndy Wootton's profile photo
47 comments
 
Google is behaving in completely the correct manner as set out in their T&C's. Being here is a privilege, not a right. My advice - walk away from Google+ if you don't like what they are doing... 'Corporate Bully' my bottom...
 
You should read Identity Woman's post, Scott. Especially the bit about privilege.
 
+Scott Wakeman What they are doing is behaving in a manner inconsistent with their prior stated policies: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2011/02/freedom-to-be-who-you-want-to-be.html

Also, it's not just a matter of walking away from Google+. Walking away from this service means walking away from Google Reader (due to how 'well' its being integrated in +); walking away from the search engine integrations (documented here http://searchengineland.com/how-being-friends-on-google-leads-to-better-rankings-87376 ), which in turn means having the business viability of the identity you've built compromised.

It means walking away from every service that Google decides to next 'integrate' with Plus.

It also means that any social group and community where pseudonyms are needed for valued members are stillborn on Google Plus, which impacts me and you, even though we may not use pseudonyms. (I'm already noticing this happening, groups refusing to join Plus because they perceive Google as hostile.)

It impacts everyone whose name doesn't fit Google Plus's narrow definition of a 'real name': those with legal mononyms, those whose names aren't used in their lives at all beyond tax details (as happens in many asian countries), those with real names that sound ridiculous to Google service personnel.

It's not nearly as simple as it looks like from your corner of the world.
 
If this is a branding issue ( Identity Woman ), the Google+ team have repeatedly said to wait for the branding pages to go live before making a branded profile... Google's T&C's must be abided by if you wish to use their services.
 
Scott, this is not a branding issue. Kaliya is Identity Woman and has been for years. That is the name she chooses to go by. Indeed, I knew her as Identity Woman before I knew her as Kaliya.

You may find her name strange, but it's her choice. Not everyone has, or chooses to have, a name which follows the "normal" Westernised format, and nor should they.

I mean, good grief, one guy got ditched from G+ for using a hyphenated first name, which is exactly what his first name is. Makes me worry about changing my identity to my married name, which is Charman-Anderson.

It's much easier, more sensible, and more inclusive to let people choose the names they want, and then enable us to help moderate behaviour. Innocent until proven guilty, and all that.
 
'Innocent until proven guilty' is a meaningless statement to make in this invite-only service run by a private company... Google will do as Google does...
 
+Scott Wakeman "Google will do as Google does...". Yup and they'll suffer the consequences. Every new YASN goes through this phase. Whether they like it or not, their users consider that the platform is to some extent their's because it's them who provide all the content. The providers of the platform have to accommodate that or fail.

Google can do whatever they want but the people are speaking and they don't like it. Keep pushing the issue and people will leave en-masse. Or they'll stop joining. Or they'll join and then do nothing. Look how much damage the Buzz privacy debacle did to the long term success of Buzz.

Meanwhile, judging by the list of new followers I get every day, they're fighting a losing battle against fake names. Their current policy and processes aren't working.
 
A vocal minority is speaking up on this Red Herring of an issue. Google+ WILL endure, and its users will follow the T&C's that Google sets down.
 
Scott, you are wrong. Vocal minorities NEVER speak up. That's why they call them "vocal."
 
+Scott Wakeman You could be right. After all there's a shit storm every time Facebook changes their privacy policies or screws their users over in some way but it's still here and still growing.

IMHO, Google is still wrong about this though and they need to modify their T&Cs, community management processes and "do the right thing". Because I want them to succeed.
 
Maybe I should have continued to the next line. Doh! (Obviously, I'm using the word 'proof' lightly here)
 
The US Constitution does not apply here, +Andy Wootton . Nor does the Magna Carta, nor The Treaty of Waitangi, nor the Bill of Rights, nor the Geneva Convention, et al. The legal loops that the vocal minority want Google to jump though have it all very wrong. Google is not required to jump through any of those loops (regarding names) at all, no matter where in the world you are... At least Google+ is being used for this discussion by those that don't want to stay (or want to stay but not follow T&C's) - for how long though is up to Google.
 
Scott, I think you are mistaking "contravening a law, constitution or treaty" with just plain old simple "not right". Google are wrong. Period. Btw, I'm not sure what legal loops you think I want Google to jump through - I just want them to stop being dicks.

Of course they don't have to pay attention to the people disadvantaged by their Ts&Cs, but that doesn't make them any less wrong.
 
+Scott Wakeman ...but the Chinese censorship laws do apply to Google?

There is a third class: those who only want to stay if the Ts&Cs are fixed to respect the normal human rights of a free country.

I was talking to a young Iraqi film director on Friday. He said that people in his country think freedom in the West means drinking, sex and drugs but he just wanted the freedom to express himself. What you call yourself is part of that.
 
This is all moot, though - some say Google is wrong on this issue, some say Google is right on this issue. But no amount of whining from either side will change what Google does... And I clearly fall into the side of the fence where 'Google is right'...
 
+Andy Wootton The relationship (or non-relationship) that Google has with any Government is irrelevant to this issue...
 
I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the notion as obedient consumers our only way of expressing preference is with our feet and wallets and never ever use our powers of reason and argument to give voice to preferences and judegements. Or that companies that are breaking no law (in what country, anyway?) can do no wrong. What commercial entities do has a huge impact on our social environment, culture, interactions and opportunities. Some perfectly legal actions can diminish these. Maybe a company won't be amenable to reason and argument, but we are, and there is value and power in debate.

(And that is before I've had a chance to read the article.)
 
It's bonkers. Everybody knows me as 'shedworking', I'm essentially 'shedworking' on Google-owned sites elsewhere and to suddenly not be 'shedworking' seems a bit silly. Personally, I don't care hugely about myself, but it just doesn't seem sensible - ok, they can do it, but that doesn't make it sensible. Does anybody think it's sensible?
 
It would be very sensible to wait for the Branded Profile pages of Google+ before attempting to use the 'shedworking' name. That goes for any branding such as 'Identity Woman' too.
 
We don't know what "Branded Profile" pages are. It's quite possible Google are still arguing about that too.
 
"Branded"? I look forward to 'Designer' Pages (the same but more expensive.)
 
I think, Scott, that you're not quite grasping that what we're talking about isn't 'brands', in the sense that Coke or Adidas is a brand, but names in the sense that this is what people are called. Kaliya Identity Woman gets called Kaliya Identity Woman face-to-face. It's what's on her conference badges. Skud, too, gets called Skud. Ping is called Ping. Sean-Maurice Hunt is Sean-Maurice Hunt.

We're not talking about people trying to sell stuff, but people trying to self-identify in the way that makes sense for them and which makes it clear to the most people who that person is. If you say Alex Johnson to me, I have to think really hard about who you mean. If you say Shedworking, then I know instantly, because that's his identity.

This is why people are cross about this - because it's messing with their identity. And, as a policy, it doesn't even make sense, because if you have a nice, western-sounding pseudonym, say John Smith, then you aren't going to be suspended, because that fits Google's expectations of what a name should be.

The whole thing is illogical, inconsistently applied, and punishing people who don't fit the developer-identified norms which, sadly, happen not to be so normal after all.
 
And it's all moot - you will do with your "names' as Google dictates. It is that simple.
 
And I choose to complain about and to Google about their unfair and stupid names policy, as do many others. I'm afraid I'm simply not so compliant as to just roll over and let Google enact a stupid policy without talking about it. If I see things that I think are wrong, I am going to speak up and if things don't change here, I'll find a way to act.

It is that simple.
 
Then you risk being removed from Google+. You have been warned, and thus will have no right to complain if you do get removed from this service for breaching (in your opinion) 'stupid policies'.
 
Scott, why are you so passionately in favour of being told what to do?
Given that you are, how about shutting up and ceasing to troll this thread.
 
You are asking me the wrong question, +Kevin Marks. Please re-word then re-ask, and I shall endeavour to answer. Your aggressive attitude is not appreciated, and your categorisation of me as a 'troll' is in error [please read my other posts on Google+ to have that clarified].
 
The endlessly snotty Scott Wakeman,
Says Identity Woman's a fake brand.
With his brusque privilege,
He sets our teeth on edge.
Just sod off and give us a break, man.
 
Scott, if you are unable to recognize the trollishness of your behaviour I suggest you are lacking historical context. Elsewhere on the nets there are interesting speculations going on how this as it currently appears somewhat ill-conceived policy might tie in with Google potentially wanting to become a provider of certified identity services. The consensus seems to lean against NSTIC plans in the short term, but I'd be very surprised if Google weren't very hard thinking along those lines.

So all this, whether you like it or not, is deeply tied to transnational and national internet policy that is in the making - something you'd expect Suw and her circles (ha!) being involved or at least interested in. If all you have to say to this is to profess your allegiance to making the laws of consumerism normative, well, the most gentle I can be is to think you're naive. If I were you, I'd prefer being called a troll.
 
Google is NOT the 'naughty girl of Babylon', and having a policy of using on real names doesn't give you 'the Mark of the Beast'. I'm obviously a Futurist. I can see a time in the near future where we have self-driving cars, advertisements personally addressing you as you walk down the street, doors that unlock with the swipe of a chipped wrist, and humanity happily going about business as usual. Those that cannot see this future really are living in the past, living with their 'Book of Revelations' mentality. That future cannot occur with people hiding behind fake names...

Why use a service, +Suw Charman et al, that you obviously think is doing a disservice to the people that use it?
 
Scott, you're really projecting now.

Neither I nor anyone else in these comments has said that Google is evil. We just think their real names policy is wrong.

It doesn't really matter to this discussion what you think the future is going to be. And it's just as irrelevant that you despise on anyone who doesn't share your exact view of said future. That's your own sad and pathetic problem.

The thing is, Scott, you haven't actually engaged in any sort of discussion as to why you think Googles policy is right. At least other people that I've debated with on this have come up with some reasoning to put forward. You just say 'Google own the ball and the playground, so if you don't like their rules, go home'. Well, that's both an immature and naive way to look at things. I hate to think what you'd do if your government did something equally silly -- would you just sit back and let them get on with it because, well, it's their ball and their playground?

Now, if you want to enter into this discussion properly by providing some rational arguments as to why you believe Google is right, then please do. But if not, or if you persist in your trollish behaviour, I will block you.

My ball, my playground, my rules.
 
This debate has all the elements required for a flame fest. One big issue with it is that there are at least 3 different problems being conflated by everyone including Google spokespeople like Smarr and Gundotra. Argue one and people can always argue another back.
- Nicknames. People use them on the net. Google seems to be denying that.
- Corporate/Brand pages. Clearly needed but not here yet.
- Real Anonymity. Hard to achieve properly but people want to at least do soft anonymity for all sorts of reasons.

This is all made worse by Google's terrible customer service handling of the issue. And made even worse by a very Californian view of what constitutes a real name. And finally encouraging bad actors by using the community to report "bad" names.

Two things to think on. "Mark Twain" and "Vic Gundotra: He says he isn't using his legal name here."
 
There is also the issue of 'role' seperation. To many of my acquaintances I used to be just 'Woo'. That was a separate identity from me as a professional engineer and father but I accidentally collided my 2 worlds when I signed up for Facebook using my 'legal' name. I had no wish to deceive, simply to compartmentalise.
 
Google is a privately run company that runs the private service Google+, +Suw Charman, and in no way could you compare how Google is run to how a country is run. I live in New Zealand, and the way we normal folk change policy is by voting every three years in a General Election. If we don't like what they are doing, the majority will kick them out in three years time, or we hop over to Australia and live there till things change. I cannot kick +Larry Page or +Sergey Brin of the Board of Google, and neither can you, and neither can complaining about a 'no fake names' policy. I can however MOVE away from their services till they improve - I suggest that's what you should do. And on that note:

"I will block you."

Thank you, +Suw Charman, for behaving in a way that you yourself wish to moderate and remove from the Google+ eco-sphere. That is Irony with a capital I. The only thing you have shown when faced with thoughts opposing yours are your claws and teeth.

Now FaceBook is getting in on the 'no anonymity on the web'. I would focus your energy of more worthy humanitarian endeavours than quibbling over a 'no fake names' policy on a social networking site that has little [or no] chance of getting overturned.

I will not block you , I'm not that type of person, though do not take kindly to the hostile attitude exhibited by yourself, or +Kevin Marks. I am no troll, I am not snotty, I am not sad nor pathetic. Is removing that venom from your posts something that you will work on fixing?
 
Actually, Scott, if you'd read anything I have said about this real names farce, you will see that I have said that people should be judged on what they do, not what they choose their names to be.

I find you to be vexatious in the extreme, and again, you still haven't actually come up with any real arguments to support the real names policy.

If you think that worrying about digital rights issues, such as pseudonymity, anonymity and real names policies, are unimportant, then you understand even less than I had thought.

Go be patronising elsewhere.
 
I worried that the capability of G+ to exclude people from conversations with Circles would be exploited for political reasons, but I guess there are times IRL when people have to be frog-marched out of an open meeting. Ironic that to get back in, he'd need a fake identity.
 
"Real-life sharing, redesigned for the web". They haven't redesigned it much really, have they?
 
Am I the only normal, non-trolling, only-gonna-post-once person who thinks it's terrific to insist on real names on G+? To me this prevents dangerous stalking, leaves a track record for criminal behavior, and limits (believe it or not) assholish behavior. People should definitely be able to state a nickname beside their real name though +Charles Warren - such as Kaliya Hamlin, "Identity Woman", so that people know Kaliya is AKA Identity Woman.

G+ is not Twitter or Facebook. We have circles here. It's like my living room - I personally don't want any strangers to come over. I certainly wish to retain anonymity on the web as a whole, in fact I find it essential... but I see no reason for it on G+. Not that being called Identity Woman would have made Kaliya anonymous, but where do you draw the line without a policy? I empathize with Google here.

By the way, I love Kaliya, who is one of the world's foremost experts on digital identity, and I definitely respect Suw, who is particularly well-versed in net issues - this is not to pick a fight with either of you. And PS Suw, IMO you were infinitely patient with that Scott Wakeman guy. Although I actually agree with some of his points, he was talking way too much and out of turn, and needed a muzzle ASAP. Once is enough to make one's point.
 
I know at least one person who uses a pseudonym to avoid a persistent stalker. Google+ isn't really your living room though. It's your front door. You choose which Circles you allow through.
 
The topic is certainly one that reasonable people don't have to automatically agree on, however strong we feel about it. (Except of course if you have someone in your conversation that prefers hearing himself talk to actually contributing anything original or constructive.)

To me, who has been online under a version of my real name for nearly 2 decades now, real names are an attractive idea, but one that simply doesn't fit the complexities of the online world I've been living in. I went back and re-read the endless real name arguments we had in the German-speaking usenet (de.*) in the 90s. I used to come down barely on the side of the real name rule, which was widespread in general interest and technical groups (though not in identity/marginal/womens' and gender/sex related groups). But I detested the real name zealots and their sanctimonious arguments of "if you have nothing to hide...". Regardless, we all were terribly naive then because a) none of us anticipated comprehensive archiving and data mining and b) we all considered it completely possible to be pseudonymous in one group (eg, to do with being gay, or a health support group of some kind) and write under our full legal name in another.

One lesson from this is to account now for my own potentially overlooked naivete.

Pseudonymity has from the beginning been an important part of the mosaic of identity construction in the virtual world. Not only there, but the nets tend to be more egalitarian than the offline world, so not only famous authors get to be known by a pen name. Out of the few dozen online acquaintances that I know foremost by a pseudonym there isn't one where I feel I'd have gained anything by knowing their real name is Sam Smith. Some are artists with a classic nom de plume, some felt for various reasons they needed to keep their work persona and personal life apart (many are gay, like myself), others do it because they are part of subcultures that value pseudonyms and tie that to their primary expression of individual identity. All of that is great and awesome and I want to encourage it.

If someone commits a crime, a simple pseudonym won't protect them. If someone is being an asshole and playing with a community under multiple pseudonyms, that is unpleasant and disruptive. I've found it rare, though, so let's deal with that as it happens and not punish everyone to make a particular form of sociopathy marginally more difficult to implement.

Andy: I don't think either of the analogies fits 100%, but even if it were your front door, you sometimes would like to leave your house and enter through other people's front doors. That's when the pseudonymity is much more important than at the threshold of your own house.
 
+Isabel Draves I'm all for people having their own opinions, and I welcome the opportunity to discuss the reasons why people support real names, or not. There's one aspect of your comment that I would like to respond to:

"To me this prevents dangerous stalking, leaves a track record for criminal behavior, and limits (believe it or not) assholish behavior."

This bit, I'm afraid, isn't true. Not even here on G+. In the last couple of days I've had three people act incredibly assholishly towards me. Three complete strangers who don't know me from Eve. I've had one person act incredibly bizarrely, and I've had accusations of "he's a stalker! no, he's a stalker!" flying back and forth. And then I have had abuse and vitriol hurled at me in a 'private' thread that no one else but me and my abusers could see. It was deeply, deeply unpleasant and made me reassess how open I'm going to be here. (Hint: Not very, anymore.)

The thing is, if a real names policy worked to reduce bad behaviours, criminal or otherwise, that'd be lovely. But it just doesn't. It's amazing how stupid, mean and nasty people can be, even under their own name (or at least, a name that looks like it could be their own name, which is all G+ can elucidate).

What we need are better moderation tools so that we can take action to protect ourselves and deal appropriately with bad actors within G+. The idea that real names affects behaviour is, as far as I can see, a fantasy.
 
Watching a few threads this morning, it feels like G+ just turned into Digg. Is there a Godwin's Law equivalent for how rapidly threads switch to being a Religious (both literally and figuratively) flamefest regardless of original topic?
 
I agree, Suw; g+ needs better moderation tools.
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