In a previous post on the realnames controversy, I suggested that it tangles together a large number of issues that Google probably shouldn't try to solve all at once. Now I'm going to try to name and tag all these issues as an aid to discussion. This list may be revised as I receive comments.

Another point of this exercise is that many of these issues are orthogonal to each other and can be addressed with technical and social mechanisms that are separable. Some are purely about execution while others reach into philosophy and values.

APPEALS: The appeals process after name rejection is obscure and quirky. There's a perception of one set of rules for employees and friends of Google and another for eveyone else.

SPLATTER: Rejection of a G+ name sometimes seems to disable access to other Google services. It is unclear why or when this happens.

TAKEOUT: Some have complained that name rejection disables the takeout service, so their data gets jailed.

NAMEFORM: G+ doesn't cope well with names not in personal+surname or surname+personal form. Admins have shown a tendency to mistake these for forbidden handles and can them.

BRANDS: There's a felt need for people to be able to declare stable, transparent aliases ("personal brands"). This is the Lady Gaga/Skud/ESR case I've already discussed at https://plus.google.com/?tab=XX#108967323530519754654/posts/fcLQahk9LdN

ANONYMITY: There are people for whom being traceable to their meatspace identities is dangerous - political dissidents under repressive governments, members of sexual minorities, stalking victims, some LEOs. They have a legitimate need for handles.

PSEUDONYMITY: For other people, handles are a means of identity construction for one or multiple social roles. They wouldn't mind per-role reputation tracking but want the freedom to experiment without consequences to their meatspace identity. Unfortunately this can shade into...

HOOLIGANS: For still others, handles operate as a mechanism to enable or license antisocial behavior (this is predicted by Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory). The problem this raises is how to suppress HOOLIGANS while enabling ANONYMITY and PSEUDONYMITY.

These issues don't have as many tight couplings as one might assume. APPEALS, SPLATTER, TAKEOUT and NAMEFORM are execution issues that I think many people have mistaken for Google policy stances - better communication from Google would probably resolve them and indeed some may be fixed already. NAMEFORM is probably the trickiest of these, not for values reasons but because of large cultural variation in forms of naming.

BRANDS can be separated from the execution issues and from the ANONYMITY/PSEUDONYMITY/HOOLIGANS group. The infrastructure required to solve BRANDS could later be combined with permission bits to address ANONYMITY/PSEUDONYMITY/HOOLIGANS, so it probably makes sense to address this first.

The serious values conflicts are all, I think, in the ANONYMITY/PSEUDONYMITY/HOOLIGANS group. I may try to analyze these further in another post.

+Vic Gundotra +Bradley Horowitz Are you listening?
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