Google+ Struggles With Identity, Pseudonymity, Anonymity

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Mitch Wagner
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Re: Mixed Feelings
Mitch Wagner   8/2/2011 11:01:23 AM
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nasimon - In addition to what Keith said, there's also: Why not? It's the norm on most of the Internet to allow users to pick their own login names. 

kdawson
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Why pseudonymity?
kdawson   8/2/2011 9:51:47 AM
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nasimpson, I'll take a swing at that; Mitch can add the history perhaps. In the registration process here we collect a good deal of information, including real name, email, company, and more — on behalf of our sponsor, who uses the information for B2B marketing purposes. We have plenty of information on file in case we need to deal with abuse of one sort or another. Allowing public-facing pseudonyms supports a venerable Internet custom. If someone is widely known by a pseuodnym in other Net contexts, it seems petty to forbid using that name here.

nasimson
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Re: Mixed Feelings
nasimson   8/2/2011 8:15:12 AM
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> really, the only way -- is to do as we've done here on The CMO Site
> and to have a great community


While we are at it, can you share Mitch why CMOsite opted for pseudoanymity instead of real identities. I can see there has been good behavior with pseudonyms, but just wondering why identity requirement was not adopted.


Mitch Wagner
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Google can't stop, or even reduce, bad behavior by making people use their real names. They can stop bad behavior by not tolerating bad behavior. 

It's a very engineering-like solution to treat a problem as a symptom, look for the underlying, simple cause of the symptom, look for an easy fix for the cause, and expect the symptom to go away or be reduced. 

In this case, the underlying cause is not names. It's that people are using the service. 

kdawson
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I don't think Google thought this one through.

They can think it through as much as they desire and they will still never get to the bottom of the problem. It's fractal, as I noted. That post you linked, with 40 things engineers get wrong about names, is illustrative. There aren't just 40 things; there is  a potentially infinite supply of things. The subject of names is not capturable in a finite amount of code. And identity? Fuggedaboudit.

Mitch Wagner
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ivka - But that's just what people on Google+ are doing -- chatting and posting pictures. Even Googlers are doing it. 

Like I said: I don't think Google thought this one through. 

ivka
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I think the reason Google requires using real names in is that they want to position Google+ as a more or less professional network, not just a place to hang out. You don't use nicknames on LinkedIn, for example. This way they will cut off the people who want to be there just for chatting and posting pictures.

anjaya
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Re: Mixed Feelings
anjaya   7/30/2011 10:40:51 AM
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Yes, well explained. Anonymity facilitates the free exchange of opinions without the risk of getting called on the phone by some lunatic who doesn't see the obvious value of the input. Also, reasons for blocking pseudonyms and handles aren't all that compelling. Maybe I don't want to be targeted by businesses trying to sell me more things I don't need. Maybe quite a few people know me better by my handle than my real name...

Mitch Wagner
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Re: Mixed Feelings
Mitch Wagner   7/29/2011 11:11:49 AM
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Keith, that was me. She says it "strikes me as an engineer's approach to accountability-black-and-white, when there's plenty of grey." She also points to this article: Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names, a list of 40 erroneous beliefs about names, many of which are tripping Google+ right now: People have only one name, people's names don't change except for at certain times, people's names are written in ASCII, etc.  

This Week in Google this week deals with the real names Google+ issue this week; they have as a guest Kirsten Sanford, host of Dr. Kiki's Science Hour, who was kicked off of Google+ for using the name "Dr. Kiki," which she's far better known by than for her real name. This raises another group who are hurt by Google's real name insistence: People who use a brand rather than a name professionally, and who are better known by that brand than by the name. (Whatever happened to Dr. Demento?) 

Really, I'm not seeing much good to this policy. I think Gina nails it. It seems like a bunch of engineers got together and said, "We should make people sign up with their real names. People behave better when they use their real names. They're more accountable." Which sounds like a wonderful theory, but reality is messier than that. 

kdawson
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Re: Mixed Feelings
kdawson   7/29/2011 9:54:38 AM
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Someone (might have been Mitch) quoted me Gina Trapani's characterization of Google's approach to identity: it's an engineer's solution. +1 to that.

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