29 thoughts on “Issue analysis of the G+ realnames policy

  1. I get the “Google+ is in Limited Field Trial” message. *sigh* I’m not cool enough for google+.

  2. When you’re on your initial page, viewing your stream, there’s an arrow in the top right corner with an option ‘link to this post’.

  3. Funny, I get “Rejoindre Google+ Il vous suffit de vous connecter à l’aide de votre compte Google pour commencer à utiliser les nouvelles fonctionnalités de Google.” which I think is French.

    I refuse to join Google+ or sign up for any Google service that I can get away not joining (which is, well, everything). I will especially keep refusing until they can work out and use what’s in the Accept header. Which in my case is something like “En, en-us”.

    Oh, and the privacy concerns are certainly something else that is keeping me away.

    In your case ESR, I don’t understand why you would voluntarily keep up control of some of your “brand” to promote Google by posting something there that could just as easily have been posted here.

  4. >In your case ESR, I don’t understand why you would voluntarily keep up control of some of your “brand” to promote Google by posting something there that could just as easily have been posted here.

    There are just two sorts of things I’m posting to Google+: (1) Twitter-like short takes that don’t fit A&D’s essay-blog format, and (2) entries in the Google+ policy debates.

  5. >When you’re on your initial page, viewing your stream, there’s an arrow in the top right corner with an option ‘link to this post’.

    Sorry, I don’t see this. Can you specify nearby elements?

  6. ESR: “There are just two sorts of things I’m posting to Google+: (1) Twitter-like short takes that don’t fit A&D’s essay-blog format, and (2) entries in the Google+ policy debates.”

    It’s a bit chicken-and-egg, or maybe catch-22, but to discuss Google+ policy issues only on Google+ leaves out those of us who aren’t presently willing to join Google+ because of policy issues.

    I’m leery of Google+ because of the way Google combines an imperious attitude with operational clumsiness. Google’s little mistakes may be statistical noise to Google but they can pose serious problems for affected users. Google’s clumsily-administered anti-pseudonym policy seems to be a lot like its blog and search-results censorship policies– opaque, highly-political, and in practice, for victims without top-level pull (i.e., national fame in the MSM), capricious.

    People keep telling me that Google+ is better than Facebook because you can segregate your various social circles on Google+. That sounds nice, but it’s a false promise if the intersection of a “real names” policy with Google’s cavalier attitude toward data aggregation effectively re-integrates those circles. I don’t want to invite everyone who I might debate with online to visit my home– but something like that seems quite likely to happen when Google mashes up Google+ with Google Earth (or does something morally equivalent) and conveniently plots a bullseye right on top of my house for all debaters to see.

    There are a lot of crazy people out there. Back in the early 1990′s I got a “letter to the editor” published in the metro newspaper about, of all things, telecom regulatory policy. My name and city were printed, but not my phone number. I was quite surprised when I came home from work the next day to an answering-machine tape of angry messages (including a couple of threats of violence– really! Over telecom regs!) from people who disagreed with my letter. I was really surprised. I got an “unlisted number” the next week.

    The way things work now, if my “real name” were attached to every expression of my views, deranged debate opponents wouldn’t just get my phone number, they’d get everything they need to make my life hell–and as ESR should know as well as anyone, in our entropic universe everything runs downhill. It’s much easier for nasty people to harm nice people than for the nice people to escape.

    Google’s “real names” policy is a business choice for them. I wish they would choose otherwise, because Google’s size makes refusing to participate in their errors costly for us little folk.

  7. Google’s little mistakes may be statistical noise to Google but they can pose serious problems for affected users.

    Google doesn’t give a shit. Remember, you are the product to Google, not the customer. It’s intrinsic to their business model.

  8. >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.

    There are a lot of Google employees commenting on HN, so far their attitude toward SPLATTER is denial, they simply claim it doesn’t happen. Which doesn’t help much when they are responding to people who have said it has happened to them.

  9. Peter da Silva’s comment:

    The division is PSEUDONYMITY and BRANDS on one side, and ANONYMITY and HOOLIGANS on the other.

    is only true with persistent pseudonyms.

  10. @Jeff Read:

    Google doesn’t give a shit. Remember, you are the product to Google, not the customer. It’s intrinsic to their business model.

    True, if simplistic. An egg farmer doesn’t care about any particular chicken, but he does care about the overall health of his flock.

  11. Note that i still get a failure message from even that permalink until i open plus first then it works.

    I wonder if anonymously navigating to public posts is currently crippled or bugged.

  12. @JonB:

    I just tried that link in Konqueror, and it whined about an unsupported browser, but it showed up.

  13. @Patrick:

    Perhaps it’s my work firewall then.
    Will have to repeat the test at home.

  14. A good post (or whatever they are called on G+) from ESR that obviously chimed a chord, because it led to an excellent discussion.

    Incidentally, I operate two G+ accounts, one “firehose” account with material I don’t want to pay attention to when working, the other work-friendly account with most of my connections. I guess that’s outside the TOS. Some usability improvements might encourage me to merge the accounts.

  15. Hmm, I cannot comment on your G+ debate without joining, which I don’t want to do. I am happy to let you have my email address (will not be published, but that’s my real name) but I really don’t want to join G+ just so I can read a blog.

    How to make “Circles” at home for nothing:

    * Make a group alias in your mail program. Send a message to that alias. People can just “reply all” to continue the discussion.

    I don’t like Google. I don’t trust them. I don’t want to join any social network. I’m on linked in but that’s my professional life, which I consider public anyway. I don’t link to friends. I’ve already got a feeds list and an email program.

    I am just never, ever, ever going to join G+.

  16. I will not be joining google+ simply for this one issue. Just as it is important to have verifiable identity online, it is also quite valuable to allow anonymity. Not everyone who wants to be able to keep track of their friends is able/allowed to use their real names online. Certainly Google can do without the few of us who demand the ability to use pseudonyms, they’ll do fine commercially. Their success means an entire generation of people continue to submit to instant and relational-database access to how their lives are lived. That sort of power in information is something any politically motivated horror story from the past would kill for. When the U.S. government takes your middle name, large activist groups cry in protest about big brother. When a commercial entity categorizes you and every detail of your life, it’s somehow an acceptable compromise to being able to do something that a phone call or a bar-b-cue would let you do.

    I say no.

  17. Why do handles have to be unique anyway? Why not take a leaf from Stack Overflow – The “real” id is an auto-generated number, and you can set your name to be anything.

    It doesn’t matter if someone else has the same name, because context sorts it out, just like it does in real life. It will here too – you are unlikely to have too many Bens in a circle, and you will know which is which from context.

    If that did become a problem, all that is needed is the ability to create a personal nickname for someone – e.g. for me to tag #23456789 as ESR. I know that means you. the system knows that when I say @ESR I mean #23456789, because I told it so.

  18. Doc Searls has also weighed in on Google+:

    I don’t mean ‘dairy farms’ as an insult, but as a working metaphor. We are not free there. We are the equivalent of cattle on a ranch.

    The problem remains client-server, which is cow-calf, and was a euphemism in the first place (I’ve been told) for slave-master.

  19. Of interest but slightly off-topic:
    http://www.twitlonger.com/show/bt5akp


    I would like to bring to your attention a few things before I disconnect permanently from all of your services.

    On July 15 2011 you turned off my entire Google account. You had absolutely no reason to do this, despite your automated message telling me your system “perceived a violation.” I did not violate any Terms of Service, either Google’s or account specific ToS, and your refusal to provide me with any proof otherwise makes me absolutely certain of this. And I would like to bring to your attention how much damage your carelessness has done.

    My Google account was tied to nearly every product Google has developed, meaning that I lost everything in those accounts as well. I was also in the process of consolidating everything into my one Google account. I had actually thought through this a few months ago and determined Google to be a trustworthy, dependable company.

  20. I think Ben is onto something here. But I would suggest that the problem here is of the “all eggs in one basket” kind. And I don’t mean “all my information/identities” but the problem of everyone having their stuff in same db (like everyone using PC -> target for black hats). Money can be printed, Google can be bought by hostile take over. China prints money to peg their currency. They could decide to buy Google while at it. Hacking is better though since it won’t alarm people with business data in their Google accounts.

    I had personal web page in 1998 where I was in control. I think this is the model of the future for social networks – however instead of worrying about hosting technicalities, my web presence could be in the “cloud”, such as Microsoft Azure. 3rd party companies will build ecosystem of software around the platform for making it trivial to set up a personal site, just as simple as it is installing operating system – very complex stuff behind the scenes but it’s all happening right on your computer and you’re in control of the end result as you own the computer – or the cloud account. Various new protocols and APIs will allow whatever access you want to give to people. Advertisers, government and the company hosting will have no access. I could decide to run the cloud software on my own computer.

    Oh right, I was just kidding, I don’t really think any of that will happen since a) Apple will come up with something better first.

  21. Nancy, I appreciated the essay at the link in your comment.

    I also appreciated the irony of not being able to comment anonymously on the post explaining why anonymity is OK in online communities.

    :)

  22. Note the original “issues analysis” link can no longer be read without login to G+. Is the future of the internet that we can’t access information without tracking our identity?

    Eric Schmidt says that G+ is really an “identity service, so fundamentally it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information” (presumably for an advertising database). Is that assured “do no evil” to create a centralized global database of identities and track all the social groupings (i.e. interests, political sub-groupings, business affiliations, interest in certain ideas due to link crowd-sourcing, etc)?

    I propose we in open source can create our own open decentralized social network, without depending on a large corporation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>