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Okay, so here’s the short version: You use your real name for your profile name – that is the one you can prove, or you can take a hike.

Yes, Google’s happy for you to use a pseudonym, nickname, maiden name, or inoffensive anatomical quirk as an “other name” (in the field provided) so long as you’re not using it as your profile name.

The implication is that that means “real names” only – or, more to the point, a continuation of the policy currently in place: A mix of requiring proof for some while making exceptions for some others, with those using their wallet-names apparently getting most of the collateral damage from the process.

Here’s Horowitz’s own words:

We’ve noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing. So we’re currently making a number of improvements to this process – specifically regarding how we notify these users that they’re not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them.

These include:

  • Giving these users a warning and a chance to correct their name in advance of any suspension. (Of course whenever we review a profile, if we determine that the account is violating other policies like spam or abuse we’ll suspend the account immediately.)
  • At time of this notice, a clear indication of how the user can edit their name to conform to our community standards (http://www.google.com/support/+/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1228271)
  • Better expectation setting as to next steps and timeframes for users that are engaged in this process.

Second, we’re looking at ways to improve the signup process to reduce the likelihood that users get themselves into a state that will later result in review.

Third, we’ve noticed that some people are using their profile name to show-off nicknames, maiden names and personal descriptions. While the profile name doesn’t accommodate this, we want to support your friends finding you by these alternate names and give you a prominent way of displaying this info in Google+. Here are two features in particular that facilitate this kind of self-expression:

  • If you add nicknames, maiden names, etc. to the “Other names” portion of your G+ profile, those with permission to view those fields can search for you using that term. For example: some of my colleagues call me “elatable,” a pseudonym I’ve used on many services, so I’ve added it to my list of other names.
  • The “Employment,” “Occupation” and “Education” fields in your profile can appear in your hovercard all across Google+ — to those with permission to view them. This also helps other users find and identify you.

As you might expect, this has made quite a number of people quite angry or disappointed – you can skim through the comments thread for that. It’s exactly what I expected, however. The winds have changed over at Google lately, and I find myself increasingly wondering who they are, as an organisation.

It’s good to have a plain statement on these issues, but I cannot help but wonder if Google didn’t understand the issues that people are raising, or if Google just didn’t care.

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Categories: Social Media.

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