Friday, August 12, 2011

so I took a chainsaw to my skull and extracted my brain out

The newest word from Google+ on pseudonymity: "We understand you want to lie to people. We're willing to look the other way for four days while you change your name. It's all cool, we're not evil!"

And I quote:
One of the things we strive for on Google+ is to make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with people in the real world. So as part of this effort, we've asked that those signing up for the service use the name they commonly go by in the real world.

In the past, when we found a profile that was not in line with our Names Policy (take a look: -- we've updated it with examples), we used to suspend the profile and then let the user appeal.

We’re listening, learning, and iterating to give our users the best experience possible. Starting today, if we find that your profile name does not adhere to our policy, we'll give you a 4 day grace period to fix your profile name before we take further action. During this period, you can continue to use Google+ as usual. We're hoping that most affected users will be able to quickly fix their profile name while continuing to enjoy all that Google+ has to offer.
Right. That was the death knell for me, because you know what? There are a lot of people who call me Emilly in the "real world", that is the name I commonly go by!


So I'm looking into deleting my access to the service. And look what I found!

You've successfully deleted Google+ and associated social content

We're sorry to see you leave! Please help us improve by telling us why you are leaving and what we can do better. This survey is optional but your feedback is much appreciated.

Please tell us why you're leaving:

That. That right there.

I have been Emilly Orr in Second Life and to many, MANY people who know me in real life for over five years. I have had a Gmail account for those five years and barring service outages, which you were ALWAYS proactive about informing us about, I have not had a problem with anything related to Gmail. And when Google+ came along, with GREAT trepidation--because I loathe Facebook with the fervor and intensity with which I despise Wal-Mart, and I despise Wal-Mart to a nigh psychotic degree--I signed up.

One week later, rumors of account deletions surfaced, and I have been worried ever since.

But thank you. You have made my decision easy. I need Gmail; I need Blogger; and I use Chrome as my main browser.

I DON'T need Google+. And until you allow pseudonyms established in faith, as mine has been, to concur with names we're known by "in the real"--I'm not coming back.

Whatever happened to 'Don't be evil', Google? Because this is a move that has cost you customers, cost you beta testers, cost you trust, and likely cost you funds. I'm extremely disappointed in you, and THAT is why I'm leaving.

I don't intend to return. It's done for me. They're not changing their minds, so hey, I don't need to be there, because they are NOT GETTING MY REAL NAME.

Which, half the time, is "Emilly" anyway, so what the hell, Google? When my WIFE calls me Emilly more often than she calls me by my given name, what does that tell you?

Oh, wait, it doesn't tell you anything, because you think you're in the right. Right. Good luck with that.


Winter said...

Meanwhile, Second Life has added it's own internal "Twacebook" functionality to user profiles.


While it's still in the "baby-step" stage, it seems like a workable solution for people who desire that sort of connectivity (asynchronous person-to-public communication) within the circle of "Second Life users".

This still doesn't address the larger desire, which is of course asynchronous person-to-public/public-to-person communication.. aka "anyone out there?" The fix is, naturally, blogging for large messages.. but for smaller ones and and for that service-wide interconnected functionality )who follows you, who do you follow), pseudonymous peoples don't have an outlet.

Other than twitter.

That's not REALLY true, of course, what we don't have is a "big name" outlet. There are plenty of small startups that allow that kind of communication (I'm not typing all that again) that also allow pseudonyms.

Of course they're not big names, so I can't actually think of any, but I'm sure some already exist, and as a result of all of the press this issue is getting, someone is going to make money of Google's folly.

The fact that this page even exists is clear evidence that there's more than just a few "Second Life" users at issue here.

Frankly in my own past there have been the Ravans and Logans and Kierins of the world, and the numerous hundreds of people I only knew by their SCA names and nicknames, the Devons and Breezies and Nights and Paddys.

And not one of those people used a nickname as an attempt to defraud, escape justice, or hide their identity from a stalker or an oppressive government. But the name was in many cases, the only name I ever knew them by.

Emilly Orr said...

Well, Tumblr's there too, and Tumblr allows for longer posts, external links hosted with photographs, and video embeds, so I'd say that would be the alternative to short 140-characters-or-less communication.

But I understand your point. And I'm profoundly agreeing with the naming you mentioned--for, goodness, fifteen years, there were hundreds of folks who only knew me as Ziya. (To the point that, yeah, I felt a little qualm typing that out just now, because it was such a large part of my personality and known 'face'.) These people met me at malls, in restaurants, in grocery stores, on camp-outs, on hikes, on day trips, at this large and wandering horde, I was known only by that name, and I doubt I knew a tenth of their born names.

But I knew them. I knew what they did for a living, who they loved, who they were friends with. I knew where they lived, where they liked to go. I knew their taste in clothes and their likes, dislikes, and outright hatreds. I knew their flaws and their virtues.

All of that without ever knowing their "real names". I just don't get Google's position on this.

Deoridhe said...

Deoridhe is as much my real name as my legal name. I didn't even make a Google+ account, and won't. Whatever their pseudonym plan is, I have a sinking sensation that it will include giving them my legal name - which they don't currently have.

Emilly Orr said...

Right, and you're in the same situation, at least to a degree--more people know you as Deoridhe, or "Deo", depending, off the grid as well as on. It's baffling why they would suddenly insist on 'transparency', and at least in my case, I am being transparent by linking my name on Google+ with my email handle, because in a lot of ways, to a lot of different people, that is my name.

Deoridhe said...

Honestly, when I legally changed my offline name (OHNOEZ! It's a pseudonym too!) I almost stuck "Deoridhe Grimsdottir" in the middle because it wouldn't add to the cost (500$) and I considered it my name. Only reason I didn't was because I didn't want the paper trail between the two names, since I use Deo as a location-privacy shield.

And yes, people call me Deo offline as well as on. Hel, I met up with five friends from around the globe, and we were ALL being called by a non-legal name because... those were the names we met under!

Emilly Orr said...

You know, that's an excellent point too. I have never (and I do mean that--never)--met up with any friend from online and knew their real name before the meetings. And I knew some of these people for years beforehand.

There is a place for real names, yes--I know real names on most of my friends, I know locations on some, and this goes for both on- and offline interaction--but they are not as relevant to me as chosen names. What name we're born with--that's the whim of our parents, the doctors who helped us be born, the sign in the streetcorner shop on the way to the hospital, grandmothers, aunts, best friends--whatever that inspiration was, it's not ours.

Our online names are choice names. They reflect far more of who we are, for whatever reason. What we like, what we don't like; who we watch, who we listen to; who we feel drawn to. They cover politics, religion, impersonation, acquisition, the realms of sight and sound and feeling.

I've been tempted a couple times to put Emilly into a name change, or the previous handle as a middle name, because both are so relevant to me. I haven't actually filed a name change (yet, though it's coming), but when I do, I'll be hard pressed not to link it somehow, simply because it feels true to me.