Jul. 16th, 2011

oda: monochromatic field of blue-violet (Default)
Backdated crosspost from Google+; intended to explicate the various options that Google might be considering; original post has comments.

Potential Pseudonym Options

It's been clarified that using an initial for one or another of your real names is all right; that still hasn't been posted as policy but it is part of policy (or likely enough to become part of policy that we can operate as if it were already posted.)

So the major clarification pending is on true pseudonyms. I see the likely choices as being between:

1) Only Real Names but you can use initials, and if someone challenges your name you have to show Google a paper trail proving you have the right to it. This is the most restrictive but does afford privacy to those of us with unique real names and will allow many people with privacy concerns to operate here, as long as they do not possess both a unique first and last name. (Perhaps they could use middle names.)

2) Pseudonyms are allowed but they must somehow "look" like real names by some criteria that is likely going to end up being subjective by necessity. These may or may not require a paper trail if challenged, i.e. pseudonyms will be allowed for people with pen names or who have operated a business or published works under their name, or who have subscribed to other major Real Name sites with their pseudonym (presumably lying to get in if they don't have any other paper trail?)

2a) If there is policing of "real names" then it seems likely that the "legitimate namespace" will need to be modified to include names from other cultures that aren't formed from two words, to support people whose legal full names have unusual construction, etc. There are lots of different name constructions all over the world.

3) Full pseudonyms such as Second Life avatar names that look like constructed names are allowed. Likely this option will not require a paper trail, recognizing that it's hard to provide one for such names and that it's a double standard to enforce a paper trail only for names that "look funny." These names will need to be well-formed without numbers or symbols, formed from alphabetical characters only, and will likely (IMO) be machine-screened for offensive language, which is less subjective than for "looking like a real name". I would hope that there is an appeals process for the screening so that people with a last name like 'Woodcock' could operate under their real name here if they desire.

I think we're going to have one of these. I prefer (3), and would feel that (2) was "quite good" as long as there was no paper trail requirement but only the normal requirement to act in good faith (no spamming, operating as a business on non-business profiles, harassment, griefing, defrauding, etc.) (1) addresses my basic privacy concerns but doesn't at all help people who are better known under psuedonyms, which is why I prefer the other two options even though my own profile has been clarified to be safe from suspension for using an initial.

This is an edited comment from this very long thread: https://plus.google.com/102376799902430080799/posts/9pPNgN6wbzk

July 2012

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