Skud vs. Google+, round two

Today, two weeks since I was first suspended from Google+ and just over a week since I was blackholed in their so-called customer support system, I submitted a fresh request for review via the form linked on my suspended profile page.

The name I was using: Kirrily “Skud” Robert

Evidence I provided: links to about a dozen websites calling me by that name, or simply by “Skud”, including GitHub, Wikipedia, Ohloh, the Geek Feminism blog, and LinkedIn (which has the Kirrily “Skud” Robert variant). I also linked a news article in Wired that referred to me as Skud.

Just a few minutes after I submitted the form, I got this from Neil @ Google Profiles Support, along with a shiny new ticket number:

Hi,
Thank you for contacting us with regard to our review of the name you are trying to use in your Google Profile. After review of your appeal, we have determined that the name you want to use violates our Community Standards. Please avoid the use of any unusual characters. For example, numbers, symbols, or obscure punctuation might not be allowed.

You can review our name guidelines at http://www.google.com/support/+/bin/answer.py?answer=1228271

If you edit your name to comply with our policies in the future, please respond to this email so that we can re-review your profile.

Sincerely,
Neil
The Google Profiles Support Team

I replied with:

I have removed the quotation marks. Could you please re-review?

Again, very soon, I received:

Hi,
Most users choose to use their First and Last names in the common name field in order to avoid any future name violation issues. All pseudonyms or nick names can be placed in the other names field below the common name field.

Sincerely,
Neil
The Google Profiles Support Team

“Most users” do, do they? Could it be because, as senji pointed out on Twitter, they get their accounts suspended if they don’t?

(In passing: how annoying is it that they can’t tell you if there are multiple problems in their first contact? Instead you have to go back and forth, as they keep disclosing additional rules and requirements one by one.)

In any case, I wrote:

“Most users” may choose to do that, but for me, it won’t help, because I am not commonly known by my first and last legal names.

“Skud” is the name by which I am primarily known. I am compromising here, and trying to come up with something you’ll accept, by including my birth name at all. Few people on Google+, or indeed anywhere, know me by my birth name. I am known as Skud by professional colleagues, friends, lovers, people I live with, almost everyone. Many of them do not recognise me if I use “Kirrily Robert”.

Google previously denied my request to use the name that I’m commonly known by (i.e. Skud), which I thought conformed to your policy of “use the name that your friends, family, and colleagues know you by”, so I am trying to come up with something that still makes me identifiable to my social network, but meets your requirements.

I beg you to reconsider your decision. My social network as “Kirrily Robert” is weak and irrelevant, but as Skud I am well known. Perhaps not as well known as Lady Gaga or 50 Cent, but still moderately famous. I need Google+ to recognise that Skud *is* my common name and allow me to use it in a way that is visible on my posts and comments, not just on my profile (which people won’t generally see).

Yours, respectfully,

Skud

That was at 3:52pm, US west coast time. I know that Google has TGIF from 4-ish onwards, and that I shouldn’t expect a response after that time. From what I hear, though, if Neil went to TGIF he would have seen a question about my case appear on the Google Moderator system that’s used for Q&A, and would have seen Larry Page skip right past it, refusing to respond. Stay classy, Google management.


25 thoughts on “Skud vs. Google+, round two

  • furicle

    Do you really think there are people on the other end of that form? I still think it smells like completely automated responses….

  • tellywubbie

    I don’t use my full, real name on the internet. There’s only a handful of households in the phone book, with my surname, in the whole of Australia, and only two of those households have my initials. A pseudonym suits people in that situation; people who want to engage but don’t want to be easily identified or located, for no other reason than to keep the crazies at bay.

  • Paul Danger Kile

    Maybe they were searching for quotes (‘”‘) in the names? I use “Paul Danger”, as my first name, without issue. “Danger? Danger is my middle name,” but that wouldn’t be obvious to someone that didn’t actually know that.

    I think that Google is being ridiculous here. Your name is whatever you want it to be. Even though I use mine, and I had mine legally changed, there isn’t much special about doing that. Not ducking debt? Fine you can change your name to anything you want. If the gov’m’nt is so OK with it, then what’s Google’s trucking problem? Eric Schmidt’s quote shows extreme ignorance, and should never have driven policy: “If You Have Something You Don’t Want Anyone To Know, Maybe You Shouldn’t Be Doing It.” “Don’t be evil” should drive policy.

  • Aquaeri

    I was initially a little disappointed I hadn’t got a G+ invite, but because I wasn’t sure which identity was the one “most” people know me by, or which of those groups would be most likely to want to interact with me on G+, I figured I had to work that out first.

    Now it feels like I dodged a bullet. I mean, sure, G+’s names policy is probably not more evil than Facebook’s, but it’s pretending to be less evil and taking that into account it’s worse. And FB can’t mess with my email or calendar or groups or photo stuff like Google seem quite happy to do.

    So I won’t be on G+ under any identity (solves that problem!) and if I can do anything other than offer moral support and cheer on Team Skud in Skud vs Google+, let me know.

  • Tiferet

    I don’t understand why some people can’t understand the difference between having something you don’t want anyone to know, ever (in which case you are not likely to have put it on the internet) and having something you don’t want EVERYONE to know, at least not until they’ve had a chance to get to know you.

    I’m not even talking about truly dangerous situations–like not wanting your abusive ex-husband to find you. I’m talking about how I really don’t want, when I apply for a job, to have the first ten hits on HR’s google search to be smutty fanfiction and arguments I’ve got into with other fans of various TV shows and books. None of these things are anything the kind of employer I would want to work for would sack me over, but they’re also not how I want a potential employer to get their very first impression of me from.

    And currently I work for a teaching hospital. I’m the one who added the thing about publicly searchable employee directories to the geek feminism wiki page about reasons to use a pseud. In 1998, I was still using my real name online, and I made a post to a small Japanese BBS devoted to Ozaki Yutaka fandom in Japanese using my real name because I wanted to meet up with some folks there in Tokyo. Some months after I returned from my Japanese visit, a guy read this post and searched for me using one of the search engines online and started emailing me at work. This individual was seriously disturbed and believed he had fallen in love with me, and while mostly all he wanted to do was discuss his bizarre conspiracy theories about Ozaki’s death with me, it was still unnerving.

  • Abigail

    I don’t think they ban hyphens, you could try ‘Kirrily -Skud- Robert’. Or use Skud both as your first and last name. But I do not know whether that’s acceptable for you.

  • Jay Blanc

    “Neil” certainly seems to answer a lot of these. But Google wouldn’t create a human sounding name for an automated system, because that would be evil wouldn’t it.

  • Sling Trebuchet

    It’s not “Be whoever you want to be”. It’s “Be whoever the search algo makes you. Be wherever it lands you.”

    Here’s someone whose knee-jerk was for real names.
    In this piece he’s coming to the realisation that real names on the Net are not at all anything like names in the off-line world.

    Excerpt: “I’ve changed my mind. The kind of naming policy that Facebook and Google Plus have is actually a radical departure from the way identity and speech interact in the real world. They attach identity more strongly to every act of online speech than almost any real world situation does.”
    http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/08/why-facebook-and-googles-concept-of-real-names-is-revolutionary/243171/

  • Nooks

    Sucks re: TGIF. I was wondering when you’d appear on the Moderator. I’d like to say I’m shocked at the response, but really it just elicits a sigh of resignation.

  • Betsy

    My eyes roll forever, and keep rolling till the end of the universe.

    Why am I _not_ surprised that Larry skipped a substantive question at TGIF?

  • Betsy

    Abigail, Google has made it crystal clear that they refuse to accept “Skud” in any way other than the “nicknames” field.

  • Scyllacat

    YES. That. Ok, not the stalking over Japanese fandoms, but how i don’t like my more distant relatives bugging my mother about why I’m not going to church or how left-y my politics have gone. How I don’t want my potential employer’s first impression being me griping over a personal argument or my love of all things freaky and fannish. I’m already the “weird” one in most normal situations. I don’t need more detail leading to more crazy assumptions. It makes me think of retreating from the online world.

  • maroons

    Just put alternate names that people know you by in the “Other Names” field which become immediately searchable and therefore findable. The “Nicknames” field is a bit confusing and apparently not directly used. The help text is “Your nickname won’t be shown on your profile, but it may be used (instead of your full name) in other Google services.”

  • Wendy Darling

    Maroons, that does not take into account all the people who know a person by a specific name and see that name show up in their inbox or in comments but have no clue who it is. Unless said person sends out a massive memo to all their followers and friends who aren’t actively searching for them…

  • aquaeri

    Only if Skud was using a “normal-looking” name. I’m pretty sure everything from her is being sent straight to the “too-hard” folder atm.

  • @surrogatekey

    Kind of a weird sidelong comment, but as I’ve been following this I keep thinking wow, Kirrilly is a great name — not to say “Use ur real name!” or anything. I just kind of like it in the abstract.

    It makes me think of strong-willed ladies in pleated organza gowns doing Fancy Math while everyone keeps telling them to cut it out ’cause they’ll never get a husband that way.

    Which is gendered, has class associations, etc. Not that my random image means anything in particular (except that I might kind of like the idea of being a fancy lady who does fancy math?) — just interesting to think about reasons why we use different names, nicknames, etc., what names evoke, and how we want to be perceived.

  • CopyLion

    hi Skud,

    Now those with profile suspended can’t click anything on Google+.They just lock the whole page so we are unable to click on links or just expand some posts. Could you keep writing something at both Google+ and here so those who are in G+ jail can read them too?

    Ah yes, they never talked about their unfriendly policy towards Hong Kong and China people =/

  • Alan

    mmm… would changing your name officially to include ‘Skud’ as a middle name be an option, therefore it would appear on your govt. issued id.

  • Alex

    I think you will have an issue with this request as well. I was just reading the “Your Name and Google+ Profiles” page and saw this.

    {
    Put nicknames or pseudonyms in the Other Names field.
    If you’re referred to by more than one name, only use the one that commonly identifies you, and place the rest in the “Other names” or “Nickname” section of your profile.

    Violation examples: Timothy “TK” King, Jonathan Richards (JonnyBoy), PunkRockerSF
    }

    Isn’t this what you were requesting?

    BTW, I’m for people being able to use pseudonyms, I am also for the idea of less trolls. I’m going to keep reading your blog, you should thank my girlfriend for telling me about it.

    Best of luck.

  • Skud Post author

    Alex, the name that commonly identifies me is “Skud”, but when I tried to use that as my name on G+ (and “Kirrily Robert” in “other names”), they suspended me. They only added the rule that you quote *after* my case (and many like mine).

  • Greg

    Skud,

    Thanks for putting so much time and effort into this. Google was given a brilliant idea from one of their employees… the idea? Control over you’re social media experience. Privacy when you need it from the circles that matter most.

    Well, they are completely failing to create the user experience that they promise. They are clearly pushing for the ability to link real names and social security numbers to advertising profiles. It’s a gold mine for the world’s largest advertising company. But, they fail to realize how much more data they’d garner if they took over as The social network of the Internet.

    I’ve realized over the course of a few weeks that most profiles on G+ are empty shells and all my streams are full of the same content. I get a few gems here and there, but nothing like the quality of content I get from FaceBook.

    G+ is a playground for spammers.

  • Vlad

    Hi, why don’t you change your google’s account ? I did so & created a new account with my wellknown nickname in the initial gmail form. Then it took me 2 days to tranfer whole datas from a google account to another (Blogger, Google analytics, youtube, Google friend connect, Feedburner, google reader, …)

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