Right, Google, you stupid cunts, this is simply not on!

[Stilgherrian writes: Oh dear. This post has generated a lot of interest. Thank you for that interest. But if you’re visiting for the first time, I strongly suggest you also read my lengthy response to commenters and the fair warning before posting your own comment.]

I knew this would happen sooner or later. Google, a data mining company in the United States, has the ignorant arrogance to tell me, a citizen of Australia, that my name — my legal name — doesn’t fit their scheme for how names “should” work. Well fuck you, arseholes!

What’s worse, this is how they tell you.

They suspend your profile, tell you your name is wrong, and tell you to change it.

Your profile has been suspended.

It appears that the name you entered doesn’t comply with our Names Policy.

The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life in your profile. Nicknames, maiden names, and so on, should be entered in the Other Names section of the profile. Profiles are currently limited to individuals; we will be launching a profile for businesses and other entities later this year.

Your profile will be suspended until you do edit your name to comply with the Names Policy: you will not be able to make full use Google services that require an active profile, such as Google+, Buzz, Reader and Picasa. This will not prevent you from using other Google services, like Gmail.

We understand that Google+ and it’s [sic] Names Policy may not be for everyone at this time. We would hate to see you go, but if you choose to leave, make a copy of your Google+ data first. Then, click here to leave Google+.

Listen, Googlecunts. This name precisely fits your Names Policy.

This is the name I’m “commonly referred to in real life”.

Did you even look to see if that were true before acting? No. Slack cunts.

Not only that, it’s the name that I have consistently used on every legal document, from passport to Medicare card, from property leases to witness statements, for thirty… fucking… years!

Oh, you’re worried about me putting a “.” in the surname field? That’s because I had to put something in there because your stupid fucked-up data verification code demanded that I not leave that field empty, even though that would be the morally and legally correct thing for me to have done.

What’s wrong is not my name. What’s wrong is your fucked-up Names Policy.

You stupid, stupid bastards clearly have no fucking idea how names work in the real world. For all your cleverness in building huge data centres to mine every scrap of personal information imaginable, somewhere along the line you’ve failed to Hoover up the fact that names don’t always fit into your neat Americo-centric first name / middle initial / last name pattern.

They never have, and they never will.

And don’t give me some bullshit excuse about how this is “unusual”. You’ve been in business for a decade. You’re one of the richest corporations on the planet. I know damn well there’s lots of good research on naming practices out there. Are you seriously suggesting that you build stuff without first reviewing the basics? Are you seriously suggesting that you’re incapable of dealing with the merely “unusual”?

What you also seem not to have figured out is how to open a conversation with someone about something as personal as their name.

You don’t fucking well start off by asserting they’re wrong and you’re right and they need to change. Show a bit of goddam humility, you cunts, and gently enquire whether things are as they seem. And then, only after there’s been a reasonable period for people to respond, do you start suspending services.

I’ve already written about how only fools would rush in and pour their lives into Google+. Seems I was right.

So here’s what I reckon should happen.

  • Forward me a copy of the email from last week where you indicated that there might be a problem. That seems to have gone astray. Note here that I’m giving you the opportunity to lie and pretend that you did actually send such an email and that you didn’t simply act like cunts and suspend service.
  • Apologise. Profusely. Your behaviour is offensive and you need to make amends. Yes, my behaviour is offensive too, but I’m the aggrieved party. Your first customer service challenge is to reduce my anger. It’s about time Google learned how to do customer service anyway.
  • You fix the entire workflow for notifying people about name problems.
    • For a start, that first suspension notice should offer more choices than just “Edit your name”. You know, maybe the name is right and you’re wrong.
    • Actually, before that, suspension should not be your first action. Fix that. Cunts.
  • Get rid of this stupid “must have two names” rubbish.

Now there’s this other whole thing about not allowing people to use screen names and other pseudonyms. That’s pretty fucked up too. But I reckon we’ve given you enough for one day, eh?

255 Replies to “Right, Google, you stupid cunts, this is simply not on!”

  1. BWAHAHAHA… Spaz out more! please, watching you act like a four year old who can’t have a cookie is fucking hilarious…. whoever you are.

    Epic Tantrum is epic. It’s just a website you clot, a website in a testing phase.


    1. And if people don’t speak up about issues with it now they’ll never be resolved once it moves beyond the testing phase (which in itself is actually wrong, it’s well beyond the testing phase). That is why we talk loudly and clearly.

    2. You are definitely leading a sheltered life Mum. Stilgherrian was being unduly restrained. I had hoped for a small nuclear fullstop. And as for calling this a childish dummy spit! Well you’d have to hope you don’t get the self-elected righteous arbiters of identity coming after YOU.

    3. someone at google is channelling mark zuckerberg:

      “You have one identity,” he emphasized three times in a single interview with David Kirkpatrick in his book, “The Facebook Effect.” “The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly.” He adds: “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”


    4. Madonna…typical cunt. If you were oinly intelligent enough to understand the things talked about at DEFON and BLACK HAT conventions, you’d shut your cumtrap.

  2. I must say I have been waiting for this to happen, and I figured you’d be one of the Australians to get blocked.

    Good to see you held back as well 🙂

    Of course all we have do is deed poll all our names to john/jane doe and Google will be happy.

  3. forgot to add there have been many times my name has been blocked when entering it on forms.. “Cocklin” contains swear words you know.

  4. I’m quite surprised by this. They have been making a lot of noise lately about how people are going to get a four day warning period prior to any suspensions, yet if I read this correctly you were suspended before any other form of notice?

    It is quite ridiculous, and sad that so many people seem to think Google is going about things the right way. They then support these thoughts with things that don’t make any sense what so ever. “stop spam” – the spammers have been using real-looking name since day 1. “stop abuse” – this has been proven wrong a few hundred times already.

    The only ones who get hurt by this are those with names that don’t fit the trademark (such as yourself), those who are known by names other than their wallet names (myself), and those who have a reason to not want their names publicised (abuse/bullying victims).

    The thing that gets me the most about their warnings/policy is this line “The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life in your profile.”.

    For me, “Bastard Sheep” is in actual fact the name I am most commonly referred to by in real life, yet Google then go on to insist that someone’s profile name be the name that appears in their wallet (or some derivative thereof). So which do Google want me to use, a variation of our wallet name or the name we are most commonly referred to in real life? For me, the two do not match in the slightest.

    If it is my wallet name, then that completely breaks the whole point of a “social” network, as the name in my wallet is not what I’m socially known as. My real life social circles will break, I will be anonymised, made invisible. The only way for me to be visible is to use my pseudonym, the one I use in real life.

  5. I’ve been trying to avoid this whole issue. Hoping that it wouldn’t affect me and, in my mind, telling myself that – like yourself Stilgherrian – all the kerfuffle about pseudonyms (which I disagree with) wouldn’t cross over into affecting those of us with unusual names as our legal names. After all, we have drivers licences etc to back our case.
    Seeing you fall victim to it shows me that I can’t avoid it any more, and I’m just as likely to become a victim.
    I’m hoping they change their mindset. But I’m becoming more convinced they wont.
    I think they’ve crossed the line.

  6. @Madonna: Oh you clueless, probably-fake-email-using tosser! You really haven’t thought it through, have you?

    I comply with moral and legal and, indeed, Google policy obligations by using my legal name consistently in online environments. They respond by saying I’m wrong.

    If you write off issues of legality and consistency of online identity as “it’s just a website” then you really are a fuckwit. I sincerely hope you don’t advise people in this area, because if your understanding was any more shallow we’d have to put up signs warning divers.

    @Bastard Sheep: Correct, there was no prior warning.

    1. No you massive crybaby… The point here is not what was done, the point here is how you reacted to it like a spoiled fucking child throwing a tantrum, instead of simply following the straightforward response procedure to have this quickly and easily rectified just like many other ‘False positives” have done over the last few weeks.

      Step one, get a clue, step two GROW THE FUCK UP.

      I hope YOU don’t advise people, on anything, at all, ever.

      1. @Madonna: Yes, Madonna, thank you for your advice. We should all meekly submit to corporations’ procedures and exhibit no human emotion whatsoever.

        It’s a shame you don’t follow your own advice. Instead of saying “whoever you are” you might have bothered to read around and find out. Or you could have read the comments policy that requires real email addresses.

        This is the last comment I’ll allow through without one. It’s not that I can’t handle your petty personal abuse — “grow the fuck up” indeed, Ms Maturity — but simply that if you’re in my house you introduce yourself properly.

        1. Oh, and how much are you paying for the service Google is providing you again? Maybe you should ask for your money back…

          I’m just a casual reader of this blog (in Google Reader btw… I doubt I’d visit this website if it weren’t for that product). Is your legal name as the Government recognises you the same one you used on your Google Profile? Is your legal name really Stilgherrian?

          This is a GROSS overreaction. From the way I understand it with Google+, they are letting PEOPLE join up first (that is, people with a first and last name) and then they will let companies and other “brand names” (which I assume is what ‘Stilgherrian’ is… that can’t possibly be your name??!) join once they have that functionality built.

          Out of all the corporations you could call the “c word”, Google would be the last on the list. Reading this post gives me the urge to hit the ‘unsubscribe’ button but I thought I’d post something up here before I do that, and give you a chance to explain further.

          1. Ask for your data back?

            One of the big problems is that this isn’t J. Random Startup Inc. acting outrageously, but a company with a lot of bloody weight to throw around. And as Google goes, so does the web. So this may actually be a problem.

          2. David, you can get your data back from http://www.dataliberation.org if you so wish, of course they’ve still monetized it in the form of advertising, but that was in their terms of service when you clicked the “I agree” button.

            Your statement implies that Google’s stance is “outrageous”. It’s not, the majority of people are able to sign up for a Google+ account.

            I agree, their naming policy requires some work… but to call them “cunts” for disabling his account with what appears to be a fake name… well, people simply have no right to be outraged.

            First world problems hey…

          3. Oh, how kind of you, Dylan, to give Stil the opportunity to do *WHAT HE ALREADY FUCKING DID, AT LENGTH, ABOVE*. Yes, it’s his legal name. Yes, he has, legally, no surname. See that link titled “my legal name”, above? Read that, it answers your tedious questions.

            There are a lot of countries and cultures where having a single legal name is completely fine. There are also many countries and cultures where it is usual to have more than one first name, or where it is normal to be referred to by a middle name, or to have a name with punctuation in it. All things that the utterly braindead Google+ naming policy needlessly freaks out about.

            For those of you complaining that Google+ is just a website – damn! What a jewelled insight you bring. I’d forgotten that. And *this* is just a website, too. Go stick your head in a pig 🙂

          4. Everyone is talking about this issue like as if it’s their god-given-right to sign up with a Google+ account and post animated GIF’s of cats. They’re working through teething problems, hell, it’s still invite-only!! I don’t see the necessity of what is frankly a vulgar and insulting post.

            @viveka – those are the words of all people with good reasoning behind their opinions – “Oh you’ve got a differing view? go somewhere else, we don’t want you here!!”.

          5. Dylan,

            You point out that Google+ is still invite only, but those invites have changed from 10 invites to 150. And since it switched to 150, I have invited several people, but I am still allowed to invite 150. So it hardly seems limiting.

            If they were working out “teething problems” with their naming policy, they would hardly be suspending people who they felt weren’t following the policy. They would instead interact with these people, check and see why these people feel they are entitled to use a name that makes Google suspicious, and then adjust their policy accordingly.

            But so far they aren’t doing that.
            They ignore that some people have single-name names, both by changing their names, and by birth.
            They ignore that some people feel (justifyably in many cases) that they would be endangered in some way by using their real name. Whether because they are in prominent positions, or because they have been stalked via the internet in the past. And even just simple reasons.

            I’ll give you an example. My sister has her own business, and goodwill is built up around her name and her expertise. She doesn’t want to have people who search the internet to find information about her to see her posts on Facebook (or Google+ if she were to use it), so she uses a pseudonym on Facebook.

            There are thousands, millions of reasons that people might want to use a pseudonym. But the worst part of this is Google presuming that someone’s name is a fake, as is Stil’s case.

            Firstly, Google+ does NOT require any authentication of identity – you don’t have to prove that the name you present is your name.
            Secondly, in the case of someone like Stil without a surname, he could just put in a fake surname, and no one would know the difference. But why should he have to do that, when HE IS USING HIS LEGAL NAME.

            Google needs to reconsider this, and soon. They are doing themselves no end of harm. It only took Blizzard a couple of days to realise the stupidity of this idea last year, and that was only a gaming forum. (In case you aren’t aware, the Blizzard employee last year who announced the policy and his full name had, within hours, his private address, his mother’s address, his home phone number and email address, and even his arreest history posted for all the world to see).

            – Karl

          6. Google doesn’t have a contract with every citizen in the world to provide them with a Google+ account. Put plainly, I doubt that if Stil put this scenario to the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board his case would get very far.

            I’m not arguing that Google’s naming policy is well thought out, personally I think it’s a bit silly and should allow for some breathing room (while not going back to the anonymous nature of MySpace). My point is that to get so worked up over such a minor issue, to drop the c-bomb, it’s just uncalled for.

            If I worked for Google and read this post, I would think Stil is an absolute moron, and from reading some of his other stuff which made me subscribe to this blog in the first place, I don’t think that opinion does not do Stil justice. A critique of their policy, the pros and cons and explaining how it affects him would have been better, rather than an insult ridden bitch fest.

          7. As someone who has known Stil for a quarter century, and who is also a moononomencatured person (not a company) I can assure you that it is his Legal name for all appropriate laws in Australia.
            I am likely to fall foul of this myself, as I put “nil” in as the family name I don’t have.
            It is rude to assume that I name you are not familiar with, or is in a format you are unfamiliar with, is therefore false. In particular (assuming that Dylan is your real name) you should be aware that there are a number of Welsh formats that don’t match the US expected.

            If Google expect “Don’t be Evil” to be believed, they need to behave in a way that won’t be seen as evil. You will be known by the name I give you fails that test.

          8. as for *legal* names, I have the personal quirk of having *3* fully compliant legal names that I have on various legal documents,

            I was given one name at birth, and have a second name I acquired
            for online use (I have used this consistently for over 15 years),
            and more recently (within 3 years) obtained a third name by marriage.

            my birth and marriage names are both containing 3 parts,
            but my Internet name ( the most used of the three – *including legal documents*) is what I am known by the majority of people I have contact with.

            The action of asking a user to use a *wallet* name is in direct contradiction to the stated policy,
            and this is a fact actually declared by the lead developer of google plus.

            none of my three names are a brand in any case so drop the “it must be a brand” thing.

            Mr. Stiglherrian, I agree that google has a massive failure in suspending
            your account and asking for you to change your name based on an employees opinion after your profile is reported as false.

            as for the “only one name” view as pushed by Mr.Zuckerberg of facebook fame.

            It is only true in the sense of each persons name referring to that person by identity,

            Identity and Naming schemes definitely need to be more clarified
            and without the promoted adherence to “wallet” names.

            Does everyone you know go around using your full name for all reference to you?
            Does that idea not seem strange?

            Googles policy document states quite clearly ***COMMON*** names,
            which are NOT a legal document full name.

          1. @Navy Gazer: I just realised that the hypocrisy you refer to might not be the responding in anger to customer service processes and to commenters — which some folks have mentioned — but possibly me requiring a real identity for “Madonna” as a commenter.

            Nope, different things.

            As the publisher taking responsibility for the content of this website, I’m simply asking for a real email address as a contact point in case contact is later needed. That’s not revealed to anyone else, and at no point am I asking for a full name or any other identity.

            Or you may be on about the other thing after all, in which case, yeah, well, I’m a hypocrite. Like most people.

        2. @Dylan: You didn’t actually read the post, did you? I did make the point that Stilgherrian has been my legal name for 30 years. Three times longer than Google has existed. The words “my legal name” link through to a more detailed explanation. I’m not sure how I could have put it more clearly.

          As for what we pay for Google’s services… We pay by giving them access to our private information and allowing them to track our every move. Google does rather well out of this exchange, thank you very much.

          It’s wrong to think of Google’s services a gift. They’re the bait.

          I also recommend reading the comments that are appearing on the post. Some good issues are emerging. And I come back to the core point. If you’re challenging someone over something as personal as their name, this is not the way to approach it.

          1. At the end of the day, you only have yourself to blame. Didn’t you think that when you changed your name to one-single-word that would cause issues?

            I admit i skim-read your post, I was in a rush to get home after finishing work.

            They may not exactly be a gift, but even so, no-one is forcing you to use them. Sign up with Hotmail. Sign up with Facebook. To call them “cunts” just for not letting you sign up with their free (as it doesn’t cost you any money) service… well, I don’t think it can get much more offensive than that. What about Gaddafi? What about the government of Syria? What room is left for them?

        3. i love the irony that ‘madonna’ would fail google’s nym-check-bot test.

          my g+ has also been suspended. and ‘outing’ my ‘legal’ name – whatever that might be – hasn’t resolved that either.

          two things here annoy and alarm:

          1. google already has a ‘real world’ name associated with the account. why does everyone else have to see that? surely it’s adequate that google ‘know’ the account is held by a ‘real’ person? (one who has been suing the account for some years now).

          2. if google ‘win’ this ridiculous game, then every corporation everywhere can insist that we not only only use our ‘legal’ name(s) when dealing with them, and that they are entitled to require us to disclose it in and for any contact with the corporation, but – and here is the kicker – they can insist that they have the right to disclose it to the world should we choose to provide feedback at a website, or join a loyalty program, or any other ‘community’ ‘activity’. So long as it’s embedded in a policy or some such.

          Sure, we have a ‘choice’ not to enrol. But increasingly, those choices are becoming socially moot. If all one’s friends are on Facetard, and I am not, I *will* miss out on everything they discuss there and organise there.

          Do No EVIL. I think someone, somewhere, has used that to roll a huge stogie.

          [For a Beta, G+ is a huge stoopid. They’ve started with limits set to max, and are stubbornly refusing to even try loosening up. The engineering has embedded the norms of some guy in NoCal into a system that faces the world. His boss needs to get out of the ‘Plex more. The nym rules can’t even cope with the diversity of ‘Latino’ names common in their own neck of the woods. It would fail any software development course I’ve ever been a party to.]

  7. I think the most worrying reason, and I hate to be a conspiracy theorist here, is that they want to know that the person using their applications is a “real person”. They want all the information on this page attributable to that real person and be sure that it is that person. For what purpose? I am not sure. I am not saying they are data mining here, although for what other reason would they need to know you are a “real person”?

    Can’t they just ask for some proof that you are that person like Twitter does?

    1. If what they’re after is verification that the account belongs to a real person, they’re certainly not going about achieving that well. They do not require verification of ones identity during the signup process, people (http://is.gd/H1Nlnm) have explicitly told Google the name they set is not their real name and been unsuspended, and people (http://is.gd/RVzz7Y) have used blatantly false ID’s and been unsuspended.

      Meanwhile, spam accounts with real-looking names run rampant (http://is.gd/3BRkLX).

    2. They seem to want your wallet-name – the name attached to your money.

      This case is hilariously fuckwitted because he gave them that and they’re refusing it.

  8. Like Wolfcat, I kinda expected you to be a victim of Google’s current hot flush.

    It’s interesting how Google take these actions with no idea of the damage they cause their users or their own brand.

    The real challenge for you now Stil is to find someone at Google who can help you. At least the PR folk might be useful.

    I know people who’ve been locked out of various Google services for months who are just stuck with no indication of when one of the Googleplex bureaucrats will tick a box or whatever it takes to turn their service back on.

    Good luck.

    1. I know ex-employees of Google who got their G+ account switched off a few days after they finished working there, and can’t get it switched back on despite still having lots of good company contacts.

      I also hear reliable tales of people leaving employment with Google and giving the G+ names policy as one of their reasons. While I don’t have more details (so you can believe me or not) and doubtless it was just a last straw, this names policy is actually hitting Google in the competitive advantage, i.e. their massive brains.

      Google employees I know are still some of the most scarily smart people I’ve met anywhere. But it appears their managers aren’t any more. Popcorn time!

  9. I too have one-word name. My name is Aaron.

    When I signed in to G+ I used:

    (aaron) Aaron

    as a likely way of friends knowing that yes, this is the Aaron I’ve been looking for, and as the closest approximation I could think of to comply with their policy and get past their form. I’m expecting them to kick me out, so far they haven’t.

    I would prefer to remain in G+, I think some day it will grow into something worthwhile.

    I wrote this G+ post recently.

    As I say in there, Google’s policy is arrogant, culturally exclusive and culturally destructive.

  10. Also amused to note in the suspension notice that Google can’t use “its” correctly. Maybe it was written on an iPhone.

  11. Imagine the problems the artist formerly known as Prince must have with Google. Or Siimon Reynolds. Or Madonna (I assume not the same as the respondent here). Or for that matter 50cent, Usher or even Cunt Cunterson (I may have made that one up).

    1. 50cent and lady gaga have no problems at all with g+ That’s right, they get profiles under those names, they’ve been cited frequently, it’s not like google is unaware of this preposterous double standard.

  12. Which part of any of this was unforseeable when you first changed your name to a single word? This is not something you were born with, nor a name which was assigned to you by your parents, it’s something that you yourself have done knowing that it made you a corner case in just about every identity management system ever created. Further, it’s not exactly cost effective from a personnel standpoint for Google to contact every single person with what looks like an Internet handle for their name, so there’s no reason to be indignant about it until you’ve actively contacted them and they’ve knocked you back.

    1. @Caprobole: Well for a start, the name change was 30 years ago, when very little of our lives was in “identity management systems”. It’s a perfectly legal construct — it’s neither “obscene” nor “frivolous”, which are the criteria here — and it’s up to any database designer and business process mapper-outerer to cover the spectrum of legal possibilities.

      In the three decades since then, many organisations have managed to cope without any glitch whatsoever, including large government entities that one might otherwise think inflexible. Pretty much every organisation has asked first when they have a query, not begun by suspending services.

      It’s up to all organisations to adapt their procedures to the reality of the world around them, not insist that we adapt to them.

      Your argument about cost effectiveness falls on deaf ears. Google’s cash reserves are in the tens of billions of dollars. For the few dozen or few hundred edge cases in Australia, they can afford to send someone in a limo to serve cocktails while they sort it out.

      I come back to the point that this is not new, no. I have 30 years of experience interacting with organisations over this issue. Google has just shown themselves to be one of the worst. It’s inexcusable.

      1. Stilgherrian,

        You suggest that “identity management systems” were not much in our lives 30 years ago.

        But we know that the Romans held Censii 2000 years ago.

        Registrations of Births, Deaths and Marriages have been around for centuries.

        As have Tax records.

        These are all examples of Identity Management Systems.

        I hope that you will be able to sort out things with Google+; Their currect policy doesn’t seem to be particularly viable given all the variances worldwide in names.

        1. true. but those didn’t refuse to acknowledge your existence if you failed to fit the naming criteria built into the tablet/scroll/etc.

          google is insisting that ‘real’ people always have at least a first name and a surname that fits with their template.

          that’s not a viable assumption.

          stil is far from the only person with a single name in the english-speaking world (let alone elsewhere). i have known several, one with only a surname (fun for everyone at his primary school – particularly as it didn’t match either parent’s names).

          their policy kills their traction in europe … many irish, balkan,
          and spanish names, for a start …

    2. @Caprobole: More to the point, what about the many people who are “born” with one name? Do we penalise people because they happened to be born in Java 50 years ago, because their rural villager parents somehow failed to predict the internet?

      1. @stilgherrian: Of course. Even the Bible says that some wheat that is sown will not grow properly. Some preacher told me that yes, those damned africans that lived 2000 years ago do not deserve to go to heaven even though no preacher taught them THE ONE TRUTH.

        So, sucks to be the rural teenager! We don’t want you. Blame your parents.

        Thanks, love,

    3. I think the real issue Caprobole, is that Google are arbitrarily suspending people without following any fair or consistent process.

      To turn your question around, “which part of any of this was unforeeable when Google decided to enforce a ‘real names’ policy?”

      Unlike some of the newer web startups, Google are a grown up company with lots of managers and staff so they should have the corporate wisdom and resources to deal with the foreseen, and unforeseen, problems this policy was going to cause for some of their users.

      This “suspend first, ask questions later” mentality of web 2.0 companies – of which Facebook, eBay and PayPal are just as guilty of – is deeply unfair to users and ultimately calls into question the reliability and trustworthiness of these services.

    4. If this was about what was cost-effective for Google, they would simply deal with people who engaged in abuse online when and if it happened, and never started down the path of trying to require “real looking” names.

      Corner case? Most of the world’s population don’t have “real looking” names from Google’s perspective, and a social network started in the most populous country in the world has just been closed down because of its “real name” policy. It’s Facebook and now Google that are the corner case.

    5. Oh, and by the way, my real name has a space in it, and that’s caused more problems with identity management systems over the past 50 years than having one name ever could… and I didn’t even get to choose it.

      1. I face these problems from the opposite side of the bell curve to you Silgherrian. Thank you dude for this post.

        I have used my real name above to make a point. For all the detractors the only _unusual_ thing about it is the number (five) of middle names, is rather _short_ if one goes by arabic culture where my first moniker was sourced (Family has Scottish origins, so I am lucky to have avoided apostrophes as well). Even so it is far too long with “wrong” letters for many online forms.

    6. You are aware that this criticism – ‘you should’ve known better’ – is not only hypocritical paternalistic, as in ‘do as we wish as Euro-centric US Americans’, it also completely neglects what Stilgherrian already wrote in his post: binomials aren’t the only naming scheme in the world, I’d wager it isn’t even th most widespread.

      ATM, Google decides how you should be named – binomial, based on biblical and easily recognisable European names. If you are a Native American using your NA name you are fucked [not the first time it happens to NAs, or Jews for that matter]. Aboriginal name? Traditional Chinese? Bantu? Khoi San? Indonesian? Arabic, Persian? Even traditional Slavic names could be problematic. Not to speak of artisan’s names [those not so famous], pseudonyms, stalker victims, pen names …

  13. You don’t comply with Google +’s TOS (Names Policy).


    Why should they allow you to participate when you do not abide by their TOS?

    Pretty simple to understand really.

    1. @Andrew: You’re not seriously suggesting that a corporation’s terms of service should decide what we as humans can name ourselves? That the rich variety of human culture as it is practiced around the globe should be replaced by the limited rules of a company in California? And that if we don’t comply, we can’t participate? Really?

      Sir, I do not wish to live in your world!

    2. Aren’t you the smart one.

      Please point out where the fuck in the GooglePlus’s TOS does it say that you cannot have a Single Name?

        1. @Andrew: Here’s the (only) relevant part of the document you just linked to:

          To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of those would be acceptable.

          If you imagine that says anything about not being able to use a mononym then you’re hallucinating.

          The key wording is “use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you”. And in my case that’s “Stilgherrian” — which also, as I seem to have to endlessly repeat to arsehats unable to read, is my name.

          Maybe try again when you’re actually read this discussion and put some effort into thinking it through.

  14. Caprobole, you’re not from Indonesia are you? I suspect that Stilgherrian isn’t either, but mononyms are commonish there — from birth!

    What people call themselves is their business. Going for one name is hardly that revolutionary — it isn’t like expecting all 12 middle names to be used. I have enough trouble with computers that can’t cope with two middle names (and I was given them at birth, I didn’t add them later). I’ve had David M Ingram more often than not, but one institution refers to me as D Mark Edward Ingram.

    Mailing lists based on property records also break. “David Mark Edward & Ingram” is the owner of our house. We know the property records have been used when a letter is addressed to Mr Edward and Mrs Ingram.

    Google’s name policy is so rectally based that it shows you can’t really run a company on python scripts. It is definitely making me evaluate storing information on google’s systems when they can be this arbitrary.

    1. When I was working in Law Enforcement, 20 years ago, in Australia, we were trained in how to deal with people only having one name. Our Medicare system has no problem. Our Drivers Licences have no problem. The AEC and Centrelink have no problem. Our Courts have no problem.

      So why is a corporation saying that a name that is in accordance with their published TOS within its “rights” to then claim that the name is not real. They don’t even demand the “Legal name”, only the “commonly used name” (note: after 10 years these are the same in Australia).

      BTW: misleading conduct by way of trade is illegal in Australia.

  15. While I completely agree with the sentiments of your argument and that google should allow for names that don’t fit with in their tiny little american world.. your argument loses some of it’s credibility in my eyes when you can’t convey it in a civilised manner.

    To quote your own words: “I’ve never found it useful getting angry when something’s a simple mistake. After all, you want people to help you, and berating them won’t increase their chances of fixing your problem.”. Seeing as you chose to have only one name, and admit that it is more than a little unusual, I don’t see why you’ve decided to be so angry about it?

  16. @Paul Pichugin: Well, I don’t know that I decided to be angry, the anger just kinda happened… but… perhaps the core point has been lost in my long post.

    What triggered the anger was not that Google had a stupidly arbitrary rule — I’ve had to deal with “surname required” rather a lot over the years — but the extremely poor way in which they broached the topic.

    “Hi, we’ve suspended you, because you’re wrong. Edit your name to fix it.”

    Wrong approach. Totally the wrong approach. Especially when dealing with something that’s as personal as a name.

    Paul Wallbank has it in one back up there when he says that Google’s been around long enough that this sort of idiocy shouldn’t happen.

  17. Same thing happened to me.

    Even though I haven’t (yet) changed my name legally, under google’s own wording, I should be allowed to use grum:

    “The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life in your profile”

    My friends, family, workplace colleges, professional acquaintances, clients etc all know me as grum. But Google believes a professional name is to be ignored if it doesn’t match my birth certificate.

    TBH until G+ actually is used en-masse, I don’t really care. I created the account and rarely use it.

    1. @grum: You’ve hit upon an important point, and one that’s at the core of what now seems to be dubbed “nymwars”. Naming practice is far, far more flexible and nuanced than Google or Certain Other Social Networks are claiming for their own. This is an important battle.

    2. “TBH until G+ actually is used en-masse, I don’t really care. I created the account and rarely use it.”

      People have had their other Google services suspended too – including their GMail. Holding people’s data hostage, not so good.

      1. “People have had their other Google services suspended too – including their GMail”

        Has this been confirmed? I’m yet to read an article that states entire google accounts are suspended. From what I’ve seen, its just G+.

        1. Several people blocked for having typical Hong Kong names can’t get their GMail, so yes indeed. Other reports are that it’s a block on their Google Profile, not their G+ as such, and that Google claim it’s not a name block as such – though the effect showed up when someone at Google decided they didn’t like the user’s name. so the observed effects are the same and the only difference is hairsplitting over internal Google jargon.

        2. Rainyday Superstar was invited to G+ from the beginning. She now no longer has acces to Picassa, buzz, gmail.

  18. Google’s anti-pseudonym policy has terrible human rights implications. Every person who would want to disguise their identity for perfectly legitimate reasons, such as being persecuted for being an ethnic, religious, political or other kind of minority should have the option.

    It’s ridiculous to suppose that privacy is Google’s concern in the way they make out. Google+ clearly intends to capitalize on Facebook’s recent privacy settings fiasco. And yet, G+ forces you to disclose your real name to the public.

    Google need to change this, particularly for the human rights reasons.

  19. Not to mention that it’s not Google’s place to tell people what their name is or isn’t or should be. That carries a Kafka-esque level of absurdity.

  20. Thanks for the comments so far, even the rude and/or stupid ones. It helps me refine my thoughts.

    As it drifts into the evening here Australian time, I’m becoming aware that I have an early start and busy day tomorrow. So I’ll be patchy responding to comments for the next 24 hours.

    1. While the Romans may have carried out census(I) sorry my Son is the Latin scholar, there is no evidence they ever crucified anyone for having an unusual name, and let’s face it my name, Richard Barrington, is pretty strange to 85% of the worlds population.

      I have spoken out against cultural imperialism ( yes Ironic, given as a Brit we know a thing or two about the subject ) but actually we embraced internationalism which is why our national drink is tea and favourite food is Chicken Tika Masala..

      I wonder how Googola will get on with China where many adopt a western name for business purposes and change it when they change jobs…

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