Three simple steps to setting Google+ straight

Three simple steps to setting Google+ straight

Summary: This isn't rocket science. There are three simple things that Google could do to make its Google Plus social network a lot friendlier for everyone.

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When I read Violet Blue's account of her struggles to maintain her Google+ account, it occurred to me that Google isn't just making life hard on some of its most dedicated users, it's also making life hard on itself. More than ever I was reminded that Google is an engineering company, not a people company. So, here's my short list of some very basic, very human, things Google could do to make life better both for its users and for its own staffers.

First, Google doesn't really have a policy on Google+ names yet. Oh, they came up with something--everyone will need to use their real names!--but clearly they never really thought that out. After all, some of their own top people don't use their "real" names!

So, until Google has really thought out and laid out what the heck their naming policy is going to be, may I suggest that Google cut everyone some slack with their names? Sure get rid of "Darth Vader" or "Iluv youlongtime," but let's use some common sense with most people shall we?

Moving on, I'm not going to rehash the whole real name issue. I will, however, suggest as my second point, that Google dump the whole idea of real names once and for all. Instead, they should simply require Google+ members use a unique name.

By this, I don't mean that only I should be allowed to use 'sjvn," for example, as my social networking name. It does mean that on Google+, if I elected to have a "sjvn" account that that's the only name, the only identity, I use on Google+.

As Anders Sandberg, a research fellow at Oxford University, puts it in a recent essay on the so-called nym wars, "The real struggle is not about anonymity, the ability to make comments not traceable to anybody, but pseudonymity, the ability to maintain a more or less stable persona that can interact with others without revealing all aspects of the self."

Sandberg goes, "Pseudonymity is important for some functions of the open society: some things need to be said, but there is no need for them to be said by an identifiable person. In order to build credibility a voice also need to have a record and show that there has been a personal investment into the identity--full anonymity rarely produces any credibility."

Exactly. If Google were to take this as the philosophical basis for their policy, they could end the nym wars for good.

My fellow point, and that I feel should be addressed even before Google really sets down in stone its naming policy, is that Google needs more and better customer support staff. It's simply unacceptable for anyone to find out that their account is under review when they check into their Google+ account. Come on Google! You have their e-mail addresses or they wouldn't be on Google+ in the first place.

In short, Google needs staff to address user issues. These staffers, in turn, need to set up a clear line of communications between users and Google.

After all, even after the real name issue is taken care of, Google will have tens of thousands of users a day wanting to know how to handle Google+ technical problems; how to deal with their ex-husband or wife stalking them, and on and on and on. Dealing with this kind of stuff is not Google's strong point, but if Google really wants Google+ to be successful, they need to get their engineering, policies, and support people working together.

Warts and all, I like Google+. If Google just takes care of the real name issue the right way, and then sets up a strong, reliable and fair user-support system to back up their policies, Google+ may yet up become the best social network of them all.

Related Stories:

Google Plus: Too Much Unnecessary Drama

Google: Facebook is blocking Google+ invite links

Five reasons to stay off Google+ for now

How to make good use of Google+'s Circles

Five Things to love about Google+

Topics: Social Enterprise, Apps, Google

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30 comments
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  • If it quacks like a Duck

    it's a Duck.
    Same goes for 'bad behavior'.
    The problem is mostly that a subset of the anonymous population seems to think they are exempt from accountability.

    We all follow societal norms for conduct in public--the same should apply to the Internet.

    Don't be Evil.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      Not exactly sure how your comment relates to the name business. No one's asking for anonymity, and I've encountered more than my fair share of jerks in public. More often than not it's people in power who feel they have the rights to be jerks (and perhaps tell women and gays to look somewhere else and use a different service?) AND put their name to it - they're powerful enough they don't have to worry about personal attacks.
      kymac
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz * Your Linux Advocate

      Exactly.
      ironwolf
  • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

    Nobody with common sense need G+, Period.
    owlnet
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @owlnet
      Nobody with common sense needs Facebook, Period.

      Wow, insightful!
      Droid101
      • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

        @Droid101
        I think he meant we already have Facebook so why try to move to Google...
        Hasam1991
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @owlnet See here's the thing - Google Plus IS smarter than FB. It's more intuitive, it's sleeker.

      I would be using it in a heartbeat if they got this situation under control.
      kymac
      • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

        @kymac Agree that G+ is smarter. It gives you better control over your personal information, over what you are forced to see, and over who gets to hear what you say. IMHO, Facebook is broken at a very basic level and should be abandoned for something better or completely redesigned from the ground up. Even in its very early stages, G+ is already a superior system.
        BillDem
  • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

    G+ is dead.
    biobiobio
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @biobiobio +1 +1 +1 +1 +1...
      Hasam1991
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @biobiobio Really is dead, Facebook has the same policy an it alive and kicking. So I am doubtful it is dead over a policy which effects a handful of people.
      Knowles2
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @biobiobio Really its dead, over a naming policy that is the same as Facebook and it has not cause them any harm. That 95-99% of normal people will happily abide.

      Google+ is in no danger from the naming policy, not being able to shift users from Facebook onto Google+ is the main problem facing Google +, it a problem but it will not mean Google+ will cease to exist, as Google+ got bigger aims of integrating all of google services together, an that why it will not be discontinued.
      Knowles2
      • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

        @Knowles2 The difference is Facebook doesn't enforce the policy to the same extent *and* it doesn't force you to use that same real name for multiple applications you've been using for years under a pseudonym.
        kymac
  • Shocked!

    "In short, Google needs staff to address user issues. These staffers, in turn, need to set up a clear line of communications between users and Google."

    I am shocked that you actually get this. Unfortunately, this is a problem that Google cannot fix. It is simply not in their DNA to be a consumer-driven organization. Google is an adveristing company with a high-tech engineering bent. Their basement dwelling engineers simply do not know how to interact with consumers.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @facebook@... Neither does Facebook, which again has not cause them any harm what so ever. Google is already showing far more interests in user demands and complaints than Facebook has ever shown and it has not slowed there growth.
      Knowles2
      • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

        @Knowles2 No harm? That determines what you mean by harm. I rarely comment using my Facebook ID because it DOES have my real name attached to it. Google is so pervasive that this is simply not an option.
        kymac
  • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

    Service is a huge problem for google and facebook. I do not think they want to help their users. And, we are defiantly users not customers. I feel used not served by either one of these companies.
    computerchipt
  • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

    I just paid $22.85 for an iPad 2-64GB and my girlfriend loves her Panasonic Lumix GF 1 Camera that we got for $38.78 there arriving tomorrow by UPS. I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $625 which only cost me $62.81 to buy. Here is the website we use to get it all from, GrabCent.com...
    revogfx
    • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

      @revogfx An I can higher someone to track down and kill a spammers for $40 dollars plus tax.
      Knowles2
  • RE: Three simple steps to setting Google straight

    The only way to set Google+ straight is to let it go the way of Wave and admit failure. Say "Look...it is obvious that not only did we try to get in the game way too late, but that we really don't have a clue about how to do social networking. All we ask is that Mark Zuckerberg takes piti on us when Facebook overtakes us next year as the top site on the internet and doesn't even really team up with Microsoft to REALLY incorporate Bing into Facebook. Becuase we at Google really don't wantto see our company'sworth drop 30% overnight and 50% in a week. The only thing we got going for us is habit. We can't afford to let users find out for themselves that Bing gives the best results 20% more often than Google does as shown by a recent study. So we are worried that Facebook will give users a taste of what Bing can do."
    jkfan87