Google+: A Polite Report From The Nymwars Front

My gluttony for vague, faceless punishment knows no bounds. I miss the community on Google+, so I figured I’d appeal again and see if they’d reinstate my account. I have no expectations, but live in hope. Here’s the “supporting documentation” I sent with my appeal:

Dear Google,

I am writing you once more in hopes that you will reconsider your decision to ban me
from Google+ due to a names violation. I recognize that this is your service and you
are, of course, free to ban whoever you choose for whatever reason you desire, therefore
I ask rather than demand that my account be reinstated.

I was a good citizen on G+ since you launched it and had several hundred followers. It
was, by a good margin, my largest pressence on any social network under and name, real
or otherwise. My understanding is that one of the factors you use in determining whether
or not to allow a pseudonym is how prominently that name is associated with a person. If
you include your own social network in your calculations, you’ll see that this is, in
fact, the name by which I identify myself online.

I’m not even entirely clear as to what exactly your names policy currently is. One year
ago today, Google’s own Vinton Cerf spoke out against any policies requiring real names
(http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/05/us-google-names-idUSBRE9240HS20130305). The
published policies are confusing at best and at times self-contradictory.

If you should decide that to decline my appeal again, I ask you, in the name of
courtesy, to at least provide some detail as to why I remain banned. I’ve received the
same form e-mail over and over again, stating “not good enough, try again.”
Unfortunately, there’s no indication as to why the appeal was declined or what I should
do differently so that my appeal might be more favorably received.

Any additional information you can provide would be appreciated. I miss my friends on
Google+ and I’d be eager to return to them if you were to allow it. Please let me know
what I need to do to accomplish this.

Sincerely,

WTF Pancakes
Cincinnati, OH
pancakes.wtf@gmail.com

I’ve struggled to find productive avenues for my appeals. The Google+ help forums produce a lot of noise (“Your name is stupid, no wonder they banned you hurr hurr hurr”) and links to versions of the names policy that differed quite radically from the ones they show you when you make your appeal online. I’ve sent faxes to Google offices in several countries which brought an unsurprising lack of response.

If it were just a few Google+ moderators, I wouldn’t really be bothered. Unfortunately, there seems to be a pattern to Google’s behavior towards their customers and fans that I find disturbing. I‘ve written about it at length before, and everything I wrote there still holds. It’s a trust thing. Google has been slowly evolving into a less-transparent, less end-user-oriented service provider. Or, maybe they’ve always been this way and the walls of their garden weren’t as obvious as the ones in Cupertino.

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One thought on “Google+: A Polite Report From The Nymwars Front

  1. As expected, the response was the same e-mail I’ve received every time. In case you’re enthralled by such things, here’s the Google+ rejected appeal form e-mail:
    ————————————————————————
    Hello,

    After reviewing your appeal, we have determined that your name does not comply with the Google+ Names Policy.

    We want users to be able to find each other using the name they already use with their friends, family, and coworkers. For most people this is their legal name, or some variant of it, but we recognize that this isn’t always the case, and we allow for other common names in Google+ — specifically, those that represent an individual with an established online identity with a meaningful following. If you haven’t already done so, you can provide us with additional information regarding an established identity by re-submitting an appeal that includes references to where you are known by this name either in online or offline settings.

    Note that if you’re trying to set up a page for a business, band, group, or other organization, please sign up with your own name and then create a Google+ Page. If you’re trying to add an alternate name (such as a nickname, maiden name or name in another script), please sign up with your full name; you can add this alternate name (which will appear alongside your full name) once you’ve signed up.

    You may re-appeal with additional information, if you have not already done so. If you’re already using Google+, your current name will continue to be used.

    The Google+ team.
    ——————————————————————————-
    I’m not saying that Google doesn’t actually read the appeals and research them. They very obviously do. unfortunately, this form letter doesn’t provide a great deal of useful direction as to how one might craft one’s appeal more successfully. I appreciate that they actually DO read my appeals, but I’m disappointed that the responses aren’t a bit more directed.

    P.S. Apparently, the appeals team are located primarily in New Zealand. Hi folks! Go All Blacks, and say hello to Ruby Smith in Auckland for me!

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