Modern Software Experience


puzzling plussing


The Google+ team is suspending many accounts, telling the unfortunate users that the name you provided violates our Community Standards.
This is not about business pages. It is about people getting suspended for using their own name. Even Kirrily Skud Robert, former googloid, has been suspended from Google+.

Real people are being shut out of their own account for no other reason than that someone in the Google+ team does not like their name. Names, mind you, that many of these users have been using with other Google services for years. Google happily accepted their name. No Google services ever objected to their name.

shut out

When FaceBook suspends your account, you're shut of FaceBook. When the Google+ team's team hits the suspend button, users find themselves shut out of other Google services as well. This is most definitely, true; Google has confirmed these reports.
It may have been the ZDNet article Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers that broke the story that users are being shut of all Google services.
ZDNet author Violet Blue backed up her claim with two independent sources, that are identified by name. The article quotes a post Bill Noble's Google+ profile and a tweet by Madge Weinstein.

Let sink in for a moment what it says there; if the Google+ team does not like your name, you can no longer use Google Mail. You can no longer use Google Calendar, Google Documents, Google Photos or Google Reader. You cannot use any of the Google services associated with your account any more. Suddenly, you're completely shut out of the entire Googlesphere.


For years, Google has been telling all of us that we should put all our data in their cloud, because it is safe there. Now, Google's own Google+ team is eagerly demonstrating that you are seriously intercoursed if you do.


Such heavy-handed handling of its current account name policy makes FaceBook look saint-like by comparison. Verily, with this policy, the Google+ team has managed to out-zuck the Zuck so much, that we desperately need a new word; the Google+ team is plussing people.

You do not want to be plussed. When the Google+ team plusses you, you are shut out of Google+ plus all other other Google services. The suspension of your email account is especially plussy, as it blocks your most obvious way of contacting them.

Thus, the Google+ team is managing to hurt Google more than any competitor ever dared to dream. The Google+ team is the team that plusses you, and their plussing is scaring people away from the very service they've built; still have your Google account? Well, don't log in here, because we are all powerful, and we might decide to plus you...

not plussed

There has been a large number of articles about the issue. A number of articles make roughly the same points as the ZDNet article, even use the same quotes. Many of the more opinionated articled focus on why Google should loosen up; they argue that Google's current real-name policy is harmful to such minorities, dissidents and, ironically, writers such as George Orwell, whose official name was Eric Arthur Blair.

Google has not resolved the issue, which already has its own #plusgate hashtag, yet, but will gladly say that they are listening. Vic Gundotra, Google's Senior Vice-President of Social, had himself interviewed by his former employee Robert Scoble, who then posted about it to his Google+ profile. According to Scoble, Vic is reading everything we have written about names, and such..
Nowhere in this Scoble post does Vic deny that Google has plussed some users. Vic does admit that Google has mistakes, but the post does not specify what he considers to be their mistakes. Vic say that the Google+ team will change how it communicates with users, and are working on ways to handle pseudonyms.
Vic does say that their policy is not really about real names:

He says it isn't about real names. He says he isn't using his legal name here. He says, instead, it is about having common names and removing people who spell their names in weird ways, like using upside-down characters, or who are using obviously fake names, like "god" or worse.

information page

Google has put up a Your name and Google Profiles information page. This page states that your Google profile is tied to Google+, Google Buzz and +1, but that Google Mail and Blogger do not require a Google profile.
The Google+ team suspends your account by suspending your profile. When they do, they do not only shut you out of Google+, but also out of Google Buzz and +1.
That is an outright admission that they are plussing people; shutting people out of multiple services for allegedly violating the rules of just one service.
It also seems to deny that they are plussing people, stating that people are only shut out of Google+, Google Buzz and +1, but not out of Google Mail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Blogger, etcetera; it seems to say that they are plussing users by suspending all services related to their profile, but are not double-plussing people by suspending their entire Google account.

conflicting statements

Were those who were plussed merely exaggerating in anger when they claimed to have been double-plussed? When you read Your name and Google Profiles carefully, you will note that it only explains why people are being plussed (we tied multiple services tied to a single profile - sorry), but does not deny that some Google+ users have been double-plussed. Vic Gundotra did not deny that Google has double-plussed some users in his interview with Scoble either.

One explanation that accounts for both the statements made by upset users, as well as those made and not made by Vic Gundotra, is that Google has, perhaps for technical reasons, perhaps by mistake, suspended some Google accounts, but is only suspending Google profiles now.
Another explanation, suggested by Kirrily Skud Robert in More comments on Google+ and names, is that the affected individuals had their account suspended for something more serious than violating the Google+ real name policy. That could easily gets conflated with the Google+ real name policy, simply because Google’s communication is weak, and they don’t tell you exactly what TOS you broke, so it’s easy to think it must be the name-related thing you’re hearing about happening to other people..


2011-07-26 updated & expanded

The above text is an updated & expanded version of the original text, linked to below.

2011-07-26 instant update

Bradley Horowitz, Google's vice president of product management, has posted about upcoming changes. Most importantly, there will be warnings prior to suspension. Horowitz reminds us of the Other Names field in the Google+ profile, and states that those violating the real name policy will be plussed, but not double-plussed.
The Your name and Google Profiles page, has some information on what name to use and what to avoid. Kirrily Skud Robert has posted survey results noting what kind of names got suspended.

2011-07-26 Thomas Monopoloy

Thomas Monopoloy has posted an update; his Google account was suspended for alleged violation of Picasa's Terms of Services, but has now been restored.