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[personal profile] switchbladesis
While everyone's been busy hating one social network today, the social network we were bitter about over the weekend (and before that), announced their fix. Which is: they're keeping the real names policy, just warning people before they delete. Also, you can search by nicknames.

. . . not that much better, Google.

For fun, more articles on trolls, anonymity, and google plus:

An article that appeared this Sunday claiming that anonymity leads to trolling

If your website is full of assholes it's your fault

Geek Feminism's wiki on the many different ways that someone can be hurt by a real names policy

Another geek feminism article asking for evidence that real name communities are better behaved than communities with pseudonyms.


I've been sitting a couple of different on this post for a day or two, because I think we're all aware here between the difference between anonymity and pseudonymity, and that people can in fact be protective of a psuedonym's identity, and there are things that you might want to talk about online that you might not want to share with your employer or your mother. The fact is, what I'm mainly looking for in an internet social networking service is keeping in touch with the people I talk to on the internet, not my mother. I call my mom once a week, thanks (shit, I need to call my mom). As for keeping track of everyone else that knows my real name: That's what facebook is for. And that's why I don't actually pay attention to facebook more than once a week, or have my facebook profile easily findable. Because I don't want everyone on the internet to be able to show up at my apartment or figure out where I work.

I think we're all in agreement here about that. None of you guys are posting under your real name, but I don't think any of you would say that you were completely anonymous. What might be a better question is what makes people care about some pseudonyms more than others-in other words, why are we mostly civil here (and on, say, ravelry), but youtube is a cesspool?

This isn't about people who get into one-on-one flame wars with people because they're overinvested in something they thing is really important (or just-enough invested in something that really is important: see Racewank or the recent Skepchick vs. Dawkins foofoorahs). Sure, people get into those under pseudonyms, but they get into those under their real names, too. Those examples I just cited? Real names involved. Real identities. People just don't care, because they think they're right. Walk into Boston wearing a Yankees jersey and tell me I'm wrong. I don't even think Google+ is trying to get overinvested people off their site-there wouldn't be anyone left. It's about trolls and spammers and sockpuppets-what makes people care about some of their pseudonyms but not care about others? Why should google think that the comments will be more like livejournal or, hell, facebook and less like youtube?

My starting theory (subject to change) about what make peoples invest in their online identities is having an identity as a content provider, not just a consumer-- even if that content is just a one on one message board conversation. When you do that, you're individualized. The reason why newspaper conversations and youtube comments are so disgusting are because it's not really conversation-it's graffiti. You slap it up there and maybe some people are bored enough to read it. The creator can respond to the commenters-and other people can talk to them . . . but the format isn't really set up to encourage that behavior. Youtube and newspapers are designed so that there's one content provider and a whole shitton of audience members, and sometimes the audience members are assholes. They're one of many, and they don't have any accountability. Which is why people have so many problems with youtube commenters and not youtube creators-both groups using pseudonyms, after all.

Google+ isn't someone else's popular blog. It's set up so that everyone's a content creator-the way that livejournal is-and tumblr, and twitter. Sure, there are spammers and trolls on every site, but unless you're super popular, there aren't going to be too much that they won't be hard to handle. And if you are so popular that you can no longer moderate your own comments-maybe it's okay to not have comments.

Where I really get confused is why google doesn't think spammers won't just say their name is John Smith and then continue to spam/troll. Honestly, the easiest workaround I can see for those of you who don't want your real names attached to your online accounts is just to claim a really common fake name, put your other online identity as your nickname, and keep on going. Since nicknames are now searchable, people will still be able to find you and they aren't making everyone try to prove their identity-just those with uncommon names. The one issue is trying to figure out who the hell you guys are in comments, but I'll give it about ten days before someone figures out a greasemonkey script for it.

I'm not really sure why Google+ thinks that real names are the answer to all their spam and troll problems. What I do know is that sticking to a real name policy is going to effectively kill the site's value for me. Which is sad, because I really DO want a site that works like a tumblr/twitter/facebook hybrid but has the filtering capabilities of livejournal and a navigable mobile interface. It just won't work if everyone refuses to join it due to privacy concerns.

tl;dr I'm still on google plus, might not be active for long
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