When Google+ was just launched in June last year, it didn’t had a clear names policy and many have created a Google+ account by using nickname, pseudonym or their business name. Shortly after, Google activated a mass deletion of these accounts stating the service is limited to real people names.
But now, nicknames and established pseudonyms are allowed with the blessing of Google+ (well, sort of). Google+’s product VP, Bradley Horowitz, has announced in his Google+ account (where else did you think?) that from now on, the use of alternative names will be allowed on the social networking/identity service.
Bradley is revealing that 99.9% of all new Google+ profile registrations are accepted without any problem while only 0.1% are being appealed due to naming problems. After analyzing the appeals data, the fellows at Google+ have concluded that the naming problems are mainly driven from the following 3 categories:
- 60% just wants nicknames.
- 20% are business names (using profiles instead of Google+ pages).
- 20% rather have a pseudonym or other unusual name.
In order to provide a solution for most of those user’s needs, Google+ will enable the use of nicknames and established pseudonyms (which are different).
The process to add a nickname is very simple. Edit your Google+ profile, click on your name and choose “More Options”. There, you could find the “Nickname” box and another box where you could choose how your name will be displayed. Not that at this point there is no option to display just the nickname.
There are few restrictions for nicknames: You can’t choose a nickname similar to a known figure (celebrities and such), nickname that is offensive, that consists symbols or a whole sentence.
To choose a pseudonym as your Google+ profile name it is a little more complicated. First of all, only already exist established identities/pseudonyms can be accepted. If you are, after you change your name (not the nickname!) to the pseudonyms or create a new profile with just the pseudonyms, you will be required to provide some sort of proof like:
- Reference from an authoritative media source that relates to your established pseudonyms.
- Official documentation copy scan.
- Known online identity (blogger, writer) where Additional online proof may be required.
If you changed an already exist accepted profile name to a pseudonym, the profile will remain your old name until the pseudonym will be approved. If you signed up a new profile with a pseudonym, the profile will not be public and you wouldn’t be able to post anything until it will be approved. The established pseudonym approval process suppose to take a few days.
I think that overall the names policy change is holding a lot of potential. Many users prefer using a pseudonyms in order to create a separation between their real and virtual life and now after the change they might join the service. Additionally, according to a recent research, users that are using pseudonyms are contributing more quality contents, so Google+ might also now welcome high quality and engaging new users.