Google+ Allows Pseudonyms
Google finally waves the white flag in front of the victims of the #NymWars with this post: We Apologize
When Google+ took the first shot with its real name policy, users rallied behind the Twitter hashtag #NymWars. Like many others, I wrote about the importance of pseudonyms in the online world and to any platform focused on user experience.
The fact that a supposedly in-the-know and technically gifted company failed to understand the user rage and brand impact that a forced real name policy had was just plain weird to me. I understand that there was dissension within the Google ranks over the policy, but ultimately the management decision that aliented many and culminated in a full blown YouTube disaster, was made in a vacuum far removed from the reality of mainstream users — the decision was flawed.
Google’s mea culpa, although late, is an acknowledgement that a failed user experience is indeed bad for the brand. #NymWars will be another battle scar unnecessarily earned because stakeholders or individual power mongers failed to get the big picture.
This brand surrender should also be an example to others who are trying to enforce “real” names on their websites, commenting sections, and products.
It’s been proven, time and time again, that “real” names do not result in more civil communities, but in fact hurt engagement as quality user contributed content and comments are taken to other platforms that respect pseudonyms. Real name policies hurt the user experience, threaten safety, and simply highlight the naivety of those who try to enforce it.
Whether people forgive Google and give G+ another whirl or simply feel that this particular boat is not needed is to be seen in the next MAU stats.
But today, veterans of the #NymWars enjoy a collective smile as a little balance has been restored to the force of social media.