back to article Google+ bans real name under ‘Real Names’ policy

First, Google sparked a furor by banning pseudonyms from Google+ under its “Real Names” policy. Its next row, now warming up in Australia, is the banning of real names that happen to lie outside the programmers’ assumptions. An Australian journalist and commentator, who changed his legal name to the mononym Stilgherrian many …


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  1. DownUndaRob

    He's not the only ione

    See here for another rant from another ex-pat Australian having the same argument with G+.

  2. kosh

    Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names

    Google are becoming the Enron of online services - arrogant enough to believe they are the smartest guys in the room, but actually not.

    1. Craigness


      Programmers believe some weird things about email addresses too. Ironically, Gmail's feature which allows users to receive mail at username+<any phrase here (no spaces)> is one which catches programmers unawares. I'm often told that my email address is invalid when a plus sign is included. One site allowed me to sign up with a plus sign but won't allow me to log in with it. Their marketing guys keep spamming me about lovely things I'd like to buy from them (yes, to my valid "+"@gmail address), but their programmers won't allow me into the store.

      1. CD001



        Most programmers can't be bothered to work that RegExp out, it's what I use for email address verification - and yes, it allows '+' in the username space as per the RFC specs. It's based on one from Hexillion.

        1. Stevie Silver badge


          The RegEx you're using to check your punctuation could do with updating.


          1. CD001


            E'Gads! Tis what one gets, forsooth, when befouled with "RegExp English" Circa 1560!

            Still, 'tis a step to the fore from Chaucer edition I was, but until recently, benighted with!

      2. Anonymous Coward

        That + sign

        I believe that the + being "illegal" in mail addresses is because the people (and I use the term advisedly) who wrote Exchange didn't actually bother to read the relevant standards (RFC821/2 and their successors). Unfortunately this mistaken rule has propagated into other bits of software where the programmer simply cannot be bothered to do the job properly.

        Google's "you must have two names" stance is only slightly misguided: the vast majority of people do have at least two names, one or more given names and one or more family names. It's not as bad as X.400 though which took the view that a US naming convention applied world wide. It doesn't, not by a long, long way.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          two names

          You only have to have two names if you enter the U.S. I went to college with a guy from Indonesia who only had one name. The made up last name on his student visa was the letter M, which he chose to put him in the middle.

          Up until this year, I've had trouble with my state drivers license because their computer system didn't allow spaces in names.

          1. Stilgherrian

            Can enter US with one name, but not register at The Register

            Actually, I can enter the US with one name quite happily. I even have a US visa. The database requires both given name and surname to be non-empty, but you put your mononym into the surname field and "FNU" as the given name, for "first name unknown ".

            A bit backwards, I know, but it's a well-known procedure amongst border control staff and airline staff and has never caused any reaction stronger than a knowing nod and a polite "Welcome to America, Sir."

            Nor have I had problems travelling to Thailand or Tanzania.

            Almost everywhere, and with almost every organisation, the reactions range from polite curiosity to concern that they're unable to enter my name correctly. Google has been the only organisation that has ever simply asserted that I am wrong and told me to change. And that is what gets up my nose.

            Besides, in Australia they are legally required to record my personal information correctly.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              entering happily

              That was my point, I think.

              I've been dealing with this type or problem since I was in 3rd grade. On test forms, applications, etc. My name as variously been either too long or contained an illegal character (space), or both. Only in the last year has my states drivers license database been updated to allow names that contain spaces.

            2. Drewc (Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

              Re: Can enter US with one name, but not register at The Register

              We started out by allowing mononyms for our registration system. So few people signed up from countries where mononyms are common that we abandoned this idea. No-one has complained yet.

      3. NogginTheNog


        The "string+otherstring@email.address" is a valid part of the smtp email address spec (no I can't quote the RFC for you, but I do know it's right). But hey when has that ever stopped lazy/cheap/clueless/hardpressed* devs..??

        *delete as appropriate.

      4. tekHedd


        And on the flip side, we have sites insist on using your email address as the login--you find this out after you've created the account, and now "" is my user name, and I have to type the whole thing every time I want to log in and shop for flatware. (OK, bad example. You get the point though.)

        I've all but given up on the + suffix, as it seems like I get spam regardless. :)

      5. Anonymous Coward


        The local part can be a quoted string containing whitespace and control characters.

        Check the RFCs.

    2. Peter Murphy

      It's pretty pathetic, isn't it?

      Especially as Google+ is also ignoring W3C's "best practices" for personal names:

      "If designing a form or database that will accept names from people with a variety of backgrounds, you should ask yourself whether you really need to have separate fields for given name and family name.

      This will depend on what you need to do with the data, but obviously it will be simpler, where it is possible, to just use the full name as the user provides it."

      Exactly. You don't need this first name, middle name or last name nonsense. You just have one big field to accommodate it all, and you fill in the name as you want it. It's elementary programming, especially if you make the field Unicode. If really, really, really (and I mean REALLY) necessary, the W3C suggests you provide an extra field for Latin transcription of your name, so guys like "Σωκράτης" can have their names in English-friendly "Socrates". (Not that it matters - "Socrates" is actually his full name, so Google+ would find him verbotem.)

      The gossip I'm getting is that most Google programmers think Google+'s naming policy is fucking stupid, and have been sharing the kalzumeus link provided above with each other and with their team leaders. However it is upper management - particularly Vic Gundotra, Google's VP for social - that is pushing the policy hard. Why? I have no idea, unless Vic's worried about the loss of the advertising dollar.

      To mean, it seems such a waste of effort. Using your energy to create a new technology (like Sir Tim Berners-Lee did for the WWW) - wonderful! Using your will to create a new operating system (as Dave Cutler and Linus Torvalds both did) - groovy! But staking your reputation on pushing a corporate policy that (a) is broken by design, and (b) killed a lot of goodwill that people had for Google+? It's the sort of thing that gives managers a bad name.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        not as simply as it sounds.

        If you use that method, how do you know whether someone whose name is "Sarah Jane Smith" is F M L, or "F F" L or F "L L" and the answer is, without having a first-name field elsewhere, that you don't. Even better is the arrest records where there are people listed whose middle name is NMN.

        I think I'm going to change my name to NFN NMN NLN (Just call me 'No')

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          ...and kinky! But I prefer FFM myself, thanks for asking!

    3. Robert A. Rosenberg
      IT Angle

      Another Assumption

      Since the number of replies to that article is so long I did not want to add my misconception to it (since I would have to read all of them to see if someone had already added it). Mine is base on an old Science Fiction novel I read years ago (and which I have somewhere in my collection since I recently purchased a used copy to add to my collection since I wanted to use it in an article as well as reread it). The name of the novel was "The Man Whose Name Would Not Fit". The plot was about a computer database being developed and implemented which had an assumption that a person's last name could not be longer than some limit (lets say 25 letters - forget the actual limit). The system allowed for hyphenated names (the author was British so took care of that case) but failed to accept a 26 character hyphenated last name. The story told of the outcome for this person and the problems that it caused.

  3. Glenn Alexander

    I should try to join

    Australian here with two given names and no family name (the FN field on my birth cert is a dash). Every government department, bank, deals with this differently, which suits me fine - tracking me across disparata databases requires human intervention.

    Have another mono-namer here where I work too. It's common enough that when I was a student, the student union already had an in-place procedure for forcing uni admin to acknowledge lack of a family name.

    1. Miek

      But Why?

      Why no FN? Is there an interesting story behind that ?

  4. LaeMing

    Fiction I once read

    Mentioned a guy named Hen4ry (the 4 was silent).

    He did it to screw with people using data entry systems that restrict their input fields to alpha-only.

    1. Sir Cosmo Bonsor

      I imagine that

      the only person inconvenienced by that in any way at all was the idiot himself.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        insert title

        I imagine that no one was inconvenienced on account of how it was fiction.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      thank Tom Lehrer

      But you'll have to search for the album, I don't remember....too many tangos.

  5. jake Silver badge

    Idiots abound. Work around it.

    Thirty five years ago, I had the name "jake"[1], all lower-case, as my legal name on everything from my tax returns to my passport to my driver's license. For several years. Caused no end of headaches for "the authorities" ... which, as a young man who understood database programing, I took great delight in.

    Then I grew up, no longer having time to "be pulled aside" by petty officials. Today, I use the name my parents gave me on legal stuff. I'm the same dude, with the same Social Security number, regardless of handle ... but everyone who knows me still calls me jake.

    [1] Name changed to protect the guilty ...

    1. Ru

      Testify, brother!

      You have seen the light! You are a conform-again citizen! Hallelujah!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Conformist? Moi?

        You haven't read many of my posts here, have you?

        I legally switched back to my given name after a BrightYoungThing[tm] at an airline ticket counter in Perth, Australia, said "Oh, you mean like Cher, Madonna and Sting?" ...

    2. Anonymous Coward


      "but everyone who knows me still calls me jake."

      You sure about that?

      1. jake Silver badge

        @John Dee

        Yes, I'm sure about that. But that's just folks who know me.

        My friends, on the other hand, generally call me "you fuckin' fuck".

        Us greasy bikers are funny that way :-)

  6. Bastard Sheep

    It's a shame they're not honest about the policy.

    They continuously say "the name you commonly go by in real life", but then insist on most occasions that this name be a variant of the name on your license/ID. In Australia and the US, I think England as well you can legally go by any name you like as long as it is used consistently. Any name one chooses to use is effectively their real name. Even if your birth certificate/passport etc don't have this name, you can still use it when applying for a bank account, filing a tax return, or in a court of law.

    This is why you'll often see people talking about Google's policy referring to a "wallet name" rather than "real name", because Google insists that it be a variation on the name on the ID that one generally keeps in their wallet.

    Stilgherrian has a hope of getting his account re-instated because he will have just that ID available to show them when they ask. Other people like me however who go by a name that is in no way shape or form related to their wallet name (and I do actually go by "Bastard Sheep" in real life) do not have that option. We will be forced to either have our accounts suspended, or be forced use a name nobody actually knows us by which completely defeats the entire purpose of a social networking site.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Naming Errors writ large

      "In Australia and the US, I think England as well you can legally go by any name you like as long as it is used consistently"

      Not only England (which has not existed as a separate country for 300 years), but also Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I suspect you meant "United Kingdom" (to use one of the short-form names), often abbreviated more to "UK".

      1. thegooseking

        Uh, no.

        Scotland and England are both part of the UK, but they have separate law books. Scottish law is a quite different beast to English law. I have no idea if Scottish law is the same as English law on THIS matter. It probably is, but you can't just assume that just because they're both part of the UK; they're different on quite a lot of other matters.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Sweep

        Stop being a pedant

        He probably didn't mean UK, as law is not consistent across the UK.

        You have English Law in England and Wales, Scots Law in Scotland and Northern Ireland Law in Norn Iron.

        In Scotland for example you do not require a deed poll to change your name, you pretty much just have to inform others (banks etc) of the name you will henceforth be known as.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. peyton?

            The imperative "Stop assuming"

            Followed by "he probably"


            that is all

          2. FIA


            Yeah America, stop generalizing!

      3. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        I see your pedantry...

        ...and raise you another pedantic comment:

        Scotland and Northern Ireland, as noted by others, have their own laws, and Wales, being a principality, is technically part of England. This is an entertaining 'fact' whenever one finds the need to wind up a Welshman.

        1. Jimbo 6

          "technically part of England"

          I'll trump your pedantic comment - constitutionally, England and Wales are two parts of the same country, whose name is "England and Wales" (a bit like "Trinidad and Tobago"). Thus there is actually no such country as "England" (or "Wales" either).

        2. Stevie Silver badge


          The last clockwork Welshman passed away in 1963. All Welshmen are now either gas- or electricity-powered and require no winding.

          It does seem from the comments here that some of the English are still using the old key-and-mainspring system though, and they no longer come with a stiff upper lip.

      4. Bastard Sheep
        Thumb Up


        "Not only England (which has not existed as a separate country for 300 years), but also Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I suspect you meant "United Kingdom" (to use one of the short-form names), often abbreviated more to "UK"."

        I was unsure if it was the entire UK, just sections of it etc so decided to go with the smaller entity as a safer option. :) I do appreciate you clearing it up for me that it is the whole UK though. Thankyou.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Go Stilgherrian

    But why Google+ ?

    Why use any Social-Diarrhea [TM] sites?

    1. Craigness

      Why not?

      Maybe he likes to stay in touch and stuff

    2. Annihilator Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      re: Go Stilgherrian

      "But why Google+ ? Why use any Social-Diarrhea [TM] sites?"

      Yeah, you're right, it's definitely Stilgherrian's fault...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Love it

      I'm totally using that term from now on as it perfectly captures the flow of crap in my newsfeeds.

      1. Craigness


        ...are selected by you. I could no doubt get the same by following the RSS of your comments, if I chose to do so.

  8. Jason Togneri
    Thumb Up

    What? No XKCD?

    I'm surprised at you lot:

  9. Confuciousmobil

    That's why....

    I, and most people I know, don't use Google +

    their 'real name' policy has driven lots of people away who don't want to use their real name, but the arrogance of zgoogle to reject people with real names that don't comply with their narrow view of what a 'real name' should be is quite astounding.

  10. T.a.f.T.
    Thumb Down


    “The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life”

    I have almost used the name TafT long enough for even my UK passport to take it... (Something like 12 years of common use) but that would fail on account of it beeing a mononym (well OK it is a Acronym as well).

    Prior to that I got one of the names I was Christened with added to my passport as although it did not appear on my Child Passport or my Birth certificate I had been using it long enough for it to count as my legal name...

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Commonly Referred to?

    “The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life” - I am very very rarely referred to in real life by my real name. Only my work colleagues and parents would do so, most of my family and friends use various nicknames I have developed over the years and in social contexts with those groups I will introduce myself with those same nicknames.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Bang on.

      I have the name on my birth certificate, the name that all of my friends use (and have done for twenty years) and my on-line name.

      I do not consider the latter two 'nicknames'; they are my real name in certain contexts.

  12. LPF

    Well that will teach you to be

    a smartStilgherrian won't it!

  13. Thomas 4

    Not entirely unexpected

    ....when Facebook rejected my legally given name as some sort of joke, demanding that I submit my driving licence and passport as proof of ID.

    Fortunately I sobered up at the point and realised how close I had come to making a serious mistake.

  14. Number6

    Input Validation

    With apologies to XKCD (#327), has anyone tried using the name Robert'); DROP TABLE Users;

    1. CD001

      Wheat from chaff

      Would only separate the wheat from the chaff - old skool DBAs would never pluralise their table names! ... but then, they're probably more likely to sanitise user input as well.

  15. Steve Renouf


    So if your real name is "Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined" but everybody just calls you "Stupid Idiot", what then?

  16. Zog The Undeniable


    South American footballers will be staying on Facebook, then.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Famous mononyms

    I knew people at university who officially had only one name, but in order to convince bureaucrats and programmers that such cases need to be handled it's better to give an example of someone famous, and reasonably recent, of course. For that, Suharto comes to mind.

    1. Colin Miller

      For example

      Teller, from Penn&Teller, who has officially deleted his given personnel names from his legal name, and is now known solely by his surname.

      1. Sir Cosmo Bonsor

        I'm afraid all I can say to that is

        "what a tit".

        And I've absolutely no sympathy for anyone pretentious enough to change their name to "Stilgherrian".

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          And what about Cassius Clay.

          Mister "oh, I don't like my given name because it is the name of the family that owned my ancestors as slaves". Whiny git. I'd tell him. Tell you what, -you- tell him. Your name isn't something you can choose like a free person, it's something you're given when you're born and they will carve it on the stone over your grave.

        2. Graham Marsden

          Re: "what a tit"...

          ...Says someone calling himself Sir Cosmo Bonsor....

  18. dotdavid

    Google's faults

    Google+ is really highlighting Google's main fault - that they don't listen to their users (even users of a so-called "test" service) and are very very bad at communicating when they've made a mistake. They really need to sort this out as otherwise Google+ is quite a nice system.

    As for this chap's name, how about telling Google is it "Mynameis Stilgherrian"?

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge
      Big Brother

      They don't listen because you are not a user

      You are a product, plain and simple. Google is selling you to their clients - the companies that are paying to have their ads displayed.

      Google is an advertising company and everything they do is only meant to get you to look at more ads and generate more cash for them.

      1. Bastard Sheep

        Advertising is no excuse...

        "You are a product, plain and simple. Google is selling you to their clients - the companies that are paying to have their ads displayed.

        Google is an advertising company and everything they do is only meant to get you to look at more ads and generate more cash for them."

        They could very easily do this without forcing us to expose and exclusively use our wallet names, just insist that our wallet name is somewhere in our profile but give us an option to hide that from the public and use an alternative display name. Google will not do this, though.

  19. banjomike

    Did he contact Google before exploding?

    I can understand Google screwing-up over his name simply because of their lack of imagination. I just wonder if they might have fixed the problem for him if he had TOLD them about it before writing his rant.

    1. Paul Shirley

      have you tried that? I have...

      Have you ever tried contacting Google? They just don't reply until the PR shit hits the front pages. And then they might consider a 'no comment'.

      Hell, even app devs struggle to get any response at all from them and usually it's just 'you're wrong' rephrased if they bother with a response.

      They really have a shitty attitude to the outside world.

    2. Victor Ludorum


      "In a follow-up e-mail, Google+ suggests “If you edit your name to comply with our policies in the future … we can re-review your profile”."

      That is all.


      1. Graham Marsden

        "edit your name to comply with our policies"

        Right, so if *your* name doesn't fit with *their* policies, *you* have to change *your* name to suit them!

      2. Steve Knox

        How can one..

        "...edit [ones] name to comply with our policies in the future.." if one doesn't know what Google's policies will be in the future?

    3. Bastard Sheep

      You've misunderstood in a way that many people have...

      "I can understand Google screwing-up over his name simply because of their lack of imagination. I just wonder if they might have fixed the problem for him if he had TOLD them about it before writing his rant."

      His rant was more about the way in which they initiated contact with him. He is, in fact, going through the proper channels to try and get this resolved.

  20. DrXym Silver badge

    Serves him right really

    If you pick some stupid noncorforming name don't be surprised if systems expecting conforming names reject it. I guess he'll have to call himself Fred Stilgherrian or something to keep the system happy.

    A more general issue is why Google+ should force people to disclose their real names. I think it's quite reasonable that someone should be able to pick and assign different names to different circles of people and to be completely anonymous to people outside their circles.

    The problem with real names (as should be obvious) is that some people don't like getting stalked, looked up by their employer or whatever. Sure maybe Google would like to know who you are but that doesn't translate into letting everyone else know who you are. Now if you had a name like John Smith or Pat O'Brien perhaps it doesn't matter when there are a sea of other people with the same name to hide within. But it sure as hell does if you have a less common name.

    1. BoldMan


      How arrogant of you to decide which names are "stupid and noncorforming" (sic), considering you are using the name "DrXym" on this forum.

      1. DrXym Silver badge


        "How arrogant of you to decide which names are "stupid and noncorforming" (sic), considering you are using the name "DrXym" on this forum."

        Thanks "BoldMan" but in case you didn't get the memo, it's an alias. And no it's not nonconforming since most sites that take aliases or usernames expect one word. Whereas most sites that expect your real name expect two or more words. Comprendez?

    2. Chris Fox
      Big Brother


      What counts as "nonconforming" In a multicultural context, and who gets to decide?

      To describe a name as "stupid" because it does not comply with one cultures norms concerning what names should look like could count as prejudice.

      As others have pointed out, many cultures have no family names. In some cultures there are other expectations about what counts as a non-conforming name. For example, if Google were based in a country were all first names must be drawn from an approved list (e.g. based on the names that appear in the Bible, or similar), or in a country were a full "wallet name" appends the names of parents and grand-parents etc. to your first name, would it be acceptable for it to reject all names that fail to meet those criteria?

      Even in cultures with family names, these are sometimes historically recent impositions that came about through conquest, empire, and subjugation, or the desire for bureaucratic convenience etc. It seems that in this context Google is acting imperial power that is seeking to impose its own narrow-minded world view for its own bureaucratic convenience.

      Seeing the problems that it causes for end-users, and the evidence that Google is bowing to the needs of other third parties, one can only wonder whether this half-baked "real-name" policy is ultimately for the convenience of law-enforcement agencies in the US, China, UK and elsewhere, who are known to have an interest in tracking online conversations and being able to attribute them to real people without troubling themselves with the pesky details of judicial oversight. Perhaps Google should just go the whole hog and just start issuing ID numbers and photo identification?

      1. DrXym Silver badge


        "To describe a name as "stupid" because it does not comply with one cultures norms concerning what names should look like could count as prejudice."

        Google is not blind to cultural naming conventions but this is not a case of a cultural naming. It's a case of someone who changed their real name to be an AD&D character name (FFS) and then going off on a tirade that some website has the temerity to reject it.

        Yes it's really that sad.

        1. FIA


          "Google is not blind to cultural naming conventions but this is not a case of a cultural naming."

          Yes it is.

          "It's a case of someone who changed their real name to be an AD&D character name (FFS)"

          Ah, so it's culture you don't approve of? Or is it modern culture and therefore not applicable? Or have I just missed the rule book on names?

          ..."and then going off on a tirade that some website has the temerity to reject it."

          Yeah, the unreasonable git, complaining that a website doesn't recognize his legal name, what a tosser.

          "Yes it's really that sad."

          What? The level of narrow mindedness and bigotry that seems to prevail these days? Yes, yes it is. :(

        2. Stilgherrian

          No, it's not a character name

          You didn't read the post carefully, did you? The name is nothing to do with role-playing, except for the coincidental fact that the person who coined the word happened to play in the same group as I did. And it was long before there was ever an "A" in front of "D&D". However role-playing helps make one aware of more complex issues of identity.

          Still, let's ignore my specific example and look at all the other mononymous people. Google is indeed blind to naming conventions. Seriously blind. And as I've said elsewhere, it's Google's legal obligation to record my legal name correctly, and it's their moral obligation tom follow their own names policy, which says I must use the name I am known by. And there it is.

          That, and Google's suspend-first-demand-proof-later behaviour is simply that of an ignorant bully. As perhaps is yours.

          I'm not asking Google to make a special exemption just for me. I'm asking them to make the same, precisely normal, provisions for the variety of names that every other significant organisation on the planet makes. It's not hard. For Google to fail here is appalling incompetence.

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Don't be silly

            "That, and Google's suspend-first-demand-proof-later behaviour is simply that of an ignorant bully. As perhaps is yours."

            No, it's recognition that the vast majority of people have normal names that fall into normal categories. You chose to be different and now you're whining that some arbitrary web site happens to reject your name. Boo hoo what did you expect? Perhaps if you phrase yourself in a polite constructive manner rather than ranting they might provide a manual means to override the checks.

    3. NogginTheNog


      People have had names, of all sorts of forms, for oh I don't know, since the species learned to talk..??

      Computerised data processing systems have existed for what 60-70 years..??

      You figure out who's in the wrong... ;-)

  21. Len Goddard


    I wonder what they would have made of the artist who used to be known as the artist who used be known as Prince, before he changed his name for the second time?

    1. gringo guy

      You know...

      I always wondered why people didn't simply decide to pronounce that strange symbol he chose as "Prince." Much simpler, no?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    bad, evil, presumptuous

    In a way it's a pity it's google+ and not facebook that's put their foot in it... again. Then again, as others have reflected it's a side effect of google+ attracting the tech crowd as opposed to having grown out of the apparently monoformous and rather dull american academia where apparently everyone has exactly one first name, one last name, and one middle initial.

    The silver lining is that identity is a hot topic (along with privacy) and we're slowly realising just what a complete mess it is. Personally I don't mind the mess as long as we know this is how it is and learn how to deal with it in a live and let live way. The problems by and large stem from assumptions that invariably turn out to be unfounded (as pointed out already), so stop doing that assuming already. Who are you to decide what other people can name themselves?

    So far, google+ has been firmly in denial, trying to lay down the law, and that's bad.

  23. Simon Buttress

    Change his name

    Change your name. Not that big of a deal.


    Sent from my iPhone

    1. BoldMan
      Thumb Down


      Why should he change his name to something that Google thinks is acceptable? We are all individuals (little voice at the back shouts "I'm not!") so we are all entitled to use the names we are commonly known as, NOT what Google thinks is acceptable.

      However, this just reinforces my opinion that I don't want Google knowing ANYTHING more about me that it has already collected so I'll not be volunteering any more info to them by using Google+. What people have to remember is Google isn't interested in providing a social networking site so people can enjoy electronically interacting with people, they are building a data gathering site that will feed the data you willingly provide into their ad engine so they can try to sell you more shit.

      Enough already!

      1. Alex Rose

        Are you blind?

        Are you really telling me you didn't see the "Joke Alert" icon by the post you're responding to? Or that you didn't realise it meant that the post was a joke?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Bolman - JOKE ALERT

        He was paraphrasing Steve Jobs arrogant emails from his iPhone? Ring any bells?

        Lighten up, enough already!

  24. Solly
    Big Brother

    Google plus good?

    Did he get his two minutes of hate?

  25. SSD


    My friend changed his name to Anthony Edward Stark, I wonder if they will accept that, If the do i'm changing mine to The Hulk. First Name "The".

  26. JimC

    If you've had much to do with , say

    Social Security systems, you know that names are one of the hardest forms of data to deal with. Not only do they come in quite mind boggling variety, they are also quite useless as any kind of key because multiple aliases are so common...

    Uniique key numbers tattood on our foreheads, I tell you its inevitable...

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      If you already know their SSN

      Then just use that as the Key value, or just use a GUID or something. Never trust user-inputted data for something as important as a Key value.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        Only Uncle Sam is permitted to use the SSN as an identifier.

        Well, that was the case when I was working in the US


        1. Decius

          Perfectly legal.

          It has never been the case that private companies cannot use the SSN. Only recently have there been privacy laws requiring notification of people whose SSNs have been disclosed.

          Employers, debt collectors, and anyone who handles your money is required, by law, to use your SSN for tax reporting purposes. It makes sense, given a value that is already guaranteed to be unique to an individual, to use it in a database. If you can guarantee that each individual has only one entry, you can even use it as a key. What you can't reasonably do is use knowledge of SSN as proof of identity, which doesn't stop a lot of companies from doing it anyway...

  27. sabroni Silver badge

    It's Google's service

    so it's Google's rules. Don't like the rules then don't use the service.

    Can't understand why people feel they have the right to get upset about this. They're not paying for the service and alternatives that allow whatever name you choose are available. So put up or shut up!

    1. Annihilator Silver badge

      "Google's rules"

      Huh. So you're OK with the fact that Google is also excluding certain ethnic and/or religious groups with this "rule" that they're free to make up? Try looking in India for example.

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Google's rules

        Google will (as one might expect) make reasonable accommodations for various ethnic naming conventions. They are unlikely to make accommodations for some hipster who thinks it's cool to defy convention and then acts all shirty when this trips up arbitrary computer systems.

        1. Annihilator Silver badge

          Land of the free

          @DrXym - "Google will (as one might expect) make reasonable accommodations for various ethnic naming conventions."

          Such as only having one name, as in India or other non-Western societies who may well live in America?

          @Crazy Ops Guy - "Non-discrimination only applies to Government organizations and employment"

          Really?? Didn't realise that - so in effect, in the US, a shop can refuse service to someone based on race, colour, religion or sex? Not the case in the UK due to the Race Relations Act(s).

      2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        They can do whatever they feel

        They are a private company and have the right to refuse service to anyone. Non-discrimination only applies to Government organizations and employment.

        1. davenewman
          Thumb Down

          Not true

          Take for example the Disability Discrimination Act. That applies to anyone providing a service, not just employers. It definitely applies to Google Plus. But as they don't insist on graphical input, that is one of the few ways they don't discriminate. It is not only the DDA. A lot of consumer law applies to services offered to consumers.

    2. Ru


      Their rules say you must go by the legal name you use in your country.

      He tries to use his legal name to set up an account.

      This fails, but it is his fault for not following the rules?

    3. A J Stiles

      No, that's *not* how it works

      If you want to open a business to the public, you have to open it to *all* the public or *none* of the public. That's how the rules work. Because the simple fact is, "free market" wanking notwithstanding, civilisation is about protecting the weak from the worst excesses of the strong.

      The glibertarian line -- that everyone is free just to start their own, alternative business which, by virtue of its non-exclusionary nature, will end up being more successful than Google -- turns out in practice to be bollocks.

      Business owners are by definition in a position where they have the upper hand over their customers -- and it is in everyone's interests that they do not abuse that unequal relationship by capriciously excluding entire sectors of society.

      Try opening a whites-only hotel and see how long you last -- even if you place a stack of brochures for inexpensive surgical skin colour reassignment in an area not subject to the colour bar.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        If you want to open a business to the public... have to open it to *all* the public or *none* of the public.

        This is nonsense. You can't force a business to trade with someone they don't want to. And this isn't even a business, this is people trying to use a free service then moaning about the ts&cs.

        Have you never been refused service in a pub? I have, purely based on the barman not liking the look of me. It's his gaff, his rules.

        Looks like the daily mail is right about people's sense of entitlement these days....

      2. jake Silver badge

        @A J Stiles

        "If you want to open a business to the public, you have to open it to *all* the public or *none* of the public. That's how the rules work"

        Total, complete and utter horseshit.

        For example, here at Chez jake, aka "jake's Wife's Horse Ranch & Winery", we are open to the general public 7 days a week, but reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, for any reason. Our policy is a variation of "no shirt, no shoes, no service", but on steroids ... Basically, if any of the people/horses/dogs who live here think you smell or look funny, you will be escorted off the grounds. Keep a clean nose, on the other hand ... We've been known to allow random tourists from all over the world to stay in our guest house for free for a few nights ;-)

    4. Bastard Sheep

      You've made a very common mistake in understanding the situation...

      "so it's Google's rules. Don't like the rules then don't use the service.

      Can't understand why people feel they have the right to get upset about this. They're not paying for the service and alternatives that allow whatever name you choose are available. So put up or shut up!"

      What if we want to use the service? What if many people we network with socially are on it to a large degree? It took me years to sign up to facebook, and I only did so because I was missing out on a lot of interaction with friends due to not being there. Essentially if I wanted to know what was going on with my friends lives and what things were coming up, signing up was my only option.

      It's not always an "option". There are other sites out there that offer similar services, but they are only of any use if those you interact with socially also use it. If they don't, they are not options.

      By being forced to use wallet names and not being allowed to use the names we most commonly go by, we are being anonymised and having this very social linking broken.

      Also, we are paying for it with our personal information which google onsells.

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        @Bastard sheep

        I've not made a mistake. I've read your post multiple times but there's no convincing argument as to why Google should change, just a feeling of entitlement from you. All your "friends" are on google+ so feel you should be allowed on to. But all your friends are playing by google's rules, why do you feel you shouldn't have to?

        You feel entitled to use this service and entitled to use a name that you decide on. You have a right to neither of those. Their service, their rules.

  28. Joe Harrison

    Sergey Brin of all people

    Russians have complicated patronymic names that can sometimes get quite long. Most of the ones I know invent a shorter version that they think English speakers will feel more comfortable with.

    I remember years ago trying to support an X.400 system that crashed every time on names containing an apostrophe, ah good times.

  29. David Pearce


    I believe the majority of Indonesians only have one name.

    I often had to enter my maids name twice on airline booking forms to work round a similar problem

  30. Torben Mogensen

    More assumptions

    I often have trouble with my middle name "Ægidius" on web sites. Same with my street name "Egebæksvej" and my city + postal code "2100 København Ø". Not only because of the Danish letters, but also because many programs assume the postal code is entirely before (or after) the city name, whereas in this case the postal code is 2100 and Ø with the city name in between. Fortunately, the Danish post service can figure it out if I write "2100 Copenhagen" or some other substitution.

    Many US sites also require you to list a state or province (of minimum two letters), even if you specify a country outside the US. And complain if the ZIP code isn't 5 digits. Or if you don't have an area code in your phone number.

    1. Lockwood


      I have had to put myself down as New Hampshire for a few things, despite living in the original one.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't like my real name

    Google insists I've misspelled my real name when I tap it into their search engine, and is quite aggressive about using its own suggestions.

    If they refuse to recognize my name in one department, why should I use it in another?

  32. Richard IV

    I know exactly when Google will change the policy.

    As soon as they start allowing companies on board. What do you mean we can't have an account for each of our trading names?

  33. LuMan


    So, can Google actually have a Google+ account then? I'm not aware that Google has a surname.

    Unless Google IS the surname... and the first name's Fuckingbloodyuseless!!

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot
      Thumb Up


      I quite fancy that for my first name! Might as well as I get called it several times by the Missus when the DIY doesn't go according to plan!

  34. Stefing

    Put down the torches

    I know El Reg loves to bash the Goog but a friend of mine could not register on Facebook due to his name - getting on Google+? No problem.

    To get onto Zuckerberg's personal data mining enterprise he had to assume another name and explain to all his friend that, yes, it was indeed he.

    No such problem with Google+.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      [citation needed]


    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      One anecdote does not data make

      I know quite a few people who have G+ accounts under a nickname, but looking normal enough per Google's criteria. They haven't been suspended (yet).

      I also know people who have been suspended from G+,even though they're using their "name friends and colleagues know you by" (as per the G+ user agreement) and haven't managed to get it reactivated. They've been using those names (as far as I know) well longer than Google has been around. So who's wrong here?

  35. A J Stiles

    I know how he feels

    I know just how he feels.

    I live my life in the common gender -- it's about what's between my ears, not what's between my legs -- and I have enough trouble persuading people that the correct form of address for me does not include any of "Mr", "Mrs", "Miss" or "Ms", but is just simply "A J Stiles". I can't afford a higher degree, and I am too intellectually honest to seek ordination as a priest.

  36. Anonymous Coward


    I don't get the fixation these sites have on you using your real name. What if I don't want to? My friends know my internet handle, my boss doesn't. I have no intention of letting my boss follow me on facebook or google plus. Why? I like having a seperate private life!

  37. Anonymous Coward 99

    Personal Safety?

    Or what about people, like one of my friends, who has been strongly advised by the police (due to threats made against them by various nondescript nutters) NOT to use a real or well-known name on Social Networking sites.

    Even FarceBook allowed their name change after being showed this

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Never tell!

    Never use your real name and better still open multiple accounts and switch between them at random. And always use Ghostery or NoScript and AdBlock. Just for the fun of it, and to thwart their neo-totalitarian aims!

  39. Gil Grissum


    Interesting. "The name I'm referred to most often in real life" is my stage name as a musician, which I use for my Google + account. Family members and people on my day job however, do not refer to me by my stage name (and co-workers are neither aware of my stage name or know that I'm a musician/starving artist), so I guess I dodged the bullet on this one. Then again, Google bots may have gone to my music site, heard the tunes, liked them, and let it pass.

    1. Olafthemighty

      Google bots

      Might have felt sorry for you!

  40. Juan Inamillion

    "i'm Spartacus!"

    Is all.

    /Sword + sandals

    1. Graham Marsden

      I'm sorry...

      ... that username is already taken...!

  41. Mexflyboy

    Not just weirdos...

    It's not just weirdos who have problems with Developer wankers who make assumptions... I have lived most of my life in English-speaking countries (UK/US) and I can't tell you how many times I've had problems when filling out forms (paper or online!) because some dumbass wanker assumes we all have monosyllabic anglo-saxon last names! So when I need to put down my correct legal last name (one of those Spanish double-barreled jobs with a hyphen in it), more often than not the feckin' system breaks down...

    Add to the mix call centers in cheaply-paid countries where English and Spanish are not the linguae francae, and my normal Spanish-language last name becomes Intercapped (such as SmithJones), or just slammed together (Smithjones) instead of the correct Smith-Jones thang... only very recently has this started changing, but now getting it changed in their systems here in the UK virtually requires an act of parliament!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      You'd think double barrelled names were common enough to be handled by IT systems. But then I don't have one. Tempted to change to one now though...

  42. Rob Crawford

    Not always a good idea

    to use the name you are commonly known as.

    We have at least 4 people where I work who are 'That Wanker'

  43. BongoJoe

    Haven't they seen Fawlty Towers?

    What, then, about Lords of the Realm?

  44. Andrew Roberts 1

    No accounts for Bono or Sting then?

    Not all bad then.

  45. AceRimmer1980

    It's not just names

    Quite a few large sites based in the US require you to enter a phone number.

    Which must have a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit rest of it.

    Try entering a typical UK number , with the leading zero helpfully removed and '+44' helpfully put at the start, and they just completely throw the toys, as above.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Phone number......I think not

      I never give a real phone number. If they want to contact me, they probably have my email or my address if they're sending me something.

      I just don't like giving out more info that I feel is required to provide the service I'm paying for. Phone numbers usually are not required.

      At least that way I know any calls I get are from people I actually want to talk to.

      No one calls me though - that's where it all falls down of course....

      1. Steve Renouf
        Thumb Down

        Not strictly true

        Most times, the carriers require a contact number for the recipient in case of delivery/customs issues.

  46. fLaMePrOoF

    This is the title

    The longer Google stick to their guns on this issue, the more embarrassing will be the inevitable climb-down.

  47. Dave 15 Silver badge

    real names... what poo

    Its not exactly difficult to fool the system... Fred Blogs, Fake Name, and other such things might eventually get noticed, but its easy enough to call yourself any reasonably likely two word name that sounds real enough. Unless they are going to start demanding you post them a copy of your passport so they can then compare it against the image on your webcam they have no realistic hope of enforcing this stupidity. Without that there is no point in even trying.

    I think Google have shot themselves in the foot here but rather than accept they made a mistake they are loading up the machine gun and pointing it directly at their other foot.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's supposed to be a social network

      How exactly are you going to connect to the people you know if you've logged in with a fake name that they don't know?

    2. gringo guy

      'Til they poo on you...

      Remember Google's an entire infrastructure. On another site I read post that claimed, after creating a Google+ account with a fake name, the person's name on other Google services was then changed to match. Sorry, I didn't keep the link to the post.

  48. Inachu
    Thumb Up

    Ok then what about this guy????

    What about the actor whos full legal name is YAHOO SERIOUS?

    1. Captain DaFt
      Thumb Down

      Yes, he's a real person...

      But from the movies I've seen, he's no actor.

  49. Risky


    If it isn't bad enough having websites reject my name because of the apostrophe, I'm moved to an employer who's used it in the email address and some of their own internal websites can't cope with the thing.

    1. Graham O'Brien

      Abs O'lutely

      Having suffered from lazy DBAs in years gone by who banned the use of apostrophes in names it seems to have reared its ugly head again. A few days ago I tried to register my mobe for my bank's inclusive insurance deal only to find that I'm not allowed to use my real name. When I asked the telephone "help"-line bod about this he confirmed that apostrophes are illegal. I asked him whether the bank did much business in Ireland but he seemed unable to comprehend the question.

      For shame, Barclays, for shame.

  50. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Single names

    Firstly, I'm glad El Reg tolerates pseudonyms.

    A British lord is entitled to be known by one name: examples are Wales, or Cambridge. A commoner must use at least two.

    I have noticed that many Germans, especially when signing official letters, use only their surname.

  51. Syntax Error


    That Google+ would reject someone's real name.

  52. Will 20

    I'm Sorry

    But your name is not supported on this system. Please upgrade your name at your local courthouse...

  53. dssf

    What about these people?




    -Edge/The Edge


    -Moon Unit

    What about celebrities known by ONE NAME?

    What if Google + extends to Japan, or to countries where real, valid, living people are by law or culture accorded or assigned single-name identification?

    Somehow, Google is not eating its own dog food/searching with its own engine. Or, are/were Google engineers try to re-engineerin first-name/last-name pairing to out people's real identites?

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Sting - Gordon Sumner

      Enya - Enya Bhraonáin

      Sade - Sade Adu

      The Edge - well, works as two names, but David Evans

      Bono - Paul "that tw*t" Hewson

      Moon Unit - Moon Zappa at a guess

      You haven't done a pub quiz before, have you? :-) There are plenty of one-named people, but that list doesn't contain any of them

  54. Christoph

    Obscure names

    Well, Google obviously hasn't heard of these really obscure people who have only one name.

    Obscure as in a past Secretary General of the United Nations. The 'U' in U Thant is an honorific - his name was just 'Thant'.

    I have a friend in the UK who lost his G+ account because they objected to his entirely legal single name.

  55. Jonathan Richards 1


    The sad thing is, these problems were addressed by librarians a long time ago (for certain values of 'long'), since books, remarkably enough, are frequently written by people who do not have names of the GivenName SurName form. The outcome is codified in the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules Edition 2. A copy should be in the office of every coding shop where personal name processing is required. Indeed, it would be a good subject for a standard code library (no pun intended).

  56. Captain Packrat

    Happened to me

    Google suspended my account because I have an unusual last name, and wouldn't reinstate my account even after I sent them a copy of my driver's license. I finally sent them copies of my driver's license, credit cards, Social Security card, passport, marriage certificate, firearms license, car title, sales tax certificate, and insurance paperwork (all redacted, of course). I guess that was enough to convince them my name is real.

    It only took 2 weeks to get it cleared up. I really doubt I'll ever use my account for anything now. I can't trust Google for anything anymore.

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Happened to me

      Well, you've got to admit that "Packrat" is a little unusual...

  57. Jolyon Smith

    @Lowercase "jake"... you may know database programming...

    .. but you don't know much about proper nouns in the English language.

    Initial capitalisation of names is an orthographic convention applied to proper nouns.

    Names themselves (in English) are not case sensitive. You weren't legally *defining* your name as all lowercase, you were simply trying to insist that your personal, pointless and obtuse exception to the current orthographic convention be adhered to by everyone else when referring to you.

    This is akin to insisting that everyone wear Mickey Mouse boxer shorts over their head when talking to you. It's not that you can't hear them unless they do, it's just that you are choosing to impose a stupid and pointless condition on other people in order to try to mitigate what are no doubt some deep rooted issues within yourself.

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Jolyon Smith

      No, you pedantic twit. What I was doing was pointing out that idiots programming databases were missing out simplistic edge cases when filtering inputs. Started when I was at Berkeley, continued at Stanford. Remember, this was 35 years ago, or thereabouts. Yes, I'm pretty certain I made a difference with my simple, personal, non violent form of protest.

      As a side-note, is there a reason you didn't use the "Reply to this post" button? Were you simply trying to insist that your personal, pointless and obtuse exception to the current user interface convention doesn't need to be adhered to by your good self?

  58. veti Silver badge


    Am I the only one who thinks this journo is self-evidently a poseur who changed his name for the sole purpose of generating publicity of exactly this type, and is probably now falling foul of a silent "no wankers" policy?

  59. A. Coatsworth
    Big Brother

    Reality Distortion Field+

    “If you edit your name to comply with our policies in the future … we can re-review your profile”

    Now it not only changes the way the company perceives reality, but attempts to *actually* change the reality itself.

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