When Your Cause Isn’t Worth The Fight

I found this interesting. I was reading a blog post by someone I interviewed for my business blog back in September, Angelique. Her post is titled Angelique Suspended from Google Plus. She was suspended because she doesn’t like to use her last name, feels it doesn’t support her brand, and of course Google+ expects people to use real names; they didn’t appreciate her last name being “Creativity”.

I found it interesting, as well as her follow-up post, for a few reasons (and I didn’t comment there because it’s a Disqus blog, which y’all know I hate).

One, I had the same discussion with her when I did the interview on my blog. I had found her last name and added it to the post, and she was deeply shocked and implored me to remove it. I hesitated at first because I have a set format for doing interviews on that blog, as opposed to interviews I do on this blog, and I felt it would throw off the continuity in some fashion. In the end I relented because I felt I might have been making too big a deal of continuity for the blog, just because it’s a business blog. It didn’t hurt anything.

Two, I had this conversation on someone else’s blog earlier this year as that person was also complaining about it. Since it wasn’t a Disqus blog, I responded that I understood the issue because how would they determine to list people with names that everyone knows that aren’t real, such as Lady Gaga or Will.I.Am? If they came onto G+ and used their real names, no one would know who they were, and if they put up their real pictures G+ might think they were perpetrating a fraud in some fashion and ban those accounts anyway, if you know what I mean. To date I don’t know if that issue has been addressed.

Three, I thought about my own blog. I have a policy where I won’t accept keywords as a true name of a comment poster. I need a first name of some type, and it can even be a nickname (cue Sire), but I need something to call you if I’m expected to possibly respond to your comment. If I don’t have that then I delete the comment, no matter how good it might be; the policy is just above the comment box and if you miss it, then it’s on you.

And finally four, as soon as you start to gripe about it in some fashion you almost have to catch yourself and say “it’s their playpen, so it’s their rules“. This doesn’t mean you can’t complain to yourself, or in your blog, but if you decide to complain to someone else you’re wasting your time and energy.

I’ll go personal on this one. I don’t think it surprises anyone when I complain about a Facebook change that I don’t understand, when suddenly I can’t find something. I do that for two reasons. One, I know that if I’m complaining someone else is complaining as well. Two, I hope that someone can provide a fix or idea of how to get around in some fashion. For instance, I griped when they seemed to get rid of a way to get to pages that I had subscribed to, which meant people weren’t going to find my page either. Someone finally gave me some guidance in finding it, and it’s still in a ridiculous place, and I moved on, knowing that there wasn’t anything I could do to change it.

Last year Google decided this blog doesn’t qualify as an Adsense purveyor based on a post I wrote almost 2 years ago on the topic of cleavage, a very tongue in cheek post with no nudity and what I thought was a very interesting point, and one where even if I’d agreed to remove it they weren’t going to reinstate this blog. I didn’t bother with it, just as I didn’t bother responding to them when I lost my page rank on this blog (I did get it back earlier this year). Google never responds to anyone other than possibly sending an automated message, so what would have been the point?

In other words, we all have choices to make when it comes to dealing with someone else’s rules. We either follow them or we don’t. This means we either participate or we don’t. You don’t get freedom of choice when someone else is paying for it; you don’t get freedom of speech in someone else’s space. At least you don’t get either unlimited.

What Angelique is fighting is the same thing some Egyptian students tried to fight Facebook with when they were protesting the government and were worried that their names would get them in trouble. The rules are the rules; no exceptions. If Facebook wasn’t going to change for students whose lives were in potential danger, Google’s not going to change for her, even if she’d written lots of positive things about them. Goodness, Facebook banned Salman Rushdie for awhile (you might need to have a NY Times password to view this one) and he’s well known.

You want them to change? Work on your website and blog, get it ranked really high, participate a lot in social media so a lot of powerful people know who you are, then take your shot. Now there’s a goal worth reaching for. ๐Ÿ™‚

24 thoughts on “When Your Cause Isn’t Worth The Fight”

  1. I can sympathize with angelique as I also don’t like to use my last name. However, at the same time, youre right about it being their sandbox. I would think they could come up with a middle ground though, where someone can provide their real name, but keep it private, or use a nickname to be displayed publicly instead. I think that Google is just too heavy handed in outright banning people for names they don’t like.

    1. Richard, I actually understand their thinking, which isn’t all that different from Facebook. They want engagement, not spam, not anonymous people ruining it for everyone else, kind of like Twitter sometimes if you subscribe to the wrong people. People tend to act better when they’re not anonymous.

  2. I never actually knew anyone this happened to, but I guess I’m not surprised.

    I jumped over and read her blog, too. I guess they have to be so rigid just because of the sheer number of people on the service?

    They can make celebrity exceptions because there’s not that many, but if they had to consider each “regular” case then they might not be able to handle it.

    My personal opinion is that they should have left her alone and let her go on to keep using and promoting the service as she was doing, but I can understand why they did what they did.

  3. As usual, great post! I agree that it’s their playpen and we should play by the rules. If you can’t use “Creativity” as your profile’s last name, there are other ways to promote your brand.

    1. That’s my general thought, Kevin. My other thought is that not every platform is for everyone, and if someone else’s rules are chafing you, then find someone else who doesn’t mind what you want to do.

  4. Hi Mitch, I also don’t have marketing words on my blog and it’s comforting to find someone who doesn’t like them either. But I do accept nicknames. I just think they don’t befit a personal blog, i.e. written by a person for personal reasons and not for any marketing reasons.

  5. This is really problematic topic. I’ve recently receive a warning, because my avatar in 2 forums, they said I have to use real picture, actually one of the forums ban me, but there i have a serious fight with one of the moderators which doesn’t really have a clue about Internet marketing at all, actually this continues for more than 4 years. However in my case this was not mentioned in forum policies, but Google clearly stated that real names have to be used or combination nickname + family name. For comments, I guess people can be recognized by combination of pseudonym and gravatar. Excepts blogs that have Comment Luv, I consider bad practice using keyword, as most likely comment wont be approved on any serious blog.

    Your matter with AdSense sounds very interesting. I’ve never had problems with any of my websites and AdSense appear on more than 20 websites of mine.

    1. Carl, when it happened I thought about the hypocrisy because of some of the ads they run. Then I thought about it and remembered that at one point I had removed the ads myself because they made no money here.

      1. Yeah, Adsense on blog doesn’t work very well, most of the time really depends on the niche, I have excellent results on blogs that I’ve never expected to make money from and right her the audience is mostly from people that already have established blogs for several years. I see the results on my social network, actually when there is a click payout is very high, but it is rare, so as soon as I complete beta state I will run my own PPC similar to Facebook ads and actually member points will be converted into clicks or exposures, actually your account also qualifies.

  6. I agree with your idea. The playpen idea really struck me; it reminded us that we need to adjust and conform to any situation or else we risk something.

    I love your statement, “if you decide to complain to someone else youโ€™re wasting your time and energy”. Yes, you can rant all the time, but it will never achieve anything.

  7. I actually never had problems using my last name since I decided to develop my “internet persona” so to say. I understand some people might have problems with it but I guess you’re right when you say rules are rules.
    I personally reported people on Google+ when they were blatantly using fake names for branding purposes, but I am not sure I would do the same for more “innocent” situations.

  8. Maybe Goggle would realize that people need privacy. They should allow them not to use their last name. Besides they are already registered.

    1. Francoise, I thought about that one as well, but truth be told people can sign up using whatever name they want to for either gmail or even Adsense. As long as the credit card is good, as well as the bank account, they could care less otherwise.

  9. I always use my real full name almost everywhere I comment or join. Its a matter of good taste you ask me. I am who I am and I’m not ashamed or scared of using my real name all over the internet as long as I try to be stand up guy.

    1. Cristian, I use a full name of sorts; it’s the name everyone except my mother calls me. lol Still, even on this blog it wasn’t until I specifically thought about it that I added my last name to the posts on this, and all my other blogs. It had just never occurred to me before, so I can see how some might not even think about it.

  10. Hi Mitch, I’ll work backwards here. First of all, it’s a little hard to understand why anyone would want to do business online (sell, market, blog, influence, etc.) and hide their real name. I won’t make an online purchase from a website that doesn’t list a phone number much less a real name. Just a little pet peeve I guess.

    As far as my blog, I do the same thing but if the only thing wrong with a comment is keywords in the name slot, I edit it to, “Anonymous (Read Comment Policy)”. It’s pretty frustrating since I have CommentLuv Premium installed which allows keywords, just next to the name, not in place of it. This is explained right there with the comment form but itโ€™s mostly ignored.

    As far as “itโ€™s their playpen” and Facebook, I agree with particular example but the privacy issues that come to light every few months are another matter; I’m sure you agree.

    When it comes to Google and “their playpen”, I disagree to a point. Once they linked the Google+ profiles with search results and, more importantly, included Google+ participation (almost a requirement) as a factor in our search positions, the game changed. I can appreciate the idea that it could help prevent scams and less people might be mislead; it’s just hard to trust Google’s motives.

    I agree with the main point of your post, the cause isn’t worth the fight. It’s a fight that can’t be won, at least by an individual. We may as well try to get McDonald’s to stop selling Big Macs because it’s not healthy. Overall, we love Google and Big Macs, unhealthy or not. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hummm… A GoogleMac. I wonder if there’s something there? I’m running on three hours of sleep so that’s probably going to sound pretty silly when I wake up in the morning. lol

    1. Wow, did I write all of that? And I left out the point I wanted to make on personal branding and using our names. Oh well, I’ll leave it at that for now. Nice post Mitch, thanks.

    2. Great stuff Brian. Actually, I do understand how someone might want to try to brand their name with only their first name; we have Cher, Prince, Usher, etc. She shows her real first name but for what she does customers only know her by her first name.

      Two, I was editing names and decided I was tired of doing it, so now I just delete. The policy was there saying I was going to do it, so no one can honestly say they didn’t know. And to date not one of those people has ever come back to leave a comment on another post or to see if I responded to their post or not. Still, there is a policy, and I’ve written in the past that policies are for us, the owners.

      Facebook now has to disclose a lot of their changes up front concerning privacy via the deal they just made with the FCC, so that should hopefully take care of that. As for G+, trust may be an issue for some of us but it’s still their playpen & their rules, just as it is with Adsense. The overall thing is that none of us “have” to participate, we “want” to participate, and if that’s the case then we follow whatever they set up.

      And now you have me thinking about Big Macs; now stop that! lol

  11. Again this is a great Idea and post, I just hate in Google plus, I am not able to change my name.

    when I try to edit my name it show me message you can edit one time only….

    IS there any know it how I can do it?

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