Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login
Google [briefly] suspends Limor Fried's ("Ladyada") Google+ profile (adafruit.com)
34 points by another on July 23, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 42 comments

I don't understand why everyone is giving Google a pass by saying they are in beta.

A link didn't get broken, a photo didn't fail to load...instead an account was suspended intentionally. That has nothing to do with being a beta, and has everything to do with Google being a company that spits on its users.

A company that actually cared about their users would just fix the error and edit the name or simply send a warning...instead Google goes for the kill shot each and every time.

Crap like this is exactly why people should be wary of putting in the effort to switch over to Google plus...for all you know you might end up losing everything a few months later

It's possible that while in Beta they are at a point where there are no clear policies or standard procedures. Or that such things are still very malleable while they figure things out.

in what world is account suspension for having " " in your username justified? There should be nothing malleable about that

  > There should be nothing malleable about that
You're taking what I said to the worse possible extreme. (Personally, I think that says something about you, but I'll digress on that point)

When I said malleable, I was saying that any standards/procedures currently in place could be changed to accommodate unforeseen consequences/fallout/whatever. In this example, a policy of "ban accounts with names that don't match m/^[a-zA-Z ]+*/" could be loosened when they ban someone that has a legitimate gripe, and realize the mistaken logic behind that policy.

You shouldn't be spending so much time railing on them for the banning of an account so much as how they respond to it. Do they apologize and change policy? Do they backpedal, blame the account-holder, and leave the policy in place?

I dunno about you, but you'd have to be pretty clueless about your customers if you think automatic bans over having " " in your username is a justified reaction.

As far as judging the response...you can't do that, since the issue was made public....if the issue went through the proper channels, there'd be a very high chance of her being told that there is nothing Google can do.

There is such a thing called common sense, and in this case, it was severely lacking. What other kind of mines are hidden in the terms of service that will get your account banned over nothing? What other rules will be added later and applied to all accounts retroactively.

Will you find yourself 4 years from now getting permanently suspended from Google plus, because in your message history, you used the word "Bing" in a message to your friend today?

Any other company, you have a good chance of getting a retarded decision revoked. With Google, you have a better chance of playing a 24 hour marathon of Russian roulette, than getting an issue resolved through the support system.

"You'd have to be pretty clueless about your customers if you think automatic bans over having " " in your username is a justified reaction."

I posted elsewhere here, but judging from an older copy of the profile in Bing, the profile used to be for "Adafruit Industries." I'm guessing the profile was flagged when it wasn't as close to a person's name.

Somehow, to me, this just makes it worse. Maybe I'm still misunderstanding the situation here, but are you saying the timeline was this?

1) user sets up account, "Adafruit Industries"

2) user's account is flagged by someone, unknown to user

3) user is reading online, learns more about the Terms of Service, and finds out Google is serious that they /must/ use their real name

4) user /changes/ the name of their account to fit the Terms of Service

5) at some undetermined time later than #4, Google decides to act on the now obsolete flagged data, to punish the user for a minor transgression that they already unilaterally corrected

Does this really seem like a good way to be treating users? I've now read enough about Google+ issues that I'm on the verge of closing my Google+ account, and I already have a ton of followers and never had anything but my real name in the blank (despite the fact that EVERYONE online knows me as "saurik", and VERY FEW people know me as "Jay Freeman", so arguably "Jay Freeman" is a fake name and "saurik" is real)... I just can't risk my Google account getting closed for some frivolous reason: it is just that important to me.

Also, by the way, this entire notion of putting your real name on a service whose very premise is about privacy seems ludicrous... I know a ton of friends, both famous (hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter) and closeted (barely use a computer), who simply don't like telling random people online their real name, much less connecting it to a picture of themselves. Why isn't this circled or something?

"Humorously" enough, I just went now to find MuscleNerd's profile on Twitter and Google+ to show an example of someone who people /love/ on Google+, /only/ know as MuscleNerd, and obviously are quite famous, and you know what? It turns out his profile was deleted today... I don't even think he's noticed yet, and I don't think his insanely large following is going to be very happy about it.

In case anyone actually reads this comment (someone, at least, upvoted it), I figure I will connect the post I just made on Google+ on this subject to link through:


saurik, I don't think the timing on #4 and #5 are right; the same day that Limor's profile was suspended, I think the account name was still outside the common names policy.

For the record, I do want Google+ to support pseudonyms. I think Bradley's post showed that we want to get there too. But it's going to take some time, and in the mean time, my impression is that the Google+ folks are trying to keep fake/spammy/business profiles from getting out of control.

I just saw this and passed it on to the right folks in Google+.

Added: Looks like it's back now. The field test is definitely helpful for finding corner cases that we can improve before rolling out more broadly.

One small thing: If you do the query [site:plus.google.com ladyada] on Bing, it looks like Bing has an older version of the profile. The title for that search result is "Adafruit Industries - Google+" So my quick guess is that the name of "Adafruit Industries" might have been the issue. Either way, I'm glad that it's solved now.

Matt, can you suggest a strategy for dealing with Google support issues that doesn't involve "get Matt Cutt's attention on Hacker News"?

I don't mean any snark with that question, for what it's worth, but I fear that you don't scale well. :)

One thing that I love about Google+ is that a bunch of Google employees are feeling more comfortable interacting with the outside world.

For example, it looks like Amanda Walker from Google stopped by Ladyada's blog and left a comment just before me with even better advice than I gave: http://www.adafruit.com/blog/2011/07/23/google-suspended-lim... . Amanda pointed to the official way to appeal, and I believe that appeal would have gone through quickly. So I think the right thing would have happened in not that much more time.

that actually reinforces his point. If she didn't make that post, Amanda wouldn't have showed up to give her comment...neither would you.

And that's pretty weak "support", telling someone to go fill out a customer support form. Especially since it's Google we are talking about here, where the support is pretty much worthless.

Seriously, I hope you guys have some A/I handling support that's just isn't working properly yet...because if the support is handled by actual human beings, you must have an active policy of hiring the lowest common denominator.

vaksel, it looks like the profile was flagged when it was something more like "Adafruit Industries" and less like a person's name. If people want to appeal a suspension, we have a form to appeal that suspension; the form gets the right info to the right people to review. If people have a more complex question or issue, we have forums where people can post.

that's actually the big problem...the account doesn't get judged by the bot over it's current status...and is instead judged through it's entire history...that's a problem...since it means people aren't allowed to ever make a mistake.

this is the same exact reason why my adwords account was permanently suspended over a campaign that was disabled for more than 6 months(which was approved at the time I ran it), just because Google decided to change their rules midway through and apply them retroactively to all campaigns past and present.

"the account doesn't get judged by the bot over it's current status...and is instead judged through it's entire history"

I don't believe that's correct in this case. I believe that earlier today the profile didn't look like it had a real name.

And what would be wrong with a warning email (even an automated one), rather than going direct to execution?

That's an improvement that's scheduled to happen: https://plus.google.com/113116318008017777871/posts/VJoZMS8z... says one of the changes that's coming is "Giving these users a warning and a chance to correct their name in advance of any suspension."

I too think it is great that Google is improving here, but if Ladyada ( <hipster>I knew her back when she was called l3m0n</hipster> ) wasn't a relatively well known blogger this method of "support" wouldn't have worked. Clearly something needs to be done to make the appeal process more visible for average-joe/jane users whose accounts are shutdown.

So far, it seems the occurrence rate is 1 user in 19,000,000 users. If everyone on Earth joined Google+, then there would be a grand total of 316 similar incidents.

I think Matt will be able to handle that :)

Matt, Lady Ada is not allowed to use the artistic pen name she goes by, but Lady Gaga is able to use her artistic pen name. I have a feeling the same will apply to Madonna. Clearly there are two standards in play. Certain people are "big" enough and corporate profitized enough to be "permitted" to use their artistic pen name, and others are cast out into the outer darkness. Clearly there is a policy at Google delineating what the cut off point is between the two. Would you please state what the official policy is so that we can know what we have to do before we are allowed to control our own names without having to ask Corporate Google for permission?

Not that you care about me, particularly, but the stories/anecdotes going around describing complete account blocking (1) have kept me from accepting the invitation I received.

Google's help pages, which I'd started reading through, make it sound as if the Google+ profile exists separate from this other access. But I've now seen enough such "WTF I'm blocked -- from everything!" stories to make me very hesitant.

I've thought of making a new account to use with Plus, but there is also some buzz going around that makes it appear Google has coincidentally become more aggressive about pursuing and blocking "duplicate accounts". Again, anecdotes, but worrying.

1) Not just Google+ profile dependent activity, but Gmail, Calendar, Docs, etc.

http://infotrope.net/2011/07/24/more-comments-on-google-plus... says "As far as I know, people are not losing access to all their Google services simply for using a name that Google doesn’t like. I have not yet heard of a single documentable case of this."

Matt, could we suggest that ban should be suspension of posting rights until naming matter is resolved..we keep hearing reports of people being banned o n G+ but also loosing access to other Google Services..

shareme, good point. My understanding is that suspension of an account because of a "real name" violation does leave the owner with access to Google services like Gmail.

There are numerous, if anecdotal, stories indicating otherwise.

There are also some anecdotal stories of people now having trouble due to having multiple Google accounts.

I won't accept my invitation until 1) I know it can't bork my access to Gmail, Calendar, Docs; or 2) I can use it under a different Google account without worrying about being whacked (I don't have a detailed knowledge of these supposed events) for having "duplicate accounts".

I agree with other comments, here; unless you're one of the "beautiful geeks", historically Google support is, well, not so much.

Keep in mind that some people, like me, actually have a one-word name as their legal name.

Would be nice to get a warning email, rather than waking up dead.

Fuck google. I love there e-mail but hate verything else about them. here me google? FUCK YOU. im sticking with facebook and bing

She's prominent enough that I'm sure they'll reinstate it.

Guys, it's a beta right now. This is why. Part of signing up for G+ at this time is volunteering to be a bug tester.

She found a bug that where it allowed here to put quotes in her name, even though she's not supposed to.

The problem is for all the people who are not prominent enough, but get nuked anyway.

When people get special treatment because they are prominent, have a reputation, or have a posse, that's a problem. Often the problem is that the special treatment should not be special, but should be the usual case.

I have at least four friends on G+ with this problem... which makes me suspect that the name/identity/pseudo problem is not merely a few special cases, but is in fact widespread.

Pull the other one. Its a deliberate feature not a bug. Its to try and detect the use of pseudonyms (and fake profiles) and force people to use real identities.

I 100% will not support another platform which does this. Its to important to the arts not to have pseudonyms.

The reason for suspension is probably the quotes in her name. A Google engineer on g+ posted that you should not have any special characters in your name to avoid getting suspended.

Then why does G+ allow you to have quotes in your name?

This is absurd.

>Then why does G+ allow you to have quotes in your name?

Because it's still in beta.

>This is absurd.

No it isn't.

Yeah it kind of is. Google has a lot of resources. I still don't know if their strategy of long running public betas is marketing or a true inability to start with something much better then a beta version.

If it's marketing this, quotes in your name stuff, is not funny.

If it's a true inability to iterate and scale without a public beta, well they are not a start-up, it is kind of absurd.

They went from a few thousand to 10 Million users in about 30 days.

Of course there are going to be little hickups like this. The problem is already fixed. How is that absurd?

"The reason for suspension is probably the quotes in her name."

I think the profile previously said "Adafruit Industries." You can still see that name in Bing.

Google+ is bullshit. We want something better than Facebook, but with Buzz and Google+, Google has shown they have even less respect for user privacy. I'm deleting my account and (pessimistically) crossing my fingers for Diaspora.

This article is written to sound like the suspension was due to blantant sexism, but there doesn't seem to be any reason to believe that. Almost certainly just a innocent misunderstanding.

Sexism? She guessed it might be because of her nickname in quotes, or because the page talks more about her business than it does about her. But I don't see any claims of sexism.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact