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Why I won't get a Google+ Custom URL (vrypan.net)
259 points by vrypan on Nov 8, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 162 comments

Here's how it works. The techies create something. The legals come along and say, OK, to release that in the wild it needs some T&Cs that cover our arses for everything and then some, because people keep sueing us.

In practice, would Google ever dare invoke this on a large scale? No, you know that. Yes, there should be some transparent process that is undertaken if yours were revoked, but Google only like stuff that scales, manual processes like that don't.

And really, if the ability to revoke your URL at any time wasn't in the T&Cs, do you really think it would make any difference to the revoke rate?

Sure, nobody in their right mind would depend on such a URL sticking around, but this post isn't "Why I won't get a Google+ Custom URL", it's "Why I won't use a Google+ Custom URL as the primary mechanism to link to myself online". I don't see much argument against just claiming one, if you're already a g+ user.

Me in 1993: Yeah, but seriously, nobody is going to start charging for domain names. Writing a hundred bytes in your named.conf? What would you charge, ten cents? Doesn't make sense. And everybody swaps secondary service with everybody else, and your upstream includes it at no extra charge.

1993. I considered registering cocacola.com, sex.com, shell.com, etc. etc. Spent the money on consumables instead.

There are few moments I remember as clearly as making that decision.

You decided to spend money instead of free domains? ;)

Now that people mostly use search engines instead of typing whatever.com, I imagine domain squatters don't get as much traffic.

As I see it, the purpose of search engines is to route around squatters and find real content, no matter where it's hosted.

Unfortunately those same search engines are placing much importance on words that appear in a domain's name. Google at least also has a clear preference for well known TLDs, such as .com, .net and .org

The domain name is also many times your brand. So it's true that you may not type "whatever.com", but you still type "whatever". In this particular instance, "whatever.com" actually exists, but has no content on it and thus it doesn't have a high ranking. But in other cases a developer of something like "go-whatever.ly" may end up with a world of hurt.

For startups, these considerations don't even factor in the importance that investors themselves place on well picked domain names.

If you think domain names are not important anymore, you're wrong.

The domains are still worth a lot though.

Unless its a sex related domain. I'm sure fuck.com, sex.com and anything similar will receive free traffic as long as domain names exist.

Where can I read more about this seemingly magical era? I'm so young that it sounds like a faerietale.

It's hardly a canonical source, but very much on the 'seemingly magical' side of things -- there's a Twitter account devoted to crawling old boards and pages and tweeting interesting snippets.


Incredibly wonderful -- and very surreal. It's bizarre to think that only twenty years ago, the Internet was an entirely different culture.

In 1994, someone at Wired magazine (which was only in its 2nd year of existence) registered mcdonalds.com to see what would happen: http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/2.10/mcdonalds_pr.html

Google 'NSF NSI contract 1993'. Ended up being worth North of $20B in about 7 years.

I recall thinking how messy web pages looked compared to gopher, which seemed more organized. I was using text browsers for both, of course.

> ten cents

And they started charging $70, IIRC!

$100, two years.

god were you wrong back then!

You forgot the part where the business guys come in and ask why they aren't making money off this and decide to either cancel the service or start charging for it.

The claim-page I saw says that at some point they may charge for it. I expect they will, if they ever think people have come to rely on it.

I took my name URL but have no plans to publicize it. I don't own it.

Google Reader, never forget :-)

> In practice, would Google ever dare invoke this on a large scale?

Twitter has already done that on a number of primary usernames, rather than just vanity urls. Did you expect them to do that? Do you think Google is better?

So, we're talking Google here. IF your assessment is true, then Google is certainly reigned by lawyers, not engineers.

Point taken.

Reigned? Based on the inclusion of one cover-your-ass clause that has so far never been exercised in the terms and conditions of one product?

If this is your idea of sufficient evidence that a company is run by lawyers, I'd challenge you to find a single company that isn't. I don't believe I've ever seen an agreement that didn't say that the company could change the terms at any time and that continued usage constituted acceptance of the new terms. All of those agreements implicitly allow exactly what Google has explicitly allowed for.

Indeed. A huge corporation would never do anything unethical for money.

It's not about ethics, it would just not make very much sense to charge people for their G+ handle when:

  - They struggle to get adoption from users.
  - They offer all these other, more essential/complex,
    services for 'free'(Gmail/Search/Docs/Calendar/Android).
  - Anybody can turn around and use the long form, unless
    your G+ is part of your marketing and as such, you use
    it as part of a business.
Really, I think they only put that condition there so they can eventually monetize handles that are used by other Big Corp.

As a quick reality check, we're talking about boring old URL rewriting here. "Cool new invention mangled by legal paranoia" is a solid story, but other stories would probably fit the circumstances better.

Why I won't get a Custom URL:

> Many people have the same name. Add a few extra letters or numbers to this URL to get one that is unique for you.

Why would I want yet another "MyName<randomcrap>" identifier? How does that help friends and family remember or identify me? What purpose does it serve?

I'm yet another person with a nickname that identifies me all over and has for years, I too own the domain. But Google+ keeps insisting I have my "real name" ... except it's not my real name because I have to add random crap to be unique.

I have no idea why they cling to this.

Even though I prefer +simoneau, e.g. https://news.ycombinator.com/user?id=simoneau, I had come around to living with +MatthewSimoneau (if only to keep someone else from getting it). When it required me to add some trailing garbage after my name though, I also canceled the process.

Same here, I don't understand why I'm forced to append junk, and I'm pretty sure my first/last name alone aren't taken.

I canceled at that point.

Interesting, a day later I got an e-mail that let me claim my full name without suffix.

How are they deciding who has to have a suffix, then, if there's no +MatthewSimoneau already? I got +DanEllis no problem.

This whole "many people have the same name" thing is absolute garbage. using google search, i can't find a single reference to anybody else who has the same name as me. my name is unique. and yet i have to add a suffix anyways.

and my nickname is pretty unique, i know there's nobody else on google+ using it. and i have a page named 'notatoad', not that i use it for anything. but i have to put a suffix on that too.

Yeah, it's inevitable that the Jennifer Smiths are going to get miffed. I preferred the Facebook era without vanity URLs. It seemed sensible.

You could for a time (not sure if it still works) email users on facebook by using vanity_handle@facebook.com from any email address. Which is quite useful to get back in touch with people, now that people avoid listing their email addreses in email directories (people stopped doing that because they were fed up of spam). Having said that a non-vanity identifier could probably be used in the same way, so there isn't much point.

The author of this post, wants to make a land grab for his named handle all over the web. Well that's not much better.

I worked with a client yesterday that had bought 33 alternative domain names that were similarish to their company name. Why even bother! There were many obvious name / term combinations that they had missed anyway. What a waste of money and time!

I liked his resolution of just advertising his web address, and from there people could discover other handles for other services.

It's only made things more complex with the myriad of compnay handles on different services. Adverts on TV (in the UK) now don't even list their domain name, they just advertise Facebook and Twitter handles. I personally prefer loose identifiers: 'Lucy who does ITV's weather'. Even the presenters have their Twitter handles displayed on screen now!

It is not like you are likely to remember most of these handles anyway. Even if you tried to guess one, do you use camel case, underscores, spaces etc?

There is a little UI value in having recognisable identifiers, but at the end of the day vanity URLs are about as twatty as personalised number plates.

"I have no idea why they cling to this."

Not saying that I agree or disagree with Google, but they have explained their reasoning here: "It's recommended that you go by your first and last name because it will help you connect with people you know and help them find you." - https://support.google.com/plus/answer/1228271?hl=en

For most people it won't be first and last name. It will be first and last name followed by a bunch of junk, which isn't easy to remember.

Furthermore, my name is very hard to remember the spelling of in English. This is why I go of a shortened version of my fullname, but Google isn't okay with this <_<

Considering that my comment was a direct refutation of this premise, I'm not sure why you posted this.

How did Google not realise when they launched Google+ that URLs that end in ridiculously long strings of numbers (107350252619396782277) was a poor idea? Now it feels like they're adding a sticking plaster to fix their initial design decision.

Google+ on the whole seems quite poorly designed from a UX perspective. Most people seem to use Google+ like a blog, but the two column card layout on the desktop (three columns on some Google+ sites) makes it impossible to read posts in chronological order. This is so blazingly obvious, one can only wonder why Google went ahead with this pattern. If the site is optimised for mobile (which seems to be the case), why do they push the same design to desktop?

The way comments open up in a small scrollable panel also makes for a pretty miserable experience on the desktop. As does clicking a tag and having to explore everying from within the constricted space of a card (again why do they push this pattern to desktop users if it's intended for mobile users?)

Can you actually add titles for Google+ posts? It doesn't seem so. This means you redundantly repeat the name of the blog author as the title of every single card/post.

And what's with the bizarre gigantic image at the top of the page that only reveals itself when you scroll to the top? Was this meant to be a delightful surprise feature? It just feels odd.

Finally, there is a button on the left-hand side of the page in the header. It looks like a button, it's shaped like a button. But when you move your mouse pointer over the button, a menu appears automatically (on rollover). If it's meant to be a rollover drop-down menu, then don't make it look like a clickable button. As always with Google and their UX, it's one step forward, two steps back (IMO).

Most people seem to use Google+ like a blog, but the two column card layout on the desktop (three columns on some Google+ sites) makes it impossible to read posts in chronological order.

This is configurable. I set it back to the single column precisely because the crowded page of mostly images didn't suit me.

Can you actually add titles for Google+ posts? It doesn't seem so. This means you redundantly repeat the name of the blog author as the title of every single card/post.

People seem to have adopted the practice of bolding the first line of there post content (using asterisks) to have it stand out as a title. Seems to work pretty well, at least when scanning down a page of posts.

As for your other observations: Yeah, there's a bunch of odd clunky shit going on. Greasemonkey has been a big help for me. :)

There are also some Chrome extensions that mitigate some of the g+ UX pain.

I actually like a lot of the UX, at least for the content that I consume. I enjoy viewing content in some of the photography and photo sphere groups, and for this a one column layout would be too wide without scrolling quite a bit more.

Now, that said, this is more casual consumption. I don't care if I miss a post or two due to your chronological post issue. I also imagine there are a number of people like me when it comes to this.

Clicking the tag and having it inline is a nice way to see if you actually want to lose your current context and go to the full tag browsing mode. I also like this.

The image at the top? Nice way to not lose screen real estate on first load. I find it fun.

So, obviously we have some differences of opinion, and some of it may just come down to the sort of content we consume/create, but count me in the group that actually largely likes the interface.

Hidden menus that pointlessly jump out into the oceans of unused space. Half-hidden photo and a hidden search box that bobs pointlessly up and down. Clunkily-unusable Circles. Endless pages that make it impossible to access old content (Facebook does this much better). Porthole icons. Pointlessly disappearing notification system. Mouseover popups that sometimes pop up (but don't contain any useful information) and sometimes don't pop up (compare "Community invitations" with "You may know").

The whole thing is full of utterly useless bits of "design". Some of these may contribute to making it horribly slow, though I'm sure there are other reasons why it's so bloated....

I agree with most of your moans here, apart from your first. I haven't any issue with the random (probably uuids) strings and url length.

I do find G+ difficult to scan though. To the point that it's pointless for me to even bother with. I haven't loaded my circles up either, but I find the streams can get easily saturated by one individual, pretty quickly.

Another issue I have is the crappy comments - especially on public posts from popular accounts as opposed to friends' content. You open them up, start scrolling realise there is nothing of value, then wonder how you can shut them back up without scrolling back up etc.

In fact the whole thing would be far more useful if it was just one big atom-feed.

I'm following a friend's wordpress blog (an online hosted account on wordpress.com), and that's a hideous up front. I discovered RSS feeds of posts and comments hidden in the source code - and that makes for a far easier interface! Less is more and all that...

FWIW you can choose a one column layout. looks great on tablet/mobile but not so much on a 27" LCD.

I noticed the same clause in the TOS last week and was taken aback. Ideally I'd love to be able to distribute my Google+ URL with the same confidence as I distribute my email address: namely, if you send a message to this address, you can guarantee that I'm the one who receives it. The fear here is that, should Google start charging for this "service" in the future, and should I decline to play along, someone else could squat on my former URL and intercept any traffic intended for my page. Please, Google, for my own peace of mind, either make this a paid service up-front, or pledge that a given URL will always alias to the same individual.

(Though perhaps the email analogy is a bad one, since IIRC both Yahoo and MSN periodically release long-dormant addresses back into the eligible pool. Though still unsettling, it's a more reasonable approach than "we may force you to start paying us an unknown amount at some unknown future date".)

Ultimately, I was about to go through with it anyway until I realized that doing so would require me to register a phone number with my Google account, which I have so far avoided. That requirement was the final straw.

Ultimately, I was about to go through with it anyway until I realized that doing so would require me to register a phone number with my Google account, which I have so far avoided. That requirement was the final straw.

Absolutely understandable.

For those who have accidentally been opt-ed in to this scummy Google behaviour, you can still opt out: https://www.google.com/settings/phone

You might still need to go to your profile afterwards and delete the phone. You should be allowed to. Seriously though: Has it come to this? Do we need to treat Google like Facebook? Expect the worst at every turn?

As for Google taking a turn for the worse...

Am I the only one thinking they are literally fucking up every thing they do these days? I had the (dis)pleasure of re-visiting my Google Apps console this week. What used to take 30 seconds-done, now took 2 hours of Googling and experimenting until I realized that the new Admin-console was simply broken and couldn't do what the old one could do. It's completely dysfunctional.

Let me re-iterate that: The main product Google has to enable services for paying customers doesn't work any more. Now it just lists already enabled services. That's it.

When did Google get so utterly lost? One thing is PR, which is something they obviously still need to learn proper. But breaking their own services? Isn't there a single soul which still cares about delivering at Google?

What the fuck happened?

> I was about to go through with it anyway until I realized that doing so would require me to register a phone number with my Google account, which I have so far avoided. That requirement was the final straw

That's exactly how I feel. I try very hard to not give my number out, why the hell does google force me to tell them, just to get a URL?

If I had to guess, and this really is just a guess, I'd say the phone number requirement is an attempt to discourage whatever the short-url equivalent of domain squatting is.

So you don't have two factor authentication set for your Google account(s)?

I love two factor auth, but I don't like that it uses my phone number. I really wish I could buy one of those RSA SecurID two factor auth key fobs from any hardware supplier like NewEgg and just register the serial number of the device with Google or any other company I want to use two factor auth with.

Even better would be to allow me to register backup two factor auth key fobs and I can just throw one or two backups in a safe deposit box, safe or similar safe place.

I think it's for Google accounts in general. Even getting a gmail account requires this.

it's not, it asks for one but you can omit it, even though it will keep bugging you about it from time to time.

It didn't when I signed up, and thus far, I've not been forced to add it.

Perhaps that's a new requirement. Some of us don't bother with mobile phones. I signed up for an account, at one time it asked, another it didn't. Try and empty your browser cache and try again.

Why should Google agree to give away something to you for free forever? They are doing you and the majority of the users (who will never pay for Facebook/Google Plus/Github) a favor by providing the service without charging you a dime. They reserve the right to charge you in the future. If this changes, they will let you know.

I'm perfectly fine with paying for things! In fact, I'm ecstatic at the opportunity to pay for valuable online services. Did you miss the bit of my post where I exhort Google to "make this a paid service up-front"? But what's not cool is offering a means of universal personal identity for free (with the concomitant lock-in this entails), and then sneaking a clause into your TOS revealing your intentions to begin charging for this service at some future date, especially when there is no indication as to what the magnitude of that charge would be! $10 per year? I'd pay that, if my profile was especially important to me. I already pay as much for my personal domain names. $100 per year? Almost certainly not, unless G+ was the world's most important social network. Or maybe it's $X*N per year, where X is the number of unique visits your page gets per year and N is an arbitrary multiplier? We have absolutely no idea! We can't even speculate. It's a black box, a landmine, and it's executed in bad faith by tucking it away where only the most technical of users will ever notice it.

My only concern would be the link rot that might occur if your urls are later rewritten to the new username. Which makes a mockery of having the vanity urls in the first place. Having said that I can't even work out if a single Google+ post has it's own URI, or how I find it even.

Alright you guys, I'm gonna blow your minds.

Try this kind of link: profiles.google.com/[YOUR USER NAME HERE]

For example, vrypan's custom link would be: http://profiles.google.com/vrypan

Sweet. But how does this work? I'm not the only James Britt on g+, but profiles.google.com/jamesbritt goes to my profile page.

It uses your gmail id. This "profile.google.com/<emailid>" is there before the Buzz time, long before Google+.


Some data points:

I have a few gmail accounts. One is for james.g.britt, but profiles.google.com/jamesgbritt does not resolve to the g+ page for that email address.

I also have a g+ page for james@neurogami.com (via google apps)

profiles.google.com/neurogami takes me to the g+ page for that e-mail address.

I see it works for vrypan, but it doesn't work for me. It gives me a 404 error and I have no idea why.

That's a neat trick until you say "Google apps" and it all falls apart.

Yea, I remember having my Google Profile back in the day, before + or Buzz.

I almost claimed a custom URL yesterday when I was writing up the YouTube comment change and in the process updating my G+ profile. They wanted my number to claim it, which I believe they already have for 2-factor on Gmail. In the end the whole process with YouTube was so galling that I just deleted my whole account. As OP notes, it's not like Google+ was the first place people would look for me, and it's not a useful resource for me, so why have it at all?

Deleting your account was less galling than using your phone number to confirm your identity? Hm.

No, the whole YouTube thing. Having a channel, unchecking a bunch of boxes and worrying about extra policies - having an extra Google+ page with its own Talk address and inbox, in addition to the channel's inbox, etc. I just realized I don't use it, probably won't ever, and it'll only keep trying to get me to connect via other means, so I thought I'd nip it in the bud.

If you don't use it, why don't you just ignore it, like 99% of most YouTube uploaders?

All of these recent Google+ changes, aside from "Real Names," only affect people with a large YouTube following.

I absolutely support you deleting your YouTube account in protest of the ever-increasing Google+ requirements. But at least call it what it is--deleting your account in protest.

Actually I sympathise with the poster here. I just tried to get back to the personalised vanity chooser thing in G+, and ended up clicking on Settings then to Account, which got me to a google account page. On the right handside there is a link to a profile, and there's a nickname listed. I can't even remember what that's for or what that profile belongs to. There's even some reference to Buzz that I thought I'd killed. I go around in circles. And don't even get the whole Youtube integration thing. So I just back away from it and try and ignore it. You get overloaded. I'm not at the point of deleting my account, but not far off - mainly out of confusion.

Given that the name I use for G+ (and HN) isn't one I'm ordinarily known by, having any metadata which tracks back to me that others could find is a definite negative.

I've got my reasons. I prefer it this way. It's beyond annoying that Google keep insisting on trying to link various accounts and/or grabbing my personal data. And the harder they pull, the harder I push back.

There's nothing that's changed my impression of Google, in a negative way, so much as using G+ and observing the commentary of its leadership (Eric Schmidt in particular, but Vic Gundotra and Larry Page as well). Yes, some individual Google engineers do tend to give me hope, but I'm seeing the fish as increasingly likely to have been rotten from the head.

That the company appears far preferable to Facebook I'd freely concede, but talk of damning with faint praise.

Also worth noting is that you cannot change the url once assigned. So, better hope you don't get married - or that a serial killer has the same name as you. http://shkspr.mobi/blog/2013/10/googles-broken-name-policy-a...

Is this really any different then the T&C that governs your cryptic https://plus.google.com/107350252619396782277/ url?

Whatever the current T&Cs says, google can certainly reclaim or start charging for your current plus url, and heck even your google account. Google can do whatever the heck they want, and you really have no recourse.

<vrypan> is upset that Google+'s TOU for custom URLs gives the company too much unfettered discretion.

In reality, Google+'s overall TOU for the service also gives the company plenty of discretion. As do similar ones from Twitter and Facebook. (Gasp! Bulk-delete your accounts now!) The overall Google+ TOU says, for instance, "Google reserves the right to restrict the content on your Google+ Page at its discretion."

Facebook says you can't create "more than one personal account" or provide any "false personal information," which probably half of the folks on HN have done at some time or another. Facebook can "remove any content or information you post on Facebook" if, in its own discretion, the company feels like it violates the TOU.

Twitter's TOU says it can "create limits on use and storage at our sole discretion at any time without prior notice to you." The company can delete tweets "at our sole discretion." And so on.

In reality, as <davidjgraph> says, Google (and Facebook and Twitter) would not invoke this on a large scale. There would be a reputational impact. The language does come from the lawyers, but largely because of the plaintiff's bar, not because SV GCs enjoy adding this language to TOUs.

tl;dr: If you're going to assume the worst from every company, you might as well never create any account or log in anywhere.

Honest question: are these terms of service significantly different than other services? Do Twitter / Github / etc have similar terms?

From GitHub TOS:

> GitHub, in its sole discretion, has the right to suspend or terminate your account and refuse any and all current or future use of the Service, or any other GitHub service, for any reason at any time. Such termination of the Service will result in the deactivation or deletion of your Account or your access to your Account, and the forfeiture and relinquishment of all Content in your Account. GitHub reserves the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason at any time.

That to me looks broader than Google, Twitter, or Facebook's TOU. I look forward to the impassioned post highlighted here on HN saying:

"Wait, wait, wait! Did they say that they may decide to charge me for my Github account in the future? And that they may remove it 'for any reason at any time?' A Github account is an identifier. I'll use it to identify myself on this service. I'll link to it from my website. I may print it on a business card. Like Github said in their email, I'll use it to 'make software development more collaborative.' But they can take it away for any reason or deactivate it? No way. Github is not a place I own, it's a place Github is kind enough to let me visit and have some limited activity, but they can always kick me off or ask for an (unspecified) rent."


This Google bashing on HN is really getting ridiculous.

I came here to point this out. I would imagine other services have pretty much the same exact lingo in their terms. I think the author should definitely look into those before he claims Google+ to be worse. It seems like a very bias judgement before he does his background on the other services.

But he isn't trying to "unbiasedly compare services" not claim google+ is worse.

I think the author is making it a bigger deal than it really is, nothing stops google from bringing down the google plus or any other service he might be using(just like google reader or wave) so according to his logic (printed on business card etc...) you can't even have a long unfriendly URL because google can shut down google plus any day they want to or just start charging people.

Google Profiles used your email id as your unique identifier which made more sense. Now I have an email id, a name and a g+ profile unique url which are all different.

They authorized "JayFreemansaurik" and "JaysaurikFreeman" (both of which are highly confusing to even parse) for me, and the form won't even let me try to request "saurik" so I also gave up and am just a number.

FWIW, I was totally OK in a world without usernames. The problem with usernames is that people figure out how to take them from you, and they get burned forever. What happens when we all die? I respected the numbers.

When they added the username mechanism that seemed to be selling out on that wonderful principal. The result also is clearly suboptimal: cocacola has a username, but pepsi is just a number (as their trademark is too short).

I have a name which is 100% unique in the world. There are no other people with my combination of first name and last name. Not in my ØÆÅ country. Not on the planet. None. Not making this up. It's a unique one. Certifiably.

And Google has the balls to ask me to create a Google+ URL with lots of numbers and gibberish added? What? They can just seriously fuck off.

as a data point, to me it simply proposed +GabrieleRenzi, which may be unique in g+ but is certainly not unique worldwide (heck, there are at least 4 people named like me on facebook).

So maybe they just decided that something like "€∂gàr sm0ll" should be considered the same as "edgar small" ?

The reason I won't get a custom URL is because after getting the "Click here to get your custom URL" email, I was informed I had to give them my mobile number before this process was achievable.

It seems Google is on an absolute mission to get my mobile number, they've been relentlessly hinting that it's essential that I give it to them for what feels like forever.

No Google, you cannot have it. Please, stop asking.

Note that you don't have to give Google your mobile number. You can use a Google Voice number.

That's not really the point is it? They said they couldn't give me a personalised URL unless I gave them my mobile number. Clearly I could have given them any number. It's the fact they're holding features to ransom that I find utterly disturbing.

Do no evil. Yeah right.

But to create a google voice number, you provide your phone number...

PROTIP: Just redirect vrypan.com/plus to your G+ page.

Bonus: Use vrypan.com/+

For this exact reason I registered my own 1-letter URL shortener domain and use it to create my own custom redirects whenever I want without submitting to someone's BS TOS.

It's better to promote your own brand than someone else's.

Send me email at: g@c.gg :)

I got curious and checked c.gg and I see it is for sale.

Are you selling your own shortener domain you used to create your own short URL's ?

I tried to build business on it (didn't have time/resources to push it) then sell it in the past, but it didn't happen. Then I started seeing more and more value having your own, really short and easy to type URL shortener - for exact reason author wrote this post.

I plan to set it up like my personal "tiny.cc" allowing for vanity urls for easy navigations

For example:

http://c.gg/regex http://c.gg/az

I have the same thing on pkn.me. That just resolves to my normal blog which redirects to the canonical URL. So I can have, for example, http://pkn.me/r for my resume and http://pkn.me/mmp for my book landing page.

I used to give random 5 letter strings to my posts as their ID but now I actually put some thought into it so I can have good, rememberable short URLs.

Can you give us some backstory on how you acquired a single letter domain name, please.

I wanted to find a 1-letter domain that was the easiest to type on a keyboard (with my 2-finger typing habit). I think that was back in 2006-ish days.

So i found that typing keys C + . + GG requires an absolutely minimal amount of physical finger effort as hands are almost perfectly positioned above these keys.

So I registered these. In fact back then there were a plenty of other 1-letter domain available up for a grabs.

I used to do professional photo business and registered GO.GL - as my first name is Gleb (still have business cards laying around with this address).

At the same time i thought that registering GOO.GL would be cool too - but back then the greenland (owner of this TLD) charged $50/yr + the only way you can register is by sending them a FAX. So I didn't bother.

I am actually good at picking decent domain names even today.

Thank you.

His reasoning can be applied to all free social media, which is a valid reason, and why smart people should avoid the step back in time to a central AOL-esque media hub. He has his own domain, what more does he need? Why feed the social media black hole (all things enter - nothing escapes)?

My custom Google+ URL is http://google.com/+AnžePečar even though typing letters with diacritics is nearly impossible on 99% of the keyboards out there. I should have kept the random numbers...

https://plus.google.com/+AnzePecar redirects to http://google.com/+AnžePečar so infact you now have two URL shorteners. Native tongue and english.

http://google.com/+An%C5%BEePe%C4%8Dar isn't pretty, but at least it's typable. Edit: whoa ghuntley, good find!

Why the phone verification is required to claim a custom URL? Custom URL is a poor incentive to provide Google your phone number.

I have a mobile number but have opted out of texting (they are blocked so I don't get charged) and instead use a free texting app which also assigns me a virtual number. Unfortunately the verification text from Google does not make it through. I tried two texting apps, and even tried my normal cell number hoping that Google had some agreement with my carrier to pass the code along.

Seems odd that Google would risk turning me away from Plus simply because I cannot receive texts. Get over it Google, I'm not giving you my cell number. Find another way to verify my identity, I only use practically all of your services and have given you pretty much all of my personal information at one point over the last dozen years.

those verification texts work when sent to google voice numbers, for what it's worth (plenty of other similar systems break when you give them gvoice numbers)

Agreed. I simply do not own a cellphone so a custom URL isn't possible.

"People who have this phone number may be able to find you on Google services."

yeah, no thanks.

When you read this, think about how many words an otherwise smart man wrote about something that's completely inconsequential. Down-vote me all you want but please consider how you're spending your brain power.

Google's decision is stupid: they make one person happy and a gazillion others with the same name - pissed off. I'm not sure if any business wants to be in this position. I'm boycotting it as I have the proper username with Twitte, Facebook, LinkedIn - you name it. Why would I want to be something that doesn't represent me on Google+? Sorry, but we have choices and only a small portion of my friends use Google+ anyway. Poor choice, Google - if you started in the beginning, it would have been a good choice, but it's a bit too late for such nonsense. I still have not been offered a vanity name anyway and a bunch of people with a couple of friends were. You either do at for all at once or you don't at all. People take it as fair if somebody was first to register it. People think it's unfair when Google decides.

At this point, I'm not even sure how my identity is split up on Google's servers between my original Google account, my Google Plus account, and my legacy YouTube account. Sometimes I feel like I'm logged into three different things at once. And now I can't even use my original username as my Google Plus URL? Does that mean that my legacy YouTube account is no longer active? Or has it been merged with my Google Plus profile without my consent, despite consistently clicking on "no thanks" every time the window popped up?

This sort of quagmire causes me to unconsciously stop using the services causing it. Already, I've found myself much less interested in liking and favoriting YouTube videos.

Exactly my thoughts. The experience is very jarring, plus the whole "use your real name in YouTube" thing that Google has got going on is annoying at best.

What I did before I got mine, was redirected mydomain.com/+ to my Google+ profile, it's shorter, and more importantly, I control it.

Oh, clever.

I set up plus.jamesbritt.com to redirect to my g+ profile page.

Yours is cooler. :)

One more important thing about these custom URLs:

1) Your Google+ profile is publicly indexable by searh engines.

2) Having a custom URL means anyone searching for your name on Google is going to find out your Google+ profile easily. Basically, your identity is now even more easier to discover. (When contrasted to the ordinary Google+ URL of random numbers)

3) If you are using the same profile picture on Google+ as your Facebook, people can track your Facebook profile, too. This is bad if you have a fairly active social life, but wanting a bit of a privacy.

facebook - choose whatever username you want

HN - choose whatever username you want

twitter - choose whatever username you want

reddit - choose whatever username you want

tumblr - choose whatever username you want

Google+ - we choose it for you, you can't change it, we might charge you for it, and we might also take it away at some point

also - why does G+ need to insert the /u/0 after the domain name? twitter, facebook and the rest you can simply type domain.com/username but G+ just needs to make it so much less user friendly.

Seriously, did you read any of the other comments on this thread?

Facebook: "If you select a username or similar identifier for your account or Page, we reserve the right to remove or reclaim it if we believe it is appropriate"

Twitter: "We reserve the right at all times (but will not have an obligation) to remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, to suspend or terminate users, and to reclaim usernames without liability to you."

Reddit: "Service Provider or third parties may charge you fees for products or services offered for sale through the Website, and/or for access to portions of the Website or the Website as a whole" AND "Provider may, in appropriate circumstances and at its discretion, suspend or terminate the access of and take other action against users, subscribers, registrants and account holders"

Tumblr: "Tumblr reserves the right to refuse registration of, cancel, or modify a Tumblr URL in its sole discretion."

And finally, you don't need any "/u/0" after the domain name. See: https://plus.google.com/+LinusTorvalds

these are all terms of service considerations. you can still choose a username upon signup for almost any social media account except G+. g+ is the only service that assigns a username to you.

i did not know that about /u/0, thanks!

The /u/0 just means you're using multilogin. For example, if you log in as foo@gmail.com, and then log in as bar@gmail.com via multilogin, gmail.com/u/0/inbox/whatever will take you to foo's email, and gmail.com/u/1/inbox/whatever will take you to bar's. You can thus have adjacent tabs accessing both accounts simultaneously.

Also, /u/0 is the default; you can remove it from the URL and it'll continue working just fine.

> A URL is an identifier. I'll use it to identify myself on this service. I'll link to it from my website. I may print it on a business card. Like Google said in their email, I'll use it to "point folks to my profile". But they can take it away for any reason or decide to charge me a (yet unknown) amount of money in the future? No way. I'll stay with my current, unfriendly one, https://plus.google.com/107350252619396782277/

Uh, what makes you think that Google doesn't have the right to take away the numeric URL or charge money for the numeric URL? (Or simply change the URL structure/scheme for Google+ at any point in the future.) Whether you use a numeric URL or personalized URL is irrelevant: Any service/server you don't control can change at any time for any reason. You should always direct people to a domain you own and control, even if all that domain does is auto-redirect to your current Google/Facebook/Github/whatever profile.

I firmly believe that using uncontrolled urls - such as facebook, g+, etc. - on business cards, print material, or even as your established "online home" is unwise. I think its better to maintain/publish urls originating from a domain name that YOU control...And then create links (with underlying associated metadata "rel=me" style links) or setup redirects...Such as: YourDomain.com/gplus or YourDomain.com/linkedin...etc...

This leaves YOU in control. Can be done on the really cheap. And if google, fbook, linkedin, or any of these services changes things around such as urls, or UI, or ToC, or anything YOU don't agree with, then you kill the redirection/links. Quick, easy and from one central point.

Granted their sites will have a little more SEO juice up front...And, maybe I'm being idealistic, but eventually all search engines will begin to see that YOUR domain is the authoritative point on the web for YOU...and that the start point is YOUR domain not the myriad of social networks.

I agree with this. Something like <first><lastname>.<tld>/social or /card and have that page list all your fb, g+, linkedin twitter links.

Bonus, you get a permanent email address that NO ONE can take away from you, for life.

This is weird. I could suggest a custom URL typing it myself. The form said that it would be reviewed but it got approved straight away.

May be is because I just used Google's suggestion but removing the accent in my surname (I don't like them in an URL, and besides is the same thing I use in LinkedIn).

That was 9 days ago.

They released a giant wave of "everyone gets custom URLs" recently. It was announced somewhere or other. I thought I was special until I saw that.

The guy had a lot of options, mine was just one. Take or leave.

what is the process for this? do you have to wait till they approach you or is there an online application?

My session expired and had to log in again, and there was a form. I didn't apply or anything like that.

As I said it felt a little bit buggy ("we'll review your request", and then it was approved straight away), may be Google has refined the process.

so nothing triggered it? just random?

At least the TOS are honest and transparent. Even if Google did not warn specifically that they can kick people out or start asking for money, they would of course be free to do so. So, is it worse if Google reminds you that you have no guarantees whatsoever? ...

Doesnt twitter and facebook have the same type of ToS?

Doesn't ALL free services have he same sort of clause?

I'm missing what's new compared to using... put here any the non-paid service online?


Here are Gmail Terms of Service[1]: --- Modifying and Terminating our Services

We are constantly changing and improving our Services. We may add or remove functionalities or features, and we may suspend or stop a Service altogether. ---

What happens if they suddenly suspend their service? NOTHING! :-) we all hope and have many reasons to believe that they wont do that, anytime soon.

[1]: http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/terms/update/

An example of such shenanigans is WeWorkRemotely.com. It was posted to HN recently, and was totally free. Less than a week later and they want $200 for a listing. Egregious behavior, especially for something put on by 37 signals.

I tried to get a Google+ custom URL and couldn't. They require a phone number to send you a confirmation SMS. I no longer have this protocol (due to an abundance of more technically advanced, and free to use alternatives).

This is based on inductive reasoning:

This process is heading toward a time when your online identity corresponds directly to your personal ID. This will create a debate between at least two sides:

1. Privacy rights activists will argue that tech companies are complicit with the NSA and that we should fear totalitarianism and a police state's repression.

2. Others will argue that this verisimilitude between the online self and the material self provides for security and convenience.

On the one hand you have those that value freedom and on the other hand you have those that value convenience.

We hacked this nonsense by creating a simple redirect on our website: http://eyevel.com/G+ ;) You can too! It's a simple htaccess line or a router on your app

put this into the .htaccess of your host and change where appropriate (yourdomain, extension and G+ long userID)

RewriteEngine on

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^yourDomain\.com$ [OR]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www\.yourDomain\.com$

RewriteRule ^B\@G\+$ "https\:\/\/plus\.google\.com\/103815970554408703928\/posts" [R=301,L]

While choosing a unique url you also give Google the right to (almost) publicly list your mobile number (Helping a user find you if they know your number). I can see websites, which store all possible number combinations to drive page views, trying to get username, email and other details from this Google feature. Soon everyone who gives Google their mobile number will have their name, G+ profile and possibly email id made public.

Wow, I didn't know that. I got the same e-mail and went all the way through with this exact same processor for one of my "pages". When I think about it, I don't really care as much about that G+ page as the other related social networking profiles, but this would still affect me if it were enforced at some point in the future. Well, I made the change, unlike you. Score one for actually reading the TOS.

What about a workaround?

I'm /guillaumeish pretty much everywhere, and using my "real name" it's against my religion. I can't do it.

I got no time to test it atm (and I don't remember the G+ policies on name changes) but couldn't you just change your name to "Vry Pan", refresh and claim the VryPan handle... than change your name back to whatever it was before? They have a time restriction like facebook?

You all already have a nice looking google+ url, you just don't know about it. It's:

For example, my email is peteris.krumins@gmail.com, and my google+ url is:



Does everyone have that, or only people who created Google Profiles before Plus replaced them?

I remember having been similarly surprised by the TOS.

However, the only annoyance and consequence of it, to me, is that I cannot share the link anymore than I used to. So I switched, and I'll switch back if they ask me to pay.

I am much more worried about them discontinuing Gmail. Since Reader, I have no idea what they are ready to kill.

Unfortunately, there is likely [please correct me if I'm wrong] a similarly-worded array of clauses in the contracts for many of their other services (or even g+ itself), that if taken seriously (i.e. not in a legalese manner), would likely cause a similar level of unjust alarm.

I wrote about this over a week ago, also they demand your cell phone number and apparently don't allow you to change it.


In other news, Google can do whatever they want with URLs they own & control. To think that your long number URL is any less safe is equally as amusing as thinking just because they give you a vanity URL, it's yours forever.

Google will do what they like with any Google-owned property.

Does anybody know if Google plans to allow claiming a deleted account... ever? I'm hoping that since I was granted +MyName in G+ I will be allowed to recover (long story) MyName@gmail.com... (It was MyName@googlemail.com and I wasn't happy... and let it expire...)

There like domain names. No surprised at all. I'm surprised twitter hasn't charged yet.

I'm sure the exact same things apply to the current unfriendly url you are using now.

Panayotis, you spelled the word "intellectual" wrong on your homepage.

Fixed. Thanks.

Gplus.<mydomain>.com I fixed this problem a while ago.

Make it: me.<yourdomain>.com

(In case big G will decide to abandon G+) :)

Got the +Custom Url in the end, despite the unchangeability. Does this matter much, if one has their own domain name, anyway ? Btw, the long form url still works

I will soon make a post: "Why I don't care that you won't change your Google+ Custom URL."

I got mine! The only place that I didn't get my name exactly the way I want it is on Twitter.

Wait, you read the T&C's?

i thought this article was going to be about how the "verify your phone number" system doesn't actually send you a text message to verify your phone, thus making it impossible to actually claim said custom URL....

That's why I never agree to anyone's terms and conditions online.

Why I won't read articles that begin with "Why I"

The argument makes no sense. URLs are not meant to point to the same resource forever. They are not 'permanent'.

And Google won't just start billing his credit card without consent...

Wait, people still use Google+?

When did they start?

I follow some tech sources there, mostly related to Android (and therefore, tied into Google's ecosystem anyway), but that's about it.

im pretty sure those 3 points are true of any service, anywhere.

Tl;dr I like to whine.

I don't understand why they call it "custom". More like "assigned".

You can technically apply to make it anything you want, and the set of allowed names should technically be far larger than the set of disallowed ones. But I'm waiting to see if they'll let me take +akkartik rather than +KartikAgaram, so we'll see.

They made it possible to request a different URL for maybe 12 hours after launching custom URLs, but quickly stopped offering it. Probably got inundated with requests. By the time I got my invite (about a day after they started sending them), there was no such link.

Also, they weren't just allowing people to register any old nickname or brand name. It was probably more about letting people make minor corrections.

how? what's the process?

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