In Which I Rant About Google+'s Names Policy

, Wellesley, MA

We just started a Google+ trial at MapMyFitness, to see if we might like to replace Skype with Hangouts for daily standups and other standing meetings.

The goal is to make it easier for people to show up of their own volition rather than having one person start the call and add all the other participants. Skype makes it difficult to start the meeting and let people straggle in later. It also makes it difficult for some people to show up a little early.

So now I have two Google Profiles. One using my personal Gmail account and another using my MapMyFitness Google Apps account. Almost immediately I ran into pain trying to add my coworkers to my circles in my MapMyFitness account. Which Jesse Demmel is the MapMyFitness Jesse Demmel and which is the individual Jesse Demmel? Those two guys have the same name and nearly identical profile photos. Not that I would know which is which even if they had different photos of the same guy.

So I tried to save others the same confusion by adding “MapMyFitness” as a nickname, and displaying my name as “Matt McClure (MapMyFitness)”. Problem solved. Or so I thought…

About a half hour later, I got an email:

From: Google+ team
Date: Thursday, October 4, 2012 11:14 AM
To: Matt McClure
Subject: Your Google+ nickname was not approved


After reviewing your profile, we determined that the nickname you provided does not comply with the Google+ Names Policy. We’ve removed the nickname from your profile’s display name.

The Google+ team.

Log in to Google+.

View the Google+ Names Policy.

Google Inc., 1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy, Mountain View, CA 94043 USA


At least the Names Policy is clearly written.


Your nickname should represent you as an individual, and should not be used to represent a business or profession. Don’t use the nickname field for statements or status updates. Your nickname should not be offensive, primarily consists of symbols, or be used to imitate celebrities or historical figures.

But I still don’t have a better solution to disambiguate individuals’ multiple Google Profiles.

Easy stuff shouldn’t be this hard.

Thanks for bearing with me while I got that off my chest. In spite of this, Hangouts look really promising. You might also like to read my more level-headed evaluation of HipChat vs. Skype.

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