1. First we click on the little "Create an account" link under the big "Sign In" button. I would have made it more obvious, but this isn't a post about esthetics (much).
4. Account creation is confirmed. We get some info about what applications we're getting an a Gmail upsell. Continue.
5. Now we're asked to send a verification mail so Google can verify that we are somewhat real. This is step one in the fight against spammers and throw-away anonymous accounts.
6. Verification mail sent, we go now to check our mailbox.
7. Here's the verification mail. We click on the verify link.
8. The account is now activated, we're asked if we want to add a mobile number in case we forget the password. Continue.
9. Step two in spam prevention, we're asked to confirm via a text message to our phone. Presumably Google frowns on people reusing the same mobile number for verification too often. We send ourselves the verification code.
10. We get a verification code on our phone and enter it here.
11. *Finally*, after eleven pages, we actually get to create our Google Profile for our Google+ account. This is the page where we enter our name. But wait, where is the warning that we must use our real name? Where is the warning that if we *don't* use our real name, we will lose the ability to fully use Picasa, +1, Buzz, Reader and possibly other services? Where's the stuff about having to send in our driver's license?
Now would be a good time to decide whether we really want to use our legal name on Google+.
What about that tiny little question mark?
13. The tiny question mark leads to a page which tells us what a profile is and how it's used. *Still* nothing about the name policy.
Except…note that "full name" is a link. It's a little less obvious in this image because I'd already visited it when I took the screen shot, but it's still pretty obscure.
So here's my question. How likely are you to click on a tiny question mark next to the words "Google profile"? Having done that, how likely are you to wonder what the phrase "full name" means, and click on that?
I was *searching* for this information, and it took me a while to find the link. Let's click on it.
14. Voilà! We finally found the "real name" guidelines. Note that they are *not* part of the Terms of Service, as some have claimed. They *also* don't say that we *must* follow them, they simply say that it's "important". I don't know about you, but *lots* of sites tell me that entering all my personal information is important, and I'm sure it is…to them. Here is where Google say's we should use the name that our friends, family *or* co-workers call us. A thousand or so people online and off know me only by my pseudonym, so my reading of this is that I can use it on Google+. Except they it _also_ says "Put nicknames or pseudonyms in the Other Names field". Unfortunately, that doesn't really make sense, given that a pseudonym is used *instead* of a legal name. Furthermore, it contradicts the previous instructions to use the name I'm known to by my friends. Confusing, no?
But what about the dangers of not following these recommendations? Where are they?
They are hidden below the fold.
15. This is where we finally get warned about the danger of not doing whatever it is that Google wants us to do with our name.
But there's nothing here about the government photo IDs that Google has been requiring. Instead we are told that we might have to submit a *trademark or DBA*. What on earth do those have to do with telling Google our legal name?! All I can think is that wording was meant for business accounts. It makes no sense, and makes me even less likely to take Google's recommendations seriously. On top of that, Google says providing that information won't necessarily help.
Finally we are told that if we _are_ suspended for violating something, we will lose full use of some Google services including Buzz, Reader and Picasa. We are also told that we can get them back by making an approved name change. We *aren't* told that if we aren't willing to, or can't, change our name, we will *permanently* lose the ability to fully use those services.
16. We're invited to add additional profile information.
17. We're invited to import our address book from other services.
18. We're told that we _really_ ought to import our address book from other services.
19. We are invited to follow a bizarre assortment of celebrities. What demographic is Google targeting again?
20. We're warned that if we don't follow Paris Hilton, we'll get lonely. Someone please point me to the nearest monastery?
21. And on page twenty one, we finally have a Google+ account.
Until, of course, Google suspends us for violating their name policy.
Illustration by my daughter, Shadi Fotouhi (http://dotty323.deviantart.com/). Permission granted to use with attribution under the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/