Did you sense a disturbance in the Googleverse?
After the geek masters at Google granted the not so rich & obscure masses the ability to claim their custom +Username (aka vanity or custom URL), “millions” cried out in terror over the inability to select their +Username of choice!
Surely out of all the John Smiths & Mary Janes online (& on Google+), they are the world’s favorite!
Joking aside Google needs a better policy for awarding popular custom URL’s to passionate users without adding silly numbers or letters at the end (lest they lose credibility as a legitimate identity service like Twitter, Facebook, App.net, et al).
While bidding for them could be a solution (after all Google may charge users for the privilege of owning a custom URL), a better solution might be found upon the world, wide web.
Enter The -Dragon- Domainer‽
Google has a beautiful tool called Google Authorship which helps the search engine king identify which sites a user owns.
Google could determine that if a user owns FirstnameLastname.com (& is actively using it) then that individual should be awarded the +FirstnameLastname custom username.
In case where multiple Plusers (what I lovingly call Google+ guys & gals) own similar domains with differing domain extensions (like .com, .net, .co.uk, .co, .me, .xxx, etcetera) then Google can determine which active domain was registered first & award +username based upon digital seniority.
Another method could be checking out other social networks that the user has claimed (such as Twitter, Instagram, App.Net, etcetera) & see if the username is consistent across rival platforms.
Last but not least the kings & queens of Googledom could allow people to secure highly sought after custom URL’s based upon “first come, first served” method (a standard which shockingly every other social network does!).
However Google+ could require users securing the coveted +username to remain active upon the service monthly lest they lose access to their privileged custom URL to +JohnSmith 2.0 (assuming the latter has postponed from adopting a custom URL of their own).
Digital ID Done Right
Ending on a good note, Google+’s (is that grammatically correct‽) way of opening up custom URL’s was (in hindsight) incredibly smart.
By creating a “sunrise” period for celebrities, businesses & politicians first, Google+ ensured that trolls, stalkers, fanatical fans, & scalpers didn’t acquire premium +usernames upfront (which they could then use to harass, impersonate or extort money from legitimate owners in real life).
Also requiring current users desiring a +username to showcase a real photo ID, a 30 day age limit plus (pun not intended) boast a bare minimum of 10 followers made it slightly difficult for spammers & anonymous voices to use the service as an “established” user.
Is Google+ An Identity Service‽
According to services like Klout Google+ is not.
But last I checked people–not corporations–determine digital identities online.
Although I probably do not speak for the vast majority, Google+ is an identity service (albeit one who needs a swift kick in the wazoo to straighten out the +username fiasco!).
While the vain brain inside my skull would have preferred +Darnell as my custom url in order to be consistent with Twitter (@Darnell), Instagram (@Darnell), App.Net (@Darnell), Vimeo (@Darnell), & Medium (@Darnell), I’m (now very) thankful to Google for giving me…
…without any additional letters or numbers! 🙂
Now if only they could bless many of my friends & family members the same way! 😉