This past week, as we were searching for potential property for our parish, we found that our parish was not listed on Google Maps. So, we went on-line searching for exactly HOW we get that listing to be included in their on-line tool.
There were a number of links, and we clicked several of them, only to find that we were repeatedly re-directed to a Google+ page that told us that our account was suspended. Digging further, we found the following:
1) You need to log into Google+ using an established account to make a request like a change to Google Maps
2) Google+ has "naming conventions", and they apparently either accept you, or if they reject you it is the ether equivalent of having your birth certificate revoked
In our case, the "offensive name" that caused our account to be rejected as "Father Basil" - given as a "First Name" in the account.
Well, this seems like it'll be straightforward to fix. Let's use Google+'s "standard appeal process". Quick and painless! Just provide a link or three that shows that the name you're defending is in fact your common name, and used by you elsewhere, and we'll get this all straightened out post haste.
That was last week.
Today, the good people at Google+ sent us the following (copied from their e-mail to us):
After reviewing your appeal, we have determined that your name does not comply with the Google+ Names Policy.
We want users to be able to find each other using the name they already use with their friends, family, and coworkers. For most people this is their legal name, or some variant of it, but we recognize that this isn't always the case, and we allow for other common names in Google+ --- specifically, those that represent an individual with an established online identity with a meaningful following. If you haven't already done so, you can provide us with additional information regarding an established identity by re-submitting an appeal that includes references to where you are known by this name either in online or offline settings.
Note that if you're trying to set up a page for a business, band, group, or other organization, please sign up with your own name and then create a Google+ Page. If you're trying to add an alternate name (such as a nickname, maiden name or name in another script), please sign up with your full name; you can add this alternate name (which will appear alongside your full name) once you've signed up.
You may re-appeal with additional information, if you have not already done so. If you're already using Google+, your current name will continue to be used.
The Google+ team.
So, let us understand. We're not allowed to be called "Father Basil" - is that what you're saying?
Not to be outdone by Google-'s humor, we offered the following to them, in return:
Dear Google- Team:
After reviewing your response to our appeal on rejected naming, we have determined that your policy does not comply with our faith’s historical means of addressing clergy, now used for roughly 2000 years.
We want parishioners and those searching for the Church to be able to find us using the names they already use to address us as clergy. For most Orthodox Christians, this is our ecclesiastical name, and no variants are allowed. But we recognize that some aren't so enlightened as to recognize this means of showing respect to the office --- specifically those who may have never attended Divine Services. Let us invite you when you’re in Hudson! Come and see! When you arrive, you’ll know who I am by calling out, “Hey, Father Basil!” I’ll be the one who turns and says, “How can I help you, my child?”
The Church is technically not a business. We do not use the Internet for non-Church related activities. It is not a “social media tool” to us – it is a means of evangelizing. Ergo we have no desire, tendency, need, or inclination to seek some kind of SECOND “personal page” to require us to keep TWO on-line entities managed. The name we've selected is not an “alternate name” – it is who we are at the core of our being.
We found this on a blog (http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/23/in-a-switch-google-plus-now-allows-pseudonyms/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0): “We want to build a product that is for humanity at large, and we recognize people have many notions around identity and ways to represent themselves,” said Bradley Horowitz, a vice president of product who works on Google Plus. “We want to be as inclusive as possible while still ensuring the integrity of the system and the community.”
Hmmm….. Sounds counter to your appeal rejection, at least to the uninformed….. Then there’s:
If you consider this a “re-appeal”, fine. If not, know that we’ll not be using the massive might of Google+, Google-, Google^2 or GooglePlex to promote our activities.
Christ did it for 2000 years and He never touched a keyboard….. I guess we just need to follow His example.
Father Basil Rusen
The Saint Herman of Alaska Eastern Orthodox Church “Team”
(and yes, the REAL church name IS Saint Herman of Alaska…..)