I was thinking about is that trend to force users to use their real names. Facebook is doing it for a long time and now Google+ is too.
Just yesterday I was reading a feminists blog post Anonymous oder Susimaus – Geschlecht im Internet (I'm sorry it's in German, you could try the Google translation if you do not understand German) and they link to a study where Female-Name Chat Users Get 25 Times More Malicious Messages. Obviously you could just say that they should just grow a thicker skin, but that seems to me like the wrong approach.
In the comments you can find an interesting reading about the forced public gender in your Google+ profile by Randall Munroe, yes the guy who is doing XKCD.
The problem I have with real names is that I don't understand the advantage of using the real name on the Internet. I can write a hell of a long list with disadvantages ...
- Cyberstalking which can lead to stalking if they know your real name
- Not getting the job you wanted because of some stupid picture where you're drunk on it.
- Not getting a promotion because you have some opposed opinion about some topic your boss is passionate about.
- Your new girlfriend gets angry because she finds your name on some old flirt page.
- You grow up and change your mind about some topic but google only shows how stupid you were "then".
- It leads to conformist behavior, because only a few people have the guts to really say everything they think under their real name.
- and so on, and so forth ...
... but my list with advantages is mostly just:
- Your old and new friends can find you more easily.
- Your word has more weight compared to someones who uses a nickname when strangers read it.
Nr. 1 is just a good thing if you want them to find you and nr. 2 is only a real point if you actually care for how strangers on the internet think about what you write.
I'd love to hear some more advantages, but real ones which you can not archive with help of a nickname.