For some reason, google support is a survivor of a past time when google services had their own nicknames architecture, ie you can use a nick with google support that’s not your gmail name. That may be a good thing. But also, there’s no place to either edit or transfer your username, and that’s a real problem because you’re stuck with it in many ways.
For exemple, at the moment, my own nick is stuck to my google-apps account – like my google voice number – and can’t be transferred to my gmail account. There’s a person that complained about a typo on google forum, and the official answer was they could sign their post the way they wanted but the nickname was fixed. Really????
So many people use google voice that the number issues may change someday. But fixing nicknames in google support doesn’t seems to be high on the priority list. And that attitude towards users is just nasty. Telling them to look the other way will not fix the problem.
Why do I care? Because if you want to be active in an online community, you want to create some continuity between your contributions. A nickname is exactly that – if it bound to your email, it’s like going back to usenet times. I haven’t posted a lot on google support, but after spending some time exploring gmail and google voice issues I felt like contributing. If all my contribution will be bound to some new nickname and I can’t change it again in the future, why bother??
Hence my suggestions :
– if you can’t use the google-wide way to maintain nicknames, and if editing nicknames is too complicated, make a simple button where a user can delete its own nick and thus reclaim it with a different account (a delete might be easier than a whole process to check whether a nick is free or already taken and ask the user to pick up something else or offer suggestions)
– if you can’t find anyone at google to do that, I’ll be glad to spend a day or two to fix that problem for free, because I care about that but apparently no one else does 😦 I’ll use that opportunity to also try to interest someone in fixing the google-voice migration problem ASAP. You can’t really imagine having the phonenumber you give away to everyone being bound to your email address.
– if nothing is possible, just externalize that to yelp or quora who do a good job. Google can’t do everything successfully, there’s no shame in that.