If you've been reluctant to create a Google+ account because of being forced to use your real name you'll be happy to hear that yesterday Google decided to lift it's restrictions on choosing a Google+ user name.
Before yesterday, Google was quite strict about users using their name when creating Google+ accounts and would go as far as to suggest to users that using a real name helps real-world people find and engage with them. Well that's all changed. Now users can choose any username of their liking and all pending username change appeals have been lifted and granted.
One commenter on the announcement said:
"The previous name policy forced the trolls to actually own up to their comments rather than cowardly hiding behind a fake name. I foresee a lot more trolling and spam around here"
How much of a problem spam will become is still unsure, but now that the doors are open, it does seem to point to the potential for more spammy content to be generated, shared and more spammy pluses. However, we might be able to assume that Google now has enough trust in their ranking algorithm that no matter how much a person spams, they'll never get far anyways. This I'm not sure about and neither am I sure that the potential for spam will increase, but this is something we'll definitely all be on the lookout for over the next few months to a year.
Please note, that at this time, there will be no changes to custom/vanity URLs. If you want to change your custom URL you're going to have to wait until the allow changes.
Will authorship in the search results change?
I believe one of two things will happen - one may be that not every author on Google+ that publishes material can expect to see their names in the search results and if a person's name does appear, it has something to do with the trust that user has built up in the Google+ community - give or take a few factors - or, Google will just take authorship attribution right out of the search results completely. This is something we'll also have to look out for in the near future.
In my opinion, although this update to Google+ isn't being touted as a huge and important change, I believe strongly that the ramifications of this policy change has the potential to having far reaching effects that we can't foresee at this time - and Google won't let us in on it just yet, or we haven't figured it out. The question is, why would Google let people change their user names to anything they want at the risk of being bombarded with non-attributed spam? As I said, they've probably got the spam issue all under control now. Let us see.