Plus points: why Google+ is now everywhere you look online

But it was the forced integration of Google+ with YouTube that turned web users from indifferent to incandescent. On 6 November, Google changed its YouTube rules to only allow comments from users with a Google Plus account. In other words: users with real names.

The reaction was immediate and brutal. Users banded together in protest, with one petition to revoke the changes sitting at 203,000 signatures at the time of writing. Google's announcement video has 53,000 "thumbs down", and nearly 23,000 angry comments.

Even more damaging was the reaction from some of YouTube's big names. Its most popular videographer, Swedish videogames commentator Felix Kjellberg - better known to many as PewDiePie, shut down his comments section entirely in symbolic protest, following the lead of "Cynical Brit" TotalBiscuit.

Tatton-Brown sees these reactions as inevitable. "Change always brings controversy, so there are lots of stories about the disruption and dissatisfaction from users.

"But I think if you asked the strategic team behind Google+ how they thought it was performing, they'd say it was off the charts. On YouTube, the old anonymous comments, renowned for being among the worst content on the internet, are replaced by conversations tied to real identities, aiming to raise the standard of conversation and commentary."

"The protections offered by pseudonymity to vast swathes of society are well documented"

In mid-July, TechCrunch's Jon Evans warned that Google+ was becoming "like Frankenstein's monster," but added: "That's not actually the criticism it may seem. People tend to think of Boris Karloff's portrayal of a brute monster: but Mary Shelley's original novel had the subtitle The Modern Prometheus, and its creation was eloquent, educated, and intelligent, but unfairly rejected by most of the world because of his physical deformities and inability to fit in. Alas, I fear the same may be true of Google+."

Since then, however, Google+ has lurched menacingly down the hill to YouTube and the villagers are gathering their pitchforks to protect their homes.

As much as Google loves its monster, it's going to have to do a whole lot more to convince the wider web of its good intentions. Following up on its promise to revoke the real names policy would be a great place to start.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.