Pseudonymity With Untraceability

An alternative to RealNamesPlease.

Note: this is an argument by conterexample and not recommended practice on this site.

Yes, except the second section below seems to hold at present. Anyone brave enough to explain how Wiki does deal effectively with PseudonymityWithUntraceability?

How to do it

Use a name that is not the one you are commonly known by in the real world as your UserName and signature at least some of the time you edit Wiki. Do not let any person using their real name on Wiki know that this is the case and even if they suspect that it is, under no circumstances let any such person know who you are in the real world. This will allow you, if you wish, to invite as many of your friends as are willing to join you in a pact of non-disclosure to edit under this single name, and to edit yourself under other such names (and of course anonymously), without further breach of WikiSocialNorms.

Is it acceptable?

PseudonymityWithUntraceability is not considered acceptable on Wiki. However, all you can do currently to get people to use real names is to ask people nicely. If that doesn't work, it's not worth worrying about.

Consequences of its use

Because of its potential impact on the key issue of TrustInSignatures?, wide-scale PseudonymityWithUntraceability is clearly able to destroy the WikiCommunity, in a way that it seems that even the founder did not precisely anticipate. Based on personal communications as well as his public statements, Ward thought of many much simpler ways the community might be attacked and destroyed but, very strikingly, these haven't happened or at least have not proved fatal. The community created through the original WikiSocialNorms and GoodStyle has proved strong enough to overcome these threats, to a very large degree. Ward certainly asked for RealNamesPlease from the start on Wiki and in that sense he got this area right too. See the early versions of RealPeoplePlease on Why for further reflections on Ward's attitude in this area.

Because of the rather overt destructive potential of PseudonymityWithUntraceability, it is considered by some of its practitioners (whom it is not currently considered acceptable to name in a negative context on Wiki) to be more effective at this stage in WikiHistory to blackmail or subvert the WikiCommunity with the threat of the chaos it can cause, rather than try to destroy Wiki outright. Once PseudonymityWithUntraceability has been tacitly accepted, any discussion of it, or any other topic or person those using it wish to be censored, distorted or smeared, can be subverted in a host of new ways. Entirely UnethicalEditing can be carried out without anyone having to pay the price in real world reputation. In a climate of intimidation of the known by the unknown, no lasting criticism on Wiki of the assumed names used for such abuses is allowed to remain, meaning that newcomers will assume such "ordinary Wiki users" are on the same level as trust as any other signature.

In the worst case, the real world reputation of someone using their real name on Wiki to try to argue that PseudonymityWithUntraceability should still be considered unacceptable on Wiki - in other words arguing exactly in line with what Ward has expressly requested - can be considerably damaged through resulting smears and misunderstandings. Cowardice on the part of the majority of those using RealNamesPlease will certainly aid this process and hasten either the destruction of Wiki or the acceptance of very grave injustices that cannot be remedied. But then the WikiCommunity has never been known to be cowardly.

Comments of those claiming to use RealNamesPlease

I wrote the original draft and agree with the opinions expressed except in the second section (of the version I wrote). I nevertheless think that this section reflects current attitudes and practice and that this is well worth clarifying, ultimately with the help of Ward himself. I obviously think that the discussion is worth having. The wording in the third section could almost certainly be tighter. I hope we can do this on Wiki but Why is also available, in extremis. -- RichardDrake

Richard, you frighten me by the receptibility of your antennae, seeing things that are really there but that are below the threshold of observation for me and my ilk. I like real names. I like real people. I like real people who use real names. (I like you, Q.E.D.) I like history. It's a frail or terribly young community that has no vermin at all, and there is undoubtedly some eastern philosophy that explains how the vermin and the fine upstanding are good for each other, even while in perpetual conflict. Certainly this community is too far along to be undone by a minority input of clever cowardice. Where does one go around here to find a little faith? I'm talking, of course, about faith in the wholesome goodness of the ordinary. -- WaldenMathews

Why not a WikiBadge called RealName? Put it on your page if you're claiming to use RealNamesPlease (along with CategoryHomePage). If anyone finds someone who is using PseudonymityWithUntraceability, take it off their page. Done. You've gotten rid of the untraceability. Only those who are trusted get to keep the badge. Of course, this has its weaknesses, but so does only keeping one EditCopy, and that seems to work most of the time. -- RobHarwood

Comments of those not claiming to use RealNamesPlease

Sometimes you just have to take a bunch of words for what they are. -- MarkTwain

Sometimes of course. Always, no. There is no argument for full PseudonymityWithUntraceability here, mt, you well known quotability of the western world (whatever you actually said). But it's good to see you on Wiki again.

If it makes you feel any better, we could change the script to emit the IP/domain of the poster after the UserName on RecentChanges. We could also have a page called AllChanges? that doesn't remove older duplicate changes from the list. -- AlanTuring, and definitely not SunirShah

Hmmm, and then deprive even the anonymous posters of their privacy? You'd lose way too many people really quickly. No, I don't use my real name. That is because I am more comfortable writing possibly scandalous things about how my company operates if my company has no direct proof of who is doing the writing. Note that wiki isn't only about design techniques, but also management techniques. I don't want my company to go under simply because I let out something bad that other companies also do, but just don't talk about. Basically, I don't believe my name should have a direct impact on whether people trust my opinion. if they trust my opinion then they trust my opinion and that should be that. I appreciate the push to have real names in other fields, but there are some sensitive topics around here too. I'm happy to use the same name at all times. I'm not taking on a persona, just keeping my identity obfuscated. Hmmm, not sure if I've fully described my point... oh well -- JustMab

Mr. Mab, your particular case differs from RichardDrake's description above in "How to do it" by the fact that you do not seek to deceive anybody into thinking that JustMab is your real name. You might just as effectively have chosen MikeSmith as your regular signature (well, not quite but you get my drift), instead of choosing a signature that shouts "I don't dare reveal my identity". Are you sure you want to draw attention to that?

As for scandalous writings against your company, I did a quick search for pages with your signature, and the only thing remotely scandalous was your contribution on CreepingElegance. Really quite commonplace in the scheme of things, though. It could be you are overestimating the danger of letting your identity be known. And while we're on the subject, just how Australian is that? :-) -- WaldenMathews

You don't need to be anonymous to avoid being charged for libel or slander. Just don't libel or slander. Nor is Wiki the appropriate place to defame your employer. It's sufficient to change or withhold the actual names involved to discuss the case. -- SunirShah

Ah, but perhaps you miss my point... There is no libel or slander involved; the company does have real problems, they are the sort of problems that are rife within the "industry". However I believe most strongly that my manager would be influenced by the fact that I was talking about them, to do such things as put me on the boring projects/hard-work projects (this is something he's done before)... This is, of course, one example of one of the problems at my company... It is something that has happened at my company before and the other developers are also aware of it. However no one dares speak out because they know that the axe is currently dangling... I wish to feel free to talk about the sorts of problems my company faces without any direct repercussions against myself. Yes, I know I haven't done much of it so far, but I want to remain free to do so. Perhaps if I have something less sensitive to talk about I could use my real name, but then eventually people may recognise me for my style of writing (I don't know). Perhaps I'm going about it the wrong way or being too paranoid, but for now I'm just playing it safe. -- JustMab

Still, if you remain uncomfortable discussing your company in name, don't discuss it in name. We're only really interested in discussing cases, not actualities. So, just change the names and don't sign your post (generally a good idea anyway). That's enough without having to complicate the discussion by lying about your name. -- SunirShah

A third stance?

For an alternative to RealNamesPlease and PseudonymityWithUntraceability, see PseudonymityWithTraceability -- MilkMiruku

See ItDoesntMatterAboutTheVermin for some responses from the initial author.

I was faced with a similar problem about a decade ago, when the local BBS I frequented joined a national network. One of the rules was that everyone had to use their real name as a login. Now, I had been posting for about 4 years under a handle, and was well known under that handle, and suddenly I was being forced to essentially rebuild an entire reputation. My opinion pretty much became settled on this: attach one handle per user, with some form of minor verification to block geographically separated conspirators, and restrict handles to "non-offensive" terms. -- PeteHardie, if that is my real name....

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