Poll: Should posters on this board be anonymous?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by barryfoster, Dec 24, 2001.

  1. Bill Hurd

    Bill Hurd New Member

    I too prefer real names. As I have indicated before, I lurked on AED for two years before I selected an MBA program. I also bought one of the Bear books to help me make a choice. I certainly would not have taken seriously any posting by or bought a book by "Baldy Fatso."

    Bill Hurd (my real name)
  2. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Openness about opinions, not necessarily identities. [​IMG]

    If we were in a classroom or in a church setting, being identified would be necessary. But on a forum that traverses the globe, I don’t care to flaunt my name, as some people feel is necessary to remain credible. Frankly, I am intimidated by having my name spread around the globe.

  3. StevenKing

    StevenKing Active Member

    I prefer real names...even if they have a celebrity flair to them. [​IMG]

    Steven King
  4. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    Some random ideas I had upon reading this thread:

    One post says, "If someone is seeking advice on a school, they would do well if they accepted anonymous advice with a grain of salt." I certainly can't disagree. But what does adding a *name* contribute? Shouldn't posts with names be taken with a grain of salt too? If I don't recognize the name, a signed post is still effectively anonymous. And even if I recognize the name, it still might not be wise to accept everything that person says on faith. Even the best of us might sometimes see things differently or make mistakes.

    So don't posts stand or fall largely on their own merits? Aren't they in effect little free-standing pieces of text? If a post makes a good point that is supported by common sense, the reader's own experience or by citing independently verifiable facts, does it really matter who wrote it? And if it doesn't do those things, can disclosing the writer's name save it?

    An exception might be somebody giving negative insider information about some school, either as an employee or as a student. In this case valuable information would depend crucially on one individual's personal experience. That suggests that we would need some way of verifying that person's connection to the institution if the information were disputed. But the critical opinions might have harmful repurcussions for them if they disclose their names to us.

    Even if everyone is required to use a name and to provide profile information, how in the world could those things be verified? What's to keep us from adopting fake names? As things currently stand, we can normally separate the real identities from the anonymous posters without any difficulty. But requiring everyone to use an unverified but real-sounding name would just make it impossible to tell the difference. A new name policy wouldn't have weeded out the anonymous poster who stole the identity "Chiang" from some real professor several months ago.

    It has been suggested that the moderators have participants' real names, but that they be allowed to post with fake ones if they are more comfortable doing that. But how would that address the "accepting anonymous advice" issue raised above? Would it suddenly become prudent for us to accept anonymous advice if somebody else knows their (theoretically) real name? How does that help us?
  5. qjackson

    qjackson New Member

    Well, one thing is certain....

    If everyone were required to post with a name that was half-possibly-real, then we could expect the number of "I won't listen to an anonymous troll; you don't exist" replies to drop.

    This is an interesting topic because it gets to the roots of some fundamental issues as regards information one distills from Internet postings in general. The logical fallacy known as the "Appeal to Authority" is used all the time.

    The primary utility of requiring people to post under their real names is that it may serve to temper the audacity of certain types who find some courage in anonymity. On the other hand, I have spoken all of my most embarrassing faux-pas under my own name, and there are plenty of blunders, bloopers, hissy fits, and such waiting to spring forth yet, I have no doubt. Moreover, some of the more colorful exchanges of AED and DegreeInfo have all transpired without anonymity. In fact, I suspect that many of the most glorious examples of AED and DegreeInfo's spirited exchanges never would have been possible without all of the personal rhetoric that manages to find its way into the exchanges: and this only made possible by the non-anonymous nature of some of these two forums' most colorful actors.

    That said -- I think that the forum has found its own voice just as it stands, and to "require" disclosure on the part of the participants will add nothing, while taking away the raison d'etre of those whose only contribution seems to be to point out that they don't listen to anonymous trolls.

    Why would anyone want to put these people out of a perfectly good avocation?

  6. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Good points Bill. The only answer I have to the first is that no one should base such an important decision like with which school to enroll based purely on *anyone's* advice. I and all the other regulars can offer recommendations, but it's not going to be our signatures on the tutition checks. People need to do their own research, and I see the advice offered here as merely a starting point.

    As for using fake names, that could be cut dramatically by requiring registration with a real, verifiable e-mail address, not hotmail, nightmail, yahoo, or anonymizing remailers. I'm not saying that should be something that's required, but just throwing it out as a possible option.

    Another thing that's crossed my mind (and I'm not even sure that it's possible with the new software) is to limit anonymous posters to a set amount of messages, say 15 or so. That would allow people who merely want to inquire about a school or program to get the information they need and ask questions, without requiring personal information. People that want to stay and post unlimited would be required to register their name & e-mail information.

  7. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Things are fine just the way they are, except for the lack of editing capabilities.

    Artumus Gordy [​IMG]
  8. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Hey, does my post have more credability, now that a name is attached to it?


  9. Nosborne

    Nosborne New Member

    Baldy fatso?

  10. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Ok Nosborne: You got me! You win! [​IMG]

    Well, I’ve learned that if I lower the part in my hair, it provides more hair to cover the bald spot on top. The key (for me) is to use hairspray to hold it in place (in case an unexpected wind gust hits me, thus revealing no hair on top).

    I just tipped the scales at 214 pounds and my doctor told me to go down to 190 pounds, a near-impossible feat, practically a miracle!.

    Artumus Gordy [​IMG]
  11. levicoff

    levicoff Guest

    And my 2¢ is . . . yes.

    Anonynimity does not necessarily indicate that someone is a scam artist, any more than a real (or real-sounding) name indicates that someone has any semblance of credibility.

    As long as there are anonymous e-mail services, there will be people for whom B.S. is more than a set of initials, especially in the wacky world of distance education.

    So, kids, how many names do you think a certain Sheila has used in newsgroups and on 'net forums? For that matter, how many names do you think that I have used? The question is rhetorical, since I have used only one - my own. But you don't know that. Nor do you know, if you read a newsgroup post under my name, if it was really written by me (and chances are that it was not - I never post on newsgroups these days) - Internet identity theft is easier than identity theft in real life, and many of us have had our names used by others. Oh, FWIW, I suspect that Sheila has used many names. [​IMG]

    There is another factor to be considered: The 'net is full of psychos. Some of us have had web sites designed by others around our names, usually by wackos who have some axe to grind. And others, including me, have been sued by one or more degree mills.

    In short, the ability or non-ability of someone to post anonymously is irrelevant. It will not stop the crazies, but it can protect those who have legitimate questions that they may not otherwise ask if forced to reveal their identity.

    Over the course of time, we can discern who is legitimate and who is not. We can tell the difference between, say, "me again" from the idiot who recently posted as Dr. Maybelle Jones (or whatever name he used).

    I have been signed onto other (non-education related) boards under pseudonyms; those boards required a strict verification process, but accepted verification via e-mail through anonymous e-mail services.

    If any board were to require actual names, chances are that it would be a very small board, regardless of the field. And a whole world that has legit questions would never get them answered. Thus, I see anonymity as a necessary evil that protects against abuse by the psychos of the world. And you know who you are, dahlings . . . [​IMG]
  12. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    You mean others could have used my name e.g. "me again?"

    Yeaa, I guess you're right: It could happen on the internet. [​IMG] LOL

    Artumus Gordy
  13. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Whew, for a second there, I was concerned that I might get lumped in with the wackos. [​IMG]

    Artumus Gordy
  14. irat

    irat New Member

    I think the forum should maintain a list of the real names and addresses of "members" as well as their forum nomdeplume. I think people should be able to have a forum name that is not necessarily their real one.
    The reality is that accomplished people will still figure out how to become a member under an alias.
    However, the effort of giving a name, address, and forum name should keep flaming and threatening to a minimum.
    Happy 5th day of Xmas!
  15. Ike

    Ike New Member

    I vote for real names only, or at least making the real names of would-be posters known to the administrators. Some posters hiding under false names (owl, EsqPhD, etc) have made bogus claims, flamed others, agitated this board, and then disappear into oblivion after one week. Some of them have since reincarnated and are now using different false names to post.
  16. Ohnalee

    Ohnalee New Member

    There are those who use their real names (for good and for evil), those who troll anonymously ... then a fourth category -- those who post anonymously but with integrity. As an anonymous member since Feb 2001, I only post info that can be substantiated, or opinions unweighted by claimed experience. I notice there are many such members to date.

    I choose not to use my real name here. If real names are ever required, I'll withdraw my membership and just lurk here, tears of regret falling on my keyboard. Do you really want people like Artemis and me chased away because you guys don't know how to ignore trolls yet?
  17. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    Ohnalee, that was an accurate post.

    Hey, click on my profile and look at my homepage. [​IMG]

    Even smiley faces occasionally their mug shots taken. [​IMG]

    Artumus Gordy
  18. Ike

    Ike New Member

    The problem is that anonymous posters are likely to flame other posters than posters that are using their real names. There are some posters that were using their real names to flame in the past who are now posting with pseudonym. When they reincarnate, their names change, but their stand on issues and their writing style remain the same. They only keep changing their names.
  19. Try as they might, they just can't manage to "mask" the spelling & punctuation anomalies.
    Funny thing, that.. there are times when I'll scroll through posts and assume a particular author without even reading the message header, only to re-read it and discover a "reincarnation," as you put it.
  20. barryfoster

    barryfoster New Member


    Hey Dennis, maybe you could your skills to figure out the real name of "me again". Once I noticed that one of me again's posts were edited by ... me again. (Or maybe I was just confused as I can't find the post again.)

    Unless I misunderstand the board, only admins have been granted that capability.

    Maybe this could become one of the new games played here: Name That Poster!! I can name that poster in .... three responses! :)

    Barry Foster
    (all in jest and not the least concerned with me again's real identity)

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