[conspire] More on real-name posting

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Jan 27 15:00:28 PST 2006

-- forwarded message --
From: Rick Moen <rick at linuxmafia.com>
Subject: Re: VERY basic linux system
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.misc
Organization: If you lived here, you'd be $HOME already.
User-Agent: tin/1.7.10-20050815 ("Grimsay") (UNIX) (Linux/2.4.27-2-686 (i686))
Message-ID: <6c15a$43da9b30$c690c3ba$27848 at TSOFT.COM>
Date: Fri, 27 Jan 2006 17:14:08 -0500

stan at worldbadminton.com wrote:
> Chris F.A. Johnson <cfajohnson at gmail.com> wrote:

> >    I've always used my real name, and never had any regrets.
> I must agree with Chris:  Use a dummy email if you must, but refusing
> to use your real name just enforces the perception that you are
> unwilling to stand behind what you say.  Not hard to find folks on
> Usenet who say outrageous things under various pseudonyms.

There are subtleties.  To a degree, I'm of two minds:

1.  To the extent we're dealing with technical material, in the ideal
    case it shouldn't matter who or what the poster is.  (On the Net,
    nobody knows you're a dog, and it doesn't matter anyway.)
2.  There are (rare) situations where anonymous/psuedonymous posting 
    is necessary, even essential.  Those almost never apply on Usenet,
    however, and most claims to the contrary are transparent frauds.[1]
3.  The degree to which most posters identify themselves is pretty
    limited, anyway.  E.g., you profess to be someone named "Stan"
    (though you've not bothered to set your GECOS aka full name 
    field -- does this mean you're not using a "real name", BTW?), 
    and to be posting from "worldbadminton.com", whatever that is,
    but for all I know you could be a llama herder named Jose Garcia
    posting from Tierra del Fuego, or my wife pulling a prank, or whatever.
4.  Anyway, para-identity's as useful as one needs, generally.  If I see
    a post from the oldtimer posting as "Moe Trin" with his/her usual 
    headers, diction, and posting style, then I know there's a credible 
    _persona_ standing behind it, even if that name probably isn't what 
    he/she writes on cheques at grocery stores.
5.  I've personally made a point of always attaching my real name
    and valid contact information, even when I don't have to and 
    even in forums where "handles" are customary, just as a personal 
    policy -- but wouldn't be quick to judge those who're less
6.  Still, the less _seemingly_ real identifying information on
    post (absent personae with track records like Moe Trin's), the 
    more suspicious and skeptical I am by default.

[1] There's a known Usenet syndrome of inventing fake accounts / names
to use in personally malign people you dislike, creating the appearance 
of support by creating "sock puppet" discussions among multiple fake
identities, and then, when questioned, say "I can't use my real name
because then $PERSON_BEING_SLAGGED would beat me up", etc.  This is
getting to be a real problem on, e.g. Wikipedia, where anonymous
gossips will create anonymous Web pages attacking someone, and then
(anonymously) create a Wikipedia page referencing those pages and
claiming the person discussed was thereby proven to be "controversial".

It's partly in reaction to this scummy behaviour that I make a point of 
never taking advantage of posting things anonymously, to put large
amounts of distance between _my_ ethics and those of trolls and

> If you believe what you say then put your name on it.
> If you don't then don't be surprised when readers dismiss you
> or assign less than stellar veracity to your notes.
> Stan

Stan _who_?  ;->

Rick Moen                 "Anger makes dull men witty, but it keeps them poor."
rick at linuxmafia.com                                   -- Elizabeth Tudor
-- end of forwarded message --

More information about the conspire mailing list