Physics forums and anonymity

  • #1
The Physics Forums privacy policy says:
Your account name is arbitrary and need not have any relationship to your actual identity (and, in fact, it should not)
Why not?
 

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  • #2
BvU
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Hi,

In the homework fora we always ask for the attempt by the poster first :smile:

I suppose you refer to the 'should not'.
A few arguments could be:
  • some hotheads are capable of setting your house on fire in case they feel misled or insulted
  • If you're not retired yet and your boss finds out you 'waste' many hours per day on PF, you lose your job. Jealous colleagues may finger you.
  • If you're into teaching, students may feel treated unequally if you help someone separately
  • If you're a student, your teacher may get a lot stricter if (s)he finds out you got the answer at PF on a silver plate
  • If you are proud of your degree or whatever, you don't want it tainted forever by spontaeous but stupid replies on PF that are kept for a long time

I realize my own account name doesn't satisfy the criteria :nb) @Greg Bernhardt can I keep it anyway :wink: ?
 
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  • #3
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Why not?
It's entirely up to you, but we get a lot of requests to change usernames when members realize their username is their real name. My take is that real names enhance credibility (no different than in publishing), but I understand there are reasons for privacy.
 
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  • #4
symbolipoint
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It's entirely up to you, but we get a lot of requests to change usernames when members realize their username is their real name. My take is that real names enhance credibility (no different than in publishing), but I understand there are reasons for privacy.
Like what is described in post #3, by BvU.
 
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  • #5
bobob
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Another argument for annonymity is that if you use your real name ANYWHERE, you may unintentionally end up with no privacy more places than just here. It's not so much that using one's real name here is a problem if it happened in isolation, but the possibility of using that information to play connect-the-dots across the internet. If you make it a policy to never use your real name anywhere, on general principles, you lessen unforseen problems.

As far as credibility goes, a credible post is credible regardless of who posted it and I think credibilty is something that attaches to whatever username acquires a reputation for posting credible content.
 
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  • #6
symbolipoint
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Another argument for annonymity is that if you use your real name ANYWHERE, you may unintentionally end up with no privacy more places than just here. It's not so much that using one's real name here is a problem if it happened in isolation, but the possibility of using that information to play connect-the-dots across the internet. If you make it a policy to never use your real name anywhere, on general principles, you lessen unforseen problems.

As far as credibility goes, a credible post is credible regardless of who posted it and I think credibilty is something that attaches to whatever username acquires a reputation for posting credible content.
EXACTLY!
 
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  • #7
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Why don’t journalists and research paper authors use anonymous names? Trust is more inherent in a real name rather than something like astrofan123. Of course overtime that username gains community trust but remember we have millions of casual readers.
 
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  • #8
S.G. Janssens
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A while ago I asked to have my username changed (and was granted the change), mainly because I did not like the feeling of hiding behind an anonymous name. (Actually, the name of a well-known scientist, but not my own.)

By writing under my real name here and elsewhere, I only post things that I would also say in the real world, in public or (when in private conversation) to someone's face. Contrapositively, I do not post things online that I would not take responsibility for in the real world. So far, I am happy with this decision. (Of course, for this to work it is crucial that I live in a constitutional democracy.)
 
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  • #9
symbolipoint
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To only partly agree with S.G.Janssens, one should never use someone else's real name as a forum member or any other online thing, because one should never seem to be an imposter of someone else; one should never impersonate to be someone else.
 
  • #10
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Well, that scientist has been dead for several decades in this case.
 
  • #11
S.G. Janssens
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Yes, this one died in 1945.

Probably on this particular forum anonymity is not an issue, but on the internet as a whole, I think it has encouraged some people to not take responsibility for what they write. At the end, it's everybody's own choice (also given the conditions imposed by the particular forum / outlet / ...)
 
  • #12
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Why not?
it is of course your choice. for me, the privacy issue is important. anyone with an uncommon name is not hard to track down on google, so for me, the fewer breadcrumbs I leave the better I feel. If my name were John Smith I'd probably use it. Paranoid? maybe.
 
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  • #13
Klystron
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When asked how I chose my PF username, my favorite response is "Magnetron was already assigned." because that is true but also to show respect for technology.
 
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  • #14
>If you make it a policy to never use your real name anywhere, on general principles, you lessen unforseen problems.<
Assuming you can pull it off (DB Cooper did, but he had more foresight than most.) Presumably, five years in a federal penitentiary for not using your real name on your tax return would be filed under "foreseen problems".
 
  • #15
symbolipoint
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Why don’t journalists and research paper authors use anonymous names? Trust is more inherent in a real name rather than something like astrofan123. Of course overtime that username gains community trust but remember we have millions of casual readers.
Anonymous - writer is not providing his name of any kind.
Pseudonym - writer is providing a false name which hides or completely obscures his real name. This "false" name may sometimes be called, "pen name".
 
  • #16
bobob
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Why don’t journalists and research paper authors use anonymous names? Trust is more inherent in a real name rather than something like astrofan123. Of course overtime that username gains community trust but remember we have millions of casual readers.
That's true, but we don't live in a perfect world, so there is no perfect solution. However, given that connecting the dots can lead to people being denied health insurance, jobs, housing, etc., one has to decide what is a priority. Also, just because a name looks like a real name does not mean that it is.
 
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  • #17
bobob
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Assuming you can pull it off (DB Cooper did, but he had more foresight than most.) Presumably, five years in a federal penitentiary for not using your real name on your tax return would be filed under "foreseen problems".
Yes and it's quite annoying that the government cannot manage to secure that information.
 
  • #18
Trust is more inherent in a real name rather than something like astrofan123.
The only thing in which trust is inherent is money, aka "crystallized trust".
 
  • #19
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The only thing in which trust is inherent is money, aka "crystallized trust".
Hyperinflation would like to have a word.

Using the real name (or at least a consistent name) in journalism and publications is important for finding jobs, too.
 
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  • #20
Hyperinflation would like to have a word
I suggest "non-Archimedean" because of the analogy with the simplest example of a non-Archimedean ordered field: the reals with zero replaced with a copy of the reals, by analogy with stiction/friction. The infinitesimal field represents the trust norm of the individual, given that money itself is trusted. When that is no longer accepted, the outer field becomes dynamic in that the trust one has in another party is now dependent on things like the decay of information with time in a milieu in which there is uncertainty due to things that do not reflect the individual counterparty's character and history but that of the ensemble.
 

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