Internet Anonymity - What is It Good For?

First, it is hard to read this header without hearing a little Edwin Star, “Huh” at the end. Second, I have changed my forum name. Again.

I have been thinking about anonymity on the Web and wondering how important it is to most people. I go back and forth on this. Sometimes I think it’s absolutly crucial and other times I wonder who would really give a damn. I suppose it has a lot to do with what you do for a living, possibly how old you are, and how comfortable you are with how other people’s perception of who you are, etc.

Occasionally I see adverts for people who will “clean up” your INTERNET identity, which I wonder what that means. Say you’ve been a member of an Internet forum for a long time and you’ve made dozens of posts–everything from intelligent and insightful essays to one line rants or childish wank fests. Who determines what’s stupid and what stays? Do they subpoena the mods to delete the nonsense?

Stop it, Tim. Just stop.

Ha, couldn’t resist dude.

LOL, hadn’t considered the woo factor!

Oh, like your Bananas & Nuts entry wasn’t big enough for you already?

I’ve always gone by my real name online, but then again, I haven’t started any popular penis threads.

Penis thread joke goes here!

It’s a bizarre situation where the innocuous bits of your personal life can become permanent public record. For the most part a ‘Facebook’ type presence is harmless since no one is going to care about you anyway, but it makes for gross prejudice and superficial judgments about your character for those that might. If you have an established life this is likely meaningless. However, almost every company probably has a swamped or do nothing Human Resources department that are looking for the slightest excuse to remove you from consideration and nearly every prospect with access to Google is ready to assume who you are without bothering to ask.

Etiquette works on both sides. Think how poor the etiquette is for most who are actively engaged online and then consider the level of responsible judgment for those that passively examine. It’s probably going to take generations before what is or isn’t proper use of internet identities to work itself out. Meanwhile pseudonyms and anonymity allow us to bypass that hassle.

The older I get the less I want to live a “dual personality” life where my internet life is separate from my real life. I’m currently at the stage of linking all my online identities together (mostly by pointing them to my homepage, which contains real name, phone number, etc).

I prefer talking with people who have a “concrete” identity online - not neccessarily their real name, but a “real handle” that is constant and unchanging. I get annoyed at people who go out of their way to remain anonymous when there’s no need to (ie basically always).

Requiring people to identify themselves online is unenforceable (unless you’re China) so there’s little point debating that issue further.

Occasionally I see adverts for people who will “clean up” your INTERNET identity, which I wonder what that means. Say you’ve been a member of an Internet forum for a long time and you’ve made dozens of posts–everything from intelligent and insightful essays to one line rants or childish wank fests. Who determines what’s stupid and what stays? Do they subpoena the mods to delete the nonsense?
Most forums let you edit your posts, or delete them, or close the account, or change the account name, or change your personal info in your profile with them. It’s not a matter of destroying the dirt, just destroying the connection between you and said dirt. It doesn’t need to be a 100% clean break either. Just remove any dirt that appears on the first page of any likely google searches for you and that’s enough.

I decided to change recently.
I didn’t use Hanzii for anonymity reasons, it was just my nick. It’s also a nick I’ve used on articles, some which are online, so connecting it to my real name wouldn’t have been that hard should anybody care.
I like that many people here don’t try to hide and with yet another influx of people - where more and more are writing from behinds nicks and where more and more are mouthbreeders - I decided to join the rank of people posting under full name.

I might be an idiot, by I try to be the same kind of idiot I am in real life and only post stuff I wouldn’t have a problem saying in public too. As I writer a lot of my stuff is out there anyway and I’ve never been afraid of speaking up.

I don’t even want to know what you think that means.


He was obviously referring to the increasing numbers of aquatic posters this forum has been getting recently.

No, you still are the same assho–OH, you mean your name … nevermind.

Neither do I, come to think of it. But there’s definitely something fishy going on…

I like that many people here use their real names. It was part of, but not the reason for, people here behaving better (plenty of great posters use a pseudonym too).

I remember when I changed my name. I didn’t make a thread about it.

Jus sayin’

“Internet Anonymity - What is It Good For?”

If you have a namesake, any mud about him/her can be dug up, and flung at you.
Off cource on this forum we are to mature to do that - right?

But as much as we like you (do we like him?) you’re not the famous Tim Bull Steve Canyon Elhajj and since Woo is slacking off we need a thread to keep track.

Anyway, tell why you changed instead. That way this thread won’t be about him.

I have a question for everybody:
What about those who change from a real name? Are we supposed to respect that? I mean when talking to Lunch of Kong I find it hard to refer to him as Lunch, when I’ve been using Roger so long… and is it our problem, that some people suddenly feel like “hiding”? Like Daves shortlived change. I mean, if you really want to distance yourself from your real you here, then abandon your account and start a new one - if you don’t want to wait, then tell Tom and nobody else.

To be honest, anonymity isn’t really such a big deal for me. What is in a name? I am just an ordinary dude to be honest, and it would suprise me if someone managed to steal my identity. Names and date of birth are easy enough, but companies are good enough these days to have all sorts of security measures in place, verbal pins/passwords, vague questions requiring vague answers that it makes me wonder just what people do to have their identity stolen. As far as people tracing me goes, well Tom could easily see through the forum software that I have a dynamic IP address and thus I’m difficult to track down. Heh, from what I have seen on stuff like sitemeter which track where people come in from, most of mine originates from either Sydney or Melbourne, far and away from where I could actually be.

As far as an online presence goes, well I hope on here, on this site that I tend to act like I would if it were in real life.

When I started on the internet as a slightly younger guy, I found it easier to just go by a fairly generic nickname that people have associated with me - Josho. Typical Australian habit some have of adding an unneccessary vowel to the end of a name, seems to make it more endearing. Then I had a break from the internet because it was all but cut off from me for a few years. When the most diverse ISP in Australia (sadly, yes, I’m talking about Telstra) offered a wireless internet plan that I could happily pay for, I re-entered the dangers of the internet. For some reason, I had a bit of a brainsnap and felt a need for a nickname, I guess it seemed to be the best thing to do when playing a game like Diablo II via Battlenet. And that was were this current nick was born, a result of pulling an obscure character from William Shakespear’s play Julius Caesar.

My name is Joel Durham Jr. If you want to stalk me, go ahead, it’ll probably help my ego. I like the Acid moniker for no good reason really, but I’ve never held fast to my anonymity.

For professional reasons, I’ll need to erect a decent barrier between my recreational online presence and my official one. I haven’t really made a concerted effort to do so yet, but it’s inevitable. There are many psychologists who are engaged in debating the ethics of both checking into clients’ online presences and revealing too much of your own, which is viewed as inappropriate disclosure that is potentially detrimental to successful therapeutic outcomes.

As much as I’d like to go by my real name here, a thorough review of my posting history by a future client might not be something I’d want. As I become less of a student and more of a professional, I’ll have to comb through the search engines and root out all the personal stuff, as well as I can, and as much as I’m comfortable with. Lucky for me there’s a super-successful high-school/university wrestler who shares my name who dominates the search engine results. It won’t take much to knock me out. Privacy through obscurity!

I use this name because I’ve been using it since the '80s and Gamer’s forum. So in a way it’s like a ‘real name’. My real life name, Jennifer Schlickbernd, is pretty easy to find if I were posting under it. I don’t know if/when I may need to get a job, and the less potential employers know about what they don’t need to know about anyway, the better.

I post under my name to keep me honest. No reason to hide anything if it’s clearly attributable to me. That might be getting troublesome, though, as I apparently actually know a guy who works at a place that was recently in a big news story that I decided to sound off on before I knew he worked there.