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Real Name For Open Source Development?

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the my-name-is-guy-ingonito dept.

Privacy 262

An anonymous reader writes "Do you contribute to open source projects under your real name or a nickname? The openness of open source can be encouraging, but software patents you have never heard of can become a nightmare if a patent troll sues for implementing 'their' scroll bar. A real name also means you end up in the big index we call search engines. An assumed name could be an additional layer of protection, but what are its pros and cons and is it worth the hassle when asked to participate in a meatspace meeting?"

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Pffft... (1)

TofuMatt (1105351) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789655)

Matthew Riley MacPherson never posts using his real name.

Re:Pffft... (4, Funny)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790141)

I always use my real name. It doubles as a nickname, because people laugh when I tell them my mother named me wk2, but it's true.

Re:Pffft... (1)

Tongsy (1188257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790531)

and how exactly do you pronounce that?

Re:Pffft... (2, Funny)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790803)

How do you pronounce that? "Weak-Two"? "Wiktu"? "Sparky"?

Re:Pffft... (2, Insightful)

HappySmileMan (1088123) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790325)

I use my first name and my initial, as well as my email, that way you can still reference it when applying for a job (whereas you'd look like an idiot claiming that you did excellent coding work but never gave a real name or used your regular email)

probably overkill (5, Informative)

seanadams.com (463190) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789657)

An open source project is an unlikely target for a patent troll. Trolls by definition are not in business actually implementing the technology that is the subject of their patents, so your open source project doesn't hurt them directly. Unless you're making lots of money selling your open source software, there's not much they can hope to sue you for.

If you are looking to for personal liability protection then you should create a corporation under which you do all your software development, which might even include hobby or GPL work. This is probably overkill, but it may be a good idea if you think that there's any possibility of building a business around your hobby work in the future. In that case you might be able to claim some tax breaks for the cost of your computer, internet connection etc.

Hiding behind a pseudonym is only helpful in the case where you are doing something very illegal or commercially disruptive, in which case you need to do a lot more than just choose a handle, eg offshoring, money laundering etc. See online casinos, spammers, and porn sites for ideas...

Re:probably overkill (4, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789689)

Simple. Use pseudonyms such as "John Smith" or "Robert Johnson" which are natural enough to be used in the meatspace and popular enough to be a needle in a haystack as far as Google Searches are concerned. This is a popular technique for restaraunt critics and the like whose reviews necessitate unbiased anonymity.

If you use hacker-ish sounding names like CapnCrunch or Dildog then you're asking for notoriety and your ass will be laughed at in a LUG.

Sadly enough, if anybody really wanted to track you down then they'd just throw money at a P.I. or at a buddy who works for your ISP.

Re:probably overkill (5, Funny)

Renegade88 (874837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789851)

If you use hacker-ish sounding names like CapnCrunch or Dildog then you're asking for notoriety and your ass will be laughed at in a LUG.

Are you speaking from experience, Ethanol-Fueled?

Re:probably overkill (4, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789923)

Are you speaking from experience, Ethanol-Fueled?

No, that's his real name. It stems from the ethanol fueled orgy that led to his conception ;)

Re:probably overkill (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790985)

You shouldn't laugh too loudly, Renegade88.

I put my [ascii-fied] full name in my username (everywhere), mail address and DNS name. I sign my email. Once I set up my "Digital Signature" [PKCS #n keypair certified by the official danish CA], I'll probably sign my mail with that.

By spreading my name around, given that it's [almost] unique, people can get in touch with me even when all the information grows stale.

Re:probably overkill (3, Interesting)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790263)

    I resemble that remark.

    I use "JW Smythe" as my online name. It's all over the place. Luckly, there are a few other people who use that or variations of it "J.W. Smythe", "John W. Smythe", "Jon Smythe". Pick out the real me. Of course, it's not my real name, but it sounds reasonable. If someone I'm not expecting calls me by my alias, I ignore them, or ask them who they're talking about.

    My real name oddly enough is even more popular, by Google searches. There are lots of "me" all around the world, all doing different things. It keeps people wondering if my real name is yet another pseudonym, or it's really me. :)

    Only clients and friends know my real name. They also have read my little essay on why I use an alias. Some people still ask for clarification of why. Why? Because there are a lot of weird people out there, and I don't want to go around to the millions of freaks out there saying "Hi, my name is ____ , come look for me." I've known call center folks who have been harassed, threatened, and stalked, because they've used their real names. Even when I've answered phones, they get my pseudonym of the day (or of the job). I use names like some guys use girlfriends. Use it until it's burnt, then pretend it never existed.

    The reason of liability when some corporate lawyer decides to play rough applies too, but that's pretty low on my priority list. I worry more about the millions of lunatics floating around the Internet. :)

   

Over KILL (4, Funny)

Nick Driver (238034) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789935)

Well, Hans Reiser used his real name....

Need I say more?

Re:Over KILL (0, Redundant)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790253)

He created a filesystem and named it after himself. It doesn't sound like he was down with the whole anonymity thing...

Re:Over KILL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790417)

Hans Reiser also killed his wife, did you know that? Looks like you missed a joke.

Re:Over KILL (4, Funny)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790727)

but he was down with the whole stabbing people thing. I know, hindsight is 20/20, but I always tell my son, do try to have something worthwhile named after you, don't stab people.

I guess Hans Reiser got mixed up.

BTW, if you're wondering about my alias, well, I want something worthwhile named after me, and, well, you've seen my posts.

Re:probably overkill (2, Informative)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790059)

As a general rule, I only use my real information if I have to (like if you sign up for paypal). I don't see a harm in using an alias wherever you can. In fact, I think it's a good policy for everyone.

Re:probably overkill (3, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790835)

Of course, if you use the same alias everywhere it is only a matter of time before someone can put two-and-two together. :)

Re:probably overkill (4, Informative)

tgd (2822) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790363)

Actually, no, if you're looking for personal liability protection, buy a personal liability insurance policy.

$2m in liability coverage is a couple hundred dollars a year. If you have any assets (and you'd have to in order to be concerned about liability), its an absolute no-brainer to buy an umbrella policy.

People are sue-happy these days.

Re:probably overkill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790507)

Hiding behind a pseudonym is only helpful in the case where you are doing something very illegal or commercially disruptive, in which case you need to do a lot more than just choose a handle, eg offshoring, money laundering etc. See online casinos, spammers, and porn sites for ideas...

There is no need to do something "very illegal", you just have to contribute to something a little "borderline" like a hacking^Wsecurity tool in Germany, a peer-to-peer client in France or anything which could piss off the Copyright Mafia in the United States.

Re:probably overkill (1)

sorak (246725) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790637)

Hiding behind a pseudonym is only helpful in the case where you are doing something very illegal or commercially disruptive, in which case you need to do a lot more than just choose a handle, eg offshoring, money laundering etc.

Don't forget Freenet/onion routing. If you're doing something THAT serious, then a simple nickname isn't going to protect you from RICO/Patriot Act/etc...

I don't think the original poster had that in mind, but you may have a point in that, if a patent troll/MPAA/RIAA organization were to go after you, the first thing they would do is contact the project's ISP and demand a list of ISP addresses for everyone who has connected to that server, under threat of legal incarceration, fines, foreclosures, voodoo, and visits from scary guys in suits.

If the project's ISP folds under a DMCA threat, an alias just makes you look more guilty.

Real Name! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789659)

you should always use your real name when publishing online!

Re:Real Name! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789793)

I always use my real fake name, George Hale, while publishing online.

Re:Real Name! (2, Funny)

MikeDirnt69 (1105185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789831)

Hi Mr November, how you doing today?

Hybrid system (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790267)

I personally prefer to use a unique pseudonym for each thing I do. Then I can link it to my real name if there's any advantage to doing so, while keeping as much privacy as possible.

Those who have always been able to use their real name can do that only because they've never met any of the creepy stalker people online.

Free emails don't cost anything and you can forward them to a central location to sort out your identities if need be. Heck, I don't even remember how many identities I have these days...

Re:Hybrid system (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790811)

If you don't remember it, can you really claim it as an identity?

Pseudonym or nickname seems more appropriate than identity in that case.

Re:Real Name! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790557)

I use my real name. The only downside is that I get a lot of surveys to fill out from university studentds trying to get their doctorate by figuring out the motivations of open source developers.

(But I'm posting here as AC because I've lost my SF pass word. I was randeg but lost that email account due to using my real email address so it appears in the "From" field of millions of spams. The ISP, alum.rpi.edu, believed the "From" and dumped me from my lifetime alumni account.)

Under my real name, for the most part (3, Insightful)

Octorian (14086) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789709)

Right now the only project I actively contribute to is my own. Of course I have my real name on the project site and in the copyright headers. However, my username (on the site and the repository logs) is more of an online nick. The downside of this is that I get lots of e-mails and forum posts where people assume that nick is my real name.

Of course once I'm at the point where I care about liability protection, I'd rather form some sort of LLC to contain my efforts. I really do want to contribute in a way that people know its me, since what's the point of contributing to a project you can't personally claim credit for?

Blue Salad is not my real name. (5, Funny)

Green Salad (705185) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789711)

As long as I sign my code as Blue Salad, they'll never guess I'm really "Green Salad." Muh haha

Real Name: yes (1)

NeoBrain (1342923) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789731)

I'm always using my real name when commiting any patches to the Wine project.
Negative side is that I can be found quite quickly in Google, but maybe I'll get famous at some point :P

Re:Real Name: yes (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790405)

I'm always using my real name when commiting any patches to the Wine project.
Negative side is that I can be found quite quickly in Google, but maybe I'll get famous at some point :P

You also get a bit more [longer-lasting] copyright protection if you use a real name?

Another Con (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789733)

I bothered to read every letter of a contract I signed with a company I once worked for and it had the peculiar verbage something to the effect of "... every idea or product developed by the employee during their employment at CompanyX is intellectual property of CompanyX." I got some clarification which resulted in the understanding that that particular phrase was left open so that if I went home and wrote an NLP engine from scratch while I was employed, it was their intellectual property. Let's just say at that time I needed the money and my foot in the door so I did take that temporary position.

From that early moment on, all contributions have been pretty darn anonymous. Remember, you're not just protecting yourself, you're protecting other OSS developers, other OSS companies and more importantly the users.

Re:Another Con (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789939)

I got some clarification which resulted in the understanding that that particular phrase was left open so that if I went home and wrote an NLP engine from scratch while I was employed, it was their intellectual property

Just because they put that clause in doesn't mean it will stand up in court....

Re:Another Con (5, Insightful)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789973)

just because it won't stand up in court doesn't mean that you will have the funds to litigate it successfully...

Re:Another Con (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790003)

True enough, but all the same I'd be less intimidated by it.

Re:Another Con (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790011)

In that situation, you should not contribute to open source projects, especially not anonymously. The code you write is intellectual property of your employer and unless said employer agrees to contribute it under the license chosen by the open source project, the presence of the code in the open source code base is a major liability for the project. It doesn't help that the project can not shift blame to you when your employer finds out about it because you inadvertently used insider knowledge in your design. That's why big projects will not accept patches unless the author identifies himself and declares full authorship.

Re:Another Con (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790863)

Just because you sign a contract doesn't mean you can be legally held to it. You can't be legally held to kill someone after signing a contract to carry out murder.

Employers may think that they have dominion over an employee's life simply because they're paying them, but they actually don't. If they aren't directly paying you for the work, there's a reasonable expectation that it is yours. Does the company also own part of your house if you did repairs on it yourself?

Re:Another Con (1)

mikiN (75494) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790921)

I wonder how far technology has progressed in the field of code fingerprinting. To the GPP, I would be quite worried when some tech could link code submitted anonymously directly to me, e.g. using things like coding style, choice of variable names, language idioms and quirks in comments, and in particular certain programming mistakes made repeatedly or with any kind of pattern.

Re:Another Con (2, Interesting)

Bandman (86149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790287)

Radio shack used to have a clause like that too. They even claimed everything you produced for a year after you left. Laughable. As if my sales training there would lead to creating something useful.

Re:Another Con (2, Interesting)

rev_g33k_101 (886348) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790707)

they still have that clause.....

Security Through Obscurity (3, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790521)

From that early moment on, all contributions have been pretty darn anonymous

But what happens if someone finds out? The project is still in just as much risk. That's honestly not very kind either.

Far better is to clarify and modify that contract you are about to sign. Even the lowliest peon can easily ask to have a clause put in along the lines of "The IP section does not cover inventions made using my own equipment outside of company time" (have a lawyer write the real thing). Because otherwise by blindly agreeing, even your posts here on Slashdot are owned by your employer under the typical agreement.

ALmost any company will let you add an addendum like that to your employment contract. Do not be overawed by contracts, they are simply a starting point.

Re:Another Con (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790645)

of course one should check to make sure that such clauses aren't negated by their state laws.

such as non-compete clauses in california.

Re:Another Con (5, Informative)

Zordak (123132) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790729)

Actually, that's not "peculiar." Pretty much every employment contract will have a clause like that (more generous employers will just grab IP "related to your work," but read that broadly). And for the most part, it's enforceable.

There's also a problem with your anonymous contributions. The open source projects you donated code to are now tainted. If your employer decides to sue you for whatever reason, they'll ask in discovery for you to produce all IP you created while employed. Sure, you can lie and hide the stuff you did, and they may not find out. But if they do, you'll get sanctioned, and the judge will not be your friend after that. Bottom line, take those clauses seriously. If you're doing something unrelated and you really don't think your business is interested, get a signed release for your project. Or better yet, tell them up front that you work on unrelated open source projects, and ask them if they'll agree to a narrowly-crafted exclusion in the employment agreement. They may say yes.

I'm a lawyer, but this post isn't legal advice. Don't rely on it for any reason.

Real, of course. (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789735)

> Do you contribute to open source projects under your real name or a nickname?

Real, of course. Why would I want to hide?

> The openness of open source can be encouraging, but software patents you have never
> heard of can become a nightmare if a patent troll sues for implementing 'their' scroll
> bar.

As a pure unpaid contributor of source code you have no patent liability.

> A real name also means you end up in the big index we call search engines.

I've been using my real name on the Net for more than twenty years. I don't see the problem.

Re:Real, of course. (2, Informative)

mark_wilkins (687537) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789871)

> As a pure unpaid contributor of source code you have no patent liability.

Unfortunately, that's not true. Actually, as an unpaid, noncommercial USER of a software product, you CAN have patent liability.

Patents extend to the right to control all development and use of derivative technologies whether commercially or noncommercially.

And to the answer...it probably doesn't matter (5, Insightful)

michaelepley (239861) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789975)

Either as a user or developer, if you have enough money/influence that the patent holder cares to sue you, it won't matter much if you post anonymously: your real name in all likelihood will be discovered in due course.

Re:And to the answer...it probably doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790073)

it won't matter much if you post anonymously: your real name in all likelihood will be discovered in due course.

Yes, but in the meantime I'll have them run around in circles scratching their heads.

Re:And to the answer...it probably doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790865)

Just the same, you end up raising the cost of them attacking you. The other side will, whether they have a legal leg to stand on or not, work to raise the cost of proving your innocence.

How much would you really pay to be legally permitted to spend your own time writing your own software? If everybody needed just $20 of legal insurance to submit each kernel patch, how far would Linux have gone?

Re:Real, of course. (1)

skiingyac (262641) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790081)

> > As a pure unpaid contributor of source code you have no patent liability.

> Unfortunately, that's not true. Actually, as an unpaid, noncommercial USER of a software product, you CAN have patent liability.

While you're right, both user and contributor are probably liable depending on the situation, I think there is a distinction between a liability that isn't worth you even being sent a letter about and a liability that is worth someone suing you over.

Hacker Alias (1)

Aero77 (1242364) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789759)

Just use your Hacker alias for submissions. (yes, I know it is Hax0r or whatever people are calling it this month) As long your alternate ID has a positive karma, instead of a negative one, physical meetings are still ok.

Obvious con (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789763)

It won't be easy to prove to a potential employer that you work(ed) on the project, so you might as well not include it on your resume unless you're tenacious about it.

Re:Obvious con (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790163)

That can work both ways dude :-)

Re:Obvious con (1)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791131)

You can prove it. Just show the potential employer you've got the source code. ;)

what a dull article (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789801)

seriously.
yawn.

My nickname... (5, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789811)

I've never had any problems submitting my code as Bill_Gates55, but RMS1953 can sometimes get me into trouble. Of course, nobody would believe me if I used my real name; Girls don't program.

Really? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789961)

I've never had any problems submitting my code as Bill_Gates55, but RMS1953 can sometimes get me into trouble. Of course, nobody would believe me if I used my real name; Girls don't program.

Oh. I thought it was because you would be constantly hit on.

Such as, "Program at my place or yours?"

Or "I'm having an all night programming party and you're invited. There's plenty of booze!"

"How would you like to help me with my Trojan ....viruses?"

" My server, I'm having a hard time getting it up. I'm suuuure YOU can help!"

I don't know. Just a guess.

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790057)

Well, that's easy enough to ignore. ._. It's easier to get people to look at the code if they think you're a guy... They don't patronize then.

Re:My nickname... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790055)

"Of course, nobody would believe me if I used my real name; Girls don't program."

On the internet GIRL means Guy In Real Life. There are no women on the internet. The internet is a place for Real Men (tm).

All kidding aside, there are a few of us. It's not a matter of whether people believe you're a girl as much as whether they will automatically dismiss your abilities because of being a girl.

Re:My nickname... (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790525)

All kidding aside, there are a few of us. It's not a matter of whether people believe you're a girl as much as whether they will automatically dismiss your abilities because of being a girl.

Nonsense. One of the best coders I ever met was a girl. I did, however, question her taste in desktop themes. ;)

Re:My nickname... (1)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790101)

I've known some very good female programmers - and it's been correlated almost perfectly with those who didn't make a fuss about their sex. Could it be people are reacting not to the femininity but the confrontational attitude you seem to take about it?

Why use a fake name when you can... (3, Funny)

viridari (1138635) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789853)

...use someone else's real name?

Find a great idea while mining through software patents? Use a name of someone you'd like to see twist in the wind and implement this concept in your favorite Open Source project. What could be more fun?

Re:Why use a fake name when you can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790653)

You mean like when I wrote my open source Silverlight implementation under the name 'Miguel de Icaza'? Nope. Didn't work.

Err on the side of caution (4, Interesting)

moore.dustin (942289) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789861)

When in doubt, go the safe route where you have some degree of control over your personal information. I contribute to a few sites here and there, not to mention the few I run myself, and I write every single word under a pen name. There are a few reasons why I do this, mostly privacy issues related to avoiding unwarranted judgment/stigma from something I wrote. A pen name/alias/handle protects from this problem, but also has the added benefit of being able to 'reveal yourself' at a later date if you decide to forgo the privacy stuff.

That being said, I specifically choose to NOT assume an alias here on slashdot. I have my reasons for doing so, but they are of no consequence. The point is, you should think about your choice and the consequences of it. After weighing the information, if you are still on the fence, you should err on the side of caution and assume an alias.

No reason not to... (1)

jamincollins (599712) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789881)

I see no reason not to use my real name.

Staying off the radar... heh heh (2, Informative)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789891)

There are ... security related... projects one may contribute to, that one would tend to use a nickname instead of ones real name... ;)

meatspace? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789911)

Don't you mean fatspace or flubberspace?

Be careful with psuedonyms! (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789937)

Ever since releasing my first open source OS back in '91, I've been using the pseudonym "Linus Torvalds", which I thought was a sufficiently ridiculous name that no one would ever confuse me for anyone else. Imagine my consternation when some joker from Finland started getting all of these awesome jobs and invited to speak at conferences and whatnot because everyone thought he was me! He's been milking it ever since.

Can you not use your real name? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25789949)

Where is my misunderstanding of copyright law? I'm sure there must be one if this is even a topic of discussion.
How can you claim copyright, and thus release under an open source license (GPL, BSD, etc.) if you remain anonymous?
Is not the bedrock of the entire concept of open source licenses dependent on copyright law?

Posting anon because I'm afraid of how ignorant I'll be shown to be. ;)

Anonymously (2, Interesting)

wagr (1070120) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789953)

I post anonymously because I'm an insensitive clod.

Actually, I tend to answer questions on forums with my real id, or with a login that easily leads back to me. But I submit complete code blocks under one of several fake ids, and from my home system. Though I doubt I'd get fired for any of the code I've shared, we don't have any explicit policy at my job, and I don't want to test my boss's understanding of "trade secrets."

Re:Anonymously (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790809)

Anonymously (Score:2, Interesting)

by wagr (1070120) on Monday November 17, @02:17PM (#25789953)

I post anonymously because I'm an insensitive clod.

You're doing it wrong.

For Employment Purposes (5, Insightful)

PingXao (153057) | more than 5 years ago | (#25789967)

I never use my real name online, or at least as little as possible. The reason is I don't want future potential employers to be able to Google up any dirt - real or perceived - on me. If I want to bring some of my OSS work to a prospective employer's attention I can do that. I can also pretty much prove that I am responsible for this feature on that program, or that my contributions are legit.

Having you real name associated online with just about anything is IMO a bad idea. The risks are high and the benefits are almost nonexistent. The odds are 10-1 (I just pulled that number out of my ass) that dirt will outrank achievments if you use your real name and someone Googles for you. That one time you got drunk and went off on some insane rant 5 years ago WILL come back to haunt you no matter how many other positive things there are.

Two sides to this question (4, Interesting)

Bruce Perens (3872) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790007)

If you want to be protected by the patent terms of Open Source licenses, which for example was important in the JMRI case, you need to be properly identified. Otherwise, you may have a hard time proving to some judge that you should be protected because the plaintiff should have known that you were "Blue Salad".

Also, the project should make your identity known in the software package as copyright holder. Apache is terrible about this, they strip attribution from most stuff.

And I have a problem with anonomously-donated or anonymously-licensed Open Source, because how do you know the anonymous person actually had the right to donate and you won't run into trouble down the line.

Probably the best thing you can do is assign your copyright to an organization that keeps your identity private. Maybe FSF and some of the incorporated Open Source projects would do this.

Bruce

Re:Two sides to this question (1)

myvirtualid (851756) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790661)

If you want to be protected by the patent terms of Open Source licenses... you need to be properly identified. Otherwise, you may have a hard time proving... you were "Blue Salad".

And on the flip side, if someone does go after "Blue Salad", they will subpoena ISP records, email provider records, and other evidence, and build an argument quite likely to convince a judge that you are, in fact, "Blue Salad". If there is real money involved, a pseudonym will not protect you.

My conclusion? For "patent protection", a pseudonym has no real value....

As an aside, I use my real name - Peter Whittaker - on almost all sites now because a) I'm proud of what I do, and b) as a consultant, my name is my brand. Why did I choose a pseudonym in the first place? Laziness and cheap spam protection: I wanted a single nickname to use on multiple sites, something I could throw away without regret if spam became a problem. Ironically, I never received much spam on the pseudonym@myisp.tld addresses, but did on a few of the first.last@myreallybadfirstisp.tld addresses. /. is pretty much the only place I use a pseudonym anymore. As soon as /. supports it, I will change my nickname here.

Re:Two sides to this question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790783)

Obviously we don't know what "Blue Salad" is.

Re:Two sides to this question (1)

BotnetZombie (1174935) | more than 5 years ago | (#25791127)

Otherwise, you may have a hard time proving to some judge that you should be protected because the plaintiff should have known that you were "Blue Salad".

I spot a glitch in the space/time continuum [slashdot.org]

Let it slip out (3, Interesting)

m50d (797211) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790037)

I found some horrible prejudice when I submitted things under my real name, so I'll always use a pseudonym for my first few patches. But while I never actually *stop* using the pseudonym, I'll gradually start e.g. signing emails with my real name; that avoids trouble and lets me get some credit for my actual self.

It depends on how proud I feel about the work (1, Funny)

crowne (1375197) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790085)

It depends on how proud I feel about the work that I am submitting ...
Sometimes when I'm really drunk and I've only made the spacing larger to improve readability
I don't use my real name, because by that time it getsh difficult to shpell anywayz.
Hic!

Do what you feel comfortable doing (1)

fragbait (209346) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790087)

I'd guess you are contributing to gain some reputation, either community, professionally, or both. Otherwise, why would it matter? If it is privacy that is your highest concern, then don't do it.

- Do what you feel comfortable with doing.
- Protect yourself and your personal and professional reputations.
- Don't participate in pissing matches, especially on Internet available forums.
- Don't be a dick (e.g. that ruby on rails rant guy that said indicated past clients wanted to work with him yet in reading his rant you knew you didn't want to work with him).

-fragbait

Either one is fine (4, Insightful)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790089)

In the open source community it really does seem that either one is fine. This isn't like the old days of D00DZ and WAREZ and C0DEZ where you used your handle to keep the feds from figuring out who you really were. Nowadays it's more of a tradition. Most people are going to be able to match your real name and your screen name, and that's fine. I do a lot of development using both, and people are generally cool with it.

That's strictly in the online sphere, though. If you're sitting in someone's office working out a consulting contract to build some open source software then yeah, your business card had better have your birth name on it if you want to be taken seriously.

Do as PJ does. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790119)

Stay hidden.
If you have a good product, the money will find you.

Please use your real name! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790179)

Real name. How can others check if I am allowed by my employer to contribute? Or if I am not tricking them into violating copyright or using someone's patents somehow? FLOSS developers should pay more attention to this!

Real Name (1)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790185)

A few years ago I switched from using my handle to using my real name. I encourage other contributors to PortableApps.com to also use their real name. When companies are considering bundling your software on commercial products they like to see that an app is maintained by "Joe Thomas" rather than Ko0lDude23.

Re:Real Name (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790293)

When companies are considering bundling your software on commercial products they like to see that an app is maintained by "Joe Thomas" rather than Ko0lDude23.

No problem, I'll just call myself Jarrod D. Henley [fakenamegenerator.com] ...

I can tell you're really talking about me. (1)

tclark (140640) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790197)

All right, you've got me. I've been posting code using the pseudonym "Linus Torvalds" for years, but I guess the jig is up.

Sure why not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790203)

Why wouldn't I use my real name?

Michael Brown?

Sometimes (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790219)

I often use my real name when contributing to open source projects, and have contributed to many over the years.

However there have been specific cases where I wanted to submit a patch but not have it tied to my name (in some cases for fear of unjust litigation, in others just so that my name wouldn't be associated with the project for personal reasons). I've never to my knowledge submitted patches that were generated by illegal means.

I used to use an obviously fake name (like 'Anonymous Coward') for submitting such posts (always with a valid e-mail address so I could be contacted), however The Linux Kernel folks decided they didn't want such pseudonyms in their Signed-off fields, so now I just use a made-up real looking name for those types of cases.

To me it is pretty ridiculous to require a real name, when there is no method of verifying such a thing for most projects. I understand a valid e-mail address, and I've always used one, but what did the kernel (or Wine, or any of other such projects) gain by requiring me to make up a real looking name instead of using an obviously fake one?

I might be able to hide pretty well (1)

Stonent1 (594886) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790297)

My real name is the same as someone who is already a kernel developer for Linux as well as the name of someone who works at Microsoft as a programmer. I am neither.

pros and cons (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790301)

Pro: someone suing has to first prove the the alias is really you.

Con: If you want to assert your ownership, you have to first prove that the alias is really you.

Con: Professionals use their real names. Are you a pro or a teenager?

How I do it (1)

marhar (66825) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790341)

I release all of my open source software using my pseudonym "Linus Torvalds".

Trolls Sue The Money (1)

quarrel (194077) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790433)

Hey,

so there are already a bunch of answers that agree with the basic premise that you may want to protect your name because patent trolls may come after you.

Can anyone give even one concrete example of a patent troll going after an open source contributor? It seems incredibly unlikely to me. Surely they go where the money is - they sue Microsoft or Cisco or similar. Why stuff around suing people that even when you win the pay off is crap?

I think the key premise here is just FUD.

--Q

What about PGP? (4, Interesting)

bkazaz_gr (1409357) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790475)

What if you generate a PGP key and use it's ID as you "name". In that case, anyone holding the private key is essentially the copyright holder, right? ;-)

Of course I do ! (1)

ivan_w (1115485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790571)

And although the project I am contributing to may 'irk' some powers (HAL).. I still believe it's the right thing to do.

Ok.. I'm contributing.. On my free time.. No hope or expectation of any form of return (except for some sort of pride - and sometime recognition from my peers)..

Basically.. it's just *FUN*..

And I believe it's the right thing to do !

But do I feel like I have to hide who I am ? Certainly not ! I am proud of what I do (however modest my contribution might be)

--Ivan Warren

PS : I did feel compelled to provide my full name on that particular subject.. go figure !

PPS : The project I contribute to is the hercules mainframe emulator.. google it if want to know more (shameless plug !)

Honor Your Work (1)

MazzThePianoman (996530) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790667)

As somebody who uses a lot of open source applications in some critical work I would hope that the people behind it feel good enough about what they are doing to put their name on it. If you are unwilling to put your name on it then I think it is better for the project that you leave it those who can take pride in their work.

change name slightly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790761)

My last name has 2 L's in it. I put 3 in it which really isn't even noticeable when you read it. No more searchy search findy find!

mod Cd0wn (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790807)

Depends. (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790843)

I've had this handle for a very long time, and I keep it now for mostly historical reasons. On the other hand, I don't mind people knowing that my real name is Corbin Simpson, that I'm a student in Oregon, or that I attend Oregon State University.

I certainly wouldn't ever disclose a fake name, or ever admit that it was false.

Real Name (1)

Manfre (631065) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790903)

All of my open source code contributions have been submitted with my real name. Doing the work with my real name has helped me get consulting work and my current salaried position.

Employers like it when you stand proudly behind your name, instead of following the all too common formula [penny-arcade.com] .

terrible idea to use fake name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25790909)

By using a fake name to sign your work you are in effect telling people that you "don't stand by your work". OSS will contnue to meander along if there is no accountability in the industry in this case.

You may say "well people in closed source don't have accountability for their code" but that is a moot point because closed-source is a different beast when compared to OSS and since OSS is still "gaining ground" it has to hold itself to a higher standard than closed-source.

This isn't a bad thing, it's always good to hold yourself to a higher standard than your competitor.

IMO the arguments for a pseudonym in a typical (hear that, not a-typical!!!!) programming situation are total bullshit. Now when it comes to breaking DMCA, or some other "fighting for a right" issue then I can understand where anonymity is involved.

Oh- I'm posting anonymous because I'm lazy, not because I don't want you to know who I am.

It depends, work or game? (1)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 5 years ago | (#25790935)

Depends on whether I'm working on something work related, or something game related, because what else is there?

YHBT, Slashdot. HAND (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25791021)

Name one contributor who's ever been held personally liable for his contributions.

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