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Will Real Name Policies Improve Comments?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the name-and-user-number dept.

Privacy 264

TechCrunch has a story about the recent trend of websites wanting users to use their real names in an attempt to make comments better. The story points out that the practice didn't work in South Korea. From the article: "...In 2007, South Korea temporarily mandated that all websites with over 100,000 viewers require real names, but scrapped it after it was found to be ineffective at cleaning up abusive and malicious comments (the policy reduced unwanted comments by an estimated .09%). We don’t know how this hidden gem of evidence skipped the national debate on real identities, but it’s an important lesson for YouTube, Facebook and Google, who have assumed that fear of judgement will change online behavior for the better."

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It's a long term policy (5, Insightful)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 2 years ago | (#40809941)

Eventually people will realise that employers Google these things, and that posting nasty stuff means you can't get work.

But this could take a generation to work through.

Only if no law exists. (0)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810005)

That would work until regulation provided a legal partition between personal accounts and corporate accounts. Even if at work or not.

Everyone except the person hell-bent on using social media to filter wins.

argh (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810031)

but scraped it after

"scrapped", you illiterate putzes...

Censored Slashdot Post (0, Offtopic)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810741)

                21 July 2012

                Censored Slashdot Post



                Censored slashdot post

                By: a guest on Jul 21st, 2012

                Hi fellow slashdot readers-

                Many slashdot readers have complained over the past few years that the Slashdot
                moderation system is broken. Now I think I know why. I've been a Slashdot
                participant since the 1990s, and used to have a low-numbered account. I don't
                like censorship. A lot. I was surprised and offended when I discovered active
                censorship happening right on slashdot. Read on for details.

                A few days ago I tried to post an interesting story to Slashdot called
                "The Gentleperson's []
                Guide To Forum Spies". The article was written by an ex-COINTELPRO spy,
                and describes in explicit detail how agents control and manipulate Internet
                forums. So, I tried to post this story and discovered that each time I posted
                it some Slashdot editor would quickly (within 3 minutes) delete the story
                before it came to the atention of other editors or readers. Someone on the
                Slashdot editorial board does NOT want Slashdot readership to learn the
                techniques used to control an internet forum. Note that these techniques
                only work so long as the readership remains IGNORANT of how they work. A
                little forensic investigation by someone with DB access will even show
                which editor(s) repeatedly deleted this story on 18 July 2012. Honest
                editors are smart enough to figure out what to about COINTELPRO infiltrator
                editors. Given that I have a natural dislike of censorship, I'm trying a
                different tactic to expose my fellow Slashdot readers to this censored content.

                Here's a challenge to my fellow geeks: Try to post the above story,
                "The Gentleperson's []
                Guide To Forum Spies" to Slashdot, or any other Internet forum of your
                choice. Here it is on pastebin []

       [] .

                See what happens. I'm just one person, and I've just about given up trying
                to fight state-sponsored censorship. HOWEVEVER, if LOTS of Slashdot readers
                try to post this story, to slashdot and other forums, then the infiltrator
                editors, whom I guess are a small but active minority, will be in a bind.
                If they repeatedly block the story, over and over, when many people try to
                post it, then they give away what they are doing. If they let the story run
                (I guess they'll choose that option), then we all become better informed
                about how the process works. Expect them to use the various techniques described
                (e.g. Forum Sliding, Full Control) to minimize viewer eyeballs and discredit
                the message, if they do let it run. Watch for this, and nail them to the
                wall with your posts when they do it.

                To make things easy for you I've prepared the story and posted it to pastebin,
                as I tried and failed to post it. Feel free to use my version, or change
                it around as you wish. Here it is again on Pastebin:
       [] .
                Please, fellow slashdot geeks who also abhor censorship, help me on this
                one. If we geeks can't even regain control of our own forum, then the cause
                of truth is lost, and the censors win. I have been informed that I will be
                punished for distributing this information (I don't know just how, yet, but
                expect I'll find out - it has already begun), and am willing to accept the
                probable consequences. Readers please note, also, that Wikileaks was founded
                to combat exactly this sort of censorship, and has been effectively marginalized
                as a result. I was slightly involved in Wikileaks, too, so I expect to be
                doubly punished. See my old Slashdot posts for details on that last bit.
                If my Slashdot account, energyscholar, has not been deleted or messed with.

                It's a safe bet that this post will be forum-slid (Technique #1) or
                deleted (Technique #6) very quickly, so count yourself lucky if you were
                able to read it. I've also posted THIS post to pastebin
       [] . This post will presumably come to the attention
                of any agents trying to control this forum, and they will presumably use
                the techniques described to obfuscate or eliminate this post. So, before
                you reply, please READ AND UNDERSTAND what those techniques are. Learn to
                recognize them. If you have the gonads for it, then collaborate with friends
                and try to post the story. The more people who participate, the easier it
                will be for all of us.

                My identity: I am Bruce Stephenson, energyscholar, currently residing at
                1530 SE Alexander, Corvallis, OR 97333. The spies punishing me know who I
                am, so there's no harm telling everyone else, too. I will still be able to
                receive paper letters, but my online accounts are under assault as I write
                this. I'm hoping my fellow geeks will raise the Standard of Truth, after
                I fall. I may go silent after posting this.

Re:Only if no law exists. (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810229)

That doesn't do anything to protect you from the HR drone sifting through 100's of resumes.

Re:Only if no law exists. (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810489)

While I see no point in making everyone use real name accounts I don't see any reason why every site should allow ACs unless they just wants lots of trolls and flames. I mean once in a while we'll see an insightful AC comment but for every one of those we'll see a dozen "nigger faggot shill" comments that just derail conversations.

Now as for whether your real name matters? It depends on who you're asking. If its some nosy Nellie in HR or some potential employer? Then yes they would have a field day finding every stupid thing you have ever said on the net. if its the courts or the cops? Sheeeit, Google done got you by the balls friend, its really not hard to find out everything you've done between Google and the ISP, not to mention I'm sure they have that nifty software that looks for common phrases that people use in their everyday speech. Its been proven time and again whether speaking or typing we tend to fall into patterns which is easy enough to pick up with software or even by a person if they've read enough of your writings.

So while I'm 100% for free speech and think nobody should be forced to make real name accounts (although if they are too lazy to make up any account at all i don't see why they should be allowed to get in on the conversation) but more importantly maybe this will wake up John and Jane Public and make them realize that privacy on the net is an illusion. You'd be surprised how many people truly believe the net is like some magic black hole, where once it goes into the cloud its completely untraceable and they can be as big an asshole as they want and it can NEVER come back to bite them in the ass. Hell look at how many still haven't realized the shit they post on FB can come back to bite them in the ass. The public needs to be smacked with a big old cluebat in this area and if fighting to keep from having to use our real names is what it takes? Well then maybe some good will come from the fight.

Re:Only if no law exists. (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810851)

> I don't see any reason why every site should allow ACs unless they just wants lots of trolls and flames. I mean once in a while we'll see an insightful AC comment but for every one of those we'll see a dozen "nigger faggot shill" comments that just derail conversations.

Confirmation bias much? Just went to a random article [] and searched for pure troll/offtopic/spam anonymous comments. There's 112 anonymous comments (out of 498) and about ten of them are pure offtopic/namecalling and another dozen with flamebaitish content. 6 comments are scored -1, 3 of those are anonymous.

IOW, contents of anonymous comments are mostly the same as for registered, though with 0 starting score you don't notice them so often amongst default 2 starting score for registered posters with good carma, and with ACs being in minority poor behaviour stands out more.

Actually, even on anonymous boards niggerfaggot crowd is pretty much localized and shooed from actual discussions, especially if you go to thematic boards and not /b/.

Re:Only if no law exists. (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40811023)

Requiring an account is a good thing because it lets you track reputation, but requiring real names is bad because it has a chilling effect on speech.

Requiring accounts is like requiring a SSL certificate, it doesn't prove who you're talking to but it does give a good indication that you're talking to the same person you were talking to yesterday.

Re:It's a long term policy ... for control freaks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810071)

It also means that having an opinion might cost you your job. I know enough people that can't have an opinion because it might reflect badly on their workplace, hence stating one in a public context is a fire able offense. Anonymity is a great way to get around these insane restrictions.

Re:It's a long term policy ... for control freaks (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810473)

Most of these "Real Name" schemes are really just "Facebook Auth Mandatory". The idea is that there's a barrier to making and using bogus accounts. Obviously that barrier isn't so terribly high, since you can always just make a bogus FB account for shit-talking.

Now obviously I haven't done any formal studies on the subject, and I don't know about this thing in Korea, but it does appear to have some minor effect on the general civility of conversation on some sites. No practical method is going to eradicate nasty posts, but the noise level is a little better.

The flip side is, on the rare occasion I post on a site that requires that (I really don't like it), I feel like I have to be really careful about voicing my opinion, for exactly the reason you mentioned.

Re:It's a long term policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810143)

I don't think that it'll take "a generation". Looking at youtube, the new "real name" policy isn't being used that much already. I watched some recent videos and comments signed with a (possible) real name appear to be less than about 10%. And maybe some of those users were too dumb to click twice to use a pseudonym instead of the real name, so the number could soon get even lower.

The only thing that really scares me is that soon many websites might choose not to give users the "anonymity option" anymore.

Re:It's a long term policy (1)

SomePgmr (2021234) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810681)

Someone should just do comments as a service, like Disqus does, but using the same basic system as Slashdot.

It allows for anonymous posts, which can either disappear or be highly visible based on the content of the post, or you can opt to lean on your history of being a decent contributor and post using your name... which lends some very modest bit of credibility and visibility to each post on an individual basis.

Give the site admins using the service the option of considering network-wide "karma" if they want, or keeping it specific to their site. Allow for temp/perma bans and spam flagging.

Maybe that's a product. Maybe you do it for free and do a "powered by" that links slashdot to increase traffic. Either way, outsource the JS work to someone else. ;)

Re:It's a long term policy (4, Insightful)

Znork (31774) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810261)

Actually, it means you can't post personal stuff, as you'd find that employers would refrain from hiring people for everything from their political view through religion to sexual preferences, medical issues or even hobbies. In fact, a whole lot of things that _shouldn't_ be a problem are far more likely to be a problem than some bad behaviour.

Then one'd try and fail to rectify those issues by a vast and comprehensive anti-discrimination law(book), while internet asshats plead tourettes and keep trolling.

Banning anonymous speech mostly bans speech that shouldn't be banned.

Re:It's a long term policy (1)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810339)

I have been asked political questions in job interviews more than once. Yup it happens. Hobbies? There is a reason a lot of people put that in their resume.

Re:It's a long term policy (1)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810479)

In most places political discrimination is OK. Not in California though. If you live there it's asking for a lawsuit to ask about politics or sexual orientation or gender identity.

Re:It's a long term policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810281)

If that's your real name.


Anonymous T. Coward the 3rd.

Re:It's a long term policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810321)

Eventually people will realise that employers Google these things, and that posting nasty stuff means you can't get work.

I know people who have already changed their names to something which is hard to google.

I know people that have introduced fake information on the net, for employers to find when googling. Heck, I even do it myself.

Employers that rely on google results when making hire decisions are best avoided anyway. No loss.

Re:It's a long term policy (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810379)

"But this could take a generation to work through."

It will never get that far.

An awful lot of people understand that freedom of speech requires the ability to speak anonymously (precisely because others will be seeing that speech and judging it). Imagine if the United States were like some countries, in which political dissidence could get you killed or imprisoned for life? Would you dare say anything against the government, using your real name?

This employment situation is merely a small-scale version of the same kind of tyranny.

Several states have already passed laws that prevent employers from using social network content in their hiring practices, or requiring account credentials. I expect soon that will be most states, or even a Federal law.

Re:It's a long term policy (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810423)

Eventually employers will realize that almost everybody gets drunk and wears a lampshade at some point in their lives. I am Spartacus... mooning the camera with a dildo up my ass. Then they will be forced to lower standards.


And then we have a nazi world (1)

Snaller (147050) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810555)

Where freedom of speech is long dead. But then you seem to embrace that.

Re:It's a long term policy (3, Insightful)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810567)

The only problem is everyone at some point posts nasty stuff, and at many points it is fully justified.

You could get a cooling effect on free speech if all potential employers are going to rate their employees by their non-work related speech. Sure you don't want to hire a KKK clansman but what about an atheist? Does a Libertarian employer have the right to refuse to hire a Communist or Socialist employee? What about one that is merely Liberal? What about someone who argues for pornagraphy and/or erotic art?

There are many decisive issues that we need to be able to freely discuss in online and public forums without fear of those discussions damning our chances at attaining our livelyhoods.

Re:It's a long term policy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810595)

> Eventually people will realise that employers Google these things, and that posting nasty stuff means you can't get work.
> But this could take a generation to work through.

It's people like you who makes me think all the fight for liberty is worthy.

Sorry to say that, pal (and I, among others, will certainly recognize your right to free expression), but you're saying exactly what I want to avoid. It's for such thinking that I always valued a lot being an AC over here, probably since mid-1998 (take or add a year). I love being able to have my opinion count as worthy as the President of US or a janitor -- actually, I think some janitors provide really good insight at times.

But you want people to develop fear. Is that really a good idea? Ok, I concede there has been a lot of nasty racial slur, but these guys almost always say the same BS, while honest AC opinions sometimes border the sublime.

John Smith (2)

kc9jud (1863822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40809943)

Yeah, my name is John Smith... I'm really afraid of people's judgement.

John Smith? From "Back East"?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810065)

Ala Bruce Willis in "Last Man Standing"??? He's one of my heroes!

Re:John Smith (1)

ShoulderOfOrion (646118) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810077)

Bob Johnson here. John, is that you?

Re:John Smith (0)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810243)

John "Cockgobbler" Smith or John "Smalldick" Smith?

Re:John Smith (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810253)

There are a lot of reasons to be concerned with people's (poor, inappropriate) judgement.

A poster may have perfectly good reasons to be anonymous: they may be subject to various kinds of active hunting, from spouses to creeps to national agencies; there are people who may have made mistakes (or not), have been through the legal system, but have been pilloried on some list somewhere; they may be activists of one sort or another, engaged in illegal activities (and don't even try to tell me that all laws are good just because they are laws... it's just too easy to take your wet-noodle premise and slap you silly with it); there is strong tendency to "attack the messenger" rather than try to respond to the message, and anonymity makes that an empty exercise... it neither hurts the poster or benefits the attacker; anonymity means no one gets to scrape you from some forum and "market" to you (it may not be evil but it surely is annoying.) And so on.

Yes, real name policies let the lowlives run essentially free. But that's what moderation is for, and that's where the most effective energy can be applied. The one thing slashdot does really wrong is start anonymous comments at zero. They should start at one, just like any other comment, and go down only when they're obviously of lower quality. It's a form of prejudice, nothing more. A counter argument is that it is statistically justified, but that's an over-democratic solution that harms the legitimate posters at the same time it addresses whatever problem there is. It's like racial profiling: if most of the crime in an area is from blacks, and then the police start pulling people over because they're black, we have a problem. With an anon post, when you droprate the post because it's anon, you've essentially done the same thing, except the problem area isn't arbitrary search, it is the chilling of speech (because low scores tend to make posts less visible.)

In the end, real name policies are a bad idea, the only people who really benefit from them are corporations.

Re:John Smith (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810363)

Sorry, of course I meant "a lack of real name policies let the lowlives run essentially free." Personal editing failure. ;(

Fear??? (1)

stanlyb (1839382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40809955)

So, let me ask you this: You intend to implement FEAR in your policy!!! What the f%$%$%$%

Re:Fear??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810357)

So, let me ask you this: You intend to implement FEAR in your policy!!!

That is not a question.

Yes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40809957)

Should make it easier for security forces to track down those fomenting sedition, apostasy, gayness, etc.

Re:Yes (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810055)

Should make it easier for security forces to track down those fomenting sedition, apostasy, gayness, etc.

"Gayness" is a politically incorrect term, and in any case homosexuality is a politically protected class.

Mr Coward, Mr. Anonymous Coward - please report to the Thought Control Center for Politically Correct Thought Retraining.

Re:Yes (4, Informative)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810283)

homosexuality is a politically protected class

Not anywhere that still goes after apostasy. To the contrary, running on a platform of rounding up and executing the gays would be a great way to get elected (or appointed) in places like saudi, iran, uganda, etc.

It will also help governments demand people say supportive things. For example, right now lots of authoritarian regimes are happy to demand people show up to parades and pretend to be excited (and leader speeches and so on). Now imagine being told you don't 'like the dear leader enough' on the north korean future equivalent of facebook and twitter and so on.

Slashdot statistics? (5, Insightful)

punit_r (1080185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40809979)

Does Slashdot have any statistics to share on the percentage of troll posts / off topics and flamebaits by ACs vis-a-vis registered users ?

Agreed, that registered users may not be using real names. But, still Anonymous comments v/s registered comments will provide a good starting point. My gut feeling is that the statistics would have a higher number of ACs being abusive and malicious than the registered users.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810079)

The ratio of good vs. bad anonymous comments isn't really relevant, and a lot of people use relatively "anonymous" usernames anyway (meaning that their slashdot user name and posts can't be connected to their real life name easily or at all). As long as 1 out of 10000 anonymous comments are really good comments that could not or would not have surfaced without anonymity, then anonymous posting is valuable. And the bad anonymous comments are controlled by moderation anyway.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810135)

Maybe, but even if there's a correlation, should we throw the baby out with the bathwater? There are good reasons to be anonymous. One would like to think that posts were judged based on their merit and content rather than on who posted them, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

One unfortunate aspect of /. seems to be that people posting AC with good things to say often end up in the same Score:0 oblivion as spam and troll posts, which is curious for a community that purports to value anonymity. I've seen spam posts rated 0 right next to some AC with a well reasoned and articulated point, also at 0.

Taking the argument too far to one extreme leads to the "No Facebook account? You must be an antisocial mass murderer!" line of thought.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810707)

One would like to think that posts were judged based on their merit and content rather than on who posted them, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

They are, just not as individual posts but as a continuum.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40811039)

Slashdot moderation isn't about judging individual post quality, it's a way to semi-arbitrarily cull comments to make the discussion shorter and quicker to read.

If you've ever read this site at the default settings, you realize that there's a large number of +5 comments which are either assholish flaming or cheap one-liners. Comment score is certainly not a very good indication of quality.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810205)

No idea, but I filter ACs out, unless they manage to get moderated up or answer my postings. I only answer to ACs answering my postings if they make good points.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810319)

I have the same rules about answering postings, but I don't limit that to just ACs.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810349)

I only answer to ACs answering my postings if they make good points.

I dont suppose you answer to non-ACs that dont make good points either right. Then I dont suppose it matters if the person responding to you is anonymous or not, does it?

Re:Slashdot statistics? (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810371)

It does. I am not above to point out to non-ACs that they are idiots and why. With ACs, I assume they already know they are idiots and wrong, otherwise they would not post as ACs. /. does allow pseudonyms, after all.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810527)

Some of us just don't bother having an account on every damn site...

Re:Slashdot statistics? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810491)

Taco once said that Anonymous Coward has positive karma. Which is amazing just considering the first posts and other junk comments.

Re:Slashdot statistics? (2)

dustmite (667870) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810615)

Who cares? They get modded down and by and large don't affect the discussion. If your discussion forum doesn't have ancient features that help filter out the crap, it's because your discussion forum platform sucks, not because everyone needs to be forced or pushed to give up anonymity. Yours, Mr. Dust Mite.

But my name is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810019)

Anonymous Coward

Re:But my name is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810345)

Family of Noël [] ?

Boy are people naive (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810021)

Anyone who's dumb enough to think this is them trying to "clean up" the Internet needs to realize the business potential of harvesting real user IDs in comments and stop thinking this is something they're doing to improve anything but their bottom line.

Betteridge's Law of Headlines (3, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810027)

So, no.

Link to the TechCrunch article (4, Interesting)

bwintx (813768) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810029)

TFS linked only to another Slashdot thread. The TechCrunch article TFS mentions is: []

Re:Link to the TechCrunch article (1)

bwintx (813768) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810295)

Sorry to reply to myself but just noting the obvious, namely that TFS does have that link now. Guess I caught it pre-"oops."

No. (5, Insightful)

ildon (413912) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810037)

You might get less trolling (but not much less) but you'll miss out on a lot of extremely useful comments that can only be made anonymously or semi-anonymously. Some people are too shy or scared to speak out without anonymity, some just value their privacy. You'll almost never get insight from insiders at a company without some level of anonymity. Too much good value is lost for too small a reduction in bad comments, and bad comments can be controlled by good moderation anyway.

Re:No. (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810093)


Part of free speech and the "marketplace of ideas" requires there to be at least some level of anonymity. Trolling is simply part of the internet. Just ignore the troll comments if you want, or read them if you want.

Anonymous speech has had huge impact, particularly in early American history. You have to remember that the major works of early American politics were anonymous, including the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers.

Re:No. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810767)

This is a ridiculous analogy and you are one real stupid fucking faggot for posting it.

Nobody's going to lead a revolution by posting Youtube comments, nor is any site obligated to host your retarded political diarrhea. If you want free anonymous political speech, go start your own fucking blog you lazy piece of shit leech on society.

Re:No. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810239)

I totally agree. Just look at all the highly-moderated comments I've posted on Slashdot over the years.

- Anonymous Coward
(You think that's not my real name? Prove it!)

Let's name the subjects: (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810355)

Political views. Eample: remember back in '02 when all those folks who were against invading Iraq had their property vandalized because they "didn't support the troops and hated America"? Turns out those people who "hated America and the troops" were right.

Religion. Example: I live in the Bible Belt. If it were known that I am an atheist, I would have some serious problems with my neighbors. Like anonymous vandalism.

sexual orientation. there are folks who have a severe prejudice against homosexuals and a completely asinine hatred for those poor souls who are born with ambiguous sex. To post one's true orientation or birth defect leads to quite a bit of hatred and harassment from very ignorant people.

Metal illness/substance abuse. Folks with those issues really have to hide because of ignorance, prejudice and just the lack of compassion and understanding of people.

Unfortunately there are a lot of jerks out there who will so some horrible things to you if they don't like what you say. But the thing is, some things really need to be said. If folks kept quiet about racism, god knows what our society would be like. But some very brave people risked and in many cases lost their lives to speak up.

Anonymity helps folks who are afraid to step in and at the very least say, "I am out there and I agree. I can at least maybe vote or do something behind the scene to help make a change."

An Anonymous Poster.

Maybe "93 Escort Wagon" IS my real name... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810041)

For most people, using your real name (e.g. "Joe Johnson") doesn't really remove your anonymity that much - nor does it pin down your location anymore than posting under a pseudonym does. It might be interesting, from an academic viewpoint, to see if people with unusual names (e.g. "Moon Unit Zappa") behave in a more socially acceptable manner when they're forced to use their real name online.

Also, why the heck does the only link in this story go back to another Slashdot post? That link adds nothing to the actual topic being discussed. This whole item needs a giant [citation needed] appended to it - there's no supporting evidence at all.

Re:Maybe "93 Escort Wagon" IS my real name... (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810313)

it's possible they updated since you posted this. The first link is a callback to the previous /. story, the second link is to a tech crunch article about how effective the policy was in south korea.

Re:Maybe "93 Escort Wagon" IS my real name... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810865)

Yup, they updated it - several other commenters also noted the (initial) lack of a link to the Tech Crunch article.

In any case, I'm not sure South Korea is a good test bed. A friend of mine is from there and has previously made the observation that some huge percentage of the population has one of two family names - Kim or Park. Having to post their real names probably isn't giving away much from a practical sense.

won't make a difference (4, Insightful)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810061)

Facebook has proven people are happy to harrass or say retarded things even under their real name.

Re:won't make a difference (4, Interesting)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810493)

Exactly, I have argued something similar [] a few days ago. Basically, people are rude on the internet not because of anonymity, but because you can't punch them in the face.

Never (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810095)

I will never use my real name not as long as I can create gmail accounts (I have 50+) right now.

So ppppppppppppppppppppppp

Obvious answer... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810097)

We don’t know how this hidden gem of evidence skipped the national debate on real identities...

Because it doesn't fit the expected narrative!

Useless /. Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810111)

Yet another /. story that references a /. story rather than referencing anything of relevance.

I guess this is the /. way of "filling up space" empty web space.

Sort of works on Facebook, but: (3, Interesting)

Hazelfield (1557317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810127)

A couple of points about Facebook:

1) You have a real incentive of actually signing up with your real name because otherwise your friends won't find you.
2) Your friends can see what you write.

This creates a (somewhat) self-regulated comment environment. People still post dumb stuff on Facebook because they're dumb, but at least you get rid of most trolls, one-liner thumb seekers and Justin Bieber haters that haunt for instance Youtube.

Just makes comments less interesting (5, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810131)

I've found that moving from anonymity to real-identity based comments (i.e. Facebook) just makes comment board much less interesting.

The SJ Mercury News switched to FB comments a year or 2 ago, and after the switch, I stopped reading the comments (and the site) because the comments switched from controversial discussion (and yes, even some trolls and personal attacks) to boring "Yeah, me too buddy" comments.

On Slashdot, I often post anecdotes from current and past jobs, and I wouldn't do so if my name was attached to the post.

Re:Just makes comments less interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810223)

Well said. Too few people seem to realize there is value in anonymity. It's unfortunate that some people abuse it, but that's the cost of true freedom of speech. You have to put up with a few people being dicks so that others can speak freely without fear of repercussions.

Re:Just makes comments less interesting (4, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810415)

On Slashdot, I often post anecdotes from current and past jobs, and I wouldn't do so if my name was attached to the post.

Yeah, me too buddy.

Re:Just makes comments less interesting (3)

IntlHarvester (11985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810645)

A lot of sites are figuring out that user comments are relatively worthless. Yes, they increase page views and 'interaction', but at the same time only a small percentage of users are looking at them, because who has the time to read hundreds of largely worthless comments? When you see 1000+ posts about the latest smartphone news, most of those comments are "write-only", nobody ever reads them. But the site still has to maintain hosting and pay people to moderate the comments, which could easily outweigh the advertising revenue.

So, I can see how a site would be perfectly happy with a smaller number of 'boring' facebook comments.

Slashdot was largely set up as a discussion site with threaded comments, user moderation, filtering, etc. People post longer-form comments and actually reply to arguments. It's a tech audience which is generally OK with anonymity (even though everyone thinks everyone else is a "shill"). It's an entirely different atmosphere than most high-traffic blogs or newspaper comment sections.

Anonymous is critical (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810133)

Anonymous comments is critical for the free flow of genuine information. It is one thing for some twerp to call people schoolyard names but it is critical for somebody working at say the police department to mention that the policeman waving the club is named Bob Smith and that you can tell because of his distinctive boots. Or if you negatively comment on a beating video that the cops should be fired won't result in the cops pulling you over and "finding" drugs in your car.

Anonymous is critical? To trolls mostly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810487)

Anonymous comments is critical for the free flow of genuine information. by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday July 29, @03:41PM (#40810133) Homepage

As well as DISINFORMATION and lies too: Your weak argument goes both ways and is the cry of the troublemaker and troll. I do get the feeling you're a troll, why else would you post that if you don't do it yourself then? We know why. If you have something to say, and it is honest and truth, why hide then? Only those in fear of crap they are pulling talk like you do.

Re:Anonymous is critical? To trolls mostly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810599)

Anonymous comments is critical for the free flow of genuine information. by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Sunday July 29, @03:41PM (#40810133) Homepage

As well as DISINFORMATION and lies too: Your weak argument goes both ways and is the cry of the troublemaker and troll. I do get the feeling you're a troll, why else would you post that if you don't do it yourself then? We know why. If you have something to say, and it is honest and truth, why hide then? Only those in fear of crap they are pulling talk like you do.

Because even if something is honest and true, posting it somewhere can get you fired. When you have to choose between speaking out, and keeping your family fed, family usually wins.

Ever wonder why older folks and younger folks are present in such relatively large numbers at protests and marches? The older ones are already retired so can't be fired, and the younger ones don't have jobs yet to lose.

If I can't post anonymously, I won't post. But that's okay, no one browses at this level anyway.

Re:Anonymous is critical? To trolls mostly! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810657)

Switch to another job then and let the board of labor in your area handle it instead of having the problems you do then bitching about it online. After all, we have no way of tellling you are telling lies or truth, even if we work at the same company (the odds of that are very low). Also, there are plenty of people browse at "all comments visible" here, trust me. I am one of them, and some of the best comments come at the anonymous coward level visible too and yes, we do get modded up also, just not as much because the default here is what? +1 and above visible by default in most browsers?? Adjusting that you can see all views, not just those of regular registered users.

Trolls will use fake names (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810171)

The trolls will not be deterred. Registering up a fake name is easy enough.

Insightful, behaved commenters will simply choose not to participate.

Contrary to what Page and Zuckerberg say, not everyone wants to be identified. /AC

The problem is the people (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810175)

People that are cretins will remain so, whether real names, pseudonyms or anonymity. There are some that will behave a bit better when they can be recognized later, but pseudonymity works just as well here. One massive drawback of real names is that many people will not be able to post anything marginally critical anymore, because their present or future employers could find out. In fact, I am inly allowed to post on /., because I do it under pseudonym. Real-name policies can have a massive chilling effect.

By example/analogy: Look @ the L.A. Riots! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810177)

When people *think* there's no rules? They run WILD! Plenty of other proofs of that exist, including the human animal's mind/psyche, history, and event the legal system itself...

Heck - something /.'ers WILL doubtless appreciate, is the trolls around here (tons - I get trolled here nearly every time I post in fact, makes me laugh, because they're VERY simple to out think every time) & hacker/cracker factions like "Anonymous" + LulzSec as well as your "garden variety" malware maker & botnet master (who ALL/EACH *think* they're untouchable, & clearly? They're not...)

In any event, as to the legal systems societies setup?

I note that, because WHAT is it backed by? Pain/Fear (in various forms) & the threat of retribution from it... it keeps folks from acting like unaccountable animals & yes, it works (for the most part, there's always "outliers"/rebels).

* Pretty sad - but, it is, how it is... & yes, what the human animal responds BEST to (not that it doesn't have higher qualities like duty, love, devotion, honor & others - which DO work to "bring out the best in us", but nothing works like FEAR, PAIN, or even the threat thereof... nothing!).

(That said - IF people online don't *think* anything will happen to them, see my subject-line above: It's how folks will be when they feel there are no consequences whatsoever!)


P.S.=> In the end, I feel that it would prevent a LOT of problems, trolling, etc. IF folks had to post with their real names with some form of accountability behind it, just like how law & the legal system work in the "real world"...

... apk

Addendum (regarding the /. moderation system) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810299)

I'd like to see some accountability put into THAT on this site: Since anyone with modpoints can do unjustifiable downmoderations, and there's NO WAY to know who did it!

(Yes, and WE ALL KNOW that "hit & run" bad unjustified downmodding that's totally unjustified does go on here like mad)...

So, that said?

Well - I'd like to see names attached to those that downmod a post, just so they can be DIRECTLY CHALLENGED as to why they did so (on valid technical grounds mostly), if not humiliated publicly for doing completely unjustified & unwarranted down moderations.

* It's a HUGE problem here... it really is, & I am NOT the only person who feels that way. In fact, this fellow did a post about it in the SUBMISSIONS section & I watched it get DELETED A DOZEN TIMES (Why's that /. moderators/owners? Hmmm??)

See here -> [] , because there and the page prior to it, outline the nefarious methods used to do bogus downmods &/or worse (ganging up on others via many "fake" accounts etc.).


P.S.=> I know the moderation system here is BROKEN because of that, & so do many others - see link above@

(Since just like the HBGary scandal? Trolls setup MULTIPLE "Sock-Puppet" accounts to do so, collecting up modpoints from many of their alternate registered 'luser' accounts to unjustly attack those they do not like or have trashed them, & it's a form of VERY childish immature and effete "woman-like" so-called retribution...)... apk

"improve" (2)

kenorland (2691677) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810183)

It will "improve" comments in the same way that the Stasi or the Holy Inquisition "improved comments": minority opinions will be silenced since any form of contrarian opinion is frowned upon, and tends to result in repercussions, by employers, friends, and governments.

won't work, just make a fake name (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810187)

Seriously, this is stupid.

Fake names are easy.

Bob Dobbs
John Smith
Jay Woo
J. Wu

I don't even have to make clever ones, just some of the most common names in the world will work.

I don't want any of you to know who I am, if I did, you'd probably be a friend of mine. Not one of you needs to know what my last name is, and if I am, or am not famous. It's none of your fucking business unless I decide to tell you.

Maybe we should use numbers instead of names, or I know, we'll all go by our Social Security numbers.

fucking retards.

Ask John Doe (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810189)

Really if you see a post on the internet from "John Doe" are you going to make the connection to the actor/singer?

All this means is that people named "John Doe" or "Joe Smith" or "Sanjay Gupta" will be able to say whatever they want without it being associated with them.

Reduced fear of judgement (1)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810201)

It is the reduced fear of judgement among the population that is the real reward of such a policy. In my opinion. Reduced fear of judgement, together with more effective application of judgement in that small selection of cases where it's importance is recognized by all sounds win-win.

re important lesson for YouTube, Facebook, Google (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810245)

Having subscribers' and posters' real names would vastly increase the value of their web analytics, and allow them to sell qualified leads to marketers ("all these email addresses are for people who proactively viewed at least one SUV product video within the last two weeks"). That's what those guys care about, not comment quality.

The real reason your real name is wanted (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810273)

The real reason these web sites want your real name, address, phone,etc., if they can get it, is not to cut down on critical comments, but so they can sell your information to the highest bidder.

0.09% at what price? (1)

Let's All Be Chinese (2654985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810279)

Cranks will be cranks. Oppressive governments will be oppressive governments. Knowing your real name is that much more power over you, that you're required to give to your enemies. The whole discussion doesn't even make sense in the USA, where the founding legalese was dicsussed together using pseudonymity.

Now unthinking and hurtful comments are arguably undesirable, but unthinking and hurtful policies are that much worse. I think I'll take the bad comments --that can be ignored and skipped over-- with the pseudonymity --that provides useful protection against people who don't know when to stop being disagreeable--, thanks.

No. (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810341)

Because fuck you, that's why.

I am not anonymous (4, Funny)

Skapare (16644) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810359)

I am Skapare. Never heard of me? Then consider yourself lucky.

Works for me (1)

Greg Hullender (621024) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810409)

I switched to using my real name a long time ago. I do find that it makes me a bit more cautious about what I say and how I say it. As others have mentioned, there does seem to be considerably less flaming on Facebook than in forums that permit (much less are dominated by) anonymous posts. I've even heard it said that Facebook's #1 innovation was producing a system that actually encouraged people to use their real names.

That's the crux of it, though; people use their real names on Facebook because it is in their own best interests. Yes, I'm sure Facebook has a policy, but I'm equally sure that the 99% compliance is not the result of Facebook's (no doubt) excellent enforcement mechanisms. To get people to comply with a real-names policy, you have to give them a proper incentive. For most sites, I'm not quite sure what that would be.


Re:Works for me (1)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810863)

I think the difference though is that on Facebook, people have the ability to control (or at least the illusion of being able to control) who sees what, meaning (they believe) they can reveal for instance political views, religious views or sexual orientation without fear of for instance future employers finding out.

I think the best model is one like Slashdot where users who have previously proven themselves worthy of moderating get to moderate and those who appear to be doing a shit job at it don't, but without the need to reveal their true identity.

And of course revealing a full name is not the same for everyone. Some have very common names and can say whatever they want without it ever coming back to haunt them, while others have one-off names that uniquely identifies them. For a system like that to be fair, some sort of unique identifier would have to be assigned to each individual.

fake names wont work either in the long run (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810431)

Have to use my real name so my employers find out what I'm really thinking, no fucking way. The real name
bid is just another way to silence the web because nobody really gives a shit if the government and intel
services know, but everybody worries what their immediate families and employers think of them. And thats
what is they want to leverage as free speech. Been having some thoughts lately? You still get to share them
but you will get to do that standing virtually in front of your boss and your coworkers, your family, your parents
and then there will be real life repercussions to your speech. You might get fired, not from one minute to
the next but plans will be made to replace you, friends and family may withdraw from you and since you
cant take anything back on the web you will have to live with what you put out there indefinitely.

for that reason I dont use facebook, I dont use any of these sites even though more and more comment sites
are replacing their logins with facecrap and the like. The way they roll is by incremental steps. Yes you can
still create a fake facebook account etc. but in later steps they can take that away as well. One way would be
to have you appear at a screening station at the mall, oh it wont be called screening station, itll be a nice
little store you can go to, get coffee and meet other facebook people in person.. or they can use algorithms
and corrobate account data and see what accounts are fake and delete them. The second alternative will work
as well if setting up a fb account is a real chore every time it gets deleted. After all, youre only to have one
and it is to be yours until you die. They could of course do both and then there are things I havent thought of
as well.

And comment sites that still allow anonymous comment what of them. These are the few that will get squeezed
off the net over time, either by laws mandating real identity use on the web or by TOS violations or piracy allegations.
  It might well be some kids name like Meghan's law and there will be little backlash to it either... where do you take
those comments, where are you going to take that protest??

What a truckload of b.s. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810531)

That weak b.s. from you is also used to spread lies and misinformation. If you have to say bad things about an employer, the very example you used, then YOU are working at the wrong place - get another job, and move on, instead of gossiping like a woman online about it. That's what boards of labor are for anyhow, to take care of misdoings by employers, and yes, they really do fight for you and work for you (most of the time, in your favor, assuming you are telling it how it is with convincing evidences and proofs from not only yourself, but fellow employees. Just like a court of law!). That so-called 'argument' from you is the method and means of spreading untrue gossip and defamations by nefarious trolls and scum online, nothing more. Free speech my ass. It's only free if it is not unjustly harming others.

important in some cases, impossible in some cases (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810453)

A real names policy is important in some cases, is impossible in some cases, and is both important and impossible in some cases.

An example where it's important is online book reviews. You don't want authors reviewing their own books, or, e.g., university professors getting their grad students to give five-star reviews of their advisor's book.

An example where it's impossible is basically any web site that isn't selling a product. Presently, the main method for verifying people's real-world identities is to have them buy something with a credit card. For example, Amazon will let you review a book you didn't buy from them, but it won't let you post reviews if you've never bought anything from them. Sites like slashdot and stackexchange can't do this, which is how they verify that your account isn't a sock puppet. As an alternative to credit cards, it would be great if we could get a worldwide web of trust [] going, but it just ain't happening so far, due to network effects.

See my sig for a case where a real names policy is both vitally important and impossible to verify. This is a site I run that catalogs free books and accepts user-submitted reviews. I have a real names policy, but I have no good way to enforce it -- although in many cases it's transparently obvious that people are violating it (e.g., they post a review that is cut and pasted from their own web site), in which case I delete the review.

Re:important in some cases, impossible in some cas (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810585)

Sorry about the mangled logic in the above post. This part: "which is how they verify that your account isn't a sock puppet" is in the wrong place. It should refer to amazon, not slashdot and stackexchange.

Rudeness VS Freedom & Truth (2)

RudyHartmann (1032120) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810457)

Some of the belligerent and rude comments on /. get to me sometimes. But I would rather have freedom of speech and hear the unvarnished truth than require proper etiquette. I think we might see more politeness and get lied to more often if real names were required.

Sure you know my name, but what's the punishment? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810519)

Why would using your real name actually change anything? If I post something that's offensive or trollish there's no consequences. There's no immediate feedback to me that this is frowned upon in society. In person you might see a recipient with hurt feelings which could deter certain comments, or the tone. But on the internet there's no feedback other than more text in the distant future. Text can be interpreted many different ways, and 'distant' is another keyword there because after a certain amount of time, people don't usually relate consequences of one action back to another. I also think we might be coming to a 3rd reason (I've got no proof of this though), and that's just the numbers game. With such a large population there's others that feel the same way and so you get some dislikes, but you also get some likes, which makes you feel justified in your comment and so you feel like you can 'stand with the group on this one.'
If there's any change due to using real names it's because some people are looking ahead and associate the possible negative outcomes. Unfortunately, most people aren't willing to look into the future to consider such things to my chagrin. So no posting real names won't make any difference without some sort of consequence.

With all this said, I fear the other end of the coin more!
If everything you post has to have your real name, and the internet is known for its elephant memory, everything you do essentially brands yourself for the rest of your future life. Even things that you might think are good/fine may be a negative to someone else. Your opinions and views as a child will haunt you as a teen when someone finds out you believed in the toothfairy, and your highschool/college/uni views will haunt you in your search for a job later on, and then your working views will haunt you for keeping said job. Good luck trying to ever change your opinion on something, cause some douchebag will be right there, with a quote from you no less, trying to tell you that obviously don't believe what you say cause you said you didn't before.

I think I'd prefer to grow a backbone and have to filter out anonymous asshats rather than damaging my life going forward in ways that I have no clue how to predict now!

Nothing all that new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40810577)

It's not like people didn't start to learn the difference in flaming/trolling levels back in the 1980s from things like The Well, Compuserve CB, Genie chat, various BBSes, etc. But why learn from all that history when people can stumble through re-learning it the hard way?

I think you need to start with "real names only" to see much impact, rather than try to force it on people after they've already gotten used to a certain style of discourse. Which would explain only getting a .09% boost in this case.

Posting anonymously because I don't remember my Slashdot ID and password after 4 years since I last posted, and they probably expired anyway if they do expires. Bleah.

        -- Dr. Cat

Please define real name (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810637)

Would it be better if I posted as Jonathan Robert Stevens or as houghi?
At least with houghi people will be aware that the name is not one that I have on my passport. John Stevens just sounds real, but isn't. As my friends also call me houghi, that name is more real then Stevens.
I can even add a fake address to it, if they want that kind of thing. Some sites ask for an American address and then I just make one up. If they verify if addresses exist, I often go for the address of the website/company.

It will lead to more internet related violence (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810751)

When you can put a name to a commenter, you can eventually put a face and location to the commenter as well. And it may not be "government" we have to most to fear but instead we can conveniently point to the apparently vast number of self-righteous nut-jobs who believe that thinking any way other than their way warrants a death sentence or other forms of harassment.

Try disagreeing with scientology using your real name and see what happens.

Didn't work on the WSJ (1)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#40810899)

The Wall Street Journal required full names on their comments pages.

It didn't work. They had just as many abusive, right-wing idiots as they would get with pseudonyms. I get more rational discussion at Slashdot, so you can imagine.

It's amazing what people will write under their full name. I could have gotten at least one or two people fired by reporting them to their employer, and I could have gotten at least 3 or 4 people visited by the secret service for shooting their mouths off about using their "second amendment rights" against Obama.

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