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Anonymity

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Anonymity means being without a name, or doing or saying things without having a name attached to it.

An example of anonymity is edits to this wiki made by users who are not signed in, and are only identified by their IP addresses. Another example is comments on blogs or forums made without any name, such as the Anonymous Coward posts on Slashdot and other Slashcode-based sites.

Compare Pseudonymity, which means using a name different from that which you usually use, such as when using a nickname or online username.

Benefits Edit

  • Low barrier to entry, by not requiring people to Register to participate
  • Allows people to talk about personal issues that might be sensitive
  • Permits Criticism and whistleblowing, which may be seen as a social good
  • Reduces the personal impact of common social stigma, for example gender role, age or appearance
  • Reduces the likelihood and effectiveness of ad hominem attacks

Disadvantages Edit

  • Anonymous participants tend to behave badly due to lack of Accountability
  • Easily compromised in certain circumstances. In communities based in small, localised populations, for example, writing style, anecdotes, events and incidental details in one's communications can all serve to 'out' a would-be anonymous (or pseudonymous) participant.

Best practices Edit

  • If you permit anonymity, you should make it clear whether any potentially identifying information about the user (such as their IP address) is collected or stored by the system.
  • Anonymous comments may need careful Moderation or other Filtering mechanisms to prevent (or at least bury) abusive or other undesirable behaviour.

Communities that allow anonymity Edit

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