In some online communities, using a pseudonym (nick, handle, tradename) to identify yourself is the BehavioralNorm. However, in the tradition this wiki belongs to (Wiki Wiki Web, Meatball Wiki), the norm is to identify yourself by your given name, in the format FirstnameLastname. Almost all current users have usernames in this format.
There’s not a formal proscription against using a pseudonym here, however. Just be aware that some people may think the use of a nick implies a lack of seriousness.
DenotingAuthor explains how we “sign” our contributions, if we just append a new message instead of reworking pages. It also talks about using a portrait for your message. A little pictures of yourself… And just as we prefer real names, we prefer real pictures… 😊
EmileKroeger: WikiDrama may offer a new meaning to RealNames versus PseudoNyms. A pseudonym can be considered as a DramaCharacter by default, which has different implications – as the text written is not attached to a user, it may freely be refactored, reattributed, etc. – much like text in DocumentMode.
This can allow a subtle way of enforcing the real names policy: “real” identity would only be possible by having something that looks like a real name. Joe Brown can call himself Marvin Prosser, but if he calls himself “Marvin the Destroyer”, it would be considered as a publically owned dramatic identity. The dynamics of the fight by people who want to use pseudonyms would change, and the requirement for RealNames would not seem as arbitrary.
I’m not convinced this is necessarily a good thing, though. It would be more useful on MeatBall than on CommunityWiki, which doesn’t care that much about enforcing real names (though it seems to be pretty much a convention now).
AlexSchroeder: I don’t mind the use of dramatic identities if used to explore a new style of writing – it may be a form of communication that reaches a different audience, or creates a different mood that is not possible using our usualy way of writing. I still prefer it to be serious work, of course – eg. “Dramatic discussion of the new European Constitution – this page presents the various points of view often heard. Anybody can contribute to any of the viewpoints.” This makes it clear what is happening. It would be a sad day if people calling themselves Marvin the Destroyer started to post here on a regular basis – I don’t like wasting time with people that seem to be stuck in puberty…
EmileKroeger: I agree. The goal is not to encourage Marvin the Destroyers, but rather to be able to say “look, if you use a name like that, everybody will be able to modify what you write and use your name”. That’s a way to have the same effect (people use real names), while relying less heavily on rules and on technological solutions.
FridemarPache: WikiRealWorldIntegration? needs the policy of UseRealNames. Otherwise it would we just another entertainment place with no commitment. Without this policy of real names, the author wouldn’t be here. – FridemarPache
An interesting discussion regarding Wikipedia and Anonymity : http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Proposal:Get_rid_of_the_global_anonymity (look at the discussion page). I found the discussion somehow related to the discussion of using real names.
AlexSchroeder: The Nymwars continue. Remember danah boyd’s article, “Real Names” Policies Are an Abuse of Power. Google+ has relaxed their rules: Google Plus Finally Gives Up on Its Ineffective, Dangerous Real-Name Policy. Facebook is still struggling. Help, I’m Trapped in Facebook’s Absurd Pseudonym Purgatory.
As for myself, I have changed my mind and now I firmly oppose a real names policy.
I am curious as to why you changed your mind, if you care to expand on your statement. – Hans
AlexDaniel: Yea, I’m interested as well.
AlexSchroeder: The three articles I linked did not convince you? danah boyd’s article starts with a bullet list of examples. That alone is good enough for me. Rebecca MacKinnon? and Hae-in Lim’s article also links to an example of “Facebook users engaging in hateful behavior under their real names”. So: It has drawbacks we didn’t consider back then. It doesn’t have the benefits we thought it would back then. I changed my mind.
AlexDaniel: Well, all of these problems were easily predictable (or maybe it looks so right now?), that’s why I wondered if something in particular made you change your mind. Indeed, these articles are very convincing.
At the same time, we see this when editing this wiki: “Please UseRealNames when contributing.”. So, even if you don’t have to use your real name, it is still recommended? It makes sense, but don’t you think that in a community where everyone is using a real name, someone posting under a pseudonym will attract way too many attention?
AlexSchroeder: Well, I hope people will prefer using real-sounding in order to blend in. But I guess others have well know pseudonyms and therefore the attention they attract is ok?
Alex Schroeder: Using real names did nothing to improve discourse in social media. We really should abandon the call to use real names.
LionKimbro: I had totally forgotten about this conversation..!
But now that I see this, I do remember us talking about this, 15 years ago.
I have to kind of think about it again now…