I think the most important requirement for successful social interactions online is
'persistent identity' -- so the same user name is used consistently to represent
the same person.
The quality of the interactions tend to break down is when a person changes their user
name all the time, or uses multiple accounts simultaneously, which can be very confusing
to other users.
Once 'persistent identity' has been established, the next most important
requirement, IMHO, is the ability to 'follow' users whose contributions you find
interesting, so you can surface their comments or activity in your feeds.
'Real names' can also add value to social interactions, by identifying who you are
interacting with and encouraging people to be more accountable for their words and
actions. For that reason, I support offering a 'real name' field. But this should
be an optional feature, not a requirement, in my view.
The key for me is 'persistent identity'. Without it, online interactions tend to
break down quickly, in my experience. So I would recommend focusing on that requirement
My 2 cents,
On Sep 26, 2013, at 11:49 AM, Brandon Harris wrote:
I feel that we'll be better off encouraging strong pseudonymity over real identity.
I feel that trying to force people into using their real names works against some of our
I'd suggest that we *stop* talking about "real names" and maybe begin
thinking about "display names". The terminology is different but the end result
is the same. (I also feel that adding a "real name" field to the site will go
over like a lead balloon).
On Sep 26, 2013, at 11:38 AM, Steven Walling <swalling(a)wikimedia.org> wrote:
On Thu, Sep 26, 2013 at 10:50 AM, Dario Taraborelli <dtaraborelli(a)wikimedia.org>
As I told Jared and some of you, I am worried that we're entering a slippery slope
where we start designing incentives and functionality around real names and we end up
treating pseudonym users as second-class citizens. There are many intermediate options
between real names and "cheap" pseudonyms. Paul Resnick and Kaliya Hamlin gave
excellent presentations at the Reputation workshop last year  on many alternatives that
can be explored. I asked them to share a couple of readings on this issue and I'll
forward them to the list when I hear back from them.
I think that's a totally legitimate concern. I don't think we should stumble
blindly toward real names anywhere without considering the negative impact that might have
on pseudonymous users, whether it confuses newbies ("why are some real names and
others screen names?"), and more. I think we all know that longstanding pseudonyms
can be just as real as a traditional name, and I agree that when it comes to identity, we
should treat them as first-class citizens in design solutions.
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Brandon Harris, Senior Designer, Wikimedia Foundation
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