[WikiEN-l] Self-censorship, how far should it go?

Anthony wikimail at inbox.org
Sun Jul 29 22:21:25 UTC 2007

On 7/29/07, Sheldon Rampton <sheldon at prwatch.org> wrote:
> Rather than discuss the merits of this particular "outing," I think
> it would be more productive to discuss ways of encouraging people to
> edit under their own names rather than anonymously.
Actually I think adding the ability to edit anonymously would be
great.  But Wikipedia doesn't really provide that.  You can edit
pseudonymously, or you can edit under your IP address.  And all (the
vast majority of) the anonymous proxies are blocked.

> I realize that some people have legitimate reasons for preferring to
> remain anonymous. Maybe they live under a repressive government.
> Maybe they do some of their editing at work and don't want to get in
> trouble with their boss. I don't have any quarrel with *allowing*
> people to be anonymous. Most people, however, might as well edit
> under their own name, and if Wikipedia could find a way encourage
> this, it would cut down on some of the trolling and flame wars.

I think you underestimate the reasons for not posting under your real
name to a site which indefinitely retains your every contribution,
timestamped, (and released under a free content license to boot).
Most people don't want their boss, their parents, their friends, their
children, their girlfriends, knowing the kinds of details which this
information might reveal.

Of course, I created an account using my real name in part because I
know it'd be relatively easy for anyone with ill intentions to figure
out who I am anyway, if I were editing under a pseudonym.  So at least
if I edit under my real name I can try to remind myself that I'm not
anonymous.  Brandt has gone a long way toward showing this exact fact.
 You can't hide behind a pseudonym without taking precious care to not
edit any of the topics you're actually interested in.  And you can't
hide behind an IP address for even more obvious reasons, unless maybe
you use AOL or something.

And don't forget.  Right now all this snooping is difficult, but as
time goes on and technology gets better it'll get easier and easier.


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