IET
Decrease font size
Increase font size
Topic Title: Anonymous postings - how do we feel about them?
Topic Summary:
Created On: 20 September 2011 12:19 PM
Status: Read Only
Linear : Threading : Single : Branch
1 2 Next Last unread
Search Topic Search Topic
Topic Tools Topic Tools
View similar topics View similar topics
View topic in raw text format. Print this topic.
 20 September 2011 12:19 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Should posters be encouraged to add their names?

When dealing with others professionally it is normal to introduce yourself with your name and "affiliation" (maybe your job title and company, or whatever position is relevant to the conversation). On web forums generally people don't.

It does seem to me from reading postings here over many years that it may be easier to maintain reasoned discussions when posters admit who they are, and easier to descend into rants (and occasionally personal abuse) when they don't. Perhaps because it's clearer that you have to stand by your words, also I suppose you may meet the object of your ranting at an IET event which could be somewhat embarrassing!

I can see times when anonymous posting is valid, particulalry where people are asking for help with employment issues (I wouldn't post a message here saying "I am currently looking for another job and need advice..." unless I'd had a really bad day!).

I'd be really interested to know what other forum users thought?

(P.S. in case anyone's wondering what triggered this train of thought, it was the latest postings from "ipayyoursalary". But that's only one example.)

P.P.S Just read that through and it sounds like I'm having at go at all anonymous posters - I'm not!!! Many of them keep these forums alive.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 20 September 2011 12:44 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



burn

Posts: 132
Joined: 06 June 2003

I like the idea. It might just work.

Hopefully though, if enough of us agree and begin to do it on a voluntary basis, it won't need to be compulsary.

This wouuld leave the door open for those occasions when there is a very good reason for being anonymous.

Nick Burnett
 20 September 2011 12:48 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



ectophile

Posts: 551
Joined: 17 September 2001

I'm stuck with the username I have because I created it to access this web site long before these forums ever came into existance.

I've compromised by putting my name in the signature.

However, I am also aware that anything you post on the internet can come back and haunt you years later. That's why I have only used my initials and not my full name. Anyone Googling for my name is unlikely to hit any of these postings.

-------------------------
S P Barker BSc PhD MIET
 20 September 2011 12:50 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



tickner

Posts: 1229
Joined: 30 September 2001

It's an interesting question.

Not being anonymous does inhibit me from asking questions and raising discussions on things that are particularly interesting subjects. It wouldn't be that difficult for my employer (or a past employer) to figure it was me if I posted certain things and if they didn't agree with what I wrote, that would be unfortunate - to say the least!

I don't mean offensive or insulting posts either. It would be fairly easy to create an engineering version of The Daily WTF given all the examples I come across

But it probably wouldn't be wise in a non-anonymous way!

-------------------------
Mark Tickner CEng MIET
 20 September 2011 01:14 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: tickner
Not being anonymous does inhibit me from asking questions and raising discussions on things that are particularly interesting subjects.


Very true - I'm very careful about what I post in the Railway forum for example, as I could either be seen as speaking on behalf of my company when I wasn't, or disagreeing with my employer which could be a severly career limiting move! But then I think we should also be wary of doing such things in (say) the pub - you never know when the engineer you're chatting to might suddenly become your boss or customer!

It's where whinging stops and whistle-blowing begins is the interesting point, but I'm not sure these forums are the right place for that?

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 20 September 2011 01:19 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

It matters more the message than the name of the person giving it. The IET do not even know if the person registering to use these forums is who they say they are anyway!

Regards.
 20 September 2011 01:22 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: ectophile
However, I am also aware that anything you post on the internet can come back and haunt you years later. That's why I have only used my initials and not my full name. Anyone Googling for my name is unlikely to hit any of these postings.

I suppose that's why I think it's a good idea - it stops and makes you think before you type something too outragous. But of course if you don't have the experience of watching your words you could get caught out badly the first few times.

Thinking back, a lot of my feelignng on this goes back to my days as a Friends of the Earth activist (back in the mid-80s when environmentalism was REALLY unpopular and untrendy) when I was dealing with the press and radio a lot - that teaches you very quickly how to be very careful what you put your name to! But I'm still here, and nobody's shot me yet...

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 20 September 2011 01:23 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



tickner

Posts: 1229
Joined: 30 September 2001

Originally posted by: westonpaIt matters more the message than the name of the person giving it. The IET do not even know if the person registering to use these forums is who they say they are anyway!

Certainly this is the case for a non-member user of the forums. For a IET member user - they at least know the name of the person paying the bills

-------------------------
Mark Tickner CEng MIET
 20 September 2011 01:57 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: westonpa
It matters more the message than the name of the person giving it. The IET do not even know if the person registering to use these forums is who they say they are anyway!

For me it depends upon whether it's a matter of fact or opinion. If you post a message asking for details of an xyz contactor, and I post a reply giving a link to the manufacturer's datasheet then we could call ourselves mickey mouse and donald duck for all that anyone would care. But if you ask if it's safe to use in a particular application and I say yes it is I would expect you to want to know who I am!
(Sorry, not a brilliant example, best I could come up with quickly.)

I fully agree that any of us could be hiding under faked names and photos if we really wanted. (In may case at least it's pretty easy to find out that I'm not ) I don't think these forums are that exciting / influential though!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 20 September 2011 02:01 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: tickner
Certainly this is the case for a non-member user of the forums. For a IET member user - they at least know the name of the person paying the bills

Ahh...but you can always register again under an assumed name

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 20 September 2011 05:23 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message


Avatar for rossall.
rossall

Posts: 1048
Joined: 06 August 2001

This is an interesting debate, and has come up a number of times, so the views of contributors here would be welcome. If I may, some points of my own:
  • Regular contributors tend to build for their usernames a reputation (good or bad) in a forum; their further postings will be judged by the community in the light of this, just as will their pronouncements in the "real" world
  • Some good points about the advantages and drawbacks of anonymous postings have already been made
  • Points 9-11 of the Conditions of Use therefore encourage, but do not require, the use of signatures
  • My subjective opinion is that the use of signatures is high in this forum by comparison with others
  • The profile/contacts system is also designed to enable contributors to give background information about themselves to anyone who clicks on someone else's username (but participation is voluntary; if you haven't created a public profile, no-one else can view it)
  • Usernames here apply across the whole IET Web system, rather than only in the forums, and are linked to one's identity in the IET's membership and contacts systems; this tends to discourage (but does not wholly prevent) registration under pseudonyms

I look forward to reading your views.

Regards

-------------------------
David Rossall
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 20 September 2011 08:08 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: amillar

Originally posted by: westonpa

It matters more the message than the name of the person giving it. The IET do not even know if the person registering to use these forums is who they say they are anyway!


For me it depends upon whether it's a matter of fact or opinion. If you post a message asking for details of an xyz contactor, and I post a reply giving a link to the manufacturer's datasheet then we could call ourselves mickey mouse and donald duck for all that anyone would care. But if you ask if it's safe to use in a particular application and I say yes it is I would expect you to want to know who I am!

(Sorry, not a brilliant example, best I could come up with quickly.)

I fully agree that any of us could be hiding under faked names and photos if we really wanted. (In may case at least it's pretty easy to find out that I'm not ) I don't think these forums are that exciting / influential though!


It's a reasonable example but I think if things get that serious then the relevant people can easily email each other and exchange personal details if they so wish. Are you saying that your photo of a handsome and distinguished fellow is fake? Maybe a bit of air brushing was undertaken before posting?

Regards.
 20 September 2011 09:24 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



peteTLM

Posts: 3233
Joined: 31 March 2005

Unfortunately, on the wiring regs forum we have had a number of 'trolls' over the years, with posts solely posted to upset and disrupt.
A number of disgraced users and banned users have re-registered and started to post only to be discovered some time later and disappear again.
We have a few female contributors, 1 of which has been stalked and hounded in real life from their involvement on here.

A few others remain anonymous due to their jobs. If they were seen to be handing out free consultancy when they represent some of the biggest concerns in the UK would not be good.

It does make us chuckle though when basic points are discussed and a junior poster tells a long standing contributor that they 'don't know what they are talking about' not knowing that the other guy is a known PhD contributor to the regs.............

Regards,

-------------------------
----------------------------------------
Lack of planning on your part doesn't make it an emergency on mine....

Every man has to know his limitations- Dirty Harry
 21 September 2011 11:20 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



geleonti

Posts: 5
Joined: 03 June 2011

i totally agree with Mr Millar, it is very important to know with whom you are talking with. Everyone here is free to express his opinion but this has to be done using our name and affiliation.We are a professional forum not a chat room in order to hide behind anonymous posts.

Have a nice day to all



Georgios Leontidis Bsc(4y) MIET VDI
 21 September 2011 07:15 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: westonpa
Are you saying that your photo of a handsome and distinguished fellow is fake? Maybe a bit of air brushing was undertaken before posting?

Trust me, if it was faked there would be considerably more hair on top!!!!!

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 26 September 2011 03:09 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
Joined: 21 November 2009

There are many good reasons for not wanting your name, picture and profession splattered all over the internet: Identity theft, fraud, people seeking email addresses and personal info in an attempt to crack banking passwords, giving ammunition to crazy ex-girlfriends or ex-business partners looking to damage one's reputation. I bet Rebecca Leighton is regretting posting all those silly facebook pictures now.

The most sensible default position is to keep your personal information private.

Amillar wrote:

in case anyone's wondering what triggered this train of thought, it was the latest postings from "ipayyoursalary".

a lot of my feeling on this goes back to my days as a Friends of the Earth activist

Ah - I see where you're coming from now Andy
 29 September 2011 01:47 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: Ipayyoursalary
a lot of my feeling on this goes back to my days as a Friends of the Earth activist

Ah - I see where you're coming from now Andy

If you think you see where I'm coming from based on that then you probably don't! Let's face it, I was in the same position then (being anti the prevailing trend) as you believe yourself to be in now, didn't stop me always using my own name. Or, to put it another way, if either of us is on an MI5 register for our activities relating to the environment it's going to be me rather than you

However I have always believed that it is important that I am open about who I am and where my expertise does and does not lie. Otherwise it feels like just hiding behind a wall and hurling bricks, but maybe that's just me. (If I lived in a country where I or my family would be in danger for expressing my views I don't know how I would behave then, fortunately the UK is not like that. If it was I wouldn't be here by now!)

Could you explain why you post anonymously? It would help this discussion.

My biggest point is still that it seems to me (and it's totally a personal view) that postings on this forums tend to be more reasonable, balanced, and considerate where posters are named than when posters are anonymous. But I'm happy to accept that I may be applying my own biases there, and also that correlation does not imply causation.

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 29 September 2011 08:33 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: amillar
My biggest point is still that it seems to me (and it's totally a personal view) that postings on this forums tend to be more reasonable, balanced, and considerate where posters are named than when posters are anonymous.


But let's say you were back in 1938 and were posting comments about Hitler, would these comments be reasonable, balanced and considerate? Would you be saying well on one hand he is a really bad guy but on the other hand he is a good guy etc., in order to be balanced? All the comments in these forums obviously meet the forum rules else they would be deleted and so I see no issue with the way things are.

Regards.
 12 October 2011 01:53 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
Joined: 21 November 2009

Hi Andy,

Sorry for the late reply. I think I laid out my feelings on internet privacy above. I assure you that when necessary I have sacrificed my privacy to speak up on issues at considerable risk to myself. However I don't feel that posting comments here warrants such a sacrifice of privacy to a global audience via Google.

Furthermore - I think anonymous posting can be helpful since it allows whistleblowers to speak out without fear of recrimination or career damage. Yes - it can lead to uncivil postings - but if contributors avoid insults and stick to the forum rules - the discussions can be lively and thought provoking.

Best Regards
 14 October 2011 11:15 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message


Avatar for hamishbell.
hamishbell

Posts: 288
Joined: 11 September 2001

Quite some time ago, it was pointed out to me that I should identify myself properly and add my qualifications and position held if I wanted my views to be taken seriously. Otherwise without an indication of my background and experience there could be a feeling that I was just being controversial (or patronizing!) without substance.

Similarly in networking face-to-face it helps most of the time to know to whom you are speaking. It doesn't stop me putting forward controversial views if they are ones I feel are justified even if others dislike them. If they are proven wrong I'll admit correction.

Regards
Hamish

-------------------------
Hamish V Bell, BSc, CEng, FIET, FCQI, CQP
2013 - 2016 Elected Council Member
2007 - 2010, Vice President and Trustee
Statistics

See Also:



FuseTalk Standard Edition v3.2 - © 1999-2014 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.