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About Rich

  • Richard Millington is the founder of FeverBee, a community consultancy and Professional Community Management course. Richard is also the author of Buzzing Communities: How To Build Bigger, Better, And More Active Online Communities. Richard's clients have included Google, AutoDesk, United Nations, Novartis, Wikipedia, Oracle, The World Bank, Novartis, Fidelity Investments, and many more. Richard is also the the author of the Online Community Manifesto.

    e-mail: richard@feverbee.com
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Giovanni Rossi

I won't deny that most trolls and 'bad commenters' use anonymity. BUT...

I submitted my most constructive feedbacks as blog comments while using pseudonyms, fake names and virtual identities.

When you comment anonymously, what you say is not backed by your reputation. So you're actually pushed to make your arguments speak for themselves. This often was an incentive for me to comment constructively.

Also - what's the point of requesting identity details when you can't verify they're true?

BTW, the personal details I'm providing here in order to comment are obviously real.

;-)

Richard Millington

Giovannia, it's great that you do make constructive comments, even anonymously.

But leaving comments on a blog/forum and participating in an online community are two different things.

Nobody can have a relationship with you if you're anonymous. If everybody stays anonymous, then the community can't function as anything more than a big shouting contest.

Oobscure

Thanks for the reply, Richard. I'm commenting once again and then I'll stop, because I guess more different people should get in the debate and I don't want to monopolize it.

You correctly stress the difference between blog commenting and participating in a community.
And it's true that there are no relationships with _anonymous_ people.

But what about the other point I made earlier - e.g. Pseudonyms, Virtual identities...?

As with anonymity, when using pseudonyms you're not actually revealing your real details: but with pseudonyms, you can build a reputation about your virtual identity.

That's what I did with "Opensource Obscure", a virtual identity I built around the Second Life username I choose when I joined that service.

For privacy and security reasons, no private details of mine are publicly tied to "Opensource Obscure".
Still, this virtual identity has now a reputation, and I used it to join and get active in many communities and groups - both inside and outside of the Second Life virtual world. Google "Opensource Obscure" or "oobscure" to check that.

So what I suggest is that using pseudonyms or adopting a (serious) virtual identity CAN be a viable way to participate in online communities. Surely it's not the only way, nor the best one for everybody.

Opensource Obscure
aka Giovanni Rossi ;-)

Jennwhinnem

What do you think of anonymous comments on a corporate blog?

John Norris

Jennywhinnem- interesting question, since I may be dealing with that soon.

I guess 'that depends'. If the comments are moderated, published only after screening, anonymous may be fine. You might get some great feedback that way. If the comments may include pleas for help, it would be good to have the option for folks to leave contact information.

For an internal corporate blog I may try a different argument. I would tell people up front that there may be no way to guarantee anonymity, so they should treat all comments as their own.

Mowers

Unfortunately, many websites ask too many personal questions, birth day is just a common field for many signup forms.

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