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Proposal: Linguistics

I'd like to point out that in similar sites (e.g., MathOverflow), users are encouraged to use their real names, and I'd like to propose that for here as well. Since reasons for doing so are so nicely spelled out on their website FAQ, I repeat it here (taken from https://mathoverflow.net/faq#pants):

"We also encourage you to use your real name as your username. In your own enlightened self-interest, realise that participating in blogs, MathOverflow, the arXiv, and mathematical publishing are all forms of advertising for your "brand", even if that’s not your principal purpose (and hopefully it’s not). Since job applications require you to write your real name, you might as well use it everywhere else, too.

Using real names reminds everybody that they are corresponding with real people, and it demonstrates a certain level of personal investment in your MathOverflow identity. If you use a pseudonym and you get into some kind of trouble (e.g. fights in comment threads or spammy-looking posts), the moderators are much less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt."

I'm not sure if this idea already exists somewhere on the site, but if it does not, and if this idea is well received, then it would be good to include something along the lines of the previous paragraph in the registration and/or commitment phase.

closed as off topic by Dori Sep 30 '11 at 23:18

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    The discussion on mathoverflow meta meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion/335/why-not-real-names might be relevant as well. – Pieter Naaijkens Sep 7 '11 at 6:55
  • There are some social issues with making it a rule to do so, as it exerts pressure on members of marginalized groups. However, I agree it should still be encouraged. I would already have my real name if it were not for the fact that the system only allows name changes every 30 days. (I wish there had been a warning when I first set it...) – tdhsmith Sep 7 '11 at 7:17
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    I think cstheory.SE encourages its users to use real names. It might be a more relevant example than MO, simply because unlike MO it is a research-level Q&A on the stackexchange. MO is not affiliated with SE, since they licensed their engine back when SO allowed that. – Artem Kaznatcheev Sep 7 '11 at 9:16
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    I agree, Mr./Ms. Pants ;) that we don't need to go through the headache of making it a rule, but in order to encourage this, it should be made clear that this is encouraged on the registration site. I may also have chosen a display name if I hadn't already been familiar with MathOverflow. – Christina Bjorndahl Sep 7 '11 at 15:48
  • @Dori Meaning beta will launch next week? Just curious about ze schedule. :) – tdhsmith Sep 10 '11 at 18:07
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"We also encourage you to use your real name as your username. In your own enlightened self-interest, realise that participating in blogs, MathOverflow, the arXiv, and mathematical publishing are all forms of advertising for your "brand", even if that’s not your principal purpose (and hopefully it’s not).

And we've learned very recently that posting things in your real name on the internet in a way that is at all controversial can lead you to very nearly losing your job.

http://scepticemia.com/2011/08/21/after-impactednurse-epirens-turn-to-go-pitfalls-of-hcsm/

ScienceBlogs (now under new management) tried to kill pseudonymous blogging, and it's killed off several popular, well-read blogs there. I post under this name here, on my blog, and on Twitter. That's as much "brand" as I desire, and as much as I care to link it to who I actually am - the job application argument doesn't make any sense at all.

I have a considerable amount of personal investment in the sites I post on here, and professional pride in my answers being right. And that doesn't change because I'm not posting under my real name. I understand that posting under your real name is a big deal for some people, or a point of pride. If that's the case, they're should feel free to do so.

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I do think that strongly forcing the real name issue goes against the fundamental principles of StackExchange. SE always had a strong focus on the content itself, not the person providing it. We're voting for posts, not for persons, and that principle is followed throughout StackExchange.

Providing your real name means opening yourself to attacks and retaliation you might not want to risk. I'm a moderator on Skeptics, and I'd stop contributing entirely before revealing my full name. It's just not worth it to me to risk the trouble that some people could cause if they object to some of the things I wrote about some well known pseudoscientific claims. There are quite a few cases of skeptical bloggers being outed and harassed, the anonymity here is a very useful shield against such retaliation.

And I don't entirely buy the argument that people would behave better if they use their real identities. It's not as if I'm using a throw-away identity, I've posted quite a lot on different SE sites under my name, if I start misbehaving it will fall back on my online identity here.

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