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Nicks, anonymity and pseudonymity [was: Re: Bug#296369]

On Thu, 24 Feb 2005 20:25:55 -0500 Glenn Maynard wrote:

> On Fri, Feb 25, 2005 at 01:39:16AM +0100, Francesco Poli wrote:
> > > It is the convention in most mailing-lists, newsgroups, etc.
> > > connected to Free software that you identify yourself by your
> > > name, not some pseudonym or 'handle'.
> > 
> > I don't agree.
> It's the convention on all technical mailing lists I'm on and have
> been on in the last several years.  Debian lists, sdl, usb-devel,
> alsa-devel, linux-utf8, lftp-devel, lua-l, etc--it's very uncommon for
> someone to post on any of these with an obvious pseudonym.

Then we happen to have been on different mailing lists...  ;-)

> > I personally have nothing against people willing to hide their real
> > identity (we care about dissidents when reviewing licenses: why
> > shouldn't we care about them when ruling mailing list policies?).
> If somebody has a legitimate reason to want to hide his identity (most
> people really don't),

But you have to learn and practice the techniques to hide your identity
*before* you really need them (otherwise it will be too late to learn,
when, say, using an anonymous remailer network becomes a necessity).

> then that's fine with me, though I'd hope he'd
> choose a reasonable pseudonym that I can use to mentally identify the
> person.  I think the most common reason some people use nicks, though,
> is because it *is* the convention in other places (eg. web forums,
> IRC), not due to any particular desire to not identify oneself.

Of course, as I said, you don't really hide your identity by simply
using a nick.
If you want to stay anonymous, use anonymous remailers and nym servers!

But anyway, what surprised me was the claimed connection between
respectability and will to declare one's own real identity.
I just thought: if they say "tell us your real name, or we won't take
you seriously" to someone using a simple nick, what will happen if a
real anonymous message arrives?

> On a technical list, you're simply not going to be taken very
> seriously by a lot of people with a goofy nickname--can *you* read a
> technical post by Elvis Presley with a straight face?  :)

Well, I can try...  ;-)
As a general rule, I judge messages by looking mainly at their bodies,
not at what the sender chose to put in the From: field...

Note that many anonymous remailers use a funny name for their own
fictitious user...

> A convention is not a "rule".

As I said in another reply, I misunderstood the intended meaning of the
word "convention": I'm sorry.

          Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
  Francesco Poli                             GnuPG Key ID = DD6DFCF4
 Key fingerprint = C979 F34B 27CE 5CD8 DC12  31B5 78F4 279B DD6D FCF4

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