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The use of a real name vs. not  RSS feed

 
paul wheaton
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A brand new fresh thread to talk about an important issue seperate from recent events.
Currently, people are encouraged to use their real name here on JavaRanch. Sometimes people will use an alias.
When using on-line stuff where everybody uses an alias, I think that makes sense.
But here on JavaRanch where I would guess 85% of the participants use their real name, why would you choose to not use your real name?
I would guess that if you are new here and you are used to alias based stuff, your first few posts might be under an alias. Fortunately, the software allows you to change your name later.
I remember using BBS's and CompuServe in the 80's. I always used my real name even though a lot of folks used alias's. Cross recognition led to all sorts of cool stuff. And sometimes in "real life" somebody would say "are you the same Paul Wheaton that ..."
When marketing stuff, any marketing person will tell you that the key is to get the name out early and often. When you do this with people, they call it "networking". These days, if a company puts out an ad for a Java position they are flooded with resumes. So instead, they frequently hire from a pool of who they already know. "Networking" puts you in the minds of lots of people, some of whom might be able to help advance your career some day.
So why would you want to use an alias here on JavaRanch after, say, 20 posts? By this time I would hope you could determine that JavaRanch is a pretty decent group. If you are posting under an alias, you aren't getting credit for any charm, wit or intelligence you are demonstrating.
I suppose one reason could be "I've just always done it this way". In which case, I would like to suggest that you may be doing yourself a disservice. You have the opportunity to have people get to know you and build professional relationships that will last longer than the Java programming language. People that you can know in the workplace, at conferences, user group meetings and even outside the workplace. Or maybe even in whole new career paths.
I can think of a few other reasons, but they seem too stupid or weak to mention. Surely, there has to be some other good reasons that simply are not coming to me ....
 
Alfred Neese
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It takes only one nutter, Paul.
Up until 1998 I felt exactly as you did and used my real name for everything. I had been a regular participant on a large BB at the Time-Life site under my own name for almost 5 year with no problems.
Someone taught me (and some others) a very hard lesson. This person didn't much like people with my political persuasion and decided to do something about it. So he went online and started digging dirt. Including credit reports, financial records, employment histories, whatever you could think of. They also attempted to contact my employer via email to the webmaster. Fortunately I was the webmaster.
One fine morning I woke up to find my personal life strewn all over a BB regularly used by thousands of people. The moderators were notified but took their sweet time about responding. Almost a week as I recall.
I left that BB that day and never returned. And have never used my real name again. Frankly I think anyone who uses their own name on an online forum and posts controversial political or cultural opinons is waiting for something horrible to happen. It's the last thing I would wish on anyone, little as I like some people's attitudes toward my 'secrecy'.
I've posted about this a couple of times over on MD when the subject came up. Indeed it was in the very thread where I revealed who Alfred E Neumann was. But apparently my reasons were regarded as neither reasonable or sufficient when placed against my egregious violations of a fundamental rule....
BTW, that last post which was inadvertedly cut off when one of my handles was terminated yesterday? It was my story.
[ December 30, 2003: Message edited by: Alfred Neese ]
 
paul wheaton
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Sounds like a valid enough reason to me.
 
John Smith
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PW: Surely, there has to be some other good reasons that simply are not coming to me ....
I see a couple of good reasons:

  • Some real names are too long or too difficult to parse. If your parents were particularly religious to name you Mahershalalhashbaz Bashanhavothjair, that's cool, but it will present certain problems in oral and written communications.
  • Privacy. We have some "interesting" conversations in MD, and some people don't want to be identified from the outside of JR as "conservatives", "sexists", or "progressives". MD aside, even if the regular Java ranch forums, some people may not be comfortable asking the tech questions, which they may think could be used against them, perhaps at their work place.
  • Expression of certain ideas by name. Many people use quotes in their signatures as a device for that, and some people use their names for that. Come to think about it, the sheriffs are the biggest violators of the JR policy, -- they change the second line of their names on a regular basis, broadcasting to everyone about what's on their mind.
  • Some real names are too real. Suppose your first name is Saddam, or your last name is Ashcroft, but all you are is just a Java programmer. See the dillema? You don't want to see the discusion about these two evil men every time you post a Java question.
  • Disassociation. Ranchers don't come here to log in and see how much Social Security they have accumulated in their government-held accounts. This is a pretty informal place with the pictures of cows, manure, and flies on the pages. So, why require a birth certificate to confirm the cowboys and cowgirls names?


  • I understand your intent, Paul, and I partially agree with you. I certainly don't want to see "xyz123" and "Britney Sprears" all over this place. But the policy of "no obviously ficticios names" is inherently flawed, and all it takes is another Alfred Newmann to point it out.
    I have two possible solutions:
    1. Do not enforce naming policy. The "xyz123" and "Britney Sprears" will eventually go away, as this site would be of no interest to them. If they don't go away, it will mean exactly that, -- JR is a playground for the middle schoolers, and there would be no reason to pretend otherwise.
    2. Continue to encourage people to use their real names, but don't push it too hard. Moderation is the key, even in moderation.
     
    Thomas Paul
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    1. Do not enforce naming policy. The "xyz123" and "Britney Sprears" will eventually go away, as this site would be of no interest to them. If they don't go away, it will mean exactly that, -- JR is a playground for the middle schoolers, and there would be no reason to pretend otherwise.
    Two problems... why would they leave? We would end up with a bunch of "Java Stud" and "Hot Java Gal" id's. The reason that we have the naming standard is to keep it from being a middle school playground. Paul is paying the bills and he wants JR to be a professional place.
    2. Continue to encourage people to use their real names, but don't push it too hard. Moderation is the key, even in moderation.
    Paul did try to encourage people early on and that didn't work. He tried making the naming standard only for sheriffs and bartenders and that didn't work. This whole silly episode could have been avoided if AN had simply responded to Paul via email as Paul had asked.
     
    Alfred Neese
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    I understand your intent, Paul, and I partially agree with you. I certainly don't want to see "xyz123" and "Britney Sprears" all over this place. But the policy of "no obviously ficticios names" is inherently flawed, and all it takes is another Alfred Newmann to point it out.
    I have two possible solutions:
    1. Do not enforce naming policy. The "xyz123" and "Britney Sprears" will eventually go away, as this site would be of no interest to them. If they don't go away, it will mean exactly that, -- JR is a playground for the middle schoolers, and there would be no reason to pretend otherwise.
    2. Continue to encourage people to use their real names, but don't push it too hard. Moderation is the key, even in moderation.

    A third possibility might be to enforce the rules against "IM Dumbcoder" and the ubiquitous Mr. Daily (delicacy precludes me giving his full initials) but not against 'Isaac Newton' or 'Gregor Mendel' should these distinguished personages elect to put in an appearance.
    Apart from that I entirely agree with everything Eugene has written on this subject.
     
    Donald R. Cossitt
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    You don't want to see the discusion about these two evil men every time you post a Java question.

    Ashcroft in the same league of evil with Saddam? Are you serious?
     
    Bela Bardak
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    Originally posted by Donald R. Cossitt:

    Ashcroft in the same league of evil with Saddam? Are you serious?

    Ashcroft is worse than Hitler. At least some seem to think that's true.
    Eugene sometimes posts with a certain sense of -- irony, I think.....
     
    Pauline McNamara
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    and now back to our regularly scheduled program...
    where were we? oh yeah, real names versus not real names
     
    Mark Vedder
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    Being a newer member of the ranch, I struggled with this when I signed up. I really like the professional atmosphere that using "real" names breeds. It does help keep it from being a script kiddy playground. I also think it helps maintain the professionalism simply because it is human nature to think twice about what you say to John Smith, whereas you may not hesitate to say something to the "anonymous" and (for the lack of a better term) "faceless" JavaMan98765. It�s kind of similar to the riot mentality; just as people will do things as a faceless member of a mob that they would not otherwise do, when speaking to a seemingly anonymous person using an anonymous name, people may do or say things they would not normally do.
    That being said, I also did not want someone, especially a prospective employer, being able to Google my name and seeing everything I ever wrote about come up on the screen. I tend to be a private person and thus do not want the world to have access to everything there is to know about me. And given the current issues with identity theft and stories like Alfred�s, it is good to maintain a certain level of anonymity. Lastly, I do not want co-workers or management to see that I was uncertain about something and had to ask a question about it (it�s amazing how petty some people can be come review time); and I certainly do not want them to know when I ask for career guidance in the Jobs forum. Who wants to arrive a work one day only to have their manager say "So, you�re thinking about leaving the company?"
    In the end, I decided to use my real first name and a last name similar, but different enough, from my real last name. Personally I think the current policy is perfect; a good compromise. I don�t have to send in 4 forms of ID to prove who I am or have the world able to see my thoughts, but at the same time I and others do not have to put up with the "Britney Spears" and "Super Hacker 2004" stuff which helps maintain the professional atmosphere of the board.
    My 2cents on the subject...
    [ January 05, 2004: Message edited by: Mark Vender ]
     
    Gregg Bolinger
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    I'm all in favor of emphasizing the use of a real name, but I don't think a real name should be enforced. How would you enforce that anyway? I like the policy the way it is. First Name Last Name and not obvisouly fake.
    I use my real name. I don't have a problem with that. If someone can steal my identity with just my name, then I need to worry about everyone I come in contact with. Everyone who looks at the phone book. Everyone who has ever seen my name in a year book. It takes more than a name to steal an identity.
     
    Bear Bibeault
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    I use my real name* for one of the reasons Paul mentioned: people whom I've worked with before come to the Ranch, see my name, and will write to me to catch up. I don't have any problem with anyone googling my posts here on the Ranch.
    bear
    * Although "Bear" isn't what's on my birth certificate, it's the name most people know me by. It's on my office nameplate, my business cards, and it's the name everyone who has worked with me over the past two decades knows me by.
     
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