Anonymous Coward

Someone too cowardly to post their real name next to what they write. -- AnonymousCoward

SlashDot uses AnonymousCoward as a social device to encourage - but not require - that posters identify themselves. The result (at SlashDot) is a mixed bag: the level of immature flaming is considerably higher among the AnonymousCoward set, but it also provides a means for some people to provide information or opinions without fear of reprisal from their company. It is also used on occasion by people who can't remember their damn password. -- DaveSmith

Actually, AnonymousCoward used to be a specific user on SlashDot before they had accounts. Now since they didn't have accounts, there really wasn't anything to keep anyone from posting as AnonymousCoward, but there wasn't anything to keep people from posting as DaveSmith either. To my knowledge, at this point on Wiki, AnonymousCoward only refers to one person, who would generally prefer to remain anonymous. I'm not the original SlashDot AnonymousCoward, but I haven't seen anyone other than me post here using that name. --AnonymousCoward

I have, too! -- AnonymousCoward

Don't think of AnonymousCoward being used in the SlashDot sense (i.e., to encourage people to use their real names), but rather as someone here who wishes to create an AnonymousIdentity. -- AnonymousCoward

Of course, RecentChangesJunkies can track anonymous postings by frequent posters. Sometimes I have the urge to reply directly to the person's identity even if the post was anonymous. I hold back because that would violate their intent. -- a rhetorical AnonymousCoward

Well, that works, to an extent. But it is imperfect if that person jumps from internet connection to internet connection frequently. Actually, the reason I first used it was to differentiate my entry in a discussion from the surrounding ones without leaving a name. Otherwise I wouldn't have put anything at all. Then, the idea of continuing to use it other places stuck. I make revisions with out signing (usually), but new comments on discussions, or new topics I sign. This way people will be able to decide if they think I'm an idiot or not by watching a large number of posts with the same signature instead of anonymous unsigned changes. -- AnonymousCoward

Me too. I find this whole AnonymousCoward thing on WikiWikiWeb quite unsettling. Smells like SlashDot in here... -- TimVoght

Me three. I've never posted to SlashDot simply because I made the mistake of signing up under my real name with my primary email address. It's amusing to see SlashDot pseudonyms (with a free/throwaway email address) flaming an "AnonymousCoward" for not revealing their real identity. -- CliffordAdams (who is usually an unsigned VoiceOfWiki)

Sometimes it is nice to be able to put in a sentence but not have to bring along all the associative baggage that comes from one's name. I prefer seeing someone say, Hey! I'm an AnonymousCoward and I'm willing to tell you that much! It is more bits of information added to the content than no signature. --AlistairCockburn

The established tradition of simply leaving no signature at all is often appropriate, but I see your point about that extra bit of information. It's just that AnonymousCoward brings it's own baggage over from SlashDot. A different name that does not have a stigma attached would make me grimace less :-) --tv

There's a discussion about the social effects of anonymity from AdvoGato in http://advogato.org/article/69.html .


I have always felt that we are all anonymous cowards on the web. There are no threats to fear here, and no eyes that can see our faces.

I've "signed" postings with an Anonymous variant to clarify changes in "voice" where anonymous postings are mixed with signed postings. Wiki convention tends to be that everything from one signature to the next (with some formatting exceptions) was written by the bottom signatory. When this is not the case, it can be very confusing. -- JeffGrigg

Wiki has different conventions when it comes to refactoring signed, and unsigned text. Signed text is often perceived as having special qualities (see RefactorWhileRespectingSignatures, UnethicalEditing, amongst many others) that unsigned text lacks. Signing anonymously is how one asks for a piece of text to be treated as having an author, without naming the author.


In spite of disclaimers, people still assume that you speak, in some way, for your current employer and/or customer.

People who know that your opinions are your own can be even more dangerous: They may put pressure on your employer or customer to censure you. -- JeffGrigg


CategoryWikiUser CategoryDramaticIdentity

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