Why using your real name matters

Why should I use my RealName?

Using your Real Name is important to establishing identity in the Davis Wiki community. First, and foremost, it helps with instant credibility. However, using your real name alone doesn't give one full credibility; you must then make valuable contributions rather than just talk trash.

Remember, the people on the wiki are your neighbors. Never do anything (including here) that you wouldn't want associated with yourself. Be warned that any of your comments (be they positive or negative) may be remembered by local businesses and restaurants, and anyone around the world with internet access (note: contextually more than 'next door neighbor') can read or find out about them at any time. Putting material on the wiki should be considered an act of publishing, in a sense.

Also note that as of January 1, 2011, California has imposed new civil and criminal penalties for impersonating someone online. It is a criminal act to impersonate another online without their consent "for purposes of harming, intimidating, threatening, or defrauding" anyone—not just the person being impersonated. Doing so is punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to a year in jail. You can also be sued for any harm you cause in the course of the impersonation. In short, make sure the identity you establish here is your own.

Geographic Communities and RealName

For community wikis it is much more important to use your real name. The whole point of a community wiki is to strengthen the community that it serves. If members of that community choose a name like "SmarterThanYou" or "Bicyclist" to use while editing it can lead to situations where other editors as well as readers of the wiki are left with a sense of suspicion about the real identity of the anonymous editor. The anonymous editor then is casting suspicion on many innocent members of their own community and causing their friends and neighbors to suspect each other of being "SmarterThanYou". This is particularly true if "Bicyclist" starts publishing controversial opinions about eliminating all cars in town. Suddenly this casts everyone in town who rides a bike under a cloud of suspicion that they are pushing a radical agenda, but aren't willing to stand behind their opinions with their real identity. It just isn't fair to the other editors who do stand behind their words; it damages the web of trust.

Why not edit under the name of my business?

When you sign up, you are asked not to use a business name

Editing under the name of your business goes against some of the goals on the wiki and it limits how you can participate. The use of a business name as an account name may give the impression of an official endorsement or attack if you comment on another business. Doing so with your real name lessens the potential for your comment to be viewed in this way. See the discussion at Wiki Community/Organizational accounts.

What if I want to use my RealName but don't want to get picked up by google?

An alternative is to use a slight modification of your RealName (e.g., RName, RealN, RaelName, etc.) and indicating so on your user page. That way, you establish some immediate credibility, and can always remove the link to your RealName after you've confirmed your credibility through your awesome edits. This option is good for people looking to evade Google once they leave Davis. (The revision archives are off-limits to search engine robots/spiders that behave properly, which is to say, all the ones significant enough for you to care about.) The point is accountability: establishing a reputation on the wiki. Of course, you might wind up making friends who wind up only knowing you by the name you use, so be aware it may well become your new nickname in some circles.

Please remember to use your RealName and not your Real Name, which is trademarked by Amazon.com.

When is it okay to use a complete Pseudonym?

It is okay to use a pseudonym if you are known widely by that name. JabberWokky, one of the Davis Wiki's most prolific and respected contributors, sometimes goes by JabberWokky in real life (including to his wife, who calls him "Wokky" at home) and also makes his RealName available to anyone who is curious.

Other users who choose to use a pseudonym to remain anonymous manage to establish their credibility through making a history of providing many valuable contributions to the wiki. (For example, by creating and editing pages on a Davis related subject that the site is currently lacking. The anonymous AlphaDog did this with the Town Flora section.) However, using a pseudonym only grants one a certain degree of privacy, because the IP Addresses of all editors are logged and public.

Many people have created fake or dubious PseudoNyms just to troll or trash talk a single restaurant, business, or individual. This type of cowardly behavior is not constructive and is unfair to the recipient of the complaint. Wiki edits should be fair enough that you'd be willing to say them to someone face to face. That's true whether or not you use your RealName, but it's certainly easier to be unfair when you hide behind a pseudonym.

"The Internet is like alcohol in some sense. It accentuates what you would do anyway. If you want to be a loner, you can be more alone. If you want to connect, it makes it easier to connect."

Esther Dyson, Interview in Time Magazine, October 2005

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.

Peter Steiner, The New Yorker, 5 July 1993

Changing to your name

If you registered with a pseudonym you can take the following steps to change over to a new account name:

  1. Make any last edits with the pseudonym. For instance you might want to note that the account is being closed on your ["Users/"] page or answer any last questions there.

  2. Change the e-mail you registered under settings. This is so that your e-mail will be available for you to register under with your new accounts.

  3. save settings

  4. Lock the pseudonym account using the Disable this account forever option at the bottom of settings

  5. Create a new account

Exhibit A

Observed effects of name choice on demonstrated behaviors in editors of the Davis Wiki 2004-2008 compared to the general population
General Population arguably optimistic
Editing Wiki with real name
Editing Wiki with pseudonym

See also:

I approve this Product and/or Service! —RealName

When did peeps stop following this expectation. Seems like between 2009 - present the number of users who use another handle aside from their real name has increased dramatically. - Carlos

I think that was the start. Other people show up since then and think it's "okay" and it snowballs cause monkey see monkey do. Most people don't bother establishing identity and then you have people who use the wiki like a one way street. Only taking and not really contributing, but that is the battle between the lerkers and the ones who actually make the service worthwhile... Without them there wouldn't be enough to actually bother with signing up and fakenicking around the wiki. It's basically a victim of it's own success because you attract people who aren't in it for Davis and or couldn't care less about what separates this backwater of the internet from countless others. ~Daubert