Why using your real name matters

Why should I use my RealName?

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

Fundamentally, the question is one of community. Would you introduce yourself to your next door neighbor with a fake name? Probably not... and the people on the wiki are your neighbors.

Would you show up to a City Council meeting, or Farmer's Market wearing a ski mask?

Remember, you may want to consider that this is an online community, and not much at all the same as heading out to the Farmer's Market. One solution to this problem is to never do anything (including here) that you wouldn't want associated with yourself. Be warned 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.

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. For example, 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 instant 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 Peterborough. 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 ok to use a complete Pseudonym?

While discouraged, it may be OK 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 Peterborough related subject that the site is currently lacking.) 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
Civilized Jerks
General Population arguably optimistic 80% 20% http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p3&chd=t:80,20&chco=0000ff,ff0000&chs=250x100&chl=Civilized|Jerk|i.jpg
Editing Wiki with real name 95% 5% http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p3&chd=t:95,5&chco=0000ff,ff0000&chs=250x100&chl=Civilized|Jerk|i.jpg
Editing Wiki with pseudonym 20% 80% http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p3&chd=t:20,80&chco=0000ff,ff0000&chs=250x100&chl=Civilized|Jerk|i.jpg

See also: