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Should we encourage use of real names as usernames?

+ 7 like - 0 dislike
989 views

Both MathOverflow and CSTheory encourage users to use their real names as their usernames. Quoting from the MO faq

We also encourage you to use your real name as your username. In your own enlightened self-interest, realise that participating in blogs, MathOverflow, the arXiv, and mathematical publishing are all forms of advertising for your "brand", even if that’s not your principal purpose (and hopefully it’s not). Since job applications require you to write your real name, you might as well use it everywhere else, too.

Using real names reminds everybody that they are corresponding with real people, and it demonstrates a certain level of personal investment in your MathOverflow identity. If you use a pseudonym and you get into some kind of trouble (e.g. fights in comment threads or spammy-looking posts), the moderators are much less likely to give you the benefit of the doubt.

I quite strongly feel that we should adopt a similar policy. If so, now is the time to do it, as we will no doubt have a bunch of new users joining once we reach public beta next week. This is not to say that pseudonyms should be banned, simply discouraged.

The quoted passage above probably explains the reasons for doing so better than I can, but I would like to say that it is a great way of ensuring or at least encouraging that discussion is at a fairly civil level, but also it is very helpful to know where your answers come from. So what do people think? In case I haven't convinced you, I'll leave you with a screenshot from MathOverflow, which might change your mind. enter image description here

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Sep 15, 2011 in SE.TP.discussion by Joe Fitzsimons (3,555 points) [ no revision ]
Agreed, I think this is a good idea! Also adds more "seriousness" to the site.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

2 Answers

+ 8 like - 0 dislike

We have quite a bit of discussion on this from time to time at meta.mathoverflow.net. I don't know whether or not anyone would be interested in this discussion but if so then there's a reasonable thread at: http://meta.mathoverflow.net/discussion/335/1/why-not-real-names/

My position is that real names should be strongly encouraged but not enforced, and my reasons can be easily found in that discussion. (If they can't, or someone thinks it worth summarising them here, leave me a comment and I'll do so.)

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 15, 2011 by Andrew Stacey (0 points) [ no revision ]
+ 0 like - 0 dislike

Simple question, why is the use of the Real Name field not sufficient?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 15, 2011 by rcollyer (240 points) [ no revision ]
Yes, I think so. Also, even if it was there you would need to go to their profile, etc, which would be less smooth.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Truthfully, smoothness is less important to me. I can see where it would be helpful, though. Personally, I prefer psuedonymity to avoid confusion between myself and others with my name, however I don't mind encouraging the use of real names, in general.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
So, I guess that answers my question: the Real Name field is not sufficient because no one else can see it.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@rcollyer: if you have filled it in I certainly can't see it.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
I don't think other people can see this field

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
I was not aware.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

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