Should all moderators reveal their true life identity? | PhysicsOverflow
  • Register
PhysicsOverflow is a next-generation academic platform for physicists and astronomers, including a community peer review system and a postgraduate-level discussion forum analogous to MathOverflow.

Welcome to PhysicsOverflow! PhysicsOverflow is an open platform for community peer review and graduate-level Physics discussion.

Please help promote PhysicsOverflow ads elsewhere if you like it.


New printer friendly PO pages!

Migration to Bielefeld University was successful!

Please vote for this year's PhysicsOverflow ads!

Please do help out in categorising submissions. Submit a paper to PhysicsOverflow!

... see more

Tools for paper authors

Submit paper
Claim Paper Authorship

Tools for SE users

Search User
Reclaim SE Account
Request Account Merger
Nativise imported posts
Claim post (deleted users)
Import SE post

Users whose questions have been imported from Physics Stack Exchange, Theoretical Physics Stack Exchange, or any other Stack Exchange site are kindly requested to reclaim their account and not to register as a new user.

Public \(\beta\) tools

Report a bug with a feature
Request a new functionality
404 page design
Send feedback


(propose a free ad)

Site Statistics

157 submissions , 130 unreviewed
4,116 questions , 1,513 unanswered
4,974 answers , 21,208 comments
1,470 users with positive rep
572 active unimported users
More ...

  Should all moderators reveal their true life identity?

+ 2 like - 4 dislike
I am asking this because of recent moderation abuse. Anonymous users are welcome to use this site of course, but anonymous moderators gives rise to certain issues. We have two anonymous moderators, Polarkernel and Dilaton, one of whom deleted comments in an underhanded way, withholding this information from moderators, and the other reassured us that it was not happening, leading us to accuse VK of being crazy. I don't know what the relationship between these two moderators is. Are you husband and wife? Siblings? Parent and child? Coworkers? Collaborators? Acquaintances? Sockpuppet? Meat puppet? Considering that there is a conflict between the moderators, I would really appreciate it if I was sure that all the administrators were independent people, and that the site is not dependent on the good-graces of one person, or a husband-wife team. if the community of all moderators collectively owned the domain and hosting, so that no one person could pull the plug. I believe all moderators should reveal their real-life identities, their relationships, and so forth, so that people know what's what. If they do not wish to do so, they can always become ordinary users, and leave the moderation to those willing to be more accountable.
asked Jan 27, 2015 in Discussion by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ revision history ]
recategorized Jan 27, 2015 by dimension10
PolarKernel is not anonymous, his identity can be found with a simple whois lookup of PhysicsOverflow. It's simply ridiculous (and ungrateful as well) to accuse PolarKernel of sockpuppeting, you know that.
Honesty is more important now than gratitude. Thanks for the whois info, I suppose polarkernel is not anonymous, although I didn't know this.

4 Answers

+ 2 like - 0 dislike
I'll start with myself. My real-world identity is Ron Maimon. I live in New York City, I have no affiliation with any academic institution at present, and I do not personally know any of the other members of this site, real-wrold.
answered Jan 27, 2015 by Ron Maimon (7,535 points) [ no revision ]
+ 2 like - 0 dislike
I'm personally in favor of the suggestion, though I don't hold as strong an opinion as Ron does, I do think this increases the credibility and hence the attractiveness of the site.
answered Jan 27, 2015 by Jia Yiyang (2,635 points) [ no revision ]
Since we are operating with "honesty" as the prime directive, while I believe this is a good idea, I didn't have such a strong opinion on it either before the recent episode. There was another reason I brought this specific issue up now, aside from finding out whether Polarkernel is independent (he is). The other reaon is that I was trying to find the quickest and easiest way to get Dilaton to step down as moderator, without any vote or further discussion on his personality or recent actions, which could lead to acrimony and I worried would permanently shut down the site. I estimated with about 90% confidence that if you adopt this policy, he would step down immediately rather than renounce anonymity. It was a political tactic, but not a dishonest one, as I really believe this is a good idea for other reasons. Now I am also not hiding my own political motivations. It shouldn't affect the principle of the question, or the vote, which I think is valid regardless of my underhanded possibly repulsive motive (I am really not a nice person).

@RonMaimon, I see. If there's a vote, I personally will vote against the motion to remove Dilaton's moderatorship. Firstly the chance that Dilaton commits another big mistake like this seems to be extremely low; secondly it has been clear through the recent episodes that being a moderator at Physicsoverflow is more of a burden(physically and morally) than a privilege, deprivation of moderatorship is hardly any punishment. And you are a nice person, at least in the sense that you are making here a better place.

It's NOT a burden at all, I haven't done anything except come here and bitch. It's just extra power, that's all, and the claim that it's a burden is the usual noblesse-oblige you see on these sites. It's just extra buttons when you come here, nobody forces you to do anything. I don't know who the heck I am talking to and whether the code is even doing the most basic things honestly. You know, fool me once, won't get fooled again.

@RonMaimon, After you stepped down, I feel the need to stay neutral. I'll neither vote for or against the motion toward Dilaton now. I just retracted my earlier upvote for Dilaton's moderatorship nomination, no downvote.
+ 3 like - 2 dislike
Public site must be governed with public people. It indeed increases their credibility and responsibility.

P.S. No, frankly, somebody anonymous has the right to quietly edit your post (function "Editing posts silently") and thus speak on your behalf. Isn't it funny? Do you accept it? I don't!
answered Jan 27, 2015 by VK [ revision history ]
edited Jan 27, 2015
I don't get it, what does "public people" mean?
I meant people known to the users.
ok I see.
+ 2 like - 2 dislike
I don't think this should be mandatory; the fact that Dilaton has received more than the necessary number of votes on the moderator nomination thread shows that his being anonymous does not affect people's perceptions of him. There are a number of successful forums with anonymous moderators. I think that moderatorship should ideally depend on contribution to the site, more than identity and authority elsewhere.

Then again, I can't really speak for what most new users would think on the issue.
answered Jan 27, 2015 by dimension10 (1,955 points) [ no revision ]
Most voted comments show all comments
But I did not! I did not give you his name! You cannot find anything like "Dilaton's name is THIS". What you saw was a somebody's name somewhere without mentioning the word Dilaton, but you recognized it just because you knew it.
No, I knew his first name, and there was already the context of you threatening to deanonymise Dilaton, that's how I recognised it.
Man or woman, it does not matter. Dilaton is employed also elsewhere and deanonymizing him might make his employer fire him for his extra (moderator) work. I think we should not insist on deanonymazing Dilaton if such a threat really exists.

As I found his name on internet in open source, I never thought that it was unknown to many of you and, of course, I was not going to deanonymize it to ruin Dilaton's career.
No, Ron, NO! It's a serious matter. When a couple of years ago I was proposed to quit my company because there was no work for me personally, I disagreed, but in three months I lost 20 kg! It was a serious stress. Fortunately they found another subcontract for me and I brought again an income to the company.

@Ron Maimon loads of people get sacked for putting stuff on the net they wouldn't say in real life, especially if they're protected by anonymity. If you were anonymous, your antics would be x10 more outrageous ;)

Most recent comments show all comments
@dimension10: As far as you knew his first name, Dilaton was not anonymous to you. As far as I did not do anything to deanonymise Dilaton, you cannot blame me for that. You just recognized his name typed somewhere apart.
Ron, I would not joke about it, seriously. Let's be gentlemen.

Your answer

Please use answers only to (at least partly) answer questions. To comment, discuss, or ask for clarification, leave a comment instead.
To mask links under text, please type your text, highlight it, and click the "link" button. You can then enter your link URL.
Please consult the FAQ for as to how to format your post.
This is the answer box; if you want to write a comment instead, please use the 'add comment' button.
Live preview (may slow down editor)   Preview
Your name to display (optional):
Privacy: Your email address will only be used for sending these notifications.
Anti-spam verification:
If you are a human please identify the position of the character covered by the symbol $\varnothing$ in the following word:
Then drag the red bullet below over the corresponding character of our banner. When you drop it there, the bullet changes to green (on slow internet connections after a few seconds).
To avoid this verification in future, please log in or register.

user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 with attribution required

Your rights