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Forum, an Anonymous Social Network  (View post)

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

Tuesday, November 7, 2006
16 years ago7,265 views

Interesting. It's a concept that's tangential to the current western model of social networks. In western models it's all about authority – even if the source of that authority is ambiguous .

Most of the western models depend on some form of authority or reputation – be it a traditional editor / author / named user structure like Amazon comments, or the seniority trumps all system like Wikipedia.

But no authority? I can't think of any western examples. Perhaps concepts like honor have less bearing on people (particular younger ones) in the west? It seems that fame or notoriety are considered well worth the risk of embarrassment or dishonor, making anonymity particularly unattractive. Maybe in Japan the risks associated with fame are much greater?

Either way, I'd be surprised in the west to see a system based on anonymity become anything other than a pr0n / spam fest.

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

I think Reto nailed it in that last paragraph. I created a comment system on my blog that allowed both registered and anonymous users to comment, and giving the registered users more visibility by placing their comments higher on the page (I wanted to encourage registering, but not require it).

Sure enough, eventually the amount of anonymous spam comments got out of control, even with some basic filtering, and eventually I disabled anonymous comments.

The nice thing about it was you didn't have to register, so people could leave a quick comment even if it was their first visit. So in some cases, I got some comments from people whose websites or companies I had written about.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

"But is it possible this Japanese approach would work on English/ Western discussion boards, too (or are there already examples of such mostly anonymous social networks/ forums)?"

Don't we have that in this forum ?? The level of openess without having to register and at the same time no authority /reputation unless one contributes in a meaningfull way ??

The omidyar network is also progressive in this manner. Its a "Trust" network that is being developed , which transcends the "social" networks like myspace, orkut etc etc..

I think that was one of the primary reasons that I am here. EVeryone is equal with no bearing on the actual person itself.

The new Learning ecology is "to turn around and face the strange"!!

razei [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

There are also numerous english textboards/imageboards like 2ch, most notably and

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

/pd: Seriously? This forum is an example of exactly the opposite!

Take yourself, you've a 'PersonRank' of 10 and your own icon – that confers credibility / authority. New users who join this conversation instantly recognise that your opinion should be respected. That's what PR is for!

I hear what you're saying in terms of a meritocracy (everyone judged by comments not the person behind it), but that's how most modern online communities work – that's a far cry from a truly anonymous system like Imagine Blogoscoped without usernames – I know I can trust comments from you and Tony (and many others!) on face value, and that's part of what makes it such a useful site!

Hemant [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

Its really very entertaining

/pd [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Reto Meier :that's the dichotomy of the mindset.!! :)-

I don't care if a person has rank of 10, what I do care about is that they bleed infonuggets or words of wisdom.. and that elevates your "trust worthiness" within my framework.. not the PR.

Now, having said that-- you point out out "you've a 'PersonRank' of 10 and your own icon – that confers credibility / authority" – which in a way is the simple way to justify "trust and worthiness" – but what would happened if Philipps's logic and Algorithims is messing up PR ranking ? That could could mean that you have trusted a system (PR) rather then an organic entity (/pd). Which is better ??

Now how do you know that /pd is actually me ?? :)-

Katinka Hesselink [PersonRank 2]

16 years ago #

I don't know of online discussion boards that use anonymity.

I do know of religious (sub) cultures where anonymity is the norm. This can go very wrong in especially cases where very controversial subjects are discussed. Anonymity means racism (like the original article suggests), but also extreme forms of partiality are very easy. No one need take responsibility for their worst input in the system. On the other hand, lack of reputation means that nobody gets to take credit for their best efforts either. This might well mean people have less incentive to do their best.

On anonymity in theosophy:

Reto Meier [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

/pd: Good point :) The lack of security on usernames has been mentioned plenty in the past – so far the users of the forums have respected the conventions, let's hope it lasts!

I agree that the fundamental risk in any authority based system is the way their authority is decided – just look at politics! Indeed, the quality of that ranking system is of utmost importance, hence Google's closely guarded page rank formula.

Here's the thing. Your system still requires identification. You have an internal framework, but it's still rating people's 'trust worthiness' based on what they've said before. Without identification how would you know who has gained your trust?

An anonymous system sounds like a lot of work for the participants, without context, you have to take everything on face value. It's like reading an article without authorship, citations or references – you've no way of judging if it's worth looking further into or if it's likely to be complete rubbish.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Good points in this discourse!! :)-

"Without identification how would you know who has gained your trust?"

Thats Is left entirely upto me to decide on an Anon entity :)- Do I trust that Reto is actually debating an important thought ?? Will I certainly do!! Why, because the content and context is well rounded..

"you've no way of judging if it's worth looking further into or if it's likely to be complete rubbish."

yes, but the knoweldge seeker will navigate the conduits of information and seek content and context to verify the worthiness and or if its complete rubbish. This in classical leaning dimenions is termed as "accretion learning", a fucntion of the envoirnemnt where the learner for forages for information when and where it is needed.. We gain insight thru conversations, we gain experince through reflections of success or failure and in the bargin we conenct and bring together elements, activites and entities.... hmmmmmmmmm..albiet, Anon entities too!! :)-

Ionut Alex. Chitu [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

I think people are to lazy to have the patience to read / discover. You know that famous actor, your favorite critic recommends a movie, so you see the movie. But you don't have the patience to see independent movies or not-so-popular movies.

There is a lot of value in the underground / undiscovered.

Personman [PersonRank 8]

16 years ago #

As razei pointed out above, sites like both port this concept to the english-speaking world and are immensely popular. Many users of 4chan, especially in the specialized boards, do use names and accrue some kind of authority/reputation. However, it's most popular board, /b/, or Random, is indeed truly anonymous. As Reto thought likely, it _is_ a "pr0n / spam fest", as well as home to every sort of prejudice possible, predominantly racism and sexism, not to mention lots of content that is just disgusting for its own sake, think of every 'shock' website you've ever been tricked into and multiply by 10 or so.

Nevertheless, /b/ is hugely popular, even among fairly intelligent human beings, and exhibits signs of true cultural value. Many talented artists put lots of work into projects that will not go far beyond /b/, much outside work of value is distrubuted (legally or not) through /b/, and it is pretty consistently hilarious.

Obviously, anonymity is not the general solution for web-based communication. However, it is a viable format, and allows for some valuable things that forced indentification simply does not allow.

TTA [PersonRank 0]

16 years ago #

There's a bunch of English boards based on 2ch, take a look at

Personman [PersonRank 8]

16 years ago #

Discussions of anonymity on (largely anonymous) .

t xensen [PersonRank 4]

16 years ago #

Wikipedia may be the most prominent site that allows anonymous posting.

I prefer accountability.

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