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Over at MO, it's been asserted that one of the success stories in getting the site to work well is strenuous effort by the moderators to get people to use their real names when posting. I'm sympathetic to this viewpoint, especially since I've seen a lot of vitriol get thrown around in theory blogs by anonymous users.

This is not something we can enforce, but it could be an FAQ item strongly encouraging the use of real names, as well as a mandate for moderators to lean on people.

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I'm not sure what your precise question is, but I agree with your suggestion to add an entry to the FAQ, encouraging the use of real names. Gentle encouragement for people to use their own names is a good idea. This is likely to set a tone for the site where people think twice about what they say before hitting "Post Your Answer". Once the tone has been established, this is perhaps less important.

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    $\begingroup$ that's exactly what my intention was. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 16 '10 at 22:38
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I don't agree with this (as is evident I suppose :-)). There might be many reasons one would want to participate and yet prefer to stay anonymous. In any case, how are you going to prevent someone from using a 'fake' real name?

You can always ban someone who is being rude/uncivil. I don't think trying to attach a name will help reduce the 'vitriol'.

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    $\begingroup$ The question is only about adding a line to the FAQ encouraging the use of real names (at least in the profile not necessarily in the display name), not enforcing such an insistence. I agree with the encouragement. $\endgroup$ – ShreevatsaR Aug 16 '10 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Shree: "Lean on people" is what I was mostly disagreeing with. Sure, add the encouragement to the FAQ. $\endgroup$ – Aryabhata Aug 16 '10 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ I think the discussion here should strive to reflect the level of communication found anywhere else in CS theory... e.g. until I can reasonably submit a paper to STOC/FOCS under the name User92981, it doesn't make sense to aim for the use of pseudonyms here. By the same token, trying to "enforce" the use of real names seems rather invasive in an online scenario. I prefer encouragement of real names. $\endgroup$ – Daniel Apon Aug 17 '10 at 15:33
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How about having a reputation points incentive for using your actual name? I'm not sure how this can be implemented though (since people can make up fake "actual names")..

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    $\begingroup$ Why not make rep points not dependent on simply using your real name, but on papers with that name also appearing as an author ;-) So, if you did get a FOCS as User92981 ... I jest of course. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Aug 18 '10 at 5:50
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    $\begingroup$ While the idea is reasonable, we have no direct control over how the internals of the system work. We don't have even have latex support yet ! $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 18 '10 at 6:34
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I have noticed the tag "Real Name" written above some reviewer names at Amazon book reviews. I also don't know of how Amazon arrives at the conclusion that the names are indeed real, or to what extent the names are real. However, it does stand out a bit, and perhaps instills some confidence in the reader (of course, depending on if the reader is influenced by such things).

I don't know if this serves as incentive, but if this sort of tagging can be implemented, then it might serve the vague purpose of underlining the gentle encouragement.

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    $\begingroup$ I think they use credit card information to verify the real name of a user. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 31 '10 at 19:56
  • $\begingroup$ The feature has been declined. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 1 '12 at 21:14

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