Pseudonymity and Multiple personas

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References for Supporting diversity with a new approach to software

Who needs it the most? People who are targets of abuse and harassment; people whose names subject them to discrimination; activists; people speaking about sexual activities; people with employers who restrict their speech; people with different professional and personal personas; and many more -- see Geek Feminism’s Who is harmed by a real names policy.

Who else benefits? People who want to explore new personas. Writers, artists, performers, or others who use a “professional” name.

Pseudonymity is a great example of where it already is simpler to implement a diversity-friendly solution: let people choose whatever names they want without trying to enforce restrictions. There are still hard problems (impersonation; trolls, harassers, spammers, politicians creating sock puppets) but trying to ban pseudonyms doesn’t actually help.

High-level recommendations

  • let people choose whatever names they want without trying to enforce restrictions
  • allow multiple personas
  • Have explicit policies about whether multiple personas of the same person can participate in a single discussion (or “like” each other’s posts, etc.)

OS Bridge sessions

Hello, my name is __________. (2015)