Given the overwrought comments currently being made in another thread about anonymous posting, I thought I would start a new thread on this point.
I post anonymously for two related reasons. First, one of the more disturbing features of the Internet is the information that everyone can obtain on everyone else. Anything posted on Q23 is potentially maintained in digital form indefinitely and can be viewed by others indefinitely. For example, as an experiment, I put the names Tom Chick and Mark Asher into Google. The very first reference on the Google list for Tom was from Q23; the Q23 Google placement for Mark's name was no. 8. I also randomly selected Desslock's, Supertanker's, and Wumpus's names and found references to their names on Google that connected them to Q23. While the ready availability of information on the Internet is amazingly empowering, I don't like the lessening of privacy that is the Internet's inherent drawback. I wouldn't mind if the two hundred plus registered users on this board knew who I was. Allowing just anybody to put my name into Google and potentially find out that I post on a game-related board, however, is a choice I choose not to make. I value my privacy to this extent.
Second, searches on Google and other public information sources are becoming a standard resource for employers or other business persons when they decide whether to hire someone or enter into a business venture with that person. I am not looking for work, but, if I were, and given my profession, my potential employer might look askance at me if a simple Google search would reveal that I post on a game board. For similar reason, potential clients might decide they don't want to hire me. While I could wish that gaming was a more socially acceptable pasttime in certain circles, the truth is that it isn't, at least not yet
Many or most of the posters on this board, of course, work in the gaming industry in one way or another, and these persons have less reason to keep their identity secret. Freelance gaming journalists actually have an economic incentive to have their name known on this board. Those of us who don't have gaming related jobs, however, need to think twice before they willingly place their name in the public domain as a game player.
I recognize the problems with anonymous posting. Concededly, it does increase the incidence of the vitriolic calumny that has been pervasive on the internet during the past decade or so. People are somewhat less likely to be a jerk if they are using their real names. Also, the value of a post depends in part on what the reader knows about the writer. A short comment from Tom Chick means more than a short comment from an anonymous guest, because Tom's comment can be placed in the context of the reader's other knowledge about him. Both of these drawbacks to anonymous posting, however, are partly alleviated when the poster uses a consistent handle. In any event, although these drawbacks are significant, they are not enough for me at least to outweigh the reasons for remaining incognito.