As OpEdNews.com moves to exclude the use of pseudonyms from bylines on articles, diaries, polls and events, my goal here is to explore the questions that have been raised in response to our announcement.
First of all, we have not ruled out the option of anonymity. We are restricting it in some ways, but frankly, the ability to remain anonymous has a door that has been left wide open.
To reiterate, starting in the next few days, members will no longer be permitted to use pseudonyms as their byline for articles, diaries, polls or events. Commenters who do not post other content will still be allowed to use their handles/pseudonyms.
There is a field, in the member profile, for a pseudonym. If users have filled it in and checked off that they want to use it, they will no longer be able to do so on articles, diaries, polls or events. If they attempt to post content, they will get a message informing them of the new rule and they will have to click an approval to use their real name. If they proceed, they will, from then on, be required to use the real name they put in their first and last name field
We will no longer accept odd handles like hounddog, starshine or Tommy Jefferson. The handle/pseudonym field is effectively deactivated if you post any content other than a comment. And if you post any other comtent, you lose the future use of the pseudonym. We want the same name to appear everywhere.
If people know you by your pseudonym you can use it as a middle name or put it in your bio.
Here's the loophole.
If you have put a false name in your first and name fields, we're not checking that, unless the name is a screamingly obvious fake, like Joe Blow or Mister Abracadabra, Tommy Jefferson or Benjie Franklin.
We'd really prefer that you use your real name, but we do not have name police to check everyone out. It could be awkward if your article is cited by one of the bigger media-- we've been mentioned in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal and others. But that's a risk we all take.
The bottom line is we're tightening things up, taking a more serious approach. Frivolous silly names will no longer pass. We feel OEN is a community, a digital neighborhood where we want to build trust and transparency with our digital neighbors and friends. We want you to flesh out your bio so your "neighbors" can get a feel for who they are having a conversation with.
Some argue that the ideas are what count. Well, we think that the source counts too. We think that community is a good thing that the system throws away, that anonymity erodes. We can't sit on the porch or steps together like in the old days. But we can at least know each others' names and a bit about each other.
This is not a big brother thing. It is not an attempt to out those who feel the need to maintain some discretion in their political expressions. If you fear that using your real name will make you trouble or discomfort, then use the loophole. But know that it takes courage to keep a democracy strong. It takes courage to maintain freedoms. And if you can, please stretch your comfort level and show your real face.