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Identification is not a unary process. It's important to understand that identification always involves at least two parties. There is the party being identified and the party requesting the identification. For parties that are one person, which is the common case in OnlineCommunity, there are a variety of gradations of identification that go beyond a simple RealName. Each gradation has its own set of advantages and disadvantages. When constructing a system that requires identification, it may do well to understand the following list to pick the most appropriate balance.

Inspired in part from Marx's (1999) seven elements of personal identification, although extended and modified from that.

Note that techniques of PersonalIdentification don't work when they are secondary to the main transaction. For instance, [credit card signatures] don't mean anything since the clerk taking the receipt is not the one approving the transaction, only the credit card company.


Donath, Judith S. (1999). Identity and deception in the virtual community. In M. A. Smith and P. Kollock (eds.), Communities in cyberspace. (pp. 29–59) London: Routledge.

Marx, G. T. (1999). What's in a name? Some Reflections on the sociology of anonymity. The Information Society 15(2), 99-112.


CreditCards? (recently Visa cards) are now being protected with PassWords?, so signatures are only one layer of the security 'onion'. Also, CitiBank? has for several years, offered a Card that has your picture in the plastic.

That being said:

All of this, of course, has a direct bearing on Trust, RightToVote, WikiPrivacy, etc ... as I am hoping to demonstrate more fully throughout this year. -- HansWobbe



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