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Meatball is a collective of active practitioners. We come here to trade help working on our projects (BarnRaising). Out of the necessity of professionalism, we get to know each other fairly well.

While on MeatballWiki, please:

  1. Use your RealName (i.e. what you would list on an academic paper or your resume)
  2. If you do not wish to use your real name, post without any name.
  3. If you want to remain truly anonymous, don't post. If you post, your IP or domain will appear in RecentChanges.


What is a RealName?

Admittedly, a RealName is a tricky thing. In our context, given that we are a professional and academic community that occasionally meets in person, it's what you list on your résumé, what you would use to publish an academic article, and what you call yourself when shaking hands with someone you respect.

Anonymity is allowed.

However, we do not offer to protect your privacy. If you choose not to introduce yourself, it's assumed you aren't here to participate in exchanging help, but just to "hang out." As long as you maintain respect for those here who are working, remain civil and constructive, we will welcome your presence. However, it's a common misconception that we are just chatting aimlessly for the joy of debate, which we've found leads to more heat than light. If you want a looser, more informal environment, you probably are looking for somewhere else like CommunityWiki. When using anonymity in a threaded discussion with another anonymous person it is helpful to designate differences, like anon 1, anon 2... Of course a lot of people don't think you should engage in ThreadMode discussions with anonymous contributors at all - after all, "who are you talking to?" There are directives to this effect on several other pages.

What isn't a RealName?

A pseudonym that you exclusively use on the Internet is not a RealName. Using your 'handle' in person with net.buddies, such as at a Linux User Group or at DEFCON, doesn't count. We have never understood people who feel they have an exclusive online reputation wholly separate from their offline reputation. We'd much rather see you confident in being who you are. There are other wikis that may offer a better environment for people who strongly believe there are legitimate reasons to separate identities. (FermentWiki was previously recommended on the page; it's been offline since about 2005.)


Pseudonyms are unprofessional and consequently not allowed. We make exceptions when pseudonyms are necessary for authoritative references, for example if MrBungle himself came to discuss his involvement with LambdaMoo. If you are the type of person to use a pseudonym face to face, you probably are looking for a different community.

Identity games.

TheCollective of Meatball is a team, and we collectively organize, operate, and own MeatballWiki. This requires first building trust, which depends on each person being upfront, genuine, and honest. Playing identity games with us makes it impossible for us to trust you, which means you will be encouraged to depart our space. If you're interested in role playing games, try LambdaMOO or EverQuest? instead which have much more developed environments and cultures for identity play.

Just like everywhere else.

In the feminist net.culture that revolved around San Francisco in the mid-80s and 90s, there was the belief that the Internet was a Great Emancipator. By granting the freedom of anonymity, it allowed people to reconstruct themselves in any way they wanted. They came to this idea by analyzing MultiUserDungeon (MUD) culture, which was based on Dungeons & Dragons, a popular role-playing game. Later, by forcing these environments to conform to their theories, they 'validated' their theories of identity construction. As it turns out, the Internet is very pliable. Indeed, the real value of the Internet is not that it allows for mediated PersonalRelationships, but it is very pliable. It's a Big Internet. Every place on the Internet can have its own set of values. We choose to UseRealNames. Other places can be gay teen support fora, or hang outs for l33t hax0rs, or the fast paced reality game of SlashDot. It would be a disaster if the Internet had to be homogeneous. For instance, SlashDot's teal colour scheme is ugly.

MeatballWiki is a wiki, not a MUD. Wiki culture is to use Wiki:RealNamesPlease. The root cause is that the Hillside Patterns group that created the PortlandPatternRepository were professionals that frequently met in person. It's silly to use a pseudonym in person. It's equally silly to use a pseudonym in a professional group space, such as MeatballWiki. Just like every other professional association, do not use a pseudonym. If you want a good MUD, see LambdaMOO or EverQuest?.

Rational arguments.

Most people we encounter understand the UseRealNames policy, and either abide by it or depart. People who engage in dialectical arguments with us tend to be of a particular type. As rationalists, they often have trouble appreciating the underlying emotional structure of the situation. To caricaturize, when demanding Reasons, they fail to grasp that we are only evaluating whether or not we want to let them join TheCollective, not whether or not they are Right. For them, being Right is the only good. Being wrong is a travesty. For us, having fun and getting things done with BarnRaising is the only good. Endless conflicts is the travesty. (cf. UsAndThem)

As a wiki, we cannot afford to engage with someone who creates endless conflicts. We work as a team towards our SuperordinateGoal of building a high-quality environment; we do so by teaching each other, not debating each other. Right, wrong, contradictions, all that matters is we treat our readers with respect. The trouble is that dialectic is about treating readers as adversaries. As a result, dialecticians often have had very tumultuous experiences in the past working in teams. Their preference for pseudonyms stems from their desire to be free to express their views, in deference to their desire to AvoidConflict by avoiding retribution. Truthfully, dialectic has its place in the world, and that place is a WebLog. Granting a guarantee of sanctity on a wiki only guarantees abrasive conflict. We too would like to AvoidConflict.

Therefore, do not engage in arguments with non-CommunityMembers. State the policy clearly. State that it is a well-considered value judgment based on traditional wiki culture, not a rational position. State we prefer real names, and if the contributor does not feel comfortable in that environment, they might reconsider their approach. They could either write anonymously or wait until they feel comfortable. Restate the policy clearly and forcefully until they get the message. Politely. cf. PrincipleOfConstantRespect.

This will free Meatball from the now very tiresome disputes around this policy. After 5 years here, and 10 years in wikidom as a whole, nothing more needs to be said.

But, the UseRealNames policy acts to politely DissuadeInteraction with dialectic rationalists. We are only interested in working with people interested in learning about collaboration and co-operative teaching, which is mostly about group facilitation and team building. So, don't try too hard only to have to a more painful departure later once an emotional bond is formed. Remember the MeatballMission: "Meatball should be boring to everyone who is not interested in us." Be absolutely upfront about what we do so we can more quickly part ways if necessary, with no hard feelings. If they need one of the MeatballAlternatives, suggest FermentWiki which is founded by someone who would strongly agree with the dialectic view of pseudonyms.

A real names policy is quoted as one of the cornerstones of the Cyworld success:
 The key point in Cyworld is its 'real-name policy'. Basically you need to use your real name
 associated with your official ID number to register. This has become more or less a standard among
 South Korean Internet services. It is a bit counter-intuitive, but real name policy does not damage
 free speech, it brings responsibility, courtesy and a lot of benefits for users themselves in terms
 of trust in the information they can find. We faced the same elements when doing a benchmark
 of best practices in online 'serious dating' services: trust and reliability brings a very high
 value to services. 
([| Cyworld Insight from +8*]

This is also the recommended use in CommunityWiki:UseRealNames



<-> Wiki:RealNamesPlease

CategoryIdentity CategoryRealNames CategoryMeatballWiki CategoryJargon CategoryPolicy


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