After an exchange with someone off list, which came to a dead end, I'm curious about views on anonymity in off-list communications - whether by PMs or emails.
It is my policy to discuss anything with anyone on-list - where the world can read the answers and thus benefit from the discussion - even when some/most correspondents remain hidden behind screen-names.
Off-list is a different matter however, at least as far as I am concerned. Other than for trivial short replies, I'm not willing to enter into lengthy discussions (by PM or email) with those who insist on not revealing a real identity to me. That's because I regarded as work-down-the-drain, a use of my time to explain something to a hidden person, and with no prospect of knowing whether that person plans to publish his
views, no ability to refer that person to another expert, no chance of recognising work
by that other person which he may already have published under a real name, and no chance to add context from knowing someones real background e.g. location, which has a bearing on his/her experience in the real world - museums visited etc.
Thus I feel hobbled in anonymous-private discussions. The quality
of the discussion is damaged by not being able to network. It requires more work
on my side
because I cannot build on public knowledge or bring in the expertise of others, and also less reward because Mr.Anonymous will never acknowledge my input nor
involve me in his
network. It's just a complete
waste of my time.
So, I invariably ask offlist correspondents to identify themselves in some meaningful way (a real name, and in time perhaps reference to common contacts). For example I can put real names behind those on-list whom I met
at the conference in York in July (although I admit sometimes I forget the link between screen-names and real names from time to time!)
Am I alone on this? Does it matter to others to live in a real world with real people? Or is virtual virtually enough?