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If someone doesn't want to share their real name here, why can't we respect that? September 18, 2005 9:13 PM   Subscribe

If someone doesn't want to share their real name here, why can't we respect that?
posted by Vidiot to Etiquette/Policy at 9:13 PM (121 comments total)

And I agree with languagehat that it's assholish not to do so, and I'd say that it hurts the community we've built for ourselves.
posted by Vidiot at 9:15 PM on September 18, 2005


i can't believe someone got outed over comic books, for pete's sake

it would be good if people did respect it ... but on the other hand, you put out your real life info once on the net and there's always a chance that someone will figure it out
posted by pyramid termite at 9:29 PM on September 18, 2005


I don't know. Reading the thread, it seems like he invited it. If he really didn't want to connect himself with his real name then he should have mentioned the issue in an indirect manner ("I saw a revert war dealing the Aaron Fox and blah blah blah"). But even so, he's outted himself before... on MeFi no less.
posted by sbutler at 9:37 PM on September 18, 2005


This is a bullshit callout, Vidiot. You posted it four and a half hours *after* I pointed out in the thread that realcountrymusic had been outed before and appreciated it, and three hours after realcountrymusic fucking *agreed* that he did not care about keeping his identity secret.

You're the second person to call me out for "outing" someone who was already out. There are definitely serious identity issues at play on this site, but I resent the implication that I didn't respect those issues in that thread. For the record, I'd never "out" someone here who asked that her/his identity remain secret, and think you might want to start reading more closely before singling out individuals in MeTa.
posted by mediareport at 9:51 PM on September 18, 2005


From the comment you cite: Still, I don't think "outing" me (such as it is) in a vindictive spirit is all that cool.

If someone wants to use their name in a discussion, let them bring it up.
posted by Vidiot at 10:16 PM on September 18, 2005


Oh please. Are you even reading the damn thread? "Fair enough mediareport" is the phrase to search for.
posted by mediareport at 10:21 PM on September 18, 2005


To clarify, I responded to the quote Vidiot presents an hour ago - a comment to which rcm replied, "fair enough." And yet here's Vidiot, ignoring that exchange so he can continue to assert that I committed a serious breach of etiquette. This is total bullshit, Vidiot. Drop it.
posted by mediareport at 10:28 PM on September 18, 2005


I think the phrase to search for is "Still, I don't think "outing" me (such as it is) in a vindictive spirit is all that cool. I don't see as MeFi has the same standards of citation as WP pretends to have, so it's not like the episode in question had to be published here for my opinion to be valid."

If someone really doesn't want their identity revealed, where would they make such a declaration?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:30 PM on September 18, 2005


mediareport: It wasn't done vindictively, rcm; I linked it because 1) your identity has not been a secret here, even if you admirably shy away from trading on your authority as a scholar, and 2) you made an accusation I thought was important enough to attempt to verify.

realcountrymusic: fair enough mediareport, and no hard feelings.

Is there something about that exchange that's particularly difficult to understand, 23skidoo?
posted by mediareport at 10:37 PM on September 18, 2005


It's ok, really. I'm not bothered.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:38 PM on September 18, 2005


Ha! I knew that Rove and Novak had MetaFilter accounts.
posted by DaShiv at 10:41 PM on September 18, 2005


Is there something about that exchange that's particularly difficult to understand, 23skidoo?

What's difficult to understand is why you think "fair enough and no hard feelings" doesn't refer to the immediate comment you left, which is not the one you quoted. There's a whole nother comment of yours in between those two.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:45 PM on September 18, 2005


why you think "fair enough and no hard feelings" doesn't refer to the immediate comment you left

Ok, now I *know* y'all aren't reading closely.
posted by mediareport at 10:47 PM on September 18, 2005


Let me see -- "fair enough mediareport" was posted forty minutes after this MeTa thread. But I think it's neither here nor there, because I read that comment as responding to your telling him to "drop the anti-Wikipedia chip on [his] shoulder."

I honestly don't see why you're getting so freakin' upset about this, mediareport -- I'm not saying that you're a terrible person, or a bad commenter. I'm not even saying that this is the most egregious example of MetaFilter's "serious identity issues."

I posted this because I wanted to have a discussion about when it's okay to bring up another user's RL name and identity, and MetaTalk is the place for that kind of discussion. I happen to think that it's generally not okay unless the user in question brings it up or signals that there's no problem...and I wouldn't necessarily take not having a problem with being "outed" in another thread as aquiesence here. (Tamim-style datamining having not happened in a while.) I recognize that others may disagree.
posted by Vidiot at 10:48 PM on September 18, 2005


And on preview posting my above comment, I'll reiterate that I'm not sure why you're getting so upet about this, mediareport. And I'm glad that this doesn't bother you, realcountrymusic.

But in general -- I'd say that if a user says they don't want to give their name/link to a discussion elsewhere (and gives reasons for not wanting that information to be part of the thread), to go ahead and post that stuff hurts the community.
posted by Vidiot at 10:52 PM on September 18, 2005


Ok, now I *know* y'all aren't reading closely.

Thank you. I love you.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:00 PM on September 18, 2005


The fact that the subject may have chosen to politely diffuse the situation doesn't retroactively rubber-stamp the declaration. No, he shouldn't have analogized his experience if he wanted to remain anonymous. But just because he chose to reveal his identity in one thread doesn't entitle you to uncloak him at every opportunity, and his pointed and explicit refusal to identify himself in this thread should have been respected.
posted by cribcage at 11:01 PM on September 18, 2005


you put out your real life info once on the net and there's always a chance that someone will figure it out

This is kind of a bullshit argument. I knew it would come up immediately and I recognize some historic value in it. But please also recognize that just because a lot of people in this community are the types to consciously put themselves out there on the net, volitional effort is not the only way it can happen. There are plenty of ways that ones identity can filter up from print, professional life, any matter of public record, etc and onto the net. So you might as well say that no one should ever expect any anonymity on the net (since you'd certainly never say that people should avoid having jobs, writing letters to the editor, being on the board of a local charity, etc etc). It's also a possibility that one's circumstances in life will change, introducing an unforeseen need for privacy. There are a million possibilities there. It's not all black and white: "don't blast your name to the universe if you don't want people to know who you are."

Technically, there is no online anonymity, fine. Yes. Sure. Proponents of the "you screwed yourself, buddy" point of view are right and clever and oh-so ahead of the rest of us for accepting this modern conundrum. But the question is: can we have relative degress of discretion on the net, and metafilter in particular? Can one participate here without always wondering whether the next potential employer, etc will someday find his words beside his legal name at the top of Google? And the answer would be: yes, if people aren't assholes about it. Perhaps the ultimate question here is whether people can not be assholes. And perhaps the answer is no.

That sucks. And it will discourage some people from ever participating. Others may have to call on Matt's good nature to help them out of a bind. Either situation constitutes "hurting the community," mentioned above.
posted by scarabic at 11:10 PM on September 18, 2005


his pointed and explicit refusal to identify himself

He didn't refuse to identify himself. He said he didn't care to do so and would "rather leave the episode behind me," while pointing out that anyone interested could Google it. How can you possibly square that with a desire to keep his identity secret? Particularly when he had previously *thanked* me for identifying him here as the author of a cool book about country music?

Aaron's decision to not post a link to a controversy about him is not equal to a demand for anonymity. To take it as such is to deny clear evidence to the contrary.

p.s. Vidiot, I care because online identity issues are important to me. You could have easily raised those issues while being honest about the content of the thread in question, instead of calling me out directly for something I didn't do.
posted by mediareport at 11:20 PM on September 18, 2005


I'm in the mood for a nice JRun error. How 'bout you, hmmm?
posted by JRun at 11:38 PM on September 18, 2005


Well I wish John Byrne would out himself so I can tell him how much I fucking hate his work to his digital face.
posted by WolfDaddy at 11:44 PM on September 18, 2005


so as a bystander to this... mediareport: I'd say that you've done a decent job of showing that you checked to be sure that you weren't doing grevious harm, and that you weren't motivated by some grudge against him or whatever. And you believed you were doing nothing that hadn't already been done, and you felt you had consent, either implied or explicit. In the general debate about outing people, I'd have to say you're not the problem.

Still, try to step away for a second and see the other point of view. It looks to me like realcountrymusic said "I'm not going to link it. Anyone interested can do the googling." Perhaps that meant he was feeling lazy and wanted someone to link it for him. Perhaps that meant he didn't want a link in that thread and wanted anyone interested to have to go through the googling exercise in order to figure it out. You made it easy for everyone. That's just what he chose not to do.

It's good to know that no harm was done. But it's good to err on the side of discretion, I think. Still, once more: no harm done.
posted by scarabic at 12:02 AM on September 19, 2005


I think RCM knew he was not totally anonymous, but did not want to go public in the thread. It was rude and disrespectful to out him in the thread. If you have any respect for the community you should respect the wishes of its members to remain anonymous.
posted by caddis at 12:18 AM on September 19, 2005


You made it easy for everyone. That's just what he chose not to do.

Exactly. I'll totally cop to making it easy for folks to understand the context behind Aaron's "cranky and harsh" criticism of Wikipedia. I thought he was being just a bit too coy as he called the entire Wiki project "bullshit from the git go," and so took seriously his suggestion to Google his personal controversy.

For that, I get called out in MeTa for disrespecting user anonymity? Fuck that fucking shit hard.
posted by mediareport at 12:19 AM on September 19, 2005


Just out of curiosity, mediareport, how would you feel if someone did it to you?
posted by fandango_matt at 12:26 AM on September 19, 2005


Just stop it mediareport.
posted by caddis at 12:26 AM on September 19, 2005


It bares repeating:


It's ok, really. I'm not bothered.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:38 PM PST on September 18 [!]


posted in this thread.
posted by delmoi at 12:28 AM on September 19, 2005


Just stop it mediareport.

Well, it would help if Vidiot apologized, but ok, I'm going to bed.

rcm, honest, you're a great presence here. No hard feelings, indeed.
posted by mediareport at 12:34 AM on September 19, 2005


Vidiot has nothing to apologize for. He wanted to start a discussion about standards, he got defensive yawping instead. Although, to be fair, it did seem a teeny bit like he was pointing a finger at a single user rather than seeking discussion and consensus on an issue, so there's that.

And, once again, the word 'callout' infantilizes discussion and reinforces the idea that confrontation is what these threads are all about. I continue my campaign to kill it dead dead dead.

Metatalk is supposed to be about discussions of community standards. Inline images borrowed from SA or Fark, aimless chat and me-too 'this X, it vibrates?' chuckleheadery, not so much. But one of the two is clearly winning the battle for hearts and minds lately, again. So it goes, in waves.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:49 AM on September 19, 2005


"rcm, honest, you're a great presence here."

Seconded!
posted by mischief at 12:53 AM on September 19, 2005


mediareport:

"I did no harm."
"Fuck! Shit! Fuck!"
"I did it because he was being coy."

I hope you did go to bed because your bedtime clearly passed between #s 1 and 2 :)
posted by scarabic at 12:58 AM on September 19, 2005


Enclosed please find a cross reference here. And this is one of the few Metatalk callouts that I've agreed with.

It doesn't matter whether RCM's request made sense, it matters that he made it -- and that people went to extra effort to disrespect it in what I see as a violation of basic human decency.
posted by davy at 1:01 AM on September 19, 2005


FWIW, my reading of the thread was that rcm had a beef with Wikipedia but just didn't have the energy to get into it. He sorta suggested that people could figure it out for themselves if they really cared. Mediareport did so, and posted the results.

As it turns out, it made for a very interesting discussion. I'm glad both rcm and MR did what they did. It was a very good thread, and pointed out both benefits and drawbacks to the Wikipedia approach. I, at least, learned something. So thanks to both of you.
posted by Malor at 2:38 AM on September 19, 2005


Vidiot posted "If someone doesn't want to share their real name here, why can't we respect that?"

I think Matt set that precedent, when he ignored repeated requests to remove threads that outed users.


Outing users who prefer to keep their real identities private forces the outed user to make a hard choice: give up his anonymity, or give up Metafilter. For those who value their anonymity, it's essentially an eviction from the Metafilter community.
posted by orthogonality at 3:12 AM on September 19, 2005


Or simply coughing up 5 bucks for a sockpuppet.
posted by konolia at 4:33 AM on September 19, 2005


still glad he's back
posted by NinjaPirate at 5:02 AM on September 19, 2005


*sigh* Not again.
posted by terrapin at 5:30 AM on September 19, 2005


Ha! No one suspects that I, in fact, am a well-known Portuguese author.
posted by yhbc at 5:38 AM on September 19, 2005


It's not like realcountrymusic is in witness protection or anything, he just wants to use a pseudonym on Metafilter, which is quite acceptable, especially as he has a good reason. I also think that in this case his identity was pertinent to the discussion about wikipedia and the outing wasn't really vindictive.
posted by lazy-ville at 5:38 AM on September 19, 2005


I deeply dislike pseudonymity/anonymity, have said so repeatedly, and have made a point of making my identity obvious/easily available for over a decade.

Even so, there is definitely an ethos here at MetaFilter that strongly discourages using a member's real name in almost any context. Given that, it really doesn't matter very much that realcountrymusic didn't mind in this particular case--it's a general, unwritten rule that most people follow and most people approve of.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:53 AM on September 19, 2005


If people want to be anonymous, to the extent that it's possible they should be allowed that privilege. I don't think that this was an egregious moment of violation, or anything, but neither was it a transparent attempt to respect rcm's wishes.
posted by OmieWise at 6:01 AM on September 19, 2005


give up his anonymity, or give up Metafilter

Precisely. While I am not freaking out that my RLID was revealed (and repeated) in that thread, it does leave an unpleasant taste. I think it was rude and uncalled for, and I did not invite it that I can tell.

I express strong political opinions here which I'd rather not have to defend at every turn in my offline life.

I will be taking a hiatus from MeFi for at least a few weeks. It's awkward knowing that your handle is associated with your real name by a large number of fellow MeFites.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:14 AM on September 19, 2005


Unoless you are MattHowie.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:15 AM on September 19, 2005


What konolia said.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 6:34 AM on September 19, 2005


He wanted to start a discussion about standards, he got defensive yawping instead. Although, to be fair, it did seem a teeny bit like he was pointing a finger at a single user rather than seeking discussion and consensus on an issue, so there's that.

Which is why I was surprised at the tone of your response, mediareport. (Especially because I agree with scarabic that "In the general debate about outing people, I'd have to say you're not the problem.") And I can agree that it may have come across as pointing a finger at you (it was late, I was tired) -- though I note that the original MeTa post links to two comments, one by you and one by WCityMike...and that comment by WCityMike goes on to spell out exactly what "intrepid Googling" is involved for those interested. So if I'm singling you out in this discussion, I'm, well, singling someone else out as well. So to the extent that I'm going to apologize, I'm sorry that I wrote the post in a way that made you feel you were being unfairly singled out.

But I'm serious -- I wanted to have a discussion about when this kind of thing is all right, and when it is clearly Not OK. As I said above, I think this instance is the latter, but I also realize that others may not agree with my thoughts on the matter, so MetaTalk was the place for it. I'm not necessarily about the vindictive, confrontational "callouts" either. To me, it's about respecting a user's wishes, and my assertion is that to ignore them in this way ends up hurting the community.

I will be taking a hiatus from MeFi for at least a few weeks. It's awkward knowing that your handle is associated with your real name by a large number of fellow MeFites.

You know what? That's a damn shame. I enjoy both your posting here and mediareport's. (Heck, I once wrote mediareport a fan letter. I'm not out to destroy him.) And I hope that this MeTa thread wasn't responsible for this, or for your real name to gain wider currency on the site.
posted by Vidiot at 6:46 AM on September 19, 2005


Nah, it's just that I don't want to be the subject of discussion, certainly not as "Professor Fox." I don't come here as "Prof. Fox." And for a while at least, I'd have no choice. Awkward.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:55 AM on September 19, 2005


You're still realcountrymusic to me. While I understand the idea of it being awkward, I can't imagine that in a day or so you are going to be thought of as anything other than RCM.

I can't really say anything though, as my info is all over the place.
posted by exlotuseater at 7:06 AM on September 19, 2005


Historically, there have been cases where users' real names have been outed and the outing comments were removed. More recently there have been cases where users' real names have been revealed and the situation could not be resolved by simply removing a comment or two. There is always a fuzzy line between having a pseudonym and having a completely anonymous identity on metafilter. People who want to remain completely anonymous [and we have many] generally don't reveal details about themselves. Often as people grow more comfortable here they will talk more about themselves with the understanding that what goes on here stays here. Sure there's some fiction to this, but there's also a community norm of letting people be who they want to be here.

There is a difference between saying "Oh I live near the chicken and waffles shop on Valencia." and saying "My name is Roscoe and this is my phone number." There is also a difference between someone saying "Is this a link to the wikipedia article about you?" and "Your name is Christina Rosetti and here is a picture of your house." Posts that link a user's real name to their MeFi ID in an easily Googleable way that is expressly against the user's wishes will be removed if it's possible to do so [usually by the time the issue has generated a MeTa callout, it's pretty well not easy to do so]. Erring on the side of discretion is a good idea when deciding whether to post someone's info, basically as caddis and scarabic have already said.
posted by jessamyn at 7:14 AM on September 19, 2005


I enjoy your postings, rcm. Please don't let this incident spoil Metafilter for you. And please reconsider leaving, even if just 'for a few weeks'. You might decide you don't need us anymore.
posted by item at 7:14 AM on September 19, 2005


Is there anything that getting naked and covered in vegetable oil like the good Lord intended can't fix?
posted by peacay at 7:34 AM on September 19, 2005


It's a difficult thing. Sometimes anonymous posters want to lay claim to the expertise or personal experience that they have accrued in real life, yet still don't want to quite "give it up" concerning their RLI, and that's where it gets dizzy. It's really hard to tread that line.

But it's almost certain that if you leave an opening, someone's going to go have a peek (unless you're just totally boring, and no one cares), and that's just the way it is. So, while I support the right and choice of users to be anonymous, I have to say that the burden of protecting that anonymity ultimately rests with user X, and that if it's really important to them they shouldn't venture into those twilight zones of partially veiled self reference.

(the ortho thing was a different tale... Though - again - there was a crack or two in the shell that proved irresistible to inquiring minds. Moral of the story? Anonymous people: learn to hide mo' better!)
posted by taz at 7:49 AM on September 19, 2005

Posts that link a user's real name to their MeFi ID in an easily Googleable way that is expressly against the user's wishes will be removed if it's possible to do so [usually by the time the issue has generated a MeTa callout, it's pretty well not easy to do so].
If that's your policy, fine. But be clear about your phrasing: You refuse to delete the reference because you don't want to disrupt the site, not because it's "[im]possible to do so." If you really thought this issue was important, you could either ban any user who named another, or delete whole threads containing those references. You already have a policy of immediately banning any user who posts a self-link. What you're saying is, this issue is less important.
posted by cribcage at 7:51 AM on September 19, 2005


omg I'm Christina Rosetti! outed!
posted by exlotuseater at 7:51 AM on September 19, 2005


"You are Christina Rosetti aicmfp"
posted by NinjaPirate at 7:54 AM on September 19, 2005


I hear that Valerie Plame works for the CIA.
posted by LarryC at 7:57 AM on September 19, 2005


I enjoy your postings, rcm.

I very much agree--don't go. You add a lot to this place.

"Your name is Christina Rossetti and here is a picture of your house."

Hmmpf--by way of spooky coincidence I just read The Goblin Market last night.
posted by y2karl at 8:04 AM on September 19, 2005


What you're saying is, this issue is less important.

Yes, cribcage, we should ban users who publish real names, delete the entire thread and any comment outside the thread which refers to it. All local and del.icio.us bookmarks should be deleted and every trackback should be hunted down and dealt with. Also, any MeFite who has read the offending thread should report to their local secret police field office to undergo a strict memory eradication regiment.

Because anonymity is that important.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 8:07 AM on September 19, 2005


I agree with Vidiot, and I've also enjoyed mediareport's previous postings (mostly). I don't think we're going to arrive at a hard and fast yes-or-no rule here, because the whole "pseudo-anonymous" issue has many shades of gray. But it does seem like a no-brainer of common courtesy that if someone says they don't want to drag their IRL identity into a thread you don't then go and do that on their behalf. If you do, it's not a huge infraction like, say, self-linking in an FPP, but it is a lack of courtesy which should be discouraged.

Besides, the whole "aha! Here's who you really are" thing was done to death by mcgraw/dfowler.
posted by soyjoy at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2005


These outings are not just an affront to the individual who is outed, but to the entire Metafilter community, especially when it drives away some of the most insightful contributors.
posted by caddis at 8:15 AM on September 19, 2005


What taz said.
posted by peacay at 8:21 AM on September 19, 2005


But it's almost certain that if you leave an opening, someone's going to go have a peek (unless you're just totally boring, and no one cares), and that's just the way it is.

Having a peek is one thing, blabbing to everyone else what you found is another.
posted by 23skidoo at 8:36 AM on September 19, 2005


I am not an Australian country music star.
posted by sciurus at 8:38 AM on September 19, 2005


I am, however, miraculous poultry.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:40 AM on September 19, 2005


My name is Luka. I live on the second floor.
posted by poppo at 8:42 AM on September 19, 2005


if it's really important to them they shouldn't venture into those twilight zones of partially veiled self reference.

Thanks, taz. But even in that twilight zone, I would not have posted the Wiki talk page if realcountrymusic hadn't encouraged us to Google it, or if he'd given any indication that his reason for not providing it was the desire to remain anonymous, rather than the reasons he actually gave in the thread. The accusation he was making was important enough to examine, and so I offered it for examination.

realcountrymusic: I don't come here as "Prof. Fox." And for a while at least, I'd have no choice. Awkward.

How did you deal with it after the race records thread? Was it awkward then, too? Honestly, you seem to have adjusted really well after that one.

I dunno, realcountrymusic, seems to me you've been going back and forth a bit over the issue of identity here, sharing freely from your life at some points and then retreating at others. It's understandable, given the complexity of online identity, but, you know, a lot of folks here have gone through a similar process. Taking a break to come to terms with this stuff is understandable, I guess, but really, rcm, it's not necessary. You're a great contributor here, and knowing about your offline work has only made you more valuable.

Vidiot, I do think it was a worthwhile issue to bring to MeTa. I just wish you'd done it differently, but I am sorry that I reacted in an overly defensive way.

These outings are not just an affront to the individual who is outed, but to the entire Metafilter community

Yadda yadda yadda. Your feelings on this are pretty clear by now, caddis. Outings against someone's expressed wish *are* an affront to the community. Too bad this wasn't one of them. But feel free to keep ignoring the evidence if your anger is important to you.
posted by mediareport at 9:21 AM on September 19, 2005


I'm in the mood for a nice JRun error. How 'bout you, hmmm?

I'm in the mood for a new joke, hmm?
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:42 AM on September 19, 2005


I'm not withdrawing out of petulance. I'm overdue for a break anyway. I'm sure some people here agree, but it's nice to hear all the positive comments about my contribution, and thank you all.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:50 AM on September 19, 2005


How did you deal with it after the race records thread? Was it awkward then, too? Honestly, you seem to have adjusted really well after that one.

I'd go back and look if I had the time, but that was of course a discussion in which my offline expertise was deeply relevant to my comments. Like I said, I've never actively tried to hide my identity here, and anyone with a brain could figure out who I was in about 3 minutes from the substance of my posts. I always knew that. Many people have found me that way and I've developed some cool off-MeFi relationships as a result.
posted by realcountrymusic at 9:56 AM on September 19, 2005


Outings against someone's expressed wish *are* an affront to the community. Too bad this wasn't one of them.

Is outing against someone's expressed general inclination perhaps a ding against the community, at least? It seemed pretty clear to me that RCM didn't particularly want to go there, despite the lack of an explict Expressed Wish For Anonymity. It also seems like WCityMike could have found a less google-indexible way of bringing making the association, as well.

Maybe that's the fuzzy grey line that needs a little more exploring, absolutes aside.
posted by cortex at 10:04 AM on September 19, 2005


It's ok, really. I'm not bothered.

Wait, how can we be outraged now?
posted by odinsdream at 10:05 AM on September 19, 2005


Christina Rossetti's house.

Roscoe's phone number.

I'm still working on the chicken & waffles on Valencia.
posted by Vidiot at 10:06 AM on September 19, 2005


And he would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those meddling kids.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:06 AM on September 19, 2005


But even in that twilight zone, I would not have posted the Wiki talk page if realcountrymusic hadn't encouraged us to Google it, or if he'd given any indication that his reason for not providing it was the desire to remain anonymous, rather than the reasons he actually gave in the thread.

The only reason I can see that he expressly stated in the thread was that he'd "rather leave the episode behind me". How does posting the thread he was involved in help him do that?
posted by 23skidoo at 10:12 AM on September 19, 2005


I too have enjoyed Realcountrymusic's contributions, especially in the arts/music/academia threads where his expertise shines. But in Mediareport's defense, it seems to me that Realcountry has enjoyed being Professor Fox at times and not at others. At least I have known who he is for months--and not by Googling him or anything. Realcountry, didn't you used to have a link to your book on your user page? Or did you link to it in a thread?
posted by LarryC at 10:18 AM on September 19, 2005


The only reason I can see that he expressly stated in the thread was that he'd "rather leave the episode behind me".

He also said he "didn't care to do so." See, this is where the "don't make angry accusations and then play coy with details" argument comes in, 23skiddoo. But we already know you disagree with my position that by raising the episode angrily himself, rcm opened the door for us to examine it further. So there's not much point to going over it again.
posted by mediareport at 10:27 AM on September 19, 2005


More recently there have been cases where users' real names have been revealed and the situation could not be resolved by simply removing a comment or two.

Just a suggestion here, Jessamyn, that in such cases you might consider obfuscating the name instead of trying to surgically remove the comments. Comment removal is obviously a limited tool. In this case I think some [Name Deleted] edits might be a better option. I'm not in favor of editing posts in general but this is a case where it makes sense.

I'm pretty disgusted with the level to which this thread has sunk. I don't see much of anyone accusing mediareport of being a bad person, just disapproval of something that happened. And it seems there is room for disagreement on the issue. mediareport's reaction has been spiteful, personal, unreleting, and profane. This isn't all about you, mediareport.
posted by scarabic at 10:28 AM on September 19, 2005


To clarify, no I don't think this case warrants edits. Just a suggestion for another way to handle this kind of case in the future.
posted by scarabic at 10:35 AM on September 19, 2005


He also said he "didn't care to do so." See, this is where the "don't make angry accusations and then play coy with details" argument comes in, 23skiddoo. But we already know you disagree with my position that by raising the episode angrily himself, rcm opened the door for us to examine it further. So there's not much point to going over it again.

Sure there is. The point in going over it again is to get other people to not do it in the future. "Bullshit from the git go" isn't an accusation, it's an opinion of Wikipedia, one that is quite easy to defend. You may not agree with it, but it's not like saying "Green is purple"; it's a defensible opinion. Lots of people don't care for Wikipedia, for different reasons. Even if it were an accusation, when someone makes an accusation and then plays coy with the details, the cool thing to do is say "Hey, until you link the article you're talking about I have no way to know you're not making this all up." A written request for anonymity should not be the only member request that one takes seriously: the request to not unneccessarily rehash episodes from the past should be respected, too.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:45 AM on September 19, 2005


It seemed pretty clear to me that RCM didn't particularly want to go there

What he didn't want to do was revisit the episode. But it was kind of a bit late for that. Go back and read his first comment in the thread; he's brought up the episode more than once here. Strange behavior for someone who says he wants to leave it behind him. What he really wanted to do, it seems clear, was vent at Wikipedia again, without providing any information that would allow us to judge the issues he raised for ourselves. Perhaps understandable, given what happened to his work there, but it's ridiculous to imply that there was some sort of moral obligation on the rest of us to let it lie like that. He opened the door; I walked through.

That's what bugs folks like caddis and 23skiddoo - that I could look at rcm's comments, including his "intrepid googling will find it" and "I'd rather not go there again," shrug and say, "Ok, I'll go there for you." To them, that was a horrible abuse of rcm's non-anonymous anonymity or something. I find that argument bizarre, given the glaringly obvious facts.

scarabic, I've already apologized for my overly defensive reaction last night.
posted by mediareport at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2005


Realcountry, didn't you used to have a link to your book on your user page? Or did you link to it in a thread?

I'm pretty certain I've never linked to my own blog, website, or anything else in my profile. Especially because I often do weigh in on music-related threads, I have taken pains not to be seen as advertising my book here. That said, here is my website , though some of it is offline for renovation right now, and if anyone feels so inclined to buy my book via my Amazon associate link on the website, I am donating all my Amazon associate earnings to Katrina relief for the indefinite future. (Normally, I donate all proceeds to the widow of one of the singers featured in the book, but I have her blessing to do this.) I figure I've earned a self-promoting link after all this.
posted by realcountrymusic at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2005


Perhaps understandable, given what happened to his work there, but it's ridiculous to imply that there was some sort of moral obligation on the rest of us to let it lie like that. He opened the door; I walked through. That's what bugs folks like caddis and 23skiddoo - that I could look at rcm's comments, including his "intrepid googling will find it" and "I'd rather not go there again," shrug and say, "Ok, I'll go there for you." To them, that was a horrible abuse of rcm's non-anonymous anonymity or something. I find that argument bizarre, given the glaringly obvious facts.

Moral obligation? No. I just think that when someone says "I'd really rather not talk about this anymore if I have to provide evidence for my anecdotes", that people who go "Okay" are cool, and people who say "Too bad" are uncool. It wasn't a horrible abuse of non-anonymous anonymity, it was just uncool to ignore his request.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:18 AM on September 19, 2005


...it's ridiculous to imply that there was some sort of moral obligation on the rest of us to let it lie like that.

Moral obligation? Perhaps nothing that strong. I'd say there's some degree of social expectation, however, within this great mess of a community. You and I are on either side of that aforementioned fuzzy grey line -- you say he essentially asked for it, the gauntlet had in effect been thrown down, and besides there was precedent; I say it was an aggressive and intrusive and unnecessary means to call bullshit out on someone publicly.

The fact is that the fuzzy line is there. I don't think you're the devil, I think you disagree with me. It sounds like MeFi (or at least MeTa) in general falls to various points within and to either side of that line. I hear and understand your defense of your position, even if I disagree with your actions (and particularly those of WCityMike), but please consider the fact that your position is not right per se, so much as merely yours.
posted by cortex at 11:26 AM on September 19, 2005


jinx
posted by cortex at 11:27 AM on September 19, 2005


Well-said, cortex. I'll just add that I went looking because the issues fascinated me (I've had mixed feelings about Wikipedia for years) and I wanted to see them resolved as much as possible. Positive interest in rcm's work and plain curiosity also played a part, as did the feeling that rcm was being a little unfair in the way he raised the issue. Being accused of "outing" him was a surprising and annoying result.

23skidoo, we're just going around in circles. At no point did rcm request that *others* not talk about the episode.
posted by mediareport at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2005


No, he said, "I'd rather leave the episode behind me." How is that possible, if other people are talking about the episode? The episode isn't behind him, it's out in front of him and everyone else too.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:47 AM on September 19, 2005


it's out in front of him and everyone else too.

Circles. I've already pointed out why I felt his "I'd rather leave it behind me" was a bit disingenuous and could be gotten around without being, er, "uncool."
posted by mediareport at 11:58 AM on September 19, 2005


If one can just declare that a request is disingenuous and overlook it, then it doesn't really matter that he didn't ask for other people to not discuss the article, because one could just deem that request to be disingenuous, too.
posted by 23skidoo at 12:15 PM on September 19, 2005


Anonymity becomes most problematic exactly at the point where a member has the most to contribute. A lot of MeFites have an impressive amount of expertise in their fields--that is what makes this so great. When the conversation drifts into our bailiwicks, it is pretty hard not to talk about your own work. "In my book about 17th century pirate dialects, I conclusively prove that 'Argh!' should be rendered as 'Awwwrg,' contrary to the earlier work of Mathowie and Quonsar [1957]."

And that is where anonymity begins to unravel...

RCM: Sorry about my misremembering. But I surely did click on someone's link that led to your book once, and was suitably impressed.
posted by LarryC at 12:46 PM on September 19, 2005


When the conversation drifts into our bailiwicks, it is pretty hard not to talk about your own work.

This is a good point. And perhaps it points out the cost of anonymity. If you want to enjoy the freedom of it, you also have to put up with the facelessness of it. After all you can't be an anonymous coward AND command some kind of authority/cachet by virtue of who you are. I guess if you wrote the book on it, you'll just have to summarize it in comments.

Sorry, mediareport. Missed that.
posted by scarabic at 12:51 PM on September 19, 2005


It also seems like WCityMike could have found a less google-indexible way of bringing making the association, as well.
posted by cortex at 10:04 AM PST on September 19 [!]


This seems to me to be the key. Anyone who posts here revealing as much personal info as RCM has should obviously be aware that they are not anonymous. However, that doesn’t mean that the whole wide world should be able to go back and track down what they said. Just because you’re non-anonymous doesn’t mean you have no right to privacy here, right?
posted by footnote at 12:58 PM on September 19, 2005


If one can just declare that a request is disingenuous and overlook it

You really want to keep this going? Yeesh. We disagree. But ok. Can you at least *try* to reconcile rcm's request to leave the episode behind with the fact that he's the one who's been repeatedly bringing it up here? I don't think you've touched that part yet.

Oh, and no problem, scarabic. I really did overreact; it's pretty obvious that being accused of outing someone against their wishes for no good reason struck a big nerve.
posted by mediareport at 1:08 PM on September 19, 2005


Just because you’re non-anonymous doesn’t mean you have no right to privacy here, right?

Something like that. Maybe not a right so much as a benefit of our social ruleset, but yes. Regardless of whether or not there is a functional need to pair key bits of data together on a page, to do so is (in the age of increasingly hungry search engines) to expose new/further information to the public.

Which is fundamentally a good idea -- as a utility, that's what the Internet is, it's why search engines are such useful monsters -- but when it comes to personal information and identifying data, tread lightly lest ye be thought a big jerk. Whether or not one did so with malice, one may well come off as malicious.

"Here is a link to the relevant article" may reveal identity information indirectly. "Username is really John Smith, who teaches at Worcester Polygamatic" certainly does so directly. It strikes me that part of why WCityMike's post (and mediareport's, as inferred if not intentional prompting for the former) bugs me so much is that it resembles what the Mefi Scooby Squad tends to do to "bad guys" when we get our hackles up. That may be a little irrational of me, but the association is there in my mind.
posted by cortex at 1:11 PM on September 19, 2005


Can you at least *try* to reconcile rcm's request to leave the episode behind with the fact that he's the one who's been repeatedly bringing it up here?

You've got a point, but by the same token it seems like he's been bringing it up repeatedly only *after* having what seem like pretty clear (if, in your eyes, slightly disingenous) wishes ignored. He mentioned it, regretted mentioning, clarified that he wished he hadn't mentioned it, and then had it drug through town anyway.
posted by cortex at 1:14 PM on September 19, 2005


scarabic - But the question is: can we have relative degress of discretion on the net, and metafilter in particular?

metafilter, perhaps, seeing as it's moderated fairly well ... the net? ... i doubt it

the whole point of your argument seems be a akin to arguing that someone can be half-public ... being public is like being pregnant ... you either are or you aren't

you and i wouldn't bother to find out who a person really was ... but it's foolish to assume that everyone has the same scruples as we do ... i wasn't justifying anyone's behavior ... i was being realistic

the best way to keep a secret is to keep it to yourself ... it was that way centuries before the internet came along ...
posted by pyramid termite at 1:28 PM on September 19, 2005


Can you at least *try* to reconcile rcm's request to leave the episode behind with the fact that he's the one who's been repeatedly bringing it up here?

Sure. To me there's nothing to reconcile. I understand fully wishing to add a personal anecdote to a thread about Wikipedia, and then, when people want to know specifics that I'm uncomfortable with sharing, saying "I'd rather not tell you any more than I have". Merely describing the episode in general doesn't put it out in front of everyone.
posted by 23skidoo at 1:46 PM on September 19, 2005


So tell me, pyramid termite, am I public or not? I'm quite sure you could find out my real name with some checking. I'd rather you didn't post it here, but if you consider me already totally out there, you might as well ignore my request. So either stand behind your argument or admit that there's something to mine.
posted by scarabic at 1:56 PM on September 19, 2005


So tell me, pyramid termite, am I public or not?

i don't have the data to answer that question

I'm quite sure you could find out my real name with some checking. I'd rather you didn't post it here, but if you consider me already totally out there, you might as well ignore my request. So either stand behind your argument or admit that there's something to mine.

you seem to think that i'm expressing an opinion ... i'm describing reality

if your real name and other info is out there, anyone can find it and copy it ... here or somewhere else ... whether it stays here would be up to matt ... whether it stays somewhere else would be up to someone else ... who may not have the scruples you, i or matt would

now if you want my opinion ... one should always assume that all 6 billion people on the planet are reading what you send on the internet ... because, after all, any of them could, couldn't they?

it's your choice ... be very careful ... or take a casual approach to it ... but being careless and then being dramatic about it doesn't get a lot of sympathy from me ... this is the way information works ... it's the way it worked before there was even electricity

plain old common sense ... tell one person, you've told everyone
posted by pyramid termite at 2:47 PM on September 19, 2005


[using correct punctuation] is like being pregnant ... you either are or you aren't
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:58 PM on September 19, 2005



posted by yerfatma at 3:28 PM on September 19, 2005



posted by Rothko at 4:53 PM on September 19, 2005


Let me get this straight. RCM chooses realcountrymusic as his mefi name. His true identity has been discussed before, with not a hint of objection from rcm. His site is named realcountry. If you google rcm you get his site. In the thread mentioned he brings personal experiences into the open and basically gives permissioin to find the article, and in this very thread he says he has no problem with it.

I remember the first time I saw his true identity and my only thought was columbia prof...that explains the political manifestos. Context is a good thing.

Basically, this would be like mathowie using wholelottanothing as his moniker and then complaining about people finding his site. RCM is obviously an intelligent guy, and if he wished to keep his identity private, he put no thought into doing so. I would be strictly against outing someone who obviously doesn't want to be outed, but that doesn't seem to be the case here at all.

On preview, what yerfatma said...
posted by justgary at 5:07 PM on September 19, 2005


Outta here. Might be back someday.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:25 PM on September 19, 2005


Which is to say, after thinking about it for a day and watching the progress of this thread, I have decided to leave MeFi behind me too. For good. This whole thing has been too weird, and on reflection, the whole episode is yucky. It's not like I was "outed" in the sense of "I meant to keep my ID secret, and someone revealed it." It's more like an issue was made out of my personal identity, because I stepped on some precious blogolicious wikipheliac toes. Revealing my identity should be my choice within any one thread, even if I make it easy and have revealed it myself before. I think any one of you would feel the same way.

I've made some pals here and had a lot of good conversation. I'll miss a bunch of you. But this is definitely my cue to exit the MeFi universe. I'll watch the door so it doesn't hit my ass on the way out.
posted by realcountrymusic at 6:38 PM on September 19, 2005


That's a goddamn shame.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 6:48 PM on September 19, 2005


Sorry to see you go, RCM. You're an asset to this place.
posted by Rothko at 7:52 PM on September 19, 2005


What a waste. Happy and fruitful trails, rcm.
posted by Wolof at 8:00 PM on September 19, 2005


That settles it for me. Fuck.
posted by scarabic at 8:24 PM on September 19, 2005


realcountrymusic, hope to see you back after the weirdness goes away.
posted by dhartung at 9:34 PM on September 19, 2005


The Stupid wins again!

Sorry to see you go, RCM. You're an asset to this place.

A sentiment you so succinctly expressed with whatever the fuck that pointless picture was that you felt compelled to post. Good one!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:33 AM on September 20, 2005


my guess is that was picture of a thong with a built in cockring, chicken.

handy, huh?
posted by fishfucker at 10:09 AM on September 20, 2005


I am returning for a moment to say how utterly moved I am by the amazing number of kind email messages I've gotten today from MeFites -- old friends and many folks I haven't already gotten to know, as well as for the kind remarks late in this thread. I'll answer them all, but it will take me a few days. It's that many messages. I'm truly touched, to the point that I am going to take a hiatus and then reconsider my decision. Everything I've loved about MeFi is represented by my overflowing inbox. This is a remarkable community. Thank you, everyone who wrote.
posted by realcountrymusic at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2005


Jesus, that sucks.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:05 PM on September 20, 2005


A sentiment you so succinctly expressed with whatever the fuck that pointless picture was that you felt compelled to post. Good one!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:33 AM PST on September 20 [!]


Well, it was a bit of a slight joke about clothing the naked man in the picture above. It had nothing to do with rcm. So much for having a laugh, huh.
posted by Rothko at 1:08 PM on September 20, 2005


Yes, as simply everyone knows, I am dead set against having a laugh.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:45 PM on September 20, 2005


Evidently. :(

Well, no matter what Mr. Chicken says and despite the thong image, rcm, I was and am genuine in my disappointment to see you leave.
posted by Rothko at 9:44 PM on September 20, 2005


Well, no, stavros, but you didn't get it. Neither did I, actually.
posted by scarabic at 11:08 PM on September 20, 2005


No, you didn't. And it's all a big damn shame.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:47 AM on September 21, 2005


I express strong political opinions here which I'd rather not have to defend at every turn in my offline life.

I feel the same way. It's a balancing act: you want to share your personality and life with others to a certain extent, in effect removing the mask. But you also need to preserve a distinct separation between online and real life because there may be unintended reprisals to breaching the two (getting fired, getting arrested, etc.)

I've been doing this for almost 18 years now, starting way back in the BBS days as a kid. I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life some of the people I only know as 1s and 0s. But each time the choice was mine to make, and I had built up a level of trust beforehand.

To restate what many have said before, I don't like what's happening to this place. I can't explain it any better than that. When I first started posting here, I felt like this place was a community that I wanted to be a part of, so I would write long (probably too long) tirades about this and that until I was blue in the face. I've tried to keep things civilized, tried to make amends when rash words were typed.

But I've noticed something recently. I'm not typing as much as I used to. My posts are becoming more glib, less content-heavy. Frankly, I spend more time in AskMe than on the blue these days, because it feels like people actually read and digest and possibly even care about what is said there. That's how I used to feel about MetaFilter.

Anyway, long story short: I'm taking a hiatus as well. I'll probably chime in every so often with re-encoded media when some idiot posts a RealMedia streaming link, or pop into AskMe to answer a photo question. I'm not angry or mad at anyone, and this isn't really because of the RCM thread. I just thought it was time I said this, and this seemed like a good thread to say it without going all front-page-MeTa-BunnyFire.

So long for now.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:24 AM on September 21, 2005


"My posts are becoming more glib, less content-heavy."

In the long run, that's really all there is room for here. I think this is true for everyone who's here long enough, excepting possibly y2karl and amberglow.

The mix of things that draw people to the conversation at MetaFilter is carefully balanced and easily upset. The people that come here want more intelligent, informed, and thoughtfull conversation. At the same time, they don't want it to be a stuffy faculty meeting or something, they want it to be more like a fun party with intelligent, informed, and thoughtful people. That means good and serious conversation in moderate doses, along with some alcohol and maybe, god forbid, karaoke. Some gossip, maybe a little interpersonal drama.

Rare it is that a single person performs all those roles; they're usually spread around the group and the group dynamic itself keeps things in balance.

One thing that I think is happening here at MetaFilter is that things have slowly begun to go out-of-balance. NewsPoliFilter has increasingly meant that there's a large contingent of not-that-fun people in the other room having tense political conversations. There would always be that segment of the group, but when it's healthy people would move in and out of the group, there'd be a flow and that part of the party would be an organic part.

I don't think we're getting enough moderation of people acting in various roles such that MeFi as a community has coherence. One thing that would help a lot is if we all traded "hats" for a little while.

Specifically with regard to serious conversation, the reason that it is paradoxically dying while NewsFilter is thriving, is because the serious people are too relentlessly serious (like me), or ghettoized in particular (and tiresome) topics that keep coming up in the blue.

My sense is that the decoherence of mefi has happened for a variety of random, circumstantial reasons in combination with a failure to assimilate the large increase in membership. As hokey as it sounds, I think a community building exercise would help mefi a great deal. It would have to bring in the people that only visit the blue or the green.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:46 AM on September 21, 2005


I express strong political opinions here which I'd rather not have to defend at every turn in my offline life.
-----------
I feel the same way.

This has gotten blown way out of proportion.

Was rcm ever called out in a political thread? Did I miss that? Because it seems to me he was called out in a thread where he brought up his own involvement and when asked about it basically said "google it if you're interested".

If rcm gave a controversial political opinion and someone who disagreed looked him up and brought his identity up in the thread, I could understand his situation (though being metafilter, I believe rcm's views are generally well received).

As someone else said, if the issue would have been dropped (and a meta thread not created) it would have passed without notice.

You can't have it both ways. If there's going to be this much drama over identity being brought up, perhaps more thought needs to be given to user names.

For rcm, if being identified on a site with 25,000 people is a problem, I'd spend my "hiatus" coming up with a new name. No more drama, only 5 bucks, and everyone's happy.
posted by justgary at 11:16 AM on September 21, 2005


What he said.
posted by languagehat at 3:23 PM on September 21, 2005


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