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Jared Hamilton
From: Jared Hamilton
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Lindsey Auguste

Lindsey Auguste Business Intelligence Specialist

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Do Anonymous Posts Contribute Valuable Conversation or Just Controversy?

Creating rules for online communities can be a tricky thing.  What code does the community live by?  Which of those rules does the community dictate?  We at DrivingSales have been having one such debate for weeks:  should we allow anonymous postings?  We’ve never had a problem on the site with anonymous postings before.  We’ve always required transparent identities for the sake of keeping the community legitimate.   Then, low and behold, an anonymous profile was created yesterday and began generating controversy… er, I mean conversation. 

So before deciding whether or not we allow anonymous comments or keep with forcing identities on members, the question must first be what benefits does anonymity bring to the community?  What drawbacks does it generate?  Of course, we could argue that forcing identities increases the quality of the content posted because people’s reputation is directly linked to it, but it also reduces the number of comments, restricting potentially explosive discussions.  Perhaps individuals who don’t feel confident enough in their comments might refrain from contributing, no matter how relevant and dynamic their input might be.  However, having transparent identities also allows us to reach out to the particular leaders that our community is made of for advice on best strategies.

Weigh in on the discussion.  We’d love to hear what you think and what you’d like to see on the site.  Why is transparency in identity important?  How could we benefit from anonymous postings?  Tell us where you stand on the debate and then what you want done about it.  We could:

        A)   Allow anonymous posts,

        B)   Continue with forced identities,

        C)   Have some sort of moderated anonymity.  DrivingSales could build the technology to allow only dealers to have the ability to choose if they want their identity shown (so vendors can’t bash others), or maybe allow anonymous comments that have to be approved by the DrivingSales staff before posting, or

        D)   Have a better answer?  Share it!

It's conversations like these that define how our community works.  Tell us what you think (identities required… at this point).

Marc McGurren
Lindsay - great question. All forums I have ever been associated with (professional and personal/hobby) required some sort of "handle" or name - but each handle/name didn't necessarily have to have their identity revealed. I think anonymous posts with nicknames where the true identity of the poster is not revealed would be perfectly fine. Every now and then you had someone create a fake name, start getting their keyboard ninja skills going, and start bashing something or someone. In the event is was inflammatory or inappropriate the moderators either took it down or banned that person/ip address. I have seen quite a few great conversations get started b/c someone wanted to post on what they really though but couldn't under their real name. I would say the same could be said for DrivingSales. Some folks might have a great opinion - but want to keep their name out of it - so I say lets give it try. Have moderators watch it - and see what happens. I'm game....
Bryan Armstrong
Lindsey, Great post and very relevant. 2 Things: 1. I loved the fact that a lot of good dialogue occured over an anonymous poster yesterday. I personally have never had issue with going on record as to my viewpoints, but having just taken over a Store that utilizes Cobalt and remembering Frank Davis' sad situation that may change (another topic for another day). 2. If people are going to create fake profiles, could we keep it a little cleaner? Heywould yablowme is offensive and juvenile! Please delete! With that being said I like option: C) Have some sort of moderated anonymity. DrivingSales could build the technology to allow only dealers to have the ability to choose if they want their identity shown (so vendors can’t bash others), or maybe allow anonymous comments that have to be approved by the DrivingSales staff before posting Then I could anonymously post if I chose, and then "like" my post and agree with it! :)
Jim Bell
I think that it would be a great asset to have for DrivingSales. I have a feeling that a lot of people that come on here may be scared to post something due to the fact that a vendor, manager, or someone will get mad about it. I think it may bring some more conversation to light being able to post without your identity being revealed. That's my 2 cents.
Lindsey Auguste
Thanks for the comments, guys. I like the idea of having some sort of nickname. I've seen it on other forums but have also heard it as a recommendation for DrivingSales as well. Do you think the nickname would equally encourage those who might be to shy to comment? Most people use nicknames that they identify with and even if they didn't, should we be able to see their legit profiles by clicking through their nickname link as we do know where their name shows up on comments?
Marc McGurren
I say if they want to stay anonymous - make it true anonymity where they don't have to reveal their name anywhere.

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