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Thread: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

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    Default The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    The Reality of Anonymous Posting.
    By Bob Hubbard



    There are well over a 10 million forums, lists, chat rooms, news groups, blogs, journals and discussion areas on the internet today. On many of them, there is a debate on using handles or aliases or fake names. The bottom line is, there is no such thing as true anonymity online today. Oh, there are ways you can make it harder to figure out, but with enough time, resources and in some cases money, your identity can be found.

    The first level of anonymity is the handle. A handle, or alias can be anything from a nickname, to a login name, to a cute saying or a fake name. "DaffyDuck2525" and "Nose Picker" are 2 examples of aliases. In some cases, they reflect a fantasy personality, associated with things like science fiction fandom, or reenactment organizations. Many people use them for fun, and don't really hide much, however there are those who will gladly use as many false identities as they can, to cause trouble and give the illusion that many hold a certain opinion, when in truth, it is only a few. Some sites have forbidden the use of handles, as it is hard to hold a professional discussion with someone named "Hot Dog" using the picture of a puppy n fire as their public face.

    The second level of anonymity is the fake name. This is different than the handle, which is often obvious. The fake name is the easiest way to hide, as there are few ways to verify you are who you say you are online. Some people go to great lengths in their use of fake realistic names, creating elaborate histories, and getting one or more known-real people to vouch for them. When put on the spot, they will often claim to have never been photographed, or taped, and will refuse any meetings requested of them. Their verifiers will step to their defense and reiterate that they are real, and they know them well. While many sites will allow the use of handles, they will insist that you "sign" your posts with your name. While this can give some credibility, short of requesting notarized copies of government issued ID or credit cards, these are hard to prove especially when enough known-real people insist on their existence. Other means must be used to disprove this tactic.

    The third level is the fake or throw-away email address. We all get tons of spam, and hear worries of identity theft daily. Some resort to temporary or throw away addresses through the numerous free email services out there. A favorite tactic of spammers and certified internet troublemakers, also known as 'trolls', more and more the free services are being blocked from reputable sites.

    The forth level of anonymity if the proxy server / anonymizer service. These services, sometimes free, sometimes for a fee will allow you to surf the net, under a sort of 'cloak'. Some background information is needed here. Each computer that connects to the internet is assigned an id number, called an IP address. It's kind of like a phone number for your computer. When you connect to another computer, it gives your IP number as an identifier. The anonymizer service doesn't block your number, it simply reports a false one to the answering system. While hard to identify and block, they are not perfect. Not all services are as anonymous as they claim, and there are ways to find who really did make the connection, a fact that some today have discovered the hard way after law enforcement traced them.

    In short, regardless if you surf as "John Smith", "Jeffery Dillion III" or "Captain Caveman", the people who run the sites, the engineers at the data centers who run the computers, and the boys in blue can with some time and effort, find out who you are.

    The use of a handle can be fun. It adds flavor to hobbiest sites, can be used to advertise your business or your proficiency at a subject. They can also however be used to cause problems, sow dissent and otherwise disrupt a community. More and more, professionally oriented sites are either discouraging them, or banning them outright as a result.

    So, use your handle, have fun, but don't be expected to be taken seriously unless you post under a verifiable real name. After all, who would take advice from someone named after a mouse?

    ===
    Bob Hubbard is an administrator of the popular martial arts sites MartialTalk.com and KenpoTalk.com. He is president of SilverStar WebDesigns inc., a web site design and hosting company specializing in affordable solutions for martial artists as well as a professional photographer. More of Bob's articles can be found at rustaz.net. Please contact Bob if you would like him to review your martial arts product.

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    2007 Bob Hubbard - Copies of this article are free to distribute, provided all text is retained intact.
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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    You mean, you can find all that out, despite the fact I gave you my real name and told you where I live? Who knew ...
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hubbard View Post
    After all, who would take advice from someone named after a mouse?
    Right, well, now I really feel stupid!

    Seriously, if you can get all that info on them, isn't there a way to ID trolls and make life miserable for them!

    Dan C
    There are things that are worth knowing for their own sake, worth finding for the pure joy of discovery.

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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    Recently, a pro wrestler killed his wife and son, then committed suicide. His wikipedia page was updated 14 hours before anyone knew any of them were dead. The cops have the person who did it in custody, and his computer in hand. That was despite being "anonymous".

    There are ways for us to find out, and when we do.....we do make things difficult. You'll often know when we did that as they show up elsewhere and start bitching about how they were booted without cause.

    We recently had about 5 accounts sign up from the same 2 addresses, which geographically were thousands of miles apart. Unless they have Scotty beaming them back and forth.....well....

    There are extra utilities installed on my forums that we use, combined with a team of professional Linux administrators (those uber geeky guys who are waaay smarter than me) checking these things out, plus several LEO available for consultation.

    So...yeah. We make things tough on the trolls.
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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    I never really thought about it this way. Can I change my name?

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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    Sure. Just PM me and let me know what to change it to.
    For ANY and ALL KenpoTalk issues, please use theContact Us link here or at page bottom right. Do NOT PM me for site support.

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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    I always post with my name in my sig. Keeps me honest and humble.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Michael Huffman
    1st Black, AKKI
    www.akki.com

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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikael151 View Post
    I always post with my name in my sig. Keeps me honest and humble.
    Well, I don't know about that humble part...;-)

    DOC

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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Hubbard View Post
    There are extra utilities installed on my forums that we use, combined with a team of professional Linux administrators (those uber geeky guys who are waaay smarter than me) checking these things out, plus several LEO available for consultation.
    So...yeah. We make things tough on the trolls.
    Well I do understand what a Troll is. David Weber talked about one in one of his sci fi books.

    The rest is NOT english, or is way above my competency level.

    Thank you Bob for your expertise and diligence.

    DOC

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    Default Re: The Reality of Anonymous Posting. - By Bob Hubbard

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikael151 View Post
    I always post with my name in my sig. Keeps me honest and humble.
    Yes,

    I am totally amazed by the "COWARD'S WAY" of posting anonymously.

    Those COWARD'S somehow believe that because they have some computer skills that they can lie and harass anyone they do not appreciate and just that dislike "merits" going after them.

    It always catches up to them, somehow and somewhere.

    Thank you Mikael.

    Thank you Bob.

    DOC

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