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The idea of anonymity in Notes was controversial when first proposed, but the issue was resolved by leaving it to the discretion of each notesfile director. If a director chooses to allow anonymity, then anyone posting a note or response in that notesfile is given the option of making it anonymous.

An anonymous note is truly anonymous. Not even the notesfile director nor the system staff can determine who posted it, because the user ID is not saved anywhere. The word "anonymous" appears in the header where the user ID would normally be.

PLATO Notes avoids some of the problems that have plagued experiments with anonymity in other conferencing systems. It is not possible to masquerade as someone else, because Notes does not allow the use of pseudonyms. The only identification that can appear in the header is the author's actual user ID or the word "anonymous". The fact that anonymity is the choice of each user is important, too. Someone could post an anonymous note saying "I'm David Woolley and I kick my dog every morning," but everyone reading it knows that the author specifically chose to make this note anonymous, so the identity claimed in the text is not to be taken seriously.

Most notesfile directors do not permit anonymity, but it is very useful in some situations. Anonymity can be abused, but a notesfile director can delete offensive postings. The version of Notes now used on NovaNET even allows a director to review anonymous postings before they become publicly visible.

Copyright © 1994 by David R. Woolley

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Copyright (c) 1996 - 2006 Elizabeth Mattijsen
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