AKA: I am a mystery

AKA: I am a mystery

I was recently asked by Jeremy to use my real name instead of Phantom Button, but all anyone has to do is look at my profile to find out who I am and where I live, etc., but it does raise a good question. There are people here who contribute far more than I do but who have very mysterious profiles that seem to intentionally hide their identity. Why is there a need to do this? A good example of this is Na éisc, who is probably one of the most prolific contributors to this website yet his profile and name leave you with no clue as to who or where he is. Perhaps he can shed light on why it’s necessary to conceal one’s self… especially when leaving multiple posts on a daily basis. Are you in a witness protection program or something, Na éisc?

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Maybe the Trad Police are after him and he needs to hide.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

I can’t speak for anyone else, but the reason I usually use a pseudonym on forums like this, is that I inevitably end up talking about some fairly expensive instruments that live in my home, along with PA gear and high-end recording gear.

It’s not that hard to track down who I am, based on my profile here and other forums where I use this pseudonym and some others. There are layers of obscurity one can use — ranging from complete openness where anyone can easily find an address and phone number, to deep encrypted security. I’ve opted to stay just one level down from total openness for the sake of not just opening all doors, so to speak. Your mileage may vary. 🙂

There are other reasons to stay anonymous, like feeling the need to trash other people without consequences, online or otherwise. Over the years, I’ve tried to conduct myself in a way where that isn’t a big concern.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

OP he’s called Ben

Posted .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

I started off using my given name when I signed up for membership. Unfortunately my name (which was my grandfather’s) was not given it’s due respect, literally. So now I choose to be known as Na éisc. I very much appreciate all those who accept my choice on this matter.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Another option would be to use a clever user name that only appears to be a real name…

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

GCHQ have all our identities anyway.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Even if I used my real name you still wouldn’t know who I am, so what difference does it make?

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

"I inevitably end up talking about some fairly expensive instruments that live in my home, along with PA gear and high-end recording gear."

I don’t reveal my address in my profile… just the city where I live. It would be hard to know that un;ess you followed me home from the pub. I guess I’m not that paranoid.

"OP he’s called Ben"

Gee… that narrows it down.

"Another option would be to use a clever user name that only appears to be a real name"

But one thing I look for in a member’s profile is what music community they’re part of.

"GCHQ have all our identities anyway."

That’s great for them…

"Even if I used my real name you still wouldn’t know who I am, so what difference does it make?"

Personally, as I said, knowing what music community, if any, you are part of says a lot. I’m often disappointed when members say things in the discussions but I have no idea what their perspective might be based on their profiles. I think the background info facilitates the discussions.

I used to use my real name as the username, but having the alias seemed fun at some point and relevant to my musical development. I never concealed who I was after I started using it though. I still don’t understand why people insist on being anonymous, especially if they are posting on a daily basis.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

"When the mask goes on the true identity comes out…" Or something close to that; Oscar Wilde.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth." - Oscar Wilde

Good one, cag

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

The fewer the dots, the harder it is to see the picture.
I try to leave out what information is not absolutely necessary when interacting with the web. In fact it was with some misgivings that I included my location in my profile. It probably makes no difference; but it makes me feel better.
As to ‘knowing what music community, if any, you are part of ’ — knowing my name, or rather what I say my name is, won’t tell you anything about me or my community. Names are just labels, with the rather unusual quality of not telling you anything about the contents.
What cag says is true, of course; but Mr Wilde was talking about a physical disguise. It could be that people who are open / ingenuous / gullible / honest enough to give out their real identities over the web are that way by nature, and revealing their name actually has no effect on content.
Anyway, I’ll leave that to the psychologists.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

@ Phantom Button: "Personally, as I said, knowing what music community, if any, you are part of says a lot."

I agree, but where is the limit in how much you really need to know? I list my geographic area in my profile, but I don’t list the specific sessions I attend, or the names of the people I play with, because that lets me speak in general about experience in sessions without local consequences. 🙂 I think being able to do that is valuable. Otherwise we’d be afraid to say anything that might piss off our session mates.

Identity has its place in forums like this. I’d be self-identified if I was a teacher looking for students, or someone in a band self-promoting. I have nothing to sell here, so I’m semi-pseudonymous.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

I am not part of any musical community (except for you lot, that is). I don’t know what that tells you about me, but I’d probably disagree. I am perfectly willing to legally change my name to Gobby O’ Gobbo if that would help, but I don’t see how it does. Anyhow, I kinda like who I imagine you all to be. I really should fill out my profile (again) though.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

This is a musical community? It is sad that somebody thinks so.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

What else is it about?

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Quote: What cag says is true, of course; but Mr Wilde was talking about a physical disguise.

It could be that people who are open / ingenuous / gullible / honest enough to give out their real identities over the web are that way by nature, and revealing their name actually has no effect on content. Unquote/.

The first part of what you say is more true of the digital disguise. The image of the mask I go to in Wilde is that of Venice and the Masquerade. No physical mask will protect you from the rapier. Digitally however one can be protected way beyond the ability of the average person to penetrate.

The second part suggests you believe there are people who do not reveal their name because if they did they would have to write differently. I agree. And to bring in a new concept, anonymity is the perfect vehicle for righteous anger, the cathartic release for the people who have not achieved their perceived due and would like to blame someone else. This is where anonymity is dangerous. I write from a country where politicians have become the manipulaters of the unknowing angry (known as dog whistle politics) and it is no way to live. Anonymity feeds this.

If you do not sign with your name your identity will not be clear but over time your character will.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Its just basic common sense for any security conscious person to be wary about freely giving out identifiable info such as name , location etc etc. For example , by speaking my mind here, and actually having nr 4 decades of real life experience gigging etc I annoyed a number of people who engaged in vilification and attacks on my character to the extent that a completely false image was set up for me that bore no resemblance to reality. One at least who started to stalk me !! , He set up a false account on another forum to engage me in conversation while pretending to be a fiddler of 40yrs ! hunting down photos and attempting to find addresses etc, wrote me into a book!! This really happened ! Amazing that someone could be so petty and vindictive ! So clearly free speech upsets some people and they can go to great lengths to silence and intimidate . All their plots and machinations however came to no good im glad to say .
So I always use a nom de plume on line just as basic self protection procedure , I never use my correct DOB, address etc etc as much as possible . For example; 3 yrs ago , under a screen name I felt free to talk about subjects that would normally only be closed door subjects because Im under a degree of voluntary anonymity. However , as the case , the owner of this site decided that I am not allowed a pseudo-name and chose my screen name for me, if that name were actually mine I might have been compromising myself in future . For example my MMA practice is not something I would normally discuss in an open forum under my own name, Its all closed door stuff, audiences are not welcome but in conversation those decades of study in a number of arts has great relevance to our chosen subject here; music both as an art form and as a body/mind development program. There is little difference between the arts as Ive studied them. Of course people who have not studied these arts with no experience at all of them are not qualified to any degree in making comments about their relevance because they havent a clue 🙂 not that that stops their self important postings , but hey , thats free speech for you.
So the anonymity can be advantageous for to allow free expression . Yes it can be abused , but to be honest a number of posters online are so full of them selves that they are quite happy to be abusive under their real name so actually having their real name up there does not necessarily offer any protection for others from these abusers. While anonymity can offer their victims a degree of cover.
Its the case that people do attract stalkers and trolls that can really cause trouble; find out telephone numbers etc etc and all sorts of undesirable events can take place as repercussions of someone’s free speech and getting into ‘arguments’ with mentally unbalanced individuals who attack the messenger rather than the message as was typical here for a number of yrs. and still is on other unregulated sites . Anonymouse 🙂 expect us.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

It is somewhat surprising that some posters but not all — or by any means most — are asked to use their real names. Ironically the ones who were frequently in the middle of big arguments, i.e. Michael Gill and Will Harmon, used their names anyway. So I don’t understand the point of asking people to do this.

I choose not to, as I don’t want to be Google-able, but it’s no secret on here who I am.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Telling anybody your ‘real’ name makes absolutely no difference, unless you are renowned, and those who know you do so by the same name. Even the name on your credit card is not necessary, and only helps crooks to steal your money.
Incidentally, birth certificates were invented in America so that its citizens could be made property of the banks, and are no indication of who you are.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV0CHnW_q94

A username is not the same as a pseudonym, and serves a different purpose; although I understand Jeremy’s desire for openness, and he probably has a point.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

The problem about using your own name on thesession.org is that you have no control any content, such as comments. On Youtube (or facebook) you can delete/edit comments etc. I think that’s something that dissuades a lot of people here on The Session.

Another issue about real name use is the multitude of opportunists (with vested interests) that use these forums for self-promotion. You need only look at facebook to see these hawkers ("celebrity" musicians, shop owners, technicians etc.) shamelessly promoting themselves. People with thousands of "friends" and so on.

A lot of good changes were made to the site recently but it’d be great to have control over comments. I know there is a lack of resources but a panel of moderators/judges could come in handy for tune settings also.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

<<A username is not the same as a pseudonym>> oh, ok, what do you see as the difference? is my ‘handle’ here a user-name or a pseudonym or both? Im simply not sure.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

One of the reasons why I’d prefer it if people used their real names is that it generally encourages better discourse. The fact that someone is hiding behind a pseudonym doesn’t bode well for an online conversation.

Also, for people concerned about revealing too much about themselves online, I think that using a pseudonym is actually more dangerous because it gives you the *illusion* of security.

Just to be absolutely clear on this: The Session is not a place for anonymity. I give absolutely no guarantees of anonymity and frankly, I don’t particularly want anybody who wants to be anonymous to be a member of the site. If you think that you are anonymous simply because of an obscure username, please don’t mistake that delusion for something conferred by the site.

DrSilverSpear wrote: "Ironically the ones who were frequently in the middle of big arguments, i.e. Michael Gill and Will Harmon, used their names anyway."

I’m not saying that using your real name automatically means that you’ll behave better, but it does make a difference when I’m evaluating transgressions. For example, I would have barred Michael Gill long before if he were hiding behind a pseudonym. He was a toxic personality who was poisoning the site with his belligerence but at least he had the guts to put his own name to his remarks. (also please note that Will Harmon wasn’t kicked off the site; he chose to leave, and I wish he hadn’t)

So if someone posts something that *might* be breaking the rules (e.g. it could be construed as being uncivil), then one of the factors that will determine whether they will be suspended (and how long for) is whether or not they are hiding behind a pseudonym.

As it says in the house rules:
https://thesession.org/help#houserules

"Please use your own name

You can choose any name you want for your membership, but please don’t hide behind a pseudonym with any expectation of anonymity. The Session is not a place for making anonymous remarks."

DrSilverSpear wrote:
"It is somewhat surprising that some posters but not all — or by any means most — are asked to use their real names."

No, *all* posters are asked to use their real names. Please.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

A username is a device for using sections of the web without revealing personal details.
A pseudonym is used to avoid revealing your true identity.
If you fill in the box marked ‘insert username here’ with the words ‘Will Evans’, it is a username.
If you fill in the box marked ‘insert name here’ with the words ‘Will Evans’, it is a pseudonym. Except in the unlikely event that your name is Will Evans, of course. 🙂

The people I play with and know are aware of who I am, and that I use this site. If I communicate with any other members privately I always use my real name, and I have no wish to hide my identity from anyone other than crooks.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

the mustard is slowly turning grey.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Well, this is what struck me regarding the request and thus I replied:

"Dunno Jeremy, seems OK to me. Isn’t there a problem with your suggestion? There could be several dozen people called Jeremy or whatever. So then you’re down the road of Jeremy1, Jeremy2, Jeremy123, Jeremy789, JeremyBlackpool, BlackpoolJeremy, Jerxyz etc and eventually you end up with random names?"

Jeremy is a slightly unusual name, how many ‘Micks’ or ‘Johns’ do you meet in your travels….

Posted .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

All of the above, on both sides, seems to me to be valid, even if contradictory. However, past difficulties here have been amplified by the cloak of anonymity. I have had similar issues with other forums that I have run, and I have found that the requirement to use one’s real name, as far as it can be known, subliminally is a useful self-restraint on what people say. Maybe that doesn’t work for some.

However, my own lack of anonymity has also had the interesting side-effect of garnering for me quite a lot of face-to-face sympathy from people for the past bashings I’ve had courtesy of certain individuals on here…

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Aye, I always sign off private messages with my real name.

There are legit reasons to use a pseudonym for this (or any) internet forum. For instance, if one works with patients/clients/students, and does not want to be found on Google by any of the above. Not because you’re behaving badly on the internet, but just because it’s not any of their business what you do on the web with your spare time. I know people who are psychiatrists, for example, who don’t use their real names on Facebook as they don’t want their patients to be able to find their profiles, but still want to use Facebook to communicate with family and friends.

Perhaps it is an illusion of security, but it might put off random web searching. A massive bike lock won’t stop people from nicking y0ur bike, but it might put off all but the most determined.

People I play with know my handle on here. Including Mr. Spear — LOL.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

There are certainly people with greater need for security than a teacher, as DrSS mentions. Personally, I have found that my online presence (not only musical) has actually *increased* my kudos with many of my students. Yes, I am careful what personal information I reveal, however - but who is really very interested in most of what gets put on forums anyway? My views on ITM are significant to nobody outside a very small pool indeed.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

DrSilverSpear wrote:
"There are legit reasons to use a pseudonym for this (or any) internet forum. For instance, if one works with patients/clients/students, and does not want to be found on Google by any of the above. Not because you’re behaving badly on the internet, but just because it’s not any of their business what you do on the web with your spare time."

This is true. And that’s what I don’t make using your real name a *requirement* …but it is strongly encouraged, for exactly the reason that Ian mentioned:

"I have found that the requirement to use one’s real name, as far as it can be known, subliminally is a useful self-restraint on what people say."

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

"Incidentally, birth certificates were invented in America…"

Nice bit of paranoid/conspiracy theory film there!

Inaccurate though. Birth registration in the US started to become standardised with a 1902 Act of Congress. In the UK, the registration moved away from church parish records in 1837 (following the Marriage Act, 1836), and became compulsory following The Births and Deaths Registration Act, 1874 (though efforts to move towards that aim stepped up in 1853).
All a UK birth certificate represents is a copy of the entry in the register. Recording of births in the UK goes back long before registry offices though - and the practice goes back way before the British got round to it!

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Jeremy: " Michael Gill … He was a toxic personality …"

Am I missing something, but isn’t the comment that you made above an infringement of your own house rules?

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Thanks Weejie — I can Google as well.

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

How far do we go in this political correctness? To remain civil do we avoid all statements of fact that could be construed as offensive and therefore uncivil? Civility is a concept that is not clearly defined, different cultures have different views on how people interact and what is acceptable and what not. These differences always raise their head in cross cultural communication and interaction, to a greater or lesser extent. Its just the way it is. IMO The essence of good cross-cultural communication is in not projecting our world map onto others and expecting them to conform to that .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Dr Silver Spear wrote
"I choose not to, as I don’t want to be Google-able, but it’s no secret on here who I am"

I have no idea who you are, is what you mean is your friends on here know who you are? Not the same thing. If you don’t want to be googleable put a clue to your real identity in your profile. If you look you will find this is what Jeremy himself does.

Gam, as your identity is hidden from me, given your explanation I must be classified under "crooks".

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

@ Cag — If a gnat is hiding from a spider, it is unlikely that he will be seen by a bird. I guess that makes you a bird…

Posted by .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

My profile says where I am, what I play, and that I am — or was — a PhD student. I suppose that last is no longer accurate. But it still sounds better than "mostly unemployed" so I’m not going to change it at this point. Is anything else relevant? I don’t think a full CV is necessary, after all.

Send me a PM and I’ll send you a link to my thesis if you like (‘cause you’re obviously interested and it’s the only thing of note that I’ve done).

People on here address me by my real name all the time. Most recently in the current epic learning tunes by ear thread. You just have to pay attention. 🙂

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

"Thanks Weejie — I can Google as well."

Shame that you ended up with that youtube clip though.

It’s whether you use Google to circumvent a trip to the library (government legislation, literary quotations etc) or to follow cult fantasies that can make the difference in its usefulness.
Google is the equivalent of a library indexing system, but more advanced than pre-computer systems, and with some disadvantages owing to certain interest. Those who knock it are often those who can’t use it to advantage.
It does need some care though.
Recently, some neighbours went to the local farmers’ union to get some advice on stray sheep and their rights. The union rep responded with an email quoting a particular piece of legislation, and advising that the neighbours had rights under that legislation. However, the legislation was from the Irish republic, and had no bearing in Scotland. The rep obviously hadn’t noticed.

T’internet is what you make it. Some forums actually encourage the use of "monikers" and "avatars" others might prefer real names (haven’t come across one where it is compulsory - not that they don’t exist). I’d rather read comment based on the quality of comment rather than who says it. If the comment is based on recognised authority, that is. Of course, if a recognised authority on a particular subject is making comment (not self-professed, however), then there is probably more weight to the argument, but Joe Public giving their real name doesn’t have any more authority, or validity than someone using a moniker. I’m not sure if someone using their real name would be less likely to restrain their comment either - especially on a moderated forum. I’d need to see empirical studies on the subject.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Yes, I agree with Weejie. I suppose in the context of this forum, knowing who people actually are would only be helpful if you knew that the person writing a comment was Liz Carroll, or someone of that caliber. If it’s Random Dude on the Internet, you have to assess the validity of the comment as it stands and I don’t think it matters whether Random Dude uses his real name or not.

Or ask Random Dude to post clips of himself playing, but we’ve been down that road.

I can assure cag that I am not Liz Carroll.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

One of the reasons why pseudonyms aren’t helpful in online discussions is that they reinforce the idea that your online persona is different to your "real world" persona.

That distinction simply isn’t true, and believing it can be downright harmful (it’s generally the excuse that trolls trot out when they are confronted by their behaviour: "oh, that’s not really me: if you met me in ‘real life’ you’d find out that I’m a nice guy.")

It’s true that in the early days of online discourse it was far more common to draw a distinction between your "online" and "offline" self, but those days are over.

As Derek Powazek (the author of Designing for Community) put it:

"The internet is not a second life anymore, it’s your first one. You don’t slip into a pseudonym when you use the phone, why should you be someone else online? Hacker handles were training wheels, and they’re off the bike now whether you like it or not."

And that’s the reason why I would prefer it people used their own names. Having a different name online can, however subtly, lead to different behaviour. But the truth is that your behaviour online is your behaviour full stop.

Still, as I said, I’m still leaving your username as a choice. It’s up to you. But please, if you are using a pseudonym, don’t make the mistake of thinking that what you post here is somehow not really reflective of who you are simply because your name is not attached to it. Behaving badly online is no different to behaving badly anywhere else.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

It’s a funny thing. I much preferred my old username. I never had a problem with people knowing who I was. Jeremy asked me to consider using my real name, so I immediately complied. Seemed only polite to do so when asked nicely. But I liked the old one …

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Those are just opinions, Jeremy. There may or may not be an element of truth in them.

I’m not sure if "George Eliot", "Dusty Springfield", "Mark Twain", "Bono" et al would agree with you entirely (not that they are all still with us).

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Or George Orwell, for that matter.

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Jeremy, you haven’t really addressed the ‘problem’ of using real names or variations on same. My name could be say Sean Ryan or Paddy Byrne or whatever. Do you want to end up with a bunch of user identities based on Sean Ryan say?
SeanRyan
Sean Ryan
seanryan
sean ryan
sean1 ryan
…………………….. and so
then seanryan changes their identity to sean1ryan etc etc.

How on earth would that help? It’d be utterly confusing after a while.

Question arising: must you have unique discrete user names for each member? The logic of your request is that all Sean Ryans should be able to have the user name ‘Sean Ryan’. Yes, it’d be a recipe for a bit of chaos/ fun but that’s the logic of it.

Posted .

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Weejie, DrSilverSpear, the artiste formerly known as the hussar…

You are free to choose your username.
I would like you to choose your own name as your username.
I have a preference, but ultimately the choice lies with you.
That’s all there is to it.

Now I think this meta-discussion has run its course, so how about we get back to discussing the music? 🙂

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

My username is what l get called in the folk scene here, so there is no way I can hide. it is the same one I use in all the forums I frequent.

David

Re: AKA: I am a mystery

Am I the only one who refers to people’s details when reading a comment they’ve made? Especially if they’re someone I’ve not ‘met’ before. I am fully aware of the risks in drawing too many conclusions from what people say about themselves, and indeed my own preconceptions, but it can be useful to have at least a small handle on someone to set their comments in context. That need not be insidious in any way at all, at least it isn’t in my hands.

It can also avoid unintended offence. There are some on here who will recall the occasion when I made a general/throwaway comment that was taken personally by some one apparently beyond reproach. Had I been even a little more aware of his identity, I might have reworded the comment concerned.