Forem Creators and Builders 🌱


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Anonymity Posts

Would anonymity be something that the forem team would look at?

Say for eg, publishing a post Anonymously?

I'm trying to start a community engaging in certain sensitive issues, I do understand how this might be misused but the benefits will definitely be much more.

Of course, there will be 2 school of thoughts for this. Happy to hear and discuss this if you have any.

Top comments (8)

ioscasey profile image
Casey πŸ’Ž

I LOVE the idea, however, there are some caveats that the owner of the Forem would have to accept if they enabled this.

This should be toggle-able in the config of your Forem.

Would you want full anonymity? How could an admin react to someone abusing this? Spam purposes, could they spam over and over without repercussion?

noeltim profile image
Noeltim • Edited

Thanks @ioscasey Well some thoughts i have on this.

If i was a product owner, this would be my user story

As a user, i want to be able to post anonymously, so that i can be able to post questions that i am not comfortable with revealing who I am.

As a admin, i want to be able to verify the user that posted anonymously, so that I can be able to verify the user in case it is required by law.

Users should be able to toggle "Post Anonymously" or not, be it in posts and comments.

To prevent spam, all users should be verified through email that its a legitimate email.
Even though users post or comment anonymously, admins will be able to see the actual user.

If an anonymous person is spamming, we can find the user from within our database and block him/her temporarily for posts and comments, or to remove his ability to post anonymously

The privacy policy will include that all posts/comments posted anonmously will stay anonymous unless the law requires us to verify this user for any crime related events.

ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle)

I am pretty conflicted about this one.

  1. On the one hand, I do think that it's relatively easy to create an anonymous-ish account to post on a Forem anonymously, unless it's invite-only. And even then, you just request sign up through a burner email address.

  2. If I genuinely wanted anonymity, I wouldn't sign up for a platform that I had to give real information on, with the caveat that my content would remain anonymous unless requested by law (i.e. I would want protection from the law, too).

  3. It feels like this in-between scenario where people sign up for real, but have the option to toggle anonymous posting and commenting, is basically a short-cut to people having 2 accounts: one genuine and one alter ego. Except, unlike in spaces where people have fake accounts, no one knows who anyone's alter ego is.

If communities are about human connection, and human connection is about recognizing commonality of narrative, this option disrupts the narrative.

I'm not saying it's a good or bad idea. I'm just saying, I work in community, and community is essentially connection over shared stories. That's why we see communities become more robust and resilient over time, as people connect more deeply. Having the option for people to essentially opt-out of the story sharing when it's convenient for them and opt-in again when it's convenient, kinda bypasses the connection part.

Again, rather than giving an opinion, I'm just wondering if this is in Forem's scope. It feels to me that anonymity is the point where transparency and privacy diverge.

I do caution moving too hastily on a feature like this.

I think we would really need to dive deeper into what the feature would mean for the scope of the Forem project, and how we'd want to bundle it with other features that would allow for community building to still happen somewhere.

Thanks for raising this point, though, as I'm sure this request is inevitable and it's an interesting one.

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noeltim profile image

Thanks for being honest @ellativity . I do see where you are coming from and I do appreciate the time you took to pen down these thoughts.

I do agree with many points you raise especially how do we go about ensuring that we build a community for the community.

It's heartening to see that this does not mean the end of this feature but more opportunities to converse and see what fail safes we can put in place so that people do not abuse it.

Hope to keep the conversation going. :)

Thread Thread
ellativity profile image
Ella (she/her/elle)

Absolutely! These are the conversations that get my community juices flowing, so let's keep on having them!

Ultimately, I'm just one voice in an entire team and open source community, so my thoughts aren't gonna make or break this feature. Still, it's fun to discuss what the potential implications could be, apply some more general theories to see how they hold up, and test the limits of our product goals.

I'm here for all of it!

terabytetiger profile image

I believe the way DEV handles this is by having an email account anyone can email - that way users can submit posts to be published anonymously, but also the mod team can review requests before they go live.

noeltim profile image

i see, thanks @terabytetiger , i reckon it will be easier if the user decides if he/she wants to post it anonymously on their own.

varhal profile image

I think this is a good idea.