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Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter

by PopeFelix (Sexton)
on Jan 02, 2014 at 18:12 UTC ( #1069001=monkdiscuss: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

Recent discussion in the CB has turned to the topic of Anonymous Monks, and the utility of anonymity on this site. Arguing against anonymity, Jim said, "... you can't distinguish one [Anonymous Monk] from another [Anonymous Monk] in any given thread. You can't have a reasoned argument with someone when that someone is an amorphous blob that can't be differentiated from other instances of the same amorphous blob."

As an answer to this, what about differentiating AM's in a given thread by calling them "Anonymous Monk 1", "Anonymous Monk 2", etc.? I.E., in a given thread, we'd assign a unique identifier to each distinct anonymous commenter. That would preserve the anonymity of the commenter, both within the PM website and to the outside world, while at the same time allowing commenters (both anonymous and otherwise) to distinguish between and cogently reply to different AM's in a thread.

I won't go into the details of implementation here; that's up to the maintainers.

Comment on Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by erix (Vicar) on Jan 02, 2014 at 18:28 UTC

    FWIW, to me it seems pointless.

      FWIW, to me it seems pointless.

      How many writeups do you have? Can you imagine that some monks have 10,000 writeups? And participated in discussion threads with 10 other anonymous monks, and actually got confused by who was saying what unintentionally (no sock-puppetry, no trolling, legitimate discussion)

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by LanX (Canon) on Jan 02, 2014 at 19:06 UTC
    > I won't go into the details of implementation here; that's up to the maintainers.

    LOL... like Fermat's theorem too simple to be explained? ;-)

    Look nobody will even consider implementing it w/o a good concept.

    • Cookies?

    • IP adress?

    • JS-magic?

    • Session-IDs?

    • Browser footprint?

    • combination of all?

    Keep in mind that some threads continue over weeks.

    And which identifier do we use? Are digits really sufficient?

    And now at the latest I get the impression that using stile analysis to distinguish (the rare occasions of multiple) AnoMonks in one thread is more effective then trying to figure out how and why AM1 and AM2 got their IDs.

    Nice idea, but far from trivial to implement.

    Cheers Rolf

    ( addicted to the Perl Programming Language)

      Something I did waaaaaaay back in the day, with some help from this very monastery, to support "anonymous" chat in a site was to do colors based on IP (such that the IP was not displayed, nor reversible, but used to make a hashed color for display of the user's chat session). It's only a good transitory/ephemeral solution though for something like chat and not so hot for the reasons you elaborated: temporal, IP/browser changes, etc.

      For your list, JS magic will be disallowed, I expect. And you can't rely on JS for client-side enforcement anyway (with hackers at least).

      For the rest: it could work quite well a lot of the time but at least some of the time it will lend a false sense of division to a single user no matter how it's done. With an IP anonymizer and two or three or four... browsers it would be pretty easy to appear to be a gang when it's really just one. And the more specific/careful the technique for keeping the AMs separate, the more likely a single anonymous monk will accidentally appear to be two or more. :|

        For the rest: it could work quite well a lot of the time but at least some of the time it will lend a false sense of division to a single user no matter how it's done. With an IP anonymizer and two or three or four... browsers it would be pretty easy to appear to be a gang when it's really just one. And the more specific/careful the technique for keeping the AMs separate, the more likely a single anonymous monk will <accidentally appear to be two or more. :|

        Yes, this may well create a "false sense of division". As I said in another comment, I'm not worried about that - this isn't intended to cover all possible cases. This is intended to cover a significant majority of cases.

      Cookies would seem to be an easy way to implement this, particularly given that this is in no wise intended to grant every AM a unique identity for all time. They can create an account for that. If a thread goes on for weeks, and for some reason AM-27 becomes AM-34, it's not a big deal. Similarly, if someone logs in from one browser to comment on a thread, and then logs in from a different browser to comment on that same thread, it's not a big deal for them to be both AM-27 and AM-24. Again, that's what accounts are for.

      As for whether to use digits or some other identifier, I have no particular opinion. Digits would seem to be sufficient, but I'm willing to believe otherwise.

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by ruzam (Curate) on Jan 02, 2014 at 22:34 UTC

    Anonymous by definition means the poster isn't identified.

    If you accept anonymous posting then you also have to accept the downsides that go with it. Otherwise, it's no longer anonymous and you might as well just insist that every post come from a registered user and be done with it.

      Which, considering the amount of SPAM we are getting from Anonymous Monk lately, might not be a bad idea. If you care enough to participate, then register a handle and go for it.

      I realize that registration might be an inpediment to the "I just have this one simple question" type of User, but that too may not be a bad thing. Besides, often the first AM question generates more question/response pairs (i.e. a thread), so the cost of setting up an account get amortized fairly quickly.

      ----
      I Go Back to Sleep, Now.

      OGB

        Requiring a login before posting will have very near zero impact on spam at PerlMonks. Sometimes spam is posted anonymously, sometimes not. Our spam tools have been made (by necessity) to deal with both anonymous users and new users.

        It gets rather tiring to over and over again read people proposing the obvious solution to the spam problem based on having paid little attention and doing very little thought, as far as I can tell.

        Just because 4 of the last 5 spam posts you noticed all had feature $X in common, you cannot conclude that banning $X will cut spam by 80%. It will prevent a couple of spam postings and require a minor adjustment from the spammer, which is likely to happen quickly and thus lead to absolutely no reduction in spam. Frequently, it even increases the amount of spam because the spammer has to pay a little attention and try some changes.

        And I think it takes only a little contemplation and having paid a little attention to realize this. In the case of logging in, the adjustment is less trivial... except it has already been made. The transition from anonymous posting to logged-in posting rarely takes a spammer much time these days.

        - tye        

        If you care enough to participate, then register a handle and go for it.
        FWIW, I've been posting anonymously lately because I've been using random public wireless networks. I don't like to log in, because of Firesheep attacks.
Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 03, 2014 at 01:12 UTC
Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by Anonymous Monk on Jan 03, 2014 at 01:28 UTC
    Just decide, one way or the other, once and for all, whether or not you want Anonymous Monk to be able to post on this forum. If so, then let him/her remain Anoymous. Otherwise, do what 99.99% of all other forums on the Internet have already done, and require someone to have an identifiable account in order to post. It's your collective choice, but please don't make life hard(er) on yourself, or on PerlMonksWebsite.pm, simply because you can't decide. C'mon... decide. Really, it's not that hard.
Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by educated_foo (Vicar) on Jan 03, 2014 at 03:15 UTC
    "Anonymous" means anonymous, just like "ignored" means ignored. Being here awhile, you get to know some of the regular Anonymous Monks, like that tool-bag who likes to post big "helpful" link dumps. I mostly just ignore them, like P3N15 enlargement spam and such, but they have every right to post anonymously. An opt-in checkbox to hide all anonymonk comments would be nice, though.
Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by taint (Chaplain) on Jan 03, 2014 at 07:27 UTC
    Tying a session to an IP would be about the only reasonable solution, and even then, only for the CB. In the end, it's really a matter of discretion; eat a little TROLL BAIT, and it'll be off your menu for a good long time, if not for good. Sentence structure, and style can help discriminate one, from another, as well as discerning intent. But IMHO, that's about it. In the end, I think the tools PM already provides -- especially "peer review", do as good a job as anyone can hope for, and IMHO, a damn good job, at that.

    My 2¢

    --Chris

    ˇλɐp ʇɑəɹ⅁ ɐ əʌɐɥ puɐ ʻꜱdləɥ ꜱᴉɥʇ ədoH

      Tying a session to an IP would be about the only reasonable solution,

      um, tying a session to a browser would be reasonable enough ... an ip can be well shared

      and even then, only for the CB

      anonymous monk doesn't have access to CB

      ...

      um, think of it as an automatic signature ... something to help you besides writing style ... oh, i'm responding to that shadowy figure in balcony seat 11E

        Thank you for making my point.
        In the end, I think the tools PM already provides -- especially "peer review", do as good a job as anyone can hope for, and IMHO, a damn good job, at that.
        Have a nice day. :)

        --Chris

        ˇλɐp ʇɑəɹ⅁ ɐ əʌɐɥ puɐ ʻꜱdləɥ ꜱᴉɥʇ ədoH

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by marto (Chancellor) on Jan 03, 2014 at 13:35 UTC

    This was the only point raised during the discussion of anonymous monk yesterday which made any logical sense to me. I understand how people can be confused by multiple posters, as Anonymous Monk within the same thread.

    Imageboard/Textboards seem to attribute a unique identifier to anonymous postings, purely to differentiate the many voices in a conversation. This is done automatically on the server side, and does not require the poster to do anything special. I am not talking about Tripcodes, which have no place here, we have registered users :)

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by hdb (Prior) on Jan 03, 2014 at 13:51 UTC

    And while you're at it, can you add functionality to prevent LanX to reply to BrowserUk's posts and vice versa, including anonymized posts of the two of them?

      upvoted! =)

      Cheers Rolf

      ( addicted to the Perl Programming Language)

      Easily implemented: there I've done my half of the job.


      With the rise and rise of 'Social' network sites: 'Computers are making people easier to use everyday'
      Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
      "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
      In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.

      For those who may be intestested: hide posts from users Re: Blocking users, ignore in the CB /ignore UserNameHere.

      Update: Oh, thanks to LanX for providing me with the link to Re: Blocking users (I forgot where it was) and for prompting me to credit them for this :P

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Jan 03, 2014 at 16:16 UTC

    PerlMonks is the only forum that I am aware of which allows “anonymous” posting.   On every other system I have ever used, you must be logged-in to write a comment, and if you are not still logged in when you post a comment or a change, you are required to log-in before you may “proceed” (the forum software has helpfully remembered your post-data for you ...).

    (The present-day PerlMonks software will, in this situation, silently “forget you,” and will enter your post anonymously.   Which also has the very bad side-effect that the post is no longer “yours,” and can neither be edited nor removed ... a serious problem if your intention was to periodically save your work for an as-yet unfinished “diatribe in-progress” ...)

    Because of coffee-shops, pubs and so forth, most forums do not appear to filter or to display the IP-address.   (In fact, that could raise some serious privacy-concerns, the way that international laws on the subject appear now to be shaping up ...)   But all of them do record it, and can employ it for garbage-filtering.

    I see little point in attempting to construct “behavioral filters,” nor in constructing anything designed to point-out, let alone penalize, what someone or other perceives to be “bad-ness.”   Very few people – who are sober, anyway (and sometimes late at night they are not ...) – deliberately get their jollies by posting in a vicious way under cover of Anonymous Monk.   (And let me immediately set the record straight that I am making no “sideways comment” about/at anyone in that preceding sentence.   It’s just the way the words came out.)   The odds are much greater that one of two things happened:

    1. They just didn’t bother to log-in, because the site right now doesn’t make them do it.
    2. The site logged them out, reverting their comment to become anonymous.

    Anonymous Monk is one of the many “cute quirky things” about this site, and it’s one that we either put-up with, or have grown fond of (along with the Grim Reaper ...), just because the site has always historically worked this way.   But it doesn’t have to work this way.   If the owners don’t want Anonymous Monk to continue to exist (and be able to do things ...) the source-code can be changed.

    As for “behavior,” well, programmers as a lot are strong-willed and opinionated.   The very best ones are, anyway.   This sort of thing is just part-and-parcel of human behavior on online forums, especially technical ones.   “Thick skin, Forgiveness,” and “pressing the Back button instead of pressing Reply,” are usually better solutions than anything that software could come up with.   (Heh... Giving the overused “down-vote” key a bit of a rest would be nice, too ...)  The information-content of this forum is what matters the most, and psychology just comes along for the ride.   So be it.

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by taint (Chaplain) on Jan 03, 2014 at 19:51 UTC

    Having read this thread, and having had some more time to ponder the subject a bit more. I'm kind of keen on the fact that PM permits anonymous posting. Some of the comments can break up what might otherwise be considered pretty mondane, or monotinous. In short; it can lead to an (interesting?) surprise. Sure, the priviledge can be abused. But what's the ratio? Is it really large enough to merit further changes to the system? I tend to liken the whole thing to the way most Mainling Lists handle TROLLS; they are simply ignored. At least with those who are seasoned members.

    In summary; While I recognize that some AM's are TROLLS, and that can be annoying. I (personally) don't see enough merit to honour them with the time, and effort needed to further squelch their output.

    On the upside; look at the length of this thread -- thanks PopeFelix :)

    --Chris

    ˇλɐp ʇɑəɹ⅁ ɐ əʌɐɥ puɐ ʻꜱdləɥ ꜱᴉɥʇ ədoH

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by atcroft (Monsignor) on Jan 03, 2014 at 21:35 UTC

    It has already been addressed by other comments in the thread that there are technical and possibly other concerns with various methods of attempting to identify multiple posts in the thread as having the same author.

    If that is set aside for the moment, then (continuing with the idea) the next option would seem to be to keep track of the number of posts by the anonymous monk and denoting them much as described in the OP, so that if post N in the thread is the first by an anonymous monk it is labeled as by AM-1, post N+1 labeled as by AM-2, and so forth. Unless they reveal themselves as being the author of a previous post in the thread, however, you cannot be assured that the posts by AM-1 and AM-2 are actually separate instances of the same anonymous monk.

    Alternately, one could just refer to the posts themselves (as they can do currently). You still don't know for sure if posts by multiple anonymous monks are by the same author, but you know for sure which post to which you are referring. And isn't that the important thing, the comment of the post-not the author? (Important enough it was a monk's signature line, although I cannot recall whose at this moment.) In theory, we up/down-vote directly on posts based on their content, not the author who wrote them. Also in theory, those monks with greater experience have contributed more to the monastery, and those with higher experience to writeup ratios have contributions that may be held in slightly-higher esteem among their peers here.

    Just a thought. (It was free, and no electrons were harmed in the construction of this post.)

      ... Alternately, one could just refer to the posts themselves ... And isn't that the important thing, the comment of the post-not the author? ...

      Yes it is the important thing :)

      But the complain seems to be that its harder to examine what is said when you're dealing with an amorphous blob that can't be differentiated from other instances of the same amorphous blob.

      So the remedy, of having something like said the Anonymous Monk in auditorium seat East42 with all the accuracy of ip+browser (or currently+branded+browser+session, or ip+browser+thread and without revealing either ip or browser), seems to make it easier to differentiate the blob within a thread, so folks can keep track of which Anonymous in the auditorium they're discussing with

      I like that, auditorium seat, in the form of a cookie (like login cookie except no identifying information, just a seat number based on some crypto operation )

        A humble monk visit the PerlMonks and pushes open

                bbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdd
                b     The Monastery Gates      d
                bdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbdbd
                b             \  /             d
                bb            d||b            dd
                bdb          d || b          dbd
                bbdb        d  ||  b        dbdd
                b  db      d   ||   b      db  d
                b dbdb    d    ||    b    dbdb d
            o_, bdb  db  d     ||     b  db  dbd
            )-' bbdbdbdbdbdbdbd  bdbdbdbdbdbdbdd
           / >  
        
        

        To enter the campus and be greeted with many infinite halls of

            .-'""'-.         .-'""'-.        .-'""'
          .'  SOPW  '.     .'        '.    .'  ....
         /            \   \            /  /     ....
        ;              ; ; monkdiscuss  ; ;      ....
        ;              ; ;              ; ;      ....
         \            /   /            \  \     ....
          '.        .'     '.        .'    '.  ....
            '-....-'         '-....-'        '-....
        
          o
         (x)
         ( )
        

        And enters

            .-'""'-.
          .'  SOPW  '.
         /            \
        ;              ;
        ;     o        ;
         \   (x)      /
          '. ( )    .'
            '-....-'
        

        To find many doors (topics) in the

         hall of sopw threads ( auditoriums )
              .-.  .-.  .-.  .-.  .-.
          o  ( 1 )( 2 )(...)(142)(...
         (x)  '-'  '-'  '-'  '-'  '-'
         ( )
        

        And enters a discussion

            .-'""'-.
          .'        '.
         /   10x9001  \
        ;              ;
        ;     o        ;
         \   (x)      /
          '. ( )    .'
            '-....-'
        

        To find an auditorium with a stage and stadium seating

                       ,,ggddY""""Ybbgg,,
                  ,agd""' PostingBoard `""bg,
               ,gdP"                       "Ybg,
             ,dP"   Thread 10x9001 by {OP}    "Yb,
           ,dP"    Re: by {Jim}                 "Yb,
          ,8"      Re: by {AM E42}                "8,
         ,8'         Re^2: by {OP}                 `8,
        ,8'            Re^3: by {AM W84}            `8,
        d'             Re^3: by {Jim}                `b
        8                Re^4: by {AM E42}            8
        8              Re^3: by {AM E42}              8
        8                Re^4: by {OP}                8
        8                                             8
        8       On stage are {OP} and {Jim}           8
        8 ------------------------------------------- 8
        8   In shadows of auditorium seating are      8
        Y,                                           ,P
        `8,     {AM E42}                            ,8'
         `8,                                       ,8'
          `8a                           {AM W84}  a8'
           `Yba               O                 adP'
             "Yba            (x)              adY"
               `"Yba,        ( )           ,adP"'
                  `"Y8ba,             ,ad8P"'
                       ``""YYbaaadPP""''
        

        And reads and joins in

        art credits
        http://stickgrappler.tripod.com/cma/tccascii.html
        http://www.retrojunkie.com/asciiart/asciiart.htm

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by Jim (Curate) on Jan 05, 2014 at 05:02 UTC

    The Anonymous Monk user is deeply ingrained in PerlMonks culture and unlikely ever to be gotten rid of. This monastery is run by the hegemony of monks for whom privacy and anonymity are very important, and who like and want the Anonymous Monk user. There's nothing wrong with this. It's not surprising at all that the values of Perl hackers are aligned with those of computer hacker culture in general. I have no inclination to want to change the minds of the majority of monks for whom the Anonymous Monk user is an important feature of PerlMonks, nor do I want to debate the issue. The debate would be boring and pointless, and I'd lose it.

    There are only two problems with the Anonymous Monk user that, to me, are a little annoying. The first is the obvious one that I made in the Chatterbox the other day and that PopeFelix quotes in his opening post:  "… you can't distinguish one Anonymous Monk from another Anonymous Monk in any given thread. You can't have a reasoned argument with someone when that someone is an amorphous blob that can't be differentiated from other instances of the same amorphous blob." I think other monks share my annoyance with this aspect of the Anonymous Monk user. I don't lose sleep over it. I'm not going to march on the capitol to protest it. It's just a small gripe I have with the PerlMonks forums, that's all.

    The other minor problem with the Anonymous Monk user is its name. To me, the word "anonymous" is loaded and ambiguous. All users on PerlMonks are as anonymous as they choose to be, and most of them choose to be totally anonymous. I have no idea who you are, atcroft, educated_foo, erix, hdb, LanX, marto, PopeFelix, ruzam, sundialsvc4 and taint. Oh, I may know your first name because you sign your posts with it. I may even know what city you live in because you've included this information about yourself in your profile. But you're still anonymous to me. And I'm anonymous, too. All you can surmise about my real identity from what's on PerlMonks is that I'm a Perl programmer in Tempe, Arizona named Jim. I'm still anonymous because you don't know which Perl programmer in Tempe, Arizona named Jim I am.

    I realize that, to many other monks here, the word "anonymous" applies not just to one's real-world, legal, what's-on-one's-passport identity, but also to one's virtual PerlMonks identity. I understand the argument that, to many monks, anonymity means absolutely no identity whatsoever, either real or fake. I get it, I do. But I nonetheless believe that the name of the amorphous, non-specific, unidentified user on PerlMonks sucks because it has the loaded word "anonymous" in it. Again, I won't debate the topic with you. Yawn! If you disagree with me, then I agree in advance to disagree with you, too.

    So, at last, here are my recommended changes to the implementation of the Anonymous Monk user on PerlMonks:

    • Change its name to something else. Guest and Visitor are both short and sweet, but they're admittedly not very inspired or even accurate. Wanderer is short enough, and it fits the whimsical conceit of a monastery. (For the purpose of this recommendation, I'll use Wanderer as the new name, but with the understanding that someone with more creative juices than I've got will inevitably think of a much better name.)
    • To post When posting to a thread in a forum, Wanderer must may enter a charm—a secret, magic word that he makes up himself. A charm is similar to a password, but it's localized to the current thread. There's no restriction on the minimum length of the charm or on what characters are in it. It's entirely up to Wanderer to decide what to use.
    • Wanderer's post is then attributed to the individual possessor of the charm; for example, Wanderer 01, Wanderer 02, etc. For fun, instead of using numbers, we could use fictional, medieval names drawn from a large database of infrequently-repeated names; for example, Wanderer Brom, Wanderer Fendrel, Wanderer Tristan, Wanderer Isolde, etc.
    • When Wanderer posts a subsequent node to the same thread, he uses the same charm as before so the same attribution is repeated; for example, Wanderer Brom again.
    • Wanderer's participation in the attribution scheme is voluntary and opt-in. His only burden is that he must type something for a charm each time he posts as an unregistered user, even if it's just a single character. If he chooses to continue to be identified as Wanderer Brom throughout the discussion thread, he can. It's entirely up to him. He holds the key:  the secret charm. If Wanderer chooses to be utterly amorphous, even within the current thread, he can simply not enter a charm. In this case, the attribution will be just Wanderer alone.
    • If the user wants his own, self-determined name, he knows where to get one.

    I'll gladly discuss my recommendation with you, which is an idea I just made up as I went along tonight. If you want to bludgeon me over the head for the stupidity of my premises for making it, go ahead, but I won't engage with you or defend my recommendation. Take it or leave it. It's just a simple suggestion about a feature of PerlMonks that isn't really that important to me.

    Jim

    UPDATE:  I just checked the availability of the name Wanderer. Alas, there's an existing PerlMonks user named wanderer. He or she created an account in April 2006, posted an inquiry, got his or her answer, and has never returned to PerlMonks since then (at least not using the wanderer account). So then I checked the availability of the name Monk. There's a user with the name monk, too. Her or she created an account in July 2000, participated in a handful of threads in that same month, and has never posted anything since then. He or she last logged on in 2009. Happily, the name Brother is available:  there is no user named Brother on PerlMonks. Brother fits the monastic theme perfectly and nicely implies a generic, non-designated member of the monastery. It's fraternal and friendly-sounding, which encourages general civility and being nice to each other.

    For those who insist on maintaining the exact same level of absolute "anonymity" (i.e., amorphousness) that is currently afforded by the Anonymous Monk user, the simple name Brother could be used by any unregistered poster who chooses not to opt into the attribution scheme. The use of just Brother versus Brother Foo could be chosen by simply not entering a charm (a secret word). I realize this represents a change to the plan I proposed above. As I said, I'm making this scheme up as I go along. ☺ (I made edits above.)

    ANOTHER UPDATE:  The name Brother isn't gender-neutral. ☹ And the name Sister is taken by yet another only-used-once account, sister. So I give up trying to pick the perfect new name. But my recommendations stand:  rename Anonymous Monk to something else and enable the opt-in capability for unregistered users to differentiate the attribution of their own posts from the posts of other unregistered users within an individual discussion thread.

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by Preceptor (Chaplain) on Jan 05, 2014 at 15:01 UTC

    I think it'd be nice to have a semi-unique identifier, as it'd greatly improve the readability of a thread. It's quite confusing when there are several different 'anonymous' posters. It shouldn't be anything more complicated than e.g. a hash of identifiers (browser string, incoming IP, etc.).

    That way you maintain anonimity/unregistered posting, but allow a conversation between several different anonymous people.

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by yitzchak (Sexton) on Jan 06, 2014 at 01:11 UTC
    None of the suggestions for taking away site functionality make sense to me, but there is one piece we are missing. When commenting/posting, a logged in user should be presented with a checkbox to post anonymously.

      None of the suggestions for taking away site functionality make sense to me,

      What suggestions are those ?

Re: Assigning unique identifiers within a discussion thread to each distinct anonymous commenter
by sundialsvc4 (Abbot) on Jan 09, 2014 at 17:03 UTC

    Well, of course, you can have it both ways.   Some forums allow you to “post anonymously.” That is to say, you are still required to log-in, but you do not have to reveal your identity in a particular post.

    A big concern for me would simply be ... spam!   Perhaps we folks on “the west of The Pond” have it luckier than our compadres in England, because I do recall BrowserUK in particular saying that many hours are spent each day eliminating the pure-junk robo postings.   That’s a waste of time for everyone.   (But we hugely appreciate your ongoing efforts!)   Requiring an actual identifiable login ... identifiable, at least, to the gods ... would perhaps help to reduce that problem.   Now, you can have the “anonymity” that you perhaps crave, but you are still accountable ... and you retain the ability to edit your posts, which right now can be lost purely by accident if the session-system takes a powder.

    “Post Anonymously” would simply become an attribute of the message.   If it is checkmarked, the posting appears to come from Anonymous Monk, and maybe it doesn’t count for or against your XP.   (Sure, people who care about XP will play with that feature to their own score-advantage, but ... (shrug) ... who cares, really.)   Whether or not it gets counted against the phantom AM user is also who-cares.   I am more interested in not “losing” control of postings due to a pure-technical glitch, and in reducing the opportunities for spam-bots however slightly.

      Also, as you have been made aware several times, mark your posts appropriately when you update them.

        My concerns for “the PerlMonks popularity contest” disappeared years ago, along with any expectation of courtesy.

        Sure, there are hundreds ... thousands ... of forums on the net, and every single one of them has spam.   Necessarily in every single case except AFAIK this one, that means that there are “spam registered-accounts.”   Only PM gives you a completely open input-box attached to every posting, and immediately displays absolutely anything that anyone anywhere types into it.   I have never thought this to be a good idea.

        However, that is clearly not the central issue that prompted this thread ... nor any of the similar threads including the one I responded-to some time ago.

        Some people around here apparently want “Anonymous Monk” postings to be “accountable” in some way ... presumably(?) so that people who are (presumed to be) “hiding behind Anonymous Monk when they want to vent their spleen” will nevertheless get the negative-XP that they (presumably) “deserve.”   I dunno.   Don’t know, don’t really care.   Tempers flare late at night; liquor flows, sometimes.   People are people.

        My suggestion was, I thought, innocent enough:   to flip the process on its head.   Instead of trying to track anonymous posters, require people to have an account, and let them choose (or un-choose) to be Anonymous [Monk...] if they want to, for any particular post.   (If they want to conceal the fact that they are logged-in, why not.)   Don’t let a posting be made if the user isn’t logged-in or if the session has dropped for any reason (as it often inexplicably does).   Don’t let a posting, once made, “belong to Nobody” and to be therefore forever out-of-reach.   Again, this is a thing that many pieces of forum software do offer.

        I’m not trying to change human behaviors here, either.   People on this forum are often brilliant programmers, and they are also often exceptionally rude.   I’ll take the flies to get the ointment, because that’s what I need this site for.   But as for the technical behavior of the site, when a session goes-south and a post therefore vanishes into the gloom unfinished but beyond-reach, that is a computer behavior bug that I would like to see changed.

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