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It's better to remain anonymous

From Meta, a Wikimedia project coordination wiki
(English) This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

It's in everyone's best interests if you don't edit under your real name, and avoid releasing information by which you could be outed. A person who knows who you are can, in many cases, look elsewhere on the Internet and find out what biases and conflicts of interest you have. Of course, almost everyone who is informed about a subject has such biases; for example, if you are interested in politics, you probably have an opinion one way or the other. If it becomes known that you were a volunteer for a certain political campaign, or that you work for a certain think tank, suddenly you are disqualified from writing about the area of your expertise. For the sake of preserving your ability to continue making productive contributions in that area, it's better if you don't reveal that information about yourself.

People's life experiences can bias them too. If it's known that you are, for instance, a victim of robbery or, on the other hand, a person who has committed a robbery, then suddenly what you have to say on the subject can be perceived as biased; your edits will be perceived as the result of your having an ax to grind. If you work (or used to work) for a particular firm, you probably feel a certain way about that company, but you can still write a fairly neutral article; however, people may still view it as inappropriate for you to write it.

Of course, Wikipedia does not truly have a neutral point of view. It can't, because it is a summary of knowledge rather than an aggregation of all available knowledge, and therefore choices have to be made as to what to give how much weight. Wikipedia has, for the most part, a slightly-left-of-center point of view, influenced by its user base which consists of people from all over the political spectrum, but especially students.

Some areas of Wikipedia are rather blatantly biased, but because it is a bias in favor of the mainstream opinion, it is deemed not to be a bias at all. Some parts of Wikipedia are only edited by one or a few users, and have come to be dominated by a certain point of view that is not mainstream, because no one else cared enough to try to fix it. Had such a person been present, his objective would have been greatly facilitated if the users had made known their affiliations and biases from the real world; in that case, he could just have launched ad hominem attacks on them, rather than attacking their arguments, and probably prevailed. Arguably, User:William M. Connolley might have had a better outcome with the ArbCom if his real world ties to the anti-climate change movement had not been known.

Even if you don't openly reveal your identity, depending on what controversial activity you've engaged in, making it possible for people to put the pieces together and figure out who you are gives members of the community a greater opportunity to dig up stuff from your past that they can email to ArbCom as reasons to ban you. This is especially true in the case of users who are members of the child sexual freedom movement, or have been convicted of offenses against certain commonly-accepted sexual mores, as was noted at Wikipedians in Exile#Stop banning users for incidents that occurred off-wiki.