We have given some thought to whether we ought to try to influence how you fill in your Profile. Some think that 'Open' means "anything goes", others that it involves a common commitment to transparency. We debated whether to remove the gender question from the Profile and decided that the option of ignoring the standard pair was enough for now.
We want to encourage the use of your real name. It is then much easier to control spamming and the entry of undesirables into our network (there have been some already). The OAC is open enough for people to read us without actually registering. Of course we would like you to fill out your Profile including a photo, but it would be great if you could register at least your full name and country.
What do you think?

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I have counted the members without full names. As of 1700 GMT Sat 6th, they are 27 out of 616, 1 in 25, not many, but a definite minority. We have no intention of hounding those of you want to preserve a measure of anonymity. But it would be nice to hear from you in this forum.
Speaking for myself, I prefer to know real names, basic information (stage of professional development, affiliation), and a reasonably representative photo (with some room for creativity). I feel that this transparency somewhat facilitates open collegial exchanges. Otherwise, the mystery, fine in other contexts, leads me to want to hold back. I prefer open and free exchanges.

Of course, some members might feel that they might be at risk in expressing their views fully. I don't, either because I am, ahem, senior, have tenure, and/or are imprudent. But some others might feel a concern about disclosing basic information. I know that some potential members are reluctant to provide personal information, even if it does not show.
I don't give a fig one way or the other; I'm happy to be open about my stuff but if others want to be Banksy about it that's fine with me. Spamming is a problem on a lot of forums but couldn't spammers just invent a fake profile anyway? Or would the time investment put them off?

Who are the "undesirables," anyway?
Who are the "undesirables," anyway?
This is the kind of no win situation we find ourselves in while trying to figure out how to run something like this in the common interest. On my personal website, it is usually people who post porn links and gobbledygook or set up adult dating agencies when they think I am not looking. We are fast approaching 1,000 members and I can't yet guess what that exposes us to. But we have seen several new members who look dodgy in ways I can't bring myself to make explicit here, except that it involves profiling. (Is that a Russian gangster behind the pretty teenager's photo?). The line has been to make polite inquiries about who they really are and, so far, this seems to have scared them off. I think your surmise that making it just a bit difficult is enough probably is right. I guess libertarians and perhaps anarchists would argue that our concerns are misplaced. But we want the OAC to be a nice place for serious people to hang out in and what happens in these first weeks could be decisive. We are vigilant, but also open to members' scrutiny, as here.
Spammers can invent a fake profile, which is why it's easier to tell them apart if everyone else puts valid information with a basic level of detail into their accounts. It's also nice to know who I'm communicating with. Also, as Keith mentioned, if you'd prefer not to participate, the site can be read without becoming a member at all, which makes it a non-problem. Participation is a choice, and I think it's a little disrespectful to hide oneself in a group devoted to openness. I don't need a life history, social security number, home address, two major credit cards ... just a name, location, maybe a photo (if not of yourself, then something you can identify with).

This group is public and crawled/indexed by Google. What you say here can be viewed by anyone who finds your name in this way. That might bother some people, but I am of the opinion that if you would prefer not to have a statement associated with your name, you should think about that carefully before making the statement. Being open about names and identities, then, might vicariously attach a sense of integrity and responsibility, which can't be so bad.

I'm actually pleased with the level of communication, respect for other members and cleanliness that this site has maintained from the beginning. That's no small achievement by Internet standards. For me, undesirables are people who wish to disturb that subtle harmony and to therefore destroy the experience for others.

I can see Fran's point. The one other talkboard I've been a regular part of is based on anonymity and has had terrible problems with some quite nasty and vindictive behaviour on the part of a few participants. And dealing with spamming will take up a lot of time and energy on the part of admin. As Keith says above though, it would be good to hear from those who would make the case for a less transparent profile.
Jumping to the other side of the debate, perhaps the case for anonymity is that established academics have residual respect and credibility from their real-world positions that gives off such luminescence that it makes amateur anthropologists or undergraduates too nervous to participate. We should all free ourselves of our worldly roles and status markers like age, gender, and class. :)

I'm just kidding, by the way.

Incidentally, I find that whenever I don't disclose my gender/provide a photo on the Internet (discussion groups, tech help forums, etc) it's automatically assumed that I'm male. Is that the internet's default position or something? Sometimes it gets a little unsettling.
I prefer to bask in the enlightened glow of the established, myself, and allow their stardust to fall gently upon my shoulders.

I get taken for male a lot too. Though here I've put up a flowery background and a cuddly cat picture so my gender categorisation is properly established, and no one will be caught off guard by any untenable mysteries.



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