People are very, very used to pseudonymity on the Internet. Pseudonymy is the norm on bulletin boards and blog comments, and it’s pretty common with blogs too. This is not just cowardice or trollery; this is actually a cultural norm.
One I noticed in the blogs whose comment section I’d frequent—especially how people I developed a rapport with would eventually unmask to me, outside the forum. (Makes it much easier to visit them when I’m in the next province in Canada!)
People do not want their internet personas to be associated with the real name personas, whether they are being trolls or sincere discussants. Quora has gone against this norm by insisting on the Real Name policy, thinking it would lead to higher quality discussions, with people having the courage of their convictions.
I think that was naive of Quora. Especially when they went and allowed unrestricted Anonymity on Quora. People who did not want to be eponymous have just gone and become anonymous, whether anonymity was warranted or not; and the fact they’ve been denied a pseudonymous option is a big reason why.
The estimable Laura Hale has estimated how many questions are asked anonymously on Quora: We are Anonymous and we ask the questions on Quora: So how many questions are asked by anon users? by Laura Hale on quora numbers.
It’s in the neighbourhood of 38%.
Let me repeat.
That’s not people posting about rape or political dissidence or whistleblowing, or avoiding regional nationalists, or voicing unpopular opinions. That is a cultural predilection, that people have carried across from the rest of their Internet experience.
Why do you prefer the pseudonymous account, Anon, despite the fact that Quora hates it and plenty of Quorans would rather dance on your grave?
Because that’s your cultural norm on the internet. There’s no way you’re posting comments on blogs with your real name. And you’re very far from alone in that.
And you know, whatever the hell Quora Inc thinks, I’m happy you normally post as pseudonymous. Pseudonymous is a hell of a lot better than anonymous. Despite the fact that Quora Inc thinks otherwise.