6 thoughts on “Anonymity, trust and openness on the social intranet

  1. Pingback: IntranetLounge

  2. The question of anonymity often arises in discussions on KM in the context of whether it would encourage more people to admit they don’t know something and ask for help. I’m not convinced as I believe you need to trust the person you’re helping, but I’d be interested to know if anyone has experience of this internally?

    On another front, there will be some experimentation with anonymity for participants in a new LGBT forum. We’ll be keeping an eye on that to see how well it works.

    • Thanks Richard. On the whole, I think Dave’s orginal argument is right – openness does reinforce trust and honest communication. But it did set me thinking about whether it was *always* approprite, and whether there’s a place for anonymity in some contexts.

      Your example of the LGBT forum is a good example, and one which has been discussed in a number of my former workplaces. And there’s certainly something in what you say about the embarassment factor. Mumsnet is a good example of this. There – hidden behind usernames – no question is too silly or too personal.

  3. I agree with the concept. But in my organization we started with anonymity and moved away from it. There were a couple reasons. One was that there was a growing issue with irresponsible use – employees posting inappropriate and potentially problematic content.

    The other issue we encountered was that we had a relatively small number of employees posting a large number of comments. We’d have threads on the discussion board with dozens of comments from “anonymous” advocating a position. You might then think there were dozens of employees supporting that view. But behind the scenes we could tell that it was only one or two employees actually contributing. Your suggestion of avatars and aliases would avoid this, and we considered it. But in the end we thought moving to actual identities sent a message that we were prepared to have an open and honest discussion without retribution – and I think we’ve lived up to that so far. Acknowledging that it probably has stifled some discussion, the quality of content has generally improved.

    However, the one area where we do allow anonymity still is if an employee wants to seek advice about a sensitive personnel issue and identifying them would put them at risk.

  4. Pingback: Bookmarks for August 18th through September 8th | DavePress

  5. Thought provoking article thanks – especially as I am currently writing up project documentation for the planning stage of my employer’s Intranet, and writing a short article for primary school on privacy & social media for parents.

    I have been drawn into the argument around ‘anonymity vs transparency’ previously, espeically regarding the Blizzard debacle & have still not been convinced there is a requirement for us all to disclose everything about us to everybody, even our full names (some people are even advocating full disclosure for their children before they are old enough to type).

    I don’t want to be famous – I just want to do good stuff. I am not even fussed if it gets credited to my full name. Nommo has done some cool stuff. I remember it – as do a few others (I do have to admit to a bit of ego wrestling for some things though).

    The phrase ‘if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear’ is always implied, if not stated explicitly by advocates of ‘total online transparency’, often by ‘personal branding’ advocates or ‘social media gurus/rockstars’ – for some reason, they believe that we should all expose every aspect of our lives to anyone who wants to know (and everybody who doesn’t want to know).

    If the old anology of social media being like a dinner party, they are the ones stood on the table shouting so everyone can hear them 😉

    And besides – I don’t think that we get total transparency via social networks – we get a projection of how the individual wants to be seen. I don’t recall seeing many passport photos as profile pics for instance – and I think the same applies to what people chose to say.

    The profile is not the person (as in ‘the map is not the territory).

    Anonymity has its place, as does privacy. I don’t know either of those will last until my daughters are adults though, sadly.

    Oh, and if you want a grandparent friendly phrase to describe the Greater Internet Dickwad Theory – try ‘Social Identity model of Deindividuation Effects’ 🙂

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