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Requiring real names to post here?

Last post 08-19-2007, 9:20 AM by fairyfaye. 26 replies.
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  •  07-21-2007, 10:47 AM 26157

    Requiring real names to post here?

    Hi everyone,

    you probably have seen I-I CEO Robb Smith asking forum participants if they thought it would be a good idea to require everybody to use their "real" names  instead of online handles. He posted the question in a forum where only sponsorship (highest paying) members can reply directly to the thread. I would like to open the discussion to all current subscribers and will start by repeating a comment made by Julie Smith here

    Julie: I'm really quite uncomfortable with the idea of conducting this kind of conversation in a context where only part of the community is included, especially when the criteria for inclusion is financial.


    A follow-up question that immediately arises is, how would those real names be verified by Integral Institute? Do driver's licenses, passports, social security numbers have to be submitted in person for authentication? Or will copies sent per fax suffice?

    M
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  •  07-21-2007, 12:01 PM 26161 in reply to 26157

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    It's definitely not a good idea to require real names. It's especially not sensitive to the concerns of women on the Internet, but it's a concern to everyone to some degree. If people are using a false name as a veil and not living up to the Road Rules, that should become transparent enough. That's also why we need moderators, by the way (I don't know if that issue has been resolved or not). Also, I wonder if sharing personal information is really so important. Freedom has no history, right?

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  •  07-21-2007, 10:29 PM 26185 in reply to 26161

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    I haven't had a chance to think this issue through carefully, but in these days when people are constantly "Googled," there are some very compelling reasons not to require the use of actual names.  Even if the forum isn't indexed by Google, who can be sure that it won't ever be indexed by some search engine in the future?
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  •  07-22-2007, 4:45 AM 26195 in reply to 26185

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    This shows up as hit nr 5 when googling "pelle integral".

    It's a nice coincidence that it's the Real Name Usage thread that shows up...


    http://aura1.zaadz.com/photos/23/228082/large/Picture_1.png?


    edit: Link to picture isn't working anymore, but try googling yourself....


    http://pelle.zaadz.com/
    http://malmointegral.blogspot.com/
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  •  07-22-2007, 8:52 AM 26200 in reply to 26157

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    Thanks, Mascha, for the link, and thanks Pelle for the link back. I appreciate that Julie suggested more inclusion at the beginning - and I think it was Julie who thanked Robb for bringing it up for discussion rather than simply implementing it.

    I hope Robb is not too preset on the idea and that that preset does not carries the day. In my opinion, it does speak well for his truely dialogic, dialectic orientation if he be willing to stand in the whirl of this issue's multiplex nature without feeling a need to assert the authority card and his initial conclusion on the issue, simply in order to move on with 'corporate efficiency'. In the long run the style of communication and the comfortable warmth of caring for the many 'voices' may be more important than the decision. In this case it seems clearly the case, since the issue itself has valid and significant points on each side.

    Yes, moving towards increasing authenticity seems important. And it's not clear that using a given family name will accomplish that or even facilitate that in a psychological world of multiple and facile psycho-social defense structures and multiple presentations that we express. Well - much was said better on that thread. It does seem to be a pretty balanced discussion over there.

    Since, understandably as Ambo Suno, not an actual Indo-African name, I have a bias, I lean toward being able to retain some protective buffer. The protection is practical and I think valid, in addition to the possible, more questionable desire for a psychological buffer. This is aside from my valuing the playful, creative, exploratory, stretching aspects of having a handle that was not given by mom and dad and chiseled into stone by the legal system and some social conventions.

    Probably because of my bias, I especially resonated with points made by JulieSmith, edison, donwingate, timelody, pelleB. Ambo Suno

    Ambo Suno
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  •  07-22-2007, 5:51 PM 26218 in reply to 26157

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    I didn't realize that my original post was only visible by certain parts of the community.  Something I'll have to be aware of next time.  I'm going to post my original inquiry here, then a quick follow-up.  Finally, I'm going to post a reply to this specific thread in a new post.

    My original post from my blog:

    "At Integral Life we are considering the move to using real names in the community, for reasons that Seth Godin blogs about here.  The basic notion is simple: if you want to make even an online community start to feel like a real community, require that community members act like real people.  All of a sudden, members have real names, real stories, real lives; civil discourse, taking pride in good behavior, and other things we try to achieve offline don't become flimsy throwaways online.  And more to the point, if an integral community is really going to try to emerge as a real, active, loving worldspace of real people, let's act like it."

    And then a further discussion of rationale in a follow-up post:

    "On to the meat of the matter:  the reason I think this question is absolutely critical to this community is that it is, in my mind, a total proxy for the authenticity sought in this community.  It is vital to understand that Integral Life is being formed to be a real, vibrant, meaningful community of integral people worldwide.  And participation in this community very much comes with a social contract.  Through my position I will help moderate the formation of that social contract, but ultimately it is the participants of the community that define the contract and through adherence give it legitimacy.  So if on average the community wants a social contract that states "you can be a member of the community as long as you engage in communion, connection and communication in a manner befitting a real human to human interaction," than there will be mechanisms to achieve that (e.g., the present case under consideration).  And obviously the participants can choose to contract for a different context of engagement (I suppose fantasy chat rooms have the exact opposite contract: "Please never use your real names, please never ruin the fantasy!").  But it is critical that we do so, with clear-eyes, head and heart - the Integral Life community, both online and off, will be a reflection of the standards brought to bear thereunder!

    So the point is that we have to take real and liberated responsibility for the meaning that gets made here, and this community is not just confined to an online engagement.  So for me, personally, I have no problem being transparent in my interactions and my identity - if it forces me to remember that this is a community of human beings, and not just digital screen names, so much the better! - and I will accept the downside that those who are not yet ready to engage in community on these contractual terms can just bear silent witness or go somewhere else for anonymity.  If this were a community of neighbors it wouldn't be very meaningful if I didn't know anyone's name, and so I accept that with the naming of a sentient being I also bear a huge responsibility to her for the exercise of care and compassion.  That's a contract I can live with, and it is a community the virtues of which become worthy of my dedication and time.  But I also accept that authentic relationship comes with risk and a "burden" of love and perspective-taking.  But that's why I'm here, I'm ready to care for you and serve you (and myself through you).  The past 7 months of my tenure has made one of my answers to the meaning of an integral life increasingly clear for me: I want to be in authentic communion with an integral community, because I've found a home in integral.  "Come home to an integral life" is something that I just grok, now."

    Robb
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  •  07-22-2007, 6:44 PM 26222 in reply to 26218

    • edison is not online. Last active: 12-11-2007, 6:58 AM edison
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    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    To my children I am Dad 
    To my wife, Brian
    To many friends, BT
    To many at work, Dr. Turner
    To the team, Coach
    To my men's group, Swimming Dolphin
    To my sangha, TBD (I'm in the process of preparing for Jukai and recieving a Dharma name)
    To my creditors, Brian Turner
    To random drivers, that asshole who just cut me offStick out tongue [:P]
    To this community, edison

    Which one of these is my is my "real name"?   Which one(s) limit(s) my authenticity and communion?  Which one does not imply a social contract?  In "meat-space" the name I give is context dependent, not to confuse or maximize my options to misbehave, but in keeping with conventions of that particular circle.  I also note that my real world interactions are not transcribed and posted for anyone with an internet connection to read.  I also observe that I do not give my name to thousands of strangers in one fell swoop unless it is in a very limited, specific role (i.e. public speaking)  Therefore, I am leery of forcing real world conventions onto this medium.   Furthermore, I think Robb's blog and associated links are confusing coorelation with causation.  Anonymity does not cause bad behavior, inmaturity does.  Now, anonymity may provide a low barrier for immature users to abuse the system, but that does not make it causative.
        However, I do recognize the impulse to treat this space as sacred.  I would propose that an alternate approach would be to require each prospective user to submit their choice of name and a few paragraphs about why that name represents their Highest Self and their intention in this space.  It may be more cumbersome to administrate, but I think it accomplishes the intent of Robb's proposed real name rule without un-needed exclusion (yes, by self selection) of those who know or feel that exposure of their legal name involves objectionable consequences from their LR realities.


    Brian


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  •  07-22-2007, 6:46 PM 26224 in reply to 26157

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    [This is my new post after my previous post bringing everyone up to speed on the context for the conversation.]

    After reading the various replies to this discussion, in this and the other thread, I've been mildly surprised at some of the reactions, so I spent a fair amount of time thinking about why it seemed like a natural, obvious conclusion in my mind but not for others, and so I examined my assumptions about why we're all here.  I think my assumptions may be amiss.

    Let me state at the outset that, like almost every issue I confront in business (and life), I care primarily about functional outcomes.  I don't hold fast to given conclusions, unless ethics are involved, and I won't in this case.  In fact, I won't be surprised if we end up scrapping the real name idea in the final analysis.  But I will admit that it has suggested to me that I be a bit more skeptical that we understand what our community wants.  Here were my assumptions (that I now question):

    1. I now notice a double standard between the expectations of II's leaders and II's "members."  Because so many members call for II's leadership to be transparent and forthright in our dealings (which they should), and II is a very visible entity, virtually demanding that II's leadership operate in the public eye, we assumed that the community wanted a certain degree of human transparency infused into the communal ethic overall.  We're a community of learning, practice, conversation and, dare I say, love, and we believe that this requires a certain degree of authenticity in interaction among all participants; a social contract is meaningless if it is not shared by all; otherwise it's just a customer "terms of use" agreement.  I don't know about you but communicating with 'stagegirl44' just doesn't quite meet my standard for authentic.  We interpreted what we supposed was our members' desires to go deeper into their integral lives as concurrent with the desire to go deeper into a real Sangha.

    2. Are we transcending Orange?  Our members constantly, and justifably, remind us to operate to greater standards of care and inclusion than typical corporate hierarchies.  I think this is right.  So it's interesting when we discuss a policy that would break the typical mold of anonymity (I doubt it really would, for the record: we will not be asking for IDs) and get resistance that, on first blush, feels to us at the company like "no, the standard community model works just fine."  Errr .... OK, but let's be sure we all agree with that, because in my experience most online communities are shallow (and embarrassing as a supposed exemplar of the depth of integral engagement).  There's no real sense of obligation to the depth (i.e, to the humanity) operating behind each of them.

    So one theme I'm starting to notice is the possibility that this community seeks a more standard corporate customer model, which certainly comes with far more "safety" and anonymity than what we've been thinking.  (They are, to my mind, antiseptically safe.) You'll notice we've been pushing much more towards real familial depth, a trans-cultural, trans-geographical, global community of connected learners and practitioners.  I am very open to the possibility that we take this community's potential far more seriously than many of our members (and from what I've seen of II's past execution, perhaps for good reason). 

    But ultimately it comes down to this: when I came on board at II, I laid down a challenge for both Ken and the employees at II - what degree of responsibility are you willing to assume for developing a real,  integral community (or best as we can make it as we go)?  Because we're just at the outset of a decades long process, and we're going to be asking all of our members to start creating integral content, art, blogs, almost anything that would enrich the online portal, and followed thereafter with a very robust offline community model.  It all stems from my experience - confirmed similarly by almost everyone I talked to - that integral is the most adequate, loving manner of living I've found, but books, websites and audio/video clips only take us so far.  This community has to go personal to be real.

    Let me also note that as a former venture capitalist, I understand far better than most that what we're proposing here, and the philosophy I've tried to outline that underlies my assumptions, is actually poor business compared to the standard alternatives.  We'd do far better by financial ROI standards by operating with a high-reach, high-scale model that eliminated barriers to participation, watered down any notion of integral meaning making (lower left culture), and tried to drive to a million unique visitors a month on the new portal.  That's a common strategy, easy to perform, but may very well obliterate what is best about the promise of a real integral community. (On the new portal we'll try to broaden the invitation by making the content more accessible, but not lose the vital essence of its meaning.) But what do I know?, I'm pretty sure that there is no large scale, well-developed integral community anywhere in the world, so what we're doing is a learning process.

    Thank you for helping me along in mine ...

    Robb
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  •  07-22-2007, 7:53 PM 26227 in reply to 26224

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    Hello everyone. Hi!

    evansridge:
      So it's interesting when we discuss a policy that would break the typical mold of anonymity (I doubt it really would, for the record: we will not be asking for IDs) and get resistance that, on first blush, feels to us at the company like "no, the standard community model works just fine." 

    Robb


    Robb, thanks for engaging here and telling us your thoughts. It is appreciated very much. An observation: If  I-I is not planning on verifying any IDs, this whole discussion is revolving around a point that would be moot to begin with, yes? Nothing is going to change if the policy has no 'teeth'. People will be using whatever names they like, as always.

    M
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  •  07-22-2007, 8:24 PM 26229 in reply to 26227

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    Hi Robb,

    What are your assumption about this community in the past?

    Tim


    "With whom or with what are you in communion at this moment?"
    . . ."I?" he replied, almost mechanically. "Why not with anyone or anything."
    "You must be a marvel . . . if you are able to continue in that state for long."
    -Constantin Stanislavsky
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  •  07-22-2007, 8:55 PM 26231 in reply to 26229

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?


    timelody:
    What are your assumption about this community in the past?

    hi tim,

    that's a good question for all of us! i have my own ideas and, clearly, they're not resonating with just about anyone else, and not just my assumptions 'about this community in the past'. my question is can we work together, integrally, to begin exposing to ourselves these unseen assumptions?

    good to hear from you,

    ralph



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  •  07-22-2007, 9:11 PM 26233 in reply to 26224

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    Hi Robb,

     

    I am on board for authenticity; but names seem a shallow criterion -Shakespeare’s ‘A rose by any other name’… still rings true.

     

    How about developing and posting member’s psychographs, for example, or my own favorite: accurate birth data, the sine qua non of a meaningful opening to astrological potentials?

     

    Warmly,

     

    Charles

    88W18'28" 41N58'02"    

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  •  07-22-2007, 9:52 PM 26235 in reply to 26157

    • ikarma is not online. Last active: 09-22-2007, 6:51 PM ikarma
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    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

     Clearly there are advantages and disadvantages to both anonymity and to open identity.  Solid arguments have been made on both sides.  I personally like knowing who I'm talking to online and I always have a link to my real identity in my posts. I think this helps build community.  But there have also been times when I have refrained from posting on threads discussing sexual subjects, drugs, and those where intimate personal information was being shared.  In these cases my identity prevented me from sharing freely, thus harming the goal of building of community. 
     
    At my company, an online reputation management service called iKarma.com, we encourage identity verification, but we also allow anonymity for those who believe they need it.  You can use iKarma to rate any business or individual.  If you identify yourself, your review gains credibility and users can easily click through and see those who have reviewed you, and others you have reviewed. Your openness helps establish your credibility and helps build your own online reputation.  If you post anonymously, you naturally lose credibility and the business you have reviewed can challenge your review forcing you to choose between dropping your review or identifying yourself.  So far it seems to be working.  The point I am making here is that I don't think II has to make a choice between one or the other.  I think the arguments on both sides of this issue show that an ideal system would simply encourage an open identity, but would also allow for anonymity for individuals and threads where anonymity would be beneficial. 
     
    Some of you may remember a lovely young woman named Rhonda who was a very active poster on the old forum.  I think she was a minister at a church where her honest comments here might have cost her job.  As I recall she was subjected to unwanted sexual harassment and unwanted contact from a forum user who used her first name and her profession to track down her real home address and phone and that of her workplace.  I think the integral solution here would be to recognize that both perspectives contain some truth that should be honored and to find a way to provides for the needs of each. 

    Peace & Prosperity

    Paul Williams
    http://Paul.ikarma.com
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  •  07-23-2007, 12:23 AM 26242 in reply to 26235

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?

    I think about my self-representation, behavior, and interactions on:
    -Facebook

    -LinkedIn
    -etc.
    Even though I may be required to provide my real name, I'm not sure that I am more authentic on those sites. The requirement to provide a name does constrain my behavior... it involves certain limitations in terms of how I act and what I am willing to communicate. It leverages my reputation as an incentive to act in a culturally acceptable way and to say culturally acceptable things. But this incentive can just as easily mean a lack of authenticity - at least in my own experience.

    On the face of it, one should think that a characteristic of integral consciousness is congruency, no matter the context in which it is shared or enacted. Painfully, I don't personally think I'm congruent in all the roles of my life - even in "brick & mortar" domains, or on sites where my "real" name is known.

    I deeply desire greater authenticity. And I believe that Integral is helping me become more authentic because it helps me to understand the relationship between form and formlessness... to acknowledge what is behind all of the different masks I wear. I guess the injunction may be to take those masks off, but that does beg the question whether my "real" name is just a mask, just a form anyway.

    I don't spend a whole bunch of time in this forum, but as some of you know, I have been through a dark year, and this community has provided a level of support that I'm not sure I could have found anywhere else. Not that this is necessarily even the right place for that - sometimes I question whether it is. But nevertheless I've chosen to share things here and to get it out because there is a part of my journey that it seems like only integral can understand.

    And I do know that I would not feel comfortable posting those parts of my journey under my real name. Although I would like to move in the direction of having that level of comfort... I would like to stand naked on a mountain top and shout all of my secrets, even the ones that II doesn't know, out to the world. But I don't yet possess whatever it takes to be able to do that. So in the meantime, I'm happy to share what really matters to me here, somewhat anonymously, and leave the management of my reputation to Facebook and LinkedIn.

    At the same time, I'm not totally closed to the idea of having people post under their real names here. There are, however, a lot of privacy issues that come into play from a regulatory perspective as well as from that of having a safe community in general. But that said, I am open to hearing why real names could be of value - and I think the crux of the matter would be that you would have to put it in terms of what you really see the integral community being. IOW - if this community is not just confined to an online engagement, then what does it look like and why is it important that you know my name?
    This is self contraction contracting upon itself in infinite ripples of self-liberating torment.
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  •  07-23-2007, 8:59 PM 26280 in reply to 26195

    Re: Requiring real names to post here?


    hi pelle,

    i checked out 'pelle integral' just to get a look at what you're talking about. then 'ralph integral', which turned up nothing having anything to do with me, then 'ralphweidner', which turned up a couple of intriguing hits i wouldn't have imagined on my own.

    it doesn't look like anyone is yet out to get us, just mildly interested in what we're doing (very mildly, in my case).

    auf wiederseh'n,

    ralf

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