@tnorthcutt - I saw that too and am glad you brought it up. I'd like to set a policy that people use real names if they are going to be active. The problem for me is that if "NetConstructor" has 5 people working there, who are we dealing with? And whose picture should we expect? I don't want an account shared by multiple people; it makes it too hard to manage.
BTW, I think we should hold people to a higher bar if they are frequent users here. If they post one question and never come back, no problem. But NetConstructorhas posted 10 questions already so he (or she) is very active which means to me we need to bring him into the community and that means knowing who he (or she) is would be beneficial to me and honestly to them.
I just read this by Clay Shirkey that says what I wanted to say but he says it so much better (sorry for the length):
1.) If you were going to build a piece of social software to support large
and long-lived groups, what would you
design for? The first thing you would
design for is handles the user can
Now, I say "handles," because I don't
want to say "identity," because
identity has suddenly become one of
those ideas where, when you pull on
the little thread you want, this big
bag of stuff comes along with it.
Identity is such a hot-button issue
now, but for the lightweight stuff
required for social software, its
really just a handle that matters.
It's pretty widely understood that
anonymity doesn't work well in group
settings, because "who said what when"
is the minimum requirement for having
a conversation. What's less well
understood is that weak pseudonymity
doesn't work well, either. Because I
need to associate who's saying
something to me now with previous
The world's best reputation management
system is right here, in the brain.
And actually, it's right here, in the
back, in the emotional part of the
brain. Almost all the work being done
on reputation systems today is either
trivial or useless or both, because
reputations aren't linearizable, and
they're not portable.
Reputation is not necessarily portable
from one situation to another, and
it's not easily expressed.
If you want a good
reputation system, just let me
remember who you are. And if you do me
a favor, I'll remember it. And I won't
store it in the front of my brain,
I'll store it here, in the back. I'll
just get a good feeling next time I
get email from you; I won't even
remember why. And if you do me a
disservice and I get email from you,
my temples will start to throb, and I
won't even remember why. If you give
users a way of remembering one
another, reputation will happen, and
that requires nothing more than simple
and somewhat persistent handles.
Users have to be able to identify
themselves and there has to be a
penalty for switching handles. The
penalty for switching doesn't have to
be total. But if I change my handle on
the system, I have to lose some kind
of reputation or some kind of context.
This keeps the system functioning.