Anonymity Wont Kill the Internet


In a recent essay, Kevin Kelly warns of the dangers of anonymity. It's OK in small doses, he maintains, but too much of it is a problem: "(I)n every system that I have seen where anonymity becomes common, the system fails. The recent taint in the honor of Wikipedia stems from the extreme ease which anonymous declarations can be put into a very visible public record. Communities infected with anonymity will either collapse, or shift the anonymous to pseudo-anonymous, as in eBay, where you have a traceable identity behind an invented nickname."

Kelly has a point, but it comes out all wrong. Anonymous systems are inherently easier to abuse and harder to secure, as his eBay example illustrates. In an anonymous commerce system -- where the buyer does not know who the seller is and vice versa -- it's easy for one to cheat the other. This cheating, even if only a minority engaged in it, would quickly erode confidence in the marketplace, and eBay would be out of business. The auction site's solution was brilliant: a feedback system that attached an ongoing "reputation" to those anonymous user names, and made buyers and sellers accountable for their actions. Wired News: Anonymity Won't Kill the Internet

Linked by shanmuga Friday, 13th January 2006 12:15AM