I'm not specifically arguing with admin; it just seems to be members of admin who hold a position I disagree with.
I really think that Martin Fotta has an important point here :
"i agree with eliza. i am not convinced that you need to control-ask people to use real/real-looking name. more importantly, has anything already happened or are we just creating rules to prevent anything in potential? this ´potential´ might be something other than missusing a membership to sent around message ´martin is a empiricist idiot´... maybe something that would attribute towards opening this place.... " [my emphases :) ] The "official" position seems to be the following (correct me if I am wrong) : The OAC strongly encourages the use of real names.
I'd like to give my point of view, first by analyzing the "pros" for such a policy, and then by presenting arguments in favor of anomymity, in the precise context of that social network. But let me be clear that my aim is not to propose or set an official policy, but rather to give arguments that are to be debated (if deemed relevant).
So far, the reasons I have read for encouraging the use of real names are :
1. Allow people that meet each other on Ning to also meet offline as well as online.
2. Diminishing the risks of having "free-fire zone" type of debates, as anonymous users can more easily feel free of any responsibility.
3. Author name is the best kind of metadata that anthropologists can have.
(Did i forget anything ?)
The flaws I see are the following :
1. The Ning network allow for private messages. Hence anonymity and real-life encounters are not incompatible.
2. True. But there is no way to prevent people from inventing a real looking name if they wih to come here for insult-games.
3. True if knowing the real name allow you to know who the person is, socially speaking. Knowing the name of an obscure student (or a factory-worker or peasant for that matter) won't help much as meta-data.
The debate about using real-name versus nickname can be directly related to the question of anthropology as a field (in Bourdieu's sense, in french it's "champ", I don't know about english translations). The most powerful people (and legitimate speakers) in that "champ" has obvious reasons to use real-names, and much more so to encourage others to do so. That is, to protect them against agents that would find anonymity a way to partially escape the forces of the "champ".
The people less powerful in the field has obvious reason to use anonymous names in that social network, if their aim is to engage in anthropological debate in a much direct manner than they are used to. Let me give just one example. If one finds that the discourse of such or such scholar is much too determined by his class position to be honest, one would hardly be able to talk about it and debate it in traditionnal academic settings. And I think it might be risky to do it here under a real name (and the lowest (and weak) in the "champ" one is, the more so).
If that Ning network is to be something else than an academic facebook for anthropologists that reproduces all the forces of the "champ" of anthropology , I think anonymity can play an interesting role.