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This is another Request for comments. Please message me with your thoughts.

Sometimes, as E2 gets bigger, people node more and more about their personal life. People meet other people on E2 and it becomes harder and harder to keep your personal life actually personal. If E2 grows to be huge, people will find each other having written stories about people who are incoming etc. A while ago on the edev postings ideas came up for nixing the everyone and everyoneexcepttrolls accounts, in favor of some sort of su abilities.
Perhaps it is time to implement anonymous postings. The idea behind this would be that a person would still receive the credit for the writeup and get the XP from it (perhaps at a reduced rate, or what not), and getting cooled would still count etc. This would be an interesting experiment to see how impartial people could be to good writeups.
I'd suggest it as a level power for users either 7, or 5. Seven has no level power, and Create Room, while devastatingly cool, doesn't really do it for most users. It would be hard to manage, but with enough drawbacks to the anonymousness of it all, then it would be balanced. Both of these levels are high enough that people would not risk what they have accomplished so far.
An anonymous writeup to a normal user would look like:
(idea) Anonymous

To a god, it would look like:
(idea) Anonymous

where the item could pipe-link to the actual user.
This way, it would definitely stand out from the rest of the nodes, and not allow someone to think that anonymous was some kind of punk troll.
There are many policy concerns about how this could be handled. A lot of decisions have to be made:

  • Can a user get XP from an anonymous writeup. My
    vote is yes. They are not meant as a troll device (as Anonymous Coward can be on slashdot), but rather as a privacy protection device. If a person writes very well but wished to remain anonymous, it should be between them, the vote and cool opcodes, the gods, and the database. Without the attached bonus, and or penalty from downvotes, the anonymous writeup won't be effective at all.
  • Are there any penalties to an anonymous writeup? Id suggest that anyone that looses an Anonymous writeup should automatically get docked the 10 XP. You had better have a good reason for hiding behind this shield. Perhaps a lesser chance of getting experience for an upvote, or an increased chance for a downvote.
  • Do Anonymous writeups count towards your writeup count? I think they should count, and be in a special selection on a user's edit page when they are mentioned there (order by: anonymous writeups / newest first), or what not. We'd have to make sure that we add in a little bit to their nodecount when it gets calculated.

It's a different situation, but may make people feel a little more comfortable as our community begins to look like a Celtic knot of relations. I can see this sort of motion as a forward-moving path to a place where people can have their writeups evaluated on their merits alone, and not on who they are. People still have to earn their bullshit, but personal items can be shared.

There are two ways to actually do this. First off, we could modify the way a pile of the superdocs actually work. This would mean that we could have to special case in each of the items when displaying nodes, similar to what happens when we cloak users now. In all of the places where users are listed (Other users, Everything Finger, etc), we special case in a change to the writeup dbtable an anonymous flag, similar to the notnew distinction. This would require a lot of support on the part of the system superdocs.

Let's break down each time where a person's name is viewed as being attached to their writeup, and then code in an implementation for each, because this would require a lot of hacking it in.

  • displaywriteuptitle (the htmlcode node) in this piece of code:
    23: ') by '.linkNode($$WRITEUP{author_user})

  • Everything User Search around here:
    100: my $n = $DB->sqlSelectHashref('*', 'node, writeup',
    "node_id=$nid and writeup_id=node_id");

        -- changes --    
    Basically we'd have to make sure that they still see it as anonymous... Look for the node flag (such as notnew), and then not display it if the anonymous flag is up.
  • Cool Archive in this area:
    94: $str.='<td>'.linkNode($$WR{author_user},'',

  • New Writeups nodelet
    (line 45, where we call linkNode($$N(author_user), ... blah
  • ENN and Everything New Nodes

The other way, (and the easier way, as far as I can tell) this could be accomplished is if we actually created a bot named Anonymous (or something more creative), and then made a change to the writeup dbtable named anon. It would default to zero and contain the user_id of the anonymous owner. Then we special case in to:

  • Everything User Search what we did to Webster 1913 and EDB:
    69: return '<p align="center"><big><big>
    <strong>G r o w l !</strong></big></big>'
    if ($$user{title} eq 'EDB');

         -- and add in --
    return 'Sometimes, we all need our privacy' if $$user{title} eq 'Anonymous';

  • canUpdateNode()
    I can't see the code, but we'd have to allow people to edit the Anonymous writeups so that they could edit their items after they have posted.
  • displaywriteuptitle - Again, we'd have to mess with that part of the code, similar to the first way.
  • We may want to edit Everything User Search so that people can see their own writeups underneath the anonymous bot.

Optionally, under the second implementation of this, we could allow them to receive XP from votes and C!s by modifying the cool and vote opcodes, although that might be a tad uglier (since messing in opcodes is kind of a poor idea generally).
We could recalculate the way we count writeups for the next level to include ones by anonymous with our userid in the anon field. It wouldn't have to be a huge SQL Join, just a simple OR, since it's all in the same table, and wouldn't add a lot of hell, for the few times we do it.
There are several code issues that will come up:

  • We would have to make sure that the anonymous user bot could add more than one time to a given e2node. The reason why this is important is because if two people want to anonymously daylog, then they may not be able to add their changes into the system, if one person was already there.
  • We would also have to allow people to be barred from anonymous posting, since it is abuse-able
  • People shouldn't be able to vote/cool on their own writeups, even if they belong to a bot.

One final thought is that we could allow a generic "post as" ability, allowing the gods to post as anyone, and still be attached through the writeup. They could post as any user: someone random, EDB, Cool Man Eddie, Klaproth (gasp!), or Anonymous. Instead of an anon field, we could expand it to be realuser and then forward all of the XP hell or benefits onto that user. We'd then unlock this power in a very limited way for other users as a level power.

My apologies for the mess, this is a lot of thought attempted to be organized into some sort of discussion piece. Maybe this is too complicated, but maybe it is worth it after all. Thoughts? Thanks.

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