No one is truly anonymous

April 13, 2009 at 2:41 pm 6 comments

Even online.

Ailis in Hunterland wrote about anonymity today:

Anonymity is a powerful thing.  When no one knows you in real life (i.e. can come knocking at your door to teach you a lesson, son), you can get away with any type of behavior you wish.  Get /gkicked because of your attitude?  Not really an issue, just go join another [guild].  And so on.

For some reason, this reminded me of something that happened years ago, when Blizzard was just a local employer (seriously; half of the guys I went to high school with worked as in-house testers!) and not the demigod of my online existence that it is today.

I was a moderator on an Internet forum that my then-boyfriend had created.  It was attached to prominent anime fansite, and while I’ve never cared much for anime myself (truth be told, I rather detest it), C. was understandably invested in the community he had built and I did my best to help with the administrative end.

One March 31st, one of our regulars posted a suicide note on the forum.  He wrote that he had just overdosed on insulin, and updated the thread every few minutes to update us on his “weakening condition.”

It was the night before April Fool’s Day.  I was pretty sure it was a joke, and loathe to make a public fool of myself by taking it seriously if it was.

… but what if it wasn’t?

The doubt persisted, and for several minutes I was torn between my pride and my conscience.

Then I realized how utterly stupid that was, and called the poster’s local police department.  I knew from previous threads that his father was a police officer, so I hoped someone at the station would know who he was and how to check on him.  I also provided the non-emergency dispatcher with the forum URL and the OP’s IP address and Internet service provider.

It must have been enough, because the police department called me back a few hours later with the news that an officer was able to track the OP down and verify that he was fine; it was indeed an April Food’s Day prank.  Supposedly, someone did knock on his door to teach him a lesson — much to the shock and chagrin of his parents!

The OP played it off afterwards, telling everyone that of course it was a joke (and wasn’t I stupid to fall for it?), and bragging that he “didn’t even get in trouble.”

Anyway, Ailis’s actual post isn’t so much about anonymity as it is about how to take responsibility for your raid preparation and performance — and it’s a good one.  But that one little paragraph got me to thinking: anonymity isn’t always so anonymous!

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Entry filed under: WoW.

Unmixy things: Castsequence Macros and Affliction Love is a disgusting oozling.

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kromus  |  April 13, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    Hello there!

    Wow, intresting post. I dont blame you- you did a wonderous thing, dont forget that!

    People can be bastards; Him.
    People can be saviours; You.
    Which is why your lack of stereotype and the fact your consceince took over let you know your a human being, not a human abomination.

    Anomity is an issue really, at the same time its a blessing. Some people use forums to express themselves and not get judged for real life properties, but some people exploit, and claim riddiculus things.

    Its defonatly a problem, just good luck finding a solution :(.

    Reply
  • 2. Crucifer  |  April 13, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    The internet is one good datamine, filled with all sorts of information about you. People rarely log in at the start trying to be anonymous – normally they want to try and connect in all sorts of ways to the people online – and this can always be used to track them down.

    However, just as you can change guilds in WoW, you can change your identity on the internet by a simple name change.

    Or by lying.

    Reply
  • 3. Tessy  |  April 14, 2009 at 2:31 am

    “Jokes” like that are not fun. And I wish there were more people like you around, who actually act upon odd things like this instead of just disregarding it, thinking that surely someone else will investigate that elevator alarm, those shrieking car brakes, that man lying down on the curb (is he drunk or is he ill?).

    Reply
  • 4. smart001  |  April 14, 2009 at 6:51 am

    I have been looking for a blog that has some Warlock information, not only that, you have several links that can lead to other sites. Thanks. I was referred here by Ailis in Hunterland trackback.

    Reply
  • 5. Elleiras  |  April 14, 2009 at 8:47 am

    @smart001 – I’ve strayed from my warlocky roots, but the warlock bloggers I’ve linked to are uexcellent. Glad I could be of help. 🙂

    @Tessy – Those situations are always hard. I felt compelled to act in this situation because I was a moderator on the website, and felt I had some sort of implicit authority … but I don’t know if I’d have the courage to approach someone on the street. I’d like to think I would, but that whole diffusion of responsibility thing that we humans (er, Taurens?) have going on makes me wonder.

    @Crucifer – True. It’s amazing what kind of information is out there, and how long it remains in circulation… If I Google my real name, I’ll find my profile from the school newspaper I edited back when I was all of 16. O.o

    @Kromus – Internet anonymity is a funny thing. On our realm forum, there are always people railing against the “anonymous” level 1 alt posters. The irony is that the people who complain the most are also anonymous — they just happen to be level 80! Personally, I tend to get attached to my “anonymous” identity; if someone thought poorly of Elleiras, it would bother me just as much as someone who thought the same of Michelle… if that makes any sense. ^.^

    Thanks for the comments. 🙂

    Reply
  • 6. Zaph  |  April 14, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    It is a rare thing when someone chooses the right thing to do over their own ego. You should be commended for taking action! You’d make a fine Paladin! (I mean that as a compliment, btw)

    Reply

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