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Anonymity Improves Online Engagement

10 ways anonymity improves online public engagement

Matthew Crozier

Matthew Crozier

Matthew is a founding director and CEO of Bang the Table.

While there is some debate around how anonymity improves online engagement, we firmly believe in its value. Anonymity removes barriers to engagement, breaks down power relations and frees up individual expression. It means individuals regardless of race, sex, orientation or ability can contribute their opinions and the resulting input is of equal value, both to participants of the consultation, and its managers who benefit from data gathered.

Top 10 Ways How Anonymity Improves Online Engagement

  1. Anonymity removes a major barrier to entry for most people. How do we know this? The proof is in the pudding. Over 95% of EngagementHQ‘s forum visitors choose a username that protects their anonymity.
  2. Anonymity breaks down power relationships between participants. We’ve observed conversations between 50-year-olds and 13-year-olds that never would have taken place in face-to-face meetings.
  3. Anonymity removes power relations between the forum visitor/commenter and the consultation manager.
  4. Anonymity removes the possibility of bias due to sex, ethnicity and age.
  5. Anonymity allows people individuals to express their opinions without fear of intimidation. Anonymity greatly reduces the ability of anyone to bully or humiliate others in the forum.
  6. Anonymity allows an individual to express an opinion that might be contrary to that of their employer.
  7. Anonymity allows an individual to express an opinion that their position in life may not otherwise permit.
  8. Anonymity ensures the consultation’s analysis focuses entirely on the text, not the personality. The logic of the argument becomes paramount as opposed to the emotion behind it.
  9. Ensuring that a person’s username is the same as their legal name would require such high onus of proof that most people would be put off joining your conversation in the first place.
  10. Even if a site did enforce legal name usage, there are those who would break the rules and use a pseudonym anyway. Such actions within the first few minutes of sign up can create a negative mindset, leading to ongoing negative behavior.
14 August 2015
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