<This is part 4 in a series. Part 1 is here>
Let's start with anonymity. We are obsessed with it. discussion boards abound with posts under the name of anonymous, or strange pseudonyms which are nearly as anonymous. Look in the comments of virtually any YouTube video. You'll see what I mean.
The primary arguments in favor of anonymity are protection for 'whistleblowers', and protection from retribution, and these are both sensible arguments. It makes sense that how you voted be anonymous, to prevent people from the other side of the vote doing something stupid. It makes sense that there be ways for those who notice criminal or harmful behavior to have a safe way to 'blow the whistle'.
But neither of those things happen on you Tube, or really any other internet forum, or in most other places that we go on about needing anonymity
There have also been quite a few studies on the negative effects that anonymity has on our behavior. The results are not good, from increased levels of violence, to increased likelihood of theft.
http://www.prisonexp.org/pdf/powerevil.pdf (starting on page 6)
So a first good step to improving information quality if to stop the abuse of anonymity. This inherently increases accountability (more on that later). What about the retribution concern? This can be mainly resolved by fixing privacy (coming up next).
<to Part 5>