I have been using a pseudonym online to avert unwarranted attention. A pseudonym strikes a balance between anonymity (user #0694) and accountability (my real name) and is a widely accepted norm that builds on the concept of the user.
Many online sites like Amazon use a reputation management system which connotes expertise (prolific commenters) as trustworthiness. Yet the fact that prolific Yelp (site screenshot below) reviewers are invited to parties offers some sign that expertise can be turned into arbitrary forms and is certainly not exclusive towards cultivating trust.
Technology has not solved the basic online trust problem then:
- Who is the person behind the user?
- What are the motivations of this person? Even if he or she claims one or a particular set, how do we know its veracity when we do not know the person?
The following is a simplified representation of the most common dialogue settings.
|Face value known||Motivations known||Person known|
✔ = Ideal case | ✖ = Unrealistic