6 FAQ tagged with anonymous

Can I have more than one account? Can I change accounts?

The guiding principle here is that we expect you to have one main identity on the entire site, at a given time. It's not okay to pretend to be multiple people. Lots of detail in this MetaTalk post.

Changing to a new primary account:
- If you need to move to a new account name, it is okay (in most cases) to open a new account and close the old one. Some people choose to note on their userpage who they used to be, but it's not required. Note, this kind of account switch was allowed as a courtesy for people who felt strongly that their old name wasn't okay anymore, but it should not be abused. Contact the mods if you have questions.
- Some previously banned users may be allowed to open a Brand New Day (BND) account. This is only okay if the new account is not causing the same problems as the old account. Please contact the mods if you are unclear on this.

Second accounts:
Having a second active account (known as a sock puppet) is generally discouraged, but is allowed as a courtesy for two purposes:
- Privacy, for example asking an occasional question on a sensitive topic or giving an answer in Ask MetaFilter that is not linked to your primary account
- Jokey comments from clearly one-off joke accounts, for example usernames like baby jesus or Official Mefi Head Complainer

It is against the rules to use a sock puppet account:
- to get around the time limitations for AskMe, MeFi and MeTa posts. The time limits are per-person, not per-account.
- to harass other members or otherwise be an asshole on the site
- to comment with more than one account in a single thread, hop between accounts arbitrarily, or otherwise appear to be using multiple accounts to seem like two separate people

Violating the rules for spare accounts is grounds for banning the spare account and potentially your primary account as well. While moderators generally know which accounts are sock puppets, we will not reveal that information to users. That said, it is the responsibility of the user to maintain the privacy of that account if they want it to remain private. Contact a moderator if you have any doubts about appropriate use of a second account.
(tags: ) April 20, 2006 - permalink - back to questions

What should I know about privacy at Metafilter?

Please check our formal Privacy Policy which addresses points commonly raised in privacy laws.

And here is some more informal general info about social privacy expectations on our site. Moderators generally have access to identity info (your sign-up information, name, email, IP address, etc) that is used for site purposes such as preventing spam or other forms of account abuse. That info is kept private from other members and from the wider internet. We don't sell or rent or share user information to outside parties. If you choose not to display your real name, email address or location to other members, moderators will not reveal it. Mods also will not reveal the identity of second (sockpuppet) accounts as linked to your main account if you do not reveal this.

Members are also expected to respect each other's privacy in certain basic ways. Members' profile page information (such as location) is not visible to search engines and should not be brought over to the rest of MetaFilter. Similarly, copying and pasting MefiMail to any other part of the site without the writer's permission is a bannable offense.

On your own profile page, most information is optional to include, such as full name, email address, etc. Although it's not indexed by search engines, by default most of the information you share there is still publicly viewable, displayed to everyone including non-members. Links to your post and comment history, your contacts, and your favorites, are also displayed to everyone by default. You can choose not to share personal info on that page, and you can choose the "minimal profile" option to hide the links to your post and comment history, contacts, and favorites, from non-members. Much more detail on profile privacy settings.

On the site as a whole, your participation here is public. Your posts, questions, and comments are visible to the whole internet, and they will remain associated with your username permanently. Please think ahead about your own privacy needs, before posting personal information. If you need to ask about things that you want kept separate from your main username, you can get a second account that you use just for that. If you shared some privacy-sensitive info (such as your email address or location) in a comment in the past and now need that deleted, please contact us.

In emergencies--such as cases where someone has threatened to harm themselves, or if we are contacted by law enforcement--we cannot guarantee user privacy. Likewise, the Anonymous question function in Ask Metafilter is only intended to keep your details anonymous from the MeFi community, not to provide absolute anonymity--see here for details.

Metafilter occasionally allows use of public site data for academic study and there is an Infodump of public site data available for number crunchers. Members can download a copy of their comments on Metafilter, MetaTalk, and Ask Metafilter as a text file (see links at the bottom of your Preferences page).

As with anything here: if you have questions, just ask us.
(tags: ) December 12, 2012 - permalink - back to questions

How do I post an anonymous question in AskMe? Is there a function for anonymous follow-ups?

The anonymous posting form can be reached from a the regular "New Question" page of AskMetafilter. When you use this form, your question goes into a queue that is only read by the moderators. It will have to be approved, so it won't be posted immediately. Generally questions are approved (or not) within 48 hours. Not all anon questions will be posted, but most will. If you are wondering about a question you submitted a few days ago, you can contact the moderators to ask about it.

Your posting is not linked to your username in the MetaFilter database; anonymous questions are posted through the Anonymous user account. However, the admins can ascertain who posted the question if they need to. Anonymous questions are for basic privacy from the Mefi userbase, not for hiding from Interpol. You can read more about how the AnonyMe mechanism works in this thread.

Questions about illegal activities are unlikely to be approved. Questions whose only answers are "see a doctor" or "see a lawyer" are unlikely to be approved. Questions about ordinary subject matter that doesn't seem to fit the needs of being anonymous may not be approved. Please do not ask questions about suicide or revenge. (If you are feeling suicidal, please seek in-person help. The ThereIsHelp page has a list of resources/hotlines.) We can not promise to keep your information confidential if we think you might harm yourself or others.

There is no mechanism for commenting anonymously, but the admins will post a follow-up comment to your anonymous question for you -- use the contact form linked at the bottom right of each page to reach the admins. Other MeFi users are often willing to do this too. Sometimes people set up disposable email accounts so they can be contacted about an anonymous posting. This feature is not intended to provide absolute anonymity, please do not use it if that is what you require.

If you need to ask a question that's not associated with your main account, and you want to be able to follow-up by yourself, you are permitted to buy an extra "sockpuppet" account. Here are the guidelines about second accounts. We ask that people use the anonymous feature sparingly, not more than once or twice a year. If you feel you want to ask a number of questions separately from your main account, getting a second account may be a better solution.
(tags: ) March 6, 2006 - permalink - back to questions

How long does it usually take for an anonymous question to be posted to Ask Metafilter?

Usually anonymous questions are posted within 48 hours. You can check the feed of Anon questions here. Some types of questions may not be approved such as: questions related to suicide, revenge, self-harm; questions that are illegal, repetitive, trollish, ranty, unanswerable or too obvious; questions where the answer is "ask a lawyer/doctor/tax pro"; questions that contain a lot of personally-identifiable detail; or questions that don't appear to require anonymity. Whether an anonymous question is posted or not, there's no notification -- so if you have a question about the status of your anonymous question, please get in touch with the mod team via the contact form.
(tags: ) April 20, 2006 - permalink - back to questions

Is there a way to turn a non-anonymous old question into an anonymous one?

We do have a way to anonymize old posts, however it is not something we do lightly. We will anonymize old questions rarely, if it's important. Contact a mod if you want this done. Please do not ask questions under your real name that you plan to anonymize later.
(tags: ) March 28, 2008 - permalink - back to questions

How do I comment anonymously?

There is no anonymous comment function. If you want to add something to a thread but want it to remain unconnected to your account, you can use the contact form to reach the moderators, and one of them can add it for you. (If instead you want to ask an anonymous question on Ask Metafilter, the procedure is here.)
(tags: ) December 11, 2012 - permalink - back to questions