I am wondering about the relative advantages/disadvantages of using pseudonyms in this forum.
A while ago we had an interesting discussion on the BSWA forum. As policy currently stands members on the forum are required to use their real names, and they also pay $2 per year. The discussion came up about what advantages there were to allowing pseudonyms to be used. Almost everyone who responded felt that using real names was more beneficial, and also in line with Buddhist ethics.
By openly putting our names to our posts, it is more likely to encourage more deliberation and ‘right speech’ before posting. Overall I think it leads to a more skillful use of a resource like SC.
I know that this is NOT a Dhamma practice site, but somehow I feel that to not look at our participation here, from a Dhamma perspective, is letting a valuable opportunity pass by. Perhaps this is completely up to the individual… ie where they are at in their journey, but perhaps it is worth looking at.
I’m interested in hearing the opinions of participants
There is already a place to put your full name in your profile: go to “Preferences” and it’s right there as an option. And there’s nothing stopping someone making their full name their username, as some here already have. Because of privacy concerns, I don’t think making it mandatory is a good idea.
Generally I think it’s nicer to use real names, but there are many legitimate reasons to use pseudonyms. Some people live in countries where you could be put to death for participating in a forum like this. But even less dramatic reasons can be quite beneficial; maybe someone simply feels freer to express themselves in a new way if they can use a pseudonym.
We could have some sort of random Pali name generator for those willing to not use their real names.
This would be slightly aligned with the process of naming bhikkhus and bhikkhunis when they join the Sangha!
Those interested in the idea and looking for inspiration, I suggest checking this link:
I think this is probably the most important reason for not insisting on use of real names. And there are of course many less deadly possibilities like loss of employment, imprisonment, family and community pressure, and so on. And as this data is probably going to be archived for quite some time, if you live in a country that you think might at some future date persecute you for being Buddhist or associating with Buddhists you would want to be very careful.
Coemgenu is my username here. It is a modification of my own name in Latin, Coëmgenus, “noble/arian/beautiful + stock/birth/genetics”. My name is Caoimhghín. I generally Anglicize it to Kevin, living in Canada/North America as I do.
@Coemgenu from which culture is your name? I won’t hazard a guess as I will undoubtedly just get it wrong My user name is Mpac, consisting of first initial and first 3 letters of surname, and my full name is on my profile. Mine is a culturally specific name - Latvian - and it is one of the pagan goddesses, and completely entrenched in cultural meaning. It’s Mara, with the same accent as in Pali lol. I must admit I hesitated in using it, as it is pretty ‘loaded’ in a Buddhist forum! It has kept me ‘entertained’ on so many levels since I formally became a Buddhist
I do not think so.
Any person can pretend to be someone else. I can call myself George Washington if I wish.
There is a Sutta where Buddha did not divulges his true position to some people when he meets them for the first time.
Using a nickname is not amounting to telling a lie.
@mpac at the vihara the other day we were trying to sign up for a new internet plan and the website didn’t like our details so we joked it was Mara’s fault. We rang the call centre and the lady who answered was called Mara. Poor woman, we burst out giggling and then had to explain.
I’ve known a few Maras in the past so never even blinked at your name, but this was a strange coincidence.
Back to the OP all of us with Dhamma names are ‘hiding’ behind pseudonyms in a way. But being given a Dhamma name is an interesting way to reflect on what you identify with. While visiting NBM they insist on my lay name and it’s taken me 3 days to not feel like people are telling me off when I hear it. Only my Mum calls me by my full lay name. Everyone else calls me Pasanna or various shortenings of my lay name.
So I watch the mind and how it reacts
Using a pseudonym is a common practice on discussion boards and yes, from years of experience in this I can tell it will sometimes encourage incorrect behavior, but it will also give freedom and encourage participation. Bhante has already spoken about this second part.
The pros overweight the cons for what I can tell and this is one of the reason for which we have such an amazing moderation team and also the reason why we should let them do their job and support them. Yes, I am taking this opportunity to remind us all about recent events in which this team was there to help maintain this board a great place to be and learn and practice Dhamma.
I disagree, as Dhamma practitioners we should see every place as a place of practice.
On a related note,
Recently there was a high profile case in the news, a lady was riding a bike in Washington DC near a golf course. A group of black limousines passed her, and when she realized it was President Trump, she thought, “Why is this guy playing golf when he should be fixing all the problems he got us into?” So she did what most Americans would do (or wish they could do), she gave Trump the Bird (the universal sign language of “I don’t approve of you”). Somebody caught a photo of this, it got in the news ,and the photo popped up all over the news. Nobody knew who it was, until her friends on social media thought the anonymous hero on the bike looked like her, she confirmed it was publicly.
The company she worked for fired her.
Here’s the best part. In an interview, she said (paraphrase, something similar to this), “If I knew giving Trump the middle finger salute would get me fired, I would do it again because it’s the right thing to do.”
I love it when people have principle and fight for it.
But on the issue of anonymity, if she had chosen to be anonymous, she could still have her job.
Its’ hard-- Bhante Sujato’s comments about the physical safety of some members is a major consideration. I am aware of a couple of people on these forums from countries like Indonesia and Malaysia where being a Buddhist too openly is quite risky. We don’t want anyone to get hurt.
I myself, as an American with a generic WASPy name wouldn’t mind if we did require names