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Real Name For Open Source Development? 262

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the my-name-is-guy-ingonito dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Do you contribute to open source projects under your real name or a nickname? The openness of open source can be encouraging, but software patents you have never heard of can become a nightmare if a patent troll sues for implementing 'their' scroll bar. A real name also means you end up in the big index we call search engines. An assumed name could be an additional layer of protection, but what are its pros and cons and is it worth the hassle when asked to participate in a meatspace meeting?"
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Real Name For Open Source Development?

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  • probably overkill (Score:5, Informative)

    by seanadams.com (463190) * on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:01PM (#25789657) Homepage

    An open source project is an unlikely target for a patent troll. Trolls by definition are not in business actually implementing the technology that is the subject of their patents, so your open source project doesn't hurt them directly. Unless you're making lots of money selling your open source software, there's not much they can hope to sue you for.

    If you are looking to for personal liability protection then you should create a corporation under which you do all your software development, which might even include hobby or GPL work. This is probably overkill, but it may be a good idea if you think that there's any possibility of building a business around your hobby work in the future. In that case you might be able to claim some tax breaks for the cost of your computer, internet connection etc.

    Hiding behind a pseudonym is only helpful in the case where you are doing something very illegal or commercially disruptive, in which case you need to do a lot more than just choose a handle, eg offshoring, money laundering etc. See online casinos, spammers, and porn sites for ideas...

    • Re:probably overkill (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:03PM (#25789689) Homepage Journal
      Simple. Use pseudonyms such as "John Smith" or "Robert Johnson" which are natural enough to be used in the meatspace and popular enough to be a needle in a haystack as far as Google Searches are concerned. This is a popular technique for restaraunt critics and the like whose reviews necessitate unbiased anonymity.

      If you use hacker-ish sounding names like CapnCrunch or Dildog then you're asking for notoriety and your ass will be laughed at in a LUG.

      Sadly enough, if anybody really wanted to track you down then they'd just throw money at a P.I. or at a buddy who works for your ISP.
      • by Renegade88 (874837) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:11PM (#25789851)

        If you use hacker-ish sounding names like CapnCrunch or Dildog then you're asking for notoriety and your ass will be laughed at in a LUG.

        Are you speaking from experience, Ethanol-Fueled?

        • by Shakrai (717556) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:15PM (#25789923) Journal

          Are you speaking from experience, Ethanol-Fueled?

          No, that's his real name. It stems from the ethanol fueled orgy that led to his conception ;)

        • You shouldn't laugh too loudly, Renegade88.

          I put my [ascii-fied] full name in my username (everywhere), mail address and DNS name. I sign my email. Once I set up my "Digital Signature" [PKCS #n keypair certified by the official danish CA], I'll probably sign my mail with that.

          By spreading my name around, given that it's [almost] unique, people can get in touch with me even when all the information grows stale.

          • I use a pseudonym and anon-ish e-mail for the exact same reasons you use your real name. Go figure.

            I particularly don't want my on-line persona to easily match my IRL name.

            That said I also keep three pseudos with this one being most likely to link to me as a person, and the one I would hand an employer if they really had a need to know about anything.
            -nB

      • Re:probably overkill (Score:4, Interesting)

        by JWSmythe (446288) * <jwsmythe@jws[ ]he.com ['myt' in gap]> on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:37PM (#25790263) Homepage Journal

            I resemble that remark.

            I use "JW Smythe" as my online name. It's all over the place. Luckly, there are a few other people who use that or variations of it "J.W. Smythe", "John W. Smythe", "Jon Smythe". Pick out the real me. Of course, it's not my real name, but it sounds reasonable. If someone I'm not expecting calls me by my alias, I ignore them, or ask them who they're talking about.

            My real name oddly enough is even more popular, by Google searches. There are lots of "me" all around the world, all doing different things. It keeps people wondering if my real name is yet another pseudonym, or it's really me. :)

            Only clients and friends know my real name. They also have read my little essay on why I use an alias. Some people still ask for clarification of why. Why? Because there are a lot of weird people out there, and I don't want to go around to the millions of freaks out there saying "Hi, my name is ____ , come look for me." I've known call center folks who have been harassed, threatened, and stalked, because they've used their real names. Even when I've answered phones, they get my pseudonym of the day (or of the job). I use names like some guys use girlfriends. Use it until it's burnt, then pretend it never existed.

            The reason of liability when some corporate lawyer decides to play rough applies too, but that's pretty low on my priority list. I worry more about the millions of lunatics floating around the Internet. :)

           

    • Over KILL (Score:5, Funny)

      by Nick Driver (238034) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:16PM (#25789935)

      Well, Hans Reiser used his real name....

      Need I say more?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by purpledinoz (573045)
      As a general rule, I only use my real information if I have to (like if you sign up for paypal). I don't see a harm in using an alias wherever you can. In fact, I think it's a good policy for everyone.
    • Re:probably overkill (Score:5, Informative)

      by tgd (2822) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:44PM (#25790363)

      Actually, no, if you're looking for personal liability protection, buy a personal liability insurance policy.

      $2m in liability coverage is a couple hundred dollars a year. If you have any assets (and you'd have to in order to be concerned about liability), its an absolute no-brainer to buy an umbrella policy.

      People are sue-happy these days.

      • Re:probably overkill (Score:5, Informative)

        by julesh (229690) on Tuesday November 18, 2008 @05:05AM (#25799139)

        Actually, no, if you're looking for personal liability protection, buy a personal liability insurance policy.

        $2m in liability coverage is a couple hundred dollars a year. If you have any assets (and you'd have to in order to be concerned about liability), its an absolute no-brainer to buy an umbrella policy.

        People are sue-happy these days.

        And the cost of a lost patent-infringement suit could easily top $2M. You should be looking for at least $10M cover, if you ask me.

        Or, as the GP suggests, simply use a limited liability corporation, which will cost substantially less. You can form a company which will cost about $150 in the first year and about $50 per annum thereafter, and if it isn't trading commercially you won't need to hire an accountant etc (just read a few books on how to look after it). If anybody is stupid enough to sue it you just file paperwork to fold the business. Sure, they'll end up owning copyright to your work, but as you've probably GPL'd it, that's not particularly helpful for them...

    • by sorak (246725)

      Hiding behind a pseudonym is only helpful in the case where you are doing something very illegal or commercially disruptive, in which case you need to do a lot more than just choose a handle, eg offshoring, money laundering etc.

      Don't forget Freenet/onion routing. If you're doing something THAT serious, then a simple nickname isn't going to protect you from RICO/Patriot Act/etc...

      I don't think the original poster had that in mind, but you may have a point in that, if a patent troll/MPAA/RIAA organization were to go after you, the first thing they would do is contact the project's ISP and demand a list of ISP addresses for everyone who has connected to that server, under threat of legal incarceration, fines, foreclosures, voodoo, an

    • by cptdondo (59460)

      Google 'piercing the corporate shield'. While the 'get a corporation and hide behind it' is a popular common fiction, it doesn't hold up in reality.

      In brief, a corporation will only protect you if you are wealthy enough to staff up with lawyers. If you're a small company, especially a one-person part-time LLC that can't affort $400/hr for attorneys, a corporation offers almost no protection whatsoever.

      As in most things legal, the system is set up to favor those with the deep pockets and big-name lawyers.

  • Real Name! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:01PM (#25789659)
    you should always use your real name when publishing online!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MikeDirnt69 (1105185)
      Hi Mr November, how you doing today?
    • I personally prefer to use a unique pseudonym for each thing I do. Then I can link it to my real name if there's any advantage to doing so, while keeping as much privacy as possible.

      Those who have always been able to use their real name can do that only because they've never met any of the creepy stalker people online.

      Free emails don't cost anything and you can forward them to a central location to sort out your identities if need be. Heck, I don't even remember how many identities I have these days...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      My name IS Anonymous Coward, you insensitive clod!
  • by Octorian (14086) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:04PM (#25789709) Homepage

    Right now the only project I actively contribute to is my own. Of course I have my real name on the project site and in the copyright headers. However, my username (on the site and the repository logs) is more of an online nick. The downside of this is that I get lots of e-mails and forum posts where people assume that nick is my real name.

    Of course once I'm at the point where I care about liability protection, I'd rather form some sort of LLC to contain my efforts. I really do want to contribute in a way that people know its me, since what's the point of contributing to a project you can't personally claim credit for?

  • by Green Salad (705185) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:04PM (#25789711) Homepage

    As long as I sign my code as Blue Salad, they'll never guess I'm really "Green Salad." Muh haha

  • Another Con (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:06PM (#25789733)
    I bothered to read every letter of a contract I signed with a company I once worked for and it had the peculiar verbage something to the effect of "... every idea or product developed by the employee during their employment at CompanyX is intellectual property of CompanyX." I got some clarification which resulted in the understanding that that particular phrase was left open so that if I went home and wrote an NLP engine from scratch while I was employed, it was their intellectual property. Let's just say at that time I needed the money and my foot in the door so I did take that temporary position.

    From that early moment on, all contributions have been pretty darn anonymous. Remember, you're not just protecting yourself, you're protecting other OSS developers, other OSS companies and more importantly the users.
    • by Shakrai (717556)

      I got some clarification which resulted in the understanding that that particular phrase was left open so that if I went home and wrote an NLP engine from scratch while I was employed, it was their intellectual property

      Just because they put that clause in doesn't mean it will stand up in court....

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Bandman (86149)

      Radio shack used to have a clause like that too. They even claimed everything you produced for a year after you left. Laughable. As if my sales training there would lead to creating something useful.

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:52PM (#25790521)

      From that early moment on, all contributions have been pretty darn anonymous

      But what happens if someone finds out? The project is still in just as much risk. That's honestly not very kind either.

      Far better is to clarify and modify that contract you are about to sign. Even the lowliest peon can easily ask to have a clause put in along the lines of "The IP section does not cover inventions made using my own equipment outside of company time" (have a lawyer write the real thing). Because otherwise by blindly agreeing, even your posts here on Slashdot are owned by your employer under the typical agreement.

      ALmost any company will let you add an addendum like that to your employment contract. Do not be overawed by contracts, they are simply a starting point.

      • by syousef (465911)

        ALmost any company will let you add an addendum like that to your employment contract. Do not be overawed by contracts, they are simply a starting point.

        -1:Naive

        Most companies will label you a trouble maker if you question anything in the contract. They will only hire you if they don't have a less troublesome alternative available. If the company wants to play fair they'll never include such a clause or at least limit it to what is work related.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Alpha830RulZ (939527)

          My experience has been that I have gotten an exclusion all three times this has come up. The key is to be reasonable.

    • Re:Another Con (Score:5, Informative)

      by Zordak (123132) on Monday November 17, 2008 @04:04PM (#25790729) Homepage Journal

      Actually, that's not "peculiar." Pretty much every employment contract will have a clause like that (more generous employers will just grab IP "related to your work," but read that broadly). And for the most part, it's enforceable.

      There's also a problem with your anonymous contributions. The open source projects you donated code to are now tainted. If your employer decides to sue you for whatever reason, they'll ask in discovery for you to produce all IP you created while employed. Sure, you can lie and hide the stuff you did, and they may not find out. But if they do, you'll get sanctioned, and the judge will not be your friend after that. Bottom line, take those clauses seriously. If you're doing something unrelated and you really don't think your business is interested, get a signed release for your project. Or better yet, tell them up front that you work on unrelated open source projects, and ask them if they'll agree to a narrowly-crafted exclusion in the employment agreement. They may say yes.

      I'm a lawyer, but this post isn't legal advice. Don't rely on it for any reason.

    • by Splab (574204)

      Was met with the same clause in a contract for a part time job, I told them I couldn't sign it since most of my work done in private was for the University and thus belonged to them.

      Also, as it turned out, that kind of contract was not enforceable for a part time hourly paid job (talked to the union - yes they do work as intended in Denmark).

  • Real, of course. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler (414242) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:06PM (#25789735) Homepage

    > Do you contribute to open source projects under your real name or a nickname?

    Real, of course. Why would I want to hide?

    > The openness of open source can be encouraging, but software patents you have never
    > heard of can become a nightmare if a patent troll sues for implementing 'their' scroll
    > bar.

    As a pure unpaid contributor of source code you have no patent liability.

    > A real name also means you end up in the big index we call search engines.

    I've been using my real name on the Net for more than twenty years. I don't see the problem.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mark_wilkins (687537)

      > As a pure unpaid contributor of source code you have no patent liability.

      Unfortunately, that's not true. Actually, as an unpaid, noncommercial USER of a software product, you CAN have patent liability.

      Patents extend to the right to control all development and use of derivative technologies whether commercially or noncommercially.

      • by michaelepley (239861) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:19PM (#25789975) Homepage
        Either as a user or developer, if you have enough money/influence that the patent holder cares to sue you, it won't matter much if you post anonymously: your real name in all likelihood will be discovered in due course.
        • by jaaron (551839)

          Exactly. Hiding your real name because you think it gives you some sort of legal anonymity or indemnity is incorrect. In fact, you'll likely be better off to use your real name.

          If you're concerned about patents with the open source work you do, then you should use a license with explicit patent clauses (such as the Apache license). Even better, your open source project should be associated with a non-profit open source / free software foundation like the FSF or ASF.

          As far as the other concerns for u

      • by skiingyac (262641)

        > > As a pure unpaid contributor of source code you have no patent liability.

        > Unfortunately, that's not true. Actually, as an unpaid, noncommercial USER of a software product, you CAN have patent liability.

        While you're right, both user and contributor are probably liable depending on the situation, I think there is a distinction between a liability that isn't worth you even being sent a letter about and a liability that is worth someone suing you over.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by CatsupBoy (825578)

      Real, of course. Why would I want to hide?

      Because now everyone knows you as a T-bagger [wikipedia.org]

  • Obvious con (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikeRT (947531) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:07PM (#25789763) Homepage
    It won't be easy to prove to a potential employer that you work(ed) on the project, so you might as well not include it on your resume unless you're tenacious about it.
    • by Kozz (7764)
      You can prove it. Just show the potential employer you've got the source code. ;)
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:10PM (#25789811)

    I've never had any problems submitting my code as Bill_Gates55, but RMS1953 can sometimes get me into trouble. Of course, nobody would believe me if I used my real name; Girls don't program.

    • by russotto (537200)

      Of course, nobody would believe me if I used my real name; Girls don't program.

      That's not really why we didn't believe you, Ms. Natalie Portman.

  • by viridari (1138635) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:11PM (#25789853)

    ...use someone else's real name?

    Find a great idea while mining through software patents? Use a name of someone you'd like to see twist in the wind and implement this concept in your favorite Open Source project. What could be more fun?

  • by moore.dustin (942289) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:12PM (#25789861) Homepage
    When in doubt, go the safe route where you have some degree of control over your personal information. I contribute to a few sites here and there, not to mention the few I run myself, and I write every single word under a pen name. There are a few reasons why I do this, mostly privacy issues related to avoiding unwarranted judgment/stigma from something I wrote. A pen name/alias/handle protects from this problem, but also has the added benefit of being able to 'reveal yourself' at a later date if you decide to forgo the privacy stuff.

    That being said, I specifically choose to NOT assume an alias here on slashdot. I have my reasons for doing so, but they are of no consequence. The point is, you should think about your choice and the consequences of it. After weighing the information, if you are still on the fence, you should err on the side of caution and assume an alias.
  • There are ... security related... projects one may contribute to, that one would tend to use a nickname instead of ones real name... ;)
  • by eln (21727) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:16PM (#25789937) Homepage

    Ever since releasing my first open source OS back in '91, I've been using the pseudonym "Linus Torvalds", which I thought was a sufficiently ridiculous name that no one would ever confuse me for anyone else. Imagine my consternation when some joker from Finland started getting all of these awesome jobs and invited to speak at conferences and whatnot because everyone thought he was me! He's been milking it ever since.

  • Anonymously (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wagr (1070120)

    I post anonymously because I'm an insensitive clod.

    Actually, I tend to answer questions on forums with my real id, or with a login that easily leads back to me. But I submit complete code blocks under one of several fake ids, and from my home system. Though I doubt I'd get fired for any of the code I've shared, we don't have any explicit policy at my job, and I don't want to test my boss's understanding of "trade secrets."

  • by PingXao (153057) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:18PM (#25789967)

    I never use my real name online, or at least as little as possible. The reason is I don't want future potential employers to be able to Google up any dirt - real or perceived - on me. If I want to bring some of my OSS work to a prospective employer's attention I can do that. I can also pretty much prove that I am responsible for this feature on that program, or that my contributions are legit.

    Having you real name associated online with just about anything is IMO a bad idea. The risks are high and the benefits are almost nonexistent. The odds are 10-1 (I just pulled that number out of my ass) that dirt will outrank achievments if you use your real name and someone Googles for you. That one time you got drunk and went off on some insane rant 5 years ago WILL come back to haunt you no matter how many other positive things there are.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quanticle (843097)

      That one time you got drunk and went off on some insane rant 5 years ago WILL come back to haunt you no matter how many other positive things there are.

      I'm not sure about that. With the increasing omnipresence of search engines, you're going to see everybody's drunk insane rant posted and accessible online. If any prospective employer held that sort of thing against me, I doubt that I'd accept the job. Also, there are consequences to not having information about yourself online. After all, if I'm an employer and I don't see any work or any references to you online, I might wonder what you have to hide.

    • by jaaron (551839)

      Interesting. I purposefully use my real name on all the open source work I do and this has helped me for employment / consulting work tremendously. I'm very google-able and I've never had an issue.

  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:20PM (#25790007) Homepage Journal

    If you want to be protected by the patent terms of Open Source licenses, which for example was important in the JMRI case, you need to be properly identified. Otherwise, you may have a hard time proving to some judge that you should be protected because the plaintiff should have known that you were "Blue Salad".

    Also, the project should make your identity known in the software package as copyright holder. Apache is terrible about this, they strip attribution from most stuff.

    And I have a problem with anonomously-donated or anonymously-licensed Open Source, because how do you know the anonymous person actually had the right to donate and you won't run into trouble down the line.

    Probably the best thing you can do is assign your copyright to an organization that keeps your identity private. Maybe FSF and some of the incorporated Open Source projects would do this.

    Bruce

    • If you want to be protected by the patent terms of Open Source licenses... you need to be properly identified. Otherwise, you may have a hard time proving... you were "Blue Salad".

      And on the flip side, if someone does go after "Blue Salad", they will subpoena ISP records, email provider records, and other evidence, and build an argument quite likely to convince a judge that you are, in fact, "Blue Salad". If there is real money involved, a pseudonym will not protect you.

      My conclusion? For "patent protect

    • And I have a problem with anonomously-donated or anonymously-licensed Open Source, because how do you know the anonymous person actually had the right to donate and you won't run into trouble down the line.

      How do you know someone who wasn't anonymous had that right, either, unless you've got proof that the identity given is accurate and proof of that identity's rights to the contribution is in question (such as a copyright registration for the contribution)?

      Seems to me the biggest advantage of identified c

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) *

        Obviously I don't have proof of every developer's identity. The major projects generally do, however, use some sort of public-key ID to make sure they know who their folks are. Debian does ID their developers as part of the key-signing process. Thus I've looked over a number of developers passports and drivers licenses.

        So, if one of those people committed some sort of deliberate crime like inserting a trojan, or uploading their employers code without permission in a way that seriously messes up the project,

    • by jaaron (551839) on Monday November 17, 2008 @05:28PM (#25792153) Homepage

      Apache strips attribution from source files to avoid anyone feeling they own a particular bit of code instead of the community in general. Authorship is maintained through the issue tracker and the subversion commit records.

      Moreover, no contributions to Apache are anonymous. All contributions through the issue tracker require the submitter to provide a license for use of the work in Apache. All committers who provide significant works are required to sign a contributor license agreement.

      Apache is one of the most thorough open source projects when it comes to ensuring we have clear rights for the works we distribute.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bruce Perens (3872) *

        I agree with everything you said. There's one problem, though.

        It's Apache policy that contributions to Apache remain copyrighted by their authors or their employers. They don't belong to the Apache project.

        Consider that Acme is using some Apache program.
        Acme sues Developer X for some patent infringement because Developer X is using the same Apache program, which Acme claims infringes their patent.
        Developer X appears as a defendant, and says (as Jacobsen said) Acme has a license from me that terminates b

  • Let it slip out (Score:3, Interesting)

    by m50d (797211) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:22PM (#25790037) Homepage Journal
    I found some horrible prejudice when I submitted things under my real name, so I'll always use a pseudonym for my first few patches. But while I never actually *stop* using the pseudonym, I'll gradually start e.g. signing emails with my real name; that avoids trouble and lets me get some credit for my actual self.
    • by legirons (809082)

      I'll gradually start e.g. signing emails with my real name; that avoids trouble and lets me get some credit for my actual self.

      Surely it's always possible to claim credit for pseudononymous work -- if someone disbelieves you wrote it then just say you'll checkin a comment line of their choice to SVN?

  • Either one is fine (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:25PM (#25790089) Homepage Journal
    In the open source community it really does seem that either one is fine. This isn't like the old days of D00DZ and WAREZ and C0DEZ where you used your handle to keep the feds from figuring out who you really were. Nowadays it's more of a tradition. Most people are going to be able to match your real name and your screen name, and that's fine. I do a lot of development using both, and people are generally cool with it.

    That's strictly in the online sphere, though. If you're sitting in someone's office working out a consulting contract to build some open source software then yeah, your business card had better have your birth name on it if you want to be taken seriously.
  • A few years ago I switched from using my handle to using my real name. I encourage other contributors to PortableApps.com to also use their real name. When companies are considering bundling your software on commercial products they like to see that an app is maintained by "Joe Thomas" rather than Ko0lDude23.

    • When companies are considering bundling your software on commercial products they like to see that an app is maintained by "Joe Thomas" rather than Ko0lDude23.

      No problem, I'll just call myself Jarrod D. Henley [fakenamegenerator.com]...

  • All right, you've got me. I've been posting code using the pseudonym "Linus Torvalds" for years, but I guess the jig is up.

  • Pro: someone suing has to first prove the the alias is really you.

    Con: If you want to assert your ownership, you have to first prove that the alias is really you.

    Con: Professionals use their real names. Are you a pro or a teenager?

  • I release all of my open source software using my pseudonym "Linus Torvalds".

  • Hey,

    so there are already a bunch of answers that agree with the basic premise that you may want to protect your name because patent trolls may come after you.

    Can anyone give even one concrete example of a patent troll going after an open source contributor? It seems incredibly unlikely to me. Surely they go where the money is - they sue Microsoft or Cisco or similar. Why stuff around suing people that even when you win the pay off is crap?

    I think the key premise here is just FUD.

    --Q

    • by node159 (636992)
      Hello Mr Goldfish. I'm here to remind you about SCO and all the fun and entertainment they provided us. Regards
    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      Find someone in England who is willing to publish your code under their name and you have no problems with patent trolls.

      Well, for the moment anyway..

  • What about PGP? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bkazaz_gr (1409357) on Monday November 17, 2008 @03:49PM (#25790475)
    What if you generate a PGP key and use it's ID as you "name". In that case, anyone holding the private key is essentially the copyright holder, right? ;-)
  • I've had this handle for a very long time, and I keep it now for mostly historical reasons. On the other hand, I don't mind people knowing that my real name is Corbin Simpson, that I'm a student in Oregon, or that I attend Oregon State University.

    I certainly wouldn't ever disclose a fake name, or ever admit that it was false.

  • the user name ltorvalds. It tends to ensure that my patches are accepted at a higher rate. In fact, I get a higher acceptance rate than when I use my other screen name, rMs

  • If you do it because you want to protect yourself legaly, you must know that you do something wrong. Stop doing it. OTOH there can be many other reasons you do something under an alias. I started using my alias to have a completely sperate name offline and online. That way I would not be confused as if I were speaking for the company I worked for.
    A nickname is nothing more then a just that, a nickname. It is a name that you are known by in a certain group of people. Take somebody who is called Robert Willia

    • Wrong to who? A company can sue you and they might, in fact, be wrong, but you would still be out thousands of dollars by that point.
  • by drix (4602) on Monday November 17, 2008 @05:11PM (#25791825) Homepage

    Contribute using the SHA1 hash of your real name as your anonymous nickname. If you ever want to be identified you can verify that it was you who made the contributions.

  • The answer to this question should be relatively easy to come to, just compare the PROs and CONs of semi-anonymity:

    PROS - very hard for anyone who wishes you ill to find you through the project
    but not entirely impossible, subpoena of ISP records and such will probably
    be succesful, but run-of-the-mill stalker or process server will not.

    CONS - harder to take credit for your efforts, but that can be mitigated

  • I'm not an open source developer, but I find myself in a situation similar to the article's description. For the longest time (mostly due to lack of effort to come up with a good name), I used my real name online. I set up my e-mail address using it, my Slashdot account, etc. The world knew me as "Jason Levine" and I was fine with it. A couple of years ago, my wife set up a blog and decided to stay anonymous. She took great care not to link her blog-identity to my "public online-identity". A few month

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