I'd like to discuss private / anonymous posts or accounts.

I know, these posts are public, and linked to you in some way or another. Ok, "semi-anonymous", are you happy now?

No, this simply doesn't cover it.

Yes, this (referencing this and this) is sort of a duplicate, but this goes into a lot more detail, and that didn't see any resolution.

Some may say just create a different account, but:

  • There's merging, which is a bit of a black-box for most of us (which is good for some reasons), so some unwanted merging may already have occurred.

  • Why should people have to deal with the hassle of managing separate accounts (which is allowed), which would involve using d some stuff to prevent account merging?

My question(s):

  1. How to deal with one's account being linked to a site / post for which one may have privacy concerns, either post-merging or post-epiphany?

  2. Shouldn't there be some functionality added for this, say to keep these on the same account, but not visibly linked?

    Possibly the simplest of all solutions - allow certain site profiles to be made not visible from any other profile on a different site for the same account (possibly visible to only moderators, but definitely not 10k+ users, like viewing deleted posts, there are way too many 10k+ users), and those site profiles to not link to any other site profile.

    Obviously we'd want to change the workings of Save And Copy Profile To All Stack Exchange Accounts to not copy to these accounts so you can have a different user-name and details on there (and not have these constantly being overwritten).

Some may say this is not an issue, so, possible places one may have privacy concerns:

  • Health site - do you really want the world to know all your health problems?
  • Workplace site - maybe asking a question about a workplace situation or resigning, would you want your co-workers to know?
  • Academia site - asking a question e.g. about how to deal with some challenges with your supervisor, co-workers , etc.
  • Religion site - definitely a sensitive topic, quite probably not something you want everyone to know.
  • Sex site - surely no explanation required.
  • Any other site that could negatively affect someone's reputation - Maybe even boardgames or beer
  • Any question that could negatively affect someone's reputation on a different site
  • Compromising security - e.g. you may generically discuss a weakness in a program you're working on (without referencing the program) for various reasons (possibly without resolving the weakness) which could too easily be linked back to you and thus possibly the program

And no, by 'reputation' I don't mean on the StackExchange network (for the sake of the world, I truly hope that clarification wasn't required).

You could say just don't post things you don't want in the public domain, but I think we should rather welcome people who want to post semi-anonymously.

Some may say this would open the door for spammers or something, but, with a proper framework (or my solution above), this is really not an issue.

EDIT: Even if this request is declined (or implemented at some point in the possibly distant future), I'd still really like to see some resolution for (1.) soon.

EDIT 2: (1.) is intended to be a what's-my-best-course-of-action question for people who don't want to ask publicly for obvious reasons.

  • 7
    Sorry but I really can't understand why you make it so complicated. If one has privacy issues he shouldn't post in public place - forum, Q&A site or chat. That simple. As for different sites across the network having separate account on each is totally fine. It's possible to use different OpenID provider for each to reduce chance of auto merging. Mar 22, 2013 at 0:13
  • 4
    @ShaWizDowArd You'd want to post these posts for exactly the same reason you would otherwise (finding a solution, helping others with similar problems in the future, etc.), but without it being linked to you. Mar 22, 2013 at 0:17
  • 6
    @ShaWizDowArd "reduce chance of auto merging" - I have a problem with that there is a chance. So you happily post hundreds of posts you don't want linked to your other account, and BAM, they merge for whatever reason, what now? And why have this merging happen in the first place? Mar 22, 2013 at 0:20
  • 3
    Like I said, if you really worry about the privacy simply don't post. When posting one must always understand there is risk it will be linked to him/her at some point. People can guess based on the style of writing. Moderators can know based on same IP address. Anyway, can't see any real reason to deal with that and personally don't agree with the suggestion to have some sites "hidden" from the accounts page. Mar 22, 2013 at 0:33
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    Yes, there is a risk that it can be linked to him/her, but maybe this link shouldn't be made painfully obvious (in both directions). I'm happy if anyone (except mods) will have a bit of a hard time finding the link. Mar 22, 2013 at 0:38
  • 1
    Anonymity is a lie.
    – hjpotter92
    Mar 22, 2013 at 1:16
  • 5
    There is a huge difference between "It is possible with digging to discover an association" and "My health and relationship problems are publicly linked from my Workplace.SE profile."
    – Ziv
    Jan 26, 2014 at 10:33


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