It has been discussed before, but in light of some of the recent conversation on serial downvoting, I can't help but wonder what is accomplished by displaying the author of a given question or answer. There is a similar question regarding anonymous rep, but if anything, I don't think it goes far enough.

If questions and answers are supposed to stand on their own merit, why do we need to show the author at all? I'm not proposing any change to the way rep works; rep should still be accrued and abilities gained. The only difference is that questions and answers would appear anonymous.

Does this better reflect the goals of SO? If so, how far do you think the anonymity should be taken? If not, what shortcomings am I missing?


5 Answers 5


Attribution of others' material should be hideable at user option. If one wants to hide identities of others, to minimize one's own bias, one should be able to do that.

Attribution of one's own material should be hideable at poster option for questions and answers. If one wants to hide identity to avoid unduly influencing responders with one's name, one should be able to do that. (Except mods, of course, should be able to override and see author.)

Attribution of one's own material should NOT be hideable at editor option. You modify someone else's content, and your work is visible to all, period.


I think if you get rid of the whole concept of "ownership," a significant percentage of the users here would contribute a lot less.

Many users are here, not only to share information and to help out a community, but to show off their skills a bit.


I think that ownership of questions and answers is a good thing. It fosters a sense of community and allows us to know who it is that has answered our questions or asked a question we answered.

Yes, this information can be used maliciously but I think that the benefit of community outweighs the risk.


I'll play Devil's Advocate here since it's my question that discusses anonymity.

There is merit in being able to see the identity and rep of the person answering your question. It gives you a clue as to how reliable the answer is likely to be.

  • 1
    But aren't the up/down votes supposed to provide that clue? Jul 2, 2009 at 16:26
  • 1
    Yes, but people react to words better than numbers, the rep might have been gained in a different area - if you know the identity you can check their profile and see. I do however think that anonymity might be good in certain circumstances, I'm not sure if it should be permanent.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 2, 2009 at 16:31

From so SO FAQ

What is reputation?

Reputation is completely optional; normal use of Stack Overflow — asking and answering questions — does not require any reputation whatsoever.

As we've said all along — Stack Overflow is run by you! If you want to help us run Stack Overflow, you'll need reputation first. Reputation is a (very) rough measurement of how much the Stack Overflow community trusts you. Reputation is never given, it is earned by convincing other Stack Overflow users that you know what you're talking about.

Jeff says it pretty clearly. Rep and owners are CRITICAL PILLARS of the SO formula.


We all trust Jon Skeet. Because his answers are consistently solid and thorough. But would it be as noticable if he was anonymous? Wouldn't this discourage him?

Marc Gravell and Bill the Lizard both became moderators because of their consistent and excellent behaviour on the site. Both from their technical advice, and their voting/comment/closing behaviour. They were good examples of what we want an SO user to be. The only way we could know that is because they attach their names to everything they do.

  • Neither of which I suggest removing, just not displaying. How much the community trusts you shouldn't reflect on how much the community trusts your answer. Jul 2, 2009 at 18:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .