10

I'd like stack exchange to allow me to post a question anonymously without having to log out or create another account.

This could be accomplished by providing an "Anonymous" checkbox that, when checked, makes the post anonymous. This way we can stay logged into our accounts and keep track of the answers and follow on the comments.

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    Why would this be a good feature to have? – JonW Jul 13 '16 at 14:41
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    Possible duplicate of Need to ask a question anonymously – JAL Jul 13 '16 at 14:42
  • Stay logged into your account and track the answers, accept a second answer as accepted at later point in time – Anand Rockzz Jul 13 '16 at 14:43
  • @Jal I think it's not, (see comments section under that question) that is talking about a work around solution to do this (by logging out from your original account/create a new account) – Anand Rockzz Jul 13 '16 at 14:47
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    Especially in parenting.stack exchange.com and law.Stack exchange.com it would a lot easier to say few things and discuss comfortably if we can do this – Anand Rockzz Jul 13 '16 at 14:50
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    @AnandRockzz for these cases, it is allowed to have multiple accounts on a Stack Exchange site. Just be careful that you don't do this to increase your reputation. – Glorfindel Jul 13 '16 at 14:53
  • @Glorfindel I'm mostly on phone.. And I'm afraid I can log in to only one account and push notifications of the newly created account wouldn't reach the phone if I'm logged in to my first account. – Anand Rockzz Jul 13 '16 at 14:56
  • @JAL not it's not a duplicate. OP here clearly says "stay logged into our accounts". – Shadow The Coffee Wizard Jul 13 '16 at 15:02
  • @Shadow wizard What's op? – Anand Rockzz Jul 13 '16 at 15:04
  • @AnandRockzz Original Poster, in this case it's you. (See this and many more here.) – Shadow The Coffee Wizard Jul 13 '16 at 15:04
  • Btw, someone in that previous question adviced me to ask it as a separate question, but looks like no body likes this feature (is it cuz the word quora is in the original question?) 😜 – Anand Rockzz Jul 13 '16 at 15:07
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    @AnandRockzz no because it's just a bad idea. – Shadow The Coffee Wizard Jul 13 '16 at 15:08
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    @Shadow wizard, may be I'm not getting the point, can you please reason it out 😊? – Anand Rockzz Jul 13 '16 at 15:09
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    I dunno. SE specifically allows for this by allowing users to run multiple accounts. A feature like this would make the multiple accounts thing redundant, and would be a better UX for people who do want to post anonymously. Not sure if it's worth the development time or UI real estate to support the number of people who would use it. – Won't Jul 13 '16 at 15:57
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    @Glorfindel you wouldn't need multiple accounts if you could post anonymously! I can see multiple accounts being trouble, because it would appear that you're trying to boost your rep, but that should be against the terms of use IMO, just facilitate a way for easily posting anonymous questions that can mark Answers and track the post overall (in a private way that doesn't show on the profile). Having multiple accounts is a pain in the ass – Adam Plocher Mar 20 '17 at 5:40
23

I strongly agree with this request.

  • As is stated in the linked question, this is already possible, it's just a pain in the butt. It's highly unintuitive, since for some very odd reason the "log out" button is in the navigation menu instead of the user menu, like almost every other site I've used. It's also technically complicated (log out of an anonymous account? WTF?) which means that most people won't figure out the whole process and will get annoyed and/or screw it up. Preventing this because "transparency" is a red herring; we already don't have transparency.
  • This is a relatively important request on a number of sites, including Workplace, Law, Academia, Travel, and anywhere else where people are likely to post stories about to their own lives. I'm a mod on Academia... we fairly regularly get users unintentionally posting questions that put their own career in danger. By making this difficult we are not only inconveniencing users, but we're (indirectly) helping the users put themselves in a bad spot.
  • This would eliminate a number of relatively trivial but (I'm guessing?) fairly common CM flags asking to have posts dissociated from their users. Why have the Community Mods waste time on this?

More fundamentally, though, why is this a bad idea? The goal of Stack Exchange, as stated on the about page, is:

Stack Exchange is... the preeminent site for programmers to find, ask, and answer questions about software development.

Having logged-in users is simply for user convenience, and provides a nice way to set up gamification and ensure people come back. If I specifically don't want a post to be associated with me, why make that difficult?

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    thank you, for past few days I've been thinking my thought-process is against this whole world – Anand Rockzz Jul 15 '16 at 22:30
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    I agree whole-heartedly. Today is the second time in a month that I've posted anonymous questions. health.SE is one place, and startups.SE (where I had a question about a business practice that a particular client was doing and didn't want to risk getting sued or lose him as a client)... The fact is, SE has stated that it is encouraged to go into stealth mode when needed, and it IS a pain to do it right now (and can't track it easily afterwards!) – Adam Plocher Mar 20 '17 at 5:37
  • One more thought: couldn't this be a SE-site-specific feature? Example: StackOverflow maybe wouldn't benefit from this and could see a much higher rate of abuse, but health, law, startups, business, etc could really use a feature like this. This would help to alleviate the concerns others have. – Adam Plocher Mar 20 '17 at 5:43
  • +1 I found this after a similar hiccup on Workplace. It's a shame this feature doesn't exist. I'd add IPS to the list of sites where this may be useful too. I can think of some things people have posted there that could have fairly catastrophic consequences if seen by the wrong person who knows the OP. It seems all to obvious to me why this feature would have value. – Brent Hackers Jan 12 '18 at 12:33
  • +1 As others have stated, this is particularly useful for exchanges like IPS. I personally am in a situation in which I asked a question on IPS that I shared with a non-SE using friend so they could give their own feedback... but now I wanted to ask a question about that same friend and wouldn't want them to somehow discover that question. – Steven Goodman Feb 20 '18 at 15:25
-2

That won't be a good idea for at least two reasons I can think of.

(lack of) Transparency

Stack Exchange is 100% transparent about the activity of its users, meaning each and every action (which is not private, like flagging) is publicly displayed in the user profile: Question, Answers, Edits, and more.

This allows users to track the activity of other users easily, and be careful with what they post, knowing anyone can see anything they do.

Letting users make anonymous actions is against this transparency. Of course one can simply create another account from scratch and use it, but this is already covered in answers to a related discussion.

(avoiding) Tracking of bad behavior

Suppose you see a very poor question from a user. You want to help so you edit, comment, etc. But before doing this, you take a look on that user's past questions. If that's their first or second question you think "New user, let's give a hand" and continue happily. However, if that's their 10th poor question, all 10 posted very poorly, edited, people tried to help, and all in vain, you think "This one is beyond help, no point wasting my time" and move on to help someone with potential to learn.

Letting users post anonymously will prevent you from doing this, making it impossible to know the history of the one who posted, and not knowing if you waste your time trying to improve a poor question or not.

  • 1
    I disagree with your last paragraphs, morally. All users should be helped out no matter how many ridiculous, poorly-written posts they have written. – Anthony Pham Jul 13 '16 at 22:06
  • @PythonMaster so guess we have to agree to disagree. I mean users who don't learn from their mistakes, i.e. keeping to post questions with bad formatting, unclear, without sharing what they tried etc. (and usually without even replying to comments) – Shadow The Coffee Wizard Jul 13 '16 at 22:07
  • the whole point of lack of transparency is the ask here :) Yes it will not be there, but only for certain questions (which the users mark it) may be certain mods with certain privilege can "request-to-reveal-identity" and certain number mods with certain privilege think the user should be revealed, it can be revealed only to the mods? may be?! would this solve the tracking bad behavior problem? - there might be a better solution there or may be someone can improvise on this, instead of turning me down outright – Anand Rockzz Jul 15 '16 at 22:35
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    I agree with both of these comments. My main question is whether the benefit provided by allowing anonymous posting outweighs these downsides. For Academia, the answer is definitely "yes". For SO, I imagine the answer is a probably "no". Could something like this be enabled on a per-site basis? – eykanal Oct 6 '16 at 15:12
  • @eykanal don't know about Academia.SE but as for your question then yes, there are already many features which are on a per-site basis. But I also agree with this comment, saying "Not sure if it's worth the development time..." - since only few people are going to use it, and there is already a way to achieve it, better spend the time and resources on other things. – Shadow The Coffee Wizard Oct 6 '16 at 15:15
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    Disagree, the feature should be added because it has been stated that it is allowed (and even encouraged) by SE. Requiring logout and log-back-in or logout and post anonymously is bad UX and doesn't allow a user to track or maintain their posting. Sites like law, health, business, startups, and many others have people posting personal information that should remain anonymous. This isn't all about StackOverflow - it's about the other sites mainly. – Adam Plocher Mar 20 '17 at 5:50
-2

StackExchange works with openly accessible data. There are many things that cannot be seen at the UI but that are still stored. For instance, who upvoted or downvoted a certain question and who subscribed to a specific text. Many of these things can be openly accessed. Take a look at the queries at https://data.stackexchange.com/ to get an idea. On the other hand, some things are hidden, like edit history and e-mail addresses.

So my first question would be: Is it technically feasible to implement what you want (ask anonymous, but still have ownership, reputation, notifications for a question)?

I think one could always write a query that unmasks all anonymity (by linking reputation, subscriptions, whatever). In this case, it would be far more dangerous to offer the "anonymous" feature than saying openly that StackExchange cannot be used anonymous.

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    This is more of a comment than an answer. That said, the answer is "yes". SO works perfectly well with anonymous users. The same anonymous user can return over and over again and his temporary account will gain rep. Regardless, this is a red herring; the feature request is to allow anonymous posting, not "anonymous but linkable". Both are possible. – eykanal Jul 22 '16 at 12:55
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    @eykanal The feature request was to allow anonymous posting with "Stay logged into your account and track the answers, accept a second answer as accepted at later point in time", gaining rep on your main account etc. I don't think anonymity can be achieved while still having all the features that link to your non-anonymous account. Not while there is public access to all the tables. – mhchem Jul 22 '16 at 14:07

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