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I would like to participate anonymously in one StackExchange community. Using a different display name doesn't do me any good because even a visitor who is not logged in can check my user profile and see a full list of all the communities I participate in with that login. Basically, I would like to keep separate my professional and personal lives.

  • What is the recommended method for such anonymous participation (such as a user name that is not linked to my normal, long-standing user profile)? I presume I can just create a new account with a name and password, although I'm currently using an OpenId login. However...

  • Is there a way to keep things separate that doesn't require a bunch of logging in and out all the time every time I want to switch communities? Ideally, I would be able to be logged into all the communities at once in order to see notifications across all of SE.

  • Last, how can I "divorce" an existing profile in a community from the rest of my profiles so it can become anonymous, which it currently is not (as one can see such linking information easily)?

  • My guess is the only feasible solution is an entirely separate login. You can mitigate the login/logout issues with browser profiles. I have one Chrome window open under my "work profile" and all logins and cookies there relate to my professional life, and another under my "home profile", for my personal life. I don't have to log in and out of things that way. – Dan Bron Dec 1 '16 at 0:07
  • @DanBron Does Chrome allow you to set cookies for each window? Or is one of your Chrome windows logged in under Incognito Mode? – Catija Dec 1 '16 at 0:19
  • @Catija Not quite clear on what you're asking, but Chrome offers a feature where you can have different "personas" in the browser, logged in as the same user on the OS: pcworld.com/article/2089364/… . So the cookies are presumably stored in a different folder. But Chrome windows running as different "personas", even under the same OS user cannot see or talk to each other. You can't even drag tabs from one window to another. – Dan Bron Dec 1 '16 at 0:23
  • @DanBron Ah! Interesting. I don't use Chrome much so I was unaware of this functionality. Very useful. – Catija Dec 1 '16 at 0:25
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There is actually a mechanism for this. You can "hide" accounts from view on your main account list.

You do this by going to one of your edit profile and settings pages (in your profile) and then clicking on the option for "Hide Communities" (second from the bottom). Click "hide" for any community that you want to be hidden from general view.

This also allows you to keep the 100 rep bonus for joining new sites, which is a nice bonus.

Note that this doesn't absolutely hide your accounts (mods can still see the associated accounts, for example) but it does a lot to hide these "fun" sites from view. These issues are discussed in an answer here but these communities are generally hidden, even on the main Stack Exchange profile page as discussed here.

If the above isn't enough of a separation for you and you promise to keep your accounts utterly separate (no voting for your own posts or voting twice for someone else) you can have two different accounts. The easiest way to avoid logging in all the time is to use two different browsers for this. Have your "business" account logged in on Chrome and your "fun" account logged in on Firefox... or whichever two browsers you prefer. Note that voting for yourself is not acceptable and you risk bad things if you do it.

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  • You may want to note also that accounts can be auto-merged if you log in to one on the computer/browser/profile that has the cookies for the other. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 1 '16 at 0:21
  • Ugh... that might be annoying. Is there no way to avoid it? If both accounts are of a certain age, surely that would prevent it from happening? I'd imagine many couples share computers and wouldn't want their accounts merged. – Catija Dec 1 '16 at 0:23
  • I'm not sure of the exact limitations, but in general making sure you use different browser profiles (or different browsers, or different accounts, or different computers) is enough to prevent it. – Nathan Tuggy Dec 1 '16 at 0:24

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