For example, if I read a comment from which I know, that an ordinary commoner doesn't know, even if they is a professional. For example, if somebody on the Space SE writes something which is unlikely to be known anybody except internal employee of the NASA, possibly astronauts. Or, if somebody identifies himself as a Nobel prize holder on the Physics SE1.

I think the logical behavior would be to silently trying to tune the things into a direction where their appearance serves the best of the site. However, I am only a small fish there.

So, what to do? Mod flag?

1 This question is for the case if the nick doesn't reveal himself. In the known PSE case the Nobel prize holder used his own name.

  • 11
    Do nothing? Act like you would with any other user? They are human too right?
    – rene
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 17:46
  • @rene Yes, obviously this should be done in the first line. But the existence of VIPs on the sites may be very useful. Maybe others have better ideas.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 17:49
  • 2
    If the VIP wanted to be identified, then they would identify themselves, it would be inappropriate for any moderator to do it for them. It is unclear what a moderator would do anyway. I could change my display name, my history, and make it appear I am Intel's Raja Koduri. Raja Koduri, of course, used to work for AMD. My point is, users are not forced to identify themselves for a reason, which means you can't possibly know for a shadow of doubt somebody is who they say they are. - Raja OUT!
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 18:01
  • @Ramhound Yes. But if I see an anonym nick, saying something in a comment in a low-view post, which is unlikely to be known by anybody, except a VIP? Revealing they would be obviously impossible. But having VIPs on the sites may be very useful for that site where they are active.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 18:04
  • 1
    If they wanted the information linked to their name they would make it so. You shouldn't do anything. A moderator would not be able to do anything with a flag like that anyways.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 18:07
  • @Ramhound Ok, but with it, I risk that they get into some LQ trap, and they leave the site, which would be a big missed opportunity.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 18:10
  • And if they can't meet our quality standards, then their contributions shouldn't stick around. Whether they're a VIP or not is immaterial.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:19
  • @fbueckert They met.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:21
  • 1
    Great! But the fact that they're a VIP is irrelevant to the situation. You're proposing we give them special treatment, which is antithetical to SE's premise. It's all about the content. Nothing more.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:22
  • @fbueckert Not for sure - the existence and activity of a VIP would have obviously a very positive effect to the longterm site stats. Look, for example, Catija's answer. As I understand, she doesn't say that it is irrelevant, she says that doing anything special would be worse as handling them like everybody. (If I understand her well.)
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:32
  • 1
    Them being a VIP is irrelevant to the situation. Whether they decide to out themselves or not, they are still subject to the same quality standards. What, exactly, do you expect a VIP to be able to do to effect change? They're not a mod. They're just a user.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:34
  • @fbueckert VIPs, on the hard sites, even in disguise, can contribute such content what no one can. This makes them very important.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:39
  • 1
    @peterh You're going to need to be way clearer than that. Less hypotheticals, more concrete examples.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:41
  • @fbueckert I've shown two examples in the question. How could I be more concrete?
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 19:43
  • 1
    I did. I asked for concrete examples. You've provided a hypothetical. An actual use case for why we should treat VIPs differently. No argument to support your case, just a random question without any backing. Until you provide something usable, I refuse to argue further.
    – fbueckert
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 22:46

1 Answer 1


Part of the anonymity of the internet - which Stack Exchange completely ascribes to if the users choose to take advantage of it - is that people can just be people.

Some love it when you know who they are and are happy to be up front and answer questions. The Science Fiction and Fantasy site has a meta post full of the times "professionals" (usually authors) came to the site and explained their own work.

But some are on these sites because they really love just being part of a community and if they specifically choose to be anonymous - by using a username that's generic or not saying who they are in their profile - we should respect that and not accuse them of being someone - which may be wrong anyway. "Outing" them puts your own needs/wants ahead of theirs, which is not fair or kind... and is likely to chase them away entirely.

If they want to be known, let them come to it in their own time. If they want to be anonymous, ignore the slips that might give away who they are.

So, to answer your question:

Do nothing.

  • Note, I didn't mention ordinary professionals, or "professionals". I mentioned real VIPs, on hard sites. But your answer seems acceptable even in their case - the likely result of doing anything special would be worser as not doing nothing. This makes your answer acceptable.
    – peterh
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 18:21
  • Does SE have a policy against doxxing or outing users? For example if I know an anonymous user is XYZ, and I post comments or Meta posts telling the whole community that they are XYZ, would it be something worthy of getting a warning or suspension? I know that mods sign an agreement saying that they won't share privileged information publicly, but what if a non-mod (like me) does it? On Wikipedia for example, they say "Posting another editor's personal information is harassment." Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 20:06

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