Couple weeks ago when I interviewed Seth Godin on the radio show he said that he wished nobody could be anonymous on the internet.

It stirred up a few people in the comments who took exception to that statement.

I honestly can see both sides.

On one hand i can see times when using a sock puppet is useful.

I also have been a member and financial supporter of the Electronic Frontier Foundation for many years. This organization has done more for anonymity on the internet then any other.

But lets be honest.

  • 99.9% of the time when anonymity is invoked on the internet its to do someone harm.
  • 99.9% of the websites registered with anonymous info are spam/scams.

What if there was no such thing as anonymity on the internet?

What if Google warned you with a interstitial before you visited a site that was anonymously registered (maybe just from pay per click) ?

Talk amongst yourselves

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

70 thoughts on “Is Anonymity Good For The Internets?”
  1. “99.9% of the time when anonymity is invoked on the internet its to do someone harm.”

    I disagree. There are times when you may want to share personal info and remain information – eg: “I have herpes – what should I do???”

    Why should you put your name on that and have a future employer, client or family find out?

    1. Great point! But that’s the kind of website where you are allowed to be anonymous. Even in real life your details about such a topic when asking a doctor are private and confidential, so if referred to by the doctor, you will be anonymous.

      What the discussion is really about is whether people who give an “opinion” on the internet should be anonymous or named. That’s something that would change a lot of things.

      What if every human had an IP address that only they are supposed to use and the IP address is also allocated to a specific location. If the person uses a computer in another location they must get the computer’s address approved by their ISP so it knows that it’s them and not a hacker from another city.

      So the result is, whenever they leave an opinion on a website their full name is displayed.

      I reckon it’d cut online trolling and bullying down significantly. But also cost the govt a billion bucks a year just to manage.

  2. I used an anonymous service for one of my domains (simply cos I was getting mailed to death with offers to buy it). Registering a domain with one of these services isn’t worth a w**k! All it takes is somebody to write an official sounding e-mail and they’ll spill your details to whoever asks.

    If you want true anonymity you need a corporate trust structure (with nominee directors) setup in a secrecy jurisdiction. Register the domain under that and there’s nothing that ties you to that domain and as far as Google is concerned it’s just a domain owned by a company.

  3. I think that anonymity is required, but only in certain situations where only a contribution to a conversation or a point needs to be made, but then that obviously poses the question of what happens when a complaint or general flaming occurs, and if it needs to be dealt with. Obviously, without information on the person who makes these points, it is impossible to contact them or ban them off your site, so yeah, after some thinking, we do wonder if anonymity is really doing is any good or not.

    I can see some places where it is needed, but they’re too trivial, tbh. The only places I really see it widely used is in these super tight knit communities that are built upon anonymity, such as obvious places such as 4chan, and some others.. but if anonymity wasn’t in these places, imagine how google or whatever would react to these extra links / whatever on these image/comment boards? I dunno, I’m not a SEO expert or whatever.

    -Adam

  4. As long as people are providing useful information I don`t care if they are anonymous.

    But there is more to the phenomenom of anonimity. Whether it is online or offline there are different reasons for being anonymous.

    For instance for a starting blogger who is feed up with his work and boss it might be good to start anonymous.
    People would be laughing at you or you could lose a job because your boss finds out
    you are telling everyone how you are going to quit in every second post…

    The other thing is personal information. We leave trails all over internet. Companies who are able to gather and cross analyize different databases with personal information are very powerful and also dangerous.

    Just think how much google knows about you.

    So there really are two sides of the coin.

  5. Most of the time those who are using anonymous as their user name when commenting are only there to said something bad about the author.

  6. I would have a different opinion to the reason why people choose to remain anonymous. It is not always spamming and scamming that are reason for remaining anonymous. At times it is because of spamming and scamming that people on the internet choose to remain anonymous. The % that you have attributed should have been about 70-75% instead of 99.9%.

  7. Daily News About Google : A few links about Google - Saturday, 02 May 2009 04:57 says:

    […] Is Anonymity Good For The Internets? […]

  8. I agree with the first comment – people want to be anonymous with the hope of avoiding excessive spam & scams, which of course come from those who choose to be anonymous as well. If the option wasn’t there, there probably would be less of that shit in the first place, but there is. I think another legit use of privacy/anonymity would be for those who are (in)famous such as yourself Shoe, if you didn’t have other options, would you like to have all your domains registered using your home address and still talk about your projects here? 😉

    I also agree with the 3rd comment; about privacy for domains being useless, I’ve never bothered using it since a) it wasn’t always free, b) I always figured if someone really wants the info bad enough, they are going to get it anyways, so why add the extra hassle for myself. and c) With more women on the net nowadays there’s a good chance that the crazy that shows up at my doorstep might just be a hot (albeit crazy) chick. I have lots of experience dealing with crazy chicks so I figure what the hell 😛

  9. […] could acquire more stuff, thanks to a reduction you saw online? Chances are that you would fall Is Anonymity Good For The Internets? – shoemoney.com 05/02/2009 Couple weeks ago when I interviewed Seth Godin on the radio show he said […]

  10. Personally, I like to know the people behind the websites, but I do understand some like to be anonymous, even if it’s for fear of someone making threats, or stalking them.

    Not everyone can afford to hire security, so they may not be interested in becoming a target.

    But you’re right. Most anonymous users are spammers and don’t have the best inentions in mind.

  11. On forums it is an issue cause the wildest opinions and grade school behavior occurs.

  12. Imagine you are playing WoW or something, and pretend you like to kill other players and steal their stuff

    You are not necessarily evil for doing this

    But one day somebody is gonna end up wanting to come to your home and kill your ass, and he may do it

  13. I think it is important to have a choice. Although many times being anonymous is a cover for less than ethical behavior, there could be a legitimate reason for not wanting to put your name out there.

  14. To be honest, it’s not true.

    ““99.9% of the time when anonymity is invoked on the internet its to do someone harm.”

    For instance, people sometimes do not want to talk about religion, economy, country, or politic debate or even specific public figure in real life since it might be very sensitive to some group of people.

    If someone talk show he feels about specific religion or public figure on the net and that feeling is really2 negative, this guy prob will do lots of trash talking on the net while he won’t do the same thing in real life. It just happens.

    I think there are lots of people who are not brave enough to express how they feel to something they hate in real life. Therefore, they created their anonymous ID on the net and talk as freely as they can. I have seen too many examples, I think everybody has seen them too.

    So it’s not always about selling things. In fact, most people who use internet use it not to buy/sell things, but to do stupid stuffs like watching youtube or playing unnecessary stuffs in Facebook.

  15. Well Good post Shoe …!!

    According to me anonymity is required under very limited circumstances. But again as there is a popular saying that ” Every Coin has Two sides”.

  16. in the age of narcissism why would anyone want to be anonymous? Look at me. look at my stuff. check out my friends. tour my house. aren’t I great?

    1. Well, because they don’t want to get their face stomped in when they are seen in public ’cause they had been talk’n smack over the internet…I mean think ’bout it…if you had scammed people…would you plaster you face all over the internet for people to recognize you!?…common now…People that hide, most of the time, are hiding because they are hiding…

  17. I agree that most of the time an anonymous person is trying to do something stupid on the Internet. However there are also those so shy people out there that don’t want anyone to know what they are doing on the internet. But unfortunately now days if you are good enough you can find out who these anonymous people are and beat them up, just kidding or am I. doink doink

  18. “99.9% of the websites registered with anonymous info are spam/scams.”

    I disagree with this. I started using anonymous registration on all my websites after I was click-bombed once.

    I had a disagreement with someone on a webmaster forum, and got click-bombed right after that on my “public” site. I didn’t want to risk having that happen to any of my other sites where I actually make money, so I started registering them anonymously.

    1. Exactly, it could better be said that:

      “99.9% of the websites registered with anonymous info by the people who know what they are doing are doing so to prevent themselves from getting spammed over and over again from bots harvesting info from who is servers.”

  19. […] Shaister Miester Do Da created an interesting post today on Is Anonymity Good For The Internets?Here’s a short outline99.9% of the websites registered with anonymous info are spam/scams. What if there was no such thing as anonymity on the internet? […]

  20. As long as there are proxy servers how can anonymity be prevented?

  21. In my opinion anonymousity is a choice that every person MUST have in internet….

  22. I think the rules of CAN SPAM should apply for most uses. With CAN SPAM you must have a valid address at the bottom of your emails to be compliant with Fed Laws. On the other hand, if you really need to be anonymous on the internet for whatever reason, that’s up to you; but everywhere else in life you are PLUGGED IN somehow…

  23. I think that you can use the CAN SPAM Fed rules for most internet related matters. Now if you must be anonymous on the internet, there are little areas where you can be anonymous in the rest of the plugged in world!

  24. Well, anonymity isn’t really non-existent anyways because the IP address is almost exposed to computers. FBI can find out exactly who you are just by that alone. For us to not remain anonymous among ourselves a lot needs to be passed to get around that which is pretty viable. Leaving things the way they are is good because people want to keep there privacy at the same time it’s a good way to catch the wrong people on the int

  25. Interesting, I think that anonymity is still important online, there is all ready so much vulnerability

    1. That is also true…but it’s not like your giving your address and your social to people!

  26. Anonymity is extremely valid on the internet.

    There are a lot of nutcases out there. People should be able to register their websites anonymously in peace and not have to worry about some nutjob disagreeing with something they say, getting their address from a whois, and then coming to pay them a visit.

    Most people are crazy. Registering websites anonymously is a safe measure just like caller ID and seatbelts.

  27. If anonymity was to go, then the internet would be a way much better place both for publishers and readers.

    1. i do agree because the internet would be that much better of an honest environment for both publishers as and readers to connect

    2. Well, that means it would be harder to purchase adult videos, particularly for high status people.

  28. […] Is Anonymity Good For The Internets? […]

  29. I’m actually halfway finished with a post on the same topic – it’ll probably come out tomorrow. Like you, I believe that there is ZERO reason someone should be allowed to remain anonymous online.

    We can’t be anonymous in the real world . . . why should we be able to online?

    As someone who runs a community of tens of thousands of people, I get complaints from people who don’t want to post their real information upon registration. We don’t make exceptions, and will remove any account that we discover is using a fake name. The reason we do that is to protect the other thousands of people on the site.

    This is a subject that just doesn’t get enough attention. As a community we need to put this in the forefront, and begin to pressure webmasters to stop allowing this anonymity to continue. If we work together, we can squeeze out the scammers from the legitimate communities. I for one will continue to push for the end of anonymous nonsense.

  30. anonymity is good only when im in my class :-), other than that, not good !

    1. Well, the same goes when I purchase the latest ‘hardcore just barley 18 girls in pigtails new release video’…but other than that…I don’t care who knows who I am…

  31. Ridiculous and short sighted. Yes, it is true that SOME people use anonymity to do harm, yes some want to SPAM or do other vile things. But it is not true that ALL (or nearly all) such anonymous users seek to do damage.

    Celebrities for one like to participate online, but if they all used their real names, what privacy would they have? I am another example as I tend to write about controversial subjects, oftentimes dealing with race, culture, ethnicity or sexual orientation. Knowledge of my race, where I live, where I was born, my culture, etc tends to cloud people’s judgment and they tend to take a lot of what I say out of context. Using my pseudo name Christopher Tracy – I get a lot more candid and useful feedback.

    There are many others who have legitimate reasons for being anonymous – police, politicians, crime victims and witnesses, judges, etc. etc. etc.

    So the answer is “no”. Everyone should NOT be required to disclose their identity online.

  32. I run a number of adult blogs. I do it for living. I prefer to stay anonymous – but NOT to invoke harm or scam somone, (or to break a law)! That is a ridiculous sugestion. People that visit my blogs visit them becouse they have specific fetishes and fantasies and they find my blogs through Google. Some are happy with the blog, some want more and pay for subscription. It’s simple as that, and I don’t see why should I or my customers have names plastered all over it. Anonymity on the internet allows people certain freedoms that they can’t enjoy in real life due to prejudices and bigotry.

  33. I agree to some degree, however as mentioned above. some people prefer anonymity to keep their dealings private, such as the adult blog mantioned above, to each their own I guess.

    1. Adult blogging!?…Ahahaha…Is there such a thing…well, I guess in this day in age…there is whatever you could think of…Hey…whatever fancies you…haha!

  34. This topic certainly has a lot of sides. If someone remains anonymous, they have their reasons, however, that anonymity brings a price. Sites that require full disclosure do so for the quality of the site, and that’s where many people go because the content and quality are good.

    If someone remains anonymous on Twitter or other non-moderated medium, most people who care for the high quality of their friends and lists, will block that person/organization, therefore, the person who gets blocked has decided that whatever reason they remain anonymous, is far more important then getting removed from that site or topic discussion.

    Being anonymous does not have a place in my network (I block all with no pic or full name) but that doesn’t mean the persons who are doing it doesn’t have a valid reason for doing so.

    Sofia

  35. i don’t think anonymity is good for the internet in any way it involves spamming as well as abuse to others

  36. Now I am not a web Guru by any means, but, when I first started trying to sell stuff online, I found that people would not buy from me if I didn’t show a little about myself. To see me as a real person gave them “trust” and they started to purchase the same products that I was trying to sell just because they had a face next to them. So, anonymity did not work to well for me in that regaurd, but, on a few sites, I was very glad to have anonymity so that others who saw my comments could not hunt me down. I hope…

  37. I think anonymity is necessary and good for most of the time because for myself when I play a game from my school internet, they block many games sites, so I have to go to one of the anonymity sites to access these sites. But there are hackers and internet can be used to send viruses and stuff so maybe anonymity shouldn’t be allowed to all people,

  38. I think that anonymity doesn’t imply scamming. For instance, some people do not want to brand themselves or be visible and prefer affiliate marketing to creating their own product or having their own podcasts etc. I think it is partially a personality style rather than having to do with scamming or spamming. Nonetheless, good point that there are people that are staying anonymous for those purposes which really is deplorable.

  39. Some people liked to be mystery and under radar to keep their privacy, and we should respect them.

  40. yup…i agree with you jhon.but i think it totally depend upon you.what you want to like?

  41. I can’t say anonymity is good, but it isn’t bad either. Everything depends. It’s the personal choice everyone should make

  42. Yeah i would have to agree that 99% of the time its for a bad purpose, rather then that everyone is entitled if they want to stay anonymous.

  43. thank you, all things begin with the honest and true is a good step

  44. Not all the time anonymity is bad there are a few people as well who wants to share their opinions and interests while staying behind the curtain, some issues are there like when the people don’t want to disclose their identily and I think there’s nothing wrong with that.

  45. Ultimately, anonymity should continue to be allowed and should self-regulate. In other words, you can gain a lot more in terms of credibility, personal connectivity and general trust when you choose not to be anonymous. I know I personally give much less credence to a post from anonymous than from a named source. Like one poster above mentioned, some communities will not welcome anonymous members. There is some short-term power gained by being anonymous, but anyone looking for real long-term value from the internet will maintain their actual identity.

  46. Too many websites these day are setup by people using PLR articles who know nothing about the subject matter

  47. Well, it’s hit and miss. While I blog under my real name, and anyone can run a simple whois to see who I am, I don’t want that information readily available. For years I blogged about getting out of piles of debt. Now, if a potential employer had found the blog, he might see me as a potential risk. This is a very simplistic example because there’s no real risk in saying I had tons of debt, but there are some interests that are better written about under slight anonymity. That said, I would agree that 99% of the time, anonymity is used for nefarious purposes.

    And still, I do not think the Government should have any right to know who does what on the Internet. Maybe owning a domain and visiting a website should force identity, but government officials should never be able to easily know your internet activity.

  48. This is 50/50 decision for me. I think no anonymity has pluses, but on the opposite side it allows people and companies who are not anonymous gain more credibility online compared to others.

    1. I don’t think it’s 50/50 like you said…I think it’s more like 99/1…the ones that want to do harm are 99% of them…’cause why else would you hide behind a screen…unless you’re a high profile politician, public figure, celebrity, or people of that status…am I right or am I right!?…I agree is Shoe…that’s my ninja!

  49. well I really think that this is good in one part and wrong in another is good because the spams will down and people will stop doing this kind of pages or blogs that just damage other people. But for the other side is a little bit uncunfurtable because really I dont want that people can see all my info just with one click google should make some regulation in order you can continue use the anonymous but posting real blogs and pages.

  50. I think the anonymity thing raises some interesting points.

    Sometimes, there’s a good reason for it. Personally I have a ton of niche sites and blog sites that are registered anonymously.

    Why?

    Because I use pen names in those niches. But I run my main copywriting business under my own name. If I ran the niche sites under this name, I’d lose a lot of credibility, because a quick Google search will show anyone that I’m doing this stuff professionally – that I’m not really just another acne sufferer or whatever.

    But on the other hand, I think the majority of people looking to register domains etc anonymously are doing it for negative reasons.

    I’m not saying it’s for spam or whatever, but I think a lot of people like to do business online because the anonymity thing makes them a little less accountable for their actions.

    And that’s not exactly what a consumer looks for in an online vendor – they want to know as much about us as possible, so they can relate to us in some way and trust us more.

    David Raybould

  51. NO ONE is safe on the Internet, lol. If you hide your identity, it just makes someone want to find it more!

    -Mike

  52. Probably anonymity is the darkest side of Internet. People tend to keep themselves anonymous for various reasons.

    I really wish anonymity should be removed from Internet and treat it like a real place where we can a life without fear. Else every next day we are scared of click fraud, hackers and seeing our private data stolen by others.

  53. Usually, if they are anonymous, they have something to hide; it may not be a good or bad thing…It just they rather keep their identity to themselves…for whatever reason…but for the people that talk smack…they don’t want to get beat with a frozen turkey when they are seen in public…and I agree with you that most of the time…those clownz are stirring up shyt!

  54. I will welcome that day with open heart. But I think to create such kind of atmosphere every one would have one ID of internet and they will access through that ID only.

    This one is certainly a long run task …

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