Anonymous Coward

Anonymous Coward

"Anonymous Coward" is a term applied within some online communities to describe users who post without a screen name; it is a dummy name attributed to anonymous posts used by some weblogs that allow posting by people without registering for accounts. The practice, which had its roots in BBS and USENET culture, was made especially popular on Slashdot, where the mildly derogatory term is meant to chide anonymous contributors into logging in. [ [ "Andover.Net scoops up seminal Slashdot site"] , C|Net article by Stephen Shankland, dated June 29, 1999. (Stating that the term "Anonymous Coward" was popularized by Slashdot.)] ["Looking through a Window on Open Source Culture," by Sanjay Gosain. "Systèmes d'Information et Management" 2003, volume 8, issue 1 at page 22. (Stating that "Anonymous Coward" was popularized by Slashdot.) ] Some weblog engines such as Scoop use the term "Anonymous Hero" instead, perhaps to avoid the name's confrontational nature. Others use stronger varieties, like's "Anonymous Idiot", and SuicideGirls' "Random Fuckbag".

On systems where all users who are not logged in share one such account name, discussions may often result in confusion. It is also notable that in Slashdot's moderation system, "Anonymous Cowards" post at a default score of zero, which means that their posts are hidden from the default view unless they are moderated up by other users.

Slashdot, Scoop and Plastic (when so configured) allow even logged in users to post anonymously, thereby providing selective anonymity (e.g. to avoid embarrassment, or legal repercussions). On Slashdot and Scoop these posts are still associated with the user (so that they can't moderate their own posts), and might not be safe if the site receives a subpoena.

Variations on the name "Anonymous Coward" are also sometimes used by trolls to mock the dummy name and/or confuse other users into thinking that they are posting as Anonymous Coward.

In Barrapunto, a Spanish-language clone of Slashdot, the anonymous user was "Pendejo sin nombre", "nameless asshole". The editors later thought it was too offensive and changed it to "Pobrecito Hablador", literally "poor little talker", that was also one of the pseudonyms used by Mariano José de Larra, a Spanish journalist in the 19th century. In, a Spanish-language page about DSL, cable, satellite etc, the anonymous user is called BocaDePez which stands for "FishMouth".

Online communities vary with their stances on anonymous postings. Wikipedia allows anonymous editing in most cases, but does not label users "Anonymous Cowards" (users who are not signed in are identified with their IP addresses in order to distinguish one anonymous user from another); Slashdot permits the practice and employs the label; ["What's Online" by Dwight Silverman, "Houston Chronicle", July 7, 2000, Technology, page 2. (Noting that anonymous postings on Slashdot are credited to "Anonymous Coward.")] Meatball Wiki permits the practice but discourages it Fact|date=February 2008. Many online bulletin boards require users to be signed in to write (and, in some cases, even to read) posts by others. 2channel and other Futaba-based image boards take an opposite stance, encouraging the anonymity, and calling those who use usernames and tripcodes "namefags" and "tripfags," respectively.


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