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Real Names on the Forge

Started by Jake Norwood, December 19, 2002, 12:39:45 AM

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Quote from: kamikazeMy philosophy on names is that a nickname is more real than any given name or family name.
This is true and I fully agree with your assessment, with the addition of one minor detail: that you actually use your chosen name in real life as your name.

That is, your friends and relatives call you by that name specifically, you are introduced by that name to others and so forth. Otherwise, the nickname is as meaningless as the birth name because it carries no social or psychological weight to isn't a real name otherwise, its an adjective.

And consider this, folks, before anyone goes around getting hotheaded or judgemental about the psuedo-policy in question: Ron has always known my legal name, but I long ago expressed to him my desire to be known by my chosen name. He has never been anything but respectful about my choice on that matter, and fully open to other words, it is a non-issue.

So I find the idea that anyone on the Forge should feel pushed or compelled by anyone else here, specifically the policy-makers, to utilize a name they find no resonance with to be without factual foundation. It's ok to feel that way, but it doesn't hold true in actual practice.

Also, note the above post is not an acceptance on my part of handles specifically, for what should be obvious reasons.
Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio


I think what we're talking about here is less about the "realness" of the specific names, as much as accountability, responsibility, and respect

For the folks who don't use their real name, usually:
-their name is in their tagline
-they use that tag interchangable in real life with their name
-or, their tag doesn't change, and has some actual meaning to them.

It's difficult to imagine talking to someone in real life who insists on being called LegolasTheAvenger with a straight face, or any other crazy ass net name.  It's also difficult to imagine that anyone with such a tag is going to continue using that same tag for 5 years straight.  Between both of these, its hard to have a conversation with someone who 1)refuses to provide a name which they themselves could take seriously, and 2) is using a name that is highly unlikely to allow you to develop any sort of long term relationship with.

The funny thing about long term relationships, is that they naturally incur a level of responsibilty, accountability, and from that, respect.  You can't treat someone like crap if you have to deal with them later on, and on a regular basis.  Forgites hang in for the long haul, or quickly become unactive.

Usually it doesn't take long after reading 2 or 3 posts to figure out if you're dealing with a person who is capable of intelligent polite conversation, or simply feels like screaming, "X system SUX!" every 3 threads.  

I think the correlation between real names and real conversations, is that people mature enough to have real conversations tend to use their real names, as opposed to the other way around.  I certainly know I've never had a reasonable conversation with anyone who's decided its necessary to provide their age, gender, or sexiness in their name, or who's taken their name from some pop fad of the minute.  But maybe I've just had a bad run of luck there :P


Ron Edwards


It probably doesn't surprise anyone that Clinton and I discussed this issue pretty thoroughly yesterday. Here's what we came up with.

"Rights" are not relevant to the issue.

No one can automatically know another person's preference regarding their preferred name. Whether you (a) use a username but would rather use your real name, (b) use a username and want to be addressed as such, (c) use your real name but would rather use a username, or (d) use your real name and want to be addressed as such ... no one can know.

This issue is directly related to the issues of the Infamous Five. I mean, it is so totally related that I wish everyone would go and read the Social Context and the Forge as a Community threads, before even thinking about adding to this one. Not that anyone has to do that; it's just a wish.

Here's my point: all functional social interactions require one "no blood no foul" phase between people.

What is that? It pertains to anything which is not physical assault, theft, or fraud.

During that phase, a person can behaviorally violate your innermost, heart-of-hearts, most precious value - they can be a (as you see it) horrible, awful asshole. But you have to take one moment to see where they're coming from, and holy mackerel, nearly every time, it turns out that they weren't being so awful after all.

That bastard! How dare he hold the door for me! It's not 1960 any more! - No, step back. He doesn't know your position on this matter. Go through the door, even say, "Thanks," and then, if this is a person you'll be dealing with a lot in the future, because this is the "no blood no foul" phase, you can tell him that he doesn't have to do that, in your case, without blaming or confronting him about his "mistake." During that phase, the action wasn't inappropriate or appropriate.

All functional communities have this phase built into their individual interactions. People cannot use their off-the-cuff "what it must mean" reactions upon first acquaintance; when they do, you get hostility, shootings, brawls, and other escalations into violence. On the internet, you get resentment, sulking, flame wars, and posturing.

In my career, profanity is a good example. University profs have no particular stricture or requirements regarding swearing, in or out of the classroom. We have to set our own standards for that, in terms of personal interactions with one another in staff meetings, in terms of one-on-one discussions, and in terms of dealing with students of different levels. My point? I've never met a squeaky-clean, never-cuss faculty community. Almost all university profs swear to a small degree, and I'm speaking about the professional context. Some degree of appropriateness is arrived at, for the group, through a series of "no blood no foul" steps per person.

So - this thread, instead of being a spawn of the Infamous Five, is rather an adoptee ... and I'm taking that very seriously. No one is "rude" regarding names if you don't tell them what you prefer. Look at that a-b-c-d list above, and see whether you can inform people which one you are, or if you need to.

And most importantly (hoo boy) - how can you communicate it without reacting in anger? "That's rude! You violated my preference! I shall now stew and resent it!" isn't going to fly. Again, as long as we are not talking about assault/fraud/etc, it doesn't matter what your preferences are if the community only finds out about them through your anger. (Read that carefully - it's real.)

So don't announce it here. Keep it in mind, and inform people during a "no blood no foul" stage in your interactions with them. At the Forge, everyone is responsible for the functional community and for respecting this stage of interaction.

I just made that up and decided it's good enough to stick.


Maurice Forrester


I agree with most of what you've said here except for this:

Quote from: Ron Edwards
"Rights" are not relevant to the issue.

In fact, the right to be called what you want to be called is crucial to the rest of what you say about social contract.  If that right is not respected, the concept of a "no blood, no foul" phase of social interaction completely falls apart.

I've gone ahead and had Clinton change my username to my real name because I have no problem with using my name on the net.  I've been doing exactly that for some time now.  

It still strikes me as inappropriate to refer to someone by a name that neither appears as their username or in their signature, but I don't have a dog in that fight.  If the person addressed that way doesn't like it, then of course they should speak up.
Maurice Forrester

Ron Edwards


My concern with the term "right" is that it is used as a big stick in policy issues - whoever says "right" first wins.

Rights, ultimately, are the product of functional social interactions, including their enforcement. We always talk about it the other way 'round, as if the rights exist first (i.e. pre-exist) and the policies flow from them, but that's rhetoric, in my view, not reality.

In my view, once the "no blood no foul" behaviors start producing, over time, everyone using exactly the name they want, as they want it, and with everyone respecting that - then, ipso facto, we will have established this "right" here at the Forge. Conversely, talking about rights in order to establish it might be good rhetoric, but it's lousy argumentation.

Maurice, in practice, I think our disagreement about this (if there is one) does not effectively damage or invalidate my above policy approach, in terms of it being a good policy, so I'm willing to call it one of those principles-things and not debate about it.


Blake Hutchins

A technical quibble:  "Rights," per se, usually arise in the context of the individual versus government through the medium of constitutional or statutory law or individual v. individual through the medium of statutory or contract law.  Among private individuals in the rough and tumble cacophony of everyday life exists only the social contract - unless governmental action or contract law is involved.  When people on the net argue this or that as a matter of "right," they're usually using "right" for what substantively amounts to no more than "reasonable expectation."  Those posters throw out "rights" as a justification for some desired private party entitlement, and I conclude they wish to seize the moral high ground by using a trump term that is, most of the time, offered without a full understanding of what it actually means.  Consequently - and this may sound cold-blooded - I think a focus on "rights" injects more mud into the discussion than clarity.  I much prefer attention to common sense principles of courtesy such as Ron's "no harm, no foul" standard when discussing behavior and interaction on the Forge.



Maurice Forrester


From where I sit, the issue is not about establishing a right on the Forge but rather about whether or not the Forge respects a well established human right.  Since neither one of us is likely to convince the other, we can just agree to disagree.
Maurice Forrester


Please, can this sillyness just end.  Its not even a policy that's being debated.  Plus the idea that there exists any "right" human or otherwise to choose your own name is ludicrous.  I challenge you to go get your drivers license issued to Orc_Killer_97 and see how far you get pursueing that "well established human right".  Bollux.  The only name you have the right to be called is the one on your birth certificate.  Anything else is established through social contract by people willing to acquience to your preference.  A preference is not right.

There is no reason for this thread to have reached 4 pages.

Le Joueur

Quote from: Valamir...The idea that there exists any "right" human or otherwise to choose your own name is ludicrous.  I challenge you to go get your drivers license issued to Orc_Killer_97 and see how far you get pursuing that "well established human right".
Well, my wife and I went before a judge and got our names changed.  Is it a human right?  The judge asked her why she wanted to change her name to Caroline Cynthia Elaine Langford; she had to explain the problems associated with sharing a name with three other high school classmates.

He never asked why I wanted to change mine to Ajmir Einstein Fang Langford; he didn't even bat an eye.  (I was formerly named after a pair of Catholic saints.)  Is it a right?  Darn tootin'!  The only thing the courts care about is if you're doing it to perform fraud, otherwise it's just processing fees.  You have this right in America.

And yes, let's end this.

Fang Langford
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!

Ron Edwards


Time to end the thread? It'd be Jake's call, except he's away from the internet for a few days.

So, I guess it's time to Execute and say, this one has run its course and is now closed. A new thread should be begun if any new aspect of the "names on the Forge" issue is raised.

Oh, and Maurice, yes - I see your point too, and I think we shall be "old man" and "old bean" to one another even though we don't quite agree at the philosophical level.


Jake Norwood

Yeah, since you want my 2c...

Thread's dead, baby, thread's dead.

What I did see was very much what I didn't. It was more mature than the discussion I referenced at the beginning, but still basically digressed to the same thing. Partially my fault, I guess, since I don't think that I really phrased anything I had to say quite right. Everyone's got a little horn to toot and a world to save, and on the internet everyone's got several dozen. Oh well.

So...If anyone cares, some of us like you to use your real name. Some of us really don't want to use theirs, but don't seem to care if *you* use your real name. No one that I counted will be upset if you do use yours. have a record like mine.

"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant