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Registration, Identity and protection…


Create a Profile. Fill out your Identity. Undertake activities and discussions to gain a Reputation (good or bad). Leads to Trust. Once you have Trust you can take on Leader or other Roles in a social network.

No request to fill out a profile or create an identity? Then how do you propose to do the rest?

In my Rules of Engagement (see top right hand side of this blog) I have as one of the rules:

8. Participant shall not post comments containing personal phone numbers or addresses. I choose to show my personal details. Others may or may not. If you accidentally call someone Laurel instead of say, Silkcharm that’s ok. But inciting people to ring a telephone number to tell that person/company how awful they are? Not allowed.

I allow Anonymous comments on my blog – mostly because the few Anon’s I get are either spam (removed) or a mild bit of flame (good for responding). But I’ve had to step into other companies networks that don’t protect identity and don’t make the members feel safe. Not pretty.

Thanks to a Twitter friend for this snippet from Fairfax Digital/The Age The Spin Starts Here Caz and Hack being “named and shamed”.

To barrister Jeremy Sear, once a target for the Hack and Caz, such a complaint smacked of hypocrisy: “They were particularly vile in the way they treated anybody who disagreed with them or they took a dislike to,” he says.

“It’s almost funny that they’ve reacted so badly being ‘outed’, as this was something they regularly took part in with others.”

Mr Dennis was due to appear in the Heidelberg Magistrate’s Court next Tuesday to hear Mr Duncan give evidence against him. But it now appears that the pair have dropped their case.

“I think it’s probably a smart legal decision,” Mr Sear said.

“To have the interim order made permanent they would have needed to give evidence and allowed themselves to be cross-examined. They would have been quizzed about their own blogging activities and therefore have to admit to being the Hack and Caz — or perjure themselves by denying it.”

Many of the people abused on The Spin Starts Here had been looking forward to seeing the couple in court.

Linkbaiting and trolling is an excellent way to gain readership. And you aren’t under the same constraints that say, Lawsy or Jonesy (Aussie radio talk show hosts) are.

But the repercussions can be tough – a lawyer in the Gold Coast last week told me that social networks responding with strong outcrys of dismay and illegal activity is still illegal. My response is “so what”? You try arresting 1/2 million people who publish a woman’s home number for inciting a teen to suicide or 63,000 who viewed a video of a ‘private’ voicemail between a school kid and the school administrator’s wife:

Note: the student posted the video to Facebook (gated community for his friends). Someone put it on YouTube (video blog for broadcast).

But let’s look a little deeper:

Registration establishes Identity

* Implies control and management of profiles by both member and host
* Implies policing of site
* Allows tracking of email addresses used
* Links IP addresses (and sometimes MAC addresses) to registered users
* Allows cross checking of identities – different email addresses but same IP address?

Anonymous establishes Freedom
* Implies no control
* Implies limited policing of the site
* Moderating means ‘mop up’ rather than proactive
(and note: Most behaviour is based on ‘perception’ rather than ‘actual’ rules.)
* Anonymous gives the perception of flaming/trolling being amusing and allowed
* Anonymous or no-registration gives the perception of no repercussions for poor behaviour

(By ‘anonymous’ I mean either actually using the name ‘anonymous’ or else having an unverified pseudonym such as ‘SilkCharm’ which is changeable and untracked via IP or MAC addresses).

If your community does not take registrations, that tells the Visitor or Newcomer – who is looking for clues as to whether they should join or not that a) anything goes (so they leave, or else gear up for a war), or b) there are few tools to either stop them from being a pain in the ass or there are few tools to protect them from pain in the asses.

Before joining the community, the Newcomer asks: are my values and purpose aligned with the values and purpose of the community. A welcome screen that does not ask “who are you? ” establishes a purpose and value that may not be what you, as the host, wants….

Remember Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs?:
Need #2 – Protection from hacking and personal attack, the sense of having a level playing field, ability to maintain varying levels of privacy. (from 1999, Amy Jo Kim Community building on the web)

If you want your members to a) treat each other with respect, b)make sure they feel safe, c) know they are being monitored, d) that there are repercussions for misbehaving and so on – make sure that you give them a sense that you know who they are, and reinforce that they may not breach trust and privacy and that in turn their trust and privacy will not be sacrificed for ease-of-signup or to win a most popular community contest.

And note: there is a change in the air. 2Ch which I’ve written about a few times in the last couple of years used to be the largest community in Japan. And it’s a free for all, anonymous postings allowed etc. But it is no longer the biggest and bestest: the new largest online community is Mixi a closed gated community, invite only, closely managed. In a world where my every thought is free and open and Oprah-like – blogged, tweeted, facebooked and so on – you may value those discussions that happen in private and behind closed doors. But more on the move from open-ness to closed networks later….

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

3 thoughts on “Registration, Identity and protection…

  1. McClelland’s need theory also applies well here.

    * Need for Power
    * Need for Affiliation
    * Need for Achievement

    Identity in these environments directly reflect legitimate and referent power in these environments and allows individuals to easily assess social groups and whether or not they identify with those individuals inside them.

    M 🙂

  2. Aye, McLelland does good work in industral HR stuff. Only, I think the more basic needs of sustainability of identity and freedom from aggro that Maslow talks about are appropriate for social networks.

    Does McLelland address workers safety? Cos certainly, freedom from fear of being killed at work because of unsafe practices must be met first, before attempting to empower employees through achievement etc. I think McLelland stays at the top end of the hierarchy of needs?

    A lot of day to day crap on social networks has to do with stopping abuse and misbehaviour. Only a small part is empowering indiduals to be Leaders and Elders etc… Unfortunately 🙁

    Great point btw 🙂

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