How do you handle "I want to remain anonymous?"

Kara Vanilla Ice Cream
edited May 2023 in Talk Community #1

We've had a few members recently approach us saying, "I haven't joined your community yet because I don't want (fill-in-the-blank) to be able to see my activity there. Can I join anonymously?"

My advice to them so far has been to join as they normally would but use a nickname as a username (I have to manually approve everyone, so I still need to know who they are in order to approve them and give them the proper permission roles, as well as for our reporting purposes). Then, after they're approved, suggest they edit their profile privacy and hide their profile and email from the public.

  • Anyone else have members that want to participate but not be "seen"?
  • How do you accommodate their request without losing data? Or allowing in sketchy peeps?
  • Is there a checkbox option for someone to "post anonymously" on discussions so someone can post anonymously if they want to, but don't have to every time?


  • Shauna
    Shauna HLV Staff

    I'd echo what you already said, @Kara — that with an anonymous nickname and their profile and email set to private, they are essentially anonymous from other users. Are they looking to be anonymous from community staff like you?

    I'm not sure if you would approve their application if they did this, but they could use a fake email (free gmail/outlook etc account, apple has some 'make my email private' options etc)

    We don't have an anonymous option, I think the closest thing here would be the common reddit practice of using a 'throwaway' account but allowing such practices could indeed open you up to trolls and other sketchy users, so I'm not sure if this is something i would allow personally.

    Curious what the rest of the community thinks!

  • Kirstie Macfarlane

    Following up on what Shauna mentioned about "throwaway accounts", if you do want to try this out but want to put in an extra safety precaution we would recommend that you use the Troll addon.

    On top of flagging users as trolls to limit their ability to use the community, it will also help your team to track problematic users better.

    This addon includes a shared account feature which will use fingerprint checks to show your moderation team anytime the same user is leveraging multiple accounts from the same device in a ploy to work around their Troll status.

  • PiperWilson

    I've been thinking about this for a while, and I have a different thought.

    You could post on behalf of the member who wants to be anonymous using your profile. You could also create a profile for that purpose and let that profile be run by a team. The main thing is, if they need to answer any follow-up questions, they'll have to go through you or the team.

    There are two drawbacks to this system. The workload could be a problem, depending on the size of the community. Other times, I've seen the anonymous member respond and "out" themselves as the questioner. There's no taking that back.