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The Stack Exchange websites has people anonymously up vote or down vote whether questions and answers are good or bad and everyone builds their reputation based on this alone. I saw a question on the mathematics board that was not off topic but, in the beginning, was being down voted due to either being too elementary or perceived as what I consider people to be saying as a "stupid question". Do you think that removing this shawl of anonymity would change the way people interact with each other on Stack Exchange? For better or For Worse?

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    $\begingroup$ This question is slightly off topic. If you were to ask "what is the effect of anonymity on online communities" and were asking specifically for psychological studies, then this would be the appropriate site. However, if you want to talk about StackExchange in particular, you should post this question on meta.stackexchange.com. If you wanted to talk about policy in general, there's a moderators stackexchange. So, if you could clarify your question it would be appreciated. $\endgroup$ – Seanny123 Jan 11 '16 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ I was talking specifically about the psychology of Stack Exchange itself, which I think is on topic. It is a subset of online communities that interacts in a unique way. The comments I see on the boards here are generally snarky. I think it is dissatisfying for someone to get their question removed, if it is in earnest, because other people are being overly critical. $\endgroup$ – kimberlyf331 Jan 14 '16 at 7:47
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I have had the same question a while back when I observed similar behavior in a forum on a language learning website (I know that the question here is specific about stack-overflow).

There were two things I noticed- One with regards to my own behavior. I started giving my votes without having to worry that I will offend or please someone. -Two was that I have seen people downvote some of the questions which were relevant to the topic.. while some irrelevant content was upvoted.

So I believe the anonymity works both ways- good and bad.

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Of course it would change the way people interact with one another. Social and situational settings strongly affect behaviour.

It's funny you see it this way. One can argue that it's exactly the opposite! Like with parliamentary elections, anonymity means that people act based on their own beliefs without being swayed by social pressure.

What's more without anonymity, people may start keeping score, which will further bias the objectivity of the votes.

When it comes to services like Stack Exchange, the general idea is that the various opinions will eventually regress to the mean - so the majority has it. Sure, for this to happen you need quite a lot of votes, but my experience is that usually gross down/up votes are justified.

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  • $\begingroup$ I completely see your point of view as well. I'm not saying everyone here is a troll or out to get noobs. However, for a sample to regress to the mean you have to have a large sample size. If your question garners little attention, then the trolls win. $\endgroup$ – kimberlyf331 Jan 14 '16 at 7:52

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