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Many sites nowadays, such as Google+ or Quora, require users to use their real name when registering. On this site, one advantage of this would be so people can recognize or connect with people they know. Should we encourage users to set their display name to their real full name?

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Ignoring the tempting comment on your last name......

It seems to me we already are recommending people to do this (at least inadvertently). There are two "entry-points" into our system:

  • A user posts without registering - they have a field labeled "Name"
  • A user registers - they have a field labeled "Display Name"

In both cases users are asked for their name. Not their nickname. Not their screen name. Their display name. See the difference? We aren't encouraging people to be anonymous, we're simply asking people for a name.

When a user like myself enters a name of yydl, they are making a conscious decision: "I don't want to give my real name - I want to remain anonymous". No amount of encouragement, pleading, or begging will get them to change this. This is their choice. And yes, it should be up to them.

So getting back to your original question: If we ask people for their name, and they don't give it, it really doesn't make sense to press them for it any further.

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  • when a user registers, they get one box for their hidden real name and one box for their display name. that discourages displaying their real name. – Ariel K Dec 16 '11 at 0:32
  • otherwise I probably would have displayed my full name too.. – Ariel K Dec 16 '11 at 0:32
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    @ArielK It's hard to say it's discouraging as much as it's giving people fair warning. What you enter in Display Name will end up in the public domain. Not sure why real name is ever collected. Either way I would be hard-pressed to say that's a real discouragement. And to your second point: What's stopping you from editing your profile? – yydl Dec 16 '11 at 0:35

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