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I am a moderator and contributor of the portal forums. Recently I received an email from a community member with a portal implementation related question. My standard reply to these requests is to say that I don’t answer questions directly, and they should post a message in the forum.

The next day the question appeared.

Somewhat strangely the name of person posting the question was not the same as that on the email. This sometimes happens in forums. People pick a nom de plume (what an old fashioned term when we don’t use pens anymore!) but this person seemed to have changed their entire identity.

The name had gone from one of distinctly Indian origin to one almost completely Anglo Saxon – not John Smith, but close. 

This led me to wonder whether there is some suggestion that the only way some people think they will get accepted in this community is to adopt a Western name. I’d like to think this is not necessary, but maybe as a WASP (OK, not strictly P, but you get the drift) I’m immune from this consideration.

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    But not fully sorry you raise it.  Nationality can be a touchy thing, as gender, as political opinions.  It shouldn’t be.
    We celebrate the diversity we have here or at least I hope we do.
    What a boring and flat and dead community this would be if we didn’t have multi-cultural, multi-national, multi-dimensional participation.

    Viva la communidad

  2. Former Member

    So sad but true…I remember that some time ago, one person said exactly the same “I’m not using my real name because otherwise I’m going to get enough responses from the Community”…Something completely out of context for me…I’m from Lima, Perú…my name is not a Western name…most SCN folks can even pronounce it correctly…that’s why I encourage everyone to call me “Blag” -:) But of course you can see my real name everywhere on SCN (Everywhere on the web actually…but that’s another story)…the fact is that my name, gender, ethnic or anything else, haven’t prevent me to get answers on forums, or to keep contributing everyday.

    Even when this topic had been raised so many times, I think it’s good to raised again and again, until people realized that no one is going to be marginalized, banned or kick out from SCN (Ok…maybe Point Hunters) because any of the previously stated conditions. We’re all humans, we all friends and SCN is a big and welcoming family.


  3. Phillip Avelar
    I read forum messages regularly and I’d say that I really don’t pay attention to the names on the postings but I do notice that sometimes a message is so badly composed that I just skip reading it. So it is possible that users who do spend time answering questions on the forums just skip them also. This would be the case with any message from anyone but I hope this would be the reason why more get responses then others as opposed to the persons nationality.

    1. Susan Keohan
      I have to agree with Phillip – although I have not spent anywhere nearly enough time in the forums as I ought to.  But my experience has been  that if the message is reasonably composed – that it indicates the poster has spent a little of their own time investigating the issue – that type of message is more important than the name of the poster. 
  4. Thorsten Franz
    Hi Michael,
    That is really tough stuff. I cannot offer any explanations and have observed nothing that would go into the same direction. Excellent SCN contributions and contributors come from all corners of the world, and I have never seen any kind of discrimination on SCN.
    But your blog is the right vehicle to get more data in on this. I hope we’ll see more comments and will finally understand this behaviour, which leaves me perplexed for now.
  5. Somnath Manna
    before this would have come up.
    Being an Indian (Asia-Indian is the correct North American usage) by all means its sad to see this but I am in complete agreement with Nicholls. I know many will not agree with me but that’s not my concern. If Marcelo, Ignacio, Blag (does anyone bothered to know the story behind his nickname), Leonardo, and likewise many other Indian-Indians (born and resident in India) like Arun, Dipankar, Abesh, Rajesh, Bhavesh, Kartik, Shabarish have made their name in SCN without an Anglo-Saxon or English name, then hiding one’s ture name and not being proud of it is truly a shame.
  6. Former Member
    This is a great blog and very interesting feedback. Would never have even thought that somebody could “discriminate” on SCN due to a name. Frankly, I just thought people using aliases had the followign reasons:
    – Name can be shorter and easier to remember (see Twitter, many know Yojibee :-))
    – Web 2.0 allows to take on a virtual persona. This allows expressing oneself in a different way, potentially, than in the “real” world.
    – Maybe some companies don’t endorse their employees participating in a community during work hours and they want to conceal themselves to their employers

    Personally, I am “princess_vontrapp” for the simple reason that many many years ago a co-worker set up my Yahoo IM account under this get me to join the program. Now I often use it as I like this second identity.

    1. Somnath Manna
      Princess VonTrapp
      thanks for the insight. During SIT London I asked “Yojibee” about her name and got a real insight. It was not only interesting but also gave a twist in form of her Bollywood linkage. To me your name has a particular meaning because of which it was bestowed by your parents (or grandparents/aunts…) while your psuedoname has to do more with culture and mostly have interesting anecdotes behind them. Those who like movies will surely make out VonTrapp family, may I ask which princess :D.
      I did have a nickname at college (we all have) but have not used it as an Internet alias simply because its too colloquial and not appealing for non-Bengali speaking people.
  7. Former Member
    What matters is what something is, not what it is called. []

    This truth – phrased by Shakespeare more than 500 year ago – is still true (and will be forever).

    Being myself a WPHL (= White Prussian-Hessian Lutheran) I do not care at all about to whom I address my postings as long as the question is interesting.
    However, answering questions of people of Asia-Indian origin I frequently have problems to use the right (sur)name in the saluation of my postings because these questioners often do not finish their questions with a complimentary close including their names.

    I am suspicious about questioners hiding behind pseudonyms and rarely answer their questions. Some of my objections are expressed as reply to Say┼Źnara Greetings from The Grumpy Old Man [/people/eddy.declercq/blog/2008/12/15/from-the-grumpy-old-man-say%C5%8Dnara-greetings]. Perhaps some people are afraid of exposing themselves as “Greenhorns”. Well, here is my answer (repeated a third time on SDN) to them:

    “A good question is worth more than ten good answers”.

    You may be a greenhorn in terms of experience but your question will be read and answered as long as it interesting, comprehensible and – complete.


  8. Ankur R Goel
    Shakespeare said that what’s in name… however maybe he himself not believed in his own words than we all believe. He still published his work by using his name only. So name is an identity and it’s most important and integral part of our lives.

    However there was new terms discovered of Racism all the times. Can’t rule out if this person was sufferer of something new just have been discovered as “Curry Bashing”…


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