Anonymity and Reviews
It’s frequently cited by defenders of anonymous reviews that witholding the reviewer’s name allows them protection from irate owners and enables them to talk frankly. True – but it leaves the system open to abuse and facilitates fake and malicious reviews, as well as fake reviews from owners themselves.
Is it possible to have the best of both worlds, to validate an identity and maintain anonymity?
In a word, Yes. Amazon holds the clue. I quote from their own site concerning reviews of Amazon products:
A Real Name attribution is a signature based on the name entered by the author as the cardholder name on his or her credit card, i.e. the author represents this name as his/her identity in the “real world.” An author willing to sign his or her real-world name on content posted on Amazon.com is essentially saying “With my real-world identity, I stand by what I have written here.”
A Real Name attribution establishes credibility much as reputations built over time in the Amazon.com community, and just as high-reputation authors and their works receive badges, authors who use a Real Name attribution receive badges.
In general, we believe that a community in which people use their Real Name attributions will ultimately have higher quality content, since an author willing to sign his or her real-world name on a piece of content is essentially saying “With my real-world identity, I stand by what I have written here.”
Bravo Amazon – a review site that recognises concerns about anonymous reviewers.
But What About Anonymity?
Obviously the Amazon system does not protect anonymity, but it does verify the owner’s identity as a real person and (largely) protects against multiple identity registrations on the site.
To protect anonymity, all that would be required is to allow the person to use a pseudonym when posting reviews – assuming they wish to shield their identity in this way.
Again, you could still post a review without verifying your identity – but I agree with Amazon, I would put greater trust in reviews from people who had done so and I would pay more attention to them.
I’d be interested to hear any feedback on this suggestion.