[Air-L] credentials, pen names, and etc.

Murray Turoff murray.turoff at gmail.com
Thu Aug 20 13:34:58 PDT 2009

i always thought what we did on the original EIES system form the mid
70's through the mid 90's was the right way to go.
default signature was your real name and there was a directory for
finding out material on the person they could fill in.  however,
anyone at any time could use a pen name or anonymity in signing a
comment.  or the organizer of a conference could set up one where all
comments were forced to be signed by pen names or to be anonymous so
one could do Delphi Discussions.

in one test of the use of pen names and real names in a risky shift
expeirment in a major company using 5 person (middle managers) using
pen names or using in matching group real names the significant
finding was in the pen name group it was the only time they were
willing to discuss past decisions of the company as being possible
mistakes in setting policies.   When they were debriefed the biggest
fear was that they might end up working for someone whose prior
decision they were critical of which could not happen if they publicly
stated their view.  This report is on the njit library web site
devoted to the old cccc studies but also was published in a journal as

One of my students did a thesis on using anonymity for rating
professional papers.   And it has always been a disappointment that no
single journal ever tried doing anonymous discussions of reviews of
articles to journals among the reviewers of a given paper so they
would reach a resolution of disagreements and then bring in the author
to also enter the discussion.   This would be a big improvement of the
whole publications process if done they way it should be.

It is what people have to say that should be the first criteria for
judging something and not who they are.
when people are in a group and have similar expertise then it is even
more important to expose the disagreements as a guide to what to say
to understand whey those disagreements are occurring.
I have a phd student building a system for exactly that purpose in
emergency preparedness problem solving and planning.   In such
situations experience and academic viewpoints are often in conflict.
there are papers in the last iscram meeting proceedings (iscram.org)
by connie white and on her website.  i am on vacation and my files are
not handy.

I did not mention Delphi in the above and of course that does bias my
viewpoint considerably.  What connie is doing is a Dynamic delphi
where everything happens at once and people can be voting, proposing
new options, changing their vote, discussing options, and viewing a
changing vote process at any time.

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Information Systems, NJIT
homepage: http://is.njit.edu/turoff

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