Need assistance with Anonymous Research

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Sgin, Feb 16, 2013.

  1. Sgin Member

    Hi all,

    I'm currently studying for my 'Advertising & Marketing
    Communications' degree at Bournemouth University in the UK.

    A significant part of my degree is my 'dissertation' of which my chosen subject
    is 'Online activism and the implications of anonymity on online identity'. I
    really wanted to delve deep into how participation in anonymous online activism
    through social media channels can affect a users' representation of themselves

    For instance 'a businessman by day, online political activist by night'.

    At this current moment in time, I'm looking for a handful of participants that

    would be able to answer some interview questions over e-mail or skype. If this
    is something that you would be interested in doing, that would be fantastic and
    a real help to my studies. Obviously anything said will remain completely
    anonymous and your identity will never be disclosed in any publication unless
    you wish to be.

    At this moment in time, I would be unable to offer any financial incentive for
    participating but it would be great if you all would consider it.

    If this is something that you could help me with, tweet me at @seanginnaw or e-mail me at


  2. A.O.T.F Member

    Too dangerous a mission. Sorry.
  3. rof Member

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  4. A.O.T.F Member

  5. Ogsonofgroo Member

    Been thrashed over hundreds of times, suggest OP do some lurking and reading, then more reading, googling, and moar reading.
    As a matter of personal security my alarms always go off when such requests are floored in forums such as this from unknown sources, been too many phishing attempts over the years to not be very, very cautious.
    The premise for this particular request , um, shows a lack of knowledge of what 'anominity' means. By its very nature my own anominity has no bearing on 'how I am represented on-line', as an activist or other-wise, doesn't make a tonne of sense to me right from the git-go.
    I respectfully suggest that the OP put together their questions and post them in an open thread and let people choose whether or not to answer your questions, you can pull the information from there. That will not only protect those responding and maintain their security/identities, but will also give us an idea of the direction this 'disertation' is headed as well as indicating the level of veracity involved.
    My thoughts on the matter.

    Cheers and welcome Sean!
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  6. Sgin Member

    Thanks for the suggestion of the site. Strangely enough one of my other research subjects has pointed me to the exact same place so Gabriella Coleman must carry some significant weight in the area.
  7. A.O.T.F Member

    Yep .. She does - Gabrilella is a member here ;)
  8. Sgin Member

    Thanks for your response.

    Sorry about that. It's fair to say I'm particularly new to the activism/forum thing so I'm picking stuff up as I go along.

    Unfortunately due to the nature of the marking system for my project, I have to conduct full interviews (something that's proving significantly difficult due to the nature of everyones respected anonymity) but I agree with you, questionnaires would be brilliant under the circumstances.

    As for the nature of the research, please believe me when I say I've done a significant amount of research into the subject already and the theme of dissociative anonymity within online activism is really quite unexplored. Lots of research into identity exploration and extension has been done into online gaming and online communities without any real focus into the greatly knowledgable and polically aligned types of people that participate in activism. I guess that's where my interest came in - I was a bit tired of hearing about people using online gaming for sexual identity exploration and instead wanted to explore how people flourish their chosen identity within the activist community.

    For instance, judging from your reply, your role in this website community is one of knowledge and authority (and I'm guessing moderation too!). I'm aiming to explore how different that is to how you identify yourself in real life.

    I hope that's shed a bit more light on the subject without me making myself look too stupid.

    cheers again,

    • Like Like x 1
  9. Sgin Member

    I'll have to look out for her in that case. She'd be a fascinating person to talk to on the subject.
  10. A.O.T.F Member

  11. Sgin Member

  12. A.O.T.F Member

    Nobody knows that I'm associated with Anonymous. Not my own family or my closest friends. I do not take being a member lightly or treat it like some kind of game Sean.
  13. Jeff Jacobsen Member

  14. Sgin Member

    I apologise if there was some sort of misunderstanding there. I'm approaching this purely as an academic with no intention to offend and was in no way suggesting what you do is a game. I was merely suggesting that within the majority of online activist and political mobilisation communities, there is a significant amount of removed "identity". Not as in the sense of anonymity, but more the fact that we adopt different personas when in an anonymous environment, far removed from the day to day careers or ways we present ourselves during a normal "working day".
  15. Sgin Member

    Hi Jeff,

    Just had a quick scan through your site and there's a really great chunk on community and motivation which is going to help my research loads so thanks for that. In terms of meeting Anons, how did you go about doing that? I'm sure I've probably approached this in a bit of an amateur way but I've managed to get a couple of really influential people on board for my research. Given the limited timescale of my research, scheduling and running a face to face interview is going to be no easy feat.


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  16. A.O.T.F Member

    I'm not offended Sean & I know exactly what you meant. Man .. you have picked a hell of a subject. And to get people to talk with you is going to be an uphill battle (Being realistic here) We are all very much gun shy,because of a lot of shit that went down. So it is understandable that we are undeniably cautious,wary,vigilant and have trust issues with outsiders. You understand?
  17. Sgin Member

    Of course. The very nature of anonymous is founded on ethics of personal freedom and a right to privacy so I completely understand where you're coming from. And yeah, It's a hell of a subject but It's something I've been following and really interested in for a fair while - only seems natural that I end my education on something I enjoy delving into.

    And as for the uphill battle, completely true that it's a hard task but I've got a handful of people willing to participate at the moment, some of which carry a lot of weight in the subject area so I suppose It's going to be a case of quality over quantity for my study.

    Obviously I'm a bit strapped for time at the moment but If I wanted to attend a UK 'anonymous' activist event just to get a greater insight as to what you guys do offline, where would I go to find out things like that?


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  18. The Wrong Guy Member

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  19. Anonymous Member

    Here's a report on a recent UK Raid. These typically happen monthly.

    "Strapped for time" ??? A lack of planning on your part doesn't constitute any kind of emergency on our part.
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  20. A.O.T.F Member

    If you want to spend a little money to travel to Manchester .. Maybe Profanity or Strobe will have a chat with you .. They are both brilliant people so treat them with the utmost respect Sean .. Ok. Maybe PM them to find out if it is ok first ... yeah. Good luck
    • Like Like x 1
  21. The Wrong Guy Member

    You could just ask your questions in this thread.
    • Like Like x 1
  22. Sgin Member

    I'm afraid due to University rules I can't - as much as I would love to. Thanks for the link you posted.
  23. rof Member

    • Like Like x 4
  24. The Wrong Guy Member

    It was nice of you to say that. Have a nice day!
    • Like Like x 2
  25. Sgin Member

    You're very welcome. It's cool that everyone's been so helpful even when I seem to be continuously putting my foot in it!

    And in terms of a quick chat over PM, that would be fantastic if you would be willing. :)
    • Like Like x 1
  26. rof Member

    Look up top and you will see a red dingleberry.

    Above Inbox, press that.
  27. Sgin Member

    Dingleberry acknowledged!
  28. Ogsonofgroo Member

    Eeeeek! Nope, am just me, some knowledge (gladly shared), my own opinions/observations (take 'em or leave 'em), no authority or modding. My on-line personna, though a construct of sorts, still reflects the essence of who I am IRL, the way I deal with things and how I express myself. I don't bother lying in my profiles, but am careful not to say enough to peg me either. The folks I have made contact over the years confirm that I'm pretty much how they thought I'd be, thankfully they don't tell me what that is exactly :p

    {I'm adding a little edit here to elaborate a bit. I'd like to add that the above contacts have also proved to be very close in form to their actual identities as well. I see this being so for several reasons, the first that comes to mind is an honesty factor. On this site you're going to run into DOSTFU (dox or shut the fuck up) or 'Pics or it didn't happen'. Because of the nature of this branch of Anon's targets, most try and keep to the facts and truths of the matter, there is nothing to gain by creating bullshit, and no reason to, the cult of scientology is bizarre enough without having to create falsehoods (mockery, humor, and shoops aside), and dangerous enough to maintian an anonymous shield (given the cults track-record of 'fair-game' and screwing with people IRL.)
    Another thing is that many Anons have and do meet eachother IRL for fun and pickets and, despite infiltration attempts, will get to know eachother, life such as it is. So you have the hots for the Anon in pink shoes, and they like you too but find out your an obnoxious troll on-line, oopsy, things may not go as planned. Yeh thats far-fetched and probably silly *shrugz*.
    Anyhow, what I was trying to get across is that I think there is a fair difference between gaming arenas where an entire identity is created, and activism where one merely wishes to hide their true identity, I don't think the latter are as prone to creating a whole personna far from their actual natures, what would be the point? (Kk, shits and giggles sock-trolls nm) ( 'nother edit>Basically saying the same thing JT said below, my derp, nick-name and an avatar, good to go :) )
    Is this making sense? No idea, its frikken late and I'm off to bed, just thought I'd get in an extra thought or two out before I fade into oblivion. Sounds like it could be an interesting paper and I hope the OP shares it with us when its done. }

    I guess what I'm trying ta say is that just because a person wishes a modicum of anominity on what-ever forum, doesn't mean you have to go a create some sort of alter-ego, lots of people like to do that too though *shrugz*, for trolling, lutz, or nepharious purposes etc.. I prefer just to be me, keeps me honest :)
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  29. Kilia Member

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  30. Sgin Member

  31. What is your hypothesis? What are you researching exactly? "Is the Internet a breeding ground for Dissociative Identity Disorder?"

    It seems to me like you have decided on the fact that our online identities and offline identities are somehow two separate entities, is that right? And WHY would a university care if you discussed questions you are working on in a forum such as this?
  32. Sgin Member

    My hypothesis is that, like other online environments that allow for identity exploration, participation in online activism communities brings rise to a form of identity disassociation or fragmentation from everyday life. Community web spaces give rise to a lot of identity 'play' and experimentation. I'm not in any way suggesting any disorder or underlying psychological issue - this is FAR beyond my area of study.

    And to a degree, yes that is what I'm trying to investigate. My last research project was concerning online gaming and more specifically World of Warcraft where there was a significant amount of identity exploration and play. My purpose of study here is to see how far exactly this online 'disinhibition' stretches when in a collective and politically charged environment.

    University would care if I started asking my questions here for two reasons. The first of which is that my research has not currently been signed off. There are a couple of ethics forms still to be processed before I can proceed. The second of which is, from a marking perspective, my University only allows for timestamped e-mail conversations or a fully transcribed verbal interview as a verified form of research for the paper.

    I hope this helps answer your questions.
  33. Very much so. You have chosen an interesting subject, but I am a little uncertain about the premise of "fragmentation from everyday life." (Keep in mind that my perspective is one of average intelligence and a mediocre education.) So allow me to ramble:

    WWP is very much part of my everyday life. I lurk here as much as I lurk newspapers or any other source of information online. I occasionally take part in a conversation if I feel that my input could be valuable. Inb4trollingisnotvaluable. My point is that for many of us, online and offline are not two separate worlds any more than newpapers and magazines were separate worlds before; the only difference is that a monologue is now occasionally a dialogue.

    WoW on the other hand, is a different world all together. It has its own aesthetics, its own rules and regulations, it has visual avatar creation and loads of visual stimuli that enforces a suspension of disbelief. WWP and similars have none of that, nor are the challenges we face here fictional. Where a WoW player actively shapes his character down to the colour of his socks, I feel that my identity is meaningless in places like WWP. In fact, being anonymous frees us from having any kind of identity at all, so much so that even the very idea of being identified is generally frowned upon.

    I do not believe that I have created an online identity by taking part in online activism. I have chosen a name, maybe chosen a picture as an avatar, but that is basically it. The rest is just a conversation I am having with the same frame of mind I´m in when I go to work. I don´t put on a cape before open WWP in my browser. From my perspective, I seriously doubt that you will find anyone creating an "online activist identity" that is anywhere near the complexity of creating a Warrior Elf in a digital fantasy land. Then again, I haven´t looked.

    tl;dr online activism isn´t escapism (right?), hence not fragmentation from everyday life.
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  34. Mutante Member

    I do actually wear a cape before loading up WWP.
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  35. Kilia Member

    I put on lipstick like a pitbull does.
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  36. Anonymous Member

    If you haven't yet read this paper, you may enjoy checking it out:

    The paper explores ephemerality and anonymity through an examination of creativity on the 4chan /b/board.

    Recommended, based upon what you've posted about your interests and focus.
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  37. PTS Member

    Supply a .pdf of your dissertation prospectus & accompanying authorization by your committee/mentor/advisor and we can talk.
    Legitimate grad students should be readily able to supply dox.
    • Like Like x 2
  38. Sgin Member

    Your response definitely suggests otherwise!

    Brilliant point! Your responses are definitely putting me through my paces so thank you for taking the time to respond.

    My counter-argument would be that, whilst visual identity is not present in the forum, other recognisable traits of identity are still at play. Use of language, rhetoric, hierarchy and subcultural social class (members, moderators e.t.c.) are all still visible throughout the forum. I don't for one second assume that you put on a cape before entering WWP but my hypothesis is that there is some degree of online identity creation when in an anonymous environment such as this. This may not necessarily be true for you, but may be evident for others.

    As for your point about online activism isn't escapism - I would argue that there are some users out there who utilise 'Anonymous' and the activist forum behind it as escapism. The acceptance that some users may find when participating in something of this nature might be attractive to them, especially if contrasted with a "real life" they may not enjoy.

    And whilst you doubt that I will find anything, that's the nature of research - I may spend days and months searching for something that may not exist!

    One of the best tutors I've had once said "if you believe your idea 'has legs' and can stand true, you must take it for a walk."
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  39. Sgin Member

    I like to think I pop on a morter board before logging in. ;)
  40. Sgin Member

    Absolutely perfect! Two of the main theories I'm using are present in their research which is a great basis for my research so thanks for sharing!
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