I put up some Profile Expectations a few days ago, and have been trying to encourage people to read them and follow them, but I thought it might be helpful to have a place to talk about it a bit more, since they are different from your average forum rules.
Please read the expectations before you comment on this post.
I know a lot of people don't like posting a real photo or real name, or are uncomfortable with the idea. We aren't trying to make you uncomfortable or be difficult: we are willing for people to use a pseudonym if they want to, and we want to hear any concerns you may have over any of the expectations. But at the same time, Jordan and I have thought through the expectations we have, and feel like there are good reasons for having them.
The reason behind using real names and photos is that we're trying to give the forums and community the feeling of real people having a conversation, rather than, say, a flower named "blue giraffe" talking to a logo. I know a lot of forums don't require this kind of commitment, but we really want to create a place where people respect and care for each other, which is much more likely when people seem like people.
Also, with all the struggles these days with copyright and intellectual property, the more real you seem to people, the less likely they are to treat you in a way you don't like. As we grow this site and have more designers and contributors, we want them to be seen as real people whose designs matter and should be treated with respect. You'd be surprised at what a simple change like using a photo and real name can do.
You can already see this in action here. A lot of sites don't have active participation from their web developer. But we made the conscious decision that Jordan should be a real person in the community, not just because he does so much behind the scenes, but because we will be relying on the community to help support the work he does here, and that is much more likely if you know his name, have seen his face, and had a conversation with him. Already, I'm impressed with the way people are thankful for all his work. That wouldn't be true if he was just another faceless developer.
Of course, all this doesn't mean that you have to go by your "real" name. As long as you create a pseudonym that sounds real, we'll take it. We aren't doing background checks on people to be sure they are telling the truth. We just want them to sound like people. In fact, I don't use my last name much online. Not because I'm particularly worried about it (my last name is Magnuson, same as Jordan), but because I've always liked my middle name (Lerin), and have decided to use it more often.
The idea with the real names and photos isn't necessarily to be truthful (although I like to think that I'm really talking to the person in the photo), but to at least give us a real-seeming person to connect to. Online identities will always be constructs, to some extent, but it's still much easier to connect with a photo named "Stephanie Rose" than to a to a flower named "blue giraffe" -- even if "Stephanie" is your grandmother's name, "Rose" is your favorite flower, and the photo is of one of your ancestors who immigrated from Scotland 100 years ago.
I understand if you still have reservations about posting either a name or a photo, but please contact me, either in this forum, or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org), letting me know that you at least have read the expectations. Jordan and I have spent a lot of time and effort building this place and it's nice to think that the things we write are at least being considered.
So what do you think? Are the guidelines helpful, or not? Does the reasoning make sense to you? If you have some better ideas for profile guidelines, please share them! At the end of the day, we're just trying to help Pixel Scrapper become the kind of community you want to spend time in .