Do you like getting unexpected Valentine cards from an unknown admirer? Does it put a spring in your step or does it make you feel like you are being stalked? You start to be suspicious of everybody you know and if someone is friendly to you, instead of being grateful, you begin to suspect them of being your admirer!
When you don’t know who is communicating with you, we are not sure how to react. As humans we want to know we are talking to. That’s why we intuitively dislike “cold calls” because we don’t know who we are speaking to and why they are talking to us.
I work with many organisations who are seeking to improve their worlds through crowdsourcing and collaboration and interaction is a key recipe to success. Sometimes, I am asked if we can make the users anonymous, as they feel that people are more likely to take part. However, in reality, having anonymity may help someone feel safe, but it does not help collaboration.
When we do not know who someone is, we do not know how to behave and interact with them. I don’t know if I am collaborating with my friend across the desk, the CEO or the receptionist. You would talk to each of these people in a different way, so if you don’t know who it is, most choose the generic option, rather than the tailored option that would have more success.
The other factor with anonymity is that I can’t get others involved if I don’t where they are and how to contact them. Most organisations want people to develop networks throughout the organisation and then use them, being anonymous directly conflicts with that objective.
I think you can tell which side of the anonymity argument I sit on! I will always push against anonymous for the sake of collaboration, but I would be interested to hear your views on this area.