There are three kinds of anonymity:
- total anonymity. This is what you get at 4chan. You post something, nobody knows where it's from.
- transitory anonymity. This is a blog comment with a throwaway name, or a Youtube comment. You can own your comments, but there's no reputation, there's no accountability.
- conditional anonymity. This is what you get at Hubski, at Reddit, at eBay. You are anonymous, but your alias is not. There are consequences to your persona for misbehavior. There's a bifurcation between your "real life" and your "internet life" that forms a Chinese Wall between the two, preventing blowback from one injuring the other, but you are vulnerable to attack.
moot is a firm believer in total anonymity because his head is completely up his ass. It's not entirely his fault; while most people's parents would have made them go to school and socialize with other humans, moot's mom let him set up 4chan in his basement. Nonetheless, he's now a grown human being that really ought to brush up on the insanely hurtful shit done in his name.
There are no experts in the field that find total anonymity to be anything but hurtful to discourse. People who want to do good want the conditional anonymity - being the "man behind the mask" is enough. People who want to do bad want total anonymity - you want to make sure that nothing you ever say or do will get back to you.
Total anonymity is a bank robber. Conditional anonymity is a "caped crusader" - or a serial killer like Zodiac or the Night Stalker. Total anonymity has its place, but "large online communities" ain't it. This has been abundantly clear since the days of Usenet.
"The mob is man voluntarily descending to the nature of the beast. Its fit hour of activity is night. Its actions are insane like its whole constitution. It persecutes a principle; it would whip a right; it would tar and feather justice, by inflicting fire and outrage upon the houses and persons of those who have these. It resembles the prank of boys, who run with fire-engines to put out the ruddy aurora streaming to the stars".
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Selected Essays and Lectures, Essay III, "Compensation"