I hate to bring this up because it's so obviously a downer, but I think I have to: I put my real name and work e-mail address into my account at signup because I automatically assumed the information would not be openly available to anyone who happens onto this site. When I saw that this was not the case, I went back and took my name out of my account, but I haven't removed my work e-mail address yet. In checking the Edit function with my account, I saw that my e-mail address wouldn't be made public, so that will probably remain as is.
I used to visit misc.health.alternative on use.net a lot when I first started surfing the web. My previous career involved medical technical writing and healthcare advertising, so alternative healthcare and the charlatans and snake-oil salesmen who promote it were subjects of great interest to me.
One woman who posted a lot had made a career out of promoting the misfortunes of women who elected to have breast augmentation surgery. The horror stories I've read about this woman are enough to make your hair curl. If you disagree with her, she shouts you down and enlists her sycophants to join her in belittling you. Then she combs the archives of posts, sometimes going back years, until she finds what she thinks is your real name and e-mail address. She bombs your e-mail account with porn, determines your home telephone number and then calls your home to tell your spouse that you're cheating on him or her. Finally she would call your neighbors AND YOUR EMPLOYER to complain about the things you've written on the web and ask your employer if they think you should be posting to use.net while on company time.
I know it sounds like an Internet Urban Legend, but I wouldn't be telling you this if I hadn't seen it myself. The people I corresponded with on use.net were doctors, scientists, and medical researchers who probably were in no danger of losing their jobs, but to whom reputation meant a great deal. The things this woman did to their good names was an embarrassment that took a great deal of time to fix.
I've known most of you folks here for quite a while through Mr. Cranky's. I've never had a problem in RL through my involvement with the Cranky fora, even though I surf to the site usually while I'm at work, during breaks or lunch or what have you. But that's no reason to surf carelessly.
Most of the people I've read or met at the previous website seem much too thoughtful or busy to waste their time on some of the activities I've described above. However, there are others I have bandied words with on the previous website whom I wouldn't put it past. I therefore urge all of you to review the information you've put on your accounts and remove anything that could be used to lead someone back to your real life.
I suspect that most of you folks are much more knowledgeable about the Internet and have already taken precautions to protect your real lives. If so, I applaud you and urge everyone else reading this to do the same. I would hope that there would be no problems with the people posting here, but I feel it's best to err on the side of caution.
Finally, I understand there was a great deal of talk about kill-files and the need to ban posters who seem abusive. As a recipient of some of the ire and invective from a few of the posters on the previous board, I must confess that I didn't make use of the kill-file function and disagree with the need for such a function. I agree that some of those posters were tedious and profane in the extreme, but I also have to admit that some of their posts forced me to get out of my mental funk, dust off my keyboard, and think and re-think and re-organize a lot of the ideas that had been hiding in the dusty corners of my mind for a long time, much to my benefit.
Much like the three long, tedious months I had spent one weekend reading all of Ann Coulter's books, I find it instructive to keep the rants of the under-informed fresh in my mind, even if it is only to remind me what it is that I am writing for. So I would urge the moderators or webmasters to welcome any and all comers to join and post here, even the recognizable names from the previous website. And if it were my choice, the only reason that they would ever stop posting would be that they had nothing left to say.
Best regards, Wally