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Anonymous forum ownership
Is anonymity possible?
shallow




msg:4518008
 1:15 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm thinking about starting a forum or blog about a topic that needs very much to be discussed. For those who want to share freely, they would want to remain anonymous, using a screen name instead of their real name.

As the owner of the forum, is it possible for my name not to be public too, even in a whosis lookup?

Is this possible? Thank you.

 

piatkow




msg:4518010
 1:29 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

To hide the owner name you could use a hosted forum provider. There are forum suppliers who permit open posting but their own TOS may, of course, ban the topic that you wish to discuss.

User IP addresses would still be recorded and made available to the forum owner and of course the forum supplier will know who you are.

shallow




msg:4518014
 1:38 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thank you.

What is a hosted forum provider? Can you give me the names of one or two?

I doubt very much the topic would be banned, as there are already similar forums and plenty of books written on the subject.

phranque




msg:4518020
 2:17 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

many registrars provide privacy services that will keep your identity hidden from the general public such as whois requests.

piatkow




msg:4518059
 4:31 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)


many registrars provide privacy services that will keep your identity hidden from the general public such as whois requests.

That varies by TLD and possibly by the type of ownership. IIRC for a .uk you can opt for privacy as a private individual but not as a corporation.


What is a hosted forum provider?

One that hosts the forum on their own servers rather than providing the code for you to upload onto yours. You then get a forum name along the lines of myforum.example.com or example.com/myforum where example.com is the forum provider.


Can you give me the names of one or two?

I think that would break the webmasterworld charter.

shallow




msg:4518060
 4:37 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think that would break the webmasterworld charter.


Ooops! Sorry, had I been aware of this, I would not have asked.

Thanks so much for the info!

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4518061
 4:53 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

In short I think the answer is "extremely difficult but possible".

Aside from hiding your WHOIS & details from your host... you would likely want to use a proxy too.

Consider that someone in the forum may be able tp post an image to a thread & therefore get the IP address of everyone on that thread visiting the page. Even when using a proxy it is possible to begin to guess where someone lives based on the delay in roundtime of a request.

I guess it's a question of how much anonymity you'd like and how much you need... as we could count up the dozens of ways in which someone may be able to better identify you.

shallow




msg:4518066
 5:12 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

brotherhood,
Yes, it appears to be extremely possible. I'm not trying to hide things. In fact, I'd love to go public but can't right now. I plan to use fictitious names to protect the guilty.

Maybe I should just use something like the free WordPress or Blogger. I have a blogger blog (which I no longer update) where my name wasn't made public. Do you think this would work?

It's a very difficult but important issue, one I eventually hope to convince legislators to enact laws.

brotherhood of LAN




msg:4518067
 5:18 pm on Nov 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sure, it's very easy to hide your name, whois, and to that end offers a good degree of anonymity.

Like I say, it depends on how much anonymity you truly need. Using your own credit card to buy the hosting & domain for instance, is a breadcrumb back to you. I'm probably thinking over the top for your needs, but that's just an example.

lucy24




msg:4518173
 2:33 am on Nov 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

someone in the forum may be able to post an image to a thread

Unless you follow the example of {forum whose name escapes me at the moment} and simply block the [img] function outright.

bill




msg:4518212
 5:57 am on Nov 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you are very concerned about anonymity then you might consider running a forum as a hidden service on the Tor network. The down side is that everyone would need to be using Tor.

nomis5




msg:4518358
 4:48 pm on Nov 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

If you are worried about anonymity then presumably you have a fear of persons tracking you down via the forum.

Believe this, if you post a forum and think you can remain anonymous then you are seriously, seriously mistaken. Publish only what you feel is safe otherwise forget anonymity.

I know from experience that nothing can be hidden from a serious attempt at uncovering your identity.

Without going into specifics there are services available which can uncover almost anything.

I worked in an organisation which had access to people's credit, address and other records. Only authorised people could use this facility outside of the normal course of events.

But systems need to be tested and a few computer testers were given unfettered access to an amazing array of private information of all types.

The holes in those systems were truly staggering. And I don't just mean access to the records of Jo Public. Access was available right to the top (the very, very, seriously very top) of the records of the UK elite and ruling classes.

Nothing and no-one (again, really no one) is totally protected against access to their very personal records. Never, ever presume your anonymity.

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