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If one posts a question on an anonymous Q&A website there is an assumption that other users either do not, should not, or need not know the identity of the person. Thus all interactions between users of the site should depend solely upon the content of the posts and not the identities of their composers.

Would it be dishonest, therefore, to portray one's own identity as something other than that which it is in the asking of a question in order to increase the likelihood of getting the type of response desired? Would such an act qualify as deception or is there no presumed "truth" from which to be deviated since no identity can ever be assumed?

I am concerned with the ethical implications of the act and not the impact it has on the speaker independent of that.

(I am a 5-year-old indigenous New Zealander, by the way.)

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My, these indigenous NZ'ers do seem to have a sense of humour... :-) – Dave Mar 24 '11 at 1:55
Ooooh, look at the cute little kiwi. You won't let his question go unanswered, will you? – Isaac Moses Mar 24 '11 at 2:34
up vote 8 down vote accepted

I'm no expert on Geneivat Da'at, but my gut says that if you're misleading people to get them to do something they wouldn't otherwise do, you're presumably violating this prohibition.

Here on mi.yodeya, except for in certain very special circumstances, it's best if everything you say is true, to the best of your knowledge. That way, people can digest and respond accordingly. I don't see any good reason to exempt identity information from this rule. That's not to say that you have to volunteer your identity, but intentionally assuming a false (as opposed to ambiguous) identity seems improperly dishonest.

If you want people to answer as if they were addressing, e.g. a five-year-old New Zealander, I recommend that you preface the relevant question with "Suppose I'm a five-year-old New Zealander. Can I go swimming in Judge's Bay on a Sunday?" or whatever.

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