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I'm analysing a web project where you can connect and talk to other users, but there's no information available about them but their usernames. This site is intended to help people to communicate with other persons to find solutions to their needs of any kind. Anonymity is a core requirement. Privacy and trust are up to the users.

Imagine that you want to get a bike, and another user sells one, but you don't know his/her real name, how does he/she look like or any other reference. Why does this feel awkward or uncomfortable? What psychological elements can explain this?

Would be a good idea to tell users in the first term that anonymity is vital and anything else is up to them? Would that change their perception and dismiss the uncomfortable feeling?

  • Does your project allow alternative means of communication? Or your aim is to make user to pay with your service? – Serg Jun 5 '18 at 12:48
  • So far in this project users don't pay anything (nor with money nor with their information or the information they may generate). When a user with a need connects with another user who offers him/her a solution, a private chat is created and is the only way of communication on the platform. After that, users can agree to choose another form of communication. That's up to them. The only goal of the platform is just to connect users with needs. – Noob_Number_1 Jun 5 '18 at 13:45
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From my perspective as a user: If there is a nearly empty profile I assume the other user doesn't took too much effort in this platform yet and thus this raises doubts.

  • More or less it's a type of appreciation which is missing.
  • During dialogue it's easier to get proper salutation or context (e.g. age, gender or is the bike for his girlfriend, daughter, mom?)
  • It's easier to understand reactions if you can build a emotional/personal model of the other user - e.g. fulltime working business man, young person, grandpa on the internet, etc.
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For me it depends on the level of commitment in the interaction. For pure discussion and opinion polling, I don't need to care about the identity of anybody involved. But when there is an explicit or implied commitment such as buying something (which encompasses commitments on both the seller's and the buyer's part) I want to know to a certain extent who I'm dealing with.

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