An anonymous forum is a type of Internet message board where users are able to participate in some capacity without providing personal information. The purpose of an anonymous forum is to remove biases that can form in other types of discussions, since each statement must be examined on its own merits without any knowledge about the person who made it. There are several different types of anonymous forums, ranging from truly anonymous to pseudo-anonymous. A truly anonymous forum does not require registration to use and provides users with no way to differentiate between each other. Many standard forums that have user registration also allow anonymous posting, though internet protocol (IP) addresses and other information is sometimes accessible by moderators or administration staff.
Online forums are places where people can come together and discuss a wide variety of topics. Some forums are highly focused on a single topic of interest, while others are broader in nature. Most online forums require potential users to register before they are able to participate in the discussion, and it is sometimes necessary to include a working email address or other personal information. Communities are often built around these forums, and long-standing members often become friendly with each other and may obtain a great deal of influence over discussions.
Other forums either have optional registration or no registration at all. One of the main arguments for not requiring registration is that it makes it easier for people to post on the forum. A visitor to a forum may have a valuable opinion to share but lack the time or desire to register an account. Forums with optional registration often let visitors post as anonymous guests to remove this barrier. This low barrier to posting also has potential drawbacks because it may facilitate or encourage inflammatory or disruptive posting.
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Another potential benefit of the anonymous forum is in the quality of the discussions that take place. The argument is that since each post is anonymous, it will need to be considered individually on its merits. Instead of judging arguments and statements based on the person making them, the facts must be considered logically. This can also allow a new user to participate in a discussion at the same level as an established one. The drawback here is that there is no real accountability on an anonymous forum because each user is free to make virtually any statement without fear of future repercussions.