Ask music4dance: Why am I listed as Anonymous?

A few months ago I started working on a set of features with the goal of making music4dance more personalized.  This includes the ability to add new songs to the catalog, to see who else likes to dance specific styles to a song, and more. As I was working on this I realized that almost all members of the music4dance community have chosen the privacy setting to not share their profile. This was the default setting, so it shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  While the features that I’ve written so far don’t even give one the ability to write a profile, I want to be as respectful as possible with everyone’s privacy and not show user names anywhere for members who had opted for privacy.  This is especially true because many members have chosen to use what appears to be their full name as their user name.

So I did some work to make sure that anyone who had chosen that setting is protected by not showing their name, and instead I use the single “Anonymous” moniker.  I’m still tracking who those users are by means of a randomly generated number, but other visitors to the site will only see the user as “Anonymous”.  That is even the case if you send a link to your songs to a friend.  For instance, I’ve marked my test user “Charlie” as not wanting to share his profile, so if I’m logged on as Charlie and look at a list of Charlie’s songs then the list and changes to the songs are attributed to Charlie.  But if I send that link to you, you’ll just see his changes attributed to Anonymous.

A search of all the songs “Charlie” has edited as Charlie sees it
The same list that is shown above as seen by anyone but Charlie

This isn’t the best user experience in my opinion.  I had some thought of having permanent anonymous names so that Charlie might be anonymous1 and you might be anonymous2, but that was a considerable amount of extra work for a pretty marginal improvement. 

What does that mean to you? If you’ve spent time voting on songs in the music4dance catalog, please consider turning the privacy feature off to allow sharing.  You can do that from the My Profile page. All changing that setting will currently do is show your user name in searches and attribute changes that you’ve made to a song to your user name.  If you happened to use your real name as your user name and would like to change it to something else, just contact me and I can make that change (if enough people want to do that, I’ll add a self-service feature).

I’m very interested in making this site a useful place to share ideas for songs to dance to and I believe part of that experience is being able to attribute changes to specific users. But it doesn’t matter too much right now if those users are connected to the real person that’s making those changes (more on that later). So please take the time to make it easier for other dancers to follow your work by changing that setting.

As always, I’m very interested in your feedback so please share any thoughts and ideas you have about this post or the site by commenting below or using other feedback mechanisms listed here.  In addition, if you enjoy the site or the blog (or both), please consider contributing in whatever way that makes sense for you.