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Anonymous & ephemeral - Vectr Weekly #4

August 5 · Issue #4 · View online
Vectr Weekly
Hello again 👋
Last week we hit principle 1 of 3: ease of use. This week we’ll touch on 2 and 3: anonymity and ephemerality. We initially planned them separately, but realized it’s the combination that’s important. I’m sure there will be many iterations of how we implement this - let me know if the following makes sense.

Anonymity alone is both good and bad.
The good: our hypothesis is that people are more willing to engage in an anonymous setting. Asking a “silly” question carries less risk if one’s identity is protected. It’s easier to question the status quo or challenge authority. Unpopular ideas can be expressed without worry of retaliation or opprobrium. 
But then there’s the bad. It’s no secret that anonymity on the internet is often conducive of crude and offensive speech. People are free to do and say things without taking responsibility. For example, you get far more bad actors and abuse on Twitter where pseudonyms are allowed, as compared to LinkedIn where you have to use your real name.
So what we offer on Vectr might be called “traceable anonymity.” Anonymity is the default setting, but network owners have the ability to toggle it off if needed. 
That said, we decided that anonymity alone was not enough. Coming back to the Twitter example, or any large social network for that matter, part of the problem with bad behavior is that it’s amplified. If someone posts a nasty response, it is shared with their entire network, and subsequently gets liked and shared over and over, only exacerbating the problem. So bad actors are, in effect, given a megaphone from which they promote corrosive ideas.
Enter ephemerality, which too has good & bad features.
The good: bad behavior is not amplified. If an offensive question or answer is submitted on Vectr, other members simply “pass” or “discard” that content and it no longer shows up. Further, all content on Vectr expires after 48 hours. Members can save particularly valuable content to their “collection” if they choose, but the point here is to keep content fresh & contextually relevant at all times, while again, ensuring that bad behavior cannot proliferate.
The not so good: you’ve likely read about the prevalence of “sexting” among teens on SnapChat or the disgusting creation that was Chatroulette. We’ll leave you to read those articles or try out the services if you so choose, but it doesn’t take much of an imagination to understand why pure ephemerality doesn’t work.
So we’ve landed on the idea that both anonymity and ephemerality together can create a wonderful user experience - provide enough protection to the individual to foster genuine inquiry and free expression, while simultaneously maintaining accountability and providing no reward for bad behavior.
This all might sound a bit wordy, but hopefully it helps to explain our thinking in some detail. We welcome your thoughts and feedback!
And finally, a question:
When thinking about the networks and organizations of which you are a part, have you ever had a question about something, but decided, for one reason or another, not to ask? What was your recourse? We’re very curious to understand how organizations are thinking about this, if at all. 
(these are not meant to be rhetorical questions - we’d love to hear from you 😊)
Stay curious!
Jeremy & Jake
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