8

My ServerFault user name is my real name and when you search certain topics in Google you can easily reach questions that I've asked in the past on ServerFault.

I'm a self employed consultant in subjects which are related to Linux infrastructures and such and there are questions which I'd like to ask on ServerFault that I don't want my customers to be able to find (because they believe I'm an all-knowing guy in the subject). Would it be okay to create another ServerFault account that I use to ask these sensitive questions? Or shall I use a guest user name to ask these questions?

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    You can also change your displayed name. – Michael Hampton Jun 9 '15 at 7:33
  • I rather not change it if there is another way... is there? – Itai Ganot Jun 9 '15 at 7:36
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    I'd suggest getting a better class of customers, who don't get all upset because you have the great good sense to talk to others about issues you face... though I understand that this would be more of a long-term solution! – Jenny D says Reinstate Monica Jun 9 '15 at 9:25
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    What Jenny D said. Also, I don't imagine people seeing you asking good, smart questions and getting upvoted for it would be such a bad thing. I could be wrong, of course. – Katherine Villyard Jun 9 '15 at 15:57
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    @JennyD I work with clients that have similar situations where they don't want any problems associated with their infrastructure to be in any way discussed publicly. It's not normally a matter among consultants of keeping up appearances of being all knowing. Usually for consultants it's a matter of client confidentiality. Some clients are in sensitive industries and are attack targets, so any publicly identifieable information about them increases potential surface area for attacks. – Wesley Jun 10 '15 at 20:15
  • That's true and some of my customers are such – Itai Ganot Jun 10 '15 at 20:16
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    Anyway, to the OP, as a result, I sanitize all of my questions that have client information in them. I also do not inlcude information such as public DNS records in my questions. Any connection between me and the clients I work with has potential for increasing attack surface area. Simply write questions and remove all client information if possible. It gets tricky, and some questions are muddled as a result, but you get more skillful at it as times goes on. =) – Wesley Jun 10 '15 at 20:17
  • @Wesley Oh yes, I will also clear out any mention of the customer when asking questions. So far, all of mine have been about customers' issues. In at least one case, I've even asked the client to look at the question and let me know if I wrote it down correctly. So - yes, hiding the client is the right thing to do; I just don't want to hide myself. – Jenny D says Reinstate Monica Jun 11 '15 at 4:05
  • @JennyD Ahhh, gotcha. :thumbsup: – Wesley Jun 11 '15 at 5:10
17

I see nothing in the legal documents that would forbid creating a secondary account, but you would need to contact the SE staff for a definite answer to the legal part of this.

If you do it, the most important part is to not use a secondary account as a sockpuppet. Don't vote, comment or answer for the other account, ever.

Even then, I personally feel this to be dishonest and I like to believe that me saying "I don't know this, have to look it up" contributed to both coworkers and clients trusting me more.

Michael already told you about changing your username to something else, and I believe this to be the best way (which I use myself as I don't like to be searchable at all).

If that's not acceptable, I'd rather use anonymous accounts as you can't vote with those.

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I'm also a self-employed consultant who asks questions and sometimes contributes to this site. This has never been an issue for me. People find my content all the time.

In the end, your customers expect you to be a resource who can get things done and fix their problem. The details of which should not matter. "All-knowing" is a ridiculous expectation.

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    "sometimes contributes" – Hyppy Jun 9 '15 at 14:35
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    +1 for "All-knowing is a ridiculous expectation". It's more ridiculous to accept the label. – I say Reinstate Monica Jun 12 '15 at 15:11
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    That ewwhite "sometimes contributes" to Server Fault must be the understatement of the week -- world-wide. – a CVn Jun 12 '15 at 17:25
  • And not to mention that potential clients might even find you better while searching for problems by themselves - has happened one time for me. – Lars Jun 12 '15 at 19:06
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Not exactly self employed right now, but I've been known to take on projects. Having a high rep on SE sites, especially around the points where I claim some expertise already helped me more than once. So instead of hiding, I prefer to be searchable.

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