Online identity

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According to Wikipedia (retrieved 12:34, 12 April 2007 (MEST) and with original links): An online identity is a social identity that network users establish in online communities. Although some people prefer to use their real names online, most Internet users prefer to identify themselves by means of pseudonyms, which reveal varying amounts of personally identifiable information. In some online contexts, including Internet forums, MUDs, instant messaging, and massively multiplayer online games, users can represent themselves visually by choosing an avatar, an icon-sized graphic image. As other users interact with an established online identity, it acquires a reputation, which enables them to decide whether the identity is worthy of trust.

See the digital identity article for issues related to on-line identification and authentication.

Identity building artifacts

  • User names on websites, some with graphical representations
  • Avatars in virtual worlds (text, 2D, 3D).
  • Descriptions (forms) that describe a user
  • Trails and Portfolios (what a person did contribute), e.g. see the awareness and the C3MS article
  • What Internet services can put together about you (e.g. 123people).
  • Educational badges

Socially defined on-line identity

  • The sum of all logins, or single-sign on solutions like OpenID
  • The sum of all identities on chat systems, can be centralized with systems like Meebo
  • The sum of you-as-part of of social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Plaxo, etc.
  • The sum of trust people have expressed in you (e.g. on sites like eBay or social networks)
  • ...


  • Personas An MIT project that tries to build a profile of a name from Internet data, i.e. a "persona" on how the Internet sees you.
  • 123people One of the more popular people finders. There exist country versions, e.g. This tool finds, pictures, email addresses, phon numbers, facebook, pageflake, amazon etc. profiles, related domains, web links, documents,


  • Rheingold, H. (2000). The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. London: MIT Press. (ISBN 0262681218) - HTML free online.