I am part of a community website, which is seen as disrespected by many people who do not know much about the community. People in the community hide their real identities by using pseudonyms and not talking about their real lives. Outside of the community, many do not mention that they are part of the community.

(I do not want to disclose more about the website, but it is not illegal but just not understood very well by outsiders)

Now I have written a tool, which is probably very useful for people in the community, and I wonder how to publish it as open source software while remaining anonymous.

There are two problems when publishing the tool. First, I do not want outsiders to know that I participate in that community. Second, I do not want to reveal to people inside the community that I am a software developer to hide this detail of my real life.

What would be the best way to publish the tool and get people to know it exists and how to use it?

  • I do not want to create developer accounts (e.g. GitHub) with my pseudonym inside the community because I do not want to reveal to insiders that I can write such programs.
  • I do not want to publish it using an identity I usually use because people should not find me in the community.
  • I cannot advertise it in the community when I am the only one who knows it exists.
  • I may like to get feedback and support it if people need help to use it.

Things I have considered, which don't seem like a good solution to me:

  • Using more than one account is not welcomed there, probably to prevent people from abusing their anonymity on the site. And advertising a software with a new account from an anonymous VPN IP could even be considered spam.

The best thing would be if people find the tool themselves and it becomes popular because people who have been on the site for a while recommend it to each other.

  • 2
    I’m voting to close this question because nothing about it is specific to open-source software. Oct 16 at 19:58
  • @PhilipKendall It is about me wanting to make a software open source and asking how to do this in a way that works with sensible topics. The main question may revolve about more political/cultural topics, but it is a challenge for open source as it involves more than just anonymously uploading a release to a share hoster. It may be more about maintaining an open source project (supporting it, reacting on issues, etc.) than about choosing a license, though.
    – Darius
    Oct 16 at 20:42
  • Personally I always use a pseudonym online, and have never found it interesting to talk about my 'real life' online. There is nothing 'disrespectful' about that. Some people like to do that, others don't.
    – Brandin
    Oct 17 at 22:30
  • @Brandin I have several pseudonyms in different places, some more or less connected to my real identity, others to my gaming profiles, and so on. using pseudonyms is not the problem, but that our community is not understood by everyone and probably disrespected by some people in my personal circle. So the two risks are making mistakes that either allow outsiders to connect the pseudonyms and embarrass me or allow insiders to connect them and possibly to blackmail me. Maybe I am way too cautious, but I never had the problem of having to protect my identity when publishing something before.
    – Darius
    Oct 19 at 21:49

Simple: create a new identity to develop and the same identity to make it known in the community (thus join the community with a 2nd account) . Use your previous account in the community as before.

If you must, also use separate VPN to access these accounts to disallow identification via IP number comparisons.

  • 2
    +1; put another way, this solution works by trivializing the criterion that "I do not want to reveal to insiders that I can write such programs" -- obviously any publication of a program under any identity reveals such information, so simply don't link that identity to the identity under which you perform any of your normal activities within the community
    – apsillers
    Oct 16 at 23:52
  • This may be an option, but it would probably break rules on the community website. I voted on your post, but it will only show when I've got more karma points here.
    – Darius
    Oct 17 at 9:02
  • 1
    @Darius well if you don't want to break that rule then it's probably impossible
    – user253751
    Oct 18 at 15:56

You could create a new identity for development and then, with your other identity inside the community, pretend that you just stumbled upon that open-source tool you created with the secret identity. That way, nobody has to know that you are the author of the tool, and you don't have to possibly violate community rules by having two accounts.

(since I don't have enough reputation to post comments, I put my two clarification questions below)

Do you mean that other people in the community won't use the tool if they think that it has been created by people outside of the community? Are you afraid that because the tool is so specific to the community, that people will think that it has been developed by someone within the community?

  • The tool is absolutely specific. It makes dealing with some parts of the website much easier, so it can only be developed by someone who knows the website. I am afraid that some person who may not be so kind in real life may use the additional information about me to connect my pseudonym with real-life information when I leak information about me by accident. It is probably more likely that someone from the website will try to learn about my real-life than some outsider finding the repo and trying to learn my pseudonym there. Still, both things could be inconvenient.
    – Darius
    Oct 17 at 17:34
  • This is how they got Dread Pirate Roberts IIRC...
    – user253751
    Oct 18 at 15:56
  • @user253751 I think it is, but gladly I am not nearly as interesting as him.
    – Darius
    Oct 19 at 21:35

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