An Alias Among Us
It is not uncommon for letterboxers to use an alias—I guess in a way we all assume an alias when taking on our trail names. But in addition to the commonly known pseudonyms like SpringChick, Funhog and BindleBabe, many boxers have one or more covert aliases. Over the past year there have been a few membership requests at the Great Lakes Yahoo! group from list members wanting to also join with an alias (my lips are sealed). I am on one list where everyone uses an alias other than their commonly known trail name. It kind of adds to the mystique of the game.
So why do people use an alias? Well, there are many cool things you can use an alias for:
- Plant mystery boxes... It is natural for people to begin looking for the location of your mystery boxes in the area where you live since most people plant the majority of their boxes within an hour of where they live. By using an alias to plant a mystery box, the location is more obscure.
- Find mystery boxes... Same thing here. Often looking at the people who have found a mystery box can be a huge clue to the location of the box since after a while we tend to become familiar with where other boxers live, especially those we are in regular contact with. Logging the find of a mystery box under an alias ensures that others won’t be tipped off as to it’s location. It does however prevent you from gloating about finding the mystery box.
- Present opposing points of view without appearing wishy-washy... Sometimes you see very valid points on both sides of a discussion and feel it is prudent to present both sides. When a single person presents opposing points of view it can make people question which side of the issue they are actually on and result in lack of credibility with either side.
- Participate in discussions without people having preconceived ideas about you... Face it, after a while, we all form opinions of one another based on the messages we post, personal correspondence, face-to-face meetings and information gleaned from others. Sometimes these stereotypes can hinder a person’s effectiveness in a discussion and it is better to participate as an unknown.
- Ask stupid questions without appearing stupid... Need I say more?
- Bait/lure people to your boxes... while it is kind of vain to sing the praises of your own boxes using your alias, it doesn’t hurt to drop the box name here and there or ask questions about it hoping to stir up interest.
- Drop hints about your own boxes or bonus boxes... Have a mystery box nobody has been able to find? Or maybe a bonus everyone is missing? An alias can come in handy for “accidentally letting the cat out of the bag.” As a master clue writer you of course don’t want to soften your stance and give away your secrets, but your alias can play the role of the over-zealous, foot-in-mouth newbie if you are in need of a leak.
- Be a lurker... Sometimes you may want to join a list just to observe but not let it be known that you are there or who you are as it may hinder people from expressing certain points of view (this is particularly true if your trail name is widely known). Using an alias, you can join a list and just be a lurker.
Uncool things to do with an alias:
- Troll or post flames on talk lists (this is a sign that you really need to get a life and re-evaluate your priorities).
- Carry on a one-on-one conversation between yourself and your alias (this is a sign of a serious mental delusion).
- Feign successful letterbox finds of your own letterboxes for the purpose of??? Making unsuccessful box seekers appear inept? Validating your clues? Drawing attention to yourself and your boxes? (this is generally known as grandstanding).
- Sing your own praises (this is a bit conceited don’t you think?).
- Fabricate stories about your supposed handicapped child who letterboxes in a wheelchair (this is just outright disrespectful).
- Leak information about other people’s boxes (this is being a poor sport).
- Pretend to be a NPS official (this is slightly insane).
A few things to keep in mind if you use an alias:
- It is very difficult to ever be 100% anonymous on the Internet. Most IT folks worth their salt (and even some non-geek types) will be able to identify the origination network/ISP of a message, both messages sent via Yahoo group post as well as private email. While it is not always possible to track a post further than a specific ISP, network or region of the country, it is sometimes possible to trace it down to a specific computer.
- Not everyone thinks aliases are cool... While some people may view them as humorous and when you are discovered think, “aren’t you clever,” others will no doubt feel they have been deceived and your credibility may be jeopardized, particularly if your alias was used in a negative way against other people.
- If you are using an alias and claiming successful letterbox finds as in a recent case on the Great Lakes list, it is wise to actually carve a stamp and stamp your alias into the boxes he has claimed to find. Claiming to have found a box and not being stamped into the log book of that box is a sure way to raise suspicion.
- Know when to jump ship. There is nothing more pathetic than continuing to feign anonymity with your alias once you have been uncovered (it’s kind of like running around naked not realizing you have no clothes on).