I was just reading some stuff on John Byrne's message board and I reached a post where he explains why he doesn't allow nicknames - he calls them "fake names" - on his board, and gives his opinion of people who "hide behind them".
I can see his reasoning, but it is simplistic to the level of uselessness to take the attitude that all pseudonyms are bad*, or that message board trollers can be defeated if you deny them the use of nicknames (unless you have some way of verifying the "real" names as being true, which they don't). That will only stop the ones who are stupid enough to buy into the "solution".
Now I have been writing about comics under the name of Marionette for several years, and even this blog is getting close to its first anniversary. I post and comment on a lot of message boards and blogs with this name, and wherever possible link back here. I recently broke one thousand hits in a single day, so I like to think that I have a certain reputation in this little online world of ours. But if I want to express an opinion on John Byrne's board I cannot post with this name by which I am well known because it is an "obvious nickname"**. So I have to post under a name which nobody recognises and which will not be traced back to me. It's not my real name either, but it doesn't look like a nickname, so I pass the registration. Thus I am prevented from using the identity by which everyone knows me and must use a fake name*** to pass the measures in place to prevent people using fake names.
See, that's irony.
*Pen names have been a tradition for writers since the invention of the pen. Magazines are full of "house names". Film stars never seem to keep the names they were born with, and I believe I'm right in thinking that even Stan Lee could technically be refused entry to this board.
**Bear in mind that the only criteria apparently in use is "does it look like a real name or not?" So if your actual name is something unusual like Moon Unit or Rainbow you will be judged fake and your only option, if you still care enough to continue, will be to register as Jimmy Smith or something.
***Actually I've registered several different names from different email addresses at Byrne Robotics. Not because I particularly want to comment there, I just see it as a symbolic act of giving them the finger.