Those of us that are working regularly in this field, we know who's behind what. I've seen more than a few comments that are 'so-and-so' is the best person for this or maybe 'whats-their-face' will chim in or 'name-drop', is that you?

While I personally like how friendly our field can be, I wonder because we are trying to have a broad reach if this can be intimidating to fresh and new researchers. If it comes off as 'clique-y'.

I don't really know what the best answer is. On some level, tagging the best person for the question is really how we get the best knowledge out there. Thoughts?

  • $\begingroup$ You read my mind! I was catching myself doing that the other day and thought, maybe I should use their full name and current title and put a link to their ResearchGate or LinkedIn page. $\endgroup$
    – Kerri
    Commented Jul 14, 2022 at 17:47

2 Answers 2


Great question and I think could have a lot of discussion :)

I agree completely that it could seem clique-y or intimidating to just have constant name dropping. I think assuming the "asker" knows a person, or is comfortable reaching out to that person for more info, is bad practice in that it does not promote accessibility and equity.

I think the easiest approach to counter act this is to keep answers professional and accessible when talking about a person directly in an answer - point directly to a collection of manuscripts, a book chapter, a lab website, any "standing" resource that shows that persons expertise in the area of the question and actually provides the resources the asker needs (and any future person coming to ask the same question!). This will provide so much more back to the community than just a "hey check out so-and-so's papers". While that type of answer can definitely get someone on the right track, but I don't think that fits what constitutes a "good" answer by SE standards and IMO pointing to the correct resources provides the better content that @WMXZ mentions.

I see another potential issue and I think @WMXZ sort of addressed this in his answer - we don't want to assume that someone is ok with having their name or information shared on a public platform like this. I think what he outlined is great - ok to say their name if their username is obvious and they've made it clear who they were previously, but if your colleague isn't on here yet (First...why not!? :) then you would want to be sure to be careful about privacy, etc. I would guess that many academic/published researchers are likely ok with having their papers shared, but we just want to be cognizant of people's personal comfort levels.


I do also not know the answer, but

I would use the real name

  • If the real name is explicit known
  • If the post is signed by the real name
  • If the real name can be easily be deduced and I know the person (I guess this is really the core question in OP, right?)

I would not use the real name

  • if the real name is not recognized from user-name

IMHO, Content should be more important than formality or anonymity

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Great response. I think you are right, especially if their real name is implied by their username. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 11, 2022 at 23:09

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