“One of the most important things online is the reputation you build up: what you said, what you’ve done, what’s said about you. It’s really the entirety of an identity in a world where there’s no body,” says Judith Donath, a researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. She specializes in online identity. “When you share a name with many other people, you start sharing, effectively, a history and reputation with them,” Donath says.
In 2005, writer Mike Sager wasn’t keen to share his name with so many other Mike Sagers.