The following is an exchange that occurred in the comments to this question. The nature of the discussion is somewhat heated, and has, in my opinion, absolutely no bearing on the question to which these comments are appended. I've copied that discussion here (and removed their antecedents), and interested parties should continue the discussion on Meta, where this type of discussions belong.

@T.. You should observe that the vast majority of active users (say from the first page of the user listing) is quite comfortable disclosing their real name, affiliation, etc. They too are involved in closing threads and they don't seem to be at all worried about anonymity. This anonymisation issue just doesn't seem to be as high on other users' agenda, as it is on yours. I think that discussing it in comments to a closed off-topic "maths or something like that" question is - ironically - off-topic and should be done on meta. – Alex Bartel

@Alex: save your (by now familiar) personal attacks for the meta. The anonymization proposal was part of a highly upvoted posting on the meta, and you can easily find it there if you wish to dispute the matter or assess what is popular or not. It is simply false that the vast majority of users (or the same weighted by post count) are using their real names, though you are of course free to compile statistics. See you on the meta where, as you say, this is more on topic. – T..

@T.. I don't see any personal attacks in my comment. I was pointing out a fact, namely that out of 24 users (at the point of writing) who have the power to cast votes to close questions, only 5 seem to care about anonymity and none of them is a moderator. To point out that meta discussions are off-topic in the comment thread to a closed question on the main site is not a personal attack either. Anyway, I apologise if you felt personally attacked and shall think twice before criticising your actions (I have not criticised your person) in the future. – Alex Bartel

@Alex: there is obviously a difference between reasons why moderators and regular users might wish to be anonymous (see original discussion here: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1258 ). It is a familiar episode in online forums for non-anonymous users to -- without evidence of a problem -- cast aspersions upon the anonymity of other users, especially those with whom they have past or present disagreements. So is stretching of other users' comments (e.g., suggesting that anonymization is "high on my agenda"). I'll leave open the interpretation that you don't intend an attack. – T..

  • $\begingroup$ Comments with any amount of personal material should not be migrated to the meta, even if that content is mixed with impersonal, site-relevant discussion (e.g, on Internet anonymity). Delete the comments or not, and excerpt the impersonal material as relevant in any meta threads on site matters ("the following interesting comments on anonymity were posted..."). But reposting disputes as such to the meta simply expands them beyond 500char limits, as we unfortunately see below. I suggest to either delete this thread and let it die, or delete and repost a new one with clearer purpose. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 23 '10 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ @T.. I disagree. I consider reposting the deleted comments in full to be "minimal interference" as a moderator. Imposing any personal judgment into what I should or should not excerpt would drag me into this debate. The point of this thread is: "you can have the discussion if you want. Just not in the comments section of a question in the parent site." $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Dec 23 '10 at 14:55
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    $\begingroup$ I see the purpose of main site as for mathematical discussion and the meta for impersonal discussion of how to operate the math site. I'm all for adding a "junk meta" as the ultimate migration target for anything that becomes personal or off-topic for the meta (i.e., not specifically targeted toward matters of site management). But until such a thing exists, your migration amounts to user A posting that "user B and user C had a dispute!", which is not of main or meta interest. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 23 '10 at 15:16
  • $\begingroup$ @T.. "User B and user C" have disputes on meta on a regular basis. I hope that you are not suggesting to move them all to "junk meta", which, in any case, doesn't exist (again, its merits should not be discussed here, but rather posted as a feature request if you feel sufficiently strongly about it). Having disputes is a fairly normal activity on a site that is intended for discussing policies. $\endgroup$ – Alex B. Dec 23 '10 at 15:22
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    $\begingroup$ @T.. The answer below contains things that needed to be said somewhere, as they apply to more than one post of yours here on meta. As for the present dispute, you are free to stop it at any time. At any rate, it would be disastrous site management if an exchange between two users were deleted at the request of one of them, without endorsement from the other one. So, having faith in the newly elected moderators, I am pretty sure that you are arguing a hopeless case. $\endgroup$ – Alex B. Dec 23 '10 at 15:43
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    $\begingroup$ @T..: I never claim to not impose personal judgement. Rather, that phrase should be read with the remainder of that sentence: simply I do not want to put words into your mouths, nor force the discussion in one way or another. I merely repost it here so you can continue the discussion here if you wish to do so. It is clear that the title and the editorializing is due to me. There can be no confusion there. I have to side with Alex in being amazed at your ability at reading into lines and finding imagined meaning and intent where there is none. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Dec 23 '10 at 18:31
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    $\begingroup$ Willie: your specific words that I am disputing are (1) the claim of "minimal interference" (which would have meant not deleting the comments, or deleting them and no further action, or deletion and contacting the participants before proceeding unilaterally); (2) "imposing personal judgment into what I should or should not excerpt would drag me into this debate" -- here you dragged yourself into the debate by deciding it should be promoted to the meta. I haven't speculated on your meaning-and-intent, imagined or otherwise, or read anything into your lines -- please clarify if you disagree. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 23 '10 at 19:07
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    $\begingroup$ @T..: I disagree on both counts. (1) Minimal here is relative. Those comments clearly don't belong on the main site. I decided that it is better to document them on Meta than to just delete them, since they are not explicitly offensive nor duplicates. Given that premise, the least I could do is to preserve them in their original form sans editing from me. A moderator cannot do the absolute minimum, which would be absolutely nothing and contrary to his raison d'etre. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Dec 23 '10 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ @T..: (2) I do not think of my action as advertising or promoting. I think of it as documentation. So I dispute your premise on that count. In addition, I fail to see how (a) documenting my actions in cleaning up the main site while (b) pointing you and Alex to a place where you can reasonably have your discussion can be construed as joining the debate. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Dec 23 '10 at 20:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Willie: I don't agree with your action of opening this question. This is between T.. and Alex (and not applicable to the whole community), and they can do so over email. I have voted to close as too localized (the vote you see is mine). $\endgroup$ – Aryabhata Dec 24 '10 at 5:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Moron I will not go into lengthy email exchanges with a pseudonymous correspondent. Unless a very good reason for the anonymity is provided (in this case none was given), I normally delete unsolicited emails from people who don't even disclose their identity immediately, and I don't see why I should make an exception in this particular instance. That's even more applicable to discussions of personal opinion and to accusations of personal attacks. $\endgroup$ – Alex B. Dec 24 '10 at 6:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex: This is not the place either. Anyway, I'd rather not get into lengthy discussions too :-) $\endgroup$ – Aryabhata Dec 24 '10 at 7:08
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex: your email usage patterns are irrelevant. The fact that both parties have the option of conducting an email discussion is enough to delete this thread. Closing it is not quite right, since the raison d'etre was to "allow" both parties a space to continue discussion, and if only one side posts an answer and closure is imminent, this silences the other or creates a perverse incentive to spam the meta with another useless answer before the thread is shut. The better solution is to delete the thread and either let it die or have Willie post a new one with clearer purpose. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 24 '10 at 9:23
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    $\begingroup$ @T.. You have made your position quite clear and you will not become more convincing through repetition. I suggest that you only post things in public forums that you are comfortable with staying there. It is hard to believe that, in your persistence about deleting this thread, all you care about is the well-being of this site. Since I have no reason to believe that the documented exchange was the last time you groundlessly accused me of personal attacks or put words in my mouth, it is in my interest and in the interest of other participants of future meta discussions to preserve this thread. $\endgroup$ – Alex B. Dec 25 '10 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ @Alex: Of course I want my postings "staying there"; the original comments should not have been deleted. My clearly stated position was that this comment migration is an unprecedented moderator instigation of a personal flame war in the meta, and that such material does not belong here (in its present form). The result of pushing to keep this thread open will simply be that I post documentation of (e.g.) your personal attacks and false insinuations, which as you say could be a useful reference for the future. But my preference is to delete the thread and stick to on-topic material. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 26 '10 at 9:07

there is obviously a difference between reasons why moderators and regular users might wish to be anonymous

I am yet to see any evidence that the moderators wish to be anonymous. You are arguing on their behalf and speculating about their reasons to be anonymous, but none of the moderators have actually taken up the issue. Disclaimer: note that this is a factual statement and is not attacking your person.

It is a familiar episode in online forums for non-anonymous users to -- without evidence of a problem -- cast aspersions upon the anonymity of other users, especially those with whom they have past or present disagreements.

You repeatedly read things into my posts that I haven't written, nor indicated. I have not cast any aspersions on your anonymity. I have merely pointed out (I begin to feel like a broken record) that the users with closing powers are free to anonymise themselves and almost 4/5 of them are choosing not to do so. That suggests to me that they are not too worried about this issue. I did not write, nor suggest, that anonymisation is "high on your agenda". I wrote that it

doesn't seem to be as high on other users' agenda as it is on yours.

Note the "doesn't seem to be" and the comparative mode. There is ample evidence to support my impression.

I am fairly tired arguing about things I am supposed to have said or meant and would appreciate if you could read my comments more carefully. Disclaimer: this is constructive criticism of your comments, not of your person.

Alas, it is also a familiar episode, in online forums and elsewhere, that people put words into other peoples' mouth, especially when they have past or present disagreements with these people.

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    $\begingroup$ Alex, I have no intention of pursuing any aspect (personal or impersonal) of the earlier comment discussion in a meta thread that does not belong on the site in its present form. If you or anyone else want to open other threads to discuss anonymity, moderators, users or other site matters per se, then of course I might comment. But I have no desire to promote the survival of this thread by commenting further within it, and actually think it would be best if you, too, endorsed a deletion. If the issues are important for the meta, they can be reposted in a purer form. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 23 '10 at 14:27
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    $\begingroup$ @T.. I am not sure what you mean by "it would be best if you...", since it is not clear from the context best for whom. There is, for me personally, some value in this particular exchange being documented here, since you have repeatedly accused me of personal attacks and have repeatedly put things into my mouth that I didn't say, and since I don't want to have to write such an apologia again (I did not derive particular pleasure from it). I do therefore not endorse a deletion. I am perfectly happy to let this particular matter rest there. $\endgroup$ – Alex B. Dec 23 '10 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ Best for the site, e.g., so as to not turn the meta into a venue for interpersonal disputes as such. My personal interest would be to document the correctness of my assertions that you dispute (or cite as words put in your mouth, paranoia, etc), but it's a lower priority than general site management issues raised by the migration. As you know, I sent you email some time ago requesting to take all personal discussions off-site. If a secondary "junk meta" were opened, I would have no problem having the discussion there. The present thread is a mistake of unclear purpose and deletable IMO. $\endgroup$ – T.. Dec 23 '10 at 15:07

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