Best Practices

Privacy on the OpenLab

We take privacy seriously on the OpenLab, which is why we have many different options for choosing what you want to share and with whom.

Using your name on the OpenLab

You choose your username when you first sign up for the OpenLab.

It is the OpenLab’s policy that members of the OpenLab are able to choose how they represent themselves online, including username and display name, for privacy, security, and identity reasons. That means that new members should think carefully about how they want to identify themselves and the degree to which they feel comfortable using some version of their given name or if they prefer a pseudonym. Site administrators can identify group members in the site dashboard by full name and email address, rather than needing to rely on username to identify members, so members should not be asked to change their username or display name for identification purposes.

Your username is only used to log in, and the only place where it is visible to anyone but you is in the URL of your profile page.

Your display name is publicly visible throughout the site.  It is displayed on your profile page, when you post or comment on a Site, when you post on a Discussion forum, or when you create or edit a Doc.

Private Information screenshot

Your username cannot be changed, but you can change your display name at any time.

You are asked for your full name when you sign up, so that course, project, or club administrators can see who you are when you contribute, as shown below (for example, professors can easily evaluate student work as part of a course), but your full name is never visible anywhere else on the OpenLab.

Users page on dashboard showing user names

Whether you use your real name or a pseudonym online (on the OpenLab or any social networking site), it’s good to keep in mind the pros and cons of each.

Have you ever googled yourself and been dismayed that the top results were from,, or include other people with your name? One of the benefits of posting work under your real name is that you can begin to influence what appears when people search for you.  It’s also a good way to start building an academic or professional online presence, and to connect with others in your field.

If you’re unsure whether you want your public work on the OpenLab to be searchable, you can decide whether or not you want to have your real name associated with it.  For example, you might use a display name that is different from your real name, or just includes part of it.   And, you can always change your mind later.  Please note, however, that if you are working on a private site, the content you post there is not accessible to search engines.

Changing privacy settings for a course, project, club profile and site

Another important place to consider privacy settings is in a course, project, club, portfolio, or ePortfolio.  The profile and site both have different controls for privacy so that you can have different settings for each.  However, if you change one, you should also remember to change the other as well.  Read about changing privacy settings in a course, project, club, portfolio, or ePortfolio in more detail.

Help information on using real names vs. pseudonyms online courtesy of Michael Mandiberg’s Interactive Technology and Pedagogy syllabus at The Graduate Center, CUNY.