Definition of “Anonymous” differs

Mike.B.559 Posts: 126
edited February 2023 in Customer Enablement

An instructor brought this to my attention the other day.

Has anyone noticed that the definition of "Anonymous" is different between “Discussion Topics” and “Surveys”. In fact, in the context of discussion posts, the term "Anonymous" seems a bit misleading.  

As an Instructor, here’s what I see when I click on the ? to see a definition of “Anonymous” for a Discussion Topic:

Reading this, I am led to believe that no names will be visible for posts in this Topic. And when we try it out we see that, yes, this is true for Learners. This is what a post looks like:

But for the Instructor, they see this:

And when they click “Show Author”, oops, the student’s name appears:

So…why is this an issue? Well, a student may think they can post something negative or controversial to a Discussion Forum and not be identifiable, but this is not the case.  

At the very least, this should be explained in the definition alert box. Students should also be informed that the Instructor will be able to see their names even if the other students can't.

In contrast, when you choose to make a Survey “Anonymous”, this is the definition you see:

And the results, when they are submitted, are truly anonymous:


  • Aasim.Y.704
    Aasim.Y.704 Posts: 128 ⏸️ Inactive

    Hey @Mike.Barker4046,

    Thanks for providing this valuable feedback to the team. I have connected this to our product experts for review. In the mean time please feel free to check out the upcoming updates coming with the New Discussion Creation Experience.

    As part of the updates coming to the discussions tool in April, some wording changes have been made to better clarify the anonymous feature when creating discussion topics.

    The Brightspace tools Discussions and Surveys are intended for different use cases, such that instructors for courses can better moderate the public facing Discussion threads initiated by a learner. I hope this information helps.

  • Sue.H.848
    Sue.H.848 Posts: 27 🧭
    edited February 2023

    I see the usefulness in allowing a student to post a discussion anonymously, while allowing the instructor to view the author, if needed. This is similar to the grade assignments or quiz questions anonymously. In addition, I completely agree with the comment that this should be explained in the definition alert box to learners. Students should also be informed that the Instructor will be able to see their names even if the other students can't.

    After double checking in our instance, I do not see the 'Show Author' link when viewing as an instructor. It can be set in role permissions.

  • Jennifer.W.973
    Jennifer.W.973 Posts: 264 🌟

    The new interface has the option "Allow learners to hide their name from other learners". However, since we have disabled "See Anonymous Post Author" in the permissions, the names are also hidden from instructors. Is there a way to indicate to students that the post will be truly anonymous? They might not be willing to provide course feedback if they believe that instructors can see their names.