So I was reading a "heated discussion" over on Ravelry and it gave me some things to think about. All along Ravelry has been saying it would be open to the public. Personally I was picturing something along the lines of the Yahoo Groups, you would need an account to be a part of it vs say, Knitters Review where you can read but not post without an account. So the storm was created by the clarification that "open" means "Open to the Public, all and sundry". Wow. For a while people forgot to use their inside voices. It brought up several interesting points about public and private selves.
Several people will be changing their id's because they are too close to "real". I could do this, there aren't many with my name out there, but I am enough of a wallflower that I don't see this as an issue. I guard truly private information and keep myself to myself. So that stays.
The bigger issue is Ravelry has several very private boards where people have formed support groups, have come out, have said all manner of things they do not want people to hear.
This is were the whole thing becomes sticky. On the one hand, it's nice to think that we could stagger into the LYS KnitNight and bash our boss. However, you run the risk that the boss' brother's cousin's niece will be there...hear it...run into the evil empress at Dairy Q and repeat it. You on some level know that. I think that is why TAO bears the brunt of so much of my frustration. He isn't likely to meet the boss somewhere and say "Oh, you're the one with the intelligence of a domesticated turkey."
So the common sense answer is "Don't post what you wouldn't want to see on a billboard on the way to work."
At the same time I empathise with the people who have formed close knit groups, who enjoy the easy camaraderie, who unburden themselves to a friendly face they may never see. In today's society most of us work so much and are so fractured from our families that friendships can become quite dear. Even online I run my usual modus operandi, I listen to alot of casual friends and only really talk to a very very few. Having grown up in a "don't tell" environment and currently working in a travelling position where every 3 months you essentially have to polish up for a new job I can see how people become isolated. Even though I personally don't interact in these groups I don't want them to lose that. It's also a shame that we still live in a world that people have to worry about backlash from their sexual/religious/political choices. After all I hate pink, that doesn't mean I think stores shouldn't sell pink stuff to people who like pink.
At it's core, Ravelry is a fibre arts site. Private groups may have to wander off and form their own email lists. But that doesn't mean you can't meet great people at the virtual LYS.