I just got a supposedly anonymous review of my OSDC paper with a very recognisable name stuck in the middle of the name of the file containing the review. So it’s quite a good chance that I know my reviewer’s surname and first initial. (There is of course, the small chance that a reviewer stuck someone else’s first initial and surname in the filename…) Likewise, Andrew just got one entitled spiv.txt, meaning that it was written by someone who knows that Andrew’s IRC nickname is ‘spiv’. The overlap between people he talks to on IRC and people who have had papers accepted (the speakers review) at OSDC is fairly small, so he can fairly easily pick the two or three people who that could have been.
Just goes to show how hard setting up an anonymous review process is. When the anonymity goes both ways—the reviewers don’t know the authors’ identities either—it creates some amusement for readers. Academic papers that were prepared for blind review read strangely because the authors refer to their own past work really distantly and non-judgementally in the third person because they couldn’t tell the reviewers that they wrote the paper under consideration. I suspect that half the time it’s obvious to the reviewer anyway, since, often, of all the techniques in the world that author S could have chosen, they’ve chosen to follow up on Smith et al (2005) and Smith et al (2002). I wonder who author S might be?