Votes are "private but traceable" in the RMCS. Of course, any voter who wishes to leave a clear signature may do so, and many regulars consider it a token of courtesy.
Comic scores were originally the average of integer votes in the range of 1 to 10, which led to a discrepancy: everyone had a slightly different idea of what each number meant. This was especially true of the lower votes, as it can be hard to quantify "unfunny". To some, a comic with no humor value was worthless for its stated purpose, and was given a 1. To others, a comic with no humor value would get sympathy points for uniqueness or strong wording, and was given a 5 or higher.
The following labels were offered to describe the four extremes:
strokers have high vote averages (example: Hangdog)
cranks have low vote averages (example: Gar)
stable voters seldom vote high and seldom vote low (example: Rakfink)
volatile voters are often high and often low (example: Afgncaap)
Then came the zscore, an effort to level the playing field between all four extremes:
In theory, it would no longer be possible for one crank to bring down the score of everything he touched, as his 1-vote's z-value would rise until harmless. A comic score would be a function of how well it was liked, rather than who had voted on it.
The resulting problem of imperfect voter privacy was recognized in April of 2001 by the system's creator, who voiced his concerns to the forum:
However, varying opinions largely cancelled each other out, and no changes were made to the visibility of voter identity or voter zscores.
It is not considered bad form to trace one's identity when calling them out for an inappropriate comment. At least two automated means of unlocking voter identities have surfaced on the forum.
Soren did eventually hide zscore information from nonmembers so that he could hide zscore information from insubordinate member Vitamin X.
A note on deleted comics Edit
Somewhere around 2002, deleted comics were marked as "DELETED" and indexed separately, whereas before they had been literally destroyed. This was intended to highlight the embarrassments of resident scattershot Vitamin X.
Zscore "inflation" arose as deleted comics piled up many times faster than the remaining active ones. Soren responded by calculating vote averages and deviations based only on active comics. Though this was probably less a response to inflation, and more a response to the chicanery of voting strategist Vitamin X.