Janet, that is a really good point you are making about assessing people based on what they say rather than on other factors.
Of course, with our networked world, when I see people participating online in discussions (such as we are doing here), I do find myself looking into their biographical information if I want to learn more. I look for whatever they say about themselves, and then Google them. If I cannot find much, I then get suspicious. If I do find things, then the initial anonymity will gradually disappear.
I recall having a conversation around the issue of online identity (and thus authenticity) -- if you do not have and own your online identity (from your website, jobs, education, blog, postings, etc.), then somebody else will eventually own it for you. This was not referring to identity theft, but rather somebody who has more of an online presence will get indexed faster if they state something critical about somebody than the person criticized if that person does not have enough of an identity to get noticed.
It seems this may have an effect with online education.