Even in anonymous sites and communities, there can be issues of consent. In 2015, I researched the ‘SimSecret’ LiveJournal site. As all posts and most comments are anonymous, seeking permission to quote or reproduce work proved impossible. However, when the community discovered I was conducting this research, a thread of (mostly anonymous) comments sprang up about the project and I was able to engage in dialogue with members that informed the finished article by providing their account of how the community operated rather than solely relying on my own interpretation. I asked users for permission to quote them – although had to take on trust that those who consented were the same users I was quoting, as it was impossible to prove this. This experience taught me that, even in seemingly impenetrable or anonymous environments, there can be opportunity for fan participation in the research and for obtaining consent.
Deller, Ruth A. “Ethics in fan studies research.” (link to PDF) A Companion to Media Fandom and Fan Studies (2018): 123. Pp. 20-21.