If you read here, you probably know I’m against anonymous commenting and generally against anonymity online.
If you know me IRL, you’ll understand this is part of who I am.
To call me direct is accurate, if not an understatement in many cases. I’m blunt and unedited and not very good at pretending. I learned long ago that even when I don’t speak, my face speaks for me. So, I figured why not add words to it.
I’m also opposed to comment moderation both because it takes away instant gratification and because it makes the blog author a higher power.
The post’s author, Doug Feaver, served for many years as an editor at washingtonpost.com, and as an editor, was exposed to more than his share of anonymous commentary that would probably make me blush.
You should read the full post. It’s quite interesting. The snippet below reeled me in from Slashdot:
The subjects that have generated the most vitriol during my tenure in this role are race and immigration. . . . I am heartened by the fact that such comments do not go unchallenged by readers. In fact, comment strings are often self-correcting and provide informative exchanges.
So, as much as I prefer people to be open about a) what they really think and b) who they are, Feaver’s experience says quite the opposite, i.e. many people won’t do both. So, if you really want someone’s opinion, you better give them the cloak of anonymity.
This makes good sense, even though I completely disagree, at least when it comes to me.
Recently, an acquaintance of mine died tragically in an accident. She rear-ended a truck on the highway while the truck was stopped. She was the only party injured.
I found out accidentally, just browsing headlines, and when I searched to find more news, I found the news item listed on the web sites of several local news outlets.
Enter anonymous commentary.
I couldn’t believe some of the comments. Suffice to say it was less than flattering. It seems obvious that she was at fault, and as the only victim, she paid the ultimate price. Even so, several commenters used the story as a way to belabor their agendas about distracted driving, despite the lack of evidence to support that claim.
Thankfully, people had begun the self-policing before I got there, and in this case, the argument wasn’t around right or wrong, but rather appropriateness and dignity.
Returning to Feaver’s point, bad things exist, but we shouldn’t hide from them or pretend they don’t exist.
The explosion of Twitter has underlined this point because what is Twitter, if not anonymous commentary?
Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not require you to disclose your name or be a real person even. So, people can tweet at will, saying whatever they choose to whomever they choose. Will the community self-police?
That remains to be seen. I’ve seen a couple episodes resolved that way, mostly by out-shouting the person,which is effective enough.
No, I’m not going to allow anonymous commentary here. I doubt much of what I blog would cause much need for that anyway, and rest assured, I won’t moderate comments. Too much work. I have been pretty harsh on spam comments lately. So, if your comment never shows up, it got flagged as spam. Just use the Contact page to let me know.
So, what do you think about anonymous commentary and a self-policing community.
Interesting stuff, right?