Sunday, February 21, 2010

Anoymous Posting

I haven't found anything in the news that has piqued my interest today, but after some dings I've taken from Anonymous posters both here and on some other sites, I would like to discuss a topic related to the medium of "blogs," and that is Anonymous posting.

First, my most steady and consistent poster is Anonymous. I know he does not like doctors, is against re-development, and has very strong litmus test positions that I sometimes disagree with. Although I've never met this person, I like them and appreciate their continued support. I am 100% certain that this blog would have died in August had it not been for their prodding and disappointment that I did not keep up with my posts.

Second, I would appreciate the opportunity to develop this relationship with other readers and posters. Even if this is just a common string of posts signed with "TP" or some other marker to note a persona, I think it would help the discourse. I suggested this before, and it didn't seem to take on.

Third, I think Anonymous ad hominem attacks are cowardly. They don't help the conversation and tend to be pot shots. Just like the unwritten rules for school-yard fighting was no kicking, no biting, and no head-butts, the unwritten rule for Anonymous posting is "If you're going to throw insults, stand there to accept the response."

I would like to hear why some prefer to remain completely and totally Anonymous without even a nome de plume. Do you think it helps the discourse? If so, how?

11 comments:

  1. The hard line goes this way:

    Who do newspaper people and bloggers think they are? Many, MANY highly valued writings throughout history have been, or at least started out anonymously. From Ben Franklin to the Christian Bible, writers have attempted to maintain anonymity in order to disseminate valuable ideas.

    Newspapers, electeds, bloggers, and other well known individuals are not superior to people with absolutely no power, ie., those who post anonymously. Anons do not want to manage the fall out from free speech that will place them in the cross-hairs of the influential but since the powerful influential have a high opinion of themselves reinforced by some circles of citizenry who add to the deterioration of democracy by falling into celebrity worship, it’s a fact of life that speaking freely can land the powerless in a position of having to manage the result.

    As soon as a source is known, opposition in more juvenile circuits begin the ridicule which decimates any valuable discourse. Also, red herring use is a popular method confined to the powerful groups who control local government and are threatened by democratic processes like referenda.

    Lastly, sources can be falsely imitated by opposition seeking to make the nom de plume seem extremist.

    The soft line goes:

    What the heck. People who don’t like anons can block them (at the peril of dying blogs who’ve done this), or do not read them, or don’t respond.

    The claim that anons are meaner is just false in local blogging/explorehoward.com environment. Some of the nastiest things to be read are from the attackers on the WordBones site. Hocorising site attracts no attacks that I have read thus far. The discourse here is the best in the county from multiple perspectives; airing all sides, energy toward issues, no focus on one another’s personalities. The issues are vetted and the postings are of the utmost interest, as well as informative with an excellent grasp of the language and the host does not target any person for ridicule but instead makes a case for readers to consider. This method does more than elevate the conversation, it is refreshingly productive.

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  2. I refuse to allow pure anonymous commenting on my site. All commenters must have an identifable handle they use when they post multiple comments. I've caught a few people trying to use multiple handles in the past and immedaitely ban their IP address. It helps to foster conversation when people "own" their comments. Granted the handle they use keeps them anonymous, but allows for references to previous comments much easier.

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  3. But, you yourself are anonymous, so how could you object to anonymous postings? I must say that I prefer Dave W's approach.

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  4. I can't agree with you there. Maybe I was unclear in my original post, but, to the extent I am "objecting," it is to the lack of a "handle" (the exact approach that you "prefer"). There are plenty of people that think they know the views of "HoCo Rising" and attack those views in other forums. There is a consistency in the fact that I am always me and there is never a day that you can't respond to what I say.

    Furthermore, two people have written me at hocorising@gmail.com to ask for my real name. I responded to both. The catch is that you need to do a little "I'll show you mine" for me to give up my name. I've said repeatedly that I do this to protect my professional life, and not because I want to be the Shadow or Batman.

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  5. None of us are really anonymous out here.

    -Anon

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  6. When it comes to hosting a blog, my feelings are similar to Dave's. If you're going to post - use your name or get a handle. Otherwise, don't expect to be taken seriously.

    Yes, there have been anonymous writers who have advanced political discourse and society at large. The over-referenced patron saint of anonymous posters, Thomas Paine, is a great example.

    But I'm sorry - we aren't under the yoke of a monarch's oppression, and this isn't communist China. And if want to equate your disagreement with local politicians and their supporters to that of revolutionaries fighting against King George or of Chinese dissidents trying to avoid prison, then you're off your rocker.

    Some of the repercussions of publicly stating your opinion as described in the "hard line" description above are certainly true to a point. Yes, if you publicly disagree with someone - they're going to try to discredit you as they argue why you're wrong. And sometimes it can get unpleasant. But if you have facts on your side, then you can take folks to task. And chances are that you'll find others to stand with you.

    But that approach requires something of a backbone.

    So instead, we get tons of folks posing anonymously, spreading rumor and conjecture (actively or passively) as they try to discredit those whose opinions differ from their own. All without ever having to engage in that oh-so-inconvenient thing called "dialogue."

    I'm sure that the number of folks who do this intentionally and strategically isn't overwhelming, but I think that the practice has become prevalent enough that it has lowered the bar for everyone in terms of how we discuss and participate in politics. I mean, "why bother putting yourself out there when it's easier to snipe at the opposition from the shadows? No one else does it, so why should I make a target of myself?"

    Personally, I think that this sort of practice/mindset has contributed pretty significantly to the polarization and fear-mongering that now seems to reign in the political arena. This, however, is just one man's opinion ;)

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  7. Thanks for posting, John. I've linked your blog to the left.

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  8. (1) You're welcome and (2) thank you!

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  9. Comments like, "you're off your rocker" are exactly what makes anons no less civil that named commenters. Also, that kind of response is non-responsive at best and at worst, degenerates a discussion into a spitting match.

    Your blog is one of those dying, if I recall, unless it has settled in to 4 unique visitors.

    Anons enjoy free speech and add to discussion without the need for 'you're off your rocker' type of characterizations meant to shut others up.

    ANON

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  10. Maybe "off your rocker" was too strong. So be it. I apologize.

    But come on, 8:34. I say something you don't agree with so you combine your point with an off-topic potshot at my blog? Don't you sense a wee bit of irony when you look back at your comment about a degenerating discussion?

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  11. Hence the spitting match referred to....

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