17 December 2008

Anonymity on the Web

I've grown increasingly more disturbed by the amount of anonymous authors, commenters, twitterati, and bloggers that are on the web these days. I can understand the "privacy" argument, yet if you have the courage and feel the need to say something, why hide?

Here in Little Rock there has been an on-going "debate" (Google: Brummett and Fisher or "Choose Your News") between newspaper man John Brummett and TV personality Kristin Fisher regarding Fisher's (and KATV) "Choose Your News" segment. While the debate at its heart centers on the usage of technology in news-gathering, I personally keep coming back to this section in Brummett's original article:
"We didn't ask anonymous yahoos with laptops and BlackBerrys and other telephonic gadgetry to click on some icon and dictate our activities."
And this in one of his follow-up articles:
"Democratic news, which these modernists espouse, and interactivity, which these modernists advocate, net you such things as the online spreading via blog comment sections of horrible, absurd, vicious and disgusting rumors, such as one the last few days I dare not repeat. I was taught as a kid in church and as a young reporter for the Arkansas Gazette that it is wrong, simply wrong, to tell things you don't know to be true."
My point in bringing this up isn't to bring to light a fascinating debate between two really sharp people, point out that Blake's Think Tank is one of the better Little Rock area blogs, or to drum up supporters for "Choose Your News" or KATV (even though CYN has renewed my interest in local news). Yet rather, to talk about this concept of "anonymous yahoos".

As I've thought through this one tiny aspect of "The Great Debate" as The Tolbert Report called it, I was also reminded of my good friend Neal's policy on anonymous comments to his blog. His policy is to take the anonymous poster's comments and run them through a Pirate-Speak generator. (Here's his post in full.) This is, in my opinion, one of the more brilliant solutions to this serious issue (well, I think it's serious).

Again, I can understand people's desire to remain anonymous. So much of what you do on the web can be found again -- Damn Google! Yet, as I stated earlier, if you have the desire and guts to comment, then you should have the character to make it from you. Like Brummett, I too have read some ridiculous comments on blogs and news posts, and will admit that I have had Twitter followers with "anonymous handles". In the end, all this anonymity is bothersome.

So, as I begin to walk out into the blog-world (there's no telling how often I'll actually blog), I will offer my own anonymous blog comment policy. If you post anonymous comments, then every third word will be re-written -- BACKWARDS. In short, if you have something to say, then say it. Just say it yourself and don't be an "anonymous yahoo".

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