Sunday, March 02, 2014

Anonymity on the Internet

Jessica Duchen's blog turns 10 years old today, a milestone that this blog and others will reach later this year. Her celebratory blog posting is a worth a read. She has good comments on the problems created by trying to make everything low-cost or free (also see Dennis Tobinski's New Music Box article Fair Trade for Sheet Music).

She has a good point, also, about the potential damage done by anonymous reviews, but there are excellent political and social reasons to allow and support anonymity and pseudonymity on the Internet. I'm going to defer to the Geek Feminism wiki on this; the stalwart contributors put together some excellent stuff during the Google+ real names debates a couple of years back.
And read some of the links to supporting articles and commentary.

I also support anonymity/pseudonymity because of Proper Discord. Remember, when Andy Doe was working for Apple, he wrote that blog without his name attached.

Lastly, blogging platforms allow a variety of comment settings. I currently have this blog set so that it allows pseudonymous, but not anonymous, commenting, so you have to have a consistent identity to post here; that identity just doesn't have to be the name on your legal ID. In addition, I have comment moderation enabled. 

Those settings eliminate spam postings and allow me to spike seriously problematic comments - which I have done exactly twice. My view is that unless you're Alex Ross or Tony Tommasini (who doesn't have a blog), you should have comments turned on, but moderated, with a clearly-stated moderation policy. Yeah, there might be trolls, but more likely there will be people making intelligent contributions to the conversation.

P. S. I have no idea what Jessica is talking about in this section:
But the most worrying thing at present is the reduction in freedom of expression that results from this bizarre climate of mass hysteria and free-for-all, line-toeing mudslinging, encouraged by the tabloids and a few bloggers who like high ratings. Such a climate has never happened before in my lifetime.
A look at newspapers in the 19th century might be useful for a look at free-for-all mudslinging. 


oboeinsight.com said...

You caused me to look up when I first started blogging. Yikes, time is so strange! It was January 17, 2003. (That was my first oboinsight blog, and that URL later changed to what I have now.)

I barely blog these days, though: I just say the same old same old and I bore myself.

Congrats on your near birthday, Lisa! No boredom on your blog! :-)

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thank you!