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Is it time to get rid of anonymous comments once and for all?

By jasonhiner Moderator ·
Tags: Off Topic
Read this piece from Slate:

Troll, Reveal Thyself: Why we need to get rid of anonymous comments.

This is a really hot topic among online publications right now. Inside TechRepublic we've been having conversations about this for a couple years. The Facebook phenomenon is moving the Web away from anonymous commenting and toward people representing themselves more transparently online.

There are good arguments to be made that when people have their own name and reputation attached to their comments then you have a lot fewer trolls and personal attacks. The flipside is that you sometimes get less-honest dialog, and you have people who have a lot of reputation on the line in the real world who would be less willing to participate.

What do you think?

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Is it time to get rid of anonymous comments once and for all?

by Martyn Jones (UK) In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

Yes, if people have something to say, say it. They shouldn't hide behind an anonymous name. Facebook is not foot proof. These anonymous users could just create a fake account though.

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Fake names

by jasonhiner Moderator In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

There would certainly be people who would still use fake names (just like they do on Facebook), but if the default would be that a person's real name is used and that would drastically cut down on the general anonymity.

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anonymous comments

by Emmess55 In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

yes - if you have something worth saying, it's worth standing behind - if you can't stand behind it, it isn't worth saying

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or maybe the people you work for will sack you if they learn of it?

by Deadly Ernest In reply to anonymous comments

pressure to not be known to be talking can be hard and being anonymous is often the only way to let the truth out.

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Depends on the forum

by JamesRL In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

I don't think it should be a "blanket" ban. But if your website is set up for serious discussions, then having a sign on should be manditory.

I do think that I wouldn't use my real name here, if you recall what happened to me here when I did. But my login is tied to a verified email address so there is some accountability.

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Two sides to this

by robo_dev In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

With anonymity, people really tell you what they think and feel, no holds barred.

Obviously, though, the issues with this are:

a) those who are 'a few fries short of a happy meal' can post some interesting and/or disturbing stuff.
b) trolls, and trolls who pretend to be somewhat insane.
c) sock puppets. Sock puppets are fake personas created to promote or defend a particular cause or point of view.

But of course, some of the above lunacy can make it interesting, as sometime it can be fun to watch two (alleged) people of very different opinions lock horns,

The 64 Million dollar question is if you make people post under their 'real names', how do you verify that they are not lying, or using someone else's account?

The challenge of verifying identity is a extremely difficult. The whole basis of everything from airport security to online banking security is all about how you identify a person with some degree of confidence.

At the same time, how do you make it easy to use without compromising privacy?

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by xultan In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

Posting anonymous because there are sometimes a comment needs to be heard and the consequences of any identifiable information may cost the poster. No just whistle blowing, but negative comments against an company, employer or client may backfire. Discretion is always needed. Take the comments of city employees posting on Facebook.

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Context is important

by techrepublic In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

It really depends on the level of transparency that would be expected and what the topic of conversation is. If you're asking for the status of the IT staffing environment, it might make sense to allow more anonymity so that people can be safe to post an honest assessment without fear of a backlash from coworkers or employers.

That said, I'm in general agreement that there needs to be more transparency in general so that (at least some) people will think twice before engaging in a flame war or deciding to spew nonsense just to see how it turns out.

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by whoiskevin In reply to Is it time to get rid of ...

No question. What is the point of anonymous comments other than allowing a lot of crap.

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staying alive while telling the truth about dirty deals

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Absolutely

that's the point.

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