Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Friday, January 04, 2013

Anonymous Comments Make Mischief

That is all.


Dale Carrico said...

The only reason they're not doing so here is because I'm now deleting the really mischievous ones. Let that be a lesson to me.

Andrew G. Gibson said...

Couldn't you just remove the anonyoption?

Dale Carrico said...

I have contemplated it, believe me. The fact is that the Moot has sometimes really benefited from particular anonymous comments. This wouldn't be enough to dissuade me in itself, since my overall sense is that the general tendency arising from anonymity is lowering s/n even if it doesn't always do so. But since it is also true that some named participants have contributed to the same lowering of s/n quite conspicuously -- they can be banned, and I have sometimes done just that, but I tend not to hold my ground on that decision for long, given a temperamental discomfort about silencing any voices -- and since there is also the wrinkle that pseudonymity really complicates the picture, too, the principle isn't actually as clear-cut as it seems. Bad anonymity also tends to come in waves, and usually solves itself right about when my frustration level is about to prompt a more active policy intervention, but even so I wonder if there are invisible costs I'm paying for this can-kicking in readership allegiance and a broader willingness to participate in more constructive dialogue.

Anonymous said...

On this, as in far too many other issues, I am ambivalent. There's a heuristically useful degree of entropy built in to flaming, that's true. That said, I think that along with the three level breakdown (of anon, pseud, and 'named') there's also the different types of website result in concomitantly different behaviours. So the Irish Times has a comments section that are often (but not always) demented. There are bad pseuds and bad named galore, since it's one of those central go-to nodes for Irish web users. Generally such comments are "not even wrong".
Then the types of bad comments you get here will be somewhat more focused as a result of your long-standing engagement with robocultism. In your case the bad comments usually at least have the good manners to be simply wrong and/or offensive, rather than mad-as-a-sack-of-badgers.
Then there are some sites where the comments sections are a delight, and where I occasionally get an emotion and want to hug the internet. Huh.

Anonymous said...

You are an enemy of reason, facts and civil debate, Dale. You are everything you claim to oppose.

Dale Carrico said...

Whaddaya expect from an invert? paDUM-pum.

jimf said...

> The fact is that the Moot has sometimes really benefited
> from particular anonymous comments.

Some of the recent anonymous commentary has been interesting.
A bit icky, and pell-mell, and sometimes inarticulate, but. . .

It seems to be evidence of some recent turmoil within the
ranks of the >Hists themselves (icky, but. . . interesting),
and I suspect that some folks had a chance to vent here
who might not have been able to do so anywhere else, except
in private e-mail (though again, their motivations might not
have been of the purest).

I do sometimes wish that at least the threads of the anonymous
commenters could be assigned unique numbers (Anonymous118,
Anonymous322, etc. like the Alice androids in "I, Mudd" ;-> ).