By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Anonymous comments again

Just thought I’d mention that someone is killing him- or herself, writing long, detailed posts about GateHouse Media, and trying to post them as “Anon.” Hey, you: If you’re reading this, click here, then try again. Otherwise, I’ll just keep deleting.

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  1. Speaking of anonymous comments, have you heard about what’s going on in Southborough? They’re demanding that the blogger for My Southborough reveal the identities of her commenters:

    Kind of wishing I knew what Anon was writing, though — I do appreciate a good GateHouse rant.

  2. BP Myers

    @Jenn: I’m intrigued by her saying “I don’t like it either” about much of what goes on in the comments. Not being a frequenter of that blog, I can only guess, but I wonder if she participates actively in the comments?

    It’s been my experience that when the blogger/reporter participates in the comments, and provides not censorship, but a much-earned smackdown now and then, that the civilized nature of the commentary is elevated.

  3. L.K. Collins

    Being anonymous doesn’t matter to me one way or the other.

    Unless the town’s government has a subpoena or, perhaps even if they have a subpoena, they are trying to chill the free expression of ideas and opinions.

    Since a name, any name, is merely an arbitrary assignment of a bunch of letters to an individual, what is stopping someone like, say, Samuel Clemens from calling himself Mark Twain.

    Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton, I am sure, would agree with protection of anonymity.

    And remember, it was, is, and always will be one of the satirist’s favorite tools.

  4. @BP – I’m the blogger in question, and you make an interesting point. I’ve always remained fairly hands-off in the comments because I wanted people to have an exchange without my meddling or influence. But perhaps a different approach is in order?

  5. BP Myers

    @Susan: Thanks for the follow-up!

    Like I said, my anecdotal experience is that when the blogger participates in the discussion, if only to occasionally counter lies with the truth, it seems to make a difference. Folks understand that their comments aren’t going into a “black hole” but are indeed being read and considered.

    But it can backfire too, so if you do choose to participate, pick your battles! Maintain a thick skin. And don’t get sucked in.

    Thanks again, and best of luck!

  6. Steve Stein

    Dan, something I’ve been meaning to ask you –

    Why do you cite pseudonymous blog authors (in this case “Outraged Liberal”), but don’t allow pseudonymous comments on your blog?

    (I don’t know who OL is, and I don’t know if his/her identity is common knowledge, so please forgive me if I’m just clueless.)

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Steve: Good question. My instant, gut answer is that I believed anonymous comments were harming my blog, so I got rid of them. On the other hand, if I decide to link to and quote from an anonymous blog, then by definition I don’t think it’s harmful or I wouldn’t do it. I realize that’s a bit of a tautology, but there you go.

      Apologies for not posting this sooner. For some odd reason, your comment got caught in the WordPress spam filter.

  7. LFNeilson

    It’s worth noting the difference between DK requiring that bloggers post under a real name in his blog and the Southborough Board of Selectmen demanding that Susan reveal the identity of a certain blogger.

    Dan is in control of his blog and wants to maintain a respectable level of conversation. He’s well within his rights.

    Southborough, on the other hand, has no right to demand that information. If it’s a matter of libel or criminal activity, a court might require Susan to reveal the anonymous blogger.

  8. Steve Stein

    Thanks for the thoughts, Dan, and no problem about the delay.

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