I was too busy yesterday enjoying beautiful spring weather, a beautiful baby granddaughter and exciting NCAA basketball to join a lively Twitter discussion of anonymous comments.
One of the primary discussants (it wasn’t combat, but it was pretty vigorous) was Mathew Ingram of GigaOm, who blogged about the topic (and has a link to a search string that pulls much of the discussion together). Steve Yelvington also blogged on the topic, noting that an ounce of leadership is worth a pound of management.
They summarize the issue well in detail, so I will summarize more broadly (and, admittedly, oversimplify) here:
One side (led on Twitter yesterday by Howard Owens) argues that anonymous comments inevitably become ugly and you have a more civil, responsible online discussion if you require people to participate by their real, verified names, as newspapers have always done in letters to the editor.
The other side (led by Ingram) embraces the freewheeling discussion of the anonymous comments, noting that responsible moderation of and engagement with the conversation can rein in (or remove) the ugliest exchanges, while keeping debate lively and honest. Without anonymity, whistleblowers are less likely to join the discussion, they rightly note (and the other side will rightly note that the anonymous bigots way outnumber the anonymous whistleblowers in story and blog comments). And besides, don’t we sometimes want to know how ugly people can be? (more…)
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