Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

Anonymous Internet posters can’t save America

By DOUG THOMPSON - Capitol Hill Blue
July 8, 2013

Who is this anyway?

Who is this anyway?

On any given day, several thousand interlopers at keyboards fire off a comment to one of the stories or columns published here on Capitol Hill Blue.

Less than a handful of those comments, however, ever appear on the web site.

The failure comes not from any attempt by our editors to limit or wean out comments.

Instead, the vast majority fail to pass the security check of our automated filtering system and — in 99 percent of the cases — they fail because the email address provided by a poster doesn’t check out.

Most of these posts are anonymous, as are the vast majority of comments posted around the clock to stories on news sites such as ours.  The Internet, sadly, is a teeming repository of those who lack the courage to use their names or who use some flimsy excuse for hiding behind an anonymous “handle.”

Ironically, those who themselves hide their identity, are the fastest to jump on sites like ours for using anonymous sources for stories.  Such hypocrisy is also typical on the Internet.

Over the past 50 years, I’ve worked for a variety of news publications that require names and proof of identity for letters to the editor.  Yet such fact-checking seldom exists in the online world.

Over the 18 plus years that this web site has been online, I’ve considered — from time to time — requiring those who post comments and opinions here to use their real names.  Someone on the staff has always talked me out of it. We’ve compromised with a requirement that real email addresses be used to gain approval for a first posting but that really isn’t much of a check because of the widespread availability of free email services that don’t require any proof of identity.

Some of those who do post here use names that aren’t real.  Others use only their first name and still others choose to hide who they are behind “handles.”

Often, those who try the hardest to hide their identity are those who also post the most vociferous remarks about the need to stand up and be recognized to “take the country back.”

Which makes us laugh.  How can people who hide who they are have any real commitment to freedom or American rights?

Often, the anonymous posters who use handles like “American Patriot” or “Founding Father,” cite the founding fathers as their true heroes.  That’s a crock because the founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence didn’t hide who they were.  John Hancock signed his name in large script, declaring that he wanted King George III to be able to read his signature without the use of glasses.

I am often inclined to discount opinions posted by people who don’t use their real name or hide behind anonymous “handles.”  I do know the real identities of some who post here regularly with “handles.”  Some have good points to make. Some don’t.   But I have a hard time taking seriously anything that is posted by someone who hides their name if I don’t have the foggiest idea who they are or what or who they represent.

Today’s America has many problems that require commitment by Americans who are willing to take a stand.

And as far as I’m concerned, those stands cannot be taken by those who hide behind anonymous handles or fake names.

For that reason, I’m considering — once again — requiring those who post comments to our stories and columns to use their real names.

Haven’t made up my mind yet and I’m willing to hear your thoughts on the subject.

You might try something unique — like telling us who you are and why your thoughts are worth publishing on this web site.

Enhanced by Zemanta

57 Responses to Anonymous Internet posters can’t save America

  1. griff6r

    July 8, 2013 at 8:33 am

    This seems to be an obsesssion with yourslef and others here.

    Really? Is it really that important? Haven’t we bigger issues to tackle?

    Personally, I enjoy reading comments here and elsewhere. I take no offense nor do I let them bother me. I take them for what they are…anonymous comments.

    When this site required registration there was mnore in-depth conversations. If I recall correctly, maintaining the system was too much work for you, so you did away with it in favor of the system (anonymous!?) you have now.

    Frankly, if you don’t like anonymous comments, then do away with it.

    By the way, my using the “handle” that I do has nothing to do with any desire to remain anonymous, but every thing to do with habit and my own personal history. It’s what people here know me by.

    Michael Griffith, Marcy, NY.

    Happy?

  2. Danny Adams

    July 8, 2013 at 8:44 am

    There are a lot of reasons that someone could want to stay anonymous which have nothing to do with verbal abuse. That said, though, it does seem like most of the people who comment anonymously on the sites I read are verbally abusive, or at least never say anything that contributes at all to the discussion. I’d say go ahead and block if you’re finding this the case here too–or if moderating is more work than it’s worth.

  3. egc52556

    July 8, 2013 at 8:49 am

    I rarely agree with griff6r but my reasons for my egc52556 handle are the same: habit, consistency with other sites that require single-word login IDs, slowing down data-scraping marketing engines, etc.

    Eddie Caplan,
    Fairfield IA 52556
    egc52556

  4. Walter F. Wouk

    July 8, 2013 at 8:51 am

    It’s my opinion that the majority of individuals who comment as “anonymous” wouldn’t post a comment if they had to reveal their identity. And that tells you everything you need to know about “anonymous.”

  5. beachshoe

    July 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

    I also use the handle, beachshoe, regularly on other sites and it is just a habit and it is easier. Anyone that wants to know, I am CA Leeson, Bracey, Va.

  6. beachshoe

    July 8, 2013 at 10:01 am

    I also think think a large percentage of the anonymous users are probably frustrated with the current state of this country and feel that there is little that one person can do about it. But I also think that all the “ones” grouped together equal hundreds, thousands and so on.

  7. SDRSr

    July 8, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    I beg to differ with you Mr. Thompson, our Founding Fathers did use pseudonyms for much of their public discourse before, during and after the Revolutionary War. For example, the Federalist and the Anti-Federalist Papers. Thus, there is a long and proud tradition of anonymous public comment in this country and it is our right to make such comments.

    That being said, I do agree with part of your assertion about Anonymous; they are ill mannered bombastic and hardly reasonable nor intelligent in their comments, but they do have a right to make anonymous, public comments that do not attack, injure, defame, denigrate, etc.

    In this country there is a dichotomy that exists in the very public right to vote, it drives me up a wall. In many, if not all states our vote is anonymous, but yet we must prove our identity and right to vote each time we vote. Well if memory serves, I had to prove that I existed before I was permitted to post on this site and I agree with that, but the right to post responsible, anonymous, public comments I’ll defend, have defended and protect vociferously.

    • griff6r

      July 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm

      Mercy Otis Warren, a popular writer of the day, wrote using a synonym because she was a woman. She was also a Puritan and strong advocate of independence from Great Britain and republican form of government.

      The anti-federalists vs federalists fight was also very misleading, as the federalists were advocating a strong central government as opposed to the anti-federalists who actually advocated a federalist system. It just so happens that the federalists seized the label first.

      In my opinion, the political fights of today don’t even come close to the hostility and fervor of the Revolutionary era.

  8. Mark Thomason

    July 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm

    I have always posted everywhere using my own name.

    However, I do not risk any damage to my job or business prospects from someone doing a Google search of my name and disliking my politics or opinion. That is just my position in life.

    Others would and cannot risk that. Different strokes for different folks.

  9. Gregg

    July 8, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Doug, you, along with most all other related sites have basically “invited” your readership to post comments. And most site have a rules guide for posters.
    .
    Sites such as this “invite comments” for a motive. Do they not? I see posts all the time pop up from Front Page and ReaderRant in Google or the like. Sometime posters draw fans. Sometimes the interaction between posters might draw readers. Sometimes the interaction between you and posters draw readership. And it’s even possible that some people come here just to read your commentaries. It’s different strokes…?
    .
    And let’s not forget advertisers, right? More readers…more ad exposure.
    .
    Why, as “invited posters” (individuals) should we post “why we believe that our comments are worthy of being published on this site”?
    .
    I think the better question is: “What makes your site worthy of being read?” After all, the only thing that separates this site from hundreds of other news related sites is basically your commentaries or stories. You do have a lot of viable competition.
    .
    There really is such a simple remedy in this matter. This whole thing isn’t really about if we individually feel worthy to post. It’s about whether or not you want to allow any given reader/contributor to post on this site “based on your opinion of them”. If you don’t like what readers comment about. Hit the “He or She is out of here button”. Send them away.
    .
    If we as readers don’t like your stuff. Boom, we hit the “go somewhere else button”.
    .
    There’s little, if any, news articles that you publish that I haven’t already read before coming to this site, in one form or another.
    .
    For me personally, Front Page is usually a shortstop before (or after) looking at ReaderRant posts.
    .
    And you already know how I feel about the “anonymous” situation. Recently, for a few post, I did post my full, real name. I’d bet a nickel to a donut that nobody that is use to seeing my comments posted gave a rats tail because I’m only listed as “Gregg”. (other than Bill Carvner)
    .
    The reality is that posters who see “Gregg Sealy” listed can say, “Ugh! There’s that “Gregg Sealy” guy again, don’t even want to read his post. And they just read around me. The very same thing could possibly happen by me signing in just “Gregg”.
    .
    Believe me, I do exactly that with some people who always list a first and last name. I have zero way of knowing it that’s their real name, but they have one that looks real. I don’t read around them simply over their name. I read around them because they might be frequently arrogant, overly predictable, or the constant ickiness of the content of their posts.
    .
    If I do that. I’m not so pompous to believe others would feel some kind of obligation to suffer though continually reading my post if over time that he or she think that I’m a putz.
    .
    By your commentary, I can only assume that those who don’t sign-in on their post with their “supposed” real names…must be somehow disgusting to you.
    .
    I think it would be really great if you would make serious consideration about who invited who to post comments on this site. And if you feel you’ve made a mistake in doing so, then terminate the option in part or whole (individually or everybody)…then poooof, we’re gone.
    .
    Griff…I already knew your name was Michael (forget how I knew)…but for all the years I’ve been coming to CHB Front Page…you’re Griff to me. And even if you switch to Michael…you’ll still be Griff to me. And I’d probably still continue to read your posts.

    • griff6r

      July 12, 2013 at 9:22 am

      You know my name because we’ve been down this road repeatedly…

  10. Pondering_It_All

    July 8, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    I use a handle for one very simple, and very good reason: Security. My name is unique enough that it would be very easy to guess my email address from just knowing my name. Any private person who publishes their email address is just opening themselves up to a tsunami of spam, phishing attacks, and worse.

    Not to mention that my phone number is listed and my first & last name combination is unique in the US. That means any troll taking issue with something I post using my own name could carry out a campaign of telephone harrassment, show up at my front door, mail me ricin, etc.

    I understand that published opinion authors, pundits, business owners, etc. have to use their own names, but these people are all public figures who have the resources to create security layers between themselves and the trolls. If you want to limit your story comments to public figures and people who are ignorant of these basic security concerns, then have at it. Your choice, Doug.

  11. Mark Thomason

    July 8, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Anonymity is abused. It is a problem. Trolls are real, and they do real damage to a site and the whole purpose of a comments section.

    I said above that anonymity is necessary for some people to be able to participate. Without it, many would be foreclosed from participation, and we would all be poorer for the lack of their participation.

    Still, trolls do seem to use anonymity. I would not say a majority of anonymous comments are trolls, but almost all trolls are anonymous.

    I think banning for trolling is a better method. Yes, they can get around that too. But it will clean up a thread and keep the screaming down. I think that is better than closing out so many others from participation.

  12. Jon

    July 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm

    I use a name, but not my real name. If you do not like my contributions, feel free to block them.

    J.

    PS – Anonymity can be abused. Should it be outlawed? Children, cars, and alcohol can be abused. Should we outlaw them too?

    Free speech can be abused – That’s the whole point of insisting that it remain free – because who defines what is abuse?

    The right to bear arms can be abused. Should that also be done away with?

    The right of people to be secure in their papers and possessions can be abused. Should we take that away?

    Baby, meet bathwater. Yes, you could forbid it. Yes, you would see a small improvement for so doing. But you would never see the damage done to open and free communication, including criticizing Publisher Thompson and Capitol Hill Blue.

    “Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither” (Roughly, from T.J.).

    J.

  13. SDRSr

    July 9, 2013 at 12:36 am

    Sorry to differ, but the quote is from Benjamin Franklin

    • Jon

      July 9, 2013 at 1:35 am

      Was it? I could be wrong.

      The difference between opinion and journalism is fact-checking like that. I am not a journalist.

      J.

  14. Carl Nemo **==

    July 9, 2013 at 2:03 am

    Based on this editorial, I suspect Mr. Thompson witnesses some horrendous comments that faceless trolls try to post onto CHB. I believe he uses Akismet or some other filtering function to catch them in addition to human oversight; I.E., ‘quality control’.

    I’ve posted to this site for quite some time and most if not all of the folks that do make it to the ‘front page’ in terms of comments, post thoughtful, value-added replies regardless of differences in opinion.

    Once in a while a ‘loose cannon on deck’ poster gets through and it shows via their somewhat ignorant, inarticulate comments which cause myself to wince. Needless to say profanity and threatening posts have no place on CHB.

    CHB is a great site and quite unique on the www. Doug Thompson is a standup guy in my book and has demonstrated extreme patience and understanding over time as the editor/owner of CHB concerning post content.

    We’re lucky to have CHB as a news forum venue managed by Mr. Thompson. Hopefully others feel the same way. : )

    Carl Nemo **==

    • Jon

      July 9, 2013 at 2:51 am

      I suspect most of them are just arrant spam, throwing out links to malware-ridden websites in the hope of gaining control of your computer. Those are easily filtered. More difficult are those who couch such links in political language; but they too are fairly trivially squashed.

      Perhaps another solution would be to simply discard any attempted comment with an http: link in it – Few would be offended, much malice defeated, and only small harm to the authentic posters.

      J.

      PS – I respect and honor Publisher Doug[las?] Thompson. I do not agree with him always, but I shall respect him always. What he does with his website is his business, and nobody else’s. J.

      • Jon

        July 9, 2013 at 2:52 am

        (PS – The idea of throwing out all posts with links in them was sarcasm. J.)

  15. Bill Cravener

    July 9, 2013 at 5:32 am

    How can people who hide who they are have any real commitment to freedom or American rights?

    Doug, good read and so true.

    Anonymity on the internet is the cloak of the coward and the fact is cowards are not known for their wisdom. Anonymous opinion is fundamentally dishonest because you can’t divorce ideas from the person behind them. Accountability lies at the very heart of the democratic tradition and is crucial to the continued stability of a free and fair society.

    Those who post anonymously are free to form malicious opinions which can offend the writer of an article or another fellow commenter and is also a tremendous aid to the resentful, the scandalous, and the cowardly.

    In a February 2008 study published in the journal Psychological Reports, researchers found that out of four groups of participants, only those in the anonymous group took part in antisocial behavior. When someone is willing to place their words up to scrutiny, with their real name attached, it does indeed elicit a heightened sense of regard.

    The good news is there are more and more signs that Internet anonymity is destined to go the way of the dialup modem. I say the sooner the better!

    • Jon

      July 9, 2013 at 5:51 am

      First, Freedom and American Rights are not the same thing.

      Anonymity on the Internet is the sign of the free. Calling them cowards over and over again, repeating the lie, doesn’t make it true.

      Anonymous wisdom is fundamentally more honest, because it is not inflected by external forces like racism or nationalism.

      The ideas are more important than the person behind them.

      Stability is overrated. Lousy systems should be overthrown.

      I was not a part of that study, so I cannot comment upon it, but it seems to me that those who do clearly identify themselves online are guilty of far more insulting and obnoxious personal insults than the anonymous ones. Perhaps that’s a side effect of Publisher Thompson’s spam filtering.

      The good news is that the likes of you are few.

      Jon

      • Jon

        July 9, 2013 at 6:04 am

        Just thought I should throw this in here:

        Would it matter to you if I said my name was actually Harry Smith?

        Or Wang-chin Hou?

        Or Abu bin Abdullah?

        Or Ngai d’Drai?

        If any of those would change your opinion of my opinions, you deserve no respect at all.

        J.

        • Almandine

          July 9, 2013 at 5:25 pm

          Touche’

        • Gregg

          July 9, 2013 at 9:10 pm

          Jon,

          Just thought I should throw this in here:
          Would it matter to you if I said my name was actually Harry Smith?
          Or Wang-chin Hou?
          Or Abu bin Abdullah?
          Or Ngai d’Drai?
          If any of those would change your opinion of my opinions, you deserve no respect at all.
          J.”
          .
          Right on, Jon…right on.
          .
          I do believe that in all probability those whom it might effect would remain silent and disregard your post…for no other reason than the name.
          .
          Apparently to some – the name of the game…is da NAME!
          .
          So, I’m wondering if a person who is required by a site owner to post his or her real name will also be provided with some form of publishable ID number or symbol, which is confirmation by each site that each person’s true identity has been verified?

  16. Sandy Price

    July 9, 2013 at 10:42 am

    My main problem with all discussion forums is the lack of intelligent response to all comments.

    Do we have a firm grip on any single action that could take us closer to what we expect from our own levels of government?

    How much government do we demand? Do we trust each other to follow the local laws or do we demand a militia who lays down the laws according to the color of our skin or the God we worship?

    Most Americans have no respect for our government now that it has taken on the flavor of the bible. Even in the murder trial of that young black boy in Florida. Zimmerman was on Fox News with Hannity when it was discussed that God allowed the death of the victim. In a single month, God allowed several hundred women to be raped.

    Am I supposed to respect America when this kind of crap is found on our television shows and in our churches?

    I want my name to stand against the kind of news shows that promote a God driven rape menace.

    CHB is a much higher level of discussion promotion.

  17. Logtroll

    July 9, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Prejudice hath many faces.

    • Carl Nemo **==

      July 9, 2013 at 11:19 pm

      Glad to see your still kickin’ Logtroll. I always enjoyed your thoughtful posts in the past even if we locked ‘horns’ on occasion. Hell, it’s fun to do so; I.E., kick up dirt around the ol’ ‘thought corral’ so to speak. :D

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Logtroll

        July 10, 2013 at 11:06 pm

        Hey, Cap’n,

        I been hanging out over on RR so long I sorta forgot about this side.

        Who the Hell are ya, anyway! ;-)

        • Carl Nemo **==

          July 11, 2013 at 2:00 am

          “Who the Hell are ya, anyway!” … extract from reply

          A real world version of ‘Forrest Gump’… :D

          Best regards,

          Nemo **==

          • logtroll

            July 11, 2013 at 7:29 am

            Oops! I meant “How the Hell are ya”, I guess the topic caused me to mix up a few letters!

  18. Bill Cravener

    July 10, 2013 at 9:29 am

    Well Doug after reading the comments to your piece here its clear to me that what you had to say was pretty much ignored except that is with regards to your reference that anonymous posters are in general cowards. Your important points about the lack of credibility and your discounting opinions of anonymous posters do not seem to matter much.

    But the fact is anonymity breeds bad behavior with no accountability. Too often angry people who can’t face reality create their own in cyberspace. Being online has given many users a sense of false security through anonymity. The perceived anonymity of the internet does indeed embolden many to do and say things that would never be said in face-to-face interactions.

    The cowardice of online anonymity debases public debate and by being anonymous you forfeit any right to be taken seriously. In a civil society freedom of speech is a banner that individuals of good will and guts ought to stand proudly in front of not hide behind.

    Should freedom of speech protect anonymous slander or persons who speak with no accountability because they can hide behind silly handles and false identities? I say emphatically no!

    • Logtroll

      July 10, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      Bill Cravener!?!

      So what’s yer real name?

  19. Bill Cravener

    July 11, 2013 at 5:28 am

    The incontrovertible problem with anonymous online opinions is that they form a fraudulent type of rhetoric that hides the commenter in the shadows. You can add to that fact an anonymous poster who comments on the behavior or opinions of named individuals in unnamed responses are at least a small act of subterfuge.

    News sites, forums and countless other online services are increasingly moving towards authenticating identities. Already a slew of services like Facebook Connect, Google Friend Connect, and Yahoo’s Open Strategy, are themselves requiring verified identities.

    There are million upon millions of computers and handheld devices worldwide that are equipped with a tiny security chip called the Trusted Platform Module. Once online services begin to use it the TPM will do something never before seen on the Internet, it will provide virtually fool-proof verification that you are who you say you are.

    • logtroll

      July 11, 2013 at 7:40 am

      “The incontrovertible problem with anonymous online opinions is that they form a fraudulent type of rhetoric that hides the commenter in the shadows.”

      Are you talking about some other place than this site, and this thread? ‘Cause I just ain’t feeling your pain over what name somebody puts after their post. I’m signed in here, so I am verified as the honest to God, none other, Logtroll.

      In my view, I am no more anonymous than Bill, or Carl Nemo (say, Cap’n, is that your real name?) or any other poster here. I’ve never met any of you (a fact which makes us all anonymous to me – except for me), and I’m fine with the names everyone uses.

      I don’t see a lot of bomb-throwing here, and what there is doesn’t seem to be connected to somebody’s claim of nombre realitus. “Fraudulent rhetoric”? You got me there…

      I just don’t get the heartburn, Anonymous Bill. ?

      • Carl Nemo **==

        July 11, 2013 at 11:19 am

        Hi Logtroll…

        My first name is Carl, but I chose Nemo intentionally because in Latin it means “no one”. Nemo has a different meaning in different languages going back to Homer’s “Odyssey”. I put some serious thought in this handle since I intentionally thought anonymity should mean…”no one”. : )

        I’ll provide a link so curious minds can edify themselves concerning the meaning of “Nemo”.

        http://www.ee.columbia.edu/~nemo/nemo.html

        Carl Nemo **==

        • logtroll

          July 11, 2013 at 6:04 pm

          Ahoy, Cap’n,

          You told me your “real” name some years back, though I’ve forgotten it. I like your handle. “No worries, mate!”

  20. SDRSr

    July 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    So according to many of the posters in this thread if you post anonymously you are a coward? I wonder what Publius, Cato, Brutus, Centinel, and the Federal Farmer would have to say about that.

    Look them up.

    Cowards indeed, pfft…

    • logtroll

      July 11, 2013 at 6:11 pm

      As I understand it, you’re good to go for slingling spurious flamations and derogatorials IF you just man up and use a name that appears to be a “real” name. Otherwise you have no integrity (which seems to have been redefined narrowly as using your “real” name when making otherwise anonymous posts on the internet tubes).

      • Capitol Hill Blue

        July 11, 2013 at 8:42 pm

        Huh?

        • logtroll

          July 12, 2013 at 9:22 am

          I am amused by the irony of the post above – it’s anonymous (not even a “handle” for a name) and it’s vaguely threatening.

          Was it intended to provide an example of the vileness of anonymity?

          • Editor

            July 12, 2013 at 10:06 am

            The “Capitol Hill Blue” name was displayed prominently on our reply and is used by our editors when they are editing or monitoring the site. For the record, my name is John Dawkins and I am the news editor of this site. I was monitoring when I saw your post.

            The major members of our staff, along with our emails, are listed on our FAQS page.

  21. Gregg

    July 12, 2013 at 1:00 am

    Finally a decision. I hope it serves you well.

    • Doug Thompson

      July 12, 2013 at 8:34 am

      And what decision was that? I haven’t decided on this issue yet.

  22. Bill Cravener

    July 12, 2013 at 7:02 am

    Often, those who try the hardest to hide their identity are those who also post the most vociferous remarks about the need to stand up and be recognized to “take the country back.”

    Today’s America has many problems that require commitment by Americans who are willing to take a stand.

    And as far as I’m concerned, those stands cannot be taken by cowards who hide behind anonymous handles or fake names.

    Doug, the opportunity to launch opinions from the safety of a computer or handheld device without attaching a name does wonders for the bravery levels of an angry anonymous poster. If one is brave enough to defend the right to say something they should also be brave enough to attach their real name to a post.

    It can not be denied that a free society thrives on robust and passionate debate but a willingness to take responsibility for what we say and how we say it must first be made. Anonymity by its nature discredits much of a person’s statements. If you are not prepared to put your name where your mouth is then there is a very good argument that anonymous comments are no more then worthless babble.

    • logtroll

      July 12, 2013 at 8:23 am

      “Anonymity by its nature discredits much of a person’s statements.”

      By it’s nature? The nature of anonymity is to be unknown. How are you more “known” on CHB than I am, and how does that affect the credibility of our statements?

      “If you are not prepared to put your name where your mouth is then there is a very good argument that anonymous comments are no more then worthless babble.”

      What is that very good argument?

  23. Gregg

    July 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    Doug, it appears as though one of your staff made a threat like post, which implies that some action or change in your registration process is potentially in the making…or has been employed.
    .
    Now, if the CAPITOL HILL BLUE titled post was a troll, then the joke is on all of us.
    .
    If it’s not a joke…then why the vague post from a staffer that leaves us all intrigued as to a change in policy and begs the question: Since all of the regular members are clearly aware of how you feel about anonymous posters. Why is it so difficult to decide to rid your site of anonymous posters?
    .
    Or…speaking only for myself:
    .
    I have been virtually labeled as a coward in your site because of my beliefs and opinions regarding anonymity. And there’s not much reason to believe that you don’t support that opinion regarding such a label. So If I allow myself to feel offended by that label, I might be the one who needs to be responsible for the decision (regarding me personally)…and simply never return to your site. After all, what’s the loss of one member of 7 years? And for the record, I don’t harbor any ill feelings about any of this. This is your site and to thine ownself be true.

    • Doug Thompson

      July 12, 2013 at 2:36 pm

      Say what? All John did was have a little fun with a commenter. There was no threat, either implied or stated.

      The only person who will change a policy around here is me and I have made no such change.

      Also, as I recall, the subject of the column was aimed at those who use anonymous handles and was raised more as a question on the popularity as such: I think people should be willing to put their true identities behind what they say. That is my opinion: Nothing more, nothing less.

      I posed the question on anonymity simply to initiate discussion. Some took it so seriously that I had to laugh. Others offered rationalizations that were equally amusing. Still others offered good points on both side of the issue.

      Nothing is changing in our policy, not do I see any reason to change anything at this time.

      As for use of the word, “coward,” you make a good point. I removed that reference from my column and modified any of my comment that appeared to make such a claim.

  24. Doug Thompson

    July 12, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    Sadly, some here have chosen to go from commenting to attacking other posters. For that reason, their posting privileges have been suspended. They couldn’t keep it civil. Too bad.

  25. Mick

    July 13, 2013 at 12:42 am

    It is Doug’s site and he can and will do as he pleases. That much we can all agree on.

    There were once many people posting on RR, now only a few. Those who have been around for years posted for years and years under the anonymous policy. If Doug wants to change the the policy he no doubt will. I would suspect that former and a few remaining people who have posted on CHB/RR for a while won’t be posting under their “real” names or won’t post at all.

    S–t’s been said over the years. Once, years back, an RR mod posted what he believed to be my real name in retaliation over a debate he was losing. RR was once a wild and lively place. People bounced from CHB to RR and back and discussed and debated and argued like mad.

    Policies changed, board management was erratic for while, the posting rules became much more strict and even punitive and people left. Maybe people will come back to CHB/RR if Doug changes the anonymous posting policy.

    If Doug wants CHB to grow, if he wants more traffic (and maybe he doesn’t) it would advisable for Doug to do one thing, make up his mind. I am now a semi-visitor to CHB/RR.

    (Edited because of profanity and errors in fact)

    • Carl Nemo **==

      July 13, 2013 at 7:17 am

      Well said Mick and I concur.

      This obsession with posting related ‘cowardice’is beginning to wear on everyone a bit except seemingly the site host and Mr. Cravener.

      If the site host decides to go with a forced real name, address and serial number registration then he’ll find he’s only going to have Bill as his resident poster.

      Using Doug’s favorite expression, I think it’s time to “move on”.

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Doug Thompson

        July 13, 2013 at 8:19 am

        Carl::

        I find no record of any comment from you being deleted by me or anyone else on the staff. Comments from three posters were removed for attacks but none of them were from you. There is nothing from you in the spam folder or the system trash.

        In fact, the post I think you were referring to was right above the one where you claimed it was removed.

        • Carl Nemo **==

          July 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

          Hi Doug,

          I just sent a reply to your email this am. It concerned a post by “Mick”. Seemingly that was one of the posts removed. I didn’t detect any profanity except for the word “sh*t”. He did reference Mr. Cravener, but in a tactful way, at least I thought so.

          You are quite welcome to delete my two posts, since they are no longer germaine to “Mick’s” comment and have no logical merit to the string.

          Carl Nemo **==

          p.s. Due to the high volume of traffic fetching CHB, it’s difficult at times to fetch an article. One gets the “program not responding” prompt while the article is trying to load until things cool down. There’s no problem during the night and wee hours of the morning.

          • Doug Thompson

            July 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm

            Carl:

            Mick’s post was caught by our automatic apam filtering system because of profanity and was deleted after the service does its periodic scan. As a rule I don’t see such posts unless it is brought to my attention.

            After I reviewed it I edited the profanity and also deleted some outright errors in fact. He stated that one commenter only posts to debate anonymous users. That was an outright error. The poster in question has posted on many topics and only posts on the topic of anonymity when he chooses to point out that he uses his name. He has also been posting here a lot longer than Mick claimed.

            Mick also claimed I had posted under a pen name. That is incorrect. I allowed another writer who could not use his real name because he wrote for a newspaper to post under a pen name that I once used to write paperback mystery novels.

            There were other mistakes in fact as well. Mick has been around here long enough to know better.

            My apologies for thinking you were talking about a post of yours being deleted.

  26. Bill Cravener

    July 13, 2013 at 7:57 am

    Doug, my skin is pretty thick so please don’t ban anyone based on any personal attach upon me. Though I can agree with you and your staff pointing out to the anonymous poster that they have stepped out of bounds I do not wish to see anyone banned from posting comments on your fine news site.

    I will first point out this is my last post on the subject of internet anonymity for now. What keeps many people from expressing intense emotions such as anger and frustration in real life is the fact they are known entities in a surprisingly small world. The anonymity of the Internet essentially levels the playing field for all participants which sadly empowers them to express the darker sides of their personalities in ways that would be unthinkable in real life face to face interactions.

    It can not be made clear enough that history is made by those brave enough to speak out despite any personal risks involved. Cowering behind a cloak of anonymity hardly seems an auspicious basis for profound social upheavals. What anonymity offers is a cheap and easy way to speak out against authority when the reality is it offers nothing more then an ineffectual means to make change and may ultimately prove to be very costly.

    • Doug Thompson

      July 13, 2013 at 8:16 am

      Bill, I don’t allow attacks against anyone here. Sometimes I don’t see them until someone brings them to my attention and the editors here are also free to remove any attacks they find.

      There is only one person here that any poster is free to attack and that is me. I’ve never removed a post for attacking me but I have removed many to attacking others.

  27. Doug Thompson

    July 13, 2013 at 9:20 am

    Folks, let’s clear the air a bit here. Some people who commented were upset by my use of the word “coward” to refer to those who post anonymously.

    In retrospect, my use of that word was going too far. While I often wonder ig those who use “handles” have something to hide, it was presumptuous to conclude that any and all who did so were cowards. I modified both the headline and the content of the column to remove the word.

    Hell, I make mistakes and I freely admit doing so. Obviously, based on the comments, this was a topic that stirred passions in people. I did have to step in and take action against some who used the opportunity to attack others, including one poster who does use his name. The only person on this web site that readers are free to attack is me. Sometimes I deserve the attacks but it’s my name on the home page and I own the place, although more often I think it owns me.

    I appreciate the comments and feedback. As I said in a comment posted Friday, I have no plans to change the current policy.

  28. woody188

    July 14, 2013 at 11:43 pm

    America has a deep tradition of free speech, which includes anonymous speech. Common Sense, perhaps the most influential document prior to the Declaration of Independence, was first published anonymously.

    Yes, John Hancock wrote his name very large on the Declaration. But that was when the colonies were in full blown revolt against the crown. That is not the state of affairs we find ourselves in now.

    We find ourselves spied upon by our own government. Indeed, this very post has been intercepted and cataloged by our own NSA, to be used in future prosecutions. But the NSA knows exactly who “woody188″ is, where he is located, how much money he makes, how much he pays in taxes, and who he talks to on the phone, in email, Skype, Facebook, and so forth and so on.

    Perhaps the argument should be, why aren’t anonymous handles enough to hide ones identity?