On anonymity

I was just re-reading an post on the Burnaby Politics blog about a rumour that former Conservative MP Paul Forseth could return to politics in the Burnaby-New Westminster riding currently held by Peter Julian. As a resident of this riding, I am mildly interested, though at the moment it is nothing but a rumour. This blog post is not about the rumour, however. It’s about the reader response: thirteen comments on the post, all anonymous.

I struggle with this on Tenth to the Fraser. We have our own semi-regular commenters who choose to remain anonymous. I like to hear from them, but I wish they would leave a name or a handle with their comments. I’m sure there are valid reasons why people would choose to be anonymous, but I confess my knee-jerk reaction is to assume either cowardice or axe-grinding.

Now, before you flame me (anonymously) in the comments section, this is nothing personal against any of our anonymous commenters (or any on Burnaby Politics). I just feel the level of dialogue on a public forum is better when people are willing to stand behind their comments. Using your real name is best, in my view, because it forces a person to consider the effects on reputation when they post a comment. A nickname is acceptable if it’s how you are known online. Given the option to use a nickname, I just don’t understand choosing to be “Anonymous.”

I’m not planning to prevent anonymous comments at this point, unless such comments turn hateful. While they are sometimes stinging, so far I haven’t felt they have crossed the line. Or at least, not too far past. But I would like to express my preference that commenters here include their name or nickname.

We aspire on this blog to represent a variety of voices and opinions in New Westminster, so we especially value the contributions of those readers who respectfully disagree. Thank you, all of you who have shared your opinions with us. Perhaps some of you will consider sharing your opinions in a guest post in the new year – assuming, of course, that you are willing to sign your name to it.

6 Replies to “On anonymity”

  1. I agree. I used to be known by a (now, thinking back) totally silly nickname online. When I started using my own name suddenly my behaviour got a whole lot more accountable.

  2. I agree. I try to always comment with my proper name or screen name & I always link back to my own mess blog. It makes me think a bit more about what I’m saying to the world. And I only just started following this wonderful blog, hence the late comment.

  3. Britt: thanks for leaving a comment! Nice to see you here. I’ve added you to our “locals” blogroll. If you know of any other local bloggers, please let us know!

  4. The one major benefit of posting on-line anonymously is that people will review and assess the posted comment without an automatic bias — without knowing a name or a gender, etc., the reader's focus is placed more squarely on the comment than on the author of the comment.

  5. Anonymous: The bar is higher for anonymous comments to be taken seriously because of the lack of context. Your comments are an excellent example of anonymous comments done well. I think anon. comments are judged more critically.

  6. Hi Brianna,

    Thanks — Personally, I think anonymous comments should be judged more critically. For me, that is the objective and the ideal.

Comments are closed.