Techdirt is a good site for … er … tech things and this was interesting of late:
As we’ve seen over and over again, many of our most insightful comments have come from anonymous commenters.
So I was actually surprised a few years ago when TechCrunch moved to switch all of its comments to Facebook comments, claiming that one of the good things about it was that it required you to provide your real name.
Apparently that wasn’t actually such a good thing for lots and lots of commenters — as after nearly two years, TechCrunch has dumped Facebook comments and is pleading for commenters to come back.
To me, Facebook is simply fascistic and the only reason I stay in there is because my Russian readers use it a lot [despite warnings] and take my posts from there. So there’s not really much choice.
However, it really stinks why anyone would require your personal information, not just online but anywhere. I was asked if I wanted a bonus card at a supermarket and when I took the brochure, they wanted all kinds of information – really personal stuff.
“Oh, it’s for free delivery.”
But I don’t want free delivery. The day I do, I’ll let you know.
At OoL and at my site, there’s no moderation or captcha for those who’ve commented before and are not blacklisted. Hope this is not red rag to a bull but we’ve had relatively little trouble and let’s face it – most names used by commenters are anonymous anyway. Could someone explain to me the pleasure a lowlife gets from posting someone’s personal details?
The argument that “if you’ve got nothing to hide” – BS! It’s nothing to do with that – it’s to do with your obsession over having to know every little detail about someone else’s life.
There is a situation though where anonymity cloaks interpersonal crime. Some time back, some fellow bloggers experienced stalking and trolling by a net criminal who supposedly did it for kicks or maybe to bring those bloggers down a peg or two or for a different political stance or whatever – it would need a psychiatrist to give a more substantive answer.
Now I noted that some of us who believed in anonymity as a general rule, in that situation used channels to pin the bastard down. So clearly there is a thing called “libertarian lite” and I agree with it. Being a classical liberal first and foremost, there are limits and the limits are easily defined in this – when a troll deliberately sets out to cause malicious damage by clogging comments threads, hacking and causing havoc and even falsely flagging sites – that deserves all it gets.
At the same time, it’s troubling to a libertarian that even though we want this person known by authorities, we obviously don’t want ourselves on file. Herein lies our dilemma.