Now Play Nice, Y'all

Hi folks. The amount of participation and dialogue on the site lately has been amazing! It's really exciting to see so many ideas being exchanged, and to hear voices that aren't often reflected in the local media and government chambers. A lot of people have contacted me to say so - including candidates, reporters, and elected officials!

While I understand that some folks have compelling reasons for posting anonymously or under pseudonyms, I also am concerned that by not standing behind the words, writers really lessen their credibility in the conversation. I've also seen that such anonymity tends to lower the level of discourse. Speaking to strangers on the Internet is very different than speaking to folks you run into around town. Please try to write as if you were talking to your neighbor, ie: someone you have to get along with, even if you disagree or dislike her.

Yesterday I was contacted by someone who was impersonated in jest on this site, and who requested information about the poster's ISP. I don't have that information, but we do log the IP address of every person who comments, and we know how to use it - although we hope not to. It's important to me on principle to allow anonymous posting here, please don't put that at risk by abusing it (or each other).

As the editor, I can remove posts that are inappropriate. I don't think any of this week's comments warrant such heavy-handedness, but some are getting mean-spirited and unproductive. We can still have fun, but remember: it's a small town. Please try to criticize issues and positions instead of people (as they say in Carrboro Town Hall).

Finally, I want to apologize for the technical glitch that messed up the site for almost 2 hours on Thursday afternoon. I know some of you OP addicts were hurting! (I sure was.) I don't think it will happen again, but I'm not making any promises if something goes wrong in the middle of the day when I'm working. May I remind you that I'm not getting paid for this? But that's OK, because I am loving it! Thank you all so much for being a part of this engaged community.

Happy halloween!

Total votes: 111

Comments

That was well put. I am impressed, Ruby!

:-)

I especially liked: "Speaking to strangers on the Internet is very different than speaking to folks you run into around town. Please try to write as if you were talking to your neighbor, ie: someone you have to get along with, even if you disagree or dislike her."

SOOOO True...don't forget it.

and

"we do log the IP address of every person who comments, and we know how to use it.."

Also i would like to polietly remind everyone that IP addresses *ARE* most certainly connected to physical locations & VERY traceable. They are very public peices of informaiton.

This ability to track "where" you are comunitication from, *to* the world of cyberspace is NOT just had by computer geeks and goverment agents. "Advances" in computer software User Interface design is rapidly improving making once obsucre tools now easy to use.

If a person could not quickly find out where you are they can discover who your internet access provider is...

Try going to http://www.whatismyip.com and you can find out what your IP is.

I am not trying to scare or spread parinoia but anly trying to inform. Security and comon sence is our responsiblity.

Since Dan just quoted me in his column and it was in respect to anonymity, let me add a bit here of what I just wrote to Dan.

Dan asked me about anonymous postings and if they were good or not. I cited the American tradition from colonial papers that preceded the Federalist Papers through the familiar "well placed source" to Deep Throat and beyond. I do believe that anonymity has a place.

I could have said, since as it is my job to be aware of both sides, if asked what is not so good about anonymity on blogs, that the most successful long term digital discussions took place and still take place on The Well, where the ground rules are "you own your own words' and anonymity is discouraged. Stu Brand and Howard Rheingold say that that is what makes the Well work.

In Orange Politics, things have gotten more complicated. There has been no policy on anonymity or on privacy. The moderators think that anonymity has been abused. As a result, from what I read above, privacy is threatened. Not that it was ever assured.

It is never too late to develop and promote a policy on anonymity, privacy and appropriate behavior for the blog. This could include reasons why a post might be removed or a poster might be banned. Not that I hope any of that would happen.

Jenny Preece's book, Online Communities, Designing Usability, Supporting Sociability, might be helpful.

A friendly policy reminder/clarification: If you do not sign your posts with valid contact info, there is no way for us to reach to you to discuss possible problems with your post. This kind of anonymous comment may be subject to removal if the editor (right now: me) finds it hurtful, hateful or otherwise inappropriate. Repeated postings of this nature will force us to ban the user from posting comments here.

I don't mean to discourage anonymity, just the abuse of it. I think it's important to let people express themselves honestly, and if not signing helps, that's fine. However, I will not tolerate hate speech of any kind on the site, and I'm not too crazy about personal attacks either.

 

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