Anonymous and fabricated-name entries

Hi Ruby,

This may be an old discussion, but it is becoming more important to me.  I think we should not  allow anonymous posts or posts from people who fabricate names to hide their identifies.  I for one will not answer anyone  who won't provide his/her identity.  Compared to other local blogs, OP is more civil and less insulting, but the attacks that we do have seem to come from people who chose not to identify themselves.  Any thoughts?



I think this is a good discussion worth having. In the post Why Should I Register we got into this a bit. Also here are the OP Community guidelines.

In short I *personally* think folks should be required ro register to comment. Especially if they are going to aggressively challenge someone.

When I set up the new site, I wanted to strike a balance that would allow people to either be fully themselves (with full names and profile) or to be completely anonymous. When people write anonymously, you can visually distinguish their comments from validated users, and should take them with the according grain of salt. I also try really hard to encourage people to register and have an identity here. There is also this middle ground of folks who register, but who do not give their full name. My feeling has been that as long as they are not impersonating people or giving false information (for example, about where they vote) that this should be OK. But I also don't have a lot of time to police these things.What do other users think?

I work for a local government.

I monitor regularly and have submitted anonymously. 

Probably would not register.

I've got an OP account but will make this point annonymously for no other reason than to prove a point. There's no way of verifying most identities or claimed identities. Anyone could easily set up a gmail or hotmail account, claim to be Jane Smith and create another OP account. Even if Ruby, Brian and Jason had 29 hours in each day to verify that registered accounts actually corresponded to registered voters in Orange, it still wouldn't stop someone from simply grabing a name off the list. Like most proposed bans on nearly anything, the logic is questionable and the enforcement a nightmare.

Also, it's not valid to say that most attacks come from those who don't identify themselves. There are several recent examples on OP that came from folks using their (presumed) real names. Ruby and Brian do a good job of minimizing this, but it's just an aspect of human discourse that pops up occasionally on ALL forums. And any political forum is bound to encounter some fairly extreme differences of opinion, that all too frequently come out in the form of personal attacks. Most of us try hard to be better humans, but that aspect still surfaces in heated debates. And, let's face it, anger is a sometimes logical human expression that has evolutionary value in some situations. 

Frankly, I've seen a lot of intelligent and reasoned dialogue from folks who post annonymously or with psuedonyms. To blanketly castigate all who either forget to log in, or choose not to is to ignore a lot of good content. It falls under the category of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face.

I find it really hard to follow a lot of the recent threads on OP because of a mulitiplicity of anonymous posters.  It would make it a lot easier if people were at least required to register and use a pseudonym.  I also give more credence to pseudonymous posts than anonymous posts -- if only because at least they've taken the time to register and give themselves some kind of identity.  I'm strongly in favor of requiring registration as it would also eliminate the "oops I forgot to log in" posts that keep popping up.
I agree with Jim here. I think folks should just get used to logging in. It doesn't take that long. Really. I rather see pseudonyms than anonymous rants and attacks. If for no other reason than making it easier to understand a long threaded conversation.

I had a pseudonym last fall and it somehow disappeared in the transfer to the new system.  I've been meaning to make a new one and I will eventually.  But if I were required to reveal my true identity I probably wouldn't post.  It does get confusing when a lot of people post anonymously.

... because s/he gives a well-reasoned argument. 

I'd like to add that, because Ch/C/OC is such a small pond particularly in regard to those engaged in political talk & thought, some of us would prefer a modicum of privacy & discretion on occasion.  And, well, some folks are just plain bashful.

What a conundrum.  Too bashful to put your name or pseudonym when you obviously wish to make your voice heard?  When I'm too shy to make a public statement, I keep my mouth shut. 

Maybe there should be a stock photo for anonymous posters.  I'd be happy to pose with a bag over my head.   


I'm in favor of a consistent pseudonym for people to post.

I'm at the point where I don't even read anonymous postings. While not always the case, it provides cover for the worst behavior. My hometown newspaper growing up had a 1-800 number where you could call and leave anonymous, un-fact-checked complaints, and the paper would publish them! It was horrible, and they called it "Sound Off."

One of my high school classmates wrote a terrific (signed) Op-Ed in the paper calling it "The Coward's Pulpit."

At least with pseudonyms, one can follow conversation threads better and get a sense of the beliefs/personality of someone, even if we only know them as "tarheelfan345." There is at least SOME accountability.

I have mixed feelings about this. I like the idea of registration so that threads can be followed, but perhaps registration with a first name and initial or an initial and last name or even a pseudonym like Local Artist Who Loves Coffee is sufficient.

People who are trying to use the internet for business purposes may prefer their professional work appear in Google first not their comments to OP (or other popular websites).

There are many professions (besides being in local government) where people need to have a neutral face. Health care - and mental health care - come to mind right away. But if we were having a discussion about health care, I would want health care practitioners to be able to participate without worrying about being googled by clients later.

Another option might be to find a way to shut OP down to spiders. But since I don't code at all, I don't how complex that might be.  



I think that communicating with integrity entails identifying yourself to the people you are communicating with.

As for those who are in situations that challenge their courage to stand by what they say, I don't think a public forum owes them any special consideration.

I hope we find safety in numbers. Me thinks this group power is less possible with/for anonymous commenters. Not to mention its easy for elected officials to ignore anonymous folks who can't be connected to a specific district. OUR combined voice has power!

AGAIN I don't want to out people who fear retribution or have concern for other reasons. Lots of options to protect yourself.


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