OPTV: Let's talk about comments

Hey it's my first new video in over a month! In this "episode" I talk about the new system and policies for commenting on OrangePolitics. I'd love to hear your feedback.


The one thing I forgot to say is why I don't allow anonymous commenters to enter a name and e-mail address. Basically, I wanted the line between having an identity and being anonymous to be crytsal clear, and I wanted to encourage people to register and use their real identity (however obscure they might chose to make it) rather than post comments that would appear not to be anonymous when they really effectively are.

As always, you can find the entire OPTV achive at http://orangepolitics.org/optv.




I would encourage people who want to be anonymous, but want to leave more than one comment, to create accounts under alternate identities. Basically create an account using a email address that doesn't have your name associated with it. Use a pseudonym for your user name. Even though this is not your "real" name it's still an identity we can associate with your comments. Lots of people conducting legitimate social activities online do this every day.

Personally I am NOT for anonymous comments on OP. I think if someone has something so sensitive that it must be shared anonymously and in a timely manner they should email the Editor of OP, get a free blog, or create a alternate ID. Too often people who want to take pot shots at people by writing nasty things leave comments "anonymously".

Please keep in mind NOTHING online is truly anonymous. Not unless you encrypt your internet traffic, spoof your IP, hack several computers to mask your trail, make sure no one is watching you, and throw away your computer hardware while wearing gloves. With all seriousness its very hard to mask your ID online. So keep in mind just because it says Anonymous doesn't really mean you're identity is completely masked.

That said why not control YOUR identity? The best way, in my opinion, is to create a ClaimID account and take credit for all the good things you've done online. [My claimid page is here.] Make a list of links to your blog, research, comments on group sites, your voting record, etc. Then you can have a say over who you are online. IF you don't do this then you are left at the wim of Google and anyone who wants to write your name online and say what ever they like about you. Writting your thoughts while using your real name on OP is a very good way to build up your own online identity.

My suggestions are in no way official OrangePolitics.org policy nor professional advice. Take it at your own risk.

I didn't watch the video because of bandwith problems, but I did want to chime in on anonymous postings. 

It's too easy to make an anonymous comment and not realize you've done it. Until it's posted (or delayed), you might not even realize you weren't logged in. I share a computer, and my partner is always clearing our cache. I think I've made two to three comments anonymously without meaning too. Thus the frequent "Oops, that was me, sorry" posts. 

It'd be easier if we couldn't be anonymous, if we had to be at least pseudonymous. Then again, I am irritated by other blogs where I have to register. So I guess I'm torn. 

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but I don't think anonymous posting, at least in the form we have it now, is good for this site. I don't mind veiled identities in some cases, but it seems like in practicality over half of the anonymous comments are on accident, and most of those that remain don't seem to be the sort of comments where users are fearing for their privacy as much as not caring enough to log in.

Considering the high volume of "regulars" around here, I don't think registration would prove to be a bar to entry for anyone. Even the use of pseudonyms makes conversations easier to follow and adds a layer of accountability without disclosing too much personal info.

Valid points, Joan. The fact is that a lot of folks would complain if there was no way to comment anonymously, and I think we have often gotten valuable comments that way. I have two questions in response to your concerns.

1. Do you think that after a while you'll get used to either making sure you're logged in or just staying logged in to OP? (You can tell it to remember you if you use the same computer all the time.)

2. Once you have accidentally posted anonymously, is it possible to hit the Back button and copy the text of your comment? Then you could log in and post it again as yourself. (I have never tried this since I'm always logged in.) Since the first one get moderated, it would be easy for me to spot the error and delete the anonymous version.


My comments about anonymous commenting were about the general concept. Not about the recent accidental anonymous comments. Just so you know I wasn't dissing ya'll. :) Having to register to comment used to bug me too. But I think its going to be more common in the future, not less. There are A LOT of people working on this issue of Identity. This includes technical improvements on log-in. (ala Open Id)

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