Town Square

Post a New Topic

Anonymous postings--good or bad?

Original post made by Walter_E_Wallis, Midtown, on Mar 1, 2011

These pages have just witnessed an extended discussion of the anonymous poster, finally cut off by the editor.
Should there be different rules for the anonymous poster than for the identified poster? I had an extended history of anonymous posting before I "Came Out", and so have walked both sides of the street. Without discussing any actual issue, what say?

Comments (19)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 1, 2011 at 8:46 pm

There is a mechanism in place for that-whoever starts the thread can specify that only registered users be allowed to post to the thread. However just because you are registered does not mean that you are using your own name. While the editors have your information it is still not available to the general public .peter carpenter mistakenly stated that the ny times, sf chronicle, mercury news do not allow anonymous postings, however they use a similar system where posters are registered but allowed to post under an alias. I say do not fix what is not broken.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Walter

Having a discussion on the wisdom of anonymous postings is worthwhile, but I don't see why the thread should start off about the plane crash.

This is not just about one topic, but about any topic being discussed here.

Having read some of the discussion between Svatoid and Peter Carpenter I don't take any more notice of one over the other due to their identities. I am in agreement with Peter Carpenter, not because of his name or the experience that brings, but because what he says makes sense.

I think the real problem comes if you actually know the individual. If you agree or disagree with them is irrelevant, but if you happen to meet them and want to discuss the topic with them at a time which is not convenient it can cause problems. I used my first name when I first started posting and my identity was apparent to some of my acquaintances and that proved annoying when I was with my kids, or in the grocery store and didn't have the time to talk. For those type of reasons, I choose to stay anonymous now.

Some are afraid of stalking and that could be a real problem also.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 2, 2011 at 5:00 am

This is a discussion that has been had a number of times on this and the sister forum hosted by the Almanac. The discussion will not result in any agreement simply because those who post anonymously enjoy their free ride (no accountability and no responsibility) and they have no intention of giving up their sandbox.

It should be noted that seldom does anything that is written on these forum have any impact on the real world because the PA Weekly and Almanac forums have been so devalued by their lack of substantive thought and meaningful dialogue that almost no one in a position of responsibility even bothers to read them anymore. In my opinion this lack of substantive thought and meaningful dialogue is a direct result of the Weekly and Almanac forums allowing anonymous comments by unregistered users and also being unable to properly monitor and moderate these forums.

Here is how one poster stated it:

"It seems to me that most posters here have never had the experience of being made a fool of in public by unknown persons (in places other than the Almanac Town Square). It's happened to me before and caused me to leave the community in question.

I see the same situation here. Reviewing the utter chaos and casual use of character assassination on this list, I am loathe to get involved. Many have said "without anonymity I cannot post"... I can say the same - "with anonymity of other posters allowed, I do not feel safe and cannot post". Thus my voice is silenced - anonymous posters have more rights, freedoms and protections than those willing to stand up for their communities. It is far easier to tear down than it is to build."



The people who post on this forum anonymously do so, by their own admission, for the very reason that they wish to hide something (definition - 1. without any name acknowledged, as that of author, contributor, or the like: an anonymous letter to the editor; an anonymous donation.

2. of unknown name; whose name is withheld: an anonymous author.

3. lacking individuality, unique character, or distinction).

What exactly they wish to hide can only be guessed - it may be their name, their actual place of residence, their occupation, their experience or lack thereof, their otherwise known biases and conflicts of interest or the fact that they have also posted under numerous other noms de guerre. What these anonymous individuals opine must then be filtered though the lens which they themselves have created. In a discussion such as this one about the airport it is always helpful to be able to assess the knowledge base of the poster - which is difficult to do if we have no idea who they are or of their competency on the subject matter. Each reader must therefore use their own judgment in evaluating such postings.

However, when such anonymous posters then attack posters who have disclosed their true identity and base their attacks on who the known posters are, or where those known posters live, work or serve (all factors that are truly unknowable about an anonymous attacker) then they have, in my opinion, crossed the line from the permitted anonymity of this forum to cowardice. Others may see it differently, particularly if they too are anonymous and cherish the "safety" of anonymity.

Having been personally attacked and had my family attacked on these forums by anonymous posters, I no longer hesitate to label those who do so as the cowards which they are; as another poster so succinctly stated:

"It really comes down to up-bringing. The Jesuits always said if you can't sign your name to it, don't publish it. Some of these comments are simply from people with low self esteem and they need to grow up or grow a pair.....

Cowards the world over never change."


I will, from time to time, continue to post on these two forums but I will do so knowing that the words written in these forums seldom have impact in the real world and always being prepared to call out those who anonymously attack others rather than present facts and debate ideas.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2011 at 6:49 am

Sounds to me like Peter cannot seem to accept criticism of his postings and labels all anonymous posters as cowards, while engaging in the same kind of activity (personal attacks) that he claims to be so vehemently against.
For the record, I am a registered user of this forum--my identity is known to the editors, so I am no different than the posters that Peter referred to in another thread (claiming that the NY Times, SF Chronicle, SJ Mercury News etc do not allow anonymous posters).
I am not so thin-skinned that I cannot take criticism for my postings and I am not hyper sensitive that I claim each criticism is some kind of personal attack so that I can wallow in victimhood!
I find it interesting that Peter uses the Jesuits as a source for justification of his stance, considering the Catholic Church's recent history regarding keeping things secret and disobeying the law.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:03 am

Some people simply can't read:

I stated:"However, when such anonymous posters then attack posters who have disclosed their true identity and base their attacks on who the known posters are, or where those known posters live, work or serve (all factors that are truly unknowable about an anonymous attacker) then they have, in my opinion, crossed the line from the permitted anonymity of this forum to cowardice."

A response:"labels ALL anonymous posters as cowards"

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:30 am

Peter--I do not plan to get into another extended discussion with you.

However you state:
"Some people simply can't read:
I stated:"However, when such anonymous posters then attack posters who have disclosed their true identity and base their attacks on who the known posters are, or where those known posters live, work or serve (all factors that are truly unknowable about an anonymous attacker) then they have, in my opinion, crossed the line from the permitted anonymity of this forum to cowardice."
A response:"labels ALL anonymous posters as cowards""

Granted that is your statement on this thread. However on a previous thread:

Web Link

You stated:
"Anonymity is equivalent to cowardice because there is neither source credibility or accountability."

That quote from you pretty well sounds like you are labeling all anonymous posters as cowards, IMHO.

"You decide who to believe - as for me there is no reason to respond to individuals who either can't read or who refuse to acknowledge what they are capable of reading."

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:37 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:53 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:55 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Svatoid, Peter, could you two and I withhold further comment and let others carry the load here?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2011 at 7:57 am

No problem, Walter. Though I agree with Resident--you should have used a different name for this thread. But thanks for getting it started--it is a worthwhile topic to discuss


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Mar 2, 2011 at 10:33 am

Anonymous or not, it's irrelevant when Big Brother keeps censoring the postings.

Censoring that is often done anonymously - posts simple disappear without a trace, as if they never happened.

The bottom line is that you can't believe anything anyone says here, because you don't know if it is really what they said.





 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alfred E Newman
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 2, 2011 at 10:35 am

Alfred is a big fan of anonymous postings.

And of speaking of himself in the third person.

Not such a big fan of a thread getting closed to more than half the posters mid way through discussion, though. The Almanac has seen a decline in postings and views (imo, anecdotal, no facts) due to heavy handed censorship and closing "open" threads.

I'm sure, for example, Mad Magazine would rather advertise in an open PA Online environment over the declining Almanac, even if the same ownership.

Walter: thanks for reopening this semi-annual discussion.

And for Coming Out.

:o)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 2, 2011 at 11:06 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm

The significant decrease in postings on this forum which provide facts or informed opinion speaks for itself. This thread is a perfect example - every pertinent posting is followed by an attack rather than by an enlightened response. Gresham rules.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alfred E Newman
a resident of Atherton
on Mar 2, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Awww, Petey:

First - the observation was about the Almanac, not this, PA Online.

Second - the "attack" was on anyone who anoints themselves the arbiter of good vs bad posts. That would be a certain holier-than-thou poster, who occasionally gets posts censored, also (see above.)

There appears to be an Alfred's Law.

:o)

And lighten up, enjoy life a little. There's a lot of great opinions out in this great big world. I thank PA Online for allowing folks to share.

Even yours, Peter.

Alfred rules.

But PA Online rocks.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Mar 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Mar 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I asked for a discussion without Svatoid, Carpenter or myself.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Palo Parent
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Mar 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm

WEW: You do realize that you just broke your own rule just now?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Perspective
a resident of Meadow Park
on Mar 3, 2011 at 8:58 am

Web Link

Anonymous posters can be "outed", according to new ruling in Indiana.

Hmmm.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Sneak peek: Bradley's Fine Diner in Menlo Park
By Elena Kadvany | 5 comments | 3,456 views

Marriage Underachievers
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,695 views

Politics: Empty appeals to "innovation"
By Douglas Moran | 13 comments | 1,624 views

Best High Dives to Watch the Game
By Laura Stec | 5 comments | 1,358 views

It's Dog-O-Ween this Saturday!
By Cathy Kirkman | 2 comments | 877 views