Sign your name, please

Today in class we talked a lot about comments lefts on news stories and blog posts. In many places on the Internet, you can post a comment online anonymously. From my own personal observations, I feel like most people don’t sign their name. I don’t understand this fear of truly representing yourself on the Internet. A lot of my friends know that this is a huge pet peeve of mine. I’m a columnist for The Huntington News, and week after week, there’s a long list of nasty comments left on the message boards. It’s gotten so bad, that out of pure principle, I don’t check them anymore.

I truly believe that if you have something to say, and you feel passionately enough about it that you need to leave a comment on the web, it is your responsibility to sign your name. Personally, I can’t take anonymous comments too seriously. They lose legitimacy when it’s signed by a pseudonym.

Click here to read an article posted on The New York Times website about how news sites are rethinking anonymous comments. Here’s an excerpt.

Anonymity is just the way things are done. It’s an accepted part of the Internet, but there’s no question that people hide behind anonymity to make vile or controversial comments,” said Arianna Huffington, a founder of The Huffington Post. “I feel that this is almost like an education process. As the rules of the road are changing and the Internet is growing up, the trend is away from anonymity.

With that said, I feel like people will always find a way signing their real name. Let’s be honest, it’s not too difficult to make up a name and a fake e-mail address. Who would go through all the trouble to do that, though, is an entirely different conversation I’ll leave for another time.

So, I ask of you, if you decide to leave a comment (and I encourage you to do so), please sign your name. Do it for me. Merci.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Sign your name, please

  1. The trend among Norwegians who put their comments online is definitely away from anonymity. I think it’s one of the effects of Facebook and Twitter: we focus on building our individual brand online because that will make it easier to be heard (and potentially hired sometimes too). An alternative is to have a well-known alias online so that even if your comments can’t be traced back to you, they can be traced back to your other comments and maybe your blog or twitter. However, there seems to be a consensus among Norwegian bloggers that if you are going to write anything controversial, then you need to sign your full name. Otherwise you’re just being cowardly. One very well-known, but anonymous, blogger posted her opinions on the Muhammad cartoons and then re-published one of these cartoons on her blog a few years back (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy). She was criticized for doing so anonymously, so she published her full name and address. She lost her job and her online anonymity, but she set a standard for Norwegian online debates. (And now she’s working as a journalist, so it turned out ok for her personally.)

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