Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Few More Good Thoughts on Anonymous Comments

Blog comments as football game trash-talking is a great piece by Tom Sherman...he's noticed a few things about anonymous comments I'd like to pass along(btw, these points are additions to Amy Gahran's Top 10 Reasons Why Blogs are Awkward Conversation Tools):

Anonymous commenting.
Not necessarily a bad thing, but makes for a lot of "one and done" visits to your website with potentially inflammatory comments. At least that's the kind of stuff I get!

Masquerading as other people.
You can use a central authentication system like TypeKey, but that will cut down on the conversation. (On second thought, that might be a good thing.)

No standard for HTML or formatting.
This creates a lot of confusing about what's allowed, what's not allowed, and how to format things. It makes the process much less efficient and potentially frustrating.

Moderation by one person as opposed to a community.
If you piss him/her off, your comments can be deleted or modifed. There are no set standards, and the blog is usually run on a whim.

Do people care about the conversation?
Oftentimes, folks who leave a comment are directing their feedback at the author. It could just as well be in an email. They don't care whether other commenters reply or not.

Thanks, Tom , for helping me sort an anonymous problem out

In regards to my anonymous commenter in the preceeding post, I was able to trace back, thru my stats, that it's a troll. Someone went thru a heck of alot of trouble to read a heck of a lot about me in order to push some buttons. I'll maintain that if this person wasn't a troll, he/she would let me know directly how he/she felt, probably via email.

Esp. if it was a gentleman who truly felt the need to mentor and be of help.

Trolling is as curious a psychological phenomenon as snarky blogs. Think about it: the most popular snarky blogs are, more often than not, anonymous--not pseudonymous where you might be able to find a thing or two out about the person--but totally anonymous. I think of blogs like Snappy the Clam and Miss Snark. It's a very odd thing that we don't mind when someone is anonymous and says something negative, but that some folks feel a sense of self-righteous indignation when the person is transparent and says something negative. There is a need to scold and to correct. It's one thing when the person correcting and scolding is transparent--odder, though, is the anonymous person's self-righteous need to scold and correct.

If we think about it, an anonymous scolding kind of amouts to very little other than a power-play between the two people involved.

I am remembering an old phrase from my newsgroup/forum days: "Don't feed the Trolls."

And a new one in the blogosphere: "Don't even give them access."

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