Read & Respond week 10 – Comment Culture

Welcome to comment culture! We’ve been posting plenty of comments of our own, so you’ve got some familiarity with the process. Briggs (chapter 11) this week talks about building a digital audience, but what do we do with that audience when it starts responding? Let’s get right into it with the worst of the worst: YouTube comments. Watch this seemingly harmless (and adorable) clip of President Obama calming a crying baby. Scroll down a hair to the top comments. Now take a deep breath and wade into the rest of the comment thread – try to get through a few pages, if you can. Yikes. Why does something like this seem so familiar?

Comments are a part of today’s news. There are multiple cases of news organizations being sued for content appearing in their comments, as well as this 2010 story about a judge suing a newspaper for linking her name to her comments. Several news organizations are rethinking anonymous comments for exactly this reason. On the other side of the “NymWars” (warning: Wikipedia source), we’ve got the argument from commenting houses like Disqus that pseudonymous comments (e.g., BlogMastaB) actually tend to be better in quality! So what do you think? How important is it to connect individuals with their words?

Beyond expectation of privacy, to what extent should commenters be free to say what they like? Consider places like Youtube and Amazon, which boast some of the worst comments on the Internet (although Youtube has recently changed its policy); video of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech at one time had comments disabled “since many of them were hateful and racist.” The New York Times recently changed its comment policy to reward “trusted commenters” and “improve the community experience.” Take a look at Gawker’s comment policy, which requires commenters to audition and privileges the comments of “starred” commenters. Is this too restrictive, or do you think they’re on the right track?

There’s also the question of identity. All of you have your own usernames with which you post to different sites. You might use the same name at multiple sites (for example, I show up as either “Aaaaaargh” and “The Bob The” in most places I go), you might have different identities in different places, or you might be one of the dreaded unregistered users. Read this Jeff Jarvis post on the role of identity – it’s not as simple as we tend to treat it. The more you use a name, the more history that name develops, allowing those who’ve never met you in the flesh to nonetheless know something about you, or at least about your persona. Your online identity(s) may not be identical to who you are at home, but to what extent are you responsible for it?

Finally, an important message about trolls:

[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Vh80CYYrw]

What’s your identity (and do you only have one)? Are you a troll? How should comments run online – what would you like to see improved, and what should remain unregulated? Imagine a world where your group blog for this class is widely read (hey, it could happen) – how would you manage your comment section to freedom of speech with civility of discourse?

Remember to respond to these readings (including Briggs) in a comment to this post by noon on Monday, March 12. More importantly, come prepared to discuss these examples and, ideally, some of your own.

(Also, unrelated to comments, have a look at the #SWSWi tag on Twitter this week. There’s a number of sessions you might benefit from vicariously participating in – it’s just like being in Austin!)

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15 Responses to Read & Respond week 10 – Comment Culture

  1. The only identity other than my own name is the one I use for gaming. In the world of on-line gaming, I’m known as Like 50 Whales. I specifically tried to stay away from suggesting I was a girl, to avoid the hard-core gamers from either taking advantage of me or taking it easy on me (with added mockery, of course). Other than that, I use my mix and gmail accounts (sjcordonier@gmail.com) for e-mail, with my own name. And of course, I use my real name for Twitter and Facebook. And whenever I leave a comment on something online, I use some version of my real name, even if it’s just Sarah with a series of numbers after it.
    I am most certainly not a troll, but I’ve got a couple of buddies who find trolling in any form to be absolutely hilarious, so I’ve gotten pretty good at expecting where to find it. You know, like being wary of YouTube video descriptions that say, “Sorry about the bad sound quality. You’ll have to turn your speakers up as loud as they go.” Then you end up watching a video of nothing but horribly screeching audio and not at all the video content you thought you were going to watch.
    As far as commenting goes, I think anyone who’s willing to read somebody else’s words should be allowed to comment on them. But, I think it should be done with their real name. Honestly, I think that would eliminate a lot of the total, irrelevant nonsense comments that people post. To commenters, saying stupid things probably won’t be so funny knowing, that people know who you are. And with our group blog, as I said, I think anyone who’s willing to read what we post, should be permitted to have their opinion on the matter posted, as well. But, I would say that we reserve the right to not approve any comments that involve personal attacks, profanity, etc., (similarly to Gawker’s comment policy).

  2. Ben Scott

    I think it’s true that we all do have multiple identities. We do not act the same around our friends and family as we would our bosses or other authority figures. The anonymity of the internet also allows people to create another identity. When there are no consequences for what we say, we can say whatever we want. I think sometimes people post things anonymously just for the thrill of being racy, hateful, etc. because in the real world, they would never even dream of saying those things. I agree with Jeff Jarvis when he says, “Real identity has improved the tone and tenor of interaction online.” I have found that comment sections that require a name tend to contribute more to the conversation than trolling. I don’t think that making people verify accounts and names for comments would solve the problem completely, but I do think it’s a step in the right direction. I would want my commenters to have a name associated with their comment, and not just an handle. Because it is your blog, I feel you do have responsibility for what is on your page and if monitoring becomes too difficult for you then you should just turn them off completely, or stop blogging. For dealing with trolls, there’s a really simple method: Don’t feed the troll.

    I did like Gawker’s comment policy. Having an “audition” to be a commenter will definitely help them get meaningful comments. Briggs talks about the importance of being a good writer and analyzing everything you publish. This should be true for comments as well. Leaving good comments and having good blog posts is a sure way to build up your reader base.

  3. Matt Murphy says:

    Commenting on everything from news stories to YouTube videos to blog posts is now an important part of communication on the Internet. Overall, comments are seen as a way for readers to interact with posted content and offer opinions and suggestions (on an ideal level). It also seems that news organizations enjoy having comments enabled, because it helps drive traffic to the organization’s website, as readers like being able to offer their own take on issues (even if no one else really cares). This has also changed how journalism is practiced in theory, since before the Internet, news was a one-way medium – it was distributed, and people listened. There really wasn’t a way for the masses to interact and respond to the media, other than maybe time-consuming activities, like “Letters to the Editor.”
    However, as shown with the YouTube links, commenting isn’t always beneficial; in fact, commenting can get ridiculous. In a perfect world, readers could have constructive debate, but the majority of comments are pretty worthless (to me, at least). Even more is the issue of anonymity. On some websites, commenters can and do post derogatory messages, meant to irritate or instigate others. This seems to be especially true when commenters are permitted to not give a real name or even e-mail address, since being able to conceal one’s identity makes it more likely that an irresponsible comment will be produced.
    I have noticed that some sites, like CNN, now allow users to comment using Facebook, which provides a direct link to the commenter’s Facebook page. Although comments can still be extreme, I feel that comments tend to me more tame and insightful when compared with other websites.
    For myself, anytime I comment on something (which is rare), I always use my name and e-mail address. I try to use my voice the same way online, as in the real world , which is (trying) to speak more thoughtfully versus being rash. When we first set up our campus newspaper website in undergrad, we had a policy of monitoring/filtering all comments on the website (this may be different now though). I realize that with a lower traffic website like my undergrad newspaper, it’s much easier to monitor comments than for a higher-traffic newspaper, but giving readers a notice that the comments would be monitored probably deterred some people from posting “frivolous” comments.

  4. Anan says:

    I agree what the lawyer Grigoryan from the “Armenia case” said “media that instead of doing their job properly only make slanderous reports should not exist in democratic societies.” We should, which is also the ethic of being a journalist, avoid reporting and posting something that will insult, have reputation-damage on others or reveal other’s personal and contact information without their permission. It’s funny to say “on the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”, but that’s true. Anonyms or pseudonyms on Internet allow users to revel in their power to express their opinions while keeping their identities concealed.

    There is a saying in China that “people tell lies using their real names in reality, but tell the truth using pseudonyms on Internet.” We can comment and post everything we want regardless the damages to ourselves or others. That definitely brought lots of problems, thus many news sites or social networking sites changed or are changing their commenting rules. Actually in most Chinese social networking sites, if your comment contains some certain “sensitive” words, your comment can’t be showed and you’ll get a message “You’re trying to saying something too sensitive or against the regulations” on your screen. Even if you successfully post them online, the administrators of the websites have the right to delete your comments or posts.

    I have two identities, and one is my real name, the other one has nothing to do with my real name. I believe even the pseudonym can reveal my persona and my personal information. I’m always commenting properly, and afraid of revealing my personal information. Briggs tells us how to both write and comment properly online which can grow our audience in either way. Personally, I like the editor-moderate way of commenting. I know that would be labor-intensive for editors, but audience won’t like to read or comment on a blog with lots of spam or nonsense comments.

  5. erinfitzi says:

    I wish people didn’t have different identities online. There’s only one place on the internet that I’ve seen that benefits from identities though, and that’s Tumblr. I’ve gotten nice messages from “anons” and I sometimes give them because I’m shy. I hate when people/thing/ideas are ripped apart on comments, but I understand that it’s important to allow these kinds of comments. I feel like every commentor thinks they’re an expert, but I’m sure that’s not the case. I’ve never commented on any sort of website. Not sure if it’s because I’m a journalist or that I don’t care to share my opinion in that way. (I am here obviously because the comment calls for it) I can’t validate that my opinion is any more “right” than theirs is wrong. I just don’t see the point in going back and forth on something.
    Talking about identities, I think about the movie Catfish, where one person from middle-of-nowhere Michigan and she created like a whole world of online characters that she played. One of her younger characters became friends with a guy and he found out that she wasn’t real. He wasn’t mad, in fact, he still was friends with her. It was kind of weird but she was trying to escape her real life that was stressful. I’m not saying every person commenting is trying to be a different person, but I’m sure that people do it for enjoyment and to express their feelings/opinions.
    Back to comments: It’s a pain to try and regulate them. At least the system we have at the DA, as we have college publisher which typically blocks “bad words.” We usually see what’s going out of control and try to watch what we can. Ideally, I think it’s important for reporters to moderate their own comments and I wish that was the way we could do it. I feel like the news audience gets different comments than the YouTube/Amazon variety. I think making people have emails or accounts is smart for like promotion/advertising, as it’s going to push the reader to come back to that site again, and they can’t be anonymous, which could be a drawback. I would prefer this method as I kind of feel that if you’re comfortable enough to put stuff online, put your name on it. Journalists can’t write a story with no name on it, why should commentors comment without names on them?

  6. bre7714 says:

    I do feel that anonymity has a place online, as Jeff Jarvis said. In a way, the ability to be anonymous protects freedom of speech in that people who have legitimate things to say don’t have to worry about sharing their opinions on controversial issues because there won’t be an effect on their lives off-line. I think this aspect of commenting online needs to be protected, especially considering the important role anonymity has played- just consider what Jarvis said about how it protected the speech of Chinese dissidents, Iranian protestors and corporate whistleblowers.
    As for trolling, I compare the issue to the PIPA-type laws that were going to give the government more control over content sharing online. Those laws are attempting to prevent information piracy, but at a high cost to internet users everywhere. It was a terrible idea that would have had little effect on piracy and massive consequences for everyone else. In this case, I think there will still be trolling despite anti-anonymity rules put in place by individual sites. However, it would be at a high-cost to users who might fear backlash from people they know.
    I am definitely not a troll and I think people who enjoy trolling should really try to get a hobby instead of mucking up the internet. Really, is your life so pathetic and boring that trolling is the only source of fun you have? My identity is mainly universal with most places I visit online, whether I am anonymous or named. However, I may express myself more thoroughly under an anonymous name as opposed to my actual name. It’s not out of cowardice, I simply don’t want to complicate relationships I have with certain people in my life who are easily offended, highly religious, etc.
    I do like the idea of what some sites are doing with a ranking system to reward users who provide legitimate and helpful comments. I would like a similar system in place for my group blog to keep out the trolls as much as possible. However, I want to point out that dedicated trolls might mess with that as well.

  7. In our readings, Briggs talks about the importance of keeping track of traffic, measuring it, and basically marketing yourself. He makes a great point when he asks, “If journalists produce great stories but no one reads them, how can news survive?” Unfortunately, I think we all know that answer is no. And with new technologies, not only do people have the capability of reading them, but they also have the ability to instantly interact with the article, through comments.

    In my response last week, I address anonymous comments because they are sort of a hot-button issue with me. It’s sad to see people have the ability to turn something as simple as the president making a baby stop crying into some political argument. Having that false sense of protection allows people to run rampant.

    I have a lot of experience with anonymous comments when I worked at the student paper on campus. We had just revamped our website and were getting more comments than ever. Half the time, the comments would be about the actual subject. But the other half were reserved for insults to the author or people in the story, etc. It’s quite disheartening, actually – to see something you worked on for 12 hours previously to be ripped apart in a sentence or two, by someone who was too cowardly to attach their real name to the comment. I think having the person’s name attached to the comment gives it more gravity, more substance, and I think it’s necessary in order to keep moderating comments from getting more important than delivering content.

    I like how on Gawker’s commenting policy, they state “The comment system is invitation-only because our editors want to spend more time providing new content and less time moderating comment threads.” I love this. I think they’re on the right track.

    I think attaching a person’s name will help eliminate the questions regarding what they can and cannot post. I think that is one solid hurdle that would be overcome. Beyond that, I think abiding by regular freedoms of speech should be in place on the web, as well. The Internet should not be an avenue for people to enjoy complete anonymity. You don’t get that in real life, and I don’t think you should get that on the internet. There are always repercussions for your actions, and if they are not monitored online, I think that gives them a false sense that they can act recklessly elsewhere, too.

    I feel like I may have more than one identity, but not intentionally. I feel like sometimes I’m known from Twitter, but other times, I feel like I’m known from my blog. I’m not a troll at all – who has time for that? I like Gawker’s idea of commenting being a privilege – not a right. I don’t think anything should be unregulated – it leads to lawsuits, people getting hurt, etc. Once at the DA, we had someone publish an anonymous source’s contact information in a comment, which created lots of hate mail for that person. And it could’ve been worse. Luckily we caught it in time. I think a general comment policy for our group blog would basically ask for those participating to remain on subject, refrain from using derogatory language and provide input, rather than insults.

    But, of course, that would be if we were living in a perfect world.

  8. Briggs said in the chapter that you should try to analyze the things that you’re writing before it gets published to make sure that it brings something to the table and can add to the overall discussion of what’s going on with the audience that you’re trying to reach. I think that’s some advice that we can use when we’re commenting on posts almost as much as we use when we actually write something.

    The great thing about commenting is that, when it’s done the right way, it can be so great to get conversation started between the writer and the people who read their work. It’s the reason I love Twitter so much … I can post a link to a story and will almost instantly get two or three people replying to me saying what they think and, just like that, we’ve been able to start a good, meaningful conversation about something. But then you have your trolls who will basically just do whatever they can to try to make you look bad and just be an ass in general.

    And that’s where moderating comes into play. While I think places like Gawker go a little over the line with making you “audition” to be allowed to comment, I do believe that it’s an important thing to be able to have a way of sorting out the good comments from the not-so-good ones. The easiest way of this, I think, would be to just do it yourself. This works especially well when you’re just starting out and are starting to build your readership up a little bit, but it would obviously get harder to do by yourself as you continue gaining notoriety and more readers.

    As for identities, I’ve been trying for a long time now to keep everything close to being my real name. In some cases, like on WordPress or GMail, I use my full name and in others, like Twitter and Facebook, it’s Carvelli3. I feel like by doing this you help almost brand yourself in a way. If people are on message boards or on Twitter or anything like that and they see Carvelli3 pop up on the screen, I want it to be at a point where when they see that name, they know what they’re going to get and hopefully they start seeing that as a reliable source of information.

    I personally don’t see any use now in trying to hide your identity, especially in this business. It seems like the people who are the best are the ones who put themselves out there the best, and by hiding under a pseudonym, I don’t really know how well you can do that.

  9. As Dr. Britten pointed out, even our anonymous identities become less anonymous as we trot out the same user names in multiple communities. Though we may never fully admit who we are in any given post or update, an experienced internet sleuth could likely trace an “anonymous” username back to a Facebook identity. It happens in communities like 4chan and Reddit all the time (normally as part of a witch hunt of sorts). People do this to emails, to usernames, to IP addresses, and even to gamer tags. The internet is so entrenched in our daily lives that is increasingly difficult to maintain separate identities, even if we try.

    Jeff Jarvis agrees with this to a point. He states that our identities, public and private, are beginning to blur because of the internet, and this has caused some controversy. While it’s unfortunate that some people are still losing their jobs over photos of drinking, I no longer feel badly about it. It’s common knowledge that you should keep a clean profile, and it’s your fault if you don’t protect yourself. I don’t necessarily agree with employers behaving this way, but that’s another argument. The fact remains that your Facebook is a public presence, even if you do your best to keep it private. The internet is a public place. Get used to it.

    Knowing that attempting to remain anonymous is futile in the long run and knowing that your online presence is more or less public, it makes sense to behave accordingly, which may be why the Disqus data suggests that pseudonyms actually produce better quality comments. Obvious concerns with their methodology and content analysis strategies aside, it would be interesting to see how many of the pseudonyms are true pseudonyms, meaning that they are 100% anonymous and not self-assigned internet nicknames that a user goes by in multiple online communities (making it not that anonymous at all). A pseudonym does not equal true anonymity; that’s not how the internet works.

    On that note, it’s been my experience that true anonymity is by far the greatest asset to trolls and to internet… jerks (substitute your favorite expletive here). I stopped wearing a headset on Xbox Live because of this, and it’s likely the reason that many of the YouTube comments are so atrociously bad. Five minutes, 16 complete strangers that will likely never interact again, headsets, and a highly competitive shooter? Oh, and no consequences for inappropriate behavior? Let the trolling begin. Note: I have seen a few forum posts where angry gamers have tracked down the Facebook accounts behind particularly malicious trolls, so anonymity is not secure there either.

    To me, eliminating anonymity and restricting comments in some way (even if that restriction is simply requiring a Facebook log in rather than a pseudonym) is well worth the risk of losing traffic. I am undecided on whether I like Gawker’s or the NYT’s comment policies, but I agree with their philosophy: more focus on content and less focus on moderating comments. On my blog, I have seen a drop in commenting since I added the Facebook-only log in, but I have had no trolls. My traffic has been steadily increasing, so people are reading my writing, which would make Briggs happy, but it is also a concern that my community is not as engaged.

    I am going to ride it out and give the fly wheel some time to pick up momentum. If I can keep the Xbox kiddies away, I am okay with a slower build toward an active, engaged community.

  10. Mary Power says:

    Commenting culture is a hard topic to determine right or wrong in. With things like the Obama video it is easy to see where anonymity brings peoples worst natures out. But there were also comments that instigated discussion, which is a wonderful thing about the Internet.
    Gawker’s policy seems mature and open; the encouragement of anonymity is an interesting addition to its need to approve comments and requirement of positive information and adding to the conversation. But it brings on the question of how frequently people are willing to really put forth research and effort if they are unsure they will be rewarded by online publishing. Gawker’s lack of instant gratification might deter some potential commenter’s who would positively contribute.
    Even if you do not use your birth name you are responsible for your online identity. How you present yourself in pubic may differ from who you are in private, but it is how you have chosen to represent yourself. Giving out a piece of your personality is your choice and one that shouldn’t be considered lightly.
    This brings me to Trolls- I know a troll, someone who was recently removed from facebook because of their activities. While a seemingly nice guy in real life, though a little strange, once he was online (and even with his legal name) he seemed to lose all sense of human decency. It was disgusting to watch and disheartening. I’m not sorry I no longer see his facebook posts or comments but I fear for whatever online forum or social media community he chooses to bring that poison to next.
    My online identity is mixed with professional and personal accounts. The amount of passwords and usernames I have is ridiculous and I should probably write them all down somewhere incase some sort of accident would befall me. But I am not a huge commenter; I understand their usefulness and appreciate others but generally steer clear of commenting. In a world where our group blog was popular I’d suppose I would consider anonymous comments until things like trolls came around and made the site less informative; and then measures would be taken. I suppose I like a less strict version of Gawker’s rules; anonymity is allowed but comments must be approved before they are posted.
    In response to Briggs Chapter 11, I want to talk about the lack of video content that comes up within a news organizations web search. I have seen this problem on multiple occasions and as a broadcast student it hits home. Video content brings visuals and information and on the Internet it is a powerful tool because of the length it can be. There is no longer that flash on the nightly news of a 1:30 story that runs once and is forgotten; now it can be posted online and reviewed for information. Interviews can be replayed; content can be made more in-depth and longer. The lack of attention to this will hopefully be confronted in the near future but even in the book it received less attention than things like social media and web headlines.

  11. Joey Simson says:

    Comments have unquestionably become a huge element of online blogs and websites. It seems that there is a fine line to be draw that can establish a border between what is acceptable and what is inappropriate.

    I think it is very important to connect individuals to their work. There is no point in having comments out in the open and not having an identity as to the source of where they derived. Gawker’s comment policy appears to be a worthy attempt to quell or diminish the existence of disrespectful comments, but the idea is too drastic and attempts to add too much of a firewall from the freedom of commenting. No doubt, a proper way of filtering comments needs to be developed, but Gawker’s seems like too heavy of an idea.

    Jeff Jarvis proves a good point with his post. We all are responsible for our identity, no matter how many personas we may choose to pose as. I believe that if you tend to comment a lot then you should refrain from using a consistent username and maybe switch it up from time to time, so that you can avoid attracting a following. Or, for that matter, people slowly knowing more about you. If you want that, then create a personal blog to hang out all your laundry. Your favorite chocolates, gumdrops, skittle flavors, and such things.

    I’m the type of person that prefers to remain in the shadows of the blog world, with little attention brought to my opinions, but if my blog were to gather numerous attention and comments I would have to consider how I would manage the comments. I would allow any comments that did not threaten or create too much unruliness. If a person chooses to be disrespectful to others, or insult normal human behavior, then it doesn’t deserve to be displayed.

  12. greerhughes says:

    Generally, I think commenting culture should reflect the rules of free speech. I’m not big on censorship. I know that things people sometimes don’t exactly have the nicest things to say, they still have the right to say it. Websites can choose to not allow online commenting, but I think that would be a major setback for both news and commerce sights. I’ve spent a stupid amount of money on music and books from Amazon based on reviews (and NOT bought things from them based on reviews).

    I LOVE Gawker. I think most things things they discuss are hilarious. It’s an interesting concept to “audition” to be an online commenter, but the website gets tons of hits on a daily basis. And to think about it this way, you have to “audition” for any job you apply for.

    I do have an online identity, but it’s pretty minimal. I’m on Twitter under my real name which may or may not be a problem. My main concern with using my real name is that a future employer could look me up very easily. When I started reading that companies were looking at online profiles of possible future employees, I had to make a decision. Do I change my name and tweet under a pseudonym so I can curse and be vulgar and complain about the government or what ever other things might make someone not want to hire me? OR do I can keep my name, tone down the inappropriateness and start to build my own personal brand that highlights my knowledge of the media, art, literature, and so on, so I chose the latter. I want future employers to see what kind of things I put out there. I’ve been on Twitter since 2008 and have put a lot of time and energy (although I can always do MORE) to build my own personal brand… But I don’t want to talk too much about this because I will be covering some of these things in my presentation next week! Facebook is another thing. I don’t update often, am not friends with ANYONE I work with and hide most people I went to high school with from my newsfeed. And no, I am not a troll. In any sense of the word.

    Other than Twitter, I’m generally a lurker. But if were to comment online, I would probably use my own name, because whatever I say is part of my identity. And if I have something to hide, I just won’t say it. According to Briggs, this could be a bad thing – because I’m not drawing anyone to my online identity. It makes a lot of sense, I’ve just never thought of that until now. Maybe I should consider putting out there a little more on sites like Reddit (where I lurk). I can always talk more about Walking Dead and it’s even more fun when you can talk about it with other Walking Dead fans.

  13. mwlfrd says:

    I feel that attaching a person’s identity to their comment is important because they should be responsible enough to care what they post. I think if people lost the feeling of being anonymous, they would think before they post comments that are offensive or posted just to cause an argument.

    As for myself, I usually keep the same username and identity across the Internet and think that’s best. You should always be yourself and not pose as anyone that you’re not, that’s how I fell about it. If people were required to only have one identity online I think they would be more careful about what they post and say to other people.

    As far as managing a comment section; that could be a huge challenge. Many time things that a minority find offensive are still left online and not taken down. Yet sometimes, things that aren’t offensive to many are taken down and cause an uproar about first amendment rights. I think maybe the amount of feedback that is given by viewers should be considered for the most part when deciding what should be removed or left online. If a huge majority thinks it should be taken down, then it probably should be. In Briggs Chapter 11, it’s talked about how certain journalism groups are beginning to document who is responsible for each part of a publication, attaching their name to that information and being able to know who was responsible for it if it causes problems or whatnot. I think this is probably a good idea and I can see it happening more in the future.

  14. Ali Young says:

    I have a few identities other than my own name that I use to sign onto facebook or twitter but I’ve had them for years. In the world of social networking, I feel like it’s important to create a username that’s not too far from your own name, but not to telling either. For instance, my name for twitter is ayoungnewsgirl. I don’t allow people to follow me that I don’t know so the fact that my name is ali young and I’m a journalism student makes sense why I would want that as a username. Other than that, my mix account was created for me as syoung17 so I’ve used that for bank account information or maybe a website that I never plan on going back to again. I recently created a gmail account and stuck with ayoungnewsgirl as my username because it’s catchy and still includes my name. Therefore, when I leave a comment online somewhere, it still includes a variation of my name.
    When you make a comment on a website or another person’s page, I think people should be able to know who you are. As stated earlier, I wouldn’t be too forward with my personal information, but I would stick to something that represents your identity in some way. Sustaining your identity in the world of social networking is crucial because it’s become such a popular form of communication. I think it would exclude a lot of people from saying negative things on a post if they weren’t always known as “anonymous.” As far as our group blog is concerned, i think people should be able to post a comment or have an opinion because it gives the writer feedback, and lets the reader know that they have some kind of voice. I like to engage in a conversation so give and take is more important rather than just retaining information. With that being said, I would have the right to remove any inappropriate comments or profanity being used on the page. I will not be publicly disrespected and I don’t think anyone else should be either.

  15. thecoalfist says:

    For the first time in this class (and beyond), I don’t know where I stand on this issue. I see both sides of the story, and I legitimately have no strong feelings either way (anonymity/no anonymity).

    I think the reason why this is true is because I’ve seen each executed brilliantly. Sometimes an anonymous comment will bring something to the table and add to the conversation in a way that the person may not have wanted to otherwise. This may be because his/her views are controversial, or maybe said person is just normally too shy to speak out. Briggs says that the key element to blogging and online communication in general is to add to the conversation (a point that Dr. Britten has really honed in on as well), and I think if you have to be anonymous to do so, then that should be OK.

    I really don’t think I have to delve into the flip-side of this; we saw the Obama clip and many more examples of times when anonymity can lead to pure destruction. I really can’t say anything that isn’t already blatantly obvious, so I won’t. The things people will say/do when no consequences are attached are sickening.

    Personally (and this is where my problem lies because, as I mentioned, some people need the anonymity ton contribute), I like having an identity attached to one’s comments. I think this causes the user to be more responsible and really think about what he/she is about to say.

    Twitter is a great example of this. Athletes, celebrities, etc. are constantly under the proverbial microscope on Twitter and some (NSFW) just go too far and get punished.

    But I like that. If you mess up, you pay for it and, usually, you don’t do it again (although some people seem to just love being outrageous on Twitter).

    Gawker’s idea of an “audition” is great, but if you continue to read on in their comment policy, it still seems relatively easy to get away with being anonymous. Granted, they will ban you for being excessively brash, but at that point the damage is done.

    What this all boils down to, I think, is that we all have different identities, whether we realize it or not. The degree to which these identities differ from our “true” self is what is interesting. Personally, I’m not an Internet tough guy, but if you are, more power to you.

    I’ll just ignore you.

    And that, I think is the best way to deal with trolls, tough guys and general d-bags. Just ignore them. They want you to engage, so why would you play their game? It’s human nature to want to defend your own ideas and values, but you have to pick your battles wisely, and going against a troll is never wise, no matter how seemingly worthy the cause.

    I really think that is the only feasible solution. Trolls will be trolls, what we can change is how we react to them. A great conversation via commenting is a beautiful thing, but we have to understand when it is advantageous to respond and when it’s simply a losing battle. Commenting culture is still relatively new, so I think we’ll see wiser and more responsible decisions made as we move forward.

    Until then, please don’t feed the trolls.

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