Monday, May 28, 2007

Anonymity n@

As I have run round electronically and commented this Memorial Day, I have noticed that a couple of blogs don’t allow anonymous comments. The irony here exists on several levels.

Actually a blog like Jonathan Potts’ Conversation has a certain right, he and Chris Briem have made it clear who they are. Of course, commenter’s merely have to choose a handle on, so the no anonymous rule is more of an inconvenience than anything else. But those commenters' that do choose handles and, even more, have the handles linked to a blog are to be commended. They are far more willing to be transparent or at least risk something in the Burghosphere than the legions of anonymous commenters’. But except for Jonathan, Chris, maybe Bram and (mostly) me (and in a weird way the estimable Matt H), we are all anonymous in this political corner of the Burghosphere (I’m sure there are blogs I haven’t stumbled onto yet). The handles we choose can persist, as far as I know. As far as I know my spelling of ”edheath” is protected by a password and unique in the blogging world. But really anyone could link to Cognitive Dissonance, and try a variation of edheath in a silly attempt to be me. On second thought, I can’t see anyone bothering when I am inclined to say things like the definition and defining of “pedantic” could be said to be the act of being pedantic.

Sorry. Anyway, I have commented twice recently on a related subject on different burghospehre blogs. There has been a fair amount recently in the Burghosphere of “is that you, Joe” or “quiet down, Joe Smith, Bill Jones gave you your Golgafrinchan B-Ark job and this is how repay him?” (, or “Who are you, Lord Kitchner, to say who should serve on the Soylent Green distribution committee”. Of course, there is no way to know who any commenter or even most posters are, and lots of the usual and tiring denials. The point I have been trying to make in these comments is the pointlessness of actually trying to identify anyone, because it really isn’t possible.

But I think you do have a right to wonder about the agenda of some blogs. I think we all know the agenda of two PJ’s is to bring down the administration of President Bush, in order for the terrorists to win, because they think those burkahs are really rad. I would suggest, dear reader, that you apply your own judgment to what you think your favorite anonymous’ blogs’ agenda might be. You should consider it like your favorite newspaper, which we know can have a bias, but be mindful of the differences between newspapers and blogs. After all, a newspaper has reporters and editors, people you can reach out and touch. Now, newspaper editorials are often anonymous, but also often reference stories done by reporters. You can tell the bias of an editorial board based on what it chooses to comment on and what stories it references. So too with blogs, I would encourage readers to think of them as anonymous editorial boards, with possible biases. It’s worse if blogs try to release original news (which they rarely do around here), but in any I would encourage readers not to take anything said on a blog for granted. I welcome skepticism on my blog, no matter how irritating I find it (safe for me to say anyway, given my tiny readership).

I’ve always thought of my blog as my only chance to write a continuous series of letters to the editor. After all, the PG only prints four letters a year from any given letter writer (damnit). I used to resort to writing to the Trib, but this is more fun (and safe, no one actually reads this). Reading other blogs is fun too, even if I do get a strong sense of Shakespeare’s sound and fury line; anonymous bloggers seemingly whispering innuendos about public figures and then being criticized by other masked men and women.

So … if you liked Mystery Science Theatre 3000, you’ll like Riff Trax. (that came out of no-where… well, several hours passed and I sat down again at the computer, tightened the editing a bit, and decided I was bored with this post). Actually, I imagine you can NetFlix a lot of MST3000 (hold on while I bop over to … (click, tap ..sorry, couldn’t resist). Yep, lot of MST3000.

So … be skeptical but not silly in your blog commenting. Who cares who Amber is; was the last comment coherent? Talk about the words, not the anonymous person. And get a handle and use it. It’s too much trouble having to tie a ribbon on you anonymous commenter’s.


Jonathan Potts said...

By the way, I originally banned anonymous comments because I incorrectly believed at the time that it would stop spammers. (This was before the word verification tests became available at Blogger.) I had no illusions that it would instill accountability or decorum in my commentators.

EdHeath said...

Drat! My illusion of irony doesn't stand the test of time, or something like that. Do you plan to open up to anonymous commenters? I don't think I would, if I were you.

Bram Reichbaum said...

"maybe" Bram? I'm Bram Reichbaum. I'm in the phonebook.

I originally chose the Dr. Claw picture because 1) I had no pictures of me that I liked and 2) I was a little weirded out by the thought of being recognized on the street.

However, like Daveyvoe of 2PJs, I plan on using my City Paper picture sometime soon, as soon as I convert it to a format that I can open and know how to scale down from mammoth size.

EdHeath said...

My apologies Bram, I thought there was a chance you were using an inventive sort of pseudonym. D'oh!

jtogyer said...

This is my real name, too. You don't think I'd make up a pseduo ... psoude ... pseudy ... pen name like this, would I?