Anonymous Commenters

Ever pick up Maxim magazine? It’s topical for men’s issues. Same concept. Not a limitation. Just topical relevance.

Originally posted as a comment by openminded.

Dear “openminded” (and other anonymous commenters):

You’re allowed to have an opposing viewpoint. In fact, I welcome it! But when you don’t use your real name, your comments hold no weight. If you believe in what you have to say (and I hope you do), stand behind your message. Don’t be afraid, I don’t bite. And I won’t allow other commenters to attack you for your views. I want to encourage discussion and your opinions matter just as much as anyone else’s.

I hope you come back to the blog, and I hope next time you have something to say you’ll say it loud and proud (and link back to your blog so we can all learn more about the way you see the world).

The real open-minded,

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  1. says

    Very good point! on the recent Garyv video he dealt with comments made by people who had opposing views, and the communication and interaction was awesome, and actually turned out for the better, because they were open about their opinions he was able to contact them and have good discussions/interaction.

    I am sure that it doesn't always work this way, but I think it is better to stand behind our opinions then to leave them out there without taking responsibility for what we are starting with our comments. If we are that concerned that we need to make a comment, then we should prove it by not making it an anonymous one.

    keep it up, really enjoying these recent posts

    Aaron I

  2. Anonymous Braveheart says

    I don't think that anonymous commenters' comments 'hold no weight'. It's like your new maps made using gmaps pedometer. You maintain a degree of anonymity by not disclosing actual locations. So would you say that the maps have no importance and hold no use, even for fun? Yes, they do give us quite an idea of how much you travel. If a commenter is anon, his comment must be given adequate time and importance, as much as you would have given to any other commenter saying the same thing. But rejection on the grounds of anonymity won't do.
    And no, it wasn't me. This is the first time I'm commenting on your blog/site.

  3. says

    I think anonymity serves many useful purposes and is a form of freedom of speech. Anonymity allows for things like 'leaks' and 'whistle blowing'. However, there is certainly less credibility given to such sources of information given that they generally aren't traceable to a source and thus subject to normal social means of determining credibility. I think it's a little heavy handed to say that anonymous comments hold no weight, but I'm definitely comfortable with saying they hold less weight.

    In my opinion the real problem with anonymous comments is that they didn't really come into existence to serve the more noble purposes above, but rather as the result of engineering and design failures. Anonymity is commonplace on the Internet because identity is not. The means to authenticate oneself are not universal, accessible and convenient. After a dozen years of mainstream Internet usage we only just seem to be making some headway but anonymity has taken on a life of its own – one that is probably here to stay and that I generally find to be more destructive than productive.

  4. says

    Over at, we have a default anonymous comment name of “Anonymous Patron”. Depending upon the number of anonymous commenters with no identification at all, the only way I can tell them apart is by comparing logs against the comments using Geo-IP tools. Without that, our anonymous commenters end up creating a thread that looks like the ravings of a mad man.

  5. says

    Some people also have a fear of being traceable on the web. I was an early participant in a wine forum that was recently setup and that decided to have a real names policy. A sizeable chunk of people objected to that for various reasons from working in a very conservative place where drinking was frowned upon to issues regarding divorces etc. While some of the reasons seemed farfetched to me, several of them had seen others hurt by having participation in a wine blog discovered. That kind of story has a chilling effect and leads people to be anonymous or to use pseudonyms everywhere even in places where there's no conceivable risk.

    I imagine that some people also don't want to live entirely in public – they want to maintain some level of separation between various facets of their lives.

  6. T says

    “But when you don’t use your real name, your comments hold no weight” — care to give any justification for this assertion? Or maybe the fact that you used your real name is justification enough?

    Words have meanings, and when you string them together they can form what are called “arguments”, which also have meanings. You can understand words without knowing who wrote them, and likewise you can evaluate an argument made by someone who's anonymous.

    You can infer something about the author by his decision to remain anonymous — perhaps he's a “coward” or something — but the text itself stands on its own. Would your blog lose all meaning if you took your name off its posts?

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