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Old 09-01-2013, 07:01 PM   #1
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Huffington Post Banning Anonymous Accounts

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In 2008 a gossip site called JuicyCampus.com became popular among Princeton students. I was serving at Princeton as Associate Dean of the Chapel and Religious Life at the time, and from what I understood, the site was a vehicle for anonymous rumor and gossip on college campuses. The predictable results were damaged reputations and sense of worth of students, and an atmosphere of suspicion and distrust among the university community.

The then-president of the student body, Connor Diemand-Yauman, and Thomas Dunne, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Students, developed an inspired response with a campaign called "Own What You Think" aimed at raising the level of interaction and conversation among the university community with t-shirts that read: "anonymity = cowardice."

Five years later, I still love this campaign and the crucial message of 'owning what we think.' The phrase has special resonance now as The Huffington Post is gradually moving away from anonymous comments.

Own What You Think: Why It's Great That HuffPost Is Getting Rid of Anonymous Comments | Paul Brandeis Raushenbush

I don't think this is a good idea and I fail to see how it will solve the trolling problem. Sounds to me like the mods there don't want to do their work.

I also think online bullying and harassing may rise because now people know who is really making the comments. They could also get their private information online and who knows what they'll do. This is another form of Big Brother to me.

I wonder if other websites will follow suit, and if so, then some people are going to be afraid of voicing their opinions online.
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:25 PM   #2
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Most of my classes in digital media have all focused on part of the necessity of getting rid of anonymous accounts. I think it's a good, possibly great idea.
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Old 09-01-2013, 08:24 PM   #3
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The moderators don't want to do their work? No, they don't want people to see awful, offensive comments for the brief period they are up. It reflects poorly on the website.
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Old 09-01-2013, 11:28 PM   #4
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The downside of Owning What You Think (in the truest sense of the phrase) is that people call your church.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:24 AM   #5
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The moderators don't want to do their work? No, they don't want people to see awful, offensive comments for the brief period they are up. It reflects poorly on the website.
That doesn't always happen. Usually when I make a comment on HuffPo, a message says my comment won't be shown until it is approved. So no, not all offensive comments appear briefly on the site. Some may slip the batch, and that's certainly a moderation issue.
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:50 AM   #6
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Unless you're posting from public different computers, or re-routing your IP address every time you post, even this place is watching you. If you're worried about big brother watching you because you provided the huffington post with your real name to respond to comments, don't give them your real name. I didn't see anything indicating that their "verification information" was going to be anything that could actually tie your comments to you.


I don't see how disabling anonymous comments prevent trolling/cyber bullying, it just cuts down on it as now trolls and Internet tough guys have to make up an account to be douches to people. It's going to stop the ones who use software to spam (think anything that requires you to enter some alphanumeric in addition to your username/password in order to "show us you're human" ), and others will be too lazy/not feel it worth the effort and take their trolling elsewhere. But they're not requiring you to provide your social security number to respond to a news article or anything. But there are plenty of places on the Internet where the names under which people troll can be tied much easier to an actual person: I'm thinking any sort of video game that requires a subscription.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:35 AM   #7
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I reckon this will stop some of the trolls/spam going on, as you put up a barrier between the lazy troll and your website. So if they have to register, they're more likely going back to tumblr to complain, rather than take the effort to sign up. Not that it'll happen with all the occasions, but it's at least something.
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Old 09-02-2013, 11:07 AM   #8
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I don't see how disabling anonymous comments prevent trolling/cyber bullying, it just cuts down on it as now trolls and Internet tough guys have to make up an account to be douches to people. It's going to stop the ones who use software to spam (think anything that requires you to enter some alphanumeric in addition to your username/password in order to "show us you're human" ), and others will be too lazy/not feel it worth the effort and take their trolling elsewhere. But they're not requiring you to provide your social security number to respond to a news article or anything. But there are plenty of places on the Internet where the names under which people troll can be tied much easier to an actual person: I'm thinking any sort of video game that requires a subscription.
I didn't say they would ask for our social security number. But there have been cases where people have used their real names (or just a first name and mentioned what city they lived in) on blogs or vlogs, and had wackos track down where they live and what their phone number was, and harass them that way. That's why I doubt this tactic will actually stop anything.

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I reckon this will stop some of the trolls/spam going on, as you put up a barrier between the lazy troll and your website. So if they have to register, they're more likely going back to tumblr to complain, rather than take the effort to sign up. Not that it'll happen with all the occasions, but it's at least something.
YouTube is trying to do the same thing, but the anonymous comments are still around, along with the cruel comments.

Maybe the whole Internet will do the same.

Is Interference next?
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Old 09-02-2013, 12:16 PM   #9
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I don't understand the appeal of comments sections on news sites at all in the first place. They're barely a step above YouTube comments. If I were in charge of a news organization I wouldn't have comments at all. There's plenty of media for people to discuss news without having to slog through the shithole that is an Internet comment section.
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Old 09-02-2013, 10:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by PhilsFan View Post
I don't understand the appeal of comments sections on news sites at all in the first place. They're barely a step above YouTube comments. If I were in charge of a news organization I wouldn't have comments at all. There's plenty of media for people to discuss news without having to slog through the shithole that is an Internet comment section.
True story.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:20 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Pearl View Post

I didn't say they would ask for our social security number. But there have been cases where people have used their real names (or just a first name and mentioned what city they lived in) on blogs or vlogs, and had wackos track down where they live and what their phone number was, and harass them that way. That's why I doubt this tactic will actually stop anything.

YouTube is trying to do the same thing, but the anonymous comments are still around, along with the cruel comments.

Maybe the whole Internet will do the same.

Is Interference next?
Don't use your real name, then. Chances are most people have put far more information about themselves out there than they think they have (I have no doubts that I have).

I didn't say you said anything about needing to give out your ssn. What I said was their verification is nothing as identifying as having to provide information like that, so feeling like big brother is watching you just because you have to register some kind of a name (and they're not going to know if it's really your name or a made up one) is superficial at best when they were most likely logging your IP at minimum already.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:30 AM   #12
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The downside of Owning What You Think (in the truest sense of the phrase) is that people call your church.
I don't know why people kept posting after this. I mean, thread over.
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Old 09-03-2013, 12:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilsFan View Post
I don't understand the appeal of comments sections on news sites at all in the first place. They're barely a step above YouTube comments. If I were in charge of a news organization I wouldn't have comments at all. There's plenty of media for people to discuss news without having to slog through the shithole that is an Internet comment section.
A million times this. I try not to scroll down once I've hit the end of news stories, just because of the garbage that can be read in comments. But it helps drive up hits, so I understand why they're there.

Some editors have said to me they are there for the public to get in touch with the author of an article to express their opinion, but shit, my email address is on most of my stories anyway, and anyone can take two seconds to look me up on Twitter or whatever.

I'd argue YouTube comments are better. At least some of them are funny.
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Old 09-03-2013, 01:03 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilsFan View Post
I don't understand the appeal of comments sections on news sites at all in the first place. They're barely a step above YouTube comments. If I were in charge of a news organization I wouldn't have comments at all. There's plenty of media for people to discuss news without having to slog through the shithole that is an Internet comment section.
Indeed. The only upside to news story comments is that they give you a palpable sense of how much racism, sexism, and whatever other kind of -ism you can imagine is still around.
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Old 09-03-2013, 06:26 AM   #15
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I'm a fan of the letters to the editor/online comments--partly for the amusement end/drama/absurdity, (not to mention the behind the scenes gossip that most often turns out not to be true, but sometimes is). But I read them also because there are sometimes well-thought-out comments that offer a different perspective or point out an error a reporter/columnist may have made or a point he or she may have missed. Sometimes the comments are more interesting than the article. I like give and take with news rather than passivity. Like anything else, the comments are easy enough to ignore.

I look to reporters for information, not necessarily expertise or interpretation (depends on the reporter). I look to columnists for opinion which by definition is inherently subjective and therefore ripe for differing opinion. I do see that the journalists on board don't much like the comments section.

I understand the thought behind dropping anonymity. You ought to own your own words. However, there are also cases when there is fear of backlash or other unwanted consequences even when posting with the best of intentions. But, as others have noted, you can create a persona for commentary just as you create a persona for here. You're not losing anonymity.

And at the very least, the comments give me a sense of what is out there--good and bad.
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