Reuters Dumps Anonymous Comments: Throwing Out A Bunch Of Babies With The Bathwater?

from the it's-not-the-anonymity dept

This probably isn't a surprise. Lots of traditional journalism folks have been busy slamming "anonymous" commenters online, often falsely blaming them for things they did not do. Earlier this year, we pointed to an excellent defense of anonymous commenting, by the Washington Post's Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, with the key line being:
For every noxious comment, many more are astute and stimulating. Anonymity provides necessary protection for serious commenters whose jobs or personal circumstances preclude identifying themselves. And even belligerent anonymous comments often reflect genuine passion that should be heard.
We've seen it here. We've always allowed anonymous commenters, even as we've continually added more and more features to make it worthwhile to identify yourself. And yet, if people do want to be anonymous, we're fine with that. To be honest, in over a decade of doing this, I've really seen no difference in either the level of "bad" or "good" comments from anonymous commenters as I have from named commenters. We have anonymous commenters who are brilliant, insightful, well-informed and add to the discussion all the time. In fact, with a few of them, I can even recognize that they're the "same" commenters via their writing style (even as some of them are totally anonymous, via proxies). At the same time, some of the commenters who freely admit who they are, can be some of the rudest, most obnoxious and uninformed commenters around. And, of course, the reverse is true as well. Certainly there are plenty of anonymous clueless commenters and plenty of insightful named commenters. The point is that the anonymity is the wrong thing to blame. We've seen no indication that anonymity leads to a higher level of clueless comments.

Unfortunately, however, some have decided to go in a different direction. Reuters is apparently now the latest to ban anonymous comments on their site. This is unfortunate, as among the big news providers out there, Reuters often seemed more "aware" of how to best embrace the internet, but this move seems like it's a mistake. It won't stop snide comments, but they may lose many valuable community members who, for whatever reason, did not have enough incentive to reveal who they were.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:12am

    Hey! I'm not uninformed! :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:54am

    Re:

    And I'm not opinionated.

    ; P

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:03am

    Anonymous Cowards have nothing to contribute.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:15am

    Anon. comments are easy, and may tend to be more honest and impulsive. I reckon it's your old 'mental transaction cost' thing Mike - anon comments have a lower cost, and to the naive may seem like they won't be linked to you... which is certainly not true these days.

     

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  5.  
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    Eric Barrett, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:15am

    I guess this means that Reuters will stop using anonymous sources in their stories then. I shall wait with bated breath.

     

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  6.  
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    Spectere (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:18am

    Being forced to register dissuades me from commenting. Even if I have something valuable to add to the conversation I find that I'd rather not spend one minute typing in my info, three minutes to figure out the captcha, and five minutes waiting for a confirmation e-mail to drop in my inbox. All for a site that I'm only going to log into once.

    The option for registration is nice, especially if you go to a site often and it provides additional benefits (even confirmed identity) but mandatory registrations are annoying. I like just being able to put in my name, typing in my message, and clicking "submit." It also keeps me going to the site (hello, ad revenue?) because I typically pop back in every once in a while to see if anyone replied to my comment.

    For me it's not really even about anonymity, though the option is nice. Gravatars are used by so many blogs nowadays that you can be reasonably sure that a picture of Shadow the Hedgehog represents me. I just like not having to fart around with authentication and user accounts. I do enough of that at work.

     

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  7.  
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    Hulser (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:23am

    Big media obliges

    In banning anonymous comments, Reuters is just being consistant with the main stream media's view of the public. Blogs are bad because, unless you went to a prestigious journalism school, you're not responsible enough to do "our" work. Anonymous comments are bad because you're not mature enough to judge what you're reading.

    The main stream media has always had a condescending form of noblesse oblige which justifies their view that only they are worthy enough to feed you the truth.

     

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  8.  
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    jupiterkansas (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    Re: Big media obliges

    It's more likely that the know what they're feeding you isn't the truth, and they don't want to be called out on it.

     

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  9.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:54am

    What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    Very little to Reuters: they actually dig up news and don't rely on forum-ish readers. So I think they make the right choice in hoping to reduce *trivial* commenting.

    However, most of such problems could and should be handled mechanically as I advised in:
    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100412/1526158979.shtml

    The most important point is to minimize one-liners as adding no substance, and definitely so if directed ad hom. The "social mores" of even a relatively decorous forum such as here doesn't prevent one-liner ad hom attacks. -- It's not the attacks as such that annoy me, it's the *multiplicity* of them that obscure better comments, and I mean mostly on other sites. You will always have more nasty one-liners than thoughtful comments -- because anyone (even a dog) can do nasty; it's not a virtue, people. So just rule them out mechanically. Even a second line requires so much thought as will reduce frequency of comments that no one reasonable wishes to read.

     

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  10.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    To sum up (code monkey style):
    Careful discrimination of one's input data is the only way to get consistently good output data.

    I believe I see what you mean though, it would be possible to do some "mechanical separation" while still allowing anonymous commenters.

    From experience, I must relate the following: people will lean towards being pleased by the addition of new features; and people will lean towards being angry at removal of features.

    Seriously, even if they never used those features, never needed those features, the fact that you are taking something away will bring anger.

     

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  11.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re:

    And I'm not obnoxi--, wait....yeah, sometimes I am....

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:12am

    Anonymous commenting allows you to change your mind latter

    There is another important advantage to anonymous commenting which I have not seen mentioned yet: it allows you to change your mind later.

    If you are not anonymous, if you write something and a month later write the opposite, people will disregard what you wrote later ("you liar, you yourself said the opposite before!"), even if you have legitimately changed your way of thinking.

    If you are anonymous, every discussion is a fresh one. Yes, some people might suspect you are the same person, and Mike probably can see the IP addresses by default, but there is always the benefit of doubt - the nagging possibility in the back of your mind that it might actually be a different person this time.

    Anonymous commenting also allows you to pretend and present an opinion from a different point of view, that is, be a devil's advocate, for the purpose of exploring the strengths and weaknesses of an alternate position.

     

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  13.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:18am

    Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    That's actually a really interesting idea, but I'm not sure how right you are in total. I've read some truly thought provoking one liner comments (those constructed of relevant famous quotes come to mind) that can add to the discussion.

    But for the most part, I guess you're right. One-liners usually don't add much with regard to information to the coments section. The issue you're going to have is with humor. Obviously one-liners are fairly prevalent in commentors that are trying for a laugh. I personally like to add a little funny into the discussions, because I think it can be both fun and useful, not to mention that all of us could probably do with a little dose of not taking ourselves too seriously.

    How do you account for humor in your automated solution?

     

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  14.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    Re:

    That's me.. I'm the one who's uninformed (and clueless) :D

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:27am

    Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    Brevity does not imply irrelevance.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    Humor has no place in rational discourse.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:32am

    Re: Re: Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    I know of a clown who might disagree with you.

    http://www.patchadams.org/

     

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  18.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    And The Onion just vomitted after reading your comment, as did all political satire cartoonists....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:34am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I read this line

    "At the same time, some of the commenters who freely admit who they are, can be some of the rudest, most obnoxious and uninformed commenters around."

    and thought ... DH ... then i thought wait ... het wait thats ME!!!

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    Because of hard laughter?

     

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  21.  
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    McCrea, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:37am

    Re: registration

    "Being forced to register dissuades me from commenting."

    Registration is a hassle, not to mention remembering passwords. At one site I had to respond to a glowing review that seemed far from unbiased. After registering and verifying an account, I probably spent an hour composing my "amendment", but then found I had to wait for approval. After a week of no approval, I forgot the name of the website.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: registration

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Hey! I'm not that rude. And uninformed?

    Now I'm not buying the "Big Ole Grin" TD tshirt....

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 7:58am

    Re:

    It might be possible to link anonymous comments to you, but it is harder to link anonymous comments to you.

     

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  25.  
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    Ryan Jones, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    You mean to tell me that newspaper people actually read comments? Most of them disable them after 24-48 hours, and I've hardly ever seen a journalist reply to a comment or chime in with one of his own.

    It seems that once a piece hits the web, the person who wrote it completely forgets about it to work on their next one.

    Perhaps some of the rude comments would go away if they actually took the time to nurture and embrace the community.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    McCrea, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:09am

    A report is not a forum.

    To digress a bit, I think there is a difference between "news boards" and "comment boards". Techdirt articles are comments (on other articles) to begin with. That lends to a discussion type venue.

    I think "big news providers" should just post the news, and be done with it. Discussion (cum anonymous) should be elsewhere. Similar to a library: When I go to read a book, the tome does not come with three to five times the original volume of reviews and critiques attached. In my mind, it seems to makes the original product less desirable and the producers' motives suspect.

     

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  27.  
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    sum guy, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:15am

    @out-of-the-blue

    i think you're making the same mistake as the lamescream publications. imo the value of a blog over a newspaper isn't so much the news it gives, but rather the ability to comment and discuss. are a lot of the comments made just inane white noise? sure. but my ability to post a comment whether it is well received or not gives me the instant grat fix i'm craving.

    i guess what im saying is that blogs have changed the nature of news delivery. its not about serving the news anymore, but rather having a discussion about it. if you try to say that some people arent contributing in the way you think they should, then the next step is to remove them. and then to remove comments you disagree with. im not saying you personally but someone will say it, and someone else will think its a good idea. pretty soon you have a forum where everybody already agrees with each other and the value of the discussion is lost.

     

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  28.  
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    Irving, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:21am

    You're fine with that?

    "...even as we've continually added more and more features to make it worthwhile to identify yourself." If you're fine with anonymous comments, why such an effort to convince people to identify themselves?

     

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  29.  
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    Randomguy, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:21am

    This seems an appropriate place to mention that I really like Techdirt's comment system (in fact I recommended a web designer friend mimic it for his blog) because it not only allows anonymous commenting, but there are different levels of involvement - optional name, cookie, account, etc.

    That will keep me coming back, whereas a website requiring signing up and logging in is just another blip on the radar. Why bother? That said, the quality of comments on those kind of sites is generally higher.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    Re: A report is not a forum.

    "Big news providers" are as much commentary as Techdirt, and vice versa.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:26am

    Re: You're fine with that?

    There's value in nuturing a community, and community is fostered by recognizable identities.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:27am

    Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    Your suggestions for mechanically denying posts is ineffective. Any dolt can pad his irrelevant one-liner with random strings of text to fill your arbitrary "minimum" limit. Then you'll just end up with an irrelevant one-liner plus random text. That is a lot more annoying.

    Annoying posts will always exist and are impossible to filter out completely, just like spam on your email.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:29am

    Re:

    The quality of individual comments is irrelevant if the quality of the conversation suffers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Hulser (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:30am

    Re: Re: Big media obliges

    It's more likely that the know what they're feeding you isn't the truth, and they don't want to be called out on it.

    Maybe I should have put truth in quotes. There are plenty documented cases where the media has published information they new to be false, but I think in most cases, reporters think they're presenting the truth. I believe that they just don't like being called out -- by anyone, much less someone not in their guild -- when they're wrong.

     

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  35.  
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    nasch (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    Bravo!

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 8:58am

    Re:

    "And even belligerent anonymous comments often reflect genuine passion that should be heard. "

    They have a right to speak, not to be heard.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re:

    Technically, they have neither on privately-run web pages.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:23am

    Fine with anonymous commenters?

    Then why are anonymous commenters declared "cowards"? True, you don't stop people from posting anonymously, but that moniker probably dissuades some from doing so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Re: Re: You're fine with that?

    Tell that to 4chan.

     

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  40.  
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    Rose M. Welch (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:49am

    Does anyone find it interesting that there are so many ACs in this thread? :)

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:51am

    Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    It was copied from slashdot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:52am

    Re:

    Look closely at the identicon. There are only two or three, commenting all over the thread.

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: You're fine with that?

    The 4chan community is, I think obviously, fostered by other forces.

     

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  44.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 9:55am

    Politics and Anon Comments

    Great choice, Reuters! History would be far cleaner if only people were forced to identify themselves, and journalism would thrive. Example:


    To
    Bob Woodward,
    Carl Bernstein,
    Washington Post,

    Dear Sirs,

    I would like to assure you that President Nixon is doing a fine job, and there is nothing I have to add regarding the break in at the Watergate hotel. It seems like a standard B&E committed by petty criminals. Those aren't the droids you're looking for.

    Here's wishing you all the best,
    Mark Felt
    FBI Associate Director.

     

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  45.  
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    Rooker, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 10:01am

    Pros and Cons

    This is a letter I sent to Robert Cringely about this once after he did a piece about this same issue. This applies to both anonymous bloggers and commenters.

    What’s more important: privacy & anonymity or identity & responsibility?

    For anonymity:
    In some places, speaking your mind might lead to:

    A) You begging the men with clubs to stop beating you into a bloody mass of tissue on the living room floor in front of your family, being thrown in prison without being charged with anything, being tortured every day for months on end and being raped by the prison guards and the other prisoners.

    B) Offending a boss who happens to be a bigot and who will fire you for speaking out against the sort of bigotry he engages in.

    C) Harassment and/or danger from the powerful corporation / organization / person / government / mobster / drug dealer you just criticized on your blog.

    D) I could go on until I run out of letters at “Z”, because there are infinite possible ways that being identified with your speech can go badly.

    Against anonymity
    In some places, speaking your mind might lead to:

    A) Someone having their feelings hurt.

    B) Well, that’s really the only one, isn’t it?

    The rest of us have long since learned how to ignore annoying people without wanting the government to make them stop being mean to us. The option they should look for in the blogging software is called “Comment Moderation.” They should learn to use it if they’re too thin-skinned to deal with trolls.

     

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  46.  
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    Wifezilla (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Ooo SNAP! (That is as brilliant, insightful, and well-informed as I get before my coffee)

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 10:14am

    Re:

    I'm sure you are well aware of bugmenot.com then...

     

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  48.  
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    TheStupidOne, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 10:34am

    Re: Re:

    Not really. I'm not an AC (no account, but use the same name when I comment), but you have no clue who I am ... Mike and TD can probably figure out where I work and approximately where I live, then with significantly more effort learn who I actually am. But that is just ever so slightly easier than a true AC and the only advantage they get from me is that I post from 2 IP addresses and they can easily link them.

    The only way someone not cooperating with TD will ID me is if I post my real name or associate my name here with an identifiable ID elsewhere, either intentionally or accidentally.

     

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  49.  
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    Travis (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 10:49am

    Apparently you have never heard of John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/3/19/

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re:

    Are there?

     

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  51.  
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    Not So Anonymous, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:20am

    Can't Say

    We've seen it here. We've always allowed anonymous commenters, even as we've continually added more and more features to make it worthwhile to identify yourself.

    In other words, you allow it but you try to discourage it.

    And yet, if people do want to be anonymous, we're fine with that.

    Yeah, you're so fine with it that sometimes you just block those comments.

    Reuters is apparently now the latest to ban anonymous comments on their site.

    They should take a page from the Techdirt play-book instead: Don't visibly ban anonymous commenters outright, just "review" them away. That way, you can have your cake and eat it too. Works great!

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:27am

    Re:

    Apparently you have never heard of John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory

    Oh, look! It's a registered user dropping an "F" bomb there. Kind of proves Mike's point. Funny.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:31am

    Re:

    "Hey! I'm not uninformed! :P"

    You're not Rose M. Welch either.

     

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  54.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:35am

    Re:

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:41am

    Re:

    I guess this means that Reuters will stop using anonymous sources in their stories then.

    No, no, no, anonymous sources are fine for stories, just not for comments on them. An we have always been at war with Eurasia.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:52am

    Re:

    The option for registration is nice, especially if you go to a site often and it provides additional benefits (even confirmed identity) but mandatory registrations are annoying.

    It is not easy to confirm someone's identity. Anyone who has ever had a top secret security clearance knows some of the steps the government goes through in an attempt to do so, and foreign agents still slip through. I don't know of ANY website that does anywhere NEAR that amount of investigation before "confirming" commenters identities. Anyone who thinks such identities are "confirmed" is sadly mistaken.

     

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  57.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 11:59am

    Re: What's the value of a barrage of one-liners?

    "Brevity is the soul of wit."
    -- William Shakespeare

     

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  58.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Really?

     

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  59.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    I didn't know that, but that still doesn't make it any less intimidating for someone who doesn't want to be considered a coward.

     

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  60.  
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    Christopher (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 12:46pm

    The real issue behind wanting to get rid of anonymous posting is because they want to scare people into not bucking the 'conventional morality' on some issues, such as pedosexuality, homosexuality, etc.

    It's all about silencing people who have very good arguments for why the societal viewpoint is wrong out of fear of some.... well, the only term is: fuckwad coming and trying to physically harm those people who are making arguments 'society' doesn't like.

     

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  61.  
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    Christopher (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 12:47pm

    Re: Pros and Cons

    Comment moderation can also be used to discriminate against people who buck the 'consensus viewpoint' that usually isn't so consensus and silence people's voices.

     

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  62.  
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    John Doe Smith, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 1:10pm

    Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    "It was copied from slashdot."

    Yeah, apparently Mike liked the insulting nature of it, but it was still his choice. Some boards are set up where the default name for anonymous commenters is "Anonymous Hero". He could have copied that instead if he wanted to. Or he could have just left it as plain "Anonymous" without making a statement either way. It just depends on what the board owner wants.

    While Mike may think he is making a statement about anonymous commenters by giving them a default "coward" moniker, the real statement he is making may be more about himself. Life is funny that way.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 1:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    Yeah, apparently Mike liked the insulting nature of it

    Or, you know, I thought it was funny. If anyone is seriously "insulted" by that, they've got bigger issues to deal with.

    While Mike may think he is making a statement about anonymous commenters by giving them a default "coward" moniker, the real statement he is making may be more about himself. Life is funny that way.

    And that statement is... 12 years ago, I left the code with the defaults! Shocking.

     

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  64.  
    identicon
    John Doe Smith, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 2:01pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    "Or, you know, I thought it was funny."

    Like the retards that are insulted by being called retards. It's just funny. Or the ... well, I won't go on. I'll just say that if they're seriously insulted, then they've got bigger issues to deal with. Now some people might say that that makes me look bad, but I say that those people have got issues too.

     

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  65.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 2:08pm

    Re: Re:

    I'm sure you are well aware of bugmenot.com then...

    And I'm sure you're equally aware that many sites watch for and ban such logins then...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 2:11pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    And that statement is... 12 years ago, I left the code with the defaults! Shocking.

    Why change something when it's just the way you want it as is?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    Re:

    Did you just come out in favor of having sex with children?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    icon
    Spectere (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re:

    I think you're reading too much into what I wrote.

    I'm talking more about a confirmed online identity. As in, if you see a registered user by the name of Spectere making a comment on Techdirt, unless someone else obtained my password then it's definitely me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    icon
    Spectere (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:02pm

    Re: Re:

    1) BugMeNot is still an extra step. In some cases, by the time you find a working logon you'll have as much of a time investment as you would just registering for the account.

    2) If the site owner wants to create a wall between themselves and readers, I don't feel that it's worth my time to try to get around their safeguards.

    3) If BugMeNot is commonly used in lieu of an actual login for posting things like comments, there's no way the account is going to stay open for long.

    BugMeNot is intended more to provide sites that lock content behind an unnecessarily large wall, not for sites that require registrations to make postings.

     

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  70.  
    icon
    Spectere (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:05pm

    Re: Re: registration

    Sheesh, the site was "protected" by requiring both registrations and post moderation? I usually think of those two features as being mutually exclusive.

    Also, when you think about it, your post might not have been approved just because the author of the original review didn't like what you had to say.

     

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  71.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:16pm

    Re:

    I know what you mean! I was reading comments on a newspaper site the other day, and I found it terribly primitive because you couldn't comment on other people's comments (although the cumulative thumbs up/down were fun). This site is spoiling me!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Can't Say

    "They should take a page from the Techdirt play-book instead: Don't visibly ban anonymous commenters outright, just "review" them away."

    So you are saying that Techdirt has someone personally reviewing every comment. Now I feel bad for giving them too much work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 4:46pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    ...if you see a registered user by the name of Spectere making a comment on Techdirt, unless someone else obtained my password then it's definitely me.

    How do I know that? How do I know that you haven't shared your credentials with a few friends? Or maybe even posted it to bugmenot? As far as I know, every post from "Spectere" could actually be from a different person.

     

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  74.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    People are what they choose to be. They are not defined by the arbitrary labels other choose to pin on them.

    Also notice that "Anonymous" could be interpreted as an insult (if people were stupid like you), since that could be associated with the group "Anonymous" that has allegedly been terrorizing the iter-tubes lately.

     

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  75.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re:

    I don't get your point - I'm not sure Mike said that "registered users will drop f bombs" or how that relates to intelligent discourse. I found his contribution added to the discussion, but I'm not sensitive about the fbomb.

    But whether I get your point or not, I can still correct your faulty assumption.

    Just because Travis is a registered handle doesn't mean he is not anonymous. What if her name is actually Susan Smith, not Travis?

    A 'handle' isn't a full name, or even necessarily a real name.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Can't Say

    They should take a page from the Techdirt play-book instead: Don't visibly ban anonymous commenters outright, just "review" them away. That way, you can have your cake and eat it too. Works great!


    Not true. Our spam filter catches some comments -- and some anonymous commenters use the same proxies that spammers regularly use, so sometimes they get caught in the filter. But we review those comments and let them through pretty quickly.

    Well less than 1% of anonymous comments get caught in the spam filter. And we let through the ones that are not spam or trolls. Even ones (like this one, by the way) that disagree with or make fun of us. The only ones we don't let through are ones that are clearly spam or that have nothing to do with the topic at hand.

     

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  77.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    And you are aware that is why they have daily random names that bypass that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:16pm

    Re: Re: Can't Say

    "So you are saying that Techdirt has someone personally reviewing every comment. Now I feel bad for giving them too much work."

    I guess you've never seen of of Techdirt's "Comment held for moderation. It will be reviewed before being posted" messages when posting? If you haven't seen any, you aren't being contrary enough.

     

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  79.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:28pm

    Re: Re: Can't Say

    Not true. Our spam filter catches some comments -- and some anonymous commenters use the same proxies that spammers regularly use, so sometimes they get caught in the filter. But we review those comments and let them through pretty quickly.

    Really? How about you put some money on that? Let's say that every time one of my posts doesn't go through you donate $1000 to a charity of my choosing?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:38pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not sure Mike said that "registered users will drop f bombs"

    Straw man alert. Nobody said he made that quote. But what he did say, if you read the article, was "At the same time, some of the commenters who freely admit who they are, can be some of the rudest...".

    I'm not sensitive about the fbomb.

    Maybe you don't consider it rude, but many people do.

    A 'handle' isn't a full name, or even necessarily a real name.

    Just as "Derek Kerton" may not be your real or full name either, and I don't necessarily assume that it is. So what's your point?

     

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  81.  
    identicon
    JD, Oct 8th, 2010 @ 6:44pm

    Re: Re: Can't Say

    Our spam filter catches some comments -- and some anonymous commenters use the same proxies that spammers regularly use, so sometimes they get caught in the filter.

    That's a form of pretending that IP addresses correspond to individuals. They don't, and you should know that. Of course it doesn't work.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    identicon
    Randomguy, Oct 9th, 2010 @ 1:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    After some of these comments, maybe it should be changed to Anonymous Crybaby.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 9th, 2010 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re:

    I read it as coming out in favor of people discussing the issue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    icon
    FarmerBob (profile), Oct 9th, 2010 @ 9:46am

    Re:

    . . . and stop using local slang and terminology and start using Spell and Grammar Check. For an "international" news organization they are a joke.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    icon
    nasch (profile), Oct 9th, 2010 @ 10:18am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ah, I hope so. When he said "they want to scare people into not bucking the 'conventional morality' on some issues, such as pedosexuality" that sounded to me like he was saying people should feel free to buck the conventional morality that says pedophilia is wrong.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    icon
    DanVan (profile), Oct 9th, 2010 @ 5:28pm

    Eh, I see both sides

    There are some news sites that I visit where the HIGH, HIGH, HIGH majority of comments are nothing but immature, arrogant, mean, vulgar messages. When I say high majority, I would say roughly 8 out of every 10 comments are terrible. It really needs to be fixed as many people are slowly getting away from the news sites BECAUSE of how terrible the messages are.

    If a better % of the messages were just opinion, I would agree that they should be kept

    Bottom line, if a web-site wants to stop anony messages, I understand why

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 9th, 2010 @ 8:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    That's a form of pretending that IP addresses correspond to individuals. They don't, and you should know that. Of course it doesn't work.

    No, not the same thing at all. We get approximately 20,000 spam comments a day. So our system has to score each email coming through and decide if it's spam, unsure or likely okay. If you're using a proxy that spammers generally use, it's likely that you're going to fall into the "unsure" box. And we quickly review those and let those through.

    We're not saying you're a spammer. We don't leave those comments blocked. We just add in that extra step to keep spam out. The unsure box is usually 95% spam, and it's easy to pick out the legit ones and pass them through. So, no, we're not saying the IP is the same as the user. We're basing the spam ranking on a variety of factors and then reviewing. Sometimes your emails get caught in the spam folder.

    Hell, sometimes MY emails get caught if I use certain words or phrases too often (that happened yesterday). It's not saying you're a spammer or that an IP equals a person. It's just a way to do our best to keep spam out of the comments.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    identicon
    Androgynous Cowherd, Oct 9th, 2010 @ 8:16pm

    Isn't the real reason obvious? Reuters thinks they can squeeze more info out of everyone. I bet their registration form has checked-by-default spam-me-please boxes, mandatory working email address field they test sending a message to, and all kinds of invasive questions like age, sex, mother's maiden name, whether you are into bondage or cosplay, etc. :)

    Of course the marketing department may profit slightly at the expense of the advertising department. Short-sighted bean counters. Pah!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    identicon
    Marco, Oct 10th, 2010 @ 3:49am

    Bah ... i bet they don't like to hear some true stuff over the comments. It is not the first time pseudo-journalists are copying stuff without putting source info ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2010 @ 7:19am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    The unsure box is usually 95% spam, and it's easy to pick out the legit ones and pass them through.

    The problem is that you don't always do that. Sometimes they get passed through in a timely manner, but sometimes they don't show up until the next day or sometimes not at all. That's no way to carry on a conservation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2010 @ 3:53pm

    Anonymous Spam

    Maybe all Reuters is doing is filtering out spam. They just use their own definition of "spam", which happens to include "anonymous". Now what's wrong with filtering out spam? See how that works? Nothing to see here, move along.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Fine with anonymous commenters?

    After some of these comments, maybe it should be changed to Anonymous Crybaby.

    Where's that whining sound coming from? Oh, look, it's an anonymous Randomguy!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 3:01am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    The problem is that you don't always do that. Sometimes they get passed through in a timely manner, but sometimes they don't show up until the next day or sometimes not at all. That's no way to carry on a conservation.

    Then don't use a proxy that spammers use.

    Sorry. We do our best. Which would you prefer? That these comments are infested with spam or that approximately 0.002% of you sometimes have to wait a few hours for your comments to show up?

    We're a lot more open than almost every site on the internet, and we let plenty of stuff go through. But we need to block the spam, and if you use a proxy popular with spammers, then you have to wait a few hours sometimes. That's the tradeoff.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  94.  
    icon
    Derek Kerton (profile), Oct 11th, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Mike: Anon users can be both rude and/or insightful. Named commenters just the same.

    Travis: ...fuckwad theory...

    Anon Coward: "...a registered user dropping an "F" bomb there. Kind of proves Mike's point."

    Me: "I'm not sure Mike said that "registered users will drop f bombs"

    You: "Straw man alert. Nobody said he made that quote."

    Now, note that I said "I'm not sure Mike said..." How did I erect a straw man? I just questioned the original AC's (your?) assertion. Did you just learn the term "Straw man" and want to use it? I love lamp, but I don't say it all the time just to fit in.

    Me: "I'm not sensitive about the fbomb."
    You: "...many people do."

    Thanks, I'm aware of that. That's why I used the pronoun "I" to refer to MY sensitivity level. The point I made was that Travis DID add value to the discussion, by offering a funny observation and a relevant link. I was not too blinded by offense at the F bomb to realize that.

    You: "Derek Kerton" may not be your real or full name either, and I don't necessarily assume that it is.

    Sure you don't...now. After I pointed out to you that people can use pseudonyms or handles that *seem* like real names. But you didn't show that awareness with Travis.

    You: "So what's your point?"

    My point is the very relevant, and important distinction that just because the community here can see a name, hardly means the user isn't anonymous. That's a point that hasn't been mentioned in the thread, and is such a value-added comment.

    You are ticked off because YOU are the person who stands corrected, having made the assumption that "Travis" is not anonymous (remember that this article is about "anonymous" users, not "registered" users.) You have conflated the two in an erroneous fashion...but that is entirely consistent with your modus operandi.

    Cheers, and good luck in school.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  95.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 12th, 2010 @ 10:24am

    Re:

    Forcing user registration will not stop immature/arrogant/mean/vulgar messages if the community includes a large enough portion of immature/arrogant/mean/vulgar users.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  96.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2010 @ 3:56pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    Then don't use a proxy that spammers use.

    I have not control over the spammers and what ISP's or networks they use. And isn't that a lot like "throwing out babies with the bathwater" as in the title of this very article?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  97.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2010 @ 4:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Now, note that I said "I'm not sure Mike said..." How did I erect a straw man? I just questioned the original AC's (your?) assertion.

    The original AC did not assert that Mike said that. That was something you made up just to knock down.

    Did you just learn the term "Straw man" and want to use it?

    The term refers to making up something just so you can knock it down, as you did. Perhaps you should learn the meaning of the term, yourself.

    Sure you don't...now. After I pointed out to you that people can use pseudonyms or handles that *seem* like real names. But you didn't show that awareness with Travis.

    I never assumed that "Travis" was necessarily his/her real name. Again, you seem to making stuff up.

    My point is the very relevant, and important distinction that just because the community here can see a name, hardly means the user isn't anonymous. That's a point that hasn't been mentioned in the thread, and is such a value-added comment.

    That's just not true. There was a post made over an hour before yours that made that exact point. (see http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20101003/23574911263/reuters-dumps-anonymous-comments-throwing-out- a-bunch-of-babies-with-the-bathwater.shtml#c954). Fail. Again.

    You are ticked off because YOU are the person who stands corrected, having made the assumption that "Travis" is not anonymous (remember that this article is about "anonymous" users, not "registered" users.) You have conflated the two in an erroneous fashion

    No, I was merely using the term in the same context that Mike was. If you want someone to "correct", I suggest you go to your buddy, Mike.

    ...but that is entirely consistent with your modus operandi.

    Oh really? Who am I?

    Cheers, and good luck in school.

    You too, when you get there.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  98.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 15th, 2010 @ 4:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    I have not control over the spammers and what ISP's or networks they use. And isn't that a lot like "throwing out babies with the bathwater" as in the title of this very article?

    Um. No. Throwing out the baby with the bathwater would be if I didn't let you comment at all. I do. You just have to wait a little bit for your comment to show up. This is the price you pay for using a proxy that spammers use.

    I will note that you didn't respond to the other questions. You really, honestly, think that we should just allow spam because you want to use a spammer proxy? Sorry. No.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  99.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2010 @ 7:10am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    I will note that you didn't respond to the other questions.

    Sorry, I must have missed them. What questions were those?

    You really, honestly, think that we should just allow spam because you want to use a spammer proxy?

    And do you really, honestly, think I said that? If so, you need to re-read what I wrote. I did not, so quit trying to put words in my mouth.

    What I *am* saying is that you are using poor methods to do so. There are other ways. And while they may not be as easy or convenient, laziness should not be the guiding factor. Besides, I know that I've seen spam in here anyway, so it's not like your current methods keep it all out anyway, is it?
    They're just easy. Of course you're free to use what ever methods you choose, but be prepared to accept the criticism as well. That's the way it works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  100.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2010 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    And for clarification, a few minutes would be "just a little bit", as you call it. But, in a conservation, a few hours or a day or so later, as the delay often is, is not "just a little bit". *That* is the main problem. And that's not even including the times that they never show up. What happens? Do you get behind sometimes and just dump them without review?

    I can understand that you may not always be able to review messages in a timely manner. But you and I both know that you don't have to. You can easily contract that work out if you need to, so that's really no excuse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 17th, 2010 @ 11:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    You can easily contract that work out if you need to, so that's really no excuse.

    You willing to pay?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 17th, 2010 @ 11:58pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    Sorry, I must have missed them. What questions were those?

    Look above.

    What I *am* saying is that you are using poor methods to do so.

    When you deal with a site this large, and you successfully block all comment spam, then tell me if we're really using poor methods. We're doing the best we can, and I find it insulting to our team for you to imply otherwise.

    There are other ways.

    We've tried. They don't work.

    And while they may not be as easy or convenient, laziness should not be the guiding factor.

    It's not about convenience or laziness. It's about what works.

    Besides, I know that I've seen spam in here anyway, so it's not like your current methods keep it all out anyway, is it?

    True indeed, but it would be much worse if we didn't do what we do now. We do our best.

    They're just easy. Of course you're free to use what ever methods you choose, but be prepared to accept the criticism as well. That's the way it works.

    And be prepare for me to say that your complaint is misguided. It's our site, and we deal with the spam problem as best we can. If you don't like it, don't comment. I believe that we are a lot more open and free and allowing of all kinds of comments than most every other site out there, and we do so while letting in a very minimal amount of spam. I'm damned proud of how well the system works, and I'm not about to change it because someone who uses a spammer's preferred proxy doesn't want to change and can't wait a little while for his comments to show up. Sorry. Such is life.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  103.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 18th, 2010 @ 12:00am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Can't Say

    And for clarification, a few minutes would be "just a little bit", as you call it. But, in a conservation, a few hours or a day or so later, as the delay often is, is not "just a little bit". *That* is the main problem.

    As I said, it's the tradeoff for keeping out much of the spam. Don't like it, don't use a spammer proxy.

    And that's not even including the times that they never show up. What happens? Do you get behind sometimes and just dump them without review?

    Nope. We *always* review. We do not get behind and dump and I resent the false claims.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  104.  
    identicon
    Peter Hanson, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 4:13pm

    REUTORS BANS CONTRIBUTORS

    I'm proud to say that I just got banned from Reutors for expressing my opinion that, as the U.S. military is a legitimate military target, the two men accused of having plotted to attack a military recruitment center in Seattle should be awarded gold medals.

    Reutors doesn't report the news, it creates it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  105.  
    identicon
    Peter Hanson, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 4:15pm

    REUTERS BANS CONTRIBUTORS

    I'm proud to say that I just got banned from Reuters for expressing my opinion that, as the U.S. military is a legitimate military target, the two men accused of having plotted to attack a military recruitment center in Seattle should be awarded gold medals.

    Reuters doesn't report the news, it creates it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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