The Real Problem With Internet Comments Isn't Anonymity
from the confusing-the-issues dept
Venom-filled anonymous internet comments are often a favorite target for politicians, writers and plenty of other folks who use them to represent everything that’s wrong with the internet. Many sites have a love-hate relationship with comments, including news sites, which often want to encourage “participation” but don’t get much out of the comments, including ad revenue, since many advertisers don’t want their ads alongside them. Now, many of these news sites are rethinking their commenting systems, with a view towards cutting down in the bile that’s often spewed by commenters on their site. Typically, these efforts amount to little more than switching comments off or forcing people to use their real names, with many publishers (and pundits) believing that the real problem is anonymity. But anonymity isn’t the issue; the quality and tone of comments is. So if that’s the real problem, why not seek to change it, instead of taking aim at a completely separate issue? As we’ve noted before, Techdirt gets a lot of comments, including the occasional unfriendly one from a jerk. Sometimes this jerk is anonymous — but if they’re a jerk, it doesn’t much matter if they’re anonymous or using their real name. With that in mind, it’s nice to see that some of the sites in the NYT article above are actually looking at ways to tackle the real issue, and not just anonymity — though there are plenty that still seem to think everybody will be nice if they use their real name.