To the first point, it really just cracks me up that Tom's very short and simple post about liking something Cary wrote for his foreward to Chris's book has received all the comments. Why, I wonder, didn't "Anonymous" make comments on Cary's blog since it was Cary's words that he took exception to? Odd...
To the second point, I have to rant a bit on the whole idea of anonymity. First let me say that I don't like it. In the context of posting to public forums or blogs or where ever a person chooses to share their opinions and comments, it seems unnecessarily covert to not identify who you are. I'm interested to know what the fear is that makes someone not want to identify themselves. Is it fear of reprisal? Is it fear of looking "dumb"? What?
It reminds me of a couple of quotes:
"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
S. G. Tallentyre
"If you aren't going to say something directly to someone's face, then don't use online as an opportunity to say it. It is this sense of bravery that people get when they are anonymous that gives the blogosphere a bad reputation."
I think there is a place for anonymous commentary. Many times people won't tell you the full truth because they actually like you and think it may hurt your feelings or something like that. But they feel OK to share when they know they won't be identified.
One of the best personal review techniques I've ever heard of is the 360 degree feedback process. It is an review process that involves having co-workers, managers, and as many people as possible involved in providing feedback to a single individual. All their feedback is done anonymously. Each person that participates fills out detailed questionnaires about the person and the results are compiled to provide a very specific report back to the employee about their performance as other people see it. Think about it. If you were asked to talk about your manager (remember, this is the person who does your review and grants you raises and approves your time off requests) many people are less than totally forthcoming when answering questions if they think their feedback will be known to the boss. But, when they are assured their anonymity, they feel free to truly speak their minds.
OK. I get that. And, I'm sure I could find other instances when anonymity can serve a very good purpose. But, I don't see how remaining anonymous when you make a blog post or comment is valid. There's another quote that I heard recently but don't remember it exactly that goes something like, if you wouldn't sign your name to something you say, then don't say it. I think that is right on.
We live in a country where we are free to express our opinions. Only truly inflammatory speech is prohibited. But, even then, you've got to really be over the top for anything you say to be legally actionable.
So, why not own what you have to say? If you're not willing to own it, then just plain don't say it. Lurk on the blogs and keep your opinions to yourself. I may not like what you say. If I don't like it, I can add my voice to the conversation in opposition. But in order to engage in true, meaningful, open debate and discussion, I truly don't see how remaining anonymous serves that purpose.
From the start, an anonymous poster is (at least by me) viewed with suspicion. For the most part, I either ignore or gloss over their comments. But, as I believe so often happens, many people who post anonymously tend to have a recognizable pattern in how they write. So, after a while, the anonymous person is actually recognized...even if it's only a recognition that it's the same person's "voice". Sometimes the anonymous voice can be cross-matched to an actual person from places where they have chosen to identify themselves. Writing style is similar to a fingerprint and can often be used to identify the writer even when they post without identifying themselves.
But it is hard to completely ignore the anonymous commenter. When they have things to say that you don't understand or that you disagree with, you want to respond. But, it just feels "off" to respond to a "nobody".
I do support anyone's right to say things they think/believe even if it is in opposition to my own thoughts/beliefs. I just wish people would own their comments with their real identities. I think it speaks to strong character and intent when you are willing to identify yourself.
I recently read something about how your name is your brand. If you hide your real name behind an anonymous label or even some made up screen name (for example, JoeCoolDBA or SmartGuy), you are not presenting your brand and that creates confusion and waters down your name.
So don’t be tempted to bury your own beautiful name. Love it. Own it. Flaunt it.With that said, this is Karen Morton, signing off for today.