Anonymity as the Way?

Do you agree with the below quotes from News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments (Richard Perez-Pena. NY Times. 4/11/2010)?

“Anonymity is just the way things are done. It’s an accepted part of the Internet, but there’s no question that people hide behind anonymity to make vile or controversial comments,” said Arianna Huffington, a founder of The Huffington Post. “I feel that this is almost like an education process. As the rules of the road are changing and the Internet is growing up, the trend is away from anonymity.”  … “There is a younger generation that doesn’t feel the same need for privacy,” Ms. Huffington said. “Many people, when you give them other choices, they choose not to be anonymous.” — News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments (Richard Perez-Pena. NY Times. 4/12/2010)

Two more questions:  Any thoughts regarding what is a helpful on-line presence for a member of the campus/university culture?  Does it vary with position/responsibility/life stage, e.g., undergraduate student, graduate student, staff, pre-tenure faculty, tenure faculty, administrator, counselor, campus minister?

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Tom Grosh IV

Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the South Central PA Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). The Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine is the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!

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    Mike commented on April 13, 2010 Reply

    Check out Alan Jacobs’ recent related thoughts about comments and community:

    Thomas B. Grosh IV commented on April 14, 2010 Reply

    Thank-you Mike! What a trip that Jacobs didn’t title his Books & Culture article “Goodbye, Blog: The friend of information but the enemy of thought”
    … a Carnegie Mellon U. grad student photocopied that article for me and I had conversations about it with a number of people ‘back in the day’ (2006).

    Also in the comments section, I appreciated the link to “Tough love: Gawker finds making it harder for comments to be seen leads to more (and better) comments,”

    So should we strive for ‘small group dinner conversations’ OR push toward the complications of an increasing audience?

    jon daley commented on April 21, 2010 Reply

    I dislike sites that require registration. and i think it is foolish for newspapers to not allow comments from non-subscribers (like a friend of mine’s did – i no longer read her blog because 1, they’ve removed the content except for the title from the rss feed, and 2 there is no longer any interaction on the blog since the “free riders” can’t comment.)

      Micheal Hickerson commented on April 21, 2010 Reply

      I agree with all of the above. I think I know why newspapers do these things – they want advertising revenue – but they usually put things behind a paywall without thinking through *why* someone would want to pay for the content.

      BTW, check out the comments on that Jacobs’ post above. One of the commenters links to this article about Gawker Media’s new commenting policy, which (if I’m reading it right) suggests that reputation-based commenting might be a good model for certain heavily trafficked websites. Of course, managing your reputation requires a stable identity – which could at least be pseudonymous, if not completely anonymous.

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