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The Internet Technology

The Internet's Age of Rage 315

Posted by Soulskill
from the none-of-us-are-as-obnoxious-as-all-of-us dept.
RackNine sends this excerpt from an editorial at the Guardian: "The worldwide web has made critics of us all. But with commenters able to hide behind a cloak of anonymity, the blog and chatroom have become forums for hatred and bile. ... The psychologists call it 'deindividuation.' It's what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic deindividuation experiment concerned American children at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters were invited to take sweets left in the hall of a house on a table on which there was also a sum of money. When children arrived singly, and not wearing masks, only 8% of them stole any of the money. When they were in larger groups, with their identities concealed by fancy dress, that number rose to 80%. The combination of a faceless crowd and personal anonymity provoked individuals into breaking rules that under 'normal' circumstances they would not have considered. ... One simple antidote to this seems to rest in the very old-fashioned idea of standing by your good name. Adopt a pseudonym and you are not putting much of yourself on the line. Put your name to something and your words are freighted with responsibility."
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The Internet's Age of Rage

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  • by 0101000001001010 (466440) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:30PM (#36876818)

    I believe the technical term is Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.
    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/3/19/ [penny-arcade.com]

    • by gknoy (899301)

      I wish there were a more worksafe (or pre-school safe?) term for it that captured it just as well (as opposed to "deindividualization"), because it's such a good point. If you (or your kids, or your parents) experience chat with people who are effectively anonymous, a significant portion of those people may act like jerks.

      • I wish there were a more worksafe (or pre-school safe?) term for it that captured it just as well (as opposed to "deindividualization"), because it's such a good point. If you (or your kids, or your parents) experience chat with people who are effectively anonymous, a significant portion of those people may act like jerks.

        Blizzard tried to work around this, and require real names to participate on their forums. The GIFT of online interaction proved to be too strong - people revolted, and blizzard was "forced" to re-evaluate it's initiative.

    • I just wish we could tag this story with "shitcock."

  • Fuck you (Score:5, Funny)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:30PM (#36876820)

    This story sucks. Your all idiots.

    FOAD, assholes.

    • by discord5 (798235)

      Your all idiots

      +1, Accurate misspelling

  • by JDeane (1402533) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:33PM (#36876862) Journal

    I am amazed that 20% of the people who had no risk of being caught did NOT steal... Perhaps humanity is not as corrupt as I thought.

    Or they just didn't know they could not get caught.

    • by h4rr4r (612664)

      Or maybe you are just a horrible person.
      I am a bit shocked that so many people are thieves. Of course they were children so perhaps I am being a bit harsh. I would hope most adults had better morals than that.

      • by Mashiki (184564)

        I'm not that so many are, police know it, lawyers know it, the courts know it. Private companies specializing in employee theft know it. It's taught in all criminology courses regardless of what theory you're studying(or all of them), and basic psych courses. And the last time I made this statement based on the knowledge that I was taught. People said I was lying, didn't know what I was talking about, etc. A very small minority of people will never steal. I can't be bothered to go back through my comm

        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          Any evidence to back this up?
          Pardon me if I don't trust the police to be impartial. More thieves means more work and money for them.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            Grab a copy of your favorite criminology journal(or hit a library for a back copy). Or you can read the canuck textbook called criminology today. It's short, weighs in at around 350 pages. It covers the crime theories, and incidence rates of theft in a given population. 80% will steal, of that number 30% will steal no matter what. The other 50% will steal if they think they can get away with it.

          • by Mashiki (184564)

            Oh and if my other reply isn't enough. You can read this [queensu.ca](that's queens university in canada) it's rather dated, but covers the 20/80 and 10-10 on theft, and employee theft. My text books and notes are buried over yonder, and I still have no interest in digging through them. And they're more up to date based off of 99 though 2006.

      • Re:Wow 20%? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by SilverHatHacker (1381259) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:55PM (#36877190)
        What I've seen is that "most adults" have been indoctrinated with the idea that morals are an outdated tool used by society to control the weak-minded. Quite often they will respond with variations of "how dare you push your moral code on me" and "I can decide for myself what's right and wrong". With that kind of self-oriented view of right and wrong, none of this surprises me.
        • by brit74 (831798)
          What I've seen is that "most adults" have been indoctrinated with the idea that morals are an outdated tool used by society to control the weak-minded.

          Indoctrinated? By who? I will admit that this sounds an awful lot like the way religious people view atheists - i.e. religious people believe atheists believe that morality is an outdated tool used by society to control the weak-minded.
          • If we do view atheists that way, it's because that's what the atheists keep telling us. You think I came up with that phrase myself?
            I will admit, indoctrinated may have been the wrong word. Sounds like I'm talking about a cult. Should have just said "most adults believe...".
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hey! (33014)

          What I've seen is that "most adults" have been indoctrinated with the idea that morals are an outdated tool used by society to control the weak-minded.

          I don't think they've been indoctrinated. What you're describing is people rationalizing something that makes them feel bad about themselves. In a way the truth is worse than systemic indoctrination. It's systemic disillusionment.

          When you're a kid, they tell you that you are special. Even if nobody can see what makes you special, we're taught to have faith that there is something inside you that is wonderful. Then you become an adult and very quickly it goes from "you are special" to "who the f**k do you t

          • by protektor (63514)

            That is the biggest problem I have seen. Is that parents and schools push for everyone to be winners. Guess what not everyone are winners. Some people are just average and will average their entire life. We see the problem this creates with Dr. Spock and others with the idea of never tell a child no but instead redirect them. This idea that we should never physically correct children has gotten completely insane and it is a large reason why we have as many people in prison as we do. Children are growing up

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by protektor (63514)

          This is a very accurate statement. If you ask some people if something is right or wrong they will reply that it depends on the situation and other factors. The idea that things can be just plain wrong in all cases is seen by some in society as outmoded and not keeping up with the times. The funny thing is that is more leftist media people and leftist guests brought on to shows, not to mention leftist professors who haven't left their ivory towers in years to deal with the real public.

          The problem with peopl

        • That sounds kind of like Nietzsche to me.

    • by jaymzter (452402)

      These were American children. If the test had been in Japan the numbers would have been entirely different. IOW, this is most likely more a cultural failing than something having to do with being online.

    • by brit74 (831798)
      I am amazed that 20% of the people who had no risk of being caught did NOT steal... Perhaps humanity is not as corrupt as I thought.

      I don't know about you, but any benefit I'd get from stealing the money would be outweighed by the guilt I felt over stealing the money.
  • Eternal September (Score:4, Interesting)

    by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:35PM (#36876898)
    I believe this was first noticed in 1993.
    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:15PM (#36877450)
      I thought eternal september referred more to ignorance: "noobs" who didn't know what they were doing or how to behave on the internet. This is a more general "People wearing masks act worse" applied specifically to online. The general principle was noticed -long- before 1993, and was probably noticed before 1993 in online interactions too.

      "You are using ARPANET chat room. The current time is 23:30, October 29, 1969.

      Anonymous user: "HOW IS BABBY FORMED1!"
      You: "Dr. Kleinrock? What are you doing?"
      Anonymous user: "I'M NOT Kleinrock! I am anonymous!!! TROLOLOLOLOL!"
      You: "Yes you are, there's only two computers on the internet at this time."
      -Anonymous user has disconnected-"
  • Body Language (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Wolfling1 (1808594) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:38PM (#36876934) Journal
    Whilst deindividuation is a recognised problem, I also believe the absence of non-verbal cues is a huge issue as well.

    When we queue for a teller at the bank, there is a natural interaction between us that is completely non-verbal. We can see the woman who is stressed by an obnoxious child. We can see the fragile old man who needs extra time. On the Internet (and in traffic), these signals are not present. We often gauge each other's behaviour and responses in the context of our own lives and emotional state.

    And this all occurs in the overarching context of our progressively deteriorating grasp on the English language. Smileys, and more recently Lol-speak, are an attempt to flesh out our inability to express our emotions in the written word. Lol-speak, or meme-speak is starting to help, but its had the whole of about 10 years to evolve - compared to a few hundred thousand years of the evolution of our non-verbal communication.

    Is it any wonder that tolerance is lacking?

    Thankfully, we're not completely stupid, and we're starting to adapt to the problem. Hence my personal favourite phrase on the Internet: Don't feed the trolls.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BadAnalogyGuy (945258)

      Your definition of "troll" is astoundingly wrong.

      People who suffer from Aspergers or Autism (like many Slashdot users) are unable to read those cues in real life, much less on the internet. They are victims of a disease, but your definition lumps them in with people who try to raise the hackles of others on purpose.

      If someone does not understand the nuance of your post, it does not mean they are a troll. The inability to read such nuance over the internet is very much akin to Aspergers and Autism. The perso

      • by alvinrod (889928)
        I think you've misconstrued the meaning of his post and made a mountain out of a glass house. Perhaps you're trolling, or perhaps you just suffer from some condition rendering you unable to discern the original poster's intent. Either way the result is the same. Food, or food for though? Who can tell.
    • Re:Body Language (Score:5, Interesting)

      by epyT-R (613989) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:47PM (#36877808)

      'deindividualization' is actually 'REindividualization.' IE bypassing today's increasing pressures to conform, individuals are saying what they really think, and, according to this article anyway, that's a bad thing. I disagree completely. Feelings, consensus, and politeness should never outweigh rationality, truth, and objectivity. If they do, then we've lost the whole point of communications in the first place.

      I grasp your concept about cues, but it's also supposed to be understood that those on the internet are unaware and (usually) don't care about any particular user's personal problems. The user is supposed to understand this by default. This isn't a rule I made up, it's just part of the deal. There just aren't any other cues other than the language used by the user and the peers he is communicating with. I remember a time when this was considered a good thing because irrelevant attributes were not used to judge.

      Whose tolerance? If anything, the tolerance of the overly sensitive, emotional types that make up the majority of society is what's lacking. This was always true, but, like the anonymous users they whine about, systems like the internet allow them to hit critical groupthink mass as well, forcing their censorious expectations on ever growing amounts of communication between individuals. No matter what they say, their feelings do not justify censoring uncomfortable truth, which is the real reason they would like to stamp out anonymity whereever they find it.

      • I'm inclined to agree with you. And I like the non-emotive tone that you're using. One of the best reads I've seen on the Internet in a long time is the Wikipedia style-guide. If more people tried to comply with their guidelines, we would have a lot more open-and-frank discourses, and a lot less people being offended (or offending).

        Having spent a fair amount of time working on a help-desk, I'm all too familiar with the irate customer who has steam coming out their ears by the time they call me. Its ea
        • One of the best reads I've seen on the Internet in a long time is the Wikipedia style-guide. If more people tried to comply with their guidelines, we would have a lot more open-and-frank discourses

          I fully agree with you about assuming good faith. But other Wikipedia policies and guidelines are more gameable and could result in things like "I don't care about what you have to say because neither the scholarly press nor the mainstream media has published enough articles about it. I don't care; I don't have to; it's non-notable."

          • I've certainly trolled a few people by saying 'citation needed'. Something I'm a little embarrassed about actually.
    • Really, Lol-speak is a way to express non-verbal things verbally, where the language is too inefficient to use in casual conversation. My favourite example is probably the word "FAIL!", which carries a meaning that the English language can't easily express -- the closest alternative I can think of is the German borrow-word "schadenfreude".
    • by syousef (465911)

      Whilst deindividuation is a recognised problem, I also believe the absence of non-verbal cues is a huge issue as well...Is it any wonder that tolerance is lacking?

      No. It's a basic lack of manners. Individuals in the real world with a real world physical presence often have special needs but most of those needs are concealed or obfuscated by the internet anyway and few need to be accommodated. What is lacking here is basic manners and enough presence of mind to realize there's a real person on the other end.

      Thankfully, we're not completely stupid, and we're starting to adapt to the problem. Hence my personal favourite phrase on the Internet: Don't feed the trolls.

      Sorry but this is an idiotic meme. You might as well say "Let the bully win". The result I've seen is entire boards taken over by trolls with idiotic ideas (who ar

    • by djdanlib (732853)

      Indeed, non-verbal cues are important. Verbal cues that cannot be translated into text are possibly just as important. For example: It's nearly impossible to convey sarcasm or dry humor in a way that doesn't make you look like a total jerk to a great many readers. Yes, there is a special punctuation mark that works for that, but my keyboard doesn't have an interrobang key and very few readers would know what that is!

      I think there's an additional root to the problem. It appears that people would much rather

  • Rage is good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:40PM (#36876970)

    If it takes anonymity for people to say what they really think, then we need more anonymity. Many injustices happen because people in power can count on people being trapped in responsibilities and dependencies. If nobody can say what they think, then nobody can know that they're not alone with their rage. The internet is not a place where you can expect to be treated nicely. It's very honest, and that can be frightening at times, but it's necessary. You shouldn't equate rage to criminal behavior (stealing money).

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Indeed. We live in a bad world where rage is a very reasonable reaction to many things.

      • by epyT-R (613989)

        rage is a symptom, not something reasoned. if there is more pent up rage in a society than there was in the past, that suggests systemic changes need to be made. the gp is right. if many individuals are acting out rage, then it is most likely the cause of those in charge of the screws making them too tight.

      • I dunno, the world isn't that bad really, I mean look at sunsets, although a lot of people do go to extraordinary lengths to make it bad.

  • by cstec (521534) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:40PM (#36876978)
    This article like many others before it continues to miss the blatantly obvious - that once anonymous, people are finally saying what they actually think
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:47PM (#36877082) Journal

      people... actually think

      I can tell you've not spent much time on the Internet...

    • by instagib (879544)

      Yes, this is the most "scary" part. Sure there are many trolls who disturb for "fun", but one can spot if someone actually is as full of hate/stupidity as their comments look.
      The first time I looked into this abyss was many years ago when Yahoo had commenting enabled. Tribalism, racism and religious fanatism are all around us.

    • by Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:47PM (#36877814)
      I don't know that that is what is actually going on. Based on what I observe from others, and what I observe in myself, I think the type of communication we are talking about encourages us to think differently. Are you voicing a hostile thought, that you always had, because it is now safe to do so or are you now having a hostile thought (which then gets voiced) that you would not have had before because only now it is safe to think like that?
    • by artor3 (1344997)

      But do they think those things only because of increased exposure to radicalism? If a right-leaning but otherwise normal person spends time on Free Republic, they may start to embrace racism and hatred as normal. If a decent person spends time on 4chan, they may come to view trolling as fun, whereas a normal person sees it as sociopathic disregard for others. Those same people then contribute to the changing of other people's personalities.

      Who you are is not set in stone. We all change based on external

    • by travelite (998187)
      But what we 'think' has to be filtered by our collective consciousness, or super egos. That's what separates us from animals. When we're anonymous, we tend to skip that step.
    • by tpstigers (1075021) on Monday July 25, 2011 @10:32PM (#36879324)
      If they can't keep a civil tongue in their head while they express it, I don't give a rat's ass about what they actually think.
  • by bug1 (96678) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:45PM (#36877048)

    Perhaps anonymity just helps people act according to their true nature.

    Its a bit out of my depth, but there are theories of "moral development", children learn what they can do, then if its safe to do it, lastly if its _right_ to do it.

    I guess these kids morality wouldnt be as evolved as adults, so perhaps the experiment is just measuring moral development of the sample, rather then reflecting the moral position of the greater human society.

    Anonymity can make it easier to get away with being irresponsible, but a responsible person wouldnt want to get away with being irresponsible (bad way of saying it i know).

    If Anonymity allows people to show their true self, and we dont like what we see, its not anonymity thats the problem.

    • Anonimity is not the problem when nice people are using it.
      The thing is, even Slashdot has to "punish" anonimity with a negative mod modifier to keep the noise down.
      There must be some kind of filtering, either for selecting the nice people who are allowed to be anonymous, or a default negative reputation modifier for all anonymous posts.

      • There must be some kind of filtering, either for selecting the nice people who are allowed to be anonymous, or a default negative reputation modifier for all anonymous posts.

        The latter is why Anonymous Coward starts at 0, logged in users start at 1, and users who have been around for a few weeks start at 2.

    • by joh (27088)

      Perhaps anonymity just helps people act according to their true nature.

      Of course. It lets them abandon all culture and just lets them act according to their nature.

      This is not neccessarily a good thing, mind you. The "true" nature of man can be seen in all wars and everywhere where society and responsibility is suspended. Taming our true nature is civilisation.

      • by bug1 (96678)

        'The "true" nature of man can be seen in all wars and everywhere where society and responsibility is suspended. Taming our true nature is civilisation.'

        I think you are being pessimistic to claim that war reflects our true nature.

        Our true nature is a balance between different emotions, love and hate being two of them.

        • Besides breathing war has been the only constant in human behavior. War has been waged in one form or another since there have been enough people to take up sides and hit each other over the head with clubs to get a bigger cave. National and international governments are built by the stacking marbles in a corner principle. Sooner or later no matter how carefully you stack the marbles they fall down and the process starts all over again. I have seen no indication this pattern will be broken anytime soon. We
          • by bug1 (96678)

            "We tend to judge our society by our technology advancements not our advancements in basic human behavior. Take away the technology and we are no different then the people who lived in the Roman Empire."

            I do very strongly agree with this statement.

            Have you ever read of Platos theory of forms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_Forms [wikipedia.org] ?

            It is very unfortunate that so much of our technological advancements involve the lowest form of reality, which is impressions of physical reality.

            Anyway, i dont see War are

      • Rather than tame it perhaps we should learn to alter it. I've always thought that if the average person was as well behaved (for their world) as the average dog is (for its world) then we would be living on a much better planet.

        Or put another way, perhaps people are just irrational and sometimes nasty in a way that most animals aren't. Of course once you watch a cat play with its food - until the food finally dies - it's hard to look at them the same way again.

    • Interesting idea.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawrence_Kohlberg's_stages_of_moral_development#Stages [wikipedia.org]

      Un-"principled" behavior.

      If Anonymity allows people to show their true self, and we dont like what we see, its not anonymity thats the problem.

      That's insightful. But let's not fall into simplistic thinking. The problem doesn't exist -- things go badly by means of a variety of influences. And as you're suggesting, the lack of principled ethical motivation in people is probably a major player.

    • Anonymity IS a problem, and human society has long recognized this fact. If you doubt me, try walking through a shopping mall while wearing a ski mask. It is actually against the law in our society to conceal your identity. One reason for this is that history has taught us that the average human being engages in a variety of negative behaviors if they think they can escape responsibility for them. Anonymity allows people to act without fear of repercussion. I wish that human nature didn't make this a p
      • by bug1 (96678)

        "Anonymity allows people to act without fear of repercussion. I wish that human nature didn't make this a problem."

        What your saying is that you believe human nature is a problem, and anonymity is a _symptom_ of that problem.

        People can be anonymous without being irresponsible, so its not anonymity thatâ(TM)s the problem. Learn about causality, logic, and all that stuff and you will understand.

        e.g Speeding is illegal because crashing is a problem

  • by bmo (77928) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:48PM (#36877086)

    This is a carefully orchestrated war on anonymity. It started with facebook, now Google, and now we have a "paper" saying that "anonymity is killing the internet" and "making your hair curl."

    Make no mistake about it. I'm waiting for my g+ account to be nuked.

    --
    BMO

    • by epyT-R (613989)

      at least there is one other here who sees this.. it truly shocks me that the average poster here doesn't see this trend.. I think it started with those 'single signon' advocates about 10-12 years ago.

      people need to realize that hiding the truth under the filthy rug of political correctness does not make it go away, full of bile or not.

    • You know, to be honest I just assumed you could never actually be anonymous on the internet. The way I figured it, phone calls could always be tracked via which line you were using to make a call. Similarly, someone's online identity could always be tracked based on whatever utility bills your were using to access the internet. Of course, that's not really the most technical way of phrasing it, but I never once assumed that my identity was hidden in any effective manner on the internet.

      Maybe I'm just par
      • by bmo (77928)

        I have never assumed that either. If you look hard enough, you can probably tie this alias to my meatspace address. I've had it that long.

        But I do not wish to remove all barriers to that by being required to use my real name everywhere. My parents have an unlisted phone number, and mine is too by way of cellphone.

        Locks keep honest people out and are not really a deterrent to actual hardened criminals. This does not mean I should remove my door from its hinges.

        --
        BMO

    • War on anonymity (Score:4, Insightful)

      by traindirector (1001483) on Monday July 25, 2011 @08:03PM (#36878016)

      I'm not so sure the "war on anonymity" is carefully being orchestrated, though I certainly hear the loudening beat of its drums. And there are certainly forces that are very much behind the cause.

      What worries me most is the support for it I hear from those who aren't very interested in the topic. I think many people see horrible comments on websites or blogs, hear something like the "Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory", and just assume that's the problem, with the obvious solution being banning anonymity without thinking about the negative consequences for true expression of the unpopular, embarrassing, and taboo.

      Systems using pseudonyms and reputation systems are up to the challenge--while not obvious at first, a little thought into the problem shows this. You could even have adding your legal name give you a reputation boost (doesn't Amazon do something like this?). But with all the blaring bile about how humans are not capable of having the power of anonymity without reverting to sub-human pseudo-demons, too little attention is being paid to the real solution that doesn't stifle discourse.

      I hope that the problem is that the pseudonym+reputation solution isn't obvious to the person who is first confronted with this problem, and that over time it will become clear and a consensus will build that anonymity doesn't need to be removed--we just need to add a reputation element. There are certainly forces that will push against this and favor getting rid of anonymity as soon as possible, but I'm far from convinced they will succeed. [Perhaps this is too hopeful?]

      • by artor3 (1344997)

        Reputation systems don't work. They just fracture the internet into radicalized cliques. People are forced to either mesh with the groupthink for a particular site, or leave. Just look at Slashdot... no matter how honestly someone believes that Microsoft is a good company, if they try to express that view on a routine basis, they'll be banned from participating in the moderation system at no time.

        • They just fracture the internet into radicalized cliques.

          How about a multi-site reputation system?

          Just look at Slashdot... no matter how honestly someone believes that Microsoft is a good company [. . .]

          That's not true in my experience. While a pro-Microsoft post requires a little more explanation and good reasoning, I've seen plenty of them with +5s. Sure, a one-sentence pro-Microsoft post like "MS just does it better!" isn't going to be received favorably, but Microsoft posts with reason seem to be up-modded by some and not down-modded by those who hate everything about Microsoft.

          [. . . ] if they try to express that view on a routine basis, they'll be banned from participating in the moderation system at no time.

          I don't think this is true. A Microsoft troll may be, but I imagine someone who consi

  • by bistromath007 (1253428) on Monday July 25, 2011 @06:53PM (#36877172)
    There is a rather simple way to see that it is not.

    Young people, brought up on the Internet: currently less likely to vote, yes, but not generally given to being mired in the standard polarizing bullshit that boomers ruin the world over, are they?

    Given that it is well-known that the American political system currently runs on spite, it should be wonderful news that our nations' youth have found a much less destructive place to vent their spleen.
  • Adopt a pseudonym and you are not putting much of yourself on the line. Put your name to something and your words are freighted with responsibility."

    not about responsibliity. more like fear of retribution.. whether that retribution is righteous or not is based on subjective view points. I have a problem with this article because it suggests that anonymity is inherently a bad thing. It's not. Anonymity allows people to take positions that need taking, social 'conventions' be damned.

    The psychologists call it 'deindividuation.' It's what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed.

    Ironic, considering that the author is basically saying that anonymity shields individuals from whatever collective groupthink is in play. I'd call it 'REindividualization

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:13PM (#36877426)

    Yes, anonymity could be a cloak for someone who fears reprisal (social, physical, legal).

    People can and do build reputations around their pseudonyms online, where they reinstall the social norms. You see it on forums every now and then (for example, heavy posters who fear losing their reputations making apologies for bad behavior). Like any society, the internet has it's own behavioral controls - whether they're remnants from offline controls or new ones like 'troll' flags. We're just developing them - some of us are still kids in costumes again really.

    • by joh (27088)

      Only works if you chose a pseudonym and then stick to it. In which case it just becomes another "real name" over time. But many people don't want to have a "real name" they can be recognized by. They want to be truly anonymous, just a bodyless voice spitting bile and hate without having to stand up for it. They change their pseudonymes more often than their fucking passwords.

      I totally agree that this is becoming a problem. The right to be anonymous is in many cases very important, but these situations are e

  • And we make people use their real names. When we didn't we got too many nut-cases and almost-real bots. As a result, discussion is polite and stays more on topic. The rest of the web can have the lusers with weird handles, suits me fine. Flame wars don't.
  • by Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:37PM (#36877704)

    and then there are the ones who don't give a crap who sees them because they only think about themselves to start with... hard to feel guilty about anything when your core belief is that you are the only person in the world that matters.

    As an example we grow several flowers in our unfenced front yard and also have a bench out at the edge of the side-walk so people can sit and rest a minute and enjoy the view. Twice in the last two weeks I've seen people just stop and grab a handful of the Lilies for themselves. The last time I got to the front door before they left and asked them WTF she was doing... this woman replies "well I was just going to sit on your lovely bench and admire the view." - a complete non sequitur. I said "So you are rewarding us for putting out the bench by stealing our flowers?" She just repeated the same lame statement and sat on the bench for a minute then left.

    The entire patch of lilies has been stripped over the last month. Since we don't get to enjoy them and the neighbours and passers-by don't get to enjoy looking at them we will just stop growing them. The other result is that we now feel like we have to spend time and money to put up a significant fence around our vegetable garden because hearing "Hey I was going to sit on your bench and I was hungry" can't be far off.

  • by cimmerian (59932) on Monday July 25, 2011 @07:49PM (#36877852) Homepage

    Another interesting analysis with anonymity in the Internet age could be done with the Vancouver Stanley Cup riots from a couple of months ago. People were openly destroying vehicles and commercial property while knowingly surrounded by cell phones and professional photographers recording every move they made. Video and photos were uploaded in real time to the Internet, eventually assisting the police and the public to identify a large number of locals.

    It was a bizarre case of cognitive dissonance where these criminals would pose in front of their crimes without a thought to the fact that they would be easily identified and charged with the said photo.

  • "People hold online anonymity up as a virtue and necessity. I say it is the root cause of a social disease, and should be greatly limited." — Matt Greenfield

    That is the root of this "holier than thou", aka koolaid, disease. When somebody thinks freedom of speech is evil and needs limitation. Yes, anonymity equals freedom of speech. Otherwise, every post should be 100% public to stamp out hidden grumbling disease; it also begs the question of why does Google Circles, or Facebook FriendLists even exist?

    • I'm all in favour of freedom of speech, but I don't think it really exists any more. It was once a founding principle of the USA, but it has been progressively eroded by libel and slander lawsuits. Arguably, we are held accountable for the things we say when we are not anonymous - and this has created a polarising situation. We cannot have freedom of speech unless we are anonymous, but we hideously abuse that freedom of speech when we are. A quick trip to 4Chan will show just how badly that freedom is a
  • For example, putting a geo location after every post by the board would give a great deal of perspective. For example, a great deal of posts on the Internet treat Zionism as some boogie word. This has become a meme that is subscribed even by the people who are not in any way antisemitic. But what if it was known that most of these posts originated in Arab countries? Wouldn't that perspective have changed the view on weight and validity of this meme. As another example, so many foreigners were fond of A
  • by cbybear (256161) on Monday July 25, 2011 @09:15PM (#36878674)

    I've been biking to work for over 4 years now. About 3 months ago I attached a GoPro HD camera to my helmet to record my bike ride. It is very obvious on my helmet, impossible to miss if you see me on the bike.

    Almost instantly I noticed a drop in car aggression towards me. And so far I've not had anymore "drivers get out of the car and threaten violence" situations. I decided on a camera for legal reasons. Police always told me whenever I reported something that it was my word against theirs. So I expected the camera to help with that. I was a bit surprised when a lot of the problems just stopped.

    So anonymous behaviors extend into the real-world and are combatted in the same way. De-anonymousization...

    --kev

    • What the heck are you doing that people _regularly_ threatened you? That you _regularly_ had to deal with the police?

  • The problem with anonymity is that I don't know who I want to listen to. If I know that a certain individual has made polite conversation before, or can be trusted with my data, I am happy to talk with them. But if they're a stranger, how do I know they're not going to lie to me, spam me, troll, etc? Slashdot is on to the right system. People who interact well with others should gain social capital (karma in this case), which makes it more likely for them to communicate with others. Acting wrongly earns the

  • I don't need my information to pass through a series of societal filters before it gets to me.
  • It's true, and it unfortunately spreads to Slashdot as well. I made a rather unfortunate error due to my own ignorance yesterday, and was set upon by a few dozen people (mostly anonymous) spewing hatred and telling me that I'm an idiot, can't handle intelligent work, need to stay off of Slashdot, attempting to troll me into getting angry, et cetera. I'm only observing the effect of one person being wrong on the Internet, specifically on Slashdot, and I don't need any pity for the hole I dug myself.

    The mob m

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