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Internet Commenting Growing Away From Anonymity 384

Posted by Soulskill
from the playing-nice-with-others dept.
An article from the Associated Press makes the case that internet commenting is slowly but surely transitioning away from widespread anonymity. More and more sites are finding that the prevalence of vitriolic comments is driving away new readers, not to mention other, more reasonable commenters. Sites like YouTube and the Huffington Post are leading the charge, requiring users to log in via Google+ and Facebook respectively in order to establish a real-world identity. The Post's managing editor, Jimmy Soni, said, 'We are reaching a place where the Internet is growing up. These changes represent a maturing (online) environment.' "Nearly three-quarters of teens and young adults think people are more likely to use discriminatory language online or in text messages than in face to face conversations, according to a recent poll ... Newspapers are also turning toward regulated comments. Of the largest 137 U.S. newspapers — those with daily circulation above 50,000 — nearly 49 percent ban anonymous commenting, according to Arthur Santana, assistant communications professor at the University of Houston. Nearly 42 percent allow anonymity, while 9 percent do not have comments at all.
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Internet Commenting Growing Away From Anonymity

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  • by cshark (673578) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:13AM (#45795563)

    This is just nuts. The internet isn't growing up, big money sites like the LA Times and Reuters are just getting lazy. What ever happened to comment moderation? Why is it so fantastically difficult to screen these things?

    • by DigiWood (311681) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:19AM (#45795625)

      Companies like the ones you mentioned are all about not paying someone to do what to you and I would be something simple: Moderate the discussion. They also don't want the readership doing the moderation because that could potentially be at odds with the publications owners views.

      • by iamhassi (659463) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:55AM (#45795969) Journal
        It's less about moderation and more about control and mob mentality, because now with people's name and Facebook being available the Internet can go attack that person they do not agree with. I think that is far more dangerous than a few negative comments.
        • by tverbeek (457094) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:26AM (#45796273) Homepage
          If you think that the problem is "a few negative comments", you haven't looked at the responses posted on any news sites lately. I won't even look at the comments sections on the web site of my local metropolitan newspaper, let alone post anything: they are a rancid stew of idiocy, bigotry, and partisan attacks.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            they are a rancid stew of idiocy, bigotry, and partisan attacks.

            Funny how they think using real names will eliminate that behavior. I've been seeing the same type of comments coming from Firstname Lastname as I see from Xx_BuTt_B0ngZ_69_xX on sites where it's enforced.

          • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday December 27, 2013 @04:35PM (#45799673)

            "If you think that the problem is "a few negative comments", you haven't looked at the responses posted on any news sites lately. I won't even look at the comments sections on the web site of my local metropolitan newspaper, let alone post anything: they are a rancid stew of idiocy, bigotry, and partisan attacks."

            So what? Their proposed "solutions" simply aren't.

            They've made it a little more difficult to post anonymously, but so what? If they want to they will find a way to make anonymous (or pseudonymous) posts anyway. It's like DRM: it mostly hurts the good guys by inconveniencing them because someone else behaved badly. That's a terrible way to make your rules.

            As for YouTube: people are simply not commenting anymore. Not that it matters. I have had a pseudonymous account on Google+ for years, just as I have here on Slashdot. I just don't like to use it because Google+ is little more than a data farm for Google and its advertisers. Just like I have some Facebook accounts, which I almost never use.

            Newspapers always "moderated" their Letters to the Editor section, and the guest editorials they published. Now that they're online, they think they can do that without moderators? Why?

            As that other poster mentioned: this is likely more about editorial control of speech than any kind of "protection" from trolls. These policies are driving people away. It's that simple. And then they wonder why they're making less money??? Astounding.

        • by DexterIsADog (2954149) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:52AM (#45796521)
          Think of real world identification for online comments like the suggestion that we replace seatbelts and airbags in automobiles with a sharp metal spike in the middle of the steering wheel. Imagine how much more carefully the average person would drive!

          Naturally, no sane society would do that to cars, but the equivalent vulnerability in online commenting would do wonders for civility, and I also believe improve the quality of the content. Yes, yes, there would be some horror stories about people posting reasonable comments who are persecuted, but then, life is risk, isn't it?

          Just to show my money, er, identity is where my mouth is, here's my real life information. Feel free to send any and all comments about my post.

          Barack Obama
          1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
          Washington, DC 20500 (202) 456-1111
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:28AM (#45796297)

        NO. Wrong. You are wrong, sir. So very, very wrong.

        Companies -- all companies -- have one simple thing in common: they do not care what happens to the unwashed masses as long as the company makes money. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and on and on. Not one of them care about you. Sure, step up and give them a little money and they will pretend to care, but if you want any long-term caring to happen you'd better have a contract and it had better be written by your lawyer, not theirs.

        Nope, I think if someone does a little digging here all you will find is these sites championing civil discourse in their comments only want names and addresses, and they only want those for one of two reasons: to sell the info for money or to use the info to protect themselves from losing money.

        When you see a news story, just think who would make money and how and all will become clear.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:20AM (#45795647)

      Moderation requires manpower. Nobody in their right mind volunteers to moderate comments for for-profit businesses, so they have to pay moderators. Which they don't want to do.
      Which means either you get spam, flames and shitposting, or forced registration/real id.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        +1 Insightful

      • by DigiWood (311681) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:31AM (#45795735)

        People moderate for /. all the time that are not paid. /. is a for-profit business.

        • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:43AM (#45795863) Homepage
          Slashdot's moderation is also heavily dependent on the whim of the hivemind. We're not as bad as, say, 4chan, but we're still pretty awful.
          • by jd2112 (1535857) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:43AM (#45796441)
            Slashdot moderation is among the best (or perhaps just least bad) of all the sites I regularly visit.
            • Slashdot moderation is among the best (or perhaps just least bad) of all the sites I regularly visit.

              Same here.

              Of course, considering that the only comment sites I frequent are Slashdot, Yahoo News, and my local Gannett publication, that's not really saying a whole lot.

          • by kencurry (471519) on Friday December 27, 2013 @01:11PM (#45797275)
            Read the comments on WSJ (even with unregistered comments blocked). Seriously, read them. You will come back to Slashdot and thank god for the wonderful minds that visit this site, and marvel at how well the mod system works.
            • by Sarten-X (1102295)

              On the other hand, I could go to The Daily WTF [worsethanfailure.com] and see discussions that aren't censored by a hivemind, and a few particularly good comments that have been blessed by the admins to get special notice.

              Slashdot's source material is generally better than most other sites, so its post-moderation quality gets a natural boost. Go dive into stories about Aaron Swartz, patents, or the NSA, and count up the mods on different viewpoints. The posts that agree with the hivemind will rarely get "redundant" mods, regardle

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:45AM (#45795879)

          Yes, and this site is quite obviously a different case than a general media outlet like a major newspaper or CNN. Try to implement /.-like moderation on one of those sites and I guarantee that it would be swamped with sock puppets, many of them paid, to push very specific agendas, like the absurd, ongoing denial of the reality of climate change. It would only make the current bad situation much worse.

          There are many site where I don't even look at the comments any more, because they're so infested with vileness and nonsense. /. is a notable exception; for me, about 90% of the value of this site is in the comments.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @12:01PM (#45796597)

            Yes, and this site is quite obviously a different case than a general media outlet like a major newspaper or CNN. Try to implement /.-like moderation on one of those sites and I guarantee that it would be swamped with sock puppets[...]

            You mean, unlike the sock puppets who seek to get /. to outlaw anonymous posting by constantly trolling every thread with "hosts file", "golden girls", "frost piss", and other stupidity?

            A lot of the companies whose fortunes are tied up in a business model which requires them to associate your demographics and opinions with your actual identity tend to piss themselves every time it looks like the /. moderation system is still working, and still allowing anonymous posting. I have absolutely no doubt that most of those trolls are being paid, and paid well, for attempting to destroy the economic viability of anonymous postings everywhere they are currently allowed.

            After all, you can't get a site to buy into single sign-on, be it Facebook's or Disqus' or Google+'s, unless you first get them to buy into the idea that a sign-in is necessary in the first place. And you can't charge an account and paywall the entire Internet using your micropayment mechanism, unless you can tie those payments back to an account you are able to then debit, which is where all this crap is headed, if they get their way.

            Welcome to the new cable TV! First, we sold it to you as having no commercials, and then when you were already paying, we slowly crept the commercials back in so that the very thing you were paying for in the first place was no longer true, and now we'd like to convert you to pay-per-view for everything, and, oh yeah, there's still going to be commercials.

          • I can't even see the comments if I wanted to (which I don't). I block disqus and its ilk via noscript and adblock. its another tracking thing I don't want on my browser or network. and by blocking it, the page loads faster and I get less crap on my screen.

            having a few companies 'manage' the comments is great; it means I can block them all with just a few rules.

            some sites are worth looking at comments (like this one) but news sites are ALL bullshit re: user comments; and so blocking that crap actually imp

        • by asdf7890 (1518587) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:49AM (#45795911)

          /. is a for-profit business.

          Not in the same sense as the examples given by the posts above, from the point of view of the man on the street. /. manages to maintain a certain amount of its "community spirit" so people are willing to put that little bit of effort in, but having navigated through the LA Times paywal people are not going to want to give even that much extra ("I'm paying for this, someone else should be making sure it is worth me paying for" would be a common thought on the matter).

          Then again epopel spend time making reviews on Amazon and the like (the good reviews that is: the bad ones are peope with an axe to grind so that isn't quite the same) so perhaps it could work, though they'd still have the problem of the moderation being "off message" and to avoid that they'd be back to paying someone (thsi time paying them to moderate the moderators).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          ./ moderation is about more than just weeding out the trolls, spammers and flamebaiters - otherwise the little flag would be enough. It is a quality-rating system, which is an incentive to moderators but also promotes bias. An angry comment will get treated differently depending on whether it slams OSS or Windows, it leans liberal or conservative, etc. A redundant comment may get a free pass if it's in the right camp.

          Also see the blatant abuse of the spam flag in YouTube whenever a comment goes against the

        • by kelemvor4 (1980226) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:00AM (#45796025)

          People moderate for /. all the time that are not paid. /. is a for-profit business.

          People that moderate /. also have good karma and get paid in the form of the "disable advertising" checkbox.

          • While I have the option of disabling ads I don't and still will click them, especially MS ones since I find making MS pay /. some what amusing.
        • by unixisc (2429386)
          If they want to enforce real world identities, they should also do what /. does and allow Anonymous Cowards to post. There will be a lot of reasons for people to not post their real views under their own names. What does one want them to do - lie? This way, let people post views they are comfortable posting openly, and let them post the more uncomfortable views anonymously
        • by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmail. c o m> on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:10AM (#45796125) Homepage

          The habit of moderating was established and became part of the community ethos before /. became a for profit business.

    • by AJH16 (940784) <ajNO@SPAMgccafe.com> on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:33AM (#45795747) Homepage

      If they did that, how would they harvest people's personal information by making them associate their Facebook or Google account with their application? Why have a cost center (paying someone to moderate) when you could have a profit center (farming people's info). It's also worth noting that in the vast majority of cases, all this does is make it so that I don't participate in their comments and the comments sections on most sites that do this seem to be much more dead than the sites that do not.

      • THIS. Huffington Post isn't saying "you have to use your real name to comment here", they're saying "you have to have a facebook account to comment here". Big difference.

        Needless to say, fuck you Huffington Post and anyone else who requires me to give facebook more personal info.

        Civil enough for you?

    • by game kid (805301)

      The worst part about Real Name harassment like that is that it helps the Surveillance State, helps creepy companies, helps creepy marketers (redundant, I know), helps creepy people in general, and scares non-creepy people away from discussing germane but sensitive experiences they have had, and all while THE FUCKING TROLLS STILL FUCKING TROLL AS USUAL BECAUSE THEY DON'T FUCKING CARE ABOUT REAL FUCKING NAMES AND PROBABLY EVEN FUCKING STOLE THE ACCOUNT THEY USED IN THE FIRST PLACE. *cough* Sorry, my frustrat

      • Fuck the fucking fuckers?

      • by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:27AM (#45796289) Journal

        That's not the worst part, that's the only part. The entire purpose of using a Real Name is that it aids various governments in controlling their citizens. You will even recall US Federal government officials encouraging anonymity in the early days of the Internet for personal security. That anonymity provides security is obvious. Security through obscurity, although imperfect is also obvious; however it is still security. Or in the case of a government, a hurdle to overcome when policing a populace.

        Otherwise, there is no advantage in using a Real Name in conversations on the Internet, but rather only disadvantages.

        • I'm less worried about the government monitoring me than my current/future employers. They all run google-checks on applicants now - if they found out I've insulted every major religion, that's going to make me look like someone who might cause friction in the workplace.

    • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:29AM (#45796313)

      Agreed. I'll answer your question in a moment ...

      I've been online for 20+ years. The cycle of online human communication is *always* the same.

      * Forum (BBS / newgroup / website) provides a common ground for people to share info. / tips / opinions
      * Site is small as only the "geeks" use it
      * Site gains Momentum and goes mainstream
      * The crazies come out of the woodwork -- Name Calling / Ad Hominem / Trolls attack -- people keep forgetting authority needs accountability
      * Moderators are either
          a) 45% of the time non-existent
          b) 45% of the time grammar/spelling/free-thought nazis where posters need to tow the party line,
          c) 4% of the time does it rarely exist there are balanced moderators who allow a difference of opinion as long as it it kept civil and intelligent
          d) 1% site allows members to self-moderate
      * All the old members complain about "the good ole days" when the noobs / newbs / hipsters, etc. didn't drive the S/N from Signal into Noise
      * New site starts that promises to be "Bigger, Better, Cheaper", etc.
      * Old site membership is split as some members leave to check out "Awesome new site" (temporarily, others for good),
      * Old site lingers but never really recovers from the mass influx of growth and decay.
      * Rinse and Repeat ad nauseum.

      What /. did innovate at the time was to allow the crapfest of usenet to be FILTERED. Reddit has mob rule when you get carpet modded into oblivion because people don't want their thinking challenged.

      Newspaper used to exist because people saw the value in someone else filtering the amount of information to collect mostly signal and to present THAT to you so you didn't have to waste your time filtering the S/N.

      Now to answer your question:

      Why is *good* moderation so HARD?
        1. Because it involves TRUST. Are you an expert? Prove it? etc.
        2. The problem is that Truth is NOT only objective, but ALSO subjective. The majority fall into the fallacy of duality. "I'm right, THEREFORE you're wrong." instead of being humble and honest enough to admit. "My POV has + and -, Your POV has + and -. What *new* things can we learn from the difference and intersection of these strengths and weaknesses?"

      As a Mystic I am able to see the Strengths and Weakness in *everything*. The question is NOT about simple-minded good vs evil, but about being able to have an open mind and consider ALL the possibilities: the short-term, the long-term, how the strengths of short-term thinking/action might eventually become the negative in the long-term, and vice versa, what did the negative teach us, etc. Most people are not able to communicate with clear, simple, logic free of mis-guided emotion, let analyze something to that depth.

      Being passionate is fine. Be able to walk the line between Logic and Emotion -- yeah, we're all still trying to figure that one out. Especially when some noob / fanboi makes an ignorant comment and you just want to flame his ass for being a stupid git. :-)

      cue oblg. xkcd ...
        http://xkcd.com/591/ [xkcd.com]
      http://3d.xkcd.com/802/ [xkcd.com]

      References:
        * "A Community Membership Life Cycle Model" http://arxiv.org/pdf/1006.4271.pdf [arxiv.org]
        * http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_community [wikipedia.org]

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nerdyalien (1182659)

      FYI, I work in far east in a country where total population is about 5 million (40% are immigrants).

      Recently I have worked for the top news broadcaster in the country to revamp their website. As part of the support duties, I had the pleasure of sitting in their news room. I met a guy there, whose 9-5 duty is to 1) update news organization's official FaceBook account with up to date news updates, 2) Remove any comment with obscene words; sexist or racist remarks; and other comments alike them. He was telling

  • No, it's not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:16AM (#45795591)

    People are just being forced to give up anonymity. There's a difference.

    • People are just being forced to give up anonymity.

      Really? Forced? Really?

    • People are just being forced to give up anonymity. There's a difference.

      I don't quite understand how linking a throwaway account accomplishes use of real-world identity.

      e.g. Most facebook accounts are fake and there are plenty of sites offering disposable email accounts (10minutemail.com) to easily bypass "identity verification" during registration.

      My suspicion this is mostly cover for laziness, lawyers hyperventilating and desire to convert anonymous browsers accessing sites to user identity. Being turned off by trolls in the comments seems paradoxical considering a great num

  • Whatever (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:16AM (#45795595) Homepage Journal

    When my local Gannett-owned newspaper switched from a PHPbb type forum to the new Facebook comments, it pretty much killed discussion altogether.

    The irony, of course, is despite the big banner extolling the virtues of non-anonymous commenting ('"it'll make everyone play nice!" Like that's something we give a shit about) the people who actually had anything intelligent to say were the ones who stopped commenting; since it's still pretty easy to create a fake facebook account, trolls abound.

    Seriously, sometimes it's like 4chan without pictures over there.

  • Nonsense. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Karmashock (2415832) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:19AM (#45795633)

    1. The change is happening on companies that make money by connecting advertisers with potential customers. A large part of their revenue comes directly or indirectly through data mining their user base. If their user base is bogus names and bogus information then the value of the data mining is less. Therefore it is in the interest of these companies to get real information in their databases. This is the primary reason this is desirable.

    2. Smaller websites that are if anything more known for thoughtful commentary have no such program.

    3. There has been a consistent effort by politicians to get identities put on internet comments so they can file law suits or other forms of heavy handed harassment against anyone that would dare criticize them.

    4. While internet trolls are an issue, anyone that has been on the internet for awhile gets used to them. You just don't take them seriously anymore. You recognize them for what they are and then you "nothing" them. They are deleted if only from your own perception.

    5. It is telling that leading the charge to have identities on the internet are entities such as the Chinese government etc... This is who you're praising.

    Will we gain something by having real identities on the internet? Yes. But we will lose a great deal more. This is a fool's bargain. We would do well to protect our anonymity if only because it will protect our ability to speak our minds. Those that advocate for real names are advocates for censorship. Point blank.

    • Re:Nonsense. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:59AM (#45796015)

      While internet trolls are an issue, anyone that has been on the internet for awhile gets used to them.

      For most trolls this is true. However, there are the occassional trolls who have nothing better to do that make your life miserable or are so mentally unbalanced that they think they are "doing good" by harassing you. Online, they have limited powers, but if they get a hold of your real-world identity they can cause serious harm. Example, there's a troll (who I won't name for fear she'll find her way here and see *my* real name) who has harassed me in the past. She didn't know my real name (Slashdot is one of the few places I use it) so her power over me was limited. One of her targets, though, used his real name and mentioned where he worked. She called up his job, reporting him for child abuse (he's a teacher), found and contacted all of his family on Facebook, and contacted his local police department to report him for child pornography. None of those charges were true, and luckily he had warned enough people about her that the damage was minimal, but he's still had to endure years of not knowing who she would contact next to spread lies. (In her mind, she's a "prophet of god" and everything she says comes straight from god himself, so obviously there's no way or reasoning with her.) Before anyone asks, police were contacted in this and other cases regarding her but nothing was done. (Her living in another country complicates matters and it's too "small time" for any real traction to get moving.)

      Were I forced to use my real name everywhere, she could have done the same to me or the other few dozen people she's harassed (from bloggers to Boy George to the CEO of FireFox). Now imagine a hundred other trolls like her empowered by having access to the real world identities of the people they are harassing. If real-world identities themselves don't scare away commenters, the trolls will.

      • Re:Nonsense. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Karmashock (2415832) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:14AM (#45796155)

        Yes. And it should be understood that the politicians and various political and corporate entities that want you to shut up on occasion will use the same tactics or worse to silence you if they can find you.

        This is currently a great frustration for them. They have tried to do this to a few people and publicly lamented that they just couldn't find these people to shut them up.

        We let this happen and they will come after us at some point.

        Further... the whole thing is really being spearheaded by corporations that are finally having to admit that their vast user databases are mostly full of junk data that isn't actually worth anything. They've tricked their investors into thinking they had a lot of valuable information there... and possibly it is valuable... but not 100 billion dollars of value. And that is their problem.

        So they're trying sweeten their databases by filling them with real information.

      • I've seen a similar one. A person who's blog I used to debate on got drawn into a long-running dispute. It ended with him buying a domain name to impersonate their blog and using their alias to post material apparently calling for the abolition of age-of-consent laws and justifying child sexual abuse.

        When I last saw the blog, there were no more commenters - they all left along with me, terrified of becoming his next target.

        That particular danger was triggered by politics - he was one of those super-patriot

      • by Solandri (704621)

        Example, there's a troll (who I won't name for fear she'll find her way here and see *my* real name) who has harassed me in the past. She didn't know my real name (Slashdot is one of the few places I use it) so her power over me was limited. One of her targets, though, used his real name and mentioned where he worked. She called up his job, reporting him for child abuse (he's a teacher), found and contacted all of his family on Facebook, and contacted his local police department to report him for child por

    • Smaller websites that are if anything more known for thoughtful commentary have no such program.

      While YMMV, all of the smaller websites I visit are moderated, and thus have no need of such a program.

      While internet trolls are an issue, anyone that has been on the internet for awhile gets used to them. You just don't take them seriously anymore. You recognize them for what they are and then you "nothing" them. They are deleted if only from your own perception.

      That's your perception, not a universal

      • As to perception, its more a question of maturity.

        There is a guy across the street that plays a saxophone about twice a month sometimes pretty loudly. I'd be lying if I said it wasn't occasionally annoying. But do you want to live in a world where you can't play your saxophone every once in awhile without a bunch of annoying people coming by to give you a hard time?

        I don't... So I make a point of ignoring it when it happens and hope that when I do whatever it is that is annoying others will be just as under

    • Anonymity is not what you think it is on the Interwebs, at least in the U.S. Given the amount of data collected by the NSA, if you posting anonymously becomes a person of interest to Federal law enforcement, then your anonymity is gone as it doesn't take much to figure out who you are by your traffic.

      Facingbook certainly knows who you are, anonymous comments included, if you use that site.

    • by T.E.D. (34228)
      6. Lack of Anonymity doesn't actually get rid of trolls. Mentally unhinged people are certain they are in the right at all times, and frankly don't care if the world knows who they are or not. That's why restraining orders exist (and why they are routinely violated by the harassers). Getting rid of anonymity in fact helps the trolls, rather than hindering them.
  • by TechnoGrl (322690) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:22AM (#45795655)
    .... with far too much time on their hands and far too little psychological stability to completely ruin a forum for thousands. I think many, if not most of us, have seen that happen - one bad apple and all that. Add in the social media awareness of P.R. firms (or special interest groups) who will hire paid commenters to astro-turf a particular point of view and you have a recipe for mass incommunication.

    I welcome restrictions on who can comment and what someone can say such that we raise the signal to noise ratio and tone down the inanity, the crazy and the spam. I think we have left the era of unrestricted speech in much the same way that we once left the era of unrestricted radio communications. Just as we once started licensing in order to make use of the airwaves for everyone, we now have to monitor and moderate in such as way so as outlandish ideas ideas will not be restricted but outlandish people will be.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Viva la fascism!

    • by HBI (604924)

      Please, enjoy your walled garden ruled by your overlords. The rest of us will avoid such places, and be glad the Eternal September has led to this, finally. We might get the fucking Internet back at last. The spammers and trolls are parasites on the likes of you.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295)

        The Eternal September allowed the unwashed masses to access the Internet that had previously been a walled garden for academics. Those walls work both ways, and you seem to have enjoyed being on the inside.

    • As others have pointed out, it doesn't really work that way. You hope that people posting under their real identity will show restraint, but in practice the comments are often just as nasty. Besides, it is not that hard to create a fake FB or G+ account.

      And the flip side is that even posting polite, innocent comments can have real-world consequences. For example: openly professing an affiliation with certain "bad" political parties may (and here in NL: did!) result in being discriminated against at wo
      • All employers now run the 'google background check' on applicants. I imagine it's now a matter of routine for people to be turned down for a job because the potential boss doesn't like their political leanings or believes their religious or anti-religious views may cause workplace friction. It just doesn't get reported because it's very hard to prove - all the injured party gets is the form 'your application has not been successful' letter, with no indication of reason.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by twocows (1216842)
      There are already limits anywhere you go, even in places with almost completely anonymous speech (4chan has rules, too, and a moderation team to enforce them). This real name system won't lead to people "watching what they say;" look on Facebook and you'll see that real name tie-ins have very little effectiveness on that. What it will do is lead to a certain set of people choosing not to speak their mind and voice their opinions where there may be real life consequences (which is to say, anything outside cu
  • Nigger Hitler Fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gelfling (6534) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:23AM (#45795671) Homepage Journal

    That is all.

    • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:21AM (#45796233)
      I happen to have mod points today, and so could engage in a losing "Insightful/Funny" vs "Troll/Offtopic" mod war, but instead I'll comment that the people knee-jerk modding this down are *entirely* missing the point. Granted, "gelfing"'s 4-digit UID lends context that normally isn't available, but it's blazingly clear that "Nigger Hitler Fuck" is a bit of performance art which is both spot-on-topic and PERFECTLY cromulent to the discussion at hand.

      I'm reminded of Tom Duff's quote about Duff's Device [catb.org] as regards the fall-through behavior of case statements in C: "This code forms some sort of argument in that debate, but I'm not sure whether it's for or against."
  • by MrVictor (872700) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:26AM (#45795687)
    Take a look at the Facebook comment section of any sports article. The caustic comments are still there, and contrary to what they want you believe, are worse than ever. Now, instead of your typical benign flames and trolls you have truly nasty, personal insults aimed at a poster's wife and kids or something. It's truly disgusting. If these sites thought real identities were going to stop this thing, they were sorely mistaken. The masses have absolutely no dignity.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:40AM (#45795821)

      Exactly. Don't get fooled, there's plenty of people who are not ashamed of how stupid they are (or they don't even know it). There's plenty of people who are not shy to express their opinions, anonymous or not. What you don't get with real names system is people who have knowledge to share but don't want to be identified in fear of losing their jobs of being harassed.

      • Exactly. Don't get fooled, there's plenty of people who are not ashamed of how stupid they are (or they don't even know it).

        Hey now. We don't want to start hammering the dork dynasty dude again. Let's only complain about fundamentalist Muslims in far away countries. Let's not talk about fundamentalist Christians living in the swamps and deserets of America.

        • by asdf7890 (1518587)
          Ern, is there any particular reason you brought those thoughs up? The thread you;ve joined is talking about the reviews people leave on sports articles.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not about improving anything, it's about selling your personal information. Why are so many people over-thinking this?

    • by asdf7890 (1518587)
      To top it off when someone posts such a comment via facebook their contacts (who might be similarly minded) sometimes get a " commented on " notification which might pique their interest and bring them in to spout more of the same vitriol in defense of their friend (or just a show of solidarity).
      • by asdf7890 (1518587)
        (sorry, forgot we are in HTML-land for a moment there, I frequent markdown-ville more these days: in the above " commented on " should have been "<friend> commented on <thing>")
  • 'We are reaching a place where the Internet is growing up. These changes represent a maturing (online) environment.' - what's so grown up about attaching real names to online posts? Is stifling anonymity really that mature, or is it just about easier peer pressure guided moderation with marketing prospects and profiling? Paper mail can be anonymous and they can send comments to newspapers that get published and people don't seem to have an issue with that, so what's the problem with it when it is online?

  • Sites like YouTube and the Huffington Post are leading the charge, requiring users to log in via Google+ and Facebook respectively in order to establish a real-world identity.

    I still maintain my fake but according to facebook and Google+, "true identities" of myself. And guess what; it was very easy to get it set up.

    • I still maintain my fake but according to facebook and Google+, "true identities" of myself.

      You mean Ronald McDonald isn't real!?! He must be real if I can post on his wall.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:30AM (#45795723)

    Pretty much all arguments against online anonymity boil down to the desire for people to feel fear.

    Particularly, variants of fear of how they will be treated if they write what they think.

    Fear of how their colleagues will react, fear of how their family will react, fear of retribution from those who disagree, etc.

    You wanted to write anonymously? Well, now you have to write under your full name. How are you going to modify what you write as a result, and why?

    I point out that the Hollywood List of McCarthyism was NOT a government policy, but a VOLUNTARY NON-GOVERNMENTAL policy that simply involved banning people from jobs if they had particular views which they voiced. Was this a restriction on freedom of speech? Obviously not - people must count on having reactions against them if they voice objectionable views.

  • Cunts. (Score:5, Funny)

    by magic maverick (2615475) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:31AM (#45795741) Homepage Journal

    Hi.
    My name is Johan Smith, and I live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC.

    I just logged in to say, you're all a bunch of cunts. Soulskill is a cunt. The mods are all cunts. And this article was written by a cunt.

    Anyone who thinks that non-anonymous commentating will drive away the trolls, and the hacks, and the flamebaiters, is insane, and/or a cunt.

    Also, anyone who thinks that people are using their real names on the Internet is probably wrong.

  • by twocows (1216842) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:37AM (#45795797)
    Listen, part of the reason anonymous (and to a lesser extent, pseudonymous) commenting is a good thing is because you can say something you wouldn't normally be able to say for fear of some sort of real life consequences. I'm not talking about "trolling," I'm talking about political opinions or affinity for ideas or concepts that are looked down upon in polite society. Tying your real name to this means that anyone can find it and stifles free speech. Additionally, truly anonymous speech has to be judged on content, since there is no concept of reputation. If you say something stupid, someone will probably call you out on it and construct a logical explanation as to why you are wrong. Ironically, anonymous speech tends toward a place of more well-informed opinions, even if individual messages may vary greatly in quality.

    This move away toward "real name" tie-ins is bad any way you cut it. Yes, it cuts down on "trolling," but the cost is too high. There are other ways to cut back on that, anyway, like hiring more effective moderation staff. Even 4chan has a moderation team and users are able to report individual posts (though their moderation team is rather spotty and various less effective solutions often crop up in their absence). There are problems with any solution, but real-name tie-ins will end up with people tip-toeing around, which stifles intelligent discussion and leads to relative echo chambers where only the popular opinion is parroted.
    • Listen, part of the reason anonymous (and to a lesser extent, pseudonymous) commenting is a good thing is because you can say something you wouldn't normally be able to say for fear of some sort of real life consequences.... Yes, it cuts down on "trolling," but the cost is too high

      Disagree. What's going to change from a bunch of anonymous posts? Hell, they might have all been written by the same lobbying group or sales organization.
      Nothing changed during the McCarthy error from anonymous people complaining. What changed was real people standing up and saying their opinions out loud in front of congress and the American people. Egyptians can whine all they want anonymously on the internet but when they finally go stand in front of the government palace, then things start to change.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by twocows (1216842)
        Discussing issues with others, hearing critical feedback, better informs you about the issue. It's unlikely that any one particular anonymous comment is going to directly affect the world at large (though it might), but that's not the point. The point is to have a more informed and intelligent population, one that is able to come to their own conclusions, see and admit the flaws in their own reasoning, and possibly reach a consensus on an issue that is better than where we were before. Discussing a controve
  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:38AM (#45795799) Homepage

    Ok, not really, but what a sensational headline!

    Most of the sites using facingbooks and other comment systems ban comments someone, somewhere, in the media property don't like, which turns out to be most of the interesting comments. And then comments just die.

    The "Internet is growing up" has many meanings, but the one the most powerful Americans want is one that is a broadcast-only sh!t pipe the broadcaster (Media Monopolists) can endlessly quantize and monetize their viewers. Discouraging comments fits in nicely with those plans!

    • Their moderation policy is always, always biased. Usually in several different ways.

      A very common one I've noticed is in comment length - on just about any news site, the site moderators really don't want to see essay-length comments appear that eclipse the story they are commenting on. So you'll see lots of 'I support X' or 'I oppose X' comments and people making quick, soundbitey remarks - but never any detailed, critical analysis or discussion of the subject at hand.

      Then there is the bias to try not to g

  • Internet Commenting is not growing away from anonymity at all. However, some high profile sites that value traffic over content have determined that boring places tend to attract more people since the vast majority of people simply is extremely boring. Anonymous non-boring commenting will always be around. It's just not compatible with the desires of the bulk of advertisers that pay for the boring parts Internet.

  • by GlobalEcho (26240) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:45AM (#45795881)

    I generally refuse to post anything but the most anodyne statements on public web forums under my own name. Who knows what political or cultural opinion some future interlocutor might find offensive?

    However, give me a pseudonym and I'm happy to post. The risk of search engines making the association is small. I'm fine with being legally responsible (and culturally anonymous) for what I post, which is precisely what pseudonymity gives me.

    As with moderation, this is something Slashdot gets more or less right.

  • Usenet (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jbolden (176878) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:46AM (#45795891) Homepage

    Talk about going full circle. Back in the days of usenet your identity for comments was tied to your real name and your professional email. Then we had the anonymous internet with little in the way of ties that came when the AOL crowd got internet. I've often wondered what the internet of today would be like with the policies of then.

    The big difference was that most people worked for academia which is a very open environment where people don't get disciplined for opinions.

  • Slashdot editor Soulskill sucks cocks! And CowboyNeal is a cum-guzzling karma whore!

    I always post anonymously for obvious reasons.

  • 3 Possible Roots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by retroworks (652802) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:52AM (#45795947) Homepage Journal

    1) Potential for greater liability if the Site Owner tries to moderate but occasionally lets one slip.

    2) Potential for greater profit if linked accounts are worth more to advertisers

    3) China cracked down on anonymity (article from a year ago http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2012-12/28/china-internet-registration [wired.co.uk]) and we can't be left behind

  • Naive journalism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tom229 (1640685) on Friday December 27, 2013 @10:56AM (#45795981)
    This is for advertising/data mining purposes only. It has nothing to do with the "maturity" of the Internet, and it's completely wrong.

    Quite frankly you'd be silly to volunteer your identity in any public forum unless you're willing to deal with the consequences. And the consequences of being in the public spotlight are real and plenty.
  • by JoeyRox (2711699) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:09AM (#45796115)
    We're still in the midst of learning how deeply our own government has violated our privacy and websites decide now is a good time for people to give up their pseudonyms and reveal their true identities? Are they that stupid?
  • Misconstrued (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TangoMargarine (1617195) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:13AM (#45796147) Journal

    Just because sites are doing it in no way indicates that users *want* it that way.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Friday December 27, 2013 @11:13AM (#45796149)

    The community is not. People who are concerned about privacy simply avoid commenting on pages that outlaw having a private moment in life.

    I stopped commenting on YouTube. I stopped commenting on various news pages. I guess given time they will find out what drives even more people away than vitriolic comments is no comments worth reading at all. Because for some odd reason, when I peruse the various pages I used to frequent before they became part of the 1984 set, the quality of comments in general dropped, it didn't improve. Now you have mostly self-absorbed showoffs that would dance naked in the street if it only meant 5 seconds of YouTube fame.

    People who commented because they wanted to give people a piece of their mind, more often than not inspiring or insightful rather than destructive (and the destructive ones were easily blended out, given the omnipresent ability to simply ignore people you don't want to hear from), are moving away from these sites. There is now very little reason to read YouTube comments. Or, given the fact that it has become virtually impossible to watch YouTube videos without stuttering or loading problems anyway, to use that page altogether.

  • Luckily, my real name is TheloniousToady. I started posting here under my name after another account that used a pseudonym went to negative Karma when I posted some heartfelt opinions about a certain hot subject of Slashorthodoxy. Silly me.

    That was early in my posting career here. Now, I know that the heartfelt-ness of any opinion isn't relevant when it conflicts with Slashorthodoxy. The proprietors of this fine site seem to recognize this by giving us the option of easily posting as Anonymous Coward -

  • I think the places that are trying to justify* switching to real-name commenting are making the all-too-common correlation/causation mistake.

    Early places that switched to real-name commenting did see a decrease in trolls and an increase in comment quality. However, this was because early real-name commenting systems were clunky - you had to create your own detailed profile and such - so it kept out those who did not seriously want to comment.

    The more recent trend is to enforce real-name commenting by using

  • by radarskiy (2874255) on Friday December 27, 2013 @02:29PM (#45798177)

    These days trolls take pride in their work and want to be identified with it.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Friday December 27, 2013 @09:16PM (#45802211) Homepage Journal

    No, its not. Wanting to remain anonymous by default is the right thing to do, and has nothing to do with 'growing up'.

    Id call it some sort of fascism, if it was government controlled.

Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes. -- Mickey Mouse

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