Hiltmon

On walkabout in life and technology

I Choose Not to Be Anonymous

A simple premise.

  1. I always post from my own domains or accounts, all of which are traceable back to me.
  2. I sign and add my true byline, which is me, to all my work.
  3. I always use my name, hiltmon, when commenting or responding on other sites or services.
  4. Anyone can always get in touch with me via this web site, email, Twitter, App.Net, Facebook, Google+, Linked-In and other services, I am not hiding.
  5. There is only one hiltmon, and it is I. Google me.

I choose not to be anonymous. Here’s why.

There has been an ongoing debate on the internet for years whether anonymous posting or commenting is a good or a bad thing. Debating the goodness or badness of it is a distraction, it’s existence and the people’s choices are the real issues.

I think its a choice not to be anonymous, but not all of us have the same choices. Anonymity is absolutely necessary if the poster is being discriminated against, living under some kind of martial law, a victim of a crime, a political refugee or someone who, by posting, will be incarcerated or killed. These folks should have access to anonymous posting so that their stories and the truth can get out. So that we, the rest of the internet, can learn about it, and maybe do something about it. We should not stand by on principle while they may suffer or die for nothing.

But for all other cases, I believe that anonymous posting is not a good idea, a bad choice. Consider this, you read a blog post by an anonymous author. How do you know if they are credible? How do you know if the post is truthful or spin or outright lies? How can you be sure that the post is not some corporate marketing placement, an agenda or a scam? If it’s anonymous, you have no idea. If the post has a byline, you can check the source and determine credibility for yourself.

Anonymous commenting on the other hand is rife with abuse, and that abuse bothers me too. The trolling, the hate, the stalking, the flame wars all work because the commenter assumes they cannot be traced, and so they can “get away” with things. It’s childish and immature. It defaces sites, devalues other people’s work, and shows complete disrespect. There are places for this sort of behavior, Hacker News and Reddit come to mind, but nowhere else. Aside: I am very pleased that the commenters on my site are rarely anonymous and do not abuse the service.

It takes courage to put your name on things the world can see, copy and save for later. It takes integrity to stand behind your own comments and writing. It takes self-respect to put yourself out there and respect others.

I cannot (and have no right to) tell folks what to do on the internet, but maybe I can set an example.

I choose not to be anonymous.

Follow the author as @hiltmon on Twitter and @hiltmon on App.Net. Mute #xpost on one.

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