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Comments: Anonymous VS. Onymous


Anonymous versus onymous. That is the question.

Every so often, during the heat of the battle, a commenter will assert that comments should be onymous. Well, actually, what is usually said is that only “non-anonymous” commenters should be allowed to post. Or, as one anonymous commenter said, “Require user verification and end all anonymous posting. People should be accountable in real life for what they say.” No, I am not making it up – the quote is from an anonymous commenter. The presumption is that an onymous commenter will be more truthful and accurate, less antagonistic, more courteous, display better protocol; in short, be more responsible. A simple review of currently onymous commenters could dispell these myths.

I have commented both as an onymous and an anonymous commenter. Let’s take a look at my experience in both arenas.

Several years ago I had an onymous account. At the time I was posting to a variety of articles. However, I chose to use my name due to some specific articles; and, by doing so, made credible my knowledge regarding those articles. However, there were many other articles that I did not comment on due to their political nature or subject content. Commenting on them, at the time and with full disclosure of my name, would have been career suicide.

This January (having forgotten my old account information), I created an anonymous account. By far, it has been more fun to be anonymous. More importantly, it is much easier to post an opinion anonymously. An anonymous user has no risk of personal attacks and the possibility of personal consequences. Yes, I know, someone can make an ad hominem attack. Recently, a commenter said, “Tend to think you are just an un-educated HS dropout.” The comment is not only ignorant, it is irrelevant since the commenter does not know who I am. Moreover, my anonymity prevents the statement from being libel. In this case, anonymity protected both commenters.

Requiring commenters to use their “verified” real name would definitely change the forums. Overall, they would probably become more civil. It could cause a few to check their facts before commenting. Yet, that would not change the quality of comments by currently anonymous commenters who already check their facts. Nor, would it change the inaccuracy of currently verified commenters that do not check the facts.

It has been said that “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” (H. Jackson Browne) “Character is doing the right thing when nobody is looking.” (J. C. Watts) I would urge the continuation of choosing between an anonymous or an onymous account. Moreover, I urge all commenters to display good character. Comment as if your character and name are on display; for, at the very least, you know who you are.


Leslie Swearingen 8 years, 5 months ago

I prefer using my own name. I don't know if the people posting about me know me or not, as I don't know who they are. Nevertheless, I will continue to be utterly transparent. I think I am helping others when I write openly and frankly about such things as mental health and aging. These are not things to be ashamed of and by getting information out there will help everyone to truly be a functioning member of the community. Diversity of opinion can be a good thing.

puddleglum 8 years, 5 months ago

anonymous, of course. else I would be dead already

maxcrabb 8 years, 5 months ago

I've tried "verifying" my identity a couple times. It still hasn't worked for me. And my user name IS my real name.

Flap Doodle 8 years, 5 months ago

Considering the past antics of enforcer, and the threats (by a certain poster to remain unidentified for the moment) to make my internet life less pleasant, I'll remain anonymous.

staff04 8 years, 5 months ago

Yep, I'll keep it anonymous...after a poster who used is real name was harassed and stalked (outside of the forums here) a couple of years ago, I knew I would never register and verify my account.

David Klamet 8 years, 5 months ago

Anonymity may be the safer course, but people and groups that maintain a veil of anonymity do not make me feel safer.

Does it matter whether my freedom to speak is limited by government or by other members of society? If I'm afraid to speak in a forum where I can be identified, then am I any better off than those who live in countries with oppressive governments?

It is a choice between principal and practicality. I guess I'll cling stubbornly to principal.

Maybe it is a good thing to be more afraid of each other than we are of our government.

denak 8 years, 5 months ago

I am semi-anonymous. My first name is Dena. Last name does begin with a K but that is as far as I am going to go in terms of my identification. I do this not because I am ashamed of my opinions but simply because I do think there are some exceedingly hateful individuals posting and I do not believe that some individuals will refrain from just making insulting posts.

I do think that those who post thier full names open themselves up to harrassement off the boards. I'm not saying they should use their names if they chose but I do think there are some posters who aren't above causing a bit of mischief by finding out people's phone numbers and causing some trouble.



beatrice 8 years, 5 months ago

There are way too many lunatics out there. Staying anonymous on this public forum is a matter of protection against the loons.

Satirical 8 years, 4 months ago

Anonymity allows for a more candid discussion, and allows people to censor themselves less, which can lead to a more honest and open debate in matters of public concern.

You poo-poo heads.

ModerateOne 8 years, 4 months ago

"Actually, this really does not matter. The World makes money on clicks. Our postings help sell the ad space you see above. If they do anything to reduce posts, they cut into their bottom line. The bottom line rules."


FYI I was the one who posted the ironically anonymous belief that all comments should be onymous so that real life consequences should attach. Of course I didn't mean violent consequences. DIST you did a very good job of articulating the counterpoint.

But see above. It just doesn't matter.

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