Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The downside of anonymity in the blogosphere

Creating Passionate Users is a fantastic blog. A real gem, and definitely on the short list on my blogroll.

Which is why its extra disappointing that Kathy Sierra, the blog's owner, was recently threatened by some anonymous posters on another blog (warning: that link is disturbing to read). Threatened to the point where she feels forced to hide, forced to cancel speaking engagements, etc.

If she decides to quit blogging, the world will be poorer for it.

It saddens me that mysogynist trolls like this still exist in this day and age. I guess I'm not surprised, but it's a sad reminder.

The anonymity afforded by the internet just fuels it further of course, and it's got me thinking about anonymity some.

Two subjects get confused in many of the posts on this topic come up: Free speech and anonymity.

Free speech is a good thing. People should be allowed to share ideas, but as Kathy points out, death threats are not protected speech, nor should they be.

There are reasons to allow for and protect anonymity: press sources, whistleblowers, etc.

Its the combination of the two that disturbs me. It seems teh price of free speech should at the least be assignment of your name to your statements, and that you be held accountable for your words.

I've been pretty lucky in that most posts on this blog have been reasonable, but there have been a few examples where someone disagreed with a point, told me I was wrong, etc, without making an argument, and without identifying themselves.

"'cuz I said so" doesn't count for much when I don't know who "I" is.

Not sure I have any constructive suggestions here. I'm just saddened by it all, is all.


Anonymous said...

There was a lot of conversation about this topic in our household last night.

Makes me sick that people either think such behavior is acceptable, or even humorous.

Meg said...

That may be one of the most disturbing things I've ever read. Still, thanks for turning me on to a great blog! (other than the, you know, violent death threats)