Anonymous Comments in the Biker Community

An article published by the Associated Press just a short while ago, suggests that anonymous commenting on blogs and message boards has bec...

An article published by the Associated Press just a short while ago, suggests that anonymous commenting on blogs and message boards has become out of control, and creates the impression that something ought to be done to stop it...
It was yet another example of how the Internet - and the anonymity it affords - has given a public stage to people's basest thoughts, ones that in earlier eras likely never would have traveled past the watercooler, the kitchen table or the next barstool.

Such incidents - and there are countless across cyberspace - also raise the question: Is there anything to be done about it? Or is a decline in civil discourse simply the price that we pay for the advance of technology?
Being a blogger of several blogs, and a frequent participant on message boards, I see the capability of anonymous commenting actualling spurring more intelligent discussion than without it.

For example, a year ago I posted a short blog piece entitled, "Who Copied Who's Logo?" about two motorcycle organizations, "Motorcycle Riders Foundation" and the "Southern Cruisers Riding Club". Each group has a logo so similar to one another, one HAD to have been copied from the other.

To date, the article has received 27 comments, fairly evenly divided between folks who hate the Southern Cruisers, and folks who support them. Almost all of the comments are anonymous. Most comments however, added something to the discussion, while some may have added nothing.

But take note that some of the anonymous comments are not really anonymous. The writers signed their names within the text of the comment, but didn't figure out where to enter their Username. In other words, if I had turned off anonymous commenting, these people would not have figured out how to comment. Anonymous commenting actually helps computer illiterate people to say something.

Now on the other side of the coin, some people take advantage of anonymous comments to launch flame wars, or to denegrate someone. But who really takes these remarks seriously? Since when does anyone accept an anonymous commenter as a person of authority? Since when did anyone actually lose their good reputation because of an anonymous comment?

The fact that the Associated Press even wrote such an article, and asked that something be done, suggests that we're all wusses, and that we need protection.

My sense is that there aren't many people with thin skins, and that most people are not phased by derogatory remarks from anonymous commenters. Yet, the Associated Press wants us to believe this is a problem that needs to be controlled. I see it the other way, that people who post anonymously, more often than not, provide intelligent discussion. This allows some of our most computer illiterate citizens to take a stand against politicized media.

And I think that's where this comes from. The Associated Press, the liberal media powerhouse and the vehicle of left-wing politics, sees the Internet as the great equalizer. How can they fight conservatives, when they have millions of bloggers and commenters fighting them? The Internet allows the common man to reach audiences. Let anonymous commenting flow, and let the people talk.

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