Restarting the Discussion on Anonymity

ImageHello Crowdies –

Given that the discussion on identity, pro and con, has grown to a length where new comments are getting buried 3-4 layers threads deep, I’m moving the conversation to this post and will seed the discussion with a question addressed to both authors and commenters: would it be better if the management allowed anonymity but reserved the right to unilaterally delete comments it found inappropriate, unproductive, etc.?  I know some of the authors have already expressed an antipathy toward this approach (because we’re LAZY) but I’d be delighted to have a discussion on this point as it seems to be what some – DeRusha, PM and others – are advocating.


– Austin

39 thoughts on “Restarting the Discussion on Anonymity

    1. As a practical matter, 1) most of the ugly comments would go untouched, because none the principals have much of a taste for censorship; 2) the few comments that would get censored would often be published for the better part of a day because none of us have time or hunger to be prompt Thought Police…and because we’d be late to police, we’d have to censor both the ugly comments and the rebuttals, or the string would be incomprehensible; and 3) we then would be treated to hearing censored trolls protesting in their follow-up comments, adjudicating their victimization for days on end. Better than the status quo?

  1. Erik Petersen says:

    I made this point before. That while, if you have a PR firm and you’re attached to a tit on the local Democrat public / private patronage machine, you probably have no fear of participating here and using your real name. Indeed, it probably enhances your prestige and income.

    For the rest of us in private commerce, there is some utility in having anonymity.

    As I also said before… as merely a hand wringing exercise, this is an enormous over reaction. I direct some blue comments at times towards a character that ought to be acknowledgable as kind of an obnoxious, bad actor. But that’s its, they’re just a little blue. I don’t think I’ve given anyone else a hard time since prior to last years election. Jeeeez….

      1. Erik Petersen says:

        Joe, you ever get into an OCD tic where you keep saying ‘nice titties’ the way Morris Day says it in Purple Rain? I do. All the time.

  2. Dennis Lang says:

    Of course. You guys aren’t censors, no one wants that, but if someone has the time to watch for epithet-laced personal attacks at the very least maybe that’s a start. Sustaining common civility shouldn’t be that tough, but it’s up to you–and we all know you have day jobs.

  3. PM says:

    I have seen some sites where there is the option to flag inappropriate comments. i have no idea how this actually works, but if there was the opportunity for participants to vote on what they think is inappropriate (deleteable) then wouldn’t that be an option? Maybe people would tone down their comments if they see that a number of other people object? Wouldn’t that achieve the same thing as signing ones name?

    Speaking personally, I have seen stupid things posted here, inane things posted here, and mean things posted here–but nothing really objectionable (to me–and as the mean things haven’t been directed at me, I acknowledge that my opinion is just that–my opinion).

    I do not like the mean things–the ad hominem attacks (most of which come from Erik towards Brian), and I do my best to step in point them out, and call them out for what they are–BS, and not on the point. Attack the argument, not the person (and i don’t care if you call someone thick headed or stupid–that is hardly an attack).

    Erik, I’d like to think that your ultimate goal here is to convince some of us to change our evil ways, to see the light on guns, for example. Attacking Lambert for past drug use of on his job history isn’t going to accomplish that goal. All you succeed in doing is to create sympathy for him that he might not otherwise enjoy. you undercut your own position.

    I think that you are a smart guy, and i enjoy debating with you, but it seems to me that you have a couple of hot buttons, and Lambert seems to be able to press those with inordinate ease. Don’t let him manipulate you like that. If you think he is in the gutter, say so, and do not follow him down.

    Where Joe and I agree is that I think we’d both like to see this (SRC) be a self-regulating community. I don’t think that we need to sing kumbaya or anything, but can’t we all be adults?

    1. Erik Petersen says:

      If that was me, it was only a fleeting point. I don’t think I ever really sunk my teeth into the idea that our Lambo is an irredeemable pot smoker.

      1. Jim Leinfelder says:

        C’mon, Erik, with zero to go on, you accused him of being a draft dodger. That is exhibit A stuff right there.

          1. Jim Leinfelder says:

            Yes. And in so doing, you come off no better than Senator Ted Cruz, a poor man’s Tail Gunner Joe. At long last, have you no decency, sir?

            1. Erik Petersen says:

              What happens at SRC isn’t a “discussion”, so it does not really matter how I come off. I might as well be Socrates. It’s still not going to change anyone’s mind here. When’s the last time you changed your mind on something political. 1977?

            1. Erik Petersen says:

              Sure it is something. We know this from what Lambo has written about himself. He’s well over sixty, was in college in the late sixties, has been a leftist from that time or before. Had quit college to bum around Europe contemporaneous with the Vietnam war and conscription. It walks like a duck. He’s probably a draft dodger, as long as your definition is a common use one and isn’t strictly technical.

              And this is the thing. “Walks like a duck” is a robust enough standard for Lambo to call conservatives racists merely by virtue of their skepticism for the welfare state. So there’s no reason ‘walks like a duck’ isn’t a perfectly fine standard here as well.

              As a crypto libertarian I’m personally ambivalent about draft dodging. I was more amused by the idea of a lefty draft dodger finding some umbrage to feel over Nugent’s draft dodging. There’s some gall for ya. And it’s a perfectly good observation, isn’t even really a personal pot shot.

              Alternately though…you’re a proponent of the regulatory state, so you really don’t have a solid position from which to excuse draft dodging or make an argument about who was right. In the regulatory state, people are ostensibly to be compelled to actions that benefit the common good, of which the military draft is included. Doesn’t matter the merits of the war in particular.

            2. Jim Leinfelder says:

              Actually, no, he’s not “well over sixty.” You have no data. Your talents would be better used over at where they, too, live on innuendo the way a fly lives on feces. Your speculation isn’t even logically sequacious. Nobody quit college back then to avoid the draft. Leaving college was a sure way to GET drafted. Surely there was a spike in grad school numbers during that classist war.

            3. PM says:

              Jim, you are absolutely right. The best way to get out of the draft was to stay in college for as long as possible, and then to get married. Both of those actions would get you deferrments.

              So, Erik, i have read all that lambert has written here at SRC, and none of what you allude to comes from here. I have no idea what your “sources” might be, but if you want any of us to take them seriously, give us citations (and no, I’m not going to do your work for you by doing the digging myself). Having met Lambert, I don’t think he is well over 60 at all, so i am somewhat leery about the accuracy of the rest of your claims.

              The umbrage about Nugent’s draft dodging is well founded, and based on Nugent’s willingness to send others to war when he himself was not willing to go. Lambert has done nothing of the sort–he has put forward no arguments here that suggest he wants to send others off to war. In fact, he has argued the opposite. We went over this at length, and your arguments were torn to shreds then, and they hold up no better now. There is no evidence for Lambert being a draft dodger (other than your repeated allegations), there is no evidence that he has supported sending others to do what he himself was unwilling to do, there is nothing at all hypocritical about his criticisms of Ted Nugent.

              And your last paragraph is nonsensical. Yes, there is a common good, and yes, states have the right to compel people to conform to laws and regulations. That does not mean that people and states do not make mistakes, and it does mean that there are times when civil disobedience is appropriate. And sometimes civil disobedience is wrong. Generally, those are the types of judgement s that require a historical perspective to make, which is why those who wish to practice civil disobedience should be prepared for the civil punishments that they will endure.

            4. Erik Petersen says:

              I have some sense we’re arguing what it means to be well over 60, with 62 deemed wildly errant because it’s not sufficiently ‘well over’. And I have no idea if 62 is the right number. The anecdote I remember, is he was a contemporaneous peer of Clarence Thomas at Trinity. Thomas is 64.

              My knowledge is limited to these pages, and particularly Lambo’s introductory column here at SRC, which seems absent now. I gather that was because of a spamming problem sometime back. As an overview, I think the narrative I’ve asserted is accurate.

            5. PM says:

              Clarence went to Holy Cross. I started working for Senator Jack Danforth. just as Clarence left–we have many friends in common.

            6. Jim Leinfelder says:

              From Justice Thomas’s Wikipedia page: “Thomas had a series of deferments from the military draft while in college at Holy Cross. Upon graduation, he was classified as 1-A and received a low lottery number, indicating he might be drafted to serve in Vietnam. Thomas failed his medical exam, due to curvature of the spine, and was not drafted.”

              Who knows why Lambert (who also attended Holy Cross) lucked out of being drafted. Perhaps he got a high draft number, as many did, thus leaving him to safely leave Holy Cross to seek a less structured educational experience in Europe, etc. I don’t know. My ignorance is rivaled only by Erik’s.

            7. Erik Petersen says:

              Yes, but the circumstances beg the question, which we ought to be able to feel free to ask….

              In casual use, ‘draft dodging’ means you gamed your draft situation in some manner, not that you necessarily were adjudicated. Nugent, W, Clinton, Quayle as examples.

              Vis a vis the hypocrisy angle, theres a whole range of things that interest me as questions. Like, is Nugent really that much of a hawk, which would then make him a chickenhawk and thus a hypocrite… or is the expression of military support more of a blue collar thing. And, can Democrats righteously avoid the draft when they believe in the individual’s responsibilities to government and society…

              But also, yes, would Lambo’s personal circumstances make his indignation at Nugent a bit absurd. Cuz at that point, I think you’re left to argue who’s draft dodging is worse. And there really aint much different from being scared and taking a righteous stand as a conscientious objector. I don’t see one or the other making for the superior value judgment.

              But I am interested in why people should be indignant over it.

            8. PM says:

              As long as we are talking about interesting questions….why are you so obsessed with lambert, Erik? And do you think it is healthy?

            9. Jim Leinfelder says:

              (sigh) I’ll leave it to Souder to straighten you out on the actual meaning of the phrase “begs the questions.”

          1. PM says:

            And lets remember that the “draft dodgers” have been judged by history–to have been right. Viet Nam was a stupid, lousy, poorly run war. We never should have been there. We never could have won. We were on the wrong side (to the extent that the South was a “side” at all). A total disaster, created and made possible by our cold war hubris.

  4. Bruce benidt says:

    I like the self-regulating point. Wonder if we could do a thumbs up or down thing. Too many thumbs pointing south and you’re booted.

    Joe, I’m not sure having responses hanging there from a comment that was deleted is a big problem. We’re not creating timeless literature here, we’re just talkin’. Some non-sequitur stuff would kinda fit right in.

    I wouldn’t be shy about deleting ad hominem comments. I’m too skinny to be a bouncer in real life, but here….

    I love PM’s rules of engagement from previous post.

    1. Jeremy Powers says:

      I kinda like this idea, but I don’t think booting is required. If you’re just a troll, six thumbs down and any newcomer (are there any?) would get the idea that’s just “Ol’ Crazy ______” and pay it an appropriate amount of time.

      Time; that’s still a major issue to me. Where am I going to spend my time on the Internet?

  5. derushaj says:

    To be honest, I always read the posts and never read the comments, and this discussion about comments makes me want to go back and read some of the nasty ad hominem attacks! I love those! At wcco we use a wordpress format, and if someone reports a comment twice, it’s automatically put into a deleted queue for an admin to look at. Danger is – you can “report” comments you don’t like, but with this group, it might be a good solution.

    1. Jim Leinfelder says:

      See, this is a perfect illustration of why requiring the likes of Bertram, Jr. to man up and use their given names makes sense. It’s entirely too easy and safe to take cheap pot shots like this one at someone who signs is work when you’re free to cower behind a blogonym. It’s the nadir of cowardice.

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        Yeah, it is the blogworld at its most undesirable. See your point. I must have missed the turn where the personal assaults started here and who in fact is the prime instigator. Overall though I still think allowing anonymity is a virtue. With the very rare exception most contrubutors at SRC are bright and well intentioned.

      2. I completely agree. But at the same time, this particular comment is a perfect example of the opposite principle: Who gives a shit what Bertram Jr. has to say on the topic?

        I suppose there’s the hazard of a stranger coming by and stumbling across that comment and thinking it might have some merit, but if people judge the quality of a journalist by what some anonymous blog commenter has to say, well, there’s only so much help we can provide that person.

        1. Jim Leinfelder says:

          Well, “Bertram, Jr.” wasn’t going to the trouble to comment on the subject, merely to gratuitously libel Derusha. BJ should be outed, a solution heretofore not mentioned. It pollutes the discourse.

Comments are closed.