Friday, January 25, 2013

Unexpected and expected

One of the leading commenting systems for blogs and other sites says that “commenters using pseudonyms are ‘the most important contributors to online communities’”. I didn’t see that coming. Well, maybe I did.

There are a LOT of people who condemn anonymous comments on websites (like this blog), in part because they declare that such comments are meaningless, superficial, empty. But the alternative is to require an exposure of personal information that some people find intolerable. Apparently, they don’t need to expose themselves.

The Disqus commenting system allows people to comment using an account, a social media identity or anonymously. They say that “those with pseudonyms post the best comments, while anonymous comments are lower quality.” This is based on user ranking of comments.

The thing is, while some anonymous or pseudonymous commenters choose that so that they can post outrageous statements, most simply try to avoid linking their commentary to their work or personal lives. I don’t have a problem with that at all—though choosing a regular pseudonym doesn’t seem to me to be too much of a burden.

Obviously the company supplying commenting systems has a reason to promote the validity of what they provide. Nevertheless, I think their findings are relevant because not everyone wants their online activity associated with their real life. In that sense, I think, their findings are totally predictable.

So, while some might be surprised at the fact there’s any validity in anonymous/pseudonymous comments, I’m not at all surprised. People do what they can do at the time. And, in my view, that’s enough.

Tip o’ the Hat to Joe.My.God.


Roger Owen Green said...

I think pseudonymous people on the Internet, especially when one sees them over again, can be useful. But blind anonymous comments are almost always crap.

Signed, A blogger from Albany

Arthur Schenck said...

Yeah, the issue is more about pseudonymous comments than truly anonymous ones, and I agree that many of the latter really ARE pretty useless. Nearly all of the spam comments that I get are signed "Anonymous". Real people can make up a name without registering to comment, and most usually do (my sister is a good example of that). I think that should be encouraged!