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Anonymity on the Web

John on October 23, 2007 at 8:43 am

Two articles up today on the topic of web anonymity. This one is by radio host Dennis Prager:

The Internet practice of giving everyone the ability to express himself anonymously for millions to read has debased public discourse. Cursing, ad hominem attacks and/or the utter absence of logic characterize a large percentage of many websites’ “comments” sections. And because people tend to do what society says it is OK to do, many people, especially younger people, are coming to view such primitive forms of self-expression as acceptable.

Some might argue that anonymity enables people to more freely express their thoughts. But this is not true. Anonymity only enables people to more freely express their feelings.

This brief post by John Tierney on the NY Times site notes:

There’s lots of research to back the notion that an end to anonymity would encourage people to be nicer. Because of what’s called the reputation effect, people will be more cooperative and altruistic if they’re not anonymous.

What’s a bit frustrating about all this is that Scott and I wrote a book chapter on this topic months ago. Of course we can’t publish it here or that would defeat the purpose of the book. What I can tell you is that we made the topic more interesting and entertaining than either Dennis Prager (who I like) or the NY Times (…).

You’ll just have to buy the book to see I’m right.

[HT: HotAir for the Tierney post]

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