Care to comment on the blog? Great, just pass this test

When I blogged on when the Journal enterprise allowed the vast unwashed to dare report or voice opinions on their community websites  I  linked several times to a column that equated material posted on the Internet by anonymous folks to Internet porn.

October 23, 2007:

Today, talk show host and author Dennis Prager has written a column about his view that Internet anonymity is just as destructive as Internet porn. Prager writes, in part:

“There is something at least as awful — and arguably more destructive — that permeates the Internet: the lies, vitriol, obscenities and ad hominem attacks made by anonymous individuals on almost every website that deals with public issues.

Being identifiable breeds responsibility; anonymity breeds irresponsibility.”

I urge you to read Prager’s column in its entirety. Take special note of his last paragraph…
—October 23, 2007

Two years later…

Not everyone who writes or comments anonymously on blogs or chat sites is irresponsible. However, given the opportunity to hide behind a fake name, a writer feels the incentive to engage in outrageous, negative, hostile, even false or libelous commentary. As columnist Dennis Prager once wrote:

“It is the very rare individual who sends a hate-filled, obscenity-laced e-mail that includes his name. As the recipient of such e-mails, I know firsthand how rarely people identify themselves when sending hate-filled mail. It is so rare, in fact, that I usually respond to hate mail that includes the writer’s name just to commend him for attaching his name to something so embarrassing.

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. Anonymity values feelings over thought, and immediate expression over thoughtful reflection.”

I call these people cowards.

Reckless blogging is like a cancer, permeating the Internet. Sometimes, in the never-ending quest to make waves, the blogger can go too far.

One local writer cavalierly told me last year that he can write anything he wants to because he’s a blogger. When I raised the issues of credibility and reputation, I was told again that it didn’t matter because he’s a blogger, not a journalist. Still another local blogger’s body of work is marked, or should I say, marred by entries based on assumptions, rumors, unfounded accusations, and wild conspiracy theories. Not only that, his grammar and spelling would make his high school English teacher jump off the Hoan Bridge.

In a perfect world, everyone who writes a blog would have to divulge his/her identity and affiliation. Ditto for people who “comment.” Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen, and the irresponsibility will continue.
—September 1, 2009

Contemporary update:

I like this idea.

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