Nothing is Ever Anonymous

The Liberal OC is all in a dither about homophobia the right to privacy and/or anonymity on blogs.  In case you missed it – and who could blame you if you did – here’s the scoop:

Some Tool anonymously posted some revolting homophobic comments in response to a post in support of same-sex marriage over on TLOC’s web site.  In a follow-up post by Sean Hill, a blogger for the left leaning site whose posts can often be described as incendiary, he “outed” the anonymous commenter as a fellow named Mike Tardif.  Sean revealed Mike’s name, business name and phone number to his readers.

More posts followed. Insults were tossed back and forth and the whole thing degenerated from discourse to flame war.  After a while I just stopped reading the comments because in addition to being tiresome, they were pointless.

Trying to figure out the reasons people post these idiotic juvenile hate-filled comments can almost always be explained by renowned Internetologist Jonathan Gabriel’s Greater Internet Dickwad Theory which sates: Normal Person + Anonymity + Audience = Total Dickwad.  Conversely, the response from TLOC can be explained by the Little Bit of Power Douche Bag Theory which states: Normal Person + Little Bit of Power + Subordinates = Douche Bag.  This is especially true with fast food managers.  

We have seen our share of nasty comments here on the OC Metroblog, but we never went as far as The Liberal OC did.  We too can see the IP address of “anonymous” comments but where do we draw the line?  Which side is right?  I’m as liberal as a guy can get, but should I be condemned for feeling they’re both wrong?  My message to Mike and Sean: Grow up and stop pissing in the pool the rest of us are swimming in!

3 Comments so far

  1. Michael Doss (oc_michaeld) on March 12th, 2008 @ 11:48 am

    I really don’t have a problem with it – like I posted over there, no one should expect true anonymity when posting shit to someone else’s website. It’s their site, you’ve got to know that they can see your IP address, and if you’re making it easy to trace you back, don’t be surprised when you’re identified. This is doubly true if you’re posting hate speech. And the site didn’t identify Tardiff, they identified his company as owning the IP block – Mike Tardiff himself did the outing.

    Kudos to The Liberal OC for not deleting the posts, and making it a discussion item instead. I think it’s the best way the could have handled it.


  2. Jon (oc_jon) on March 12th, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

    Michael,

    I agree that they were right in not deleting the comments. I also agree that you should never post anything anonymously thinking it’s truly anonymous. Hate comments anger me more than any other kind! However, the reaction by TLOC struck me as more retaliatory than thought provoking. Of course that’s just my take on it.

    If a site is going to allow “anonymous” commenting on their blog then they should be prepared for some really foul smelling posts. They set up their blog’s rules and then changed them ad hoc. For the record, I want to fall on the side of the TLOC, but I just can’t quite get on board.


  3. oc_michaelr on March 12th, 2008 @ 4:54 pm

    As one who has been on the receiving end of such comments in the past for my courage to stand up for my lack of religious convictions, I’m not surprised that such comments have originated from the OC.

    The Liberal OC is a great site, I know many of the bloggers over there. I too have been tracking this story over the last couple days and it seems that the comment was unveiled due to some political bickering over a proposition in the city of Santa Ana. I won’t go in to too many details but it always seems that the usual suspects are involved when a situation like this occurs.

    While I no longer blog anonymously, as evident on Mike’s Daily Lockup and here at the OC Metroblog, the ability to allow anonymous comments should come with the idea that the commenter’s identity will be held in confidence. If the comment leads to a threat against a persons life or other harm, the police or other proper authorities should be contacted. The name of the individual does not need to be dragged through the proverbial "mud."

    Comments sometime stay on topic, but there are times where people comment to stir up the hornets nest. Normally, comments are moderated, and if the commenter agreed to it at the time of posting, posts which are deemed offensive can be removed by the moderator for the good of the whole.

    Maybe it’s time for the local blogosphere to form a "Comment Code of Ethics?"



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