A lot of us (myself included) have been guilty of abusing online anonymity at some time or another. In high school, I remember the rise in popularity of a website that allowed people to make profiles and have their friends ask them anonymous questions. I also remember how a friend and I flooded the inbox of another “friend” we disliked with malicious comments, and how surprised I was when that person shut down her profile a few hours later.
At the time, it felt exhilarating to be that powerful and get away with it.
We knew we were being mean, but it was a fun way to covertly channel some of the aggression that had been brewing against that person for a long time. Looking back, that was a petty act, and I hope it didn’t cause the harm that I wanted it to cause at the time, and certainly nothing long-lasting. I still dislike that person and am glad we no longer have a relationship, but she didn’t deserve a faceless ambush, and for that, I am sorry.
Many WordPress bloggers disallow comments from anonymous users on their blogs, and for a while, I was one of them. I reasoned that if someone felt so strongly that they wanted their comment to become public record, they should be willing to own up to it.
Recently, however, I changed my mind. If I had to choose, I would rather people share their ideas anonymously than not at all. I want to encourage an honest, open dialogue and exchange of ideas, and I look forward to the challenges that accompany the same.
One quick courtesy before I finish this post: as with anywhere else on the internet, you’ve probably figured out that you’re not completely anonymous. When you comment anonymously on WordPress, we blog owners are given your IP address. Will I be able to pinpoint where you are? …probably not from one IP address, but a quick Google search would provide me a guestimate of one or more towns near yours if you’re within the continental U.S., or your country if you’re not. Please keep that in mind with regard to what you choose to share with me — and with other WordPress bloggers.
With that said, I have never rejected a genuine comment to date, regardless of whether or not I agreed with its content. Compliments are always appreciated, as are testimonials, but so is constructive feedback.
If you have something to say, I’m all ears.