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The privilege of real-name blogging

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 pm, November 27th, 2012 - 112 comments
Categories: blogs - Tags:

Brian Edwards is the latest to wade into the “anonymous bloggers” debate.  I’ve previously posted about the reasons people use pseudonyms, and my personal “justifications” for arguing that a pseudonym does not automatically render a person’s statements worthless.

But there’s the other side to it, the side I glossed over in that post:  the privilege of real-name blogging.

To Brian’s credit, he includes talkback radio under the heading of “anonymous commentary”, and when prompted in comments, the truly anonymous editorials of the Herald and Listener, but it’s pretty clear that it’s bloggers Brian has in mind when he talks about “cowardice”, when he states

More contemptible by far than the anonymous correspondent is the anonymous blogger, particularly in a democracy like New Zealand where freedom of speech is limited only by the laws of defamation.  Such lack of spine contrasts starkly with the courage of those anonymous bloggers and pamphleteers who are the advocates of freedom and democracy in totalitarian societies.

Brian also notes that of course, we “anonymous” bloggers (and seriously, the only thing that truly offends me about this eternal argument is people’s insistence on pretending there’s not a clear difference between anonymity and pseudonymity) will object to being labelled cowards.  So well done, Brian, you’ve got me.

You’ve also got privilege.

You’ve got the privilege of being a person in a career, in a social position, in a financial situation, which mean that stating your personal political biases for the world to see doesn’t pose you any risk.

You get to get up in the morning and sit at your computer and type whatever you darn well please into the text field.

You don’t have to worry that your manager will see it, and if not fire you, just mildly bully you on an ongoing basis at levels HR refuse to acknowledge until your work situation becomes unbearable.

You don’t have to consider that future employers might labour under the impression that a  person’s opinions about completely unrelated policy makes them unsuitable for employment.  Or that having political opinions at all rules you out of all public service, NGO, or media roles – or the entirety of customer service.

You do have the same concerns about scum like C*m*r*n Sl*t*r using your personal opinions to attack you – but again, you’re in a position and a career where you’re fairly well protected from such attacks.  You’ve got clients and contacts who are already well-aware of your political leanings.  Anyone who might have had a problem with them probably doesn’t work with you.

You don’t, therefore, have to worry about people saying “Look, I know he’s a turd in the NZ media punchbowl, but some people do take him seriously, so we can’t employ you.”

And you know, none of that is really your fault.  You shouldn’t feel bad for being in the kind of position where you can say whatever you like with no fear of damaging reprisals.

What is your fault is not realising that that is a type of privilege.

And lacking that privilege is not cowardly.

People protecting themselves by using pseudonyms, and thus giving themselves more freedom to express their opinions – and knowing that those opinions don’t come with the “established columnist” and “expert media advisor to H1″ bonuses – are not “cowards”.  They’re people with a much clearer picture of how the world works for people who aren’t Brian Edwards.

And seriously, Brian.   “Anonymity Pandemic”?

~

PS. Just for Brian, who thinks

My position is that there often is and that anonymity permits or encourages people to be less considered, less reasonable, less restrained and more aggressive, more intolerant and more abusive than when they put their names to what they have written or said.

I haven’t even used the word “fuck” once!  …  Oops.

112 comments on “The privilege of real-name blogging”

  1. marsman 1

    Clear and to the point QOT. It is weird though that Edwards et al seem not to be bothered by anonymous Editorials in the tabloids which pose as our national newspapers, Editorials that many a time are clearly written by the National Party and/or the Business Roundtable.

    • karol 1.1

      Yes, marsman.  And also, there’s a hot issue about journalists using anonymous sources.  I came across a lot of google hits on that when I was researching the topic today – controversial topic.

      The use of anonymous sources has been a controversial subject for many years. Some news outlets insist that anonymous sources are the only way to obtain certain information, while others hold strict prohibitions against the use of unnamed sources at all times.

      News organizations may impose safeguards, such as requiring that information from an anonymous source be corroborated by a second source before it can be printed There’s a lot of hits about the pros and cons, and ethics of using anonymous sources.

      Critics say anonymous sources undermine credibility. Defenders say whistle-blowers would not come forward without the protection of anonymity. Journalists Ken Paulson, Ben Bradlee, Michael Isikoff, Evan Thomas and Geneva Overholser take a critical look at the use of anonymous sources and the impact they have on the public’s perception of the news media.

       

    • Tim 1.2

      Funny how even the most reasonable of persons don’t like every aspect of a democracy, a we the people, a collective, an anonymous, a community. What is it with the likes of Brian and others that seem to feel the need to identity – such that they can place a label, on anything that expresses an opinion.
      I’m not Tim! I have very valid reasons for being who I am. If I landed in Nadi, I’d probably be escorted somewhere.
      Brian, and MANY MANY others – check ya shit and just consider that there are valid reasons why people don’t necessarily want to be identified.
      I sat with the enabler of the last PSB programme that went to air before TVNZ7 was axed. He/She was desperate not to be identified.
      Don’t be a muppet Bria – EVEN the anonymous deserve a voice

  2. leftriteleft 2

    I believe it’s the message – not the messenger.
    I worked in a newspaper for over 40 years on the production side. In my day no reporter put his name on a story. It’s a new trend and I believe not needed.

    • karol 2.1

      Ah yes, agree, lrl.  I’ve also been doing some reading today for a post on that, using like, academic sources and all – blind (anonymous) peer review beats argument by star name. Will probably be ready in a day or so.

      • “blind (anonymous) peer review beats argument by star name.”

        Peer-review is blind to avoid biases, peer reviewers aren’t the one publishing the article, they tear it apart looking for errors but the article itself is still published by a person whom you can credential check via full-name and organisation

        • karol 2.1.1.1

          Exactly, TC.  Did you actually think about what you wrote?  I’ll repeat it:

           Peer-review is blind to avoid biases

          This is based on research evidence that shows your previous knowledge about an author will effect your judgements of their writing.  Of course, we live in a world of copyright, and status via ownership of your own work, so that’s why the work is eventually published under the author’s name.

          • TheContrarian 2.1.1.1.1

            Using peer review is bad example though because peer reviewers are scholars in their field who are aware, specifically of false claims, logical fallacies, with an in-depth knowledge of which ever field they are peer-reviewing.

            When publishing to the wider public though people should be able to independently review the authors accreditation.

            • karol 2.1.1.1.1.1

              Why? What’s wrong with using your own critical judgment of a piece of writing?  And especially when several people look at a piece of writing critically, offering views on it, they probe its weaknesses.

              Some MSM journalists are not authorities either on what they write, but they just get seen as experts by some because of their “names”. 

              • Part of critical judgement is consideration of the source of the story.

                • karol

                  So?  If a person is using a pseudonym, you can build up a critical view of their writing. And I hope when you developed your own view of any given topic before you’d look at more than one source anyway.

                  Most bloggers are not presenting any new information, but critically commenting on stuff that is already in the public domain. 

                • As long as you don’t have multiple people blogging under the same pseudonym, I fail to see how anonymity prevents you from considering the source of a story in any way that is actually material to the qualities and biases of the writer in question.

    • “In my day no reporter put his name on a story. It’s a new trend and I believe not needed.”

      Firstly, when did reporters file as anon?
      Secondly, totally disagree, if you are employed by a mass-media source I think it is important to put your name to a piece so the reader is able to identify the journalist and appreciate the bias the writer might put to their work. Would you feel comfortable if the Herald stared posting Whale Oil without identifying him? Putting your personal name to something gives it greater integrity because your name is on the line as a ‘public figure’ of sorts

      Blogs not so much though I do think to gain greater credibility you need to display your credentials.

      Commentators not at all though

      • karol 2.2.1

        The NZ Herald publishes editorials anonymously, so who knows if WO wrote any of them?

        In any case, those editorials can stand or fall on the quality of the writing, whoever writes them. 

      • lprent 2.2.2

        They didn’t file that way. Nor for that matter do the authors here and even most of the commentators here (I’m always amazed at how much trust many of you place in us).

        What they did was publish anonymously. Go back to your local library a few decades and look at authors in the local newspapers. Oh why bother tending the ignorant….

        Here have a look at a Auckland Star from 1945 (looks like 1945 is the latest in Papers Past).

        You’ll find the odd article by a named correspondent. Most of the articles are “PA” press association or cables by really really anonymous authors.

        You really are awfully young right? Mind you most journos appear to be quite quite ignorant …. of the history of the profession OF Course….

        • TheContrarian 2.2.2.1

          More sanctimonious shit from lprent.

          • lprent 2.2.2.1.1

            And I regard you highly as well….. :)

            Did you read it?
            Or are you too in love with your own reality? 😈

            • TheContrarian 2.2.2.1.1.1

              I wish the posters at The Standard good luck in winning Pulitzer’s and being considered leaders in the journalistic and political sphere under their various guises.

              • karol

                Ha ha – like that’s what we are looking for….?  What’s wrong with a little critical discussion of current political issues from ordinary folks?

                And how many MSM NZ journalists would be up for one of those awards? 

                PS: If you have so little faith in the writing here, why are you here?

              • lprent

                I don’t think that we’re interested in doing any of those things.

                For a starter have a look at the right column up towards the top – see what is in the box marked “Opinion”. We really don’t do journalism.

                In the political sphere I find that writing operational code was far more interesting and useful than blathering opinions. I’m always amazed anyone bothers reading my posts. But I write because I want to.

                And I thought that the Pulitzer was restricted to Yank journos.

                You really do have some strange ideas.

      • Pascal's bookie 2.2.3

        It’s not quite so simple as that.

        Would you feel comfortable knowing that the byline is not telling the full story? That a number of journos worked on a piece, and some weren’t ‘credited’?

        How much info is the reader entitled to about the editing process?

        Do by-lined journos get to tell their editors that ‘No, if you cut those paras then you can’t run it under my name?’

        Should they be able to? Should we know the name of the editor then?

        Jack Shafer mate. He’s a hack from way back:

        http://blogs.reuters.com/jackshafer/2012/07/06/how-the-byline-beast-was-born/

        And any way. if you can’t spot bias in the text, then knowing the name of the jouno isn’t going to help you none. Reckon you’ll be likely to start using the name of the journo as a shortcut for looking for bias. And you know what that’s called in the latin eh?

      • just saying 2.2.4

        Routine use of by-lines came in in the 80s during the infotainment revolution.

  3. Agreed entirely.  There are a number of reasons why someone would want to blog anonymously.  What happens though is their alter ego builds up a reputation depending on the quality of their comments.  Some, for instance Felix are always taken seriously because of the history of their commenting.

    They should not be written off, just because they choose not to expose themselves to the type of shyte that our friend Cameron subjects them to. 

    • Tim 3.1

      +1 (as they appear to say from time to time).
      Some have VERY valid reasons for wanting to retain anonmity in a public sphere in such a context.
      Some may even blog anonymously in “spaces” (to coin the new-found buzz) such as this, whilst all the while operating elsewhere whilst known. There’s nothing necessarily sinister.

    • Ron 3.2

      I wonder how having a real name would tell you anything. Geoff Sinclair talking about his days on the Star claimed he wrote under many names, I suspect that many papers still follw that course,

  4. I agree with this on some levels but, I believe if verbally abusive and personally directed comments are made, they should be attached to a real person.

    • I agree but only that the posters themselves should attach their real name – the comments section is the wild west.

      • lprent 4.1.1

        Why? Rationale? or mere assertion.

        I’m particularly interested in WHY you think there should be a distinction between authors and commentators.

    • lprent 4.2

      Around here they usually are. I’m usually the one doing it….

      But that is partially my role. I drive off the complete idiots. I usually emulate the person I’m attacking, except far far more viscous, nasty , obnoxious, persistent or whatever….

    • QoT 4.3

      verbally abusive and personally directed comments

      Boy, that doesn’t cover a wide range of things entirely dependent on your personal bias at all.

  5. Bill 5

    Okay, and contrary to Brian’s argument, why should an opinion/idea/ analysis be afforded more or less weight or credibility simply because it does or doesn’t have a publicly recognisable personality behind it? (Whether that personality is a reporter, politician or whatever.) In other words, what’s wrong with ideas, analysis or whatever standing or falling simply on their own merit? That’s not to say that some prefunctory statement of a writers’ political or cultural position shouldn’t be made where appropriate (eg, editorials). Meanwhile, on blogs, discerning a persons basic position, angle or take, more or less happens anyway over a number of posts or comments.

    • karol 5.1

      And we also make or own critical judgements of the writing, or screen performance on MSM journalist.  I think some blogs provide a really good forum that encourages people to read/view critically, rather than just accept stuff because a name person said/wrote it.

      • David H 5.1.1

        And by the time it’s been through the mill here it’s been dissected, and examined, every which way. And commented on from every angle. So, if the subject is the important thing, does it matter a whit if My name is Arthur, Martha, or Fred?

    • QoT 5.2

      publicly recognisable personality

      You’ve just made me think of something else, Bill – the faith we put (or people assume we should put) into a person’s “public personality”.

      I think we can all quickly come up with a few names of people who got to make big serious political statements on the basis of their public personas who were later discovered to be not so credible *cough*GrahamCapill*cough*.

      Their credibility was based on bullshit. At least the credibility of a pseudonymous blogger is based only on their own arguments – so even if I’m really a dodgy sockpuppet, nobody’s being asked to believe my arguments on the basis that I’m a Respected Pillar Of The Community.

      • weka 5.2.1

        “At least the credibility of a pseudonymous blogger is based only on their own arguments”
         
        I think that is true to an extent, but bloggers also build reputations and become ‘public personas’ (albeit on the internets). eg you and lprent both have pretty obvious reputations beyond the content of any individual post you write. The only way to avoid that would be to write anonymously (!) on a collective site where everyone was writing anonymously.
         
        I do think that the left wing blogosphere is more egalitarian, and less celebrity/personality-as-authority focussed than mainstream culture though, so I take your point.

        • QoT 5.2.1.1

          Oh, that’s absolutely true, weka – I was more making the point that, unlike (to pick a name completely at random …) John Armstrong, people don’t come to read my posts with a huge dollop of “this person is An Established Authority as decreed by The Mainstream” served up first.

          • One Tāne Huna 5.2.1.1.1

            Sophistry, I’m afraid. You have established your own authority, but authority it remains, with all of the expectation/responsibility that entails.

            • QoT 5.2.1.1.1.1

              I disagree. I see a significant difference between establishing authority purely through what I’ve actually produced, as opposed to getting the advantage of pre-existing authority/cred which others have bestowed on me.

              Here’s a comparison: I’m an author at The Standard because I established my blogging cred through several years’ writing. Josie Pagani is a commentator on National Radio because of her (assumed) activist/candidate history and connection to left-wing influencers.

              And fuck knows what kind of “responsibility” you think I’ve brought down on myself by simply stating my opinion online under a consistent handle.

      • Bill 5.2.2

        It was (obviously) many years ago that I first puzzled over why so many people would hang on the words of a certain Margaret Thatcher. whateer she said would permeate ‘everywhere’.Now, I get that she was the PM of Britain. But that just led to all sorts of questions about the why’s and wherefore’s of our perception of authority and our abeyance to their opinions and preferences..our adoption of an ‘anti-filter’ if you, like. We approach certain people or the positions they occupy with preconcieved notions geared to garner acceptance or respect – and that happens whether we are talking of a minor shaper of opinion (Edwards, Fisk or whoever) and those in positions of greater power (establishment authorities, from teachers on up to political leaders, church leaders, economists etc).

        It’s not a good thing, in my opinion.

      • Rogue Trooper 5.2.3

        imo, that is excellent critical writing Oueen for a Day :)

  6. BM 6

    It’s the risk you take, if you want to put your head above the parapet be prepared to get it shot off.
    You’re a very outspoken and abrasive blogger , eventually your real life will become known to people on the web.

    And It may very well affect employment and other aspects of your off line life but that’s the situation that you have put yourself in by being up front and out spoken, if being found out concerns you it may pay for you to reanalyze your blogging style.

    • karol 6.1

      Actually, I have always assumed, whether writing as a blogger or blog author, that my identity could be discovered by someone.  I write accordingly.  I guess it depends what you want from posting/commenting.  I value reasoned discussion based on evidence.

      • BM 6.1.1

        I don’t think anyone has an issue with what you write Karol, most of if not all of your stuff is well thought out and not particularly controversial.
        I don’t agree with a lot of what you write but you present it in a manner where the majority of people will respect your view point.
        Not too many people calling for your head over at Whale oil either, so I wouldn’t be to concerned about people tracking you down and exposing you.

        • Jackal 6.1.1.1

          If people have a problem with what somebody writes BM they should attack what is written. Most websites have a right of reply and there are more options than merely taking a defamation case as the increasingly deluded Brian Edwards seems to believe.

          As a writer who is often attacked on sites like Whaleoil and Kiwibog, I have little concern with those cowards ever tracking me down or exposing who I am. In fact it wouldn’t do my blogging any harm at all.

          My decision to remain anonymous is based on the fact that bloggers like Slater, Farrar and Odgers will say or do pretty much anything to discredit those they oppose. That vindictiveness is echoed by those currently in power. Why make it easy by giving them a target to shoot BM? It’s much better to let them make complete fools of themselves instead.

          It would appear to me that people who write dumb shit are often exposed anyway, Cameron Slater being a case in point when his illegal naming of sexual abuse victims caused him to be arrested and prosecuted and then outed for the idiot he is.

          So there are rules that most anonymous bloggers in New Zealand adhere to. In this respect I think it’s mere anonymous opinion that Edwards dislikes, not any clear evidence of wrongdoing. Why for instance is the opinion of an anonymous blogger in New Zealand not as worthwhile just because (according to Edwards) we don’t live in a totalitarian society? How nice to live a life of privilege eh!

          Clearly his argument is weak at best, with anonymous opinion gaining merit because of what that opinion is, not who is making it. In this way an argument based purely on what is being said and not a cult of personality is even more compelling to people who do not base their beliefs on an outdated hierarchical system… Perhaps why Edwards et al. dislike anonymous bloggers so vehemently.

    • QoT 6.2

      if you want to put your head above the parapet be prepared to get it shot off.

      A wonderfully dangerous little conflation you’ve got going there, BM, when “expressing an opinion in a public forum” is equivalent to “putting your head above the parapet”.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      So you think that someone losing their job over what they said that didn’t relate to or affect their work, in their own time on an internet site is fine?

      • QoT 6.3.1

        Blah blah free market blah blah asking for it blah blah stop being an unladylike bitch, QoT blah.

      • BM 6.3.2

        Why would some one lose their job over blogging comments that had no bearing on the their work.
        The only time there would be an issue is if your comments broke your employment agreement by negatively affected the company you worked for.

        Politics and religion is pretty dangerous territory though, here be dragons.

        • QoT 6.3.2.1

          Because most employment agreements/codes of conduct are written with deliberately vague terms (like how most job descriptions tack on “and other tasks as may be required from time to time”), and deciding whether or not something “has bearing on a person’s work” is hardly a black-and-white issue.

          • The Fan Club 6.3.2.1.1

            Well no, it’d very probably be illegal. (Especially if it was political commentary.) Of course you have limited ability to enforce that.

            Also you do know that almost no public service roles require a history of political neutrality? (I mean, like, the Clerk’s Office, Parliamentary Library, a few others.) Many public servants are allowed to engage in political activity.

            • karol 6.3.2.1.1.1

              It might be illegal to discriminate against someone in employment because of their political opinions, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be done in a way that is difficult to challenge.

              Yes, a public servants can engage in political activities in their own time.  But when a person becomes publicly known for their political activities, it may be hard to keep a separation between that person’s workplace and political identities: i.e. people may respond to the worker based on what is known about his/her political activities, and make it an issue.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.3.2.2

          Why would some one lose their job over blogging comments that had no bearing on the their work.

          Because their boss didn’t like their politics just as you imply here:

          Politics and religion is pretty dangerous territory though,

          • BM 6.3.2.2.1

            It’s the risk you take.
            To be honest I wouldn’t be too enthused having a hardcore political activist working for my company who in his off time spent hours on line discussing and planning the down fall of our current economic system.

            You’d have to seriously question his/hers motivation and loyalty to the company.

            • QoT 6.3.2.2.1.1

              Ah yes, but that’s the problem, BM – I don’t think a person who is, in their work hours, completely competent and professional and does their job, should be subject to dismissal just because their manager is a judgemental prat who can’t handle alternate opinions and the expression thereof.

            • Draco T Bastard 6.3.2.2.1.2

              To be honest I wouldn’t be too enthused having a hardcore political activist working for my company who in his off time spent hours on line discussing and planning the down fall of our current economic system.

              And that perfectly illustrates the problem within our society. People don’t have freedom because the boss may get upset.

              You’d have to seriously question his/hers motivation and loyalty to the company.

              Strange, I keep hearing from Treasury, National, and economists that motivation and loyalty comes with the amount you pay.

            • Rogue Trooper 6.3.2.2.1.3

              clever.not

          • Populuxe1 6.3.2.2.2

            However I’m fairly sure that would leave the employer wide open to be sued for wrongful dismissal. So perhaps not a good example.

            • Draco T Bastard 6.3.2.2.2.1

              If the employee realises or can prove that that was why they were fired and if they can afford a lawyer.

            • Rhinocrates 6.3.2.2.2.2

              Having been through a similar process myself, I can tell you it’s lengthy and gruelling. A campaign of smearing and intimidation was mounted against me, it took months, required expensive consultation with an employment lawyer, then lengthy negotiations by my union representatives and whole process left me seriously debilitated and on anti-anxiety medication. I eventually had a good financial settlement, but I didn’t get my job back (nor would I want it).

              Technically they may be “wide open”, but few people have the reserves, stubbornness or documentation to mount a successful challenge and the majority of times it doesn’t happen – and the bad employers know that.

              You may as well say that burglaries never happen because theft is illegal.

        • Crashcart 6.3.2.3

          Do you think MSM reporters should have to name all their confidential sources. After all those sources chose to put their head above the wall and make comments that may afffect their employment or even life. How can we trust what they say if they aren’t identified correct?

          The hypocrisy of the MSM on this is horrible.

          • Populuxe1 6.3.2.3.1

            What’s that got to do with anything? Journalist and source are completely separate roles. 

            • karol 6.3.2.3.1.1

              Actually some people, experts in the field, argue that anonymous sources one one of the authors who contribute to an article.  It’s certainly debated that source and author are not as separate as you seem to think.

        • mike e 6.3.2.4

          yeah right Blind Monetarist NZ has a Victorian attitude towards employment especially when national is in power!

    • Te Reo Putake 6.4

      A comrade once told me never to say anything on a telephone I wouldn’t want to hear repeated in court. Good advice. Blogging without identifying yourself allows a freedom to comment that is denied to us in the ‘real’ world. It is the most honest commentary to be found in any kind of media available today.
       
      I choose to use a pen name because of that freedom. And also because it drives Pete George crazy. But that’s just a bonus, it’s really about the freedom.

  7. just saying 7

    Do we really want to hear only from those with power, privilege, confidence, and relative immunity, punctuated by a tiny number of thick-skinned “mavericks” for the good-old-boys to rark-up for sport?

    Or do we want to find ways to foster genuine democracy and debate, to quieten those who have dominated the public discourse for long enough and to allow a space for those without the above advantages to be heard?

    We’ve done things Brian’s way for centuries. I’ve been hearing from Brian off and on, all my life. The fact that he doesn’t even see that there is an issue, even when people are (psuedonymously) telling him about their lived experience, says it all. What he says is trumps, and that’s as it should be.

    I wouldn’t say anything at all in a forum like this without the protection of a pseudonym. That wouldn’t be the end of the world. Problem is all the many others like me who wouldn’t be heard either.

    Funny aside, a friend’s brother, one with lashings of intersecting privilege, used to regularly post under his own name in one of the bigger blogspaces. A couple of months ago, I sent a link to his sister, who never visits the blogosphere, as he was discussing something pertinent to a matter of family dispute. Haven’t seen him post under his own name since. And this little ‘pinch’ was just the merest hint of the kinds of risks others face.

  8. Ant 8

    Great post QOT.

  9. Blue 9

    There is a very long history and tradition of anonymous and pseudonymous art, music, literature and journalism, and it’s tedious to keep rehashing it every time some moron decides to get stuck into bloggers.

    The people who get on their high horse about the issue tend to be either:

    (a) Media professionals who write opinions under their own name for a living;
    (b) Vengeful muck-rakers;
    (c) Idiots whose main form of argument is ad hominem attacks; or
    (d) All of the above.

    None of the above categories is anyone whose opinion is worth much of a damn – even when they have their own name on it.

    • lprent 9.1

      Ah Blue.. You forgot “net newbies”.

    • McFlock 9.2

      wasn’t Ben Franklin an anonymous/pseudonymous leafleteer?

      • lprent 9.2.1

        Politics is littered with their polemics…coming to think of it so were the newspapers. What was that newspaper that was commonly known as the “Thunderer” for the particular in your face opinionated and outright strindent tone of their columns. Mostly anonymous or psuedonomyous as well..

  10. vto 10

    Brian, what difference does it make to your consideration of points made?

  11. I don’t mind “anonymous” bloggers as long as they use there real name when attacking those of us that do use our real name. Now those are the gutless wankers 😉
    Remember you are anonymous so you can reply.

    • vto 11.1

      I dont think I’m anonymous actually

      too many anonymous and cowardly spies

      • lprent 11.1.1

        And you are daft enough to comment where the sysops don’t respect privacy?

        • vto 11.1.1.1

          I wouldn’t have the foggiest idea, what’s a sysop?

          • travellerev 11.1.1.1.1

            System Operator=Iprent

          • Lanthanide 11.1.1.1.2

            Bit of an old term these days. It’s pretty much interchangeable with ‘webmaster’ when it comes to websites such as this, but even that is an old term as well.

            • lprent 11.1.1.1.2.1

              Yeah. There are some things that I’m distinctly conservative on. Titles are one of them. :)

              To tell the truth if you have to do the same job I can’t really see the point in changing the title.

              In my case the art of running a *nix server is pretty much the same regardless what era it is. I started running *nix servers in (ummm?) 1989 on a xenix system for Cargo King talking to cash registers around the country. That was well before the web was available in NZ and we were still doing everything on 2400 baud modems.

              Handling a web site was just a layering on top of that.

              • Peter

                Those were the days. Well, not my days. One downside of increased bandwidth is that you value your data less, especially when you can just download it again at speed.

          • lprent 11.1.1.1.3

            Using the same email/handle as here on another site where the operators aren’t quite as fussy as we are about privacy.

            Data matching is going to be an increasing problem for pseudonyms when it hooks to a real world email.

  12. Pete 12

    Brian is applying a variant of the Greater Internet F**kwad Theory and to an extent it holds some water. We’ve all encountered trolls in forums that are unmoderated or poorly moderated and the Internet can be a hive of scum and villainy, but he’s also making an ad hominem argument in its own way which doesn’t addresses the merits of a blogger’s argument.

    It doesn’t take a genius to figure out my name. I use the same red star from the NZ flag as my gravatar all over the place (I actually pulled it from a screen-capture of the opening credits of Revolution) and on one major NZ blog I’m registered under my full name because the admins ask nicely that commenters do that (Public Address). I’m a little more free these days to comment politically using my full name because I no longer work in the public service, but I don’t want to jeopardise any potential return there with some throwaway comment that hangs around like a bad smell if some HR person Googles me. So on my own blog where I have a greater degree of control I use my full name. I can lock it down if I’m applying for a job, for example (yes I know with caching services nothing really disappears, but still…). In threads where I can’t delete my comments after a few minute I prefer to just merge into the crowd.

    Plus, going by my first name keeps things informal.

    If you really want to know, my name is Peter Sime. I blog sporadically at http://www.petesi.me and my Twitter handle is @petesime. My educational credentials are BA in History and an LLB from Otago, a BA (Hons) in History from Victoria (where they treat honours as a separate post grad degree), and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Victoria. I’m 178 cm tall. I’m currently reading Brideshead Revisited. I’m a librarian. Pleased to meet you.

    Knowing all that, does that change anyone’s opinion of my comments in the past, or will it affect their opinion in the future? I doubt it.

    • ropata 12.1

      “greater internet f**kwad theory”, haha very true.

      this free speech concept is shocking isn’t it
      people expressing their honest opinion and being rude and offensive
      can’t have that old boy

    • Rogue Trooper 12.2

      I have watched Brideshead on film through twice, once in one go. Pleased to meet you :)

      -Rogue Sebastian

  13. Schlurps McGoo 13

    Quite a few authors throughout the centuries who wrote social and political satire, criticisms etc used pseudonyms.

    Jonathan Swift published under many pen names, Charles Dickens under just the one for the first few years.

    Mark Twain, Lewis Caroll, George Orwell, all not their real names.

    This Idea that using a pseudonym invalidates any point or argument you have to make is well…. false. All those authors listed are well recognised for having wrote arguments that were worthwhile.

    I would argue that if you use a pseudonym (like I am now) and others find the content abusive or offensive, well you’ve probably alienated anyone likely to agree with you anyway.

    So why try to police the net by insisting people identify themselves with their birth names or identity?

  14. redfred 14

    The use of pseudonym offers real freedom; freedom from the less formal power structures in society, boss, peers, neighbours etc.

    For Brian, it is about “Brand”, Brian is protecting the brand value of the real political commentator with a real name and therefore a more valuable brand.

    Feathering his own nest, fluffing his own pillow, stroking his own ego.

    He is showing his lack of understanding of this space, a real name has no more value than a pseudonym, I really enjoy NRT blogs, for the information and analysis, couldn’t really give a crap about the name on their birth certificate, they are NRT easy.

    Brian hasn’t evolved beyond the digital newspaper format he has been think the web provides. This type of forum offers the opportunity for everybody with out fear of favour to have an opinion on everything, that is the democracy of the web, that is the freedom of the web.

  15. Ed 15

    In the same week as it was reporting that whistleblowers are notable by their absence, with the explanation that despite legislation, fear makes such disclosures too personally expensive, I am surprised at any questioning of the need many have to post anonymously.

    Most people would not want to be identified as the person who disclosed something that embarrassed a Minister in the current government.

  16. Peter 16

    Well yeah. I post under my own name because I find it’s normally a good brake on what I might otherwise be inclined to say, if I was posting anonymously. I’d like to think that anything I would say on this blog I would be inclined to say face to face, perhaps after a few drinks for courage, but maybe still face to face.

    • McFlock 16.1

      you need to be a grumpy bastard like me. The only place I shut up a bit is at work. And even then the occasional f-bomb gets dropped (but not half as much as I want to – fecking computers).
         
      And I keep away from politics – I think there might be a national voter in the team 😉
                     
      But the interwebz is forever, and I got a wee bit of a surprise when I found that a google search still brings up some of the stuff I wrote as a teenager. If that doesn’t teach one a small dose of caution, nothing will :) 

      • lprent 16.1.1

        I have found snippets of stuff I wrote in the 80’s on BBS’es, the unearthing of the old usenet has me in some odd places, and I learnt long ago to never leave photos on the net.

  17. Colonial Viper 17

    What about those politicians, CEOs and Directors who refuse to front up to members of the public and answer questions. Who are essentially unaccountable, protected by layers of wealth, organisational structures and staff.

    Brian Edwards has lost the plot a little here.

    Why are his comments not just a subtle version of Armstrong and O’Sullivan’s jealousy and relative isolation now that places like The Standard has sharper debate, better ideas and more life than they can muster individually on their own pages.

    • ropata 17.1

      Not a good look from Edwards. It boils down to an attack on free speech in public.
      Requiring an online ID is the sort of thing a regime like the Egyptian govt would do to suppress dissent, or to use as evidence in a witch hunt

      Admittedly some people mess around on blogs during work hours. why ask for trouble 😛

      • QoT 17.1.1

        Ah, well apparently Brian does see a difference between “anonymous” blogging in a democracy – which is probably cowardice – and anonymous blogging in a dictatorship, which is righteous.

    • Shaz 17.2

      Yes indeed – Brian has the wrong target – why is is that Minister’s refuse to appear on National Radio at least 3 times our of four preferring the adulatory soft spots on commercial statioms. We might know who they are but the public can’t subejct their poliies to scrutiny.

      A great post and discussion by hte way. I think the Standard’s standard of analysis and debate is getting progressively stronger and more satisfying.

  18. Jenny 18

    Most of us even if we gave our full real names would still remain anonymous except to our immediate friends and family and workmates. We are not politicians or business or media personalities.

    Brian Edwards doesn’t want to know who we are if we don’t comment in blogs. So why does he, indignantly want to know who we are, when we do?

    Is he trying to set himself up as some sort of bullying authority figure, imperiously demanding, “Give me your name young lady” before furiously writing it down in some little notebook to be passed on to the headmaster to go on my school record.

    What a twit.

    Edwards and others are upset by what people are saying on the blogs. not by who they are. That is his right. The real message behind his plaint; Due to the democratising power of the internet, too many people are now having a say. The previous gatekeepers of political debate like himself can feel their power to shape public perceptions slipping away from them.

    As uncomfortable as it may be for media ‘personalities’ like Edwards,
    having to address the ideas raised in blogs like this one has become inescapable. If those ideas are being freely, democratically and intelligently raised and held by large amounts of people. They can no longer be ignored.

  19. Rhinocrates 19

    The fact that he mostly chooses to sneer at correspondents rather than address the substance of their arguments is disappointing. His put-down of “Trevor Kingswood” after they described the abuse she suffered after using a name that identified her as female is particularly nasty and deliberately avoids the point.

    I would have expected a lot better of him.

    • QoT 19.1

      Yes. The thing that really stuck out for me is that Brian’s real concern is that “Trevor Kingswood” might be a real meatspace name and the “real” Trevor Kingswood might object to pseudonym-Trevor’s opinions.

      Which is really just proof Brian doesn’t understand how names work, and may indicate he’s gone through life happily being the most important Brian Edwards in town, little realising how much all the other Brian Edwards are really sick of being mistaken for him …

      • felix 19.1.1

        So it’s not really about whether you use your real name at all.

        It’s about whether you’re famous enough to be allowed to speak.

  20. AwakeWhileSleeping 20

    A name is used to identify a blogger regardless of if it is a legal name or not and the writing style of a particular blogger becomes evident over time.

    The public can then choose what they read. Isn’t this the REAL threat Bryan?

  21. weka 21

    Strange that Edwards also thinks that commenters on his blog having to supply an email address means anything (fakeemailaddress@gmail.com). Unless he emails each address with a request for a reply before publishing comment… has anyone commented there?

  22. karol 22

    Just read through the comments under Edwards’ post.  Great last comment by Sanctuary @8.15am

    What Edwards doesn’t seem to get is that his attitude to on-line handles is a recipe for the narrowing of discussion to those closest to the constructed “centre”-ground of politics. Yes it is a way of cutting down on abusive tohlish comments.  But it’s taking a sledgehammer to a nut.  It also inadvertently cuts down on the amount of comments/posts that criticise the status quo, or offer radical alternatives.

    As sanctuary puts it:

    The point I wish to make is political debate has for fifty years become increasingly anaemic; More and more of what was once considered acceptable rough and tumble of a robust democracy has been walled off – there are no more rude hecklers at public meetings, no more pelting of candidates with fruit, etc. This “polite-tisation” of public political debate is to my mind a particularly insidious form of middle class capture, an extension of the middle class faux pas of talking about God to the vicar at the church fete into the sphere of politics.

    If you want an eg of that look at Public Address, which politely encourages real names for commenting. “Middle class capture’ is an apt description.

  23. Funny thing Anonymity.

    My Grandfather saved a 16 year old German soldier from drowning after his car drove into a canal in the last months of WWII. He did so while in the back of his house he had hundreds of what were then called underground Newspapers. Possession of anyone of those leaflets would have gotten him shot on the spot.

    When the war was over he was accused of aiding and abetting the enemy because he saved a 16 year old terrified child soldier forced to fight a lost war because there were none older left.

    He was convicted and send to prison because he could not prove he wrote some of the material on the anti German leaflets himself thus proving his deed was not that of a traitor but of a human saving another human in distress regardless of his Nationality while being loyal to his own people at the same time.

    I write under a monicker because the things I write about could get my husband fired because they don’t like politics and most certainly not “out there” politics.

    I also write under a monicker because we had to leave my home country because I dared to take on a Mafiose criminal without the safety of anonymity.

    Anyone who says I can only give my opinion if I give my real name should try to walk a mile in my shoes and can go fuck himself in the sanctimonious ass he/she is.

    • Great story Ev. Long live your family of battlers.
      The big truth teller in NZ at the moment is one Kim Dotcom.
      The establishment is worried that Anonymous is taking over the world.
      Wikileakers are being tried for treason.
      The spooks and backroom dealers have no place to hide.
      The MSM hacks are being hacked to death by the blogs.
      Who forgets Vladimir Illich “Lenin”?
      Who will remember Brian Edwards?

  24. Rogue Trooper 24

    Some excellent writing in this thread; hung on their own Petard.
    I only ever read the headlines and / or para intro’s in the dominant rags and daily one or three topical
    trending socio-economic national trends. Much better writing, objectivity and depth in the guardian etc
    on global issues and how they impact on Your futures.

    I agree with the concept “middle class” capture; it is evident in the language and assumptions of MSM
    writers generally, although, Tapu Misa is a very engaging writer, imo.

    Remember
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiotics_of_culture
    “you’re a womble…remember you’re a womble…remember member member what a womble womble
    womble you are”.

    from Tobermory to Great Uncle Bulgaria :)

  25. shorts 25

    Brian Edwards in this instance is simply an old man yelling at clouds

    let him be

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