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  • Grow up, C2E members

    Folks,

    First, an apology for the provocative headline. But I did want to get your attention.
    In an upcoming column in The Edmonton Journal yours truly will argue that it’s time for the internet to grow up. That hiding behind usernames in forums like C2E demeans not only the forum, but the principles of democratic debate.
    Please respond to this thread with your opinions on my premise. Is anonymity valuable? If so, what about the corporate flak or spin doctor who can pretend to be Henry or Martha on C2E and influence opinion from the safety of a username.
    What about Mr. or Ms. Anonymous on C2E slandering the reputation of a public person without having to face the consequences? Is this fair or just?
    Adults have opinions. They express them from time to time. In doing so, they risk feedback. Identifying yourself with your opinions is risky, yes. It raises the stakes. It demands you perhaps do a little research or have the knowledge or experience to back your opinion.
    When I first started writing a column I was a bit freaked about having my opinions open for public debate. But it was a growth and growing-up experience.
    So please respond to this thread. Some of the comments may be used in the column. Oh — I’d love to see posts signed with real names.

    Scott McKeen
    913-5901
    Journal columnist

  • #2
    A very interesting topic.

    In most cases people should not hide behind a username. I am sure if you looked at the members information page, which most on-line forums make public, you will see enough detail to work out who most people are if you really wanted.

    That being said, everyone has an opinion and people often differ, sometimes in a rather heated way. It's a bit like road rage, I wonder how many people would make hand gestures at terrible drivers if they had their full name and phone number written on their car?

    The other reason that people should be allowed anonymity is to provide readers with the "big scoop". How many times do journalists quote "internal sources" or "someone who doesn't wish to be named". Maybe all journalists should be forced to always quote the full name of the people providing their information, then see how little of the juicy stuff we would get to know.

    Finally, everyone should take information in this forum with a pinch of salt. Same as newspapers, radio and the television. If you believe everything that's printed or spoken over the airwaves you have a far bigger problem.

    Stephen Bull
    Edmonton, Capital of Alberta

    Comment


    • #3
      Dear Scott McKeen,

      Re: Grow up, C2E members

      Good provocative subject headline indeed! Yes, it captured my attention.

      Anonymity online is valuable to me only from a safety perspective. I do not hide my "real" identity or use my username to deflect consequences. That said I originally did sign up and take a user name that uses a nickname and my gender for anonymity purposes and now almost two years later I am "stuck" with being "djgirl".

      Being female and very prolific on C2E (and in person) safety is a realistic issue that is top of mind. I have been "flamed" on the forum. I accept that as not only part of posting but also moderator fallout but I would not accept some anonymous C2E poster doing that in person nor should I be expected to.

      I hate to play the gender card but I think that online anonymity is viewed differently by the sexes.

      Great thread and thank you for bringing the issue up, this is also something I am seeing on various blogs so I will be keeping an eye out for the replies.

      Yours sincerely,

      Debra Ward (a.k.a. djgirl)

      Comment


      • #4
        How do I know that you're the real Scott McKeen? Hmmm?

        Sorry - no names for me. I don't show up on google, and that's the way I like it. Simple as that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by newfangled
          How do I know that you're the real Scott McKeen? Hmmm?

          Sorry - no names for me. I don't show up on google, and that's the way I like it. Simple as that.
          Would me (djgirl) as a moderator and with the "know" on this convince you?

          Yes, this is that Scott McKeen, the Edmonton Journal columnist.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by djgirl
            Would me (djgirl) as a moderator and with the "know" on this convince you?

            Yes, this is that Scott McKeen, the Edmonton Journal columnist.
            And how do I know you're the real djgirl?

            It was more a comment on the nature of anonymity and "authenticity" on the internet.

            Comment


            • #7
              ^ Showing up on a Google search is sort of cool...of course it depends on what material is discovered.

              Sex with barnyard animals not so much; community or public involvement is okay by me.

              Perhaps because I have worked in Communications and Public Relations for so long I view the issue differently as well.

              Information that is readily available on a business card is fine by me (and the FOIP act) but my home address, home phone number, bra size and choice of underwear... is not for public discourse.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by newfangled
                Originally posted by djgirl
                Would me (djgirl) as a moderator and with the "know" on this convince you?

                Yes, this is that Scott McKeen, the Edmonton Journal columnist.
                And how do I know you're the real djgirl?

                It was more a comment on the nature of anonymity and "authenticity" on the internet.
                ^ Trust me there is no other djgirl -- I am as original as they come!

                I did get your comment point but also wanted to assure other C2E members of the authenticity of this particular member.

                Comment


                • #9
                  The problems with starting to use real names, is I could possible put my name as "Scott Mckeen" and without a background check by C2E, who's to really say that I'm Scott Mckeen. Such as someone else has posted, I don't want my name all over the internet. You can find my usual forum haunts just by googling my online moniker that I use in several places.

                  It's not that I'm hiding behind my nickname, many people know me by my real name on here, and I've met several of you, including you Scott. We even had a brief discussion over this site.

                  The reason some may not openly give out my real name to every so and so on the internet is that it doesn't take much to find a person given the right information. I wouldn't want some smuck who has a problem with something I've said in a casual conversation online phoning my number, or emailing me hate mail. (Though my real name is fairly common - and I would think that there would be a few of "me" in the phone book and around the city)

                  Prove to me that your worthy of knowing who I really am, and perhaps we can exchange beers, say, perhaps at Martini's?
                  A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I dsavow any knowledge of this bar mentioned, Martini's.


                    Whats that? You never said it was a bar. Dammit, caught.

                    Scott.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There, I just made a point by using my old username, northendboy.
                      I've posted a couple of times here as northendboy-- once to defend a councillor who was being slagged wrongly. Never to defend Scott McKeen. He's got his own forum where he can defend himself.
                      But I talked to RichardS about this and decided to use my own name from now on.
                      This will be my last post as northendboy.
                      Please keep the posts coming on this topic, though.
                      No one's convinced me yet to change my mind on the need for identity on the internet.

                      Scott

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by feepa
                        It's not that I'm hiding behind my nickname, many people know me by my real name on here, and I've met several of you, including you Scott. We even had a brief discussion over this site.

                        The reason some may not openly give out my real name to every so and so on the internet is that it doesn't take much to find a person given the right information. I wouldn't want some smuck who has a problem with something I've said in a casual conversation online phoning my number, or emailing me hate mail. (Though my real name is fairly common - and I would think that there would be a few of "me" in the phone book and around the city)

                        Prove to me that your worthy of knowing who I really am, and perhaps we can exchange beers, say, perhaps at Martini's?
                        ^ Yes!

                        I too have met many of the C2E members and have "divulged" my real identity when it has been appropriate.

                        In my career, I go by a professional identity, which I have "branded" as it were and this has served me very well over the years.

                        My family and old friends would never consider calling me by the formal derivative of my first name and going by "two" names has allowed me to separate these two diverse parts of my life.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by feepa
                          The problems with starting to use real names, is I could possible put my name as "Scott Mckeen" and without a background check by C2E, who's to really say that I'm Scott Mckeen.
                          To this point, I can emphatically say it is Scott McKeen. I set this ID up personally, the number listed IS Scott's number, and we discussed him coming on as himself not only to prove this point for the column, but because of who he is and his desire to be up front with his opinion.

                          The "columnist" tag is just like the elections. Only Ceres and I have the authority to put these tags on anyone.

                          However,

                          To the point that Scott is trying to make, I am fully onside. It is time to grow up here. C2E has found itself in the midst of at least 2 pending lawsuits over the recent election when "concerned citizens" started hurling allegations (and rather serious ones) at candidates not even alleging malefactions, but outright saying "so and so IS GUILTY of such and such". As the medium that places the message, our moderation has to be strict. This is just one part of this forum that is giving me, and others, heartburn lately.

                          ...not that it was unexpected. We knew as a formative steering committee that anonymity would allow those who were a bit timid to come forth and express an opinion that they would otherwise not do out of fear for workplace reprisals, personal attacks, or simply fear. We wanted the user group to be dynamic and grow. However, all along, we've worried about "trolls" coming in to the forum and creating havoc and making accusations that put us in the line of a lawyer's fire.

                          The other unfortunate thing is my own personal beef. From day 1, I've been me. I have an opinion, and right or wrong, it's mine. I find it childish when I see people sign up here as quidgybo and then send me nastygrams about my haircut, my life, or my opinion. Some of these notes are outright hilarious in their stupidity, and others are things that I dare someone to say to my face. You know who you are, right "eddie"? How about you "quidgybo"? Still out there sulking "isometric", threatening to call the police because we told you to stop with the slander? How about you "AlexJ", still out there trying to prove some sort of censorship conspiracy? Cowards...all of you. If you have a personal beef, stand up and be counted, or go away. The steering committee and moderators have lived the line we’ve provided quite well, and trust me, we’ve all been slammed. Lately, djgirl has been receiving a lot of unnecessary garbage. That is unfortunate.

                          Then we get the "dakine's" of the world. You know, those individuals who come on intentionally to be "controversial", and instead their whole goal is to say anything and everything in the most degrading and insulting way possible. They won't eloquently say something, even thought we know they can. No, they have to use overly sensational language, insult race, gender, sexual orientation, etc thinking all along that they are protected by anonymity, IP shielding, firewalls, whatever. They either get some kind of “charge” out of trolling, or they really have that opinion – but still refuse to express it in any other way but extreme generalizations and stereotypes. Hiding behind internet anonymity and inflaming stereotypes makes you no better than the KKK members with hoods, and going “ohh ohh ohh, but it is a REAL opinion that you will wear diapers” blah blah blah is just a pathetic attempt at trying to justify rather inflaming and derogatory comments.. Oh, and dakine, pablo, george, whatever, we KNOW IT IS YOU. You've just behaved lately, so we've let you go under your latest pseudonym.

                          OK, rant mode off….whew, I really wanted to vent.

                          I have no problem being challenged in any topic, and some of the debates I’ve had with “grish”, “Ins”, and others have been good ones. Spirited, yes. Confrontational, at times, yes. But at least it has been completely above board and on the forum. No hidden nastygrams or insults of character. However, the anonymity is at times perplexing. Not that I care totally who “grish” or “Ins” are other than I hope that their lives are healthy and prosperous, but I actually would like to sit down for coffee and talk in person on our debates. I find them intriguing.

                          Everyone has an opinion. What is so problematic about standing up and being counted? My opinion is my opinion. Does anonymity somehow CHANGE your opinion? Do you think differently as “quidgybo”? Would the real Slim Shady please stand up?

                          Whistleblowers, witness protection, etc all have their place. But then, just how many anonymous “whistleblowers” are employees, union leaders, or rival company execs out on a grudge match and trying to distract folks by forcing you to respond?

                          It is a hard topic. The internet is still in its infancy, and this forum is even more infantile (in time). I understand the anonymity, but get angry when it is abused. This debate is bigger than my rant, bigger than C2E, it is about the whole concept of the internet itself, and the “soul” of the freelancing blogger/programmer to fight “the man”. We are in interesting times folks, and truly in history in the making.


                          I need to go...but I will comment more later...
                          President and CEO - Airshow.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One reason for anonomous postings would be safety as djgirl expressed above.

                            Another reason would be that many of us are using this site during work hours and wouldn't want our employers to know that we are using their time to post messages on a form such as this. Also, that said employer might not appreciate the opinions shared by that employee.

                            I read and use this form at work, yes, but only when there is little else to do, so I don't feel I'm wasting time if they can't keep me busy in the first place. Though I believe that I'm just too efficient! that said, I don't want my employer to know my personal thoughts. BTW you can google my name all you want, there won't be anything that interesting I can promise you.

                            Ted

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              ^ Thanks Richard.

                              This brings up something for me.

                              Since the main reason I originally signed up under a user name no longer exists, I am confident of internet security measures and as I have no problem standing up and defending my (many!) opinions is it possible to change my user name?

                              Debra W (aka djgirl)

                              Comment

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