Is anonymous blogging a bad thing?

I just glanced at a few blogs the other day and noticed that Cross Currents’ Yaakov Menkin has started a chain of blog posts about anonymity it’s pluses and negatives. All the bigger Jewish bloggers have weighed in so I figure why not? Before moving to Silicon Valley, I was under the impression that one could maintain anonymity on the internet, I now know that this is not true. Comments, screen names, passwords and anything else you enter into the cloud can be traced back to you. Yaakov Menkin is writing specifically about about anonymous commenters who criticize without caring about accountability or humility and he is right, but there isn’t much you can do about it.

When I decided many moons ago to start writing under my real name, I only did so because I figured if I was to be taken seriously as a writer and a comedian I couldn’t be anonymous forever. I also felt that if I was writing under my real name, I wouldn’t go over the edge. Unfortunately, in the frum community, one cannot always express their opinions and some folks need to take it off the record. Dov Bear is a great example, he expresses unpopular opinions, many left leaning in a community that is run by folks who are quite right wing.

While I don’t necessarily discount what Mr./Rabbi Bear has to say, I do tend to take most anonymous blogs with a grain of salt. For instance, when the fellow who claimed to be a Rabbi who was also an Atheist started blogging, I felt that it was probably fake – still – it was a very good blog and it opened up some good discussion on faith and jobs that require faith in God and so on. If anonymous blogging was something that didn’t do its job, folks from the frum world wouldn’t be constantly attacking them. Imagine if all those off the derech, shidduch, and critical of Jewish leader blogs were not anonymous…would that make them any less or more effective?

I’m getting ahead of myself, the post on Cross Currents that started this whole megillah was referring to negative commenters that hide behind anonymity to criticize without taking responsibility for their words or actions. I know all too well about these commenters, Frum Satire, for better or worse is filled with anonymous commenters who sometimes say very mean things about me. I’ve always been one for free speech, I absolutely hate when frum sites edit, delete or rewrite comments to fit their agenda. I rarely delete comments and they are automatically sent to moderation only when certian spammy keywords are in the text, but when someone curses your marriage and your wife, sometimes it can get to you.

Part of the joy of blogging is the discussion that ensues after the post, there is a good percentage of folks who read the title and skip straight to the comments – you can always pick out those people. Unfortunately, I have witnessed first hand, the reduced attention spans of folks through the years, but that doesn’t mean we have to ban anonymous comments. So many anonymous comments are good comments, just because someone fills out your email and name form, doesn’t mean it’s their real name. With the reduced attention span, the more you ask of your commenters, the less likely they are to comment and this would lead to reduced readership.

Like it or not, anonymous commenting is something you cannot get rid of, unless you have millions of readers and I doubt Cross Currents or any other Jewish blog could afford such drastic measures. The anti-anonymity push from the frum world just seems like a great way to cover up its misdeeds while pretending that those who expose their misdeeds are creating a chillul hashem or speaking loshon horah. Just because someone spoke loshon horah about you, doesn’t discount the things you have to look at in the face of this ever growing transparency in the frum community.

Check out the post on The Jewish Press site

Find out more on 4torah.com

 

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • anonymous

    this sucks

  • Dan

    I went ape on Menken and the rest of them in the comments (mostly not posted, and under various names). I think they are being a bunch of babies, inasmuch as they moderate the comments anyway and can simply not post the ones they don’t like.

    But, I didn’t accuse them of trying to silence disagreement. It seemed a bit funny to, since they regularly post articles disagreeing with them, such as the one by Finkelstein which started the whole thing.

    • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

      Disagreement isn’t a bad thing, it fosters dialogue and understanding. I think their biggest fear is the transparency that has been forced upon the frum community and its leaders since this thing called “web user generated content” aka web 2.0 has been forced upon them.

  • http://facebook.com/ylovemusic Y-Love

    IMO anonymous blogging or Internet content generation in general is something I would not do, nor do I advocate it. If you have enough ????? to type up a comment, put all of your worst vitriol into it, and then click “publish”, I think you should be brave enough to put your signature on it (granted, not necessarily a legal name, but a consistent, online identity).

    If you’re thinking “I wouldn’t want anyone to know I said that” – it might be something you’d want to think twice about before clicking publish. G-d willing the future Internet, as Google and Facebook have given us glimpses of, will be a place where “online privacy” and “anonymity” are valued less than free idea exchange…

  • Alter Cocker

    Anonymous blogging is a good thing, but the author has to realize that he/she can’t make claims about his or herself. If you’re going to be anonymous, don’t tell us about how you’re a rabbi/doctor/MENSA member/etc. because you can’t possibly prove any of that.

    • Alter Cocker

      and given the stuff I see regularly on the Internet, I consider it quite dangerous to blog under your real name. No matter what you write, some people will disagree and some of them will make threats. Most threats are nonsense of course, but why take the chance?

      • http://www.frumsatire.net Heshy Fried

        Like every time some “expert” in the yeshiva world news forum claims something. Or in those “readers write” things in frum newspapers.

  • http://fosterparentingadventures.blogspot.com tikunolam

    Back in the days that I often guest blogged and commented at DovBear, I have to admit, there were days that I felt beaten to a pulp. People said the nastiest of things. I couldn’t take it and even asked DB to take down a couple of posts and DB and other friendly commenters came to my defense when I was really upset. I was told to commit suicide. I was told that I didn’t deserve the love of my family. All of this because I am an atheist and lapsed OJ.
    Over the years I developed a tougher skin but even so, when I started my own blog I made different rules. I moderate comments and I don’t post abusive ones. There are some die hard crazy folks out there against adoption and they found my blog and started in on me pretty early on. I didn’t want my blog to be a hostile place and the topic has a narrow focus and I was looking to attract people who would be curious, interested and/or supportive. DovBear is a place for discussion and debate, often heated debate. The rules he has supports his type of blog and his purpose as a blogger, mine support mine.

  • Critic

    I posted this on DB under another pseudonym.

    There are only two ways of telling the complete truth – anonymously and posthumously

    Thomas Sowell

  • AC

    Some blogs I comment to annonymously and some, I always use my real name. Unfortunately I don’t have my own blog yet, if I posted under my real name I’d have to limit what I say to prevent a backlash and if I posted annonymously I’d have to limit what I say to prevent disclosure of who I am. One alternative I thought of but dismissed is to post annonymously and mask my real posts with enough fictional posts.

    Yes. I know I’m a coward, that’s what the “C” in “AC” stands for.

  • Anonymous
    • Sholom

      Dreck!

  • http://somepoemsdontrhyme.blogspot.com SPDR

    And there is a difference between blogging anonymously (hosting an anonymous blog) vs. posting spiteful comments anonymously. While the former allows people to speak their mind without fear of people judging their religiosity, etc based on what and how they think (it doesn’t make a difference really if you don’t know them in real life…which the anonymity ensures), the latter is just cowardly and unsavory. If someone is going to disagree and be hateful about (which really there is no excuse for, disagreeing yes, but not in a malicious way), in my opinion at least they should have guts enough to back it up with some sort of identity.

  • http://www.blogofthiscentury.com Eugene

    One who posts anonymously recognizes that they are scared. But truthfully why do so many people care to write posts about this topic. Nothing will change.. it has been and will continue to be – as long as blogging exists.

  • COCO

    THE MEDIA, THEY PURCHASED FROM THE MONEY  THEY ROBBED FROM ME AND MY CHILD AND MANY BROKERS AND THEIR FAMILIES.  I KNOW THE INITIATORS OF ANONYMOUS THEY ARE HEARTLESS LOSERS, RATS LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN.  SOME ARE FEDS AND THEY FALSIFIED COMPANY DOCUMENTS AND ROBBED ME WHEN I ALLOWED THEM TO BE IN A HUGE TRANSACTION THAT MADE QUADRILLIONS AND THEY ROBBED ME, SOME I TAUGHT THE BUSINESS AND ALLOWED THEM IN MY DEAL THEY CIRCUMVENTED ME, ROBBED ME AND WERE HACKING INTO ME AND KEPT HACKING AND ROBBING MY TRANSACTIONS FOR OVER TEN YEARS.  I BECAME UNABLE TO SUPPORT MY CHILD AND ENDED UP ONTHE STREETAND UP TO TODAY THEY ARE STILL ROBBING MY DEALS.  THEY MADE TRILLIONS AND TRILLIONS ON ME WHILE I STRUGGLE TO EAT. AND SAME FOR ANY FAMILIES THEY DID SAME TO.  SO BECAUSE THEY PAY YOUR SALARY AND THE SALARIES OF MANY OF THE MEDIA PEOPLE, DO NOT SPEAK LIES BECAUSE AS  GOD TOLD ME HE WOULD HE SENT BALLS OF FIRE TWO DAYS AFTER I INFIRMED HE WOULD AND THIS IS THE BEGINNING AS GOLD TOLD ME IN A VOICE LIKE HE WAS IN THE SAME ROOM  HE SAUD HE HAS A PLAN AND GAVE ME A VISION OF HIS FOOT CRUSHING THEM.  SO WHEN YOU ALL OF THE MEDIA STAND BEFORE GOD, DO NOT GIVE HONOR TO THE WICKED, TO THE ONES THAT NEED TO BE JAILED AND TRULY GIVEN THE GUILLOTINE FOR THE CRIMES THEY HAVE DONE ON INNOCENT WORKERS, THEIR FAMILIES, THEIR CHILDREN., WE SUFFERED AND STILL SUFFER GRANDLY.  AM ON THE STREET, I BECAME UNABLE TO KEEP RAISING MY CHILD.  ANONYMOUS IS WORKING AND IS ART OF BILDERBERG, FEDS, CA, OBAMA, ILLUMINAIS, HITLER, KKK.  SOME ARE GERMANS THAT KILLED JEWS IN THE HITLER ERA AND TO NOT PAY FOR THE HORRENDOUS CRIMES, THEY TOOK THE IDENTITIES OF JEWS THEY KILLED.  SO SHOULD YOU AND THE WORLD ALLOW TEM TO MISLEAD.  BELIEVE ME WHT THEY ARE PLANNING ON THE WORLD IS WORSE AND WHAT THEY ARE PLANNING WITH THE DRONES IS ALSO HORRENDOUS.  BEWARE GD IS NOT FAR, HE S WATCHING.