"I'm Going to Singlehandedly Fix the Internet" -- Anonymous Posts

A fictional newsman gives voice to an issue your real-world Lamorinda Patch editor deals with every day.


It has been a long battle and some of humanity's most trusted oracles have said that the longest battles make for the sweetest victories (they haven't? Well, I just did) and I'm nothing if not stubborn.

The public sounding board that this site has become is rife with my pitiful requests for those who contribute to it anonymously to come out from behind the curtain and post "in the clear," under their true names.

This is catching on, I'm pleasantly surprised to report, but we still have a long way to go. I would like to raise the topic again with you all -- the people who make this site what it is.

I know, I get it. "We live in a small town"... "people know me here, and they have long memories"... "I don't want to be bullied"... or "Why should I? No one ever agrees with me, anyway"... I've heard them all, and I wrassle with the issue every day.

Now, I know that many people are more comfortable posting under screen names and I completely understand the desire for security when using the Internet. No problem. But, as my much better looking and fictional colleague Will McAvoy puts it, "I'm on a mission to bring civility to the Internet" and some of you are going to have to learn that our message boards were not built for cyber-anarchists who like to post libelous "fire and forget" missiles from their darkened rooms.

Testament to the level of intelligence of our readers, I will say that Lamorinda Patch gets far less of this sort of thing than other, similar sites. The quality of our posts, even those harpooning others from behind a screen name, are extremely well written and have had a lot of thought put into them. I don't care. The analogy I keep coming up with are the so-called kangaroo courts of old, or lesser developed modern countries, where "witnesses" with cloth bags over their faces pointed to those they opposed politically or simply didn't like and accused them of something despicable.

There's no better way to smear someone, and I don't like it that I'm handing some people the means to do so. At present, we allow anonymous posts at Lamorinda Patch. Most are fine but a small number cross the line and intimate things from behind the electronic equivalent of a cloth mask. I think that's un-American.

I've noted that some people who have weighed in under screen names and posted prior comments about political candidates who stand -- in the open and with their names and lives on public display -- have re-registered their LamoPatch accounts and taken to using their true names. I am most grateful. On the other hand, a persistent few continue to stomp their feet and accuse me of censorship and worse while willfully libeling their neighbors with reports of impropriety, cover-up, and, in some cases, criminal acts.

Now, we're not afraid of addressing these issues, as longtime readers hopefully know. But I want to know who you are and how you came by the information you're presenting when you use us to present it. You owe that to your neighbors. If you have a tip you want us to look into write me with it. If you want to comment publicly on your neighbor's ability to run for the local school board -- keep your words civil and please post them under your true name.

It's the decent thing to do.

William H. Thompson September 06, 2012 at 07:31 PM
Our vehicles have license plates, tied to identities of the owners - enabling those who enforce the vehicle use regulations to take appropriate action when violations occur. To the normal driver, another's license plate does not reveal the identity of that person. While I am one who - from first registration here - has used my name in the open and salute others who do so, it seems that a registration process requiring the correct full name of the Patch user along with other verifiable information would be an appropriate way to maintain the anonymity of those who want it, while enforcing the rules of the road for this forum when they do not comply. For those who would not submit to such disclosures and agree to certain rules of conduct, it is my opinion that they should not be allowed on this online "highway."
Sue Haas September 06, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Well said. I agree completely.
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop September 06, 2012 at 11:36 PM
The only place of true neutrality is silence. The mechanical and philosophical flaws of language make communication with out an attendant point of view impossible. Assigning ownership to a de facto source of random statements made by random individuals is absurd. Our 'point-of-view' is only valuable to us in the moment in time when it is uttered and to no one else and it degrades exponentially. Whether 'right or wrong' is immaterial because of the nuanced imprecision of the vehicle by which it attempts to assume form. The 'quality' (or lack thereof) of a statement is so utterly unattainable, it begs retraction. If it were not for bias,' identity' would not exist. Someone inevitably knows who every one is by virtue of who they are not. So why bother? Because if we do not 'do' we cannot 'be'. Whomever we think we are. That is why I do not care who you are as I cannot possibly know. Particularly if you claim it is not you saying it.
Scott Bowhay September 07, 2012 at 04:19 AM
JLE, it all sounds the same!
Fritz 'Congodog' Stoop September 07, 2012 at 02:30 PM
Yes , it does, Scott! The point exactly. The anonymous poster lacks the confidence of conviction and will not stand behind their statements. Jose, dogs lack the ability to converse and, most likely, the desire.


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