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You’re all bunch of p*****!!!

July 12, 2010

Comments – can be fun, can be horrible.  Us users of the net can scale the heights of the most positive human values and rant in the most base language about trivial topics.  If you’ve ever be part of a ground running a website you’ll know getting the comments policy right is a nightmare – too little comments and you miss the wisdom of the crowd, yet leave it to be a free-for-all and before long spammers and trolls will push everyone out.

Some people say the anonymity of the net is the problem; so Blizzard have decided link all comments to your real name:

The first and most significant change is that in the near future, anyone posting or replying to a post on official Blizzard forums will be doing so using their Real ID — that is, their real-life first and last name — with the option to also display the name of their primary in-game character alongside it. These changes will go into effect on all StarCraft II forums with the launch of the new community site prior to the July 27 release of the game, with the World of Warcraft site and forums following suit near the launch of Cataclysm. Certain classic forums, including the classic forums, will remain unchanged.

I can see the pros and cons of this – if people know who you are, it may (we’ll have to see…) temper the most aggressive comments.  The cons are that one of the good things about the net is it allows you to redefine you you wish to be – that and it allows people to post views who may not be happy saying so with their real name (there are often legitimate reasons to protect anonymity on the site from repressive regimes to empower whistle-blowers etc).  There is also an interesting comment on the issue from Clay Shirky (being interviewed):

If the web has unlocked all this human potential for generosity and sharing, how come the people using it are so horrible to each other?

Shirky smiles, confident that he has the answer even to this. “So, there’s two things to this paradox. One is that those conversations were always happening. People were saying those nasty things to one another in the pub or whatever. You just couldn’t hear them before. So it’s a change in our awareness of truth, not a change in the truth.

“Then there’s this second effect, that anonymity makes people behave more meanly. What I think is going to happen there is we are slowly going to set up islands of civil discourse. There’s no way to make the internet not anonymous – and if there was, the most enthusiastic consumers of that technology would be Iranian and Chinese and Burmese governments. But there are ways of saying, while you’re here, use your real identity. We need to set up the social norms which say in this space you need to use your real names, or some well-known handle..”

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