Anonymity – Good or Bad?

Well, here it is – the long avoided post about anonymity.

When I first started this blog, my hope was that, through allowing anonymous comments, we would be able to hear voices that otherwise might be reticent to ask questions or seek help.  And so, I allowed for “anonymous” comments.  Unfortunately, over the last several months, this idea of anonymity hasn’t really worked out the way I had intended it.  Instead of attracting people who felt afraid to ask questions or seek help, it seems to have been attracting readers who want to make a strongly worded comment (usually very negative) but who don’t want to identify themselves.

I truly am not offended by people that have concerns, problems, or irritations with what we’re doing here.  Honestly, I’m not.  People that are offended by our message are the very reason that this group exists.  Safe places are necessary in these conversations, and each person is entitled to his/her opinion and convictions.  I embrace and welcome that.  I see great value in the variety of perspectives, opinions, theological persuasions, etc. and I think it’s all a part of the bigger vision we are working towards.  Nevertheless, I’ve been noticing that it seems to be that only the people who disagree heartily (one way or another) with what I’ve said (or, more frequently, what they’ve perceived I have said) that are using the Anonymous button.  There is a second issue that has arisen as well – the limitation of having several “Anonymous” people post comments all on the same blog post.  It gets confusing when I’m trying to respond to the comments individually. 

With all that in mind, and after some soul-searching, prayer, and thoughtfulness, I’ve made a decision.  In order that that I might be enabled to respond effectively to both people who love what we’re doing, and people who despise it, and also to encourage some accountability for people “owning” the criticisms they submit, I’ve disabled the “Anonymous” commenting.  If we’re going to have helpful dialogue, we should at least be able to address one another by screen name, if nothing else.  And if you feel strongly about something, I think you should feel strongly enough about it that you tell me your name, or at least a screen name.  Comments will continue to be unfiltered and unmoderated, unless things get out of hand.  I remain committed to publishing all comments, unless they become hateful and/or slanderous.  I won’t hesitate to delete those but everything else is fair game!  And, just so you know, to date I’ve not had to delete any comments.

I think I’ve set it up correctly so that everyone can still comment, but you will have to provide a username of sorts.  If anyone is having trouble commenting, please let me know.  In fact, leave me a comment on this post if you would, just so I know you all are still out there.  I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, but unfortunately the conversation is not effective the way it was setup previously, and it is time to correct course.  The second half of our name is “Risk Offense” so I guess I’m taking my own advice as I make this change.

So leave some love.  Or some hate.  Either one, let’s hear ’em both.  But leave me your name too.  🙂 

2 thoughts on “Anonymity – Good or Bad?

  1. Thanks for posting this, Heidi. I have encountered several instances of this. I acknowledge my own use of anonymity to make offensive comments that I would not make in direct communication. It is an issue of maturity, something I have often lacked. However, I am making an effort to change my actions.I have noticed that many people are very aggressive in attacking others when they can hide. The closer one gets to personal contact, the less aggressive they tend to be. I am interested in the fact that people (particularly Christians) will declare themselves to be righteous and believe they are defending God himself, yet they will not use their own name to do so. If they are so right, don't they want the credit for their brilliant insight?I have experienced this several times, most recently in a lengthy debate on Relevant. While I use a pseudonym, I was challenged by comments made by a friend so I posted my real name, some info and my e-mail address. The primary offenders on the other side of the discussion refused to do the same and mocked my disclosure. I have offered my e-mail address for further discussion (whether in situations where the topic is too complex for a comment thread or the environment too hostile and seeking only real dialogue more directly). No one has ever used it yet. It seems that fighting in front of an audience is what motivates some people while the potential for growth (their own or mine, since they believe I am wrong) is not worthwhile.Thanks for what you're doing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *