Does the curse outweigh the benefits of the blessing?
Don't get me wrong: I believe anonymity is useful. I'm just not convinced that anonymity's cost is worth the benefits in the digital pages of Sanduskyregister.com. There, you must wade through a cesspool of often pointless off-topic rants, innuendo, personal attacks, misinformation, and outright lies just to gather the one or two points that may be worth building on to create a useful dialogue.
The power to overlook insults is so rarely used that what may have started as a useful dialogue quickly degenerates into a name-calling battle which most scroll through without reading anything more than screennames -- that's if the reader chooses to review the commenting section at all.
Sometimes the search for a useful insight can be so exhausting that it leads a blogger to shake his head and ignore the keyboard for a few weeks.
An algae bloom in your pool certainly doesn't help either.
Anyway. Much of the vitriol in the commenting section is made possible through the important tradition of anonymity. God bless it.
Anonymity has always been respected as a legitimate way for people to blow the whistle against illegal/unethical acts in governments or corporations. Anonymity is used to avoid legitimate risk of blowback for challenging the status quo. Anonymity is NOT a right extended to internet users so they can anonymously name-call, attack known people, and generally cause mayhem by spreading lies through commenting systems on blogs and newspapers across the country.
Furthermore, when a newspaper uses an "anonymous" source, the identity of that source is known to certain people at the newspaper. (He/she is only "anonymous" to the readers.) When a newspaper agrees to publish the claims of an anonymous source they agree to take the risk that goes along with it. Namely, that if the source is lying/distorting/misleading any of the claims he/she is making, the newspaper will lose credibility for publishing them in the first place. There is risk with publishing information from anonymous sources. The risk is diminished through fact-checking and vetting.
Sometimes useful information is published in the commenting section on this website. Rarely, if ever, is that information so sensitive that it could not have been simply called in to the newsroom at the Sandusky Register. There is a reason that the Sandusky Register allows the privilege of anonymity in the commenting section - but to ensure that whistleblowers have a safe place to anonymously make accusations against businesses and government in the Sandusky area ain't it.
I agree that the commenting system on Sanduskyregister.com should allow anonymity, and I'm willing to endure the attacks on myself as a small price to pay so that others can enjoy the privilege however, I see way too many cowards abusing this site to name-call, attack, lie about known people as they cowardly hide in the safe shadows of anonymity.
So, my challenge to you cowards is this: Don't hide. Step out into the sunlight. If you have an attack to make, attach your name. Then we will be afforded the opportunity to view the complaint through an important perspective we don't get through anonymity. (Your motives become more clear). Make your complaints with civility. Make them politely. If you have a problem with a local business, a public official, a newspaper editor, or myself, stand tall and make your challenge with a stiff spine. If you can't do that - then maybe you don't have one.
Meanwhile, our search for the 'Whispering Coward' continues...
Yesterday was curiously void of nominations for some odd reason.