Our relationship with technology » The Problem with Anonymous Commenting

Consider this article by Michael Kessler from the Washington Post.

It is the current trend to see anonymous comments attached to news stories at any popular news or sporting news site. Click on any hot topic and you’ll soon see the comments turn to ridicule and nonsense soon enough.

Michael Kessler in the Post article argues that intelligent, careful, and creative online writing is under assault by reckless commenters hostile to reason:

And then we watch helplessly while anonymous commenters hijack threads and launch screed upon hateful screed in every direction.

There’s nothing so deflating as to spend lots of time polishing off a thoughtful piece and then look at the comments to see lunatics ranting about Nostradamus-style end-times prophecy. Or conspiracy theories.

Worse are the haters and mockers who would disagree with even a simple hello. Worst are those who fail to read with any care, hurling canned insults at us, at each other, and at their political, religious, and moral opponents.

Michael Kessler cites a few examples of stories cursed by this affliction.

Can you find examples of “Anonymous Commenters Behaving Badly” in public stories at cbc.ca or tsn.ca (or some other news or sporting news site)?

Post a link to the story, state its main idea, then quote an example of the type of comment Michael Kessler cautions us about. What is your take on “The Problem with Anonymous Commenting”?


Book Talk Intensifies at STJ

How do we write more, while at the same time we write less? This paradox occurred to me today while talking about writing with a student at STJ.

Book Talk added to Post EditorI also thought about the popularity of Twitter with its 150 characters “tweets” compared to the effort to maintain a blog with its posts in the 3-5 paragraph range.

Consider this analogy: Blog posts are to essays as “tweets” are to _________.

So I’ve weighed a couple of options:

  • First, each blog could have a post dedicated to the blog owner’s current book(s) they are reading or have read. The initial post could be nothing more than an simple introduction to the author, title, and a cover picture. Now the blog owner comments on a regular basis on their own post – say 6-8 times or more per book until the book is finished(or put aside for another book). In the end, a quick visit to this page would provide evidence of “Book Talk”. I’ve added a “meta box” of Book Talk tips to the post edit form.
  • Second, visit the STJ Forums and look for the Book Talk category.