Comments
Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
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RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
9/24/2013 | 4:28:34 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
The "institutional proofreaders," as Coverlet calls them, just don't understand that frank, even controversial dialog "in the wild" can enhance their brands. The communications run through legal, compliance and PR departments gets all the personality sucked out of it -- and no one wants to read it or respond to it. Companies need to take a stand and be willing to get criticized. The community (and your customers) will think better of you for it.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
9/24/2013 | 10:21:02 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
People could set up a Disqus account with the name SeniorBankExec44 today, right? Wouldn't that would provide both anonymity and some sheen of background information? I'm not sure it's really a missing infrastructure that prevents people from engaging anonymously. It might be a cultural taboo that it's somehow sneaky. But I think more likely it's a fear that they'll say something deemed over-the-line and get caught.
Coverlet
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Coverlet,
User Rank: Strategist
9/24/2013 | 10:56:39 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
People can set themselves up as anyone on the web.. How much do you-- Chris-- trust that a person with the username SeniorBankExec is a senior bank exec? I'll speak for myself and say not at all.

And that lack of trust-- completely earned by the behavior of the internet over the last several years-- is at the heart of our inability to connect on matters of business and business culture.

(It works when you're sharing cat pictures btw.)

This all begs the question of what needs to serve as the foundation of a civil community online for it to thrive. Ideally we should interact with ideas based on their merits, not whether they were posted by ipushfatkids37. But that leads to a very sterile, joyless experience. Business portals need to address the social need to connect (with real people).
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Author
9/25/2013 | 12:11:06 AM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
Your point about LinkedIn as a model for anonymity is an interesting one, though I believe users show up anonymously on one's "Who's viewed your profile," widget as a device to get you to upgrade your service with LinkedIn, to see who they really are, not to as a tool for building trust.
Coverlet
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Coverlet,
User Rank: Strategist
9/25/2013 | 1:58:34 AM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
I have a LinkedIn Pro membership. Even after they get your money, those results remain vague. If you click on "Someone in a Leadership Role in Dallas," the resulting list is a dozen randoms who fit that description AND more often than not, your target... buried in there.

Been giving a lot of thought to LinkedIn. Although sock puppetry exists on the site, most users are real-- and have good reason to be honest about their profiles. It is-- for many-- a resume of sorts. So LinkedIn integration with a business portal (with similar obfuscation) might be the answer.

LinkedIn is also a case study in how vanilla a conversation can get. Their group discussion are out in the open-- with people's real business identities stapled to each comment. Reading the comments on that site would make you believe that the corporate world is filled with positive, always-helpful, life-affirming, Mother Teresa types.

Makes me ill.
Coverlet
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Coverlet,
User Rank: Strategist
9/25/2013 | 2:15:20 AM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
9/25/2013 | 2:30:18 AM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
I'd think *Popular* Science, in particular, ought to put the effort into engaging with the public, even when it's not easy.
Coverlet
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Coverlet,
User Rank: Strategist
9/25/2013 | 12:25:45 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
Agree on the 'in particular' part. A social commons around science is more valuable than one focused on business. Although we need both.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
9/25/2013 | 7:00:55 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
And in other sad news, New York's AG has cracked down on bogus frozen yogurt reviewers. Actually set a sting to catch people who were paid to be yogurt shop fans -- to discourage "fake" online reviews. This is an online identity problem govt. can't solve.
dlavenda
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dlavenda,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/25/2013 | 7:53:36 AM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
the problem with anonymity is many cases is that it removes the responsibility from the writer to maintain professional standards. Unshackled by who I really am, I can afford to be rude, condescending and generally obnoxious because there are no repercussions. Think I am exaggerating? Take a look at any sites that allows anonymous or quasi-anonymous comments. I think that anonymity has a place for whistleblowers, medical sites and the like, but in general, I ask for more accountability not less.
Coverlet
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Coverlet,
User Rank: Strategist
9/25/2013 | 12:22:44 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
On the same page. The question is whether or not the civility we seek can be gained by an institution stepping in and saying "I know this person, this author, this commenter, and not only is she real but there are good reasons for me to keep her anonymous (i.e., the hive mind that is corporate brand protection). I have verified that she has a real job/life/email/phone and if worse comes to worst, I (the institution) can call her out." Verified anonymity.

That is fundamentally different than the kind of anonymity we've experienced on the web.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/25/2013 | 1:18:14 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
Many banks (and other institutions with PR groups who have been given far too much power) have so called "zero tolerance" policies when it comes to commenting publicly. Even an employee who comments on a blog can be fired if the institution can trace the comment back to the employee.

I have been involved in disputes with corporate PR and individuals who were about to get fired even though their comment put the institution in a good light (all because the violated the 'zero tolerance' policy).

As you can imagine, this leaves many intelligent people on the sidelines for fear of losing their livelihood. It hurts communication and innovation as ideas are kept bottled up and sometimes never see the light of day.
dlavenda
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dlavenda,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/28/2013 | 7:29:18 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
I think this might be the best solution; 'verified anonymity' - that won't help whistleblowers but it will help folks who want to have an open discourse...and keep the conversation civil.
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
9/25/2013 | 2:01:03 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
I think it's up to the community organizers (for lack of a better term) to keep the conversation at a civil or at least non-vulgar level. To encourage positive discourse. That will go only so far, of course. People will say what they want to say. But the community organizers need to set a tone. In terms of people who contribute articles to InformationWeek.com (above and beyond commenting), those contributors and contributions are carefully vetted and edited. They don't just go up on our site.
flyerguy834
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flyerguy834,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/25/2013 | 5:57:25 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
Outstanding work. Thanks.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
9/30/2013 | 2:50:47 PM
re: Community And Anonymity Must Get Along
As grandma said (and probably practices on her Facebook wall) if you wouldn't say something to someone's face, you shouldn't be saying it. Also of interest, a piece on TV this morning about outfits like "Popularity Pays" that connect people with some arbitrary number of followers (who may or may not be 14-year-old girls or Russian nationals) with businesses willing to trade free stuff for positive reviews. The example used was Bang Bang Pie, which offers a free pastry to anyone with 500 followers who will post a pic of its baked goods.


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