Note to readers

May 31, 2015 • 9:16 pm

We now have several readers who are posting under the name “Anonymous.” Please don’t use that name, as we cannot distinguish one “Anonymous” from another. From now on, anybody using “Anonymous” as their name will not have their comments posted.  Just choose a name—any name.

And let me remind new readers to read the rules for posting (“Da Roolz!”) on the sidebar.

—The Management

42 thoughts on “Note to readers

  1. I was banned from Pharyngula (no great loss) for even suggesting this, but I disapprove of people posting anonymously or pseudonymously on this or any other Internet forum. I don’t intend any disrespect for people who do so, possibly for concerns about privacy. My reason is that I’ve seen so much bad behavior from people posting behind the cloak of anonymity. It can bring out the worst in people. Jerry moderates this website carefully, so it’s not a problem here, or only an occasional one, but it can be a big problem in other forums. My rule of thumb is that I won’t post anything that I wouldn’t mind the whole world to see, under my name.

    1. I help admin a forum for APOD (Astronomy Pic of the Day) and a lot of our posts come from guests. As long as we’ve got a moderator team to quickly ban offenders, it’s worth it to open discussions up to people who would never post otherwise. There sure are days I want to turn it off, though…

    2. Well, I wouldn’t mind posting under my real name so much if not for the fact that I write a political satire blog under this name and I realize that it may limit my future employment opportunities because HR now googles all candidates names. When I’m retired or get into a less controversial hobby, I may reconsider.

        1. Dr. C, the WordPress software must have been changed recently, because I’ve noticed that if one now prematurely attempts to post a comment (that is, before fully logging into WordPress), the application now allows the post but defaults to “Anonymous” as the sender. It used to reject the comment with a warning message, whereupon the reader had to enter all the relevant log-in info.

    3. Ironically, the very same fine Pharyngulanhas once figured out and published someone’s real name (a process called “doxxing”), so people could contact her employer and become generally nasty.

      Unless you’re a public person already, don’t ever publish identifying information where an SJW could get their hands on it.

      And remember, most of us don’t have tenure.

      1. I remember something about that, but if I recall it was in response to something really bad — in the range of threats of violence.

        1. No, it wasn’t.

          The woman who was doxxed made a harmless joke that the Pharyngulans decided to interpret uncharitably, so they doxxed her.

    4. I really don’t understand that stance. You are effectively anonymous to me, unless I wish to engage in a bit of cyberstalking to confirm that “Stephen Barnard” is actually the name of a real person, who is the same person as the one posting under that name. On the other hand, most people tend to reuse a nym once they find one they like, so even fake names tend to take on identifiability as well as real names do. And sometimes, language and cultural differences make it nigh impossible to tell real from fake. Surely a nom de net is not so different from a nom de plume?

      1. There’s a big difference. When you register to vote, or donate money to a candidate, or pay your taxes, or apply for a passport or driver’s license, or testify in court you have to use your real name. These are rules that civil society imposes, and for good reasons. On the unmoderated Internet there are no rules, and civility breaks down all too often, and I believe (with evidence) that anonymity is a major contributing factor. Just read the comments on popular unmoderated sites dealing with everything from politics to d*g training to gaming. Just read Pharyngula.

        There are good reasons why someone might use a nom de plume — fear of persecution or discrimination, for example. Fiction writers and essayists sometimes use pen names for a variety of marketing reasons, while not trying to hide their identity. (Everyone who cared to know knew that Mark Twain was Samuel Langhorne Clemens.) Too often, though, anonymity is a license to be a jerk with impunity, and the rise of social media has raised the temperature considerably.

        Writing under your own name also adds credence to what you write. If Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Christopher Hitchens or Jerry Coyne wrote anonymously I’d be less inclined to take them seriously.

        Out of curiosity, I looked into the history of pen names and was astonished to learn that George Orwell’s real name was Eric Blair!

        1. Civility breaks down all the time, with or without anonymity. There’s no need to look to comments sections; some groups and individuals have made themselves (in)famous brand names entirely due to their reliably brazen lack of civility. I would be surprised to discover even a single poster here who was without at least one perpetually uncivil acquaintance.

          In any case, we’re talking about signing a name to one’s writing. As your examples involve non-writing activities that are necessarily backed by the force of government, I don’t see how they are relevant to my question, much less an answer.

          I wonder whether you will take George Orwell less seriously from now on?

    5. If you knew the whole world was going to see your next post, what would you write? It would be an enormous opportunity as well as a terrifying responsibility. Or would it? You’d certainly have a chance to find out whether you’re in step with the world or at least how relevant your comment is to 7 billion people. You might receive too many comments to read them all.

  2. When I was employed, I was mildly concerned that my postings might either (a) cause my employer to decide I was a nuisance, and dispense with me; or (b) embarrass the employer who was foolish enough to employ me; both of which I didn’t want to do.
    After I was laid off 4+ years ago as my then employer slowly died (pharma startup, lack of efficacy of the lead compound – no-one’s fault, that’s drug development), I have decided that if a**holes can call me offering whatever (usually remodeling, what is it about building contractors that they feel the need to spam you by phone?), I can say who I am.
    Thanks to Prof CC and his cohorts (Greg and Matthew) for the website – and thanks to Stephen Barnard above for many wonderful photos!

  3. I have, in the past, accidentally posted as anonymous by forgetting to fill out the name fields. WordPress’s default in that case is to label the comment as anonymous. One of the downsides of WordPress is that we cannot edit or delete our own comments.

  4. Once in a while I’ll find that WordPress doesn’t remember me. Usually I find out when I post, as I’m so used to the Name & Email fields being automatically filled in.

    It seems that many people have been having that problem lately–when your info isn’t there, you find yourself posting under “anonymous.”

    1. Yes, I’ve been one. At least 2-3 times in the past month I’ve had a post show up as “anonymous” even after I swear I filled out the name and email lines. I generally try and immediately respond with an ‘oops, my bad’ message to identify myself, and yes I’m willing to accept that this is 99% likely (my) user error and not actually a system problem, but we should consider the possibility that in some cases it is not the poster choosing to post anonymously, it may be the system screwing up.

  5. The point being made isn’t to stop people using pseudonyms, but to be able to distinguish between the different versions of ‘anonymous’.

    1. Yes, I should have made it clearer that I was responding to some of the comments here.

      I agree with Stephen’s contention that anonymity can lead to rancor, but still feel it’s sometimes necessary.

      Jerry originally did wish to require us to use our real names, but I think he was swayed by some the previous discussion about the issue here.

      Of course, I was already using (part of) my real name by then. 😀

  6. Hi Jerry,

    I’m about half way through your new book and thoroughly enjoying it. Kudos! Perhaps you might have a moment for a one-line answer to a brief question …

    If a contemporary Roman Catholic medical practitioner stated a belief in monogenism, would it be fair to say that they would then find several aspects of modern human biology difficult to explain?

    Many Thanks!

    1. I’m not sure I understand the question. What aspects of modern human biology. Certainly the amount of genetic diversity in our species is incompatible with monogenism, but I’m not sure what other aspects you’re thinking of.

      1. It would be not just the genetic diversity of humans, but distinctions that transcend the species barrier. For example, the fact that we share blood type markers or multiple immune system alleles with chimpanzees and possibly other apes.

    2. The way ‘monogenism’ is defined in Humani Generis (quoted in F-v-F, q.v. – I assume we all have our copies now?) is clearly disingenuous. Implicit in the terminology is that the only alternative to monogenism is polygenism (traditionally, the idea that human races are separate creations, essentially different species, nearly always leading to justification of slavery or genocide and an obsession with miscegenation), whereas the view supported by actual evidence has little in common with either horn of the medieval dilemma. And religious (Adam-n-Eve) monogenists have not been immune from the slavery-genocide-miscegenation obsessions in any case.

  7. I wonder what does it say about society and the wide world of internet when so many people feel they must withhold their identity. Mostly it is about two things — fear of retribution from an employer or some reason to hide.

    Most newspaper editorials won’t accept anonymous and I understand that. I don’t really understand the need for anonymous and also the need for facebook, twitter, and others. If you need the privacy, why the publicity?

  8. > Please don’t use that name, as we cannot distinguish one “Anonymous” from another.

    In other words, they are anonymous?

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