I Am Baker

Anonymous Comments

I read an article in the New York Times about anonymous comments.  News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments. (its from April 2010)

It was pleasantly surprising to know that I am not the only one who does not think anonymity is always great in cyber space.

Anonymous Comments on WebSites: Why its should not be allowed

My experience with anonymous comments has not been good.  I have been attacked for the color pancakes I make, for the choice to homeschool, for my faith, and for my cake decorating choices among other things.

How I handle it on my blog is like this: If your comment is a personal attack its deleted.  If the comment is constructive criticism I will post it and try to address the issues with the commentor.  If people simply have different opinions than me, but choose to express themselves in an intelligent way, their comments stay.  I have filters in place and my readers are usually not exposed to the hate that people are so willing to spew.

From the NYT article, “Leonard Pitts Jr., a Miami Herald columnist, wrote recently that anonymity has made comment streams “havens for a level of crudity, bigotry, meanness and plain nastiness that shocks the tattered remnants of our propriety.” (emphasis mine)

This is by no means an overstatement.  In the safe confines of anonymity I have seen the most vile of words written.  People feel impervious by the ‘anonymous’ label sprawled next to their words.  They are saying and doing things they would never dream of saying and doing to someones face.  Its as if they feel their words are without consequence and that it is their right to say whatever they want.

I think that news sites are on the right track if they are considering doing away with anonymous comments.  Force people to stand behind their opinions, or at the very least think before they say something that may cause harm.  I am not foolish enough to believe that people will not find ways to hide behind fake identities and persona’s.  But I am hugely comforted by the fact that people are recognizing that nothing good comes from the anonymous attack.

If it is not constructive  it does not make you ponder and re-evaluate, it is simply an evil distraction.

There may be a decrease in the quantity of comments on sites, the positive side is that there will be a surplus of quality interactions.

Quality Over Quantity

What say you?  Do you support peoples right to say what they want with identity attached?  Do you think there is any good to having anonymity online?  If anonymous comments were to be taken away, do you think that would make a positive impact?

 

 

 

Comments

  1. says

    I have so much to say on this, but I will just share with you that I am so so tired of the MEAN anonymous comments.
    I mean what is the point?
    They get deleted, no one see’s them; I wonder if the person feels better—still?

    • says

      Completely agree girl. Its so frustrating when we a re blogging about something as simple and joyful as food, and have to deal with MEAN. We arent discussing hot button issues here! But why? What are people thinking? And if the anonymous option was taken away somehow, would those comments cease to exist?

  2. says

    I think as you said, there are always ways of people “hiding” behind their negative comments with a fake persona, which is so sad. But I do think that it could have a positive impact to online commenting. It definitely may decrease the number of comments, because some people dont want to expose their identity online (sometimes, even if they have something good to say too) but if it knocks out some of the negativity, then that is a good thing. There is no reason to be so hateful and attacking people online just because you can “hide” behind the anonymous name. I am so sorry you have dealt with such negativity Amanda. Just remain steadfast in your faith in God. You are MEANT to be blogging and sharing your beautiful cakes and goodies, and Im so glad you are so open with your faith here. It gives us all the strength to do the same thing. You are such an amazing woman of God and I really look up to you. :) Thank you for everything you do Amanda! Xoxo

    • says

      You are so kind sweet Carla! Thank you for your support and encouragement. I feel the same about you! I have many filters in place on my blog so feel ok about this environment. Its when I go elsewhere… especially big sites… that I am dumbfounded and horrified by how people choose to interact. Its so upsetting!

  3. says

    It’s interesting, I don’t know quite where to stand on anonymous comments. They can be good and bad. I have seen some people give honest feed back that was not meant to be negative, only to be ripped to shreds by people because it is their “favorite” blogger. I have seen peoples pages and twitter feeds filled with awful comments back to the person because they disagreed with the blogger. I can see why someone would shy away from putting their information. On the other hand, I think people need to learn to disagree with tact. I am amazed about how cruel our society is becoming. I think it is sad someone posted that you shouldn’t be able to procreate because you use food coloring. Really? Is that the best way to convey that chemicals in food can be dangerous. Isn’t there a better way to state information about the dangers of food coloring and other things? Thank you for your candid post Amanda.

  4. says

    I don’t have anonymous comments for the very reason they allow people to say things they would never say if there name was on there. I don’t like focusing on the negative and that is not what my blog is about :) It’s about happy, fun, sugary, colorful goodness :)
    XOXO love your post Amanda!

  5. says

    You know Amanda…I was just thinking about you the other day. But in a good way!

    Although I’m a very new blogger, I have commented here many times – most of them on your social media and blogging type posts – not necessarily the cake centered ones.

    Oh, but I do love the cake ones.

    I was hoping you would write another blogging specific topic or social media type post and here it is. Although there are a lot of topics out there we don’t want to think about, this is an important one.

    I always appreciate your approach and thoughts behind some of the issues. It does take a lot to put something out there for the WHOLE WIDE WORLD to see. And it may not always be received well, different strokes for different folks – but there is no need to say some of the things that people do while cloaked in complete anonymity.

    Personal attacks should not be tolerated. However, when something is published and opinions are solicited – well, I think the author can expect a reasonable amount of feedback, some may be critical – but there is no reason for people to be cruel, defamatory or demeaning. As Melissa stated earlier – the commentor needs to be tactful as well.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. As I have said before, I started stopping by here to see the cakes and sweets, but that is not the only reason I continue to frequent this page.

  6. Rae says

    The ability to stay anonymous on the internet is just one more thing that is teaching people being nice or even just cordial doesn’t matter anymore. There is no value in being friendly or thinking of other people first, which is beyond my comprehension. I mostly definitely was not raised this way and I just can’t understand it.

    On an unrelated note, hope you’re surviving in the snow! I live in the middle-of-nowhere Minnesota, too, and those roads are nasty!

  7. says

    Thank you so much for posting this! I really enjoyed blogging until one day someone anonymously posted the most hateful comment attacking my appearance (it had nothing to do with my blog post). They went on a paragraph-long rant about how ugly I was, using all sorts of foul language in their remarks.

    Seriously, what’s wrong with people!?

    I’m pretty sure that this was just some stranger who stumbled across my blog, but it was extremely hurtful (and I consider myself to be a confident person!). I didn’t blog for weeks just because I was so upset!

    Haters will hate :-) I love your blog and your colorful pancakes!

    • says

      I am so sorry you dealt with that! It doesnt matter how wrong or far off or ridiculous the words… it still hurts. I cant help but dream and hope of a better way. Glad you are back to blogging though!! :)

  8. KC says

    I think anonymous or pseudonymous comments are important in a lot of forums, since otherwise people can be targeted in-person for their opinions/views. What might make people think twice about posting an abusive, ugly comment will also make people think twice about posting a comment in civil, kind support of an unpopular viewpoint.

    And then there are the people who don’t want to give up their privacy or their family’s privacy, and hence don’t want to have facebook accounts (even if set to private, hacking exposes personal details that these services collect) or other general identification logins that serve validation purposes.

    That said, for personal blogs, it’s up to each person what kind of comments they want to allow (or whether they want to allow comments at all!).

    What I’d love to see is a service allowing bloggers to “trade” comment moderation with other bloggers who have a similar quantity of comments, or that pools the comments from a number of blogs, so the personal-attack stuff never gets to the blogger involved. :-) (and why, exactly, is the physical attractiveness of women so often deemed relevant when dismissing their arguments or contributions? I don’t get it!)

  9. says

    The biggest problem I had when allowing anonymous comments, was SPAM!!!!! I don’t require a twitter or facebook account, but I do require an e-mail address and name. And all of those are moderated.

  10. says

    Well…I think anonymity is cowardly, to be honest. If you can’t say something nice don’t say it. Why can’t you come forward with your thoughts as who you are. I guess I can see KC’s point. Great thought provoking post Amanda!

  11. says

    I’m on a board for a local organization and we recently had a discussion about this very thing. We take patron comments very seriously, but if someone doesn’t provide their name, it is impossible to even follow-up with an individual to learn more about their “beef” with whatever thing happened. As you mention above, most anonymous comments seem to be highly negative. I personally think people need to be respectful of those around them. We all have our moments, but overall I believe civility should rule…even online! Or maybe I should say especially online! Loved this post – thanks so much for writing and sharing it!

  12. says

    I loved reading this. I also hate anonymous comments. I hate it that poopie heads can hide behind “anonymous ” and say things that make you want to wash their mouth out with soap. It’s sad that people act like that.

  13. says

    I love your perspective and thanks for highlighting this issue, Amanda. Often bloggers are targeted by this “anonymous losers” who are just trying their level best to leave us unmotivated. In my opinion, haters are losers anyways.

  14. says

    I think the first year I started blogging, I had a hateful comment and it threw me off guard. The comment was actually focused on a recipe I’d made — something from a cookbook — and the person raged about how the recipe wasn’t what it was supposed to be and that I’d ruined her dinner party. I actually considered her words at first, miffed because it wasn’t my recipe and we all know that people don’t always follow directions…Then I realized I’d seen the same commenter on other sites making hit and run negative comments. She wasn’t a real person, instead, someone who simply set out to entertain herself by being negative and argumentative. She didn’t have to be anonymous because she’d created an avatar and a user name. I’m not sure what happened to her, but I truly believe they set out to get a reaction and if you take them seriously, yes, it hurts. I don’t allow anonymous comments because it’s enough having to deal with the spammy ones. I say turn them off and delete the negative comments hopefully before you even read the whole thing. Even more important — give yourself more credit than to spend any time thinking you are in any way at fault.

  15. Maria in NJ says

    I think it comes down to this and Billy Currington said it much better than I…God is Great, Beer is Good, and People are Crazy….I like the idea of taking away the anonymous comments it would do away with some cRaZy!!!

  16. says

    I have to say that this post is really refreshing. I do agree that people should be able to comment on what they want, whether the opinion differs, otherwise the world would be a boring place. However, I don’t agree with people who go on sites, who write mean, offensive or just comment for the sake of bringing down the whole tone of the recipe/blog post in question. It’s purely a power trip thing, right? It’s a really cowardly and is a form of bullying. Fact. The only thing that I think we can agree is that only people with too much hate and way too much time on their hands feel that they need to make the world a miserable place. So fight back… smile and laugh at the pathetic comment. Delete it and carry on blogging! :D

  17. Helen Kurtz says

    Hi Amanda!! LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog!! You are forever so generous with your ideas, recipes, tutorials!! Thank you!! OK, those unwelcome comments deserve to be deleted. If they have nothing good to say, just zipped it. There is no need to hurt ones feeling no matter how trivial they think it is. Sometimes people can be really mean…openly, and that hurts too!! I am an amatuer baker and I have learned so much from your encouraging step by step tutorials. I look up to many talented bloggers out there and like yourself, they are very willing to pass on some great tips. However, recently I asked for some advice and I encountered some really harsh words. And after a few sleepless nights, I decided that I don’t need bad disheartening comments to get me down, to make me give up my passion. So, I unfollowed and deleted them from my list of favorite bloggers and moved on. I’m back in my Happyland!! :D

  18. Julie says

    There is no need for outright mean, agreed. But as an avid blog reader (but not writer) there’s nothing worse than reading a blog where all the comments are, ” you’re so awesome!” and “this looks amazing!” I really like to see a little more diversity and honest discourse — especially when the author is asking questions. As a previous commenter said, it’s so boring when everyone has the same opinion. And with some subjects (maybe not pancakes) you won’t get honest and real answers unless you allow anonymity. My two cents … and diversity.

  19. Andrew says

    Some issues are serious and free speech is vital and being denied. Among the crap can be absolute gems. Privacy does matter.

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