Anonymous comments on blogs are common and occasionally I respond to them. Every once in a while, the person posts again, in response to my additional comment.
I enjoy conversations and relish dialogue. But I have a policy that I won’t engage someone online who wouldn’t reveal his or her name. To me this is like talking to a person wearing a mask. (Regarding not being able to see a person’s face, see my comments about the niqab at https://arthurdobrin.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/covering-the-face/)
A reader rebuked me for my position, saying, “If you need identities to engage in civil discourse, the internet is not for you. I suggest you take to another medium to espouse your ideas.”
I do use other outlets to present my ideas, but should different standards apply, as my erstwhile interlocutor maintains? I haven’t been blogging long enough to know the protocol, so perhaps Anonymous is correct about what is acceptable in the blogosphere. However, I think newspapers are right in not printing anonymous letters and posting this way on the Internet, it seems to me, should be no different.
I am not in favor of scrubbing anonymous submissions on blogs. I don’t remove them from my blogs, But I am in favor of establishing a climate of ethical discourse. I choose not to engage someone who won’t let me know who they are. I hang up on such phone calls and this discourages such future calls. Engaging in a dialogue with an anonymous contributor only encourages other disguises, thereby subverting real interchange and exchange of ideas.
I can see where contributing to blogs can be fun and being anonymous can be perfectly harmless. But I write my blogs because I take ethics seriously. It is about how to live, what it means to be a full human being and the difficult of achieving this.
My critic said that I should find another forum for my ideas if I don’t want to play by the rules of that guide the blog game. This notion seems familiar to me. I once heard it as, America Love It or Leave It. But that’s not the choice. Instead, I think there is a responsibility to raise awareness about ethical standards and try to live by them.