Anonymity on the Blog: Bad, Good or of No Consequence?
After over 500 threads and probably thousands of comments by visitors, it’s about time we discussed here the topic of writer anonymity and the ethics of anonymity of those who comment on this blog. I think that the significance of writing anonymously may be different between different websites. As an example, comparing a chat room with my blog. Should one consider the purpose of the website in this regard? Would the need for identity be more or less necessary while chatting in real time on various topics and attempting to develop some sort of friendship or relationship compared with discussing one established topic with a delayed response and no intent to personally relate? Should anonymity belong in either venue or in neither?
In a blog like mine, although most of the comments have been in one form or another from anonymous writers, do you think something important is missing in the discussion by the anonymity? What is the personal harm to the visitors to this blog by fully identifying themselves including their e-mail address? What is the benefit, if any, to this blog by such identification?
Somehow, I think that the fear of self-identification on a discussion blog such as mine is an unnecessary hindrance to full expression and that an unethical consequence of anonymity is that anonymity can lead in some visitors to the development of uncivil and ad hominem laden narrative or unsubstantiated or undocumented arguments. Though, as moderator, I have the power to prevent publishing such comments, nevertheless deleting a comment, though rare, is not a duty for which I look forward.
There has been discussion on the blogs in the past year and longer on this issue of anonymity and even about a formal blogger’s Code of Ethics.
What is your take on the issue of anonymity on the Internet in general but also on this Bioethics Discussion Blog. ..Maurice.