Dangerous Attack On Pseudonymity in Blogging

Lost in the shuffle of allegations of misogyny, the very dangerous and wrongheaded movement to eliminate pseudonymity in the blogs continues apace. Today it is Tom Grubisch in the Washingotn Post:

. . . [I]n late 2005, turned off by the venom of anonymous posters, Joseloff instituted a policy requiring anyone who wanted to comment to use his or her real name. . . .

[O]ne concern common to all sites is whistle-blowers: What about someone who wants to expose an injustice or unfairness, whether it's a civil servant pinpointing malfeasance in government or, perhaps, a waiter complaining about lousy tipping at a local restaurant? How can they be protected from retaliation?

Online pioneer Vin Crosbie suggests that sites -- whether personal blogs, community sites or major news providers -- should be flexible enough to grant pseudonyms to users who want to blow a whistle. This would require sites to make decisions on a case-by-case basis. How often would such intervention be required? Not enough to require most sites to hire extra staff.

Here is some vitriol, this is so unrealistic as to be laughably stupid. Decide on pseudonymity on a case by case basis? And how pray tell, do you plan to handle that disclosure to your audience? Or will you not tell them about who is pseudonymous and who is not? What about the site's transparency? Are readers to assume that all site operators are just good honest people? This is the proposal of a person who simply does not understand the way blogging works.

This is also the proposal of someone who thinks of bloggers as second class citizens:

A site that grants a pseudonym would have to know the poster's real name as well as some facts that back up any accusations. The site wouldn't have to cave in whenever it was slapped with a subpoena. Courts have ruled that both anonymous and pseudonymous posters have "qualified privilege" under the First Amendment that protects their identities and puts a high legal bar in front of subpoena seekers.

(Emphasis supplied.) Huh? What is he talking about? "have to know"? Moreover, the privilege does not attach to the source, it attaches to the journalist, who wishes to protect the confidential source.

And the piece ends with a note of condescension:

If Web sites required posters to use their real names, while giving the shield of pseudonymity when it's merited, spirited online debate would continue unimpeded. It might even be enhanced by attracting contributors who are turned off today by name calling and worse. Except for the hate-mongers, who wouldn't want that?

Pseudonymity allows real people to post their thoughts without fear of real world repercussions. A web site can impose as strict a policy on civility, profanity, fact checking, libel, copyright, etc., as it wishes. Knowing and publishing a person's real identity is not necessary for any of that.

Pseudonymity has nothing at al to do with what is being complained of in this piece. This piece is uninformed, condescending and wrong in its discussion of reporter's privilege.

Why does this write not suggest to Jimmy
that editors of Wikipedia not be allowed pseudonyms? Actually I think that is an instance where it makes sense.

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    hear, hear! (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by wumhenry on Mon May 14, 2007 at 10:41:21 AM EST
    I disagree with you more often than not, Jeralyn, but my hat's off to you on this one.

    Eliminating pseudonyms would certainly have a chilling effect, and anyone who discusses the subject without acknowledging that is either a villain or a fool.

    A major deterrent to candor for a great many people, in the event pseudonyms were to be abolished, would be fear that malicious polemical adversaries would tattle on them to their bosses or employers. It is all too likely that an employer who learns that a subordinate has been posting controversial opinions that the employer deems pernicious would thenceforth discriminate against that employee without disclosing the reason.

    Several years ago I was a frequent contributor to discussion in The Well, and since the general slant of my opinion was at odds with the predominant mindset there, a fair number of Well regulars were hopping mad at me most of the time. By searching on my handle in Google, one of my Well adversaries found a message in a bicycle-commuter usenet group in which I had mentioned the name of the community where I lived. Starting with that information and my disclosure in a previous Well conversation that I was a lawyer, the guy eventually discovered through further research who I was and where I was employed.  Whereupon, he posted in The Well my name, home address, home phone number, and my employer's name, address, and phone number. That scared the beejeezus out of me, because I had reason to believe that my bosses would take a dim view of what I had been saying in The Well. Did my bosses later discriminate against me due to anti-wumhenry prejudice aroused by Well tattlers?  I don't know; if any of them did discriminate against me for that reason he wasn't dumb enough to confess it to yrs truly.  

    OMG, BTD is a pseudonymn for Jeralyn? Who knew. (5.00 / 1) (#19)
    by oculus on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:28:03 PM EST
    That totally explains the fixation on The Sopranos, no?

    No, I am not Big Tent (none / 0) (#56)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 15, 2007 at 01:41:47 AM EST
    I posted as TalkLeft until we moved to Scoop which allowed each poster to have their own name, but even then, I was was fully disclosed through the bio section of the site. All contributors to TalkLeft are now identified.  You can read all about us by clicking on our names on the right side of the site.

    For the record (none / 0) (#58)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 15, 2007 at 05:56:41 AM EST
    It is good to clarify this. But Oculus knew this I believe.

    Unfortunately, no doubt folks would be soon accuisng you of using me as a sock puppet if this was not clarified.


    Sorry. I was just kidding around. (none / 0) (#65)
    by oculus on Tue May 15, 2007 at 02:07:07 PM EST
    I agree (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by Maryb2004 on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:00:32 AM EST
    Publishing opinion under pseudonyms is an American tradition going back before the revolutionary war.   I presume he's not against that?  

    As far as pseudonymous commenting goes, giving opinions on something that someone publishes is not the same as attending a public meeting with a transcript and going on record to change public policy.   I think he misses the conversational aspect of blogging.   So much commenting isn't even directed to the person who wrote the opinion in the first place but occurs between readers.  It's the same as having a discussion about an opinion piece with an acquaintance (or even a stranger) at a restaurant, a grocery store or a ballgame - except that there is ALWAYS a written transcript of your conversation.   That's why the same people who comment under a pseudonym will show up at a meetup, tell everyone their own name, and say the same things without regard to who knows their identity.  In person, it's a conversation without a transcript.  But the idea of having a written transcript of your political (or other conversations) that can be produced at will - and used out of context - certainly drives some people to pseudonymous commenting.  

    If a newspaper wants to impose the same restrictions on commenting as they do on letters to the editor, I suppose I have no problem with that.  Each organization can impose its own rules.  But it would be counter-productive to make it an across-the-board internet rule.

    BTD (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:19:26 AM EST
    Grobisch is advocating for the blogging equivalent of voter ID cards. And it's every bit as undemocratic. He wants less participation in the town hall discussion that blogging promotes, not more.

    Let's start with dead-trees (none / 0) (#21)
    by manys on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:47:02 PM EST
    Maybe he'd like to begin his campaign on newspaper Op-Ed pages. If anonymity is such a risk, surely the New York Times shares some culpability with the bloggers in this regard.

    Are you talking about NY Times on line? (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:50:30 PM EST
    The print edition requires real names for letters to the editors and I've never seen an op-ed piece I thought was under a fake name.  

    I think he's talking about ... (none / 0) (#26)
    by Sailor on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:00:42 PM EST
    ... the actual editorials which tend to be by the 'editorial staff.'

    Nothing new there. (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:45:30 PM EST
    Choice (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by HK on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:28:12 AM EST
    I think it's important that people have the choice.  I use my initials when posting on TL as when started posting on it I was posting about a subject which was very emotional for me at the time (the scheduled execution of my friend) and although I wanted to 'own' my comments, I wanted to retain some anonymity.  It was a personal choice.  Now, I have made it pretty easy for people to find out about me through my info and that is also a choice.  Anonymity allows for true freedom of speech.  I think it is good that on TL commenters are encouraged to be consistant in the pen name they use, so collective views (ie views expressed on different subjects) can be identified as belonging to one person.  

    The issue quoted in the original post about hate-mongering is really neither here nor there.  Generally, such people are given the scant attention they deserve.

    Decide on pseudonymity on a case by case basis? (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Edger on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:43:04 PM EST
    Somewhat analogous to George W. Bush decidering who is an "enemy combatant"? Should be no problem here for about 25% of people. They would have no concerns about being outed after all.

    Would they?

    Since this is a law site... (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by Ben Masel on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:00:20 PM EST

    c) Section 3599.09(A)'s anonymous speech ban is not justified by Ohio's asserted interests in preventing fraudulent and libelous statements and in providing the electorate with relevant information. The claimed informational interest is plainly insufficient to support the statute's disclosure requirement, since the speaker's identity is no different from other components of a document's contents that the author is free to include or exclude, and the author's name and address add little to the reader's ability to evaluate the document in the case of a handbill written by a private citizen unknown to the reader. Moreover, the state interest in preventing fraud and libel (which Ohio vindicates by means of other, more direct prohibitions) does not justify 3599.09(A)'s extremely broad prohibition of anonymous leaflets. The statute encompasses all documents, regardless of whether they are arguably false or misleading. Although a State might somehow demonstrate that its enforcement interests justify a more limited identification requirement, Ohio has not met that burden here. Pp. 14-20.

    Of course nothing here requires a site owner to accept anonymous users.

    There's a Congressional battle brewing over legislation to require sites to confirm users' identities and retain sessions. Repubs are proposing this for the usual NatSec rationale, while the Dem efforts justify with the "Internet Child Stalker' rationale. Rep Degette (D CO) is leading the drive in House Commerce. My Rep, Tammy Baldwin, who sits on both Committees with Jjurisdiction (Judiciary too) suggests that the battle will not be over whether there's a retention/identification law, but over the specifics, and asks for thoughts on what limits are desireable/realistic.

    The point of that (none / 0) (#20)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:45:19 PM EST
     is to empasize that the worry of laws being enacted that would require blog owners to force anyone who wanted to post to publicly disclose his true name is nearly nil. I would adamantly oppose such laws and they would almost certainly be ruled unconstitutional.

      As for voluntary decisions by blog owners-- that's freedom,  isn't it? If Talkleft wants to go that route,  then someone who doesn't like it can start Speaklefty and capitalize on his allowing anonymity. No one is hurt and everyone has a place that abides by his preferences.

      The "danger" is nothing but imagined by those who see "danger" in things they don't like but are incapable of understanding there is no danger in others liking it.


    The danger (none / 0) (#29)
    by Edger on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:10:43 PM EST
    is the reduction of outlets for people to speak their minds freely without fear of retribution that could result in people keeping quiet rather than take the risk of being outed, as you describe yourself likely doing, downthread here where you said:
    I don't intend to disclose my name, and yes, if it was required here I might well stop posting.
    IOW, the danger, simply stated, is you, and that attitude.

    Point missed (none / 0) (#30)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:28:27 PM EST
     Blog A adopting a disclosure requirement does not lessen the number of outlests and might in fact INCREASE them because, as I said,  anyone who was so inclined could start a competing Blog B on the subject that allowed anonymous posting.

      Those who personally prefer disclosure have their forum and those who prefer anonymous posting have their forum. No one is hurt. No one is prevented from saying what he wants with or without disclosing his name.

      That people see "danger" in allowing people to run their blogs as they see fit or patronize blogs run as they prefer is bizarre. It's all about personal choice and freedom. Attacking people for choosing to exercise their freedom in a way different than you choose to exercise your freedom -- supposedly in the name of "freedom" no less-- makes no sense.

      This blog censors people from time to time based on content and most here seem to approve of that. BTD even demands it. now he's the voice of free speech? Cut me a break.


    Yes (none / 0) (#31)
    by Edger on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:31:46 PM EST
    I watched go right past you. More than once in this thread.

    If you thinnk you have made point, (none / 0) (#32)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:34:15 PM EST
     yes it did go right past me. Here's your chance. Make your point refuting what I have said about the incredibly flawed logic of BTD and the bandwaginn rather than posting meaningless vague nonsense.

    You'd like me to change subjects. (none / 0) (#33)
    by Edger on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:42:40 PM EST
    Not surprising.

    No, (none / 0) (#36)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:46:03 PM EST
      I'm directly challenging you ON THE SUBJECT. I hsave made my position abundantly clear and given my reasons for it.

     All we know about you so far is that you are following your consistent policy of following me around posting nonsense without ever being capable of addressing an issue.

      Here's your chance. Seize the moment. Say something, anything,  that refutes what I actually said about the silliness of the cries of "danger" in BTD's post rather than simply babbling.


    Nice try, decoy. (none / 0) (#38)
    by Edger on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:59:50 PM EST
    I'm directly challenging you ON THE SUBJECT is exactly what you are not doing.

    You are defensively reacting to the point I made that the danger of deciding on pseudonymity on a case by case basis, simply stated, is you, and the attitude you display here, with an obvious attempt to shore up an indefensible position and a frantic attempt to someway, anyway, avoid the point I made.

    I take it back. It wasn't even a nice try, decoy.

    Time for the insults to fly now?


    Big Tent (none / 0) (#55)
    by Jeralyn on Tue May 15, 2007 at 01:37:20 AM EST
    is only being gracious in trying to follow my rules.

    the term "danger" here (none / 0) (#37)
    by Miss Devore on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:58:21 PM EST
    I believe is used in the sirotan sense as in:

    " The Ridiculousness & Danger That Is Obama '08"

    i.e. danger=freak out in the darkness (and you may find a friend)


    I don't know what "sirotan" (none / 0) (#40)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:10:21 PM EST
    means. As for the illustration with obama-- that could be silly hyperbole or it could be a headline written by someone who elaborates by outlining what he preceicves to be real dangers.

      As it's a hypothetical headline, I can't say for certain but I imagine, i and many others would similarly scoff at the "dangers" posited in such an article.

      In any event, the point remains that the post starting this thread rails against a danger that is not real.  

      If it was argued  "requiring names is a bad policy and one I think would make any  particular blog less interesting" it might have some merit. Claiming that a guy advocating that blogs require people to give names is dangerous is silly nonsense for all the reasons I've previously written.


    as in (none / 0) (#41)
    by Miss Devore on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:12:59 PM EST
    david sirota, and in reference to his 5 alarm title from an old piece at dk.

    Well, (none / 0) (#42)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:26:06 PM EST
     I still have no idea what you are talking about. I guess this may illustrate an ancillary point that people who participate in blogs tend not to understand how little what happens at one blog even means to people at other blogs let alone to the huge majority of people who don't read any blogs.

      The inter- and intra- blog dramatics and dramatists  mean next to nothing to most people.


    Consider the last sentence of exerpt (none / 0) (#50)
    by Ben Masel on Mon May 14, 2007 at 09:44:58 PM EST
    "Although a State might somehow demonstrate that its enforcement interests justify a more limited identification requirement, Ohio has not met that burden here." Not a given that the Alito court would deem NatSec or ChildPred a sufficiently great enforcement interest to compel some identification requirement, especially if it's escrowed pending a court order. Contrast McIntyre, where the printer is not ordered by Statute to embed an encrypted identifier in paper leaflets.

    So Whats In A Name? (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by john horse on Tue May 15, 2007 at 06:17:02 AM EST
    As William Shakespeare once said by way of Gertrude Stein
    "a rose is a rose is a rose is a rose
    and a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

    To which Cyrano de Bergerrac replied:
    "a nose is a nose is a nose is a nose
    and a nose by any other name would still smell the same."

    As William Shakespeare once said... (none / 0) (#66)
    by desertswine on Tue May 15, 2007 at 03:59:57 PM EST
    you mean Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

    dangerous? (1.00 / 3) (#2)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 10:43:26 AM EST
      Some guy with absolutely no ability to enforce his wishes advocates something that even if vouluntarily adopted by some people would have little or no effect on anything important and it's " very dangerous?" The worst thing that could possibly occur is -- shudder, gasp, get me my nitroglycerine, fewer posts on blogs. Oh, the humanity!


    More OUTING (5.00 / 6) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:02:28 AM EST
    is the danger.

    But you want to tell us who you are now? Goo. Tell us who you are.


    It's too funny (5.00 / 9) (#6)
    by taylormattd on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:05:18 AM EST
    that he posts that comment under a pseudonym.

    He often misses the point (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:11:57 AM EST
    Often? (5.00 / 5) (#9)
    by Warren Terrer on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:21:07 AM EST
    You really have become civil.

    No... (2.00 / 2) (#11)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:33:19 AM EST
     I don't intend to disclose my name, and yes, if it was required here I might well stop posting.

      The thing is that even with my admittedly inflated sense of self-importance, I am not so deluded as to think the loss to the world of my posts would present any "danger."

      My jibe was aimed at those with so little sense of perspective as to think something so important is involved here that it's loss would be "dangerous."

      I enjoy reading and writing comments, but in a place where the possibility that terrorism is a "danger" appears to be hotly contested, it is funny that this linked article  would be viewed as one.


    I see your point (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by HK on Mon May 14, 2007 at 11:53:25 AM EST
    about relative danger, but I do think that in some cases it could be genuinely dangerous for people to post under their own names.  Use your imagination and I'm sure that you will be able to see that your choice to remain anonymous could be a necessity for someone else.

    But... (none / 0) (#13)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:01:14 PM EST
      the point is the article is one guy's opinion about something. It's not "dangerous" for him to express his opinion. He has NO ABILITY to make anyone act in accordance with his opinion.

      Even if some blogs voluntarily adopted a "no anonymous psts" rule, so what?

      People who didn't like it could SIMPLY NOT POST THERE. Any danger to being "outed" is thus solved pretty easily.

      As for the "chilling effect" scenario, guess what? People could post at OTHER BLOGS that allow anonymity.

      As i said, perspective is often needed before publishing hysterical warnings of "dnager."

      If you want to say it's a "bad idea" fine. I'll even agree with that, but it's simp,y not "dangerous" in any reasonable sense of the word.



    decon (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:07:10 PM EST
    Maybe there is some parnoia, but the MSM is not the friend of the Internet.

    I believe the concern is that the dinosaurs get a law passed requiring..

    As bad as Internet is, government censorship and laws will be worse.


    If the subject (none / 0) (#16)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:12:31 PM EST
    was the enactment of LAWS creating unconstitutional prior restraints on free speech whereby governments forbid in advance speech without adherence to those laws, that would be dangerous.

      That's not the subject. The subject is some newspaper guy opining that blog owners should voluntarily impose disclosure requirements. That's not dangerous.


    Dangerous (5.00 / 2) (#15)
    by squeaky on Mon May 14, 2007 at 12:11:54 PM EST
    By arguing a narrow and insignificant point you miss point.

    Forest through the trees my friend.


    Sheesh (none / 0) (#48)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 14, 2007 at 05:06:18 PM EST
    Do you ALWAYS argue for no good reason then?

    More outing= (none / 0) (#34)
    by Miss Devore on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:44:51 PM EST
    more outing drama. good for comment & sockpuppet business. next to the Grand Mea Culpas, provides necessary narcissistic narrative.

    But that's not what it's about!

    But is it about what it's about any longer? What is it about alphies?


    So out yourself then (none / 0) (#47)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 14, 2007 at 05:05:44 PM EST
    Set the example.

    don't need the clicks (none / 0) (#51)
    by Miss Devore on Mon May 14, 2007 at 10:04:11 PM EST
    I rely entirely on the kindness of pseudonymous strangers.

    and I was outed years ago.


    But you use a pseudonym (none / 0) (#52)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon May 14, 2007 at 10:24:10 PM EST
    I have no idea what your identity is.

    If it means nothing to you, announce to us ew who you are and uise that as your screen name.

    I think you like to pretend that you do not care,l as does Decon, but inreality you don't have the courage of your stated convictions.

    Put up ort shut up pleasew. Post under your real name. Or stop your sanctimonious statements on the subject.

    Miss Devore is NOT your nmae. What is your REAL name and please post under it.

    Otherwise you are just a phony on this issue.


    just cuz YOU don't know.... (none / 0) (#53)
    by Miss Devore on Mon May 14, 2007 at 10:51:28 PM EST
    my point was really the mileage some folks received out of the handwringing over being outed while being  obvious.

    I can think of 2 people, who for all the garment-rending, did not suffer destruction of career or necessary banishment from blogging for all the thousands of comments left in the wake.

    when outed, I just stuck my finger in the appropriate place in the dike and went on.


    You miss the point of it all (none / 0) (#57)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 15, 2007 at 05:55:11 AM EST
    It is not for you or me or anyone to decide who needs pseudonymity.

    My reaction to you was entirely pointless actually. Who cares what you or I think about someone else's choices on the matter?

    I apologize for pressing you on this. It is irrelevant to the point.


    Anonymity has its place... (none / 0) (#3)
    by RH Reality Check on Mon May 14, 2007 at 10:52:56 AM EST
    RH Reality Check has two undercover writers attending the ultra-extremist World Congress of Families, reporting on the sessions with news and information straight from the conference.  Writing anonymously is important for their safety while at the event.  Though this is clearly different than commenting, it relates to the whistle-blowing points.

    Tyler LePard

    Grubisich's Article Doesn't Attack Pseudonymity (none / 0) (#22)
    by crosbie on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:48:01 PM EST
    I don't know Tom Grubisich who quotes me in the Post article, but he's probably referring to an article I wrote last year in Online Journalism Review about traditional news organization's web sites' concerns about anonymity versus pseudonymity. That's a narrower realm than all online forums, which is the subject of Grubisich article today.

    My article sought to illustrate four points:

    The first is that traditional news organizations' web sites are (unfortunately) obliged to operate under stricter legal rules than 'pure-play' online forums. Many 'pure-plays' forum sites have successfully been able to claim in court that legally they are common carriers (similar to phone companies) that facilitate expression of peoples' opinions and therefore not legally liable (as in libel) for any of the opinions expressed. However, a newspaper operating an online forum can't necessarily make that claim. During the course of American history, printed newspapers have sometimes been found liable for opinions printed on in Op-Ed or Letters to the Editor pages, and many libel lawyers and libel insurance companies maintain that newspapers' online liability is no different; that newspapers' can't claim to be publishers in print but common carriers online. (I'm not advocating that's how things should be; I'm just stating that the majority of legal cases have gone that way.) So, any newspaper publisher who allows totally anonymous postings on his site is opening himself to lots of legal jeopardy.

    My second point was Godwin's Law, the visible principle that says the larger the anonymous discussion, the more likely it will collapse into mudslinging and vitrol.

    My third was to remind posters that just as they want publishers and site owners to be transparent against any conflicts of interest, that transparency should also work the other way. It's all too easy for people who do have conflicts of interest to post anonymously (for examples, corporate PR people posing as their products' users in citizen review sites). Just as posters should hold site owners to transparency, so too should site owners hold posters to that same standard of transparency. Nevertheless, there are cases (whistleblowers, etc.) in which a poster will need to be given some translucence.

    The solution to legal liability, the effects of Godwin's Law, and the exceptional cases where translucence is needed is to understand the difference between anonymity and pseudonymity. A publisher can easily grant anyone pseudonymity providing the publisher knows who that person is, why that person wants pseudonymity, and if there is a good reason for it. The reason why the publisher needs to know the person's identity is because the publisher may also be held liable for the person's comments. These things aren't hard to do; they are regularly done in Op-Ed and Letters to the Editor in printed publications. It's the same thing as the publisher/editor/journalist granting anonymity to a confidential source. And, as Maryb2004 and Grubisich point out, there is a long history of published pseudonymity, and when responsibly done the courts tend to respect it.

    Reading his article, I don't think that Grubisich is attacking pseudonymity as the headline here at Talk Left maintains. I think he's advocating pseudonymity and responsible posting.
    -- Vin Crosbie

    Vin (none / 0) (#28)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:06:00 PM EST
    That's a narrower realm than all online forums, which is the subject of Grubisich article today

    Then I take it that you would be against any laws requiring that ONLINE blogs being required to do the things you outline for:


    traditional news organization's web sites'

    Am I correct??



    It expressly DOES attack pseudonymity (none / 0) (#62)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 15, 2007 at 06:36:09 AM EST
    It seems absurd to me that you argue it does not.

    BTD (none / 0) (#63)
    by jimakaPPJ on Tue May 15, 2007 at 08:49:20 AM EST
    I argue nothing. Crosbie's  comment notes that he thinks Grubisich's article is referring to an article he wrote ...

    about traditional news organization's web sites' concerns about anonymity versus pseudonymity. That's a narrower realm than all online forums, which is the subject of Grubisich article today

    My question to Crosbie was:

    Then I take it that you would be against any laws requiring that ONLINE blogs being required to do the things you outline for:

    Traditional news organization's websites.

    I then close with:

    Am I correct?

    He has not answered. I expect him to say, no, everyone should be treated equally.

    Which, of course favors the large well financed blogs and works against the small ones with limited resources.

    BTD, I commented earlier negatively concerning such nonsense as Grubish's wrote, and I don't think my comment you "misunderstood" was all that difficult for you to understand. I invite you to slow down a bit and not let your bias towards a blogger, or a subject, drive you into making a mistake. You're too good for that


    Jim (none / 0) (#64)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 15, 2007 at 09:11:47 AM EST
    My comment was intended for Crosbie.

    Sorry for the confusion.


    Crosbie -- no liability (none / 0) (#25)
    by Deconstructionist on Mon May 14, 2007 at 01:55:02 PM EST
    would attach to allowing anonymous posts in any forum including a newspaper's site. Potential liability would be limited to publishing false and defamatory statements of fact with actual malice.

      Allowing anonymity would only be indirectly relevant in that it might be easier in some cases to persuade that someone was acting with reckless disregard for the the truth if they did not even know who was the source of the assertion that is false. As you point out--  even avoiding that scenario would not require the public disclosure of a posters identity; the publisher could know and simply not require that it be publicly disclosed.

    Publius (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Mon May 14, 2007 at 02:00:45 PM EST

    I got pulled into a legal case (none / 0) (#43)
    by redfish on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:47:20 PM EST
    when someone in the Dallas county court of Texas filed a "John Doe" suit naming my Yahoo alias as a defendant.

    Cost me a sleepless night (Yahoo sends you an Email as soon as the subpoena arrives), next morning when I looked into it, it turns out the plaintiff had cast a wide net hoping to catch a prominent hedge fund manager (which I am not, and also I didn't say anything remotely actionable, a side benefit of being a lawyer and knowing the law).

    Anyway the moral of the story is that it is easy to get pulled into one of these things.  

    Also of course (none / 0) (#44)
    by redfish on Mon May 14, 2007 at 03:50:19 PM EST
    the Texas state court had no jurisdiction over me, as I have never stepped foot in that state other than a plane change when heading to the west coast.

    Pure fishing expedition.


    I could make (none / 0) (#45)
    by Miss Devore on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:10:18 PM EST
    a redbaiting joke here..

    Now that is truly scary. As really pissed off (none / 0) (#46)
    by oculus on Mon May 14, 2007 at 04:10:20 PM EST
    as I was at you one Sunday afternoon on DK, that is going too far.  

    feardom of speech (none / 0) (#49)
    by pyrrho on Mon May 14, 2007 at 08:38:11 PM EST
    basically one of the sicknesses of our culture is the fact that people are afraid to say what they really think about just anything of any import.

    others want to hold onto that power to shut people up, rather, for people to fear enough to shut themselves up.

    it's hopeless for them, but a pain in the butt in the meantime.

    This seems mostly a nonsequitor to me (none / 0) (#61)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 15, 2007 at 06:35:31 AM EST
    paen to pseudonymity (none / 0) (#54)
    by Miss Devore on Tue May 15, 2007 at 12:05:16 AM EST
    Just so you know (none / 0) (#60)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Tue May 15, 2007 at 06:34:56 AM EST
    I read your post and it means nothing to me. I would say it is cryptic but that would be imparting my ignorance on the post.

    At least for me, it adds nothing to the discussion.