Anonymity on the net

Anybody who has spent time online will know that the ability to publish at the push of a button, anonymously, often brings out the worst in human nature. Most often it ranges from poor taste humor, to somebody getting personal just because they disagree with you.

Trackback insult
Anybody who has spent time online will know that the ability to publish at the push of a button, anonymously, often brings out the worst in human nature. Most often it ranges from poor taste humor, to somebody getting personal just because they disagree with you. But then there is the other end of the scale: misogyny and death threats (the link is unsettling) -- which blogger Kathy Sierra has recently been subjected to. All of it unnecessary, but the later is completely unacceptable and almost certainly illegal.

What all of these examples have in common is the cowardly position taken by the publisher (by remaining anonymous), and that no matter how much you try rationalize such behavior, when comments like these are directed at you, it can hurt.

Almost every time I've had coverage on Digg or Slashdot, I've been subject to insults based on my picture or the way I look. I have a disability (which I don't make explicit here on ZDNet, though it's well and truly in the public domain), and as a result of looking slightly odd, I get my share of attacks. At first it didn't bother me, and then it did. But compared to what others go through -- particularly women -- my experience is nothing.

Digg insult

The blogosphere's reaction to what Kathy is going through has been one of condemnation, and support for Kathy (you have mine) -- as well an urge to catch and punish those responsible.

With regards to Kathy's experience, somebody has crossed a line that nobody should cross, but I just wish everybody would stop and think before posting something anonymously, online, that they wouldn't say face to face and under their real name.

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