Sunday, February 24, 2008

Visitor Poll

I enabled anonymous comments on PBW mainly to protect the identity of visitors who are minors, and professionals who don't want their opinions used against them. I know some of my regulars are lurkers who prefer to use the anonymous option, too. However, lately Tom and I are seeing a lot more anonymous snotty comments being left for posts that cannot be considered offensive by any means. In hopes of being fair (and because I don't like censoring comments) I've let most of them squeak by, but this seems to be only encouraging the trolls.

Here's my view: leaving anonymous snotty comments on someone else's blog or web site is cowardly. If you have a problem with me or what I post here, then I can't imagine why you'd even want to read my blog, much less comment on it. But if you do feel that strongly about your point of view, and you simply have to post it onto my blog, why not sign your name to it? Seriously, what are you afraid of?

I'd like to impose on my non-troll visitors and ask if you all would let me know in how you feel about the anonymous comment option. Should I keep it enabled, or should I do away with it? Is there another option I'm not considering? I guess I could start censoring comments -- at the moment we only delete SPAM and inappropriate/offensive comments -- but if it gets to that point, I feel like I might as well shut down comments altogether. And yeah, then the trolls win.

Anyway, when you have a chance, let me know what you think about the situation in comments.


  1. Anonymous1:45 AM

    Lynn, I've been a lurker of your blog for a couple months (really enjoy it, too). I just started a brand-new blog today and wavered on whether to moderate comments. I did, though, to keep spammers out and nasty comments to a minimum if they happen upon me. Undoubtedly, they will.
    It's a damn shame the "trolls" have nothing better to do with their lives than to fan their jealousies. I wish the solution were easy, but it's not. And damned if I can remember my blogger password.
    Delta D.

  2. Anonymous2:10 AM

    I think you should go ahead and turn them off if you are getting trolls. With the combination of blogger and name/url, people should be able to post, if they want to.

  3. I think it is nice that you allow for anonymous postings for those who feel they can't post their names. Although you aren't asking for first and last names so those who are worried about their name could have a blogspot pseudonym.

    I think if you feel people are abusing the anonymous posting you should by all means turn it off.

  4. You asked so I will give you my opinion (which is always ready to be shared on a multitude of topics)...

    Protect yourself. If this means doing away with anonymous commenters, then so be it. Having to moderate, eliminate, adjudicate, all that takes time that would likely be better spent writing, familying, exercising, reading, or sleeping.

    I really enjoy your blog. I hate to hear about people being snarky here, and I haven't a clue at what provokes such negative and distressing behavior. If disabling anonymous commenters relieves that, I think that's the best route. And yes, it *is* a pity about protecting the identity of minors and industry professionals, but you can't have everything.

  5. I've had the same problem in my blog, but it was only one bloke and I decided to censore him straightaway. If it were more than one, I guess I would do away with the anonymous option (actually, to be honest, I tried but didn't find out how to do it).
    But, even if you do away with it, isn't there the possibility to enter a different fictional name that won't let you keep track of that person? I'm just asking, I don't know how it works.
    I really hope you don't have to shut down the comments. It would be a pitty to let trolls win.

  6. As soon as anonymous comments on my lj were abused, I disabled them--but then I don't get professional writers coming along and commenting that often :).

    As it's possible to generate a blogger account that's effectively anonymous--just a username and no public profile--I'd suggest that disabling anonymous comments won't make it impossible for anyone to comment anonymously. It'll just make it harder for them to do it in passing. So go for it :).

  7. Anonymous7:14 AM

    I think you should do away with the anonymous comment option. If someone wants to protect their identity, they can sign the blog with with a different name, like "Starlight" or something. I don't see why anyone would need to by truly anonymous.

  8. Anonymous7:28 AM

    Never let the trolls win.

    Do you need to have a blogspot or LJ to leave a comment without the anonymous characterization?

    I'm still not sure how it works.

    However, it's not difficult to create an on-line persona to protect your identity. I've got a friend I know online as one person and I've met her in RL. I know she's got another name, but I still call her by the on-line name.

    I guess that I vote for disabling anonymous comments if they're giving you ajida (spelled phonetically).


  9. I keep going back and forth on this one. I like that you have the anonymous option for anyone who's a minor. And I know there are some pros who don't feel comfortable commenting without the anonymous option. But if it comes down to a choice between shutting off the anonymous option and shutting down comments I vote for the first. The trolls win with any other choice.

  10. It's your blog, Lynn, do what feels comfortable and right for you.

    No has to take any type of abuse (and trolls constantly leaving crappy comments on ones own blog comes under the heading of abuse imo, abuse of the open welome you've extended, and, abusive in obviously trying to hurt/belittle you.)

  11. Anonymous9:12 AM

    I was inpressed by how polite you were to that troll who posted yesterday. Your ability to detox these demoralizing comments by addressing them as if they were valid complaints is inspirational, but I can understand how quickly you'd get tired of it.

    I'm one of the lurkers who uses the anonymous option when I post a comment on PBW. I would be sorry to see it removed, but I don't think you should allow the abuse to continue.


  12. Anonymous9:20 AM

    PBW, protect yourself. I may not always comment, but I read *every* day. Many of us would miss your blog tremendously if you felt like you had to shut it down. If an industry professional wants to comment anon they could always e-mail you the details and you could post it for them.

  13. The trolls only win if they get to post their words on your blog. I screen my comments and make no bones about not posting the snide ones. (Of course, I get far fewer commenters than you, so it's easier for me.) Do what you have to do to keep your sanity and your love for this blog. If stopping anonymous comments is the best way for you, then do it.

  14. Anonymous10:19 AM

    I read your blog daily but seldom post, and when I do I leave my name. A friend of mine has had problems with trolls and has taken measures like you're talking about. She says it helps a lot.

  15. As stated by another above, creating a completely different "personality" for on-line use can still give you anonymity.

    So if you do turn off anonymous comments, I don't believe that it would be a great hardship for most.

    Think of it as a writer's pen name.

  16. There are enough options to be anonymous on the net with a blogger name and no profile. If you are getting obnoxious comments, in my mind that borders on harassment. I don't believe your blog is a soapbox in the public square--it is an extension of your living room.

    Commenter need to understand that and act accordingly. If they cannot, then you should not feel obligated to invite them in.

  17. I think that leaving anonymous comments open has often been used as a courtesy for those who didn't have a blogger account. But now commenters can use Open ID, including AOL, LJ and other logins. If someone truly wants to comment, and remain anonymous, they can associate themselves with an account (whether blogger, google, lj or otherwise) set up for that reason. Then they can use it on every blogger account they frequent.

    Long comment short, I say a blog shouldn't cause you too much stress and I agree with others who say to close anonymous comments if it means less headache, stress or having to deal with nastiness. Of course, those with a real bone to pick will find a way to be nasty no matter what. Bleh.

  18. Go the way of Making Light and disemvovel snotty comments. :)

    I'd say everyone who wants to comment on your blog could get an account - as someone said under another name and without profile, but that doesn't solve the problem, either. GRR Martin disallowed anonymous comments on LJ and still has one troll who reappears with a new username every time George kicks his sorry ass out.

    What does help to some extent is for other commenters to avoid feeding the trolls by replying to their comments. Trolls are basically attention seeking toddlers. If they're ingored, they'll move on.

  19. I'd vote for disallowing anonymous comments.

  20. Anonymous is nice to offer. When abused, you are perfectly within your rights to turn the option off.

    For minors and professionals who want to maintain anonymity, there are ways to create anonymous IDs, and the onus shifts to them to protect themselves.

    I've been fortunate to not have to deal with trolls, but you don't have that luxury. Do what you need to do.

  21. Oh, turn 'em off! I had to make the same decision with my blog. Even though it discourages commenting, if a person really wants to comment, they'll figure stuff out.

    Trolls are not worth it if they don't have the wack-tabulous hair.

  22. As ljcohen and others indicated, there are ample means to be anonymous on the net, so many email addys to create different personas.
    It's your blog. Disable the option. Censor comments. It's a matter of now or later. Do it before you get stressed to the point of shutting down comments completely.

  23. I have to agree with those who are suggesting you protect yourself, and I'll add I think that includes not only in terms of the words themselves, but also in terms of how those words make you feel in the privacy of your home as you work through comments.

    I look at blogging as being similar to a semi-open house: you are inviting in strangers who are interested, but you certainly are not giving up your (realistic) right to toss out the riff raff.

    And unless it's a costume-ball-style open house, I think people need to come as themselves or at the very least, as a persona.

    Droves of John's and Marcia's, anyone?

  24. Can you turn it off but allow open ID? I guess it's six of one half dozen of the other. *sigh* what a pita

  25. I agree with the others. You've tried to be fair and someone is abusing it. I'm for banning anon. Blogger has made it easy to set up a persona for those that want to keep things hidden. Hugs. Sorry the trolls are giving you problems.

  26. Anonymous1:16 PM

    I don't think "professionals who don't want their opinions used against them" is suitable cause for anonymity. I think, in fact, that one of the marks of professionalism is the ability to stand behind your opinions.

    It's sad that anonymity has become so common. I try to disallow it. One of my favorite experiences online was at The Well, where each pseudonym/handle has a name behind it.

    The surest sign that one is saying the wrong thing is not wishing for one's name to be attributed to it.

  27. Another vote for turning off anonymous comments here.

  28. Life is too short to deal with idiots when you have better things to do. Turn it off. If they don't have the nads to sign their name then why give 'em the time of day?

  29. I agree with what Joely Sue said, if someone wants to remain anonymous they can always email you their comments which could then be shared by you. That would protect any industry professionals who might have a legitimate concern.

  30. Having never posted under anonymous myself I cannot say for sure what would make someone use it, but if they are using it to be abusive then I would turn it off if I were you.

  31. i say you should disable anonymous comments. If they say they should own it. No questions. If it's something they are ashamed of or wouldn't want anyone to know what they said this it should be said in my honest opinion.

  32. Anonymous2:48 PM

    I'm all for not feeding trolls, but I have to admit your reasons given for allowing anonymous comments in the past make some sense.

    On the other hand, turn it off if it saves you some time going through the junk.

    I don't think it's censorship to not post some comments -- censorship is when a government does it. When an individual runs the space within which the offending comments reside and decides to delete them, I'd call that good taste or...a balanced bullshit detector.

    Life is too short to worry about trolls.

    It's hard enough dealing with the ogres we all have to handle on a daily basis.

  33. Anonymous5:11 PM

    I have never signed in to blogger because I don't have a blog, and I try not to enter my email address at every site I go to. HOWEVER, I have "subscribed" to some sites I visit regularly, and yours would qualify ten times over. For some reason, the forms at the other sites look different at the bottom of the page than the one on your page. (Two examples, Argh Ink, Murder She Writes.) I don't know enough about blogs and websites to know if they really are different or not. An "account" makes me think I have to pay, and I've never bothered to find out more.
    One of the things I _do_ like about the other sites is that they remember me and I really hate it when I check back in comments and find I've forgotten to add my name here. And, I've done that more than once. (I'm JulieB -- before I forget)
    You've done a great job of keeping the trolls and spam out. But I come here to read what you have to say, as well as most of the other commenters here. So, if I have to sign up to participate, I will. Because this site and your readers are worth it.

  34. I say turn them off. I use a nickname, it wasn't hard to set up and I am not a computer person.
    Besides, if the trolls are so afraid to even use a nickname, they need to be reminded that we are not living under Hitler.

  35. I see nothing wrong with you deleting comments if you feel they are offensive or just plain 'ol spiteful.

    Having the anonymous thing is nice, and it is your blog, and you have every right to delete anything you want. Those of us who are regulars here, know you'd never just delete something because you disagreed with it. We know you believe in freedom of speech and will only censure those who are being mean, spiteful, or just plain idiots.

  36. Anonymous7:38 PM

    I normally use a variation of my blog name when I post here because I don't have a blogger account, but now that I can use Open ID, I don't mind outing myself. It's not like I have anything to hide...except maybe some badly written stuff.

    I think you should do what you want.

  37. Turn 'em off. Maybe without the open outlet to spew, they'll choke to death on their own toxic waste and leave the world a cleaner, happier place.

    Bitter? Me? The hell you say.

  38. I'm sorry you're having an infestation of trolls. Maybe it's molting season. Personally I like the disemvowelment option, but I also agree with the others who say turn it off. You have the right not to be harassed on your own blog. Don't let the idiots get you down.

  39. Shut the anonymous sh!t down.
    It's a courtesy, not a right. If they have something to say, let them set up an account, even if it means using a pseudonym. It's easy enough.

  40. It's your blog so go ahead and get rid of the anonymous option if that keeps the trolls away. Or censor them if necessary. You put a lot of time and energy into this blog for your fan's enjoyment so don't let a few spoil it for everyone else.


  41. I'd say turn them off.
    I use a nickname for my account so i maintain anonymity that way (mainly because of nerves when I started commenting!) Now that there's OpenID there's no reason that most, if not all people, can obscure their identity without being 'Anon'.

  42. Anonymous7:19 AM

    Protect the work, PBW! If this stuff distracts you from your writing, it has to go. I leave anonymous comments here frequently b/c I'm technologically slow, but this blog belongs to you, not to's a privilege to communicate with you in this forum, and you get to set the parameters.

    That said, thank you for this's one of my favorite blogs, bar none.

    Michele Lang

  43. I agree with Michele!!

  44. I think you should enable Extreme Tracker

    And then throw up the info when they post so they're not so anonymous anymore. It's kinda like having your pants pulled down while you're standing in a crowd.

    But I can be vindictive like that.

  45. Anonymous1:41 PM

    I would be mildly disappointed if people could only post comments from their Blogger accounts - my Blogger account links to my defunct blog, not my active one, and I don't like having to link to a dead blog - but if it's the only way to stop the trolls, then you should do it.


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