I have criticized Tech Crunch and many other blogs for allowing anonymous comments, and a recent experience confirms my position.
Anonymous comment posters add nothing to a discussion. They only detract from serious online conversations.
Because, hiding in the shadows, one can say anything. There's no accountability, no retaliation, no sense of responsibility. Say whatever you want. Nobody knows who you are. Nobody can go to your blog and confront you, or start a debate in one of your topic threads.
Anonymous comment posters like to troll blogs and social networks, picking fights, stirring up trouble, trying to make others look bad.
When you accuse them of being anonymous cowards, they act like you're just being too technical about rules, netiquette, and common decency. They will never reveal themselves, because they're afraid of what might happen.
Since internet trolls have no reason to be polite, factual, or logical, they can have fun with accusations, slander, misinformation, racism, sexism, homophobia, lies, and abusive language. Because nobody knows who they are.
Trolls are frightened by technology and rigorous argumentation. They're afraid of looking stupid. They don't want their friends laughing at them when they're defeated by a forceful and highly skilled debate opponent.
They like to try to cause trouble in an online community, make wild statements, then withdraw back into the caves of their ignorance and insecurity. Anybody can sound tough when they're invisible and nameless and their whereabouts are unknown.
Anonymous trolling, flaming, and slurring is their only method for being bold and outspoken. Face to face, they would wilt and wither away. Anonymous comments make them feel big and strong. They make their buddies laugh. They hope to make you angry.
They don't understand that text on the web is just text on the web, there's no reason to register any emotional response to it whatsoever. The blogosphere is a cold, indifferent medium, where nothing is necessarily what it seems to be. Praise and criticism are equally ephemeral, unsubstantial, inconsequential to a hardcore blogocombat veteran.
Anonymous trolls may not even be smart enough to create their own blog. Most of them seem technically deficient, as well as mentally backward.
Anonymous trolls don't deserve to be heard.
Anonymous trolls have no legit reason to say anything in the blogosphere.
We don't care about their opinions. They're irrelevant. Maybe someday they'll put their big boy pants on and fight like a man. Until then, they will be ruthlessly flamed or tiresomely ignored, depending on how much coffee I've had that particular day.
When someone posts a comment, and embeds a link to their blog in their name, and their blog gives their real name, then they have some credibility. Without that, their remarks in forums, blogs, and social networks are just empty nonsense by a nobody who is nowhere.
"Don't feed the trolls" is a common saying. It means: "ignore anonymous flamers". This is good advice.
However, as a Social Media Strategist, I occasionally will engage in a brief skirmish with trolls, just to show other, legit comment posters and readers, what's going on and how to expose them.
EXAMPLE of Blogocombat Against
Anonymous Comment Posters
In this case the anonymous commenters are hiding behind the nicknames Kudos and Notimendum. They are accusing me of spreading false stories, when I was very clear and specific about the information and how I got it. Probably for political reasons, they want to try and bash me.
I have deleted all references to the specific thing we were debating, because I don't want to get sidetracked into that debate. I simply wish to show how trolls talk and how to reply to them. We jump to the end of the discussion thread.
KUDOS says: “Bloggers” should not spread lies in order to promote a personal agenda (IMO).
NONTIMENDUM says: Vaspers, you reported this as a fact on the Spy site. Now you ask what anyone else has done to corroborate your claim? Here’s a better question: Were you just spreading a rumor?
VASPERS AKA STEVEN E. STREIGHT says: KUDOS and NONTIMENDUM -- You have zero credibility, because you’re anonymous, with no link to a blog or website, thus, your opinions don’t matter in the blogosphere. Once again, Anonymous Cowards post comments to bash other comment posters. This is why I disallow webless trolls to post comments on my blogs. Go back to your cave and paint your remarks on the walls.
NONTIMENDUM says: Vaspers: Thanks for reminding me of the Rules of the Internet. It’s easy (and logical) to forget that a reasonable doubter with a false name is, by default, subservient to one with a real name who appears to be spreading false rumors. You keep puttin’ the world right brutha.
VASPERS AKA STEVEN E. STREIGHT says: NONTIMENDUM -- And you keep trolling forums with anonymous comments, it’s so much safer that way, and you can say ANYTHING you want, because you’re completely unknown and unaccountable. You’re a Real Big Dude with a real big mouth, hiding in the shadows, accusing people of spreading rumors, when you offer no evidence of your own.
NONTIMENDUM: Evidence to disprove your false rumor? I am, indeed, left wanting. You didn’t really “spy” something, now did you?
VASPERS AKA STEVEN E. STREIGHT says: NONTIMENDUM -- As a rule I don’t engage in debate with Anonymous Cowards who troll blogs and forums. Chances are, you’re just a 13 year old World of Warcraft dork. Consider yourself lucky that I paid even this much attention to you. When you put on your big boy pants, and link to your own blog, give it another try.
Ubuntu Forums "Definitive Guide to Trolls"
Encyclopedia Dramatica "Troll"
Wikipedia "Troll (Internet)"
Usenet Angelfire Forum "How to Handle a Troll and Beat Them at Their Own Game"
CureZone "Internet Troll / Forum Troll"
Team Technology "Beware The Troll"