When does one person’s right to know supplant another person’s right to privacy? I think in the blogosphere, as in campaign finance, as we are dealing with public policy, I tend to err on the side of public accountability – both in finances and in speech. We have the right to free speech, but we should be accountable for that.
The main problem I’ve found though my first year active in the local blogosphere that there is a whole bunch taken as fact or fact (ish) that inevitably seem to come from the anons.
Having said that, there are also good people not involved in smear that for their own reasons would like to disassociate their public opinions from themselves.
I do personally have a problem with this as so many of the people I disagree with online quite obviously have financial issues at stake which are not discussed for more general or philosophical discussions, which if their financial involvement was known, might seem disingenuous and hurt their credibility.
So, the baby-step I’m taking is a) when and if I have time and b) when it makes sense in context, I will associate anons with a number. This only applies to the blue/grey Gravitar anons. WordPress’ randomly generated avatars which they call Gravitars are a great compromise between the reader’s right to know and the writer’s right to privacy. This in essence is what I am continuing for those for whatever reason do not even want to be associated with a unique avatar. Instead of the fancy colorful avatar, you will be stuck with a number.
Regarding fairness: A big part of the narrative I’m trying to get across with this blog is we are all biased. That includes me. I’ll add or check numbers when I’m interested and/or have time and try to respond if any reader is interested in seeing how this or that anon comment relates to another anon comment. I think the fairness issue is covered as I will endeavor to respond to other readers who my disagree with my bias. Again, caveat, incase this blog gets bombarded with many more than 4 readers any time soon, I may not be able to respond in a timely fashion to all requests.
Also, this policy starts now, I will not go back in time to out IP addresses so everyone has been warned (ish).
In review…WordPress blogs allow the moderators to see the IP address of all comments. I have not and I will not post these. However, when necessary or convenient for readers and myself, I will start numbering returning IP addresses for frequent or notable GREY-BLUE (ONLY) anons. Not sure how it will look, but it may be as simple as me adding a (anon001) to the end of an interesting or notable comment based on that commenter’s IP address. That number will then be linked to that IP address and the result will be instead of having a unique avatar or gravitar or name, readers and myself will be able to associate your opinions over time with a consistent number. Huzzah for accountability!
Of course I’m sure there are random IP generators out there so if you are really serious about your privacy AND commenting on this blog I know there is a technological get-around out there somewhere.