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Anonymity vs. civility

It can get pretty nasty online.   

Much of this nastiness comes from anonymity. People post comments with a bitter meanness that they would never use in a face-to-face conversation.

I’m not a fan of anonymity. I think people should stand by their words.  That’s why I’m one of the founders of the disclosure movement.

Here are some similar thoughts from Stuart Brand, one of the founders of The Well, which was among the first online communities (founded in 1985):

One thing that we insisted on was no anonymity. Lots of the systems now like anonymity or encourage it. Personally, I would have preferred to see it go the other way. The Well’s compromise is that people can have whatever amusing handle they want, but it’s linked publicly to a real person. That gives the accountability I wanted. I knew that flame wars would happen unless somebody’s nose was identifiable — so that, if necessary, you could go punch that nose. What The Well did was connect cyberspace with real space a little better.

Read the full story in Wired.

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