Use Your Real Name When You Comment

March 5, 2008

Dear anonymous reader, if you intend to be critical: Be our guest. But if you’re our guest, act like a guest.

Here is how it works on our channel. You are free to say whatever you like, as long as you post under:

  1. your real name or
  2. with a reference to an identifiable website or
  3. anything else that identifies you to other readers

This is not a dating site, not a social network for artists or an underground association fighting against a repressive regime. From today on, we will delete all unidentifiable comments. Why so harsh?

Economic Reason

If commentators claim that there are mistakes in our posts, we need to double-check each time. If those supposed mistakes turn out to be a question of rhetoric, style, interpretation, pedantry or—as so often—not-reading-the-post we end up wasting our time for nothing. This happens again and again and again. If you criticize under your own name, your comments will be under the same scrutiny as our posts. Intellectually, there is nothing more valuable than being really wrong and learning from one’s mistakes, but we (and all other Internet publishers) are fed up with those obnoxious snipers.

Philosophical Reason

Identifiable publishing corresponds to our basic philosophy of the Internet changing from carnival to a respected networked means of communication.

Some call it the social graph revolution. We say: The Internet is not and has never been virtual. It is real. Be real when you use it to get your word out, be as real as you want companies to be, use your real voice, stop making self-righteous anonymous calls, stop sending anonymous letters, stop wearing masks in public. Carnival is over. (Being real also means trusting a grown up that he tells you his real name when asked; yes, also on the web that basic rule counts).

What is a Real Identity?

There is a lot to say about this, but in short identity means the unity of body, name, action, message and the history they share:

  1. Every human message has been entered by a human body and is directed at a human body. If you attack someone personally, you hit someone’s physicality (whoever has been flamed knows how physical rhetoric can be).

  2. Your body belongs to a name. This name guarantees the integrity of the messages your body types. If an individual in the free world doesn’t want to stand with his real name for the words his body utters—then probably the message is not as real as the body that spelled the words.

  3. Unless you intend to be a cheap coward that throws stones out of the dark, you need to give the attacked person a chance to strike back.

  4. Language is something we share. You borrow it in exchange for the only word you own: Your name. Anonymous language is cheap.

So please, with sugar on top—use your real name when you comment: If you don’t consider your message real enough to be associated with yourself, reformulate it until it fits. Use your real name when you comment and you will discover that your language and your analytical skills improve day by day. Use your real name when you comment: You will notice that posting relevant messages under your real name will actually help the quality of your writing, which will further improve your identity comment by comment and bury the Google entries that take cheap shots at your person.

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