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In Defense of Anonymous Cowards

JonKatz posted more than 15 years ago | from the Learning-to-Love-Abuse dept.

News 228

Increasingly, on this and other websites, people ask for the banning of Anonymous Cowards and others who flame behind pseuds. This would be a mistake. AC's are a unique sub-species of the Net and the Web, like hackers or cypherpunks. They are part of what makes the Net free, especially in comparison to other media. And they keep information moving, especially from corporations and government agencies, whose employees might not be so free to post messages. AC's the price we pay, the tradeoff. They may mostly be testosterone-crazed adolescent dirtballs, but they're our dirtballs.

In recent weeks, chronicles here of my stumbling (and yes, still ongoing) attempts to grasp the intricacies of Linux have sparked both praise and hostility. As usual, the praise tends to come mostly in e-mail, the hostility in public postings, the most assertive of which have come from anonymous contributors calling me various names, as in "This guy is a moron.." On Slashdot, these posters are given the pseudonym "Anonymous Coward."

First-time visitors and many e-mailers, largely friendly, intelligent and generous people, are appalled by this name-calling - lamenting and even apologizing for the flamers. "We really should stop anonymous posting," wrote Greg. "It's just a vehicle for teenagers to jerk off."

But, singed though I sometimes am, I disagree. Anonymous postings are one of the things that makes the Net and the Web so distinct from TV, magazines and newspapers.

Anonymous flamers, like cypherpunks students of mnemetics or crypto-geeks, are one of the many fascinating sub-species on the Web. People wonder at their almost indefatigable hostility. No other medium permits their equivalent, and a whole language and sensibility has formed around them. There's even a term - "flamebait" the producers and editors of Slashdot use for writings and writers (not just me by any means) likely to draw the small but angry hordes.

Flamers are so familiar to me they're almost comforting. I've written for a number of websites, from Hotwired to Newstolls to The Freedom Forum and Slashdot, and in almost every writing, I've been flamed in public postings, whether I'm writing about the Web, politics, media, geeks, movies, Buffy or OSS.

Anyone willing to venture a strong idea or opinion online should expect to be flamed; he will be. It's as intrinsic to Web writing as a keyboard. I've come to value it, in an odd way; maybe out of self-delusion, I equate flaming with being interesting. Every writer knows, whether or not he admits it, that there's rarely such a thing as bad controversy.

What the marketer of ideas most fears isn't that people will criticize his ideas, but that people won't respond at all. This is especially true online, where it's so easy to measure feedback, in public postings, column hits and e-mail messages. For the writer, a column that sparks 400 posts is a home run; a column that generates 20, even if they're nice ones, is a dud.

I don't write to be agreed with, though praise is always welcome; I write to offer ideas, pass on information and observations, start conversations, challenge thought, and then become the beneficiary of lots of feedback. I rarely assume I'm right. So the flamer is, in a curious way, my best cheerleader, a sign of vitality.

Besides that, anonymous postings do valuable things:

They permit people in corporations, government agencies and other risky environments to post news, messages and opinions we would not otherwise see. Living in the age of the megacorporation - Disney, Microsoft - and the era of impulses like the "Halloween document," that's crucial.

They give shy or phobic lurkers the chance to post messages they might not post under their own names and ID's.

They're a curb on the pomposity, authority and arrogance of people at the top of media chains, from newspaper owners to software companies to columnists. The hallmark of mainstream journalism - on display all year in the Monica Lewinsky trial - is the notion that truth and conventional wisdom is the province of journalism, to be passed down to the ill-informed. Thus journalists have felt free to ignore public opinion all year, since the public has no way to express itself beyond polls and surveys, and since the public is presumed to be too ignorant, greedy and immoral to make rational decisions. Anonymous posters make that kind of top-down manipulation impossible online.

Anonymous posters correct mistakes and challenge opinions. Before the Net, people unhappy with the facts, writing style and opinions expressed in the press had - have - few effective ways to reach opinion-givers and information distributors. That's no longer so. When people like me make mistakes, from factual errors to poor grammar to faulty logic, they are corrected instantly and continuously. The writer is not abused by the process, but improved. He or she can become smarter, better informed.

Even though people often reassure the flamee that the flamers aren't representative, or are simply sensitive about certain subjects, the truth is that flaming is almost never personal. That's what e-mail is for. The open display of hostility is attitudinal, a posture, always having more to do with the fact that's it's public than personal.

That's why I almost never get flamed via e-mail.

And Anonymous Cowards keep sites from getting boring or complacent.

The most difficult issue raised by anonymous posting is the personal abuse by flamers, most of whom are young males acting out one or another form of adolescent hostility. But seen in context, they cause little real harm. Besides, anonymous posting may be a healthy outlet compared to slugging peers or running cars into trees.

Like airport noise or graffiti, they are part of life. People who call other people names anonymously have little real influence. Since they offer no rational criticism, they don't have to be taken seriously and have no influence. The kid who says "You're a jerk, go away" almost can't, by definition be someone who must be listened to. Intelligent and thoughtful criticisms are much more disturbing, because they are harder to ignore or dismiss.

The real damage anonymous posters do is drive away people who have important or interesting things to say but don't want to participate in the digital equivalent of dodgem. Many women, older posters, people with demanding work and newbies in particular are disinterested in or frightened off by tostosterone-charged flamers. This is a real loss, judging from their e-mail, since many intelligent, thoughtful and useful observations are never seen. Some Websites suspend the posting privileges of people who engage in repeated personal attacks, while others provide moderators to steer conversations in more rational, civil directions.

But the understandable impulse to chase these people off ought to be resisted. The right of Anonymous Cowards to sound off under a pseudonym is important, part of the online chemical mix. Their existence, like many things online, represents a tradeoff. They're a symbol of the freedom available online, but increasingly rare off-line. More than the mastery of software, they are a much better test for any writer of whether or not he belongs online. And whether or not he ultimately has anything to say.

You can e-mail me at jonkatz@slashdot.org

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

You truly are an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032370)

> AC's are a unique sub-species of the Net and
> the Web, like hackers or cypherpunks.

You are a harsh loser. What lame-ass sub-species do you belong to? This is not a flame. This is the cold hard truth. You write like those stupid low budget neo-science fiction hour long shows that are taking over the tube. You think just because you use some technical words or ... whatever... I think its painfully obvious to the people that know their "stuff" that you _don't_.

> corporations and government agencies, whose employees might
> not be so free to post messages.

Hey didja stop to think that we might just the people who can't be bothered to fill out yet another stupid form?

> the price we pay, the tradeoff. They may
> mostly be testosterone-crazed adolescent dirtballs, but they're our dirtballs.

Yeah, well, I'm not adolescent, nor am I testosterone-crazed. And if I am a dirtball, I am _definitely_ not one of yours.

Real Person.

just replying to my own reply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032371)

no flame, but, I mean come on.

There are people who do and people who talk.

The talk can help the people who do ... to do more. but eventually ...... the people who talk have to shut up to let the people who do do.

Do we have to listen to this?

You truly are an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032372)

No, you are your own dirtball swimming in a pool of your own festering anal ozze, drinking it in. You have no life, except to put down anyone else in attempts to place yourself on a pedestal. If you do not like it, just refrain from using your left hand to type slashdot.org, while you are whacking off with your ight hand on you pitiful excuse for manhood.

Anonymous Cowards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032373)

I've used the Anonymous Coward here on /. several times. Any time I want to point out a discrepancy that might come out the least bit pro-MS or anti-Linux, I use Anonymous Coward. Why? Because there are a bunch of UNREASONABLE TWITS out there who havent yet mastered the intricacies of COHERENT THOUGHT, and I don't want these folks bothering me. It's a useful tool that I can use to make valid (from my perspective anyway) points without having to deal directly with the flamage.

I Agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032374)

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Keep me Anonymous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032375)

Sometimes we like to shout without our names being called out.

Where did we dig this guy up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032376)

Let me know so we can put him back as soon as possible!

Seriously, though, this guy uses a Linux book to hold his door open and he thinks he's got a good understanding of the whole community.

This man contributes nothing positive to our community. He doesn't know it, certainly doesn't understand it, and has no other area of expertise that makes his diatribes a worthwhile literary contribution.

Ni! Ni!

Finally! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032377)

Congratulations, Jon. You've finally managed to post something worthwhile on Slashdot.

I've been critical of you in the past, but this article shows a glimmer of cluefullness. I think it's worth stepping back and looking a what you did right here.

1. You kept it quick and to the point. You didn't go off on some huge meandering pointless story about how you met some guy who yadda yadda yadda. You made your point, you explained your point, and that's pretty much it.

2. Although you did talk about yourself, perhaps a little too much, what self-referential material you did bring in was largely relevant to your point. You didn't talk about writing for Wired.

3. You didn't harp on the 'geek' thing.

4. you kept politics more or less out of it, and where you did bring it in, it was in a very practical way, without a whole lot of ideological puffery.

I'm not sure I like the fact that you called ACs a "subspecies" but I may be reading more into that than you intended.

If this is the future of Jon Katz, I could deal with it.

-Joe Merlino

That's MISTER Anonymous Coward to you! :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032378)

Seriously, why create an account? Why not just fill in your nickname @ e-mail like other message boards? Besides, I tried to set up an account, but my company's @$%!*& NT-based network won't let me receive internet e-mail right now (send, yes, receive, no). And our "system administrator" can't fix it! Dontya just LOVE Microcrap? Linux Forever!

Mr. Anonymous Coward

I have to be anonymous (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032379)

Hi all, I always post as an AC. Given where I work, I have to. If I couldn't, then I'd never be able to make comments.

Male Bashing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032380)

I love the name AC. Just enough truth and humor.

Jon, why do you assume that it's teenage males
that are doing the flaming? Anonymous posting
is exactly the type of forum to free everyone
else to act out as well.

Based on what the sport utility vehicle has done
for family oriented drivers (they drive with the
kind of brash overconfidence once reserved for
teenagers), I'm willing to bet that anonymous
posting has had the same effect in cyberspace.

In defense of STUPID LOGINS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032381)

I know it seems really stupid that you should have to log in to discussion site to post anything, but that's the way they want to run it!

Of course, I liked the old way better. And they could easily have added optional logins which would have caused a little "authenticated"-icon to appear beside your name. This would have put a stop to posters masquerading as others.

But they have their own ideas, don't they...

Mike Greaves

Anonymous Cowards is an insult (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032382)

I actually like the setup you have here, but I dislike the fact that I would need to create an account to use a name other than AC.

Perhaps adding a way for someone to use a different name (if I remember correctly, it used to be that way), but have it note that the user is still not confirmed (eg "by Cmdr Burrito (Unauthenticated)").

I always use AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032383)

I don't want to have Yet Another Account And Password to memorize. I must have subscribed to 100 damn sites that require a login and now I can't get into them (ny times, for example).


Anonymous Coward is a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032384)

I don't know about you, but I post all the time as anonymous coward... the name to me seems funny. Lighten up.

I must confess I didn't read Katz's rant, but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032385)

I just wanted to say that in my experience, anonymous coward postings are NOT any more obscene or dumb on the average... its just that whenever there is a stupid post, people are more quick to be judgemental about it.

Yes on the cowards... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032386)

it's free speech. I dislike assholes as much as anyone...but all too often, muzzling them results in muzzling the rest of us.

Of course, then there folks like me, who created a netname, got a password from /., put it it (as I just have above), and have it posted as AC anyway....


Flame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032387)

Why do this guy always post boring stuff with all those dense verbiage?
I'm beggining to think he's worse than sengan.

Testosterone-crazed ACs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032388)

Some of us may be shy little English lit majors who read /. every day but don't like to call a lot of attention to ourselves

People vs. People (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032389)

I disagree with the assessment of
the press that Katz has offered. The press is
half-dominated by people who think "We don't
merely report the news, we make it. We don't
merely show people the world, we try to make it
better. If we don't report something, it won't be
there." Sometimes even Slashdot is guilty of this
make-news mentality, and they advertise it openly
as the "Slashdot effect!" Arrgh! What about the

As far as the people being incompetent, I'll say
it this way: yes, the people ARE incompetent...
to control MY life... but each and every person
is competent to control his or her own. The press
makes no distinction; they think everybody's
either competent or incompetent to control
people's lives. Then they vie for that control.

Slashdot should not make that mistake. Slashdot
should not take the approach that "If we don't
print the idiotic opinions, they won't be there."
Far from it; the idiocy of people's replies
is news just as much as the articles! But that's
not why we should keep them.

Keep the ACs. The one percent who make sense
justify the other ninety-nine. Don't punish the
whole for the crimes of the majority; treat each
AC as an individual. Help readers filter through
the muck by letting them display comments more
flexibly and quickly. Use some of that legendary
Linux programming finesse, why don't you!

Unless you piss off a script kiddie / your boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032390)

It's a lot more than fear of being flamed. It's fear of being DoSed by some punk kid, or fear of your boss reading something that could get you fired. As far as I'm concerned, it's far more prudent to remain anonymous when arguing on a public board. If that makes me a coward, so be it.

Besides, people should care about the points being made, not the people behind the points. The whole idea that a post is more valuable because you know where it comes from is IMHO bullshit.

My reasons for anonymity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032391)

Yes, I'm an Anonymous Coward.
I don't like signing up for a board I only write to once every 2 or three months. Keep loosing the passwords.
I do work for a software company, and don't want my views being mistaken for theirs, by you or my bosses. (Who being more computer geeks read much of the same stuff.)
And as to flamage. If it's an honest opinion, the flamers are gonna have to work to send me an email bomb, that cuts out most of the 10 year old wannabe's. If it's something I post with the intent to cause an inferno, I don't do it as an A.C., I make a fake identity and use that. Haven't done it for a couple of years now, but I have.
And an honest opinion here, people who use A.C. just to flame someone are total jerks!
(hmmm... does that include me now that I've just insulted them?)

No respect for you, KNOBHEAD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032392)

Take that up yer arse!

Bullshit! Here's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032393)

Here's an little known factoid. All web servers records the IP of the machine that the user is posting from. Theorectically, this means that the police/Nazi/fascists can go in and seize the web servers, look at the logs and trace postings to the person's machine. Very easy I'm afraid. This is how they managed to find the people posting criticisms about the Church of Scientology through the anonymous email remailer server. There are NO hiding place on the net. ph33r m3, l4m3rs!

Whatever, "Candy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032394)

How would the quality of posts change if AC's were banned? By your own logic AC's would just end up getting anonymous email accounts which they would use to post here.

Not that it's relevant one way or the other - the threshold setting is there for a reason, genius. If you don't like AC's set it to 1.

Jon I expected more from you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032395)

AC's the price we pay, the tradeoff. They may mostly be testosterone-crazed adolescent dirtballs, but they're our dirtballs.

why do you, like everyone else, insist on insulting us? we are no different than the masses that use nicks, except that we are easyer to identify because we have one name instead of many!

As usual, the praise tends to come mostly in e-mail, the hostility in public postings, the most assertive of which have come from anonymous contributors calling me various names...

come now jon, if you cared enough to take notes you would prolly notice that the worst of the insults against you are not from AC's only. it is much more evenly distributed. and lets face it, most ppl wouldnt send insults via email simply because it takes more effort than to post to the boards and the insults tend to have more to do with posturing than real feeling anyways.

Anonymous flamers, like cypherpunks students of mnemetics or crypto-geeks, are one of the many... [big snip]
I rarely assume I'm right. So the flamer is, in a curious way, my best cheerleader, a sign of vitality.

why are there 5 whole paragraphs here equating AC's with flamers? you realy need to start taking notes on these things but for the record i will give you a little tip. many nick-users flame to! *sigh* *gasp* yes it's really true. lets also not forget the significant number of nick-users who go AC just to flame so they wont be held accountable. these ppl have got to be the lowest of the low, they want the best of both worlds without having to suffer the pain of eithor.

the truth is that flaming is almost never personal. That's what e-mail is for. The open display of hostility is attitudinal, a posture, always having more to do with the fact that's it's public than personal.
That's why I almost never get flamed via e-mail.

hmmm... yet earlyer on you said you never got flames in email because ppl couldnt send them to you anonymously. well which is it jon? i mean for the first 2/3rd's of this essay you go on and on about how all AC's are just a bunch of flamers and now you start to make a 180 and claim AC's are good and that most of the flamers are just young punks. if you keep this up i might also start to take offence to the fact that your now insulting young males.

But the understandable impulse to chase these people off ought to be resisted. The right of Anonymous Cowards to sound off under a pseudonym is important, part of the online chemical mix.

what do AC's have to do with this in perticular? you seem to be forgetting the large number of anonymous nick-users who post here. they assume an identity here and give no information to any one as to what their real identity is. why does that make them better just because they spent a few minutes to sign up for a nick? lets face it jon, getting a throw away email is too easy today and that is all you need to get an account here and on many other boards. it has become fairly trivial for someone to create an identityn that looks real but provides them with no accountability because it isnt real.

jon i think you need to start doing some research to support you articles!

- sincerely,
- just another face in the crowd

The real point being... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032396)

...that it isn't so much the AC nonaccount that is the problem, but the people who use it. Take the account away, and S/N won't improve; you'll merely have registered I'm-eleet-I-work-part-time-for-my-ISP teenager rantings.

We have to face the fact that the quality of nerds has gone way downhill over the last 8 or 10 years. Unmasking these folks merely makes the rest of us have to see their faces.

Agreed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032397)

The same way nerd and geek aren't insults anymore ;-)

tongue in cheek, yes; i am not insulted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032398)

the first time i read slashdot, i said, "gee, this guy who calls himself Anonymous Coward sure chose a nifty, clever, funny name for himself, but he's a jerk!" and then a minute later i saw another post from "him" that was completely different -- very sensible and well thought out. then another, and another, and after a while i figured out that it wasn't all one person with that name :)

i still think it's funny. i agree with malda.

Not all of us WANT Linux to be mainstream (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032399)

Linux is already suffering from feature bloat. Thank God we still have some lean distributions floating around. Widespread acceptance doesn't mean anything good for me. I already have everything I want from Linux. Folks like Katz coming in and hopping on the bandwagon will just obfuscate things and divide developers into so many projects that nothing will get done (this is already starting to happen).

Why I AC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032400)

Let's see why do write as an AC...

1. I really don't want to bother with another username and password. And I don't really like cookies either.

2. I don't want my email address out on the net anymore than I have to. (I've learned that lesson the hard way.)

3. A lot of times I don't have anything incredibly profound to say, so I see no reason to attach my name to it. Also, I hardly ever flame, as it is too much trouble, and usually not very nice.

4. However, if I do have something to say that I think is important, than I sign my name as such:

-Moshe Katz-Hyman

P.S. Even thought I think some things that other ACs do are childish and stupid, that should not warrant the removal of the AC privilage for all.

John Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032401)

ok, i can't take this guy's little commentaries anymore. i have had enough.

who the fuck is this guy? is he some self-proclaimed spokesman of the linux community? one thing i know, he's really excessive in his use of buzzwords and catch-phrases. he is one of the lousiest writers i have ever had the misfortune to ... uh ...read.

i for one think he has no clue what he is talking about. and the words he uses!! ... i think they should hire him to write the sequel to Hackers, or better yet, maybe he should play the leading role in the next The Net movie.

this guy sucks ... please take him away, and never bring him back! the linux community i am familiar with never needed someone like this to write commentary for us. John Katz is *not* what the linux community is about (i know that sounded pretentious, and i fully agree that it is, but it just has a ring of truth to it, doesn't it?)


password (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032402)


I just don't remember where I put that password...

DoS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032403)

Sorry, you're right. Linux is the indestructible OS, with no security holes. How could I ever be so foolish?


Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032404)

Heh. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

I'm use AC because I'm too much of a lazy ass to remember my password. I've got cookies disabled on my browser, so I'd have to type the damn thing every time I wanted to post, and as sluggish as the network has been lately, I'd just as soon avoid all that.

You truly are an idiot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032405)

Jon got to you that time didn't he? Take it easy, you'll get to be an adolescent some day.

Anonymous cowards are needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032406)

I work for MS.
I tend to post to slashdot about the stupidity that goes on around here, misconceptions people on slashdot often have, etc.
There is no way in hell i would risk my job by having any kind of email address or name, however fake it is, associated with me.


Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032407)

Mr Brain Child States:::::
Such cowards like you should definitly *NOT* beeing allowed to poison senseful discussions.

right!! makes sense, while yer at it lets create a national ID system so everyone can be linked to everything they do.. so you could cross-reference someones Slashdot Posts with how much they spend on star fruit at ACME.. yeah good idea.. what government do you work for? or are you really that just stupid and misguided? Could ya enlighten me please?

Thanks in advance
Privacy advocate

how about a comprimise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032408)

I don't code so i don't know how feasible it would be, but couldn't this site implement a switch at the top of each thread...something like "click here to ignore all posts by anonymous cowards..."

Of course this could make for unsightly sub-threads, but it could work. And it would redirect the battle between the anonymous cowards who post "legitamately" (whatever that means) and those who are just out to get some attention...

Firewalls ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032409)

There might be a few less anonymous cowards
about if the Slashdot source was a bit better
able to handle people who sit behind firewalls.
(This is a gentle hint!)

What planet are you on? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032410)


Quit whining (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032411)

Hey, genius. Try setting your threshold to 1. Then you'll filter out all the ACs. Personally, I wish there was a way to killfile self-important arseholes like yourself, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards.

You should be judging people on what they say, not on who they are. The best part about posting here is that everyone's on equal footing - what you say is judged on its own merits, not on "reputation". If I log in, does what I say somehow become more valid if I associate it with a handle - a handle which doesn't have an email address or anything else associated with it? That's completely non-sensical. I'll be goddamned if I'm going to get a hotmail address to make people like you happy.

To conclude, if you don't like it, SET YOUR THRESHOLD TO 1. Many of us have good reason to be anonymous, and you're an arsehole for tarring all the ACs with the same brush. People can get FIRED for what they say in a public forum. Vindictive kiddies can do a lot of damage to someone if they know who they're dealing with. In your instance, they'd have a web page complete with your picture and all sorts of assorted info to start with.

I don't think you're paranoid enough. Been to fugly.net lately?

I agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032412)


Dig through the voluminous Slashdot archives and find me two instances of someone from a big corportation posting anything of value, but hiding as an AC to keep from getting canned.



Oh, that's right, there ain't no such thing.

profane replies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032413)

replying to myself...shouldn't have been so harsh/profane. I is sorry!

I am terrible AC bastard!

Anon. Coward protects this Gov't Geneticist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032414)

As the local cloning and biotech expert, I love the fact that I can post the truth without getting in trouble. I can't tell you how many forms I'd have to file before I could post something with my name attatched.
As for conjecture, it is not allowed by low life gov't types. As for ethical questions, well we have technocrats for those... real scientists need not apply. So thanks for the coward option. It also allows me to admit I'm listening to depeche mode while I write this anonamissive.

Some Diversity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032415)

He should stay because he does in a way represent some of us lurkers who are interested in Linux but have not participated in the community through fear, ignorance, or just timidity. I've been reading /. for about 9 months but have yet to install Linux (hopefully that will change within the next month or so).

I agree with his posting about anonymous postings though I also agree with the comment "Finally". This is his most focused, concise article on here so far. I think too many people have forgotten some basic self-editing with the ease of rapid posting on the internet.

please explain this to me..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032416)

Actually, it seems to me that having to accept the denegrating title of "Anonymous Coward" is a subtle, non-harmful way to push those who post towards doing so under their own name.

and is jekk your fully qualified given name? it certainly dosent look that way to me, but i could be wrong.

No one who feels a real need to be shielded by the cloak of anonyminity will be disuaded from posting

and exactly how are you not being anonymous now? i see no proof of identity, no phone number, no email address, no home address. it certaily looks to me like you are an anonymous coward with a different name.

Now all we need is an Anonymous Coward filter. I wouldn't use it myself, but its very existance would strengthen the drive towards accepting responsibility for ones opinions, without prohibiting anyone from posting anonymously.

where exactly is all this responsiblility you are implying that you have because you are not an AC?

please explain these things to me, i would really like to know how you are better than i am.

Thats no solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032417)

Your contradicting yourself... give it up..

The AC posting limits feedback (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032418)

I post as an AC because I'm very busy, have only limited time to help, and I need to limit my workload to job related deadlines.

I have posted with my identity, here and other places, but I must limit it to once every two months or so, or I'll be buried in email.

And it's polite email. How do I set up such and such? Where can I find TCP/IP software on the MS website? How to incorporate PHP into my web server. I've got ten people on a network, can we share just one modem? Why diald rather than masqdialer? So just what good is Linux (I tell them it is good at glueing together networks of MS client machines, much better than NT)?

Now can you imagine the blizzard of email I would get from this? Hey, I need a vacation, too.

Anonymous Cowards is an insult (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032419)

Perl is so useful. I got tired of this "Coward" crap almost immediately, and so now I get to read things like Commander Taco saying, "I don't see what's wrong with posting as Malda's Mom. I'm 2 attached to it to give it up," and "Malda's Moms often have useful insights to offer." Heh.

No, Jon, thats not the reason you get flamed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2032420)

I agree.

Just look at his last posting:

'In 20 years computers will be as smart as we are'.

A fairly safe prediction considering the fact
that 'smart' isn't defined at all. Of course,
this prediction doesn't mean anything either.
It is completely empty sentense.


Anonymous Cowards is an insult (2)

CmdrTaco (1) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032492)

The Term "Anonymous Coward" is meant to be tongue
in cheek, and at this point, I'm to fond of the term to let it go. I don't mean it as an insult. If it actually bothers someone, they're probably taking themselves to seriously anyway.
Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda
Pants are Optional

The Jon Katz drinking game! (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032494)

It's 10:30 AM. I'm bored at work. Have fun:



Here are the rules:

1) Every time Jon mentions all the publications he's written for, take one drink.

2) Every time Jon uses a buzzword, like "cypherpunks", "hacker", or "code junkie (?!)", take one drink.

2a) Corollary to 2): Do NOT take a drink every time Jon uses the word "geek", as you will die.

3) Take three drinks every time Jon paints a rosy picture of the 'Net. Add another drink if he mentions only the Web specifically.

4) Take two drinks every time Jon mentions how often he gets flamed. Add another two if he mentions how much he enjoys it.

Anyone care to add rules?

- A.P. (who actually enjoys JK, and did this for fun)

"One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

Um... you've been able to filter for months. (1)

Wakko Warner (324) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032495)

Click on "user account" and a whole new world will be opened unto you.

- A.P.

"One World, One Web, One Program" - Microsoft Promotional Ad

Let me Filter AC Comments (1)

Skyshadow (508) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032496)

Allowing anonymous posts on a popular, unedited site will eventually lead to it being almost impossible to read through.

Witness what's happened with /. lately.

Can anyone bear to read through the terrible signal to noise ratio that has evolved here lately? For every worthwhile post, you see at least ten "Aw, that's bullshit, you suck" or "I obviously didn't read the article, but here's my opinion anyway" posts.

The reason for this ought to be obvious: the real idiots out there can post with impunity; they can use anonymity as an excuse. Realistically, AC's rarely contribute anything of substance. They have no motivation to say anything important or even related to the article.

There ought to at least be a way to filter out all AC comments so you have a better chance of getting some value out of a discussion. Katz can deal with their crap, I don't want to anymore.


I agree (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032497)

Many of the most interesting posts have been from Anonymous Cowards. Particularly when there's news involving large corporations, insiders with lots of information tend to post as Anonymous Cowards, for obvious reasons. That alone is a good enough reason to keep AC posting around.

Anonymous Cowards is an insult (1)

maelstrom (638) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032500)

If AC's are truly valued on /. (and they have proven to be valuable on times) then Rob should stop insulting anyone posting anonymously by calling them a coward.

I wonder if subliminally this causes some people to act even more immature than they normally would.

Good idea. (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032501)

See subject.

More Agreement (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032502)

Posted by HolyMackeralAndy:

No sweat Jon. Keep up the good work. Linux does have a bit of a learning curve which we have and will all deal with. Most struggle in private and comiserate with their friends, colleagues, whatever. Reading about someone struggling with it is another matter, and Geeks, AC's, real people etc., etc., who don't want to hear about will do what they have to do to justify their own feelings. Drive on, Jon....

c'mon guys, it's an insult... (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032503)

Posted by korto:

all you said (at the least what i read)was very beautiful...
but you can't really expect people to fell as free as you write about if you call them "cowards".

calling people that serve under the big-faceless-fascist-greedy-corporations are probably not really happy about beeing called "cowards" everytime they try to express their opinion.

by the way, not all teens use anonimous posting for fun purpose only!!

Anonymous Cowards is an insult (1)

zerblat (785) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032510)

What he's trying to say is, click the "Up One" link ;>

Learn thy history (1)

zerblat (785) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032511)

That's how it used to be: you'd just type a name, and if you didn't, you'd be called Anonymous Coward. However, some people started using other people's names so after a long discussion [slashdot.org] , Rob decided to use this system.

A solution to your problem: use a web based hotmail like email service (try Postmark.net [postmark.net] )


It's the threshold setting dumbass (1)

Brian Knotts (855) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032512)

I was going to suggest that too, but I think the last time I tested it, it also removed non-AC responses to AC posts, so you sometimes lose large parts of a thread, not just the AC posts.

How about some respect (1)

DaBuzz (878) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032513)

The term "Anonymous Coward" is the biggest hypocritical aspect of slashdot. I've even asked Rob on IRC why he doesn't just change it to something less insulting. His answer was "it was tongue and cheek originally and not even my idea" so basically he passes the buck on making any decision. He always claims "this is my site, I'll do what I want" but when an issue comes up that he doesn't want to deal with, he pawns it off on others. That's integrity if I ever saw it. What's next, "PGP Pussies" and "Crypto Cocksuckers"? You defend anonymity then abuse anyone who agrees with you buy practicing it.

The Threshold is Broken (1)

sterwill (972) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032514)

If you don't have the time to fill out a form, read an automated response, and click "login" just once (ever), you don't have the time to speak.

On the other hand, I don't care if Rob lets the Anonymous Idiots of the word have their try at trolling, inciting, or baiting his readership. I can simply ignore them, right? Through an easy-to-use scoring threshold, right?


It doesn't work... or certain administrators are marking up replies from specific Anonymous Idiots. Often these replies will appear with a score of 1, resting between replies from the legitimate contributors (those who have already learned how to operate a web browser and an e-mail client). And it's not like these promoted posts are anything other than the average anonymous content (flame bait or senseless garbage). These are no gems of insight.

Rob, if you want to keep the Anonymous Idiots around, fix the filtering system. And it'd be great if I didn't have to click "up one" every time I viewed a new article (the top-level page rendering completely disregards the threshold setting in my user preferences for all articles).

I think you admin is the crap (1)

Omnibus (1831) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032520)

Don't blame that problem on nt, that's an idiot admin problem you've got there, not an ms problem. Idiot admins abound, in any platform.

asinus sum et eo superbio

I'll agree... (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032523)

...but only to a point. I don't have a problem with AC's so much as I have a problem with the verbal (textual?) diareha that spews forth from some readers. It makes the whole site seem amaturish, and reflects poorly on the open source/geek/linux/whatever community, but it is definitely NOT only AC's. Its trivial to log in and be an asshole.

Its my personal opinion that the moderators should be a little more heavy handed in downgrading posts. Lately slashdot has felt like some teen channel on IRC, and it gets old. I wonder how many readers read the headlines and completely skip the comments. I certainly wouldn't mind missing some of the "choice" comments that have little or nothing to do with the article, and I could especially do without grammar/spelling nazis, but if I or anyone else felt masochistic its simple to adjust one's threshold.

Wrongo, Jon-boy, it's about reputation (1)

nelsonrn (2165) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032524)

Anonymous Cowards are 1) idiots, 2) cowards, and 3) only worth ignoring. If you can't be bothered to fill out a form, I won't bother to listen to you. If you're too afraid to stand behind your opinions, your opinions are worthless to me. Get a backbone, creep.

Anonymous Cowards have no reputation to protect, therefore they can say anything they want. On the other hand, they have no reputation to protect, therefore anything they say is of no value. I wish Rob had a way to permanently filter out AC postings -- I've never seen one worth reading.

I do *NOT AGREE* (1)

Candy (2257) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032526)

AC usually post useless crap. With their posts they draw the whole discussion into a piece of emotional useless mess. There are too many guys out here who get trapped by dumb AC's posting as they try to argue on their comments.
And most important:The existence of AC's can not be justified by anonymousity. Thanks to many free of charge email services it is still possible to stay anonymous *AND* to have a real /. account.
Turn off AC Postings and lets go to real reasonable discussion

U R best reason why to turn off AC Postings (1)

Candy (2257) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032527)

No content.
No brain
Think about nobody wants to read your crap.
Who in hell could trace back an anonymous email account.
Such cowards like you should definitly *NOT* beeing allowed to poison senseful discussions. Always hiding behind curtain of total Anonymousity. BAH.
If you have something to say: Step forward if. If not Shut up.

Logic comes here (1)

Candy (2257) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032528)

The logic behind this is. Creating am email & /. account would be the first barrier for many AC's.
Some of the AC's are just 2 lazy to create an /. acc, others will afraid from the afford it creates to get anonymous email.
But the BEST thing is. You could easily identify these guys who tend to post crap and therefore ignore their postings. If these guys would like to stay totally anonymous they will have to create new email and /. accounts over and over again. :-]]]
Sounds good doesnt it?

Whatever, "Candy" (1)

Candy (2257) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032529)

According to your statement about my masturbation skill.
I admit my masturbation skills are poor.
I dont have to. There are enough chicks who love to the job.
Go and get a girl friend. If you try this since the mid 80's, try to buy a bitch. If even the bitch doesnt want ya.... (sigh)

Case in Point (1)

Mark Storer (4097) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032545)

Wow. "This is not a flame." Right.

That exactly fits with Katz little theory. I actually thought they were kidding, but never found the ;). Not nearly as hostile as some I've seen, but not exactly calm, cool, and collected either.

I think people like this are just blowing off steam, not being able to confront the REAL cause of their frustration, be it their boss, the IRS, or their inability to get it up, or even all the above.

Flaming actually strikes me as fairly healthy. So bring it, baby.

No Subject Given (1)

Leidolf (5519) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032547)

Ever notice the Anonymous Cowards talking about how they can't be bothered to fill out "another form", but they always have time to tell us that?

I say people should be held accountable for what they say, the Internet allows too much anonymity. If you don't like being called a Coward, register! Oh no, Rob is going to use that cookie to hijack my credit card!

Anonymity and Reponsibility (1)

piggy (5857) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032548)

The Law School at the University I went to has a free speech wall that they call, creatively, The Wall. There are only two rules: you must sign (and date) anything you post or write on a post; you cannot remove anyone else's post. Anything can be posted -- newspaper articles, essays, invective letters, anything. It just has to be signed.

You might think that it gets reduced to personal mudslinging, but it doesn't. Since each poster much take ownership of their post, people think about what they write. It works because there is responsiblity, and the community is fairly honorable; I have not heard of any false signatures.

That said, I waver about whether I would want to keep or ban Anonynous Cowards. A large percentage of the AC posts are off topic or poorly thought our or just insulting. Then there are some posts which really shine. Some of the best posts I have seen here are from ACs. And some of the worst are from those with a login. You don't need to be an AC to write a "First Post!" comment, and firsties are often not ACs. It is also a simple matter to get a login without giving any real information about yourself (only giving a @yahoo or @hotmail or @dejanews e-mail address).

I believe in being responsible for my posts. I try to put my name on every post, and certainly my URL and e-mail address work. There are some to whom responsibility is not an issue. As long as ACs are allowed, there can be no limit on them, and they should be allowed to post whatever drivel or gems they care to, just as those with a login can.

I say keep ACs. Thresholds exist so that you can ignore them if you like; I prefer just to ignore those posts which deserve ignoring.

Russell Ahrens

Anonymity and Reponsibility (1)

piggy (5857) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032549)

It is Yale. I haven't looked at the wall since I graduated in '96 (and although I was an undergraduate, I did spend a fair amount of time in the law school library), but I don't remember too much "hyper adolescent" postings. Maybe it has changed.

Let me Filter AC Comments (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032550)

Increase the Threshold to 1, which will filter out all AC posts, except those which have been moderated upwards. I do this whenever there are more than 100 comments, to reduce the amount I have to wade through.

Declining averages (1)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032553)

I don't disagree completely with the concept of ACs on /. and other sites, but I do disagree with JK's assesment. ACs usually take the 'no consequence for their actions' stance. They can anonymously interject anything into a reasonable discussion and derail or degrade it into a flamewar and not have to share a bit of identity or responsibility. Does he really think that there is a segment of society that shouldn't be held responsible for their actions in a public forum?

JK seems to want to celebrate and worship some of the worst of humanity ( the behaviour, not ACs) which leads me to wonder just what kind of guy he really is. He likes to stir things up, dosen't know hardly anything about computers, gets paid to write articles that generate tremendous response... Hmmmm.. do you suppose that he may post many of the AC comments that he is defending here?? Makes me wonder.

Whoa (1)

jwilloug (6402) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032554)

This has got to be the most surreal Slashdot threads ever.

So don't post your email. (1)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032556)

Perhaps you didn't notice that you can post with just a name and nothing else.

So what if you get flamed on slashdot? There's nothing coming into your mailbox, so who cares? Personally, I feel that most of the "controversial" stuff that's posted by ACs isn't worth reading because the ACs often don't care about putting enough thought into their posts to avoid sounding like idiots.

Be an adult. Back up what you say with a name. Make the signal-to-noise ratio better.

(I do realize that there are uses for AC posting, such as insider tips and the like. Good ol' paranoia works as a reason, too, I guess.)

Just up your threshold. Sheesh. (1)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032557)

All you have to do is set your threshold to 1 and all of those nasty AC posts will magically disappear.

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Good for you. How creative. (1)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032558)

Is it really too difficult to remember one username/password for all 'net accounts? If someone hax0rs my nytimes account and is somehow able to post as me on infoworld electric and slashdot, I'm not going to have my world crumble around me.

Besides, there are plenty of well-known public accounts for those sites (cypherpunks, for one). I don't usually bother to create a personal account if I'm just reading stuff. I get enough spam as it is.

I get annoyed with people who make dumb excuses. Don't bother. Just say that you don't want to do something and be done with it.

Katz. (1)

juuri (7678) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032561)

Another piece of feelgood USA today style fluff from Katz.

How much longer are you going to let this continue CmdrTaco? Isn't slashdot your livelyhood now? Shouldn't you be worried?

Comprehension (1)

Pym (8890) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032564)

It's a lot easier to flame than it is to understand. There's a lot out there on the Net that isn't worth the rise in blood pressure and the degradation of finger tendons in banging away a reply, because someone has to believe you to change their thinking, and that takes choice on their part. /rational_response
Truth is, it doesn't really stop me or anyone else, of course. :) I get indignent at a lot, including posts from both sides. I think the key here is with the AC posts is....does it really matter who is posting? You're reading a stream of ideas, and unless it truly matters to you to know the name, background, SSN, OS of the person behind the ideas, then it's moot. Someone you disagree with strongly about Linux may have an opinion on music you agree with. The attachment of a name sometimes grants instant and unmerited bias to anything posted by that person. I really believe an Anonymous poster has the benefit of escaping the preconceived notions some may attach to a solid identity otherwise.
Anyway, this is getting long. :) Katz has a knack for fluidity of perspective without compromising his own opinions, I think. If more people had flexibility, -then- the rational_response I cited above would play a bigger part in posting.



In defense of the anonymous cowards (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032566)

Right on, Jon. The AC posts are a vital part of slashdot discussions. Forcing everyone to log in to post on /. would be a mistake. The idea of the internet is that it allows many-to-many distribution of ideas and news, as opposed to the few-to-many architecture of newspapers or broadcast TV/radio. If you don't like inane, off-topic, or offensive posts, set your threshold to 1 (or 2 if you have a very short attention span). If you want to hear what EVERYONE has to say (like I do), set your threshold to -2. Banning AC posts will not boost the signal-noise ratio on /. Everyone on IRC has a name, and that hasn't forced it to become a civilized forum. Why would forcing everyone here to take a pseudonym change anything?

Once Anonymous, Always A Coward (1)

Zathras (9441) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032568)

Zathras was once anonymous but still a coward.
Zathras fear no response, very humiliating.
Alas, Zathras mostly lurk.

Enjoy AC posting's. You may learn something.
AC's are always certain ... sometimes correct.


Anonymous Cowards (1)

NYC (10100) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032572)

Back before ./ had a normal login feature, I posted serveral pro-MS/anti-Linux notes and got flamed when doing so. After I started posting with by nick, people stopped flaming.

Unfortunatly I find that most Slashdotters are 15-yeard olds that think they are cool because they run Linux.

Before you flame me about this read the first paragraph at:

the people who use email to talk to you are no (1)

cholko (10212) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032573)

better than those who flame you openly.

They are both hiding behind a mask. Afraid to come out in the community.

The reason you get burned here so much is because your "articles" have nothing to do with news, which is what this page is about. Worse, your articles have spelling errors, grammar errors, and worse you have a tendency to drop a word in mid-sentence... leaving us to figure it out.

I have yet to one newsworthy item from you, all I see is drivel that explains why you don't write for the other guys anymore.

It would be best if Slashdot had a special John Katz editorial page. That way the news page would not be cluttered with all the noise. That way we could just forget you exist.


Anonymous Cowards is an insult (1)

ixx (11362) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032576)

I do not always feel like loging in. I think its
nice sometimes but there should not be any negative
incentives to logging in.

Anonymous Cowards is an insult (1)

ixx (11362) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032577)

I have no problem with the AC name except that
it does make it harder to see a commenter you
can quickly pick out and read, while still not
having the hassle of logging in. Other than
that AC is fine IMHO.

Bull's eye (1)

arivanov (12034) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032579)

100% hit. (excluding the flamer description)

I usually do not give a damn and post with my real name but I understand people who hide behind AC because of their employment... (I have to remind some of the posters that there are US corporations where even the email is considered to be CORPORATE property).

There is just one minor note on flamers. They are mostly not adolescent mailes, but badly educated people who do not agree with anybody who thinks differently. They also cannot argue for their opinion so they have to shout over anybody who thinks different.

The discussion around operation " Desert Blow Job... " was a good example of that...

And what about AC ;-), AC is just a term, let it stay...

the article... (1)

r (13067) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032582)

...was right on target. congrats, katz!

one comment, though - you write:
"AC's are a unique sub-species of the Net and the Web, like hackers or cypherpunks.

hmm. and i thought hackers (as in 'linux hackers', and not as in 'c00l hackerz') were the prototypical netizens, rather than a 'unique subspecies'...

Filter the water (1)

Prophet (13824) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032585)

I think allowing ACs post is wonderful. Having to read them isn't. Registered user accounts should have the option to not read them - only seeing other registered accounts as an option to seeing every Tom, Dick, and -uh; I mean every AC, AC, and AC post. A technical solution that provides an answer without detracting, bitching, or berating anyone.

I would take your viewpoint as valid... (1)

./ (13859) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032587)

but WOOO HOOO HOOO HAA HAA HAA HAA HAA OH MY I'm wetting my self while trying to imagine just how much starch gets put in your under-things. As for being uber-fiend/you-think-you-are-right, whatever.

Oh... something else... it needs to be said... I guess I out use-of-hyphenated-word'ed you...

PS: ... wow yet another pointless ellipsis! Let's start a dotdotdot war! Except that you'd win; being correct and all.


Your own stupidity (14554) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032589)

So "Anonymous Coward" is a joke, eh? "Coward" is supposed to make us laugh, ma Taco belle?

Sure, assholes post using "Anonymous Coward". Assholes often (sometimes more often) post using a "real name", which is usually some stupid made up name (like this one). "Yeah, I'm a responsible macho man cuz I post with my real name and I don't care who flames me; I am a badd-ass mofo."

A couple of points:

Our Taco-mac-daddy may think the "Cowards" part is "funny" or a "joke". And maybe other anonymous posters agree. Well hey, let's make it totally hilarious and call them "Anonymous Niggarz", that'll be a hoot. All in jest, you know, and that term hardly offends anybody these days.

Use of the term "Cowards" implies and perpetuates a certain bias against anonymous posters. Need more proof of this bias? It turns out, apparently, that posts by "real people" are automatically given a score of one, whereas the "Anonymous Cowards" get a score of zero. I never noticed this before setting up an account.

In the US, anonymous speech is protected by the first amendment. In particuarly, political speech, such as anonymous pamphleteering, has recently been reaffirmed by the courts as protected speech. It is usually the only protection against the tyranny of the majority. This is not to say Rob MUST allow anonymous posting; it's his server, and he can pretty much do what he wants with it.

What what IS he doing with it? For one, he is recording your IP number every time you post, anonymously or not. (Use the source, Luke.) Why? The better to track you with, my dear, just in case you say something really unpopular, I suppose. You'd have to ask Rob why he'd want to be a target for some sue-happy bozo who decides they've got to know who wrote something uncomplementary about them. I guess if you're really paranoid, you could figure maybe the Feds (FBI, CIA, NSA, MiB) requested that he did do it for "legitimate law enforcement purposes". Hey, what better place to mine for crackers and other new talent?

So, here is how to really be anonymous on SlashDot:

First, you can avoid coughing up your IP by using an anonymizing web proxy [efga.org] that strips out your personal info.

Second, don't create a Slashdot account. Just stick it out with "Anonymous Coward"; It's less work, and you won't stand out. But if you want a name:

When you create your Slashdot account, you're required to give an e-mail address, obstensively to mail you your initial password. Now it could just tell you right there, or let you pick your own. The real purpose here is to provide another means for Rob to track you down. So, you have a couple of options:

  • Use one of those free e-mail services long enough to get the password. Make sure you use your anonymizing web proxy. HotMail and probably others log your IP, among other things.
  • Use a nymserver [publius.net] . This is the route I chose, to prove a point.

Third, when using your proxy, use it from a separate account (you have a Linux box, right? just make a new one). It's easier to maintain the settings you need in your browser that way. Otherwise, you need to make sure you refuse cookies from Slashdot. If you don't, the cookie Slashdot sends you when you post will reveal you once you turn the proxy back off (they tend to be too slow to leave on all the time). (Use the "Warn me before accepting a cookie" setting to see what I mean.)

So, remember this in case Rob has a change of heart and decides to ban anonymous postings all together, and you can still be anonymous.

Oh, and it wouldn't shock me in the least if this post disappeared, along with my account. If so, you can finger stupid at redneck dot efga dot org for my PGP key. My Slashdot account could disappear, but I won't.

Katz, I think you earned back a little respect, although the article seems like faint praise to me.

Anonymous Cowards is an insult (1)

jekk (15278) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032590)

Actually, it seems to me that having to accept the denegrating title of "Anonymous Coward" is a subtle, non-harmful way to push those who post towards doing so under their own name. No one who feels a real need to be shielded by the cloak of anonyminity will be disuaded from posting, but some who feel that they have something important to say and that their opinions ought to be heard will be impelled to take a step forward and post them under a name.

Now all we need is an Anonymous Coward filter. I wouldn't use it myself, but its very existance would strengthen the drive towards accepting responsibility for ones opinions, without prohibiting anyone from posting anonymously.

Anonymous Coward menu options (1)

alienmole (15522) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032591)

How about a limited menu of choices for anonymous user names, e.g.:

Anonymous Coward
Corporate Coward (for posters of sensitive info)
Anonymous OS Bigot (or *nix Bigot, Windows Bigot, Mac Bigot)
Anonymous Foul-Mouthed Jerk
Anonymous Troll

All intended tongue in cheek, of course, hopefully you get the idea. Who knows, some posters might actually choose appropriate categories.

Anonymous Cowards is an insult (1)

rvr (15565) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032592)

hm. i always thought it a little tongue in cheek. i hope that it doesn't change. even tho' i finally bothered to fill out a form i couldn't be bothered to sign in or whatever you're supposed to do. i'm too lazy to sent this, i'll have someone else press the button.

Being real (1)

Velocity (15687) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032593)

I recently had a discussion of similar content with some friends of mine, but it was more concerned with starting in the gaming arena. The idea was that you would have a unique signature that would identify you and that could not be spoofed. Therefore if you did something in a game that people didn't like, the admin could permanently block you from playing, rather than just blocking your IP which many people can get around by just reconnecting. This led to other stuff such as something which recorded everything you did so you could prove yourself innocent should you be accussed of doing something bad. This bothered me and the more ideas he presented the less I liked it. I do believe people should be responsible for their actions, but I don't really think an elaborate mechanism for enforcing it is the way to go.

As for the anonymous coward thing, I think I can see why people might be tempted to use it, the extra time to sign up for a /. account is more likely to cause you not to post at all, at least anon gives you a quicker way to post. But, assuming that everyone who wanted to post had an ID already, if you are going to say something you should be willing to identify yourself. Not that most of the discussions are anything more than flame wars with people bickering about the topic rather than discussing it. I guess what I'm saying is, if you don't like anonymous coward, then skip the posts by them. As people are ignored and their flame posts are not responded to, they may find that when they really have something to say they will stop being cowards and post it with their name on it.

This is news ? (1)

Eivind (15695) | more than 15 years ago | (#2032594)

I happen to agree with Katz on this one. But I fail to see why it's of interest to anyone what he think of the matter.

We all know there's good and bad sides to having ACs. I think the good sides outweigh the bad ones.

But that doesn't mean I submit this opinion of mine as a headline. What's interesting about it ? Theres no information whatsoever in your story Katz. All there is is a repeating of one of your favourite themes, the one about how much nicer people are in email than in public forums.

we've heard it before. It wasn't news the first time, and it's not getting fresher.

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