Returning to the Cornwall Free News, after my summer hiatus, has me thinking about how I could start a in depth conversation amongst all the bloggers about the use of pseudonyms.
I strongly believe that pseudonyms or those who post comments using a name other than their own can be used to help people add or contribute to discussions without the fear of retribution from family members, political parties or place of work. Some people are afraid to speak freely and many media sites, such as the Cornwall Free News, are beginning or have always seen the advantages brought to the discussions when pseudonyms are used.
A city worker may, for example, be free to speak about some issues that they would like to see changed without the fear of losing their job for insubordination. The same can be said for any employee who simply may not want to offend their peers, superiors or clients who they may share a difference of opinion with and do not wish to cause personal conflict or lose their business.
The Abuse of Pseudonyms
Even though pseudonyms are useful they are currently being abused by far too many. For example if a blogger, which is the proper term for those who leave comments that are time stamped, makes an entry or a comment that personally attacks an individual then it should not be allowed. Even if the blogger implies or suggests something derogatory about another blogger it should be deemed as inappropriate and disallowed.
Ultimately, comments about a story or article should be based on the topic and although they may be allowed in the spirit of blogging; if the topic is defamatory or contains comments attacking other people then it should not be allowed!
Why would we allow bloggers to personally attack people using a pseudonym? Is this necessary? No it is not necessary and those web-sites that do not have the capability to monitor their sites should simply not allow blogs but should consider something similar to “a letter to the editor’’ where pseudonyms become inappropriate and full names are generally used; which is OK!
Cornwall Agree to a Common Policy
To prevent the abuse or misuse of pseudonyms a few basic rules should apply to all of us.
- All web-sites, that allow comments, should pre-monitor their comments and should never allow aggressive, insulting or any defamatory comments unless it is in the form of a “letter to the editor” or “thumbs down” and contains the writer’s real name.
- All of these “aggressive” letters should have to register with a valid e-mail along with their real name.
- Pseudonyms should not be allowed to harm an individual, business or organization but to allow those to provide an opinion without the fear of reprisal.
Why do we need a Policy
We need a stricter policy to protect people from being harmed due to the use of pseudonyms. At the heart of the debate is how pseudonyms can be useful vs. how they can be destructive! Pseudonyms were essentially created to protect people and not to harm people. If a pseudonym is used to protect a bully then the nature of its use is being tainted! Any web-site allowing this form of defamation should reconsider their policy and ensure they protect not only the people and organizations in our community but itself from outside scrutiny.
(Comments and opinions of Editorials, Letters to the Editor, and comments from readers are purely their own and don’t necessarily reflect those of the owners of this site, their staff, or sponsors.)