Anonymity == Gutless?

One of the things that Noon Silk brought over here in the comments is that anonymity is actually OK. He was responding to a comment by my co-worker Philip Beadle who suggested (paraphrasing) that you might lack courage if you didn’t state your name in a public forum.

I don’t really know where I stand on this one. On one hand anonymity is a right that we associate with voting, a very democratic institution, and there are groups out there that promote our right to privacy.

However I do find that when you are forced to be accountable for what you say you approach it in a more diplomatic way (well most people do anyway). Not only because there are repercussions but also because in this industry there is a very real chance that you’ll end up having to work with the person sitting across the table from you.

So is choosing remain anonymous gutless, or is it a way of ensuring that you can say exactly what you mean so that you can get your message across. I’d probably prefer to be out in the open in most occasions, but sometimes I have chosen to remain anonymous so I can’t throw stones.

8 thoughts on “Anonymity == Gutless?

  1. Scott Bellware

    Yes, anonymity is gutlessness.

    Putting your name behind your public commentary means having the courage of your convictions. Without doing so, there’s no courage, and without an expression of a willingness to have courage when offering a dissenting position, we’re offering our opponents little more respect than a hit and run insult.

    If we feel strongly-enough to add our voices to the fray, we should have the guts to identify ourselves. If you can’t say something without doing so in anonymity, you’re simply not of the same caliber as someone who is in fact willing to speak up and to put himself on the line for what he believes.

    Cowardice is a commodity that the read/write web has far too much of, and the idiocy that cowardice and its predispositions enables is undermining our ability to advance intellectually.

  2. anon3

    I’d rather be anonymous in the case of ‘who is nick’ because it would be easy to associate my views with that of my employer, who happen to be a competitor of Readify.
    The issues that I’ve discussed regarding the MVP program etc, have been in good taste, although you always run the risk with written words that they may be taken the wrong way.
    And like you point out, it would be crazy to flame someone in this industry, it’s just too small.

  3. doobi

    You need a mix of both.

    I use a consistent pseudonym across the various internet resources I use which gives me an online persona of repute without compromising my actual identity.

    Sort of like a superhero outfit😉

  4. Mitch Denny Post author

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for your opinion. What about Silky’s comment (on the other post) about how anonymity doesn’t necessarily make what you are saying wrong. So, for example (and I’m creating a situation here) – lets say I work for a company that is doing something wrong (i.e. against the law) and coming out in the public and saying it would mean I loose my job (or worse), is it OK to anonymously leak some information?

    If that is OK (don’t want to put words in your mouth) then surely anonymity has its uses and its just a question of the circumstances in which you remain anonymous?

  5. IT Consultant

    Being Anon is good and bad, and you cannot call that gutless. There are situations where you cannot revel your true id. For example, if you are discussing a personal matter over the net, would you want the world to know about that?

  6. silky

    Certainly it’s useful.

    Regarding company mis-deeds there is: http://wikileaks.org/

    Scott is obviously partially correct; it’s good to be open when possible, to back your claims with the weight of not being scared of being identified.

    But when it comes to serious issues; that could get you fired/murdered (maybe by your government) obviously anonymity is important.

    This is part of the reason that I have such strong hate towards google on various fronts; the aggregation of data and their attempts to analyse you. But this isn’t the place for that rant🙂

    Personally I don’t pay much if *any* attention to who is actually saying what until it becomes relevant. I feel like it would almost be better if arguments were just carried out based on the internal merit of the argument; not on the ego’s/history of the people doing the arguing. That can come into play later.

  7. Rog42

    Thanks Mitch for providing this (yet another🙂 forum for the *spin-off” series to my blog post.

    Personally, I agree that anonymity has it’s uses. I come from a country where freedom had to be fought for, often violently, and needed a Truth and Reconciliation Committee to ensure ongoing safety.

    However, I also believe that to move forward successfully, we need to be able to receive and respond to, critical feedback. I want to do that, especially in the case of “Nick’s” comments. Unfortunately, however, by being anonymous in that case, I don’t have the opportunity to discuss the issues effectively.

    What “Nick’s” motivations (for anonymity) were I cannot deduce. Perhaps he works for a competitor and is concerned, perhaps he didn’t think I would publish, or respond to his comment, perhaps he simply didn’t take the time to complete the contact fields.

    Either way, I am always committed to improving our engagement, and enabling relationships. To resolving conflict. To do that I need to be able to have a meaningful conversation, without the emotive (some call it flaming) bias that seems to be prevalent with some comments. Of course I’ll listen to anyone’s genuine grievances.

    If “Nick” wants to remain anonymous, all he needs to do is simply contact me directly via Twitter (http://twitter.com/Rog42), email (mailto:Roger.Lawrence@microsoft.com), by phone to Microsoft in North Ryde, or by arranging a F2F meeting.

    So, no, in summary, I DON’T think Anonymous == Gutless – but I DO think that Conversation == Resolution🙂

    R42

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