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Will Real Name Policies Improve Comments? 264

Posted by samzenpus
from the name-and-user-number dept.
TechCrunch has a story about the recent trend of websites wanting users to use their real names in an attempt to make comments better. The story points out that the practice didn't work in South Korea. From the article: "...In 2007, South Korea temporarily mandated that all websites with over 100,000 viewers require real names, but scrapped it after it was found to be ineffective at cleaning up abusive and malicious comments (the policy reduced unwanted comments by an estimated .09%). We don’t know how this hidden gem of evidence skipped the national debate on real identities, but it’s an important lesson for YouTube, Facebook and Google, who have assumed that fear of judgement will change online behavior for the better."
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Will Real Name Policies Improve Comments?

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  • by Tim Ward (514198) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:23PM (#40809941) Homepage

    Eventually people will realise that employers Google these things, and that posting nasty stuff means you can't get work.

    But this could take a generation to work through.

  • by punit_r (1080185) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:27PM (#40809979)

    Does Slashdot have any statistics to share on the percentage of troll posts / off topics and flamebaits by ACs vis-a-vis registered users ?

    Agreed, that registered users may not be using real names. But, still Anonymous comments v/s registered comments will provide a good starting point. My gut feeling is that the statistics would have a higher number of ACs being abusive and malicious than the registered users.

  • No. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ildon (413912) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:32PM (#40810037)

    You might get less trolling (but not much less) but you'll miss out on a lot of extremely useful comments that can only be made anonymously or semi-anonymously. Some people are too shy or scared to speak out without anonymity, some just value their privacy. You'll almost never get insight from insiders at a company without some level of anonymity. Too much good value is lost for too small a reduction in bad comments, and bad comments can be controlled by good moderation anyway.

  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:36PM (#40810061) Homepage
    Facebook has proven people are happy to harrass or say retarded things even under their real name.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:41PM (#40810131)

    I've found that moving from anonymity to real-identity based comments (i.e. Facebook) just makes comment board much less interesting.

    The SJ Mercury News switched to FB comments a year or 2 ago, and after the switch, I stopped reading the comments (and the site) because the comments switched from controversial discussion (and yes, even some trolls and personal attacks) to boring "Yeah, me too buddy" comments.

    On Slashdot, I often post anecdotes from current and past jobs, and I wouldn't do so if my name was attached to the post.

  • by Znork (31774) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @03:52PM (#40810261)

    Actually, it means you can't post personal stuff, as you'd find that employers would refrain from hiring people for everything from their political view through religion to sexual preferences, medical issues or even hobbies. In fact, a whole lot of things that _shouldn't_ be a problem are far more likely to be a problem than some bad behaviour.

    Then one'd try and fail to rectify those issues by a vast and comprehensive anti-discrimination law(book), while internet asshats plead tourettes and keep trolling.

    Banning anonymous speech mostly bans speech that shouldn't be banned.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday July 29, 2012 @04:08PM (#40810379)

    "But this could take a generation to work through."

    It will never get that far.

    An awful lot of people understand that freedom of speech requires the ability to speak anonymously (precisely because others will be seeing that speech and judging it). Imagine if the United States were like some countries, in which political dissidence could get you killed or imprisoned for life? Would you dare say anything against the government, using your real name?

    This employment situation is merely a small-scale version of the same kind of tyranny.

    Several states have already passed laws that prevent employers from using social network content in their hiring practices, or requiring account credentials. I expect soon that will be most states, or even a Federal law.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Sunday July 29, 2012 @04:23PM (#40810489) Journal

    While I see no point in making everyone use real name accounts I don't see any reason why every site should allow ACs unless they just wants lots of trolls and flames. I mean once in a while we'll see an insightful AC comment but for every one of those we'll see a dozen "nigger faggot shill" comments that just derail conversations.

    Now as for whether your real name matters? It depends on who you're asking. If its some nosy Nellie in HR or some potential employer? Then yes they would have a field day finding every stupid thing you have ever said on the net. if its the courts or the cops? Sheeeit, Google done got you by the balls friend, its really not hard to find out everything you've done between Google and the ISP, not to mention I'm sure they have that nifty software that looks for common phrases that people use in their everyday speech. Its been proven time and again whether speaking or typing we tend to fall into patterns which is easy enough to pick up with software or even by a person if they've read enough of your writings.

    So while I'm 100% for free speech and think nobody should be forced to make real name accounts (although if they are too lazy to make up any account at all i don't see why they should be allowed to get in on the conversation) but more importantly maybe this will wake up John and Jane Public and make them realize that privacy on the net is an illusion. You'd be surprised how many people truly believe the net is like some magic black hole, where once it goes into the cloud its completely untraceable and they can be as big an asshole as they want and it can NEVER come back to bite them in the ass. Hell look at how many still haven't realized the shit they post on FB can come back to bite them in the ass. The public needs to be smacked with a big old cluebat in this area and if fighting to keep from having to use our real names is what it takes? Well then maybe some good will come from the fight.

  • by Gerzel (240421) <brollyferret@NoSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday July 29, 2012 @04:33PM (#40810567) Journal

    The only problem is everyone at some point posts nasty stuff, and at many points it is fully justified.

    You could get a cooling effect on free speech if all potential employers are going to rate their employees by their non-work related speech. Sure you don't want to hire a KKK clansman but what about an atheist? Does a Libertarian employer have the right to refuse to hire a Communist or Socialist employee? What about one that is merely Liberal? What about someone who argues for pornagraphy and/or erotic art?

    There are many decisive issues that we need to be able to freely discuss in online and public forums without fear of those discussions damning our chances at attaining our livelyhoods.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday July 29, 2012 @05:12PM (#40811023) Homepage Journal

    Requiring an account is a good thing because it lets you track reputation, but requiring real names is bad because it has a chilling effect on speech.

    Requiring accounts is like requiring a SSL certificate, it doesn't prove who you're talking to but it does give a good indication that you're talking to the same person you were talking to yesterday.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 29, 2012 @11:17PM (#40813945)

    Anonymous comments are particularly useful when we're discussing a controversial issue where customers/employees of a particular vendor really doesn't want to be identified. I can think of several inside sources in the past who have commented here under the Anonymous Coward banner and have been extremely insightful. How many of those people are going to bother signing up for a throwaway email account, signing up for a slashdot account, posting, and then cleaning up their browsing history just for our benefit?

It is wrong always, everywhere and for everyone to believe anything upon insufficient evidence. - W. K. Clifford, British philosopher, circa 1876

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