Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Anonymity and Climbing Blogs

In the past day or so I have been visited and revisited (cyberstalked?) by an anonymous commenter who has decided to call him/herself "Kimbo" regarding the issue of what constitutes a legitimate free ascent of a big wall. While I have been reconsidering some of my opinions about this matter and doing some research to be presented in a later post, I have been treated to a number of aggressive comments about my " misguided and ignorant" attitude and how I "simply dislike counterveiling(sic) opinions" and while the first is always a possibility, the second is simply not true.

In short what I dislike is one-way communication across a wall of anonymity that seems mostly to consist of personal attacks and mischaracterizations. While "Kimbo" insists that identity doesn't matter, only opinions and arguments, given the tenor of his/her remarks, I would be interested to know if he/she has the courage to put a genuine name and face to the comments I have had posted to my blog. I would leave it to my readers to ask themselves if they would care to receive or argue with these comments. So if "Kimbo" feels like stepping up to the plate and giving a genuine identity I will post all the most recent comments from him/her and let readers decide for themselves what they would do with them.

7 comments:

tommytissue said...

i guess i have a question. it seems like you almost answered it in the post, but you stopped just shy of resolution.

do you think an identity position (and its accompanying politics) matters in an online dispute? the poster's credibility might be altered a smidgen from a 'real life' face, but it seems the 'courage' required to name his virtual self has very little to do with the cogency of his claims.

question aside, it sounds like he is just trolling. if it were me i'd post them and then lay down a solid trouncing. of course, i kinda get off on pounding interweb trolls. to each their own i guess.

either way, i trust you to make the right decision despite your "misguided and ignorant attitude".

/wink

cheers!

tommy wilson

Julian said...

Have you ever heard the old saw about politics in academia? The line is something like "University politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low."

These debates give me the same feeling. Often the argument is over a minute, esoteric distinction but the rhetoric gets very heated very quickly.

Bummer it happened here. Hope it quiets down soon.

Dan Levison said...

This reminds me of the old climbingboulder.com days, when users would do reverse DNS searches, IP address sniffing, and other tracking methods to determine the identity of hostile AC and/or fictitious user names usually posted by drunken (anonymous) individuals at public libraries and cyber cafes.

Peter Beal said...

Hi Tommy,
An identity position matters as it forces the speaker to ask if he/she would do the same things publicly. Even, maybe especially, "Anonymous" has a political position. If there is a reluctance by a subject to say the same things as an identified individual that one would say anonymously, clearly something is wrong. Maybe "Kimbo" is worried about retribution from me(unlikely) or more likely worried that people might read the kinds of things I am getting and say, "Do I really know this person and is this person someone I want to know in the future?" From a virtue ethics standpoint,for example, "Kimbo" is hardly acting virtuously.

If "Kimbo" is seriously interested in a discussion, there are conventions of argumentative discourse that facilitate exchange of views and recognition of different positions. Anonymity and name-calling are not examples of them.

Julian you are exactly right and indeed academia operates on many of the same protocols of anonymity in student evaluations, article review, and tenure votes, each of which perpetuates exactly the ill feelings they are intended to prevent, though I am not sure if they are intended ultimately to perpetuate the opposite climate.

Dan I remember the good old days of "Anonymous Coward." "Kimbo" has pointed out that fictitious identities are all too easy to create so what's the point of insisting on identity? Fair enough but it begs the question of what "Kimbo" has to hide. If "Kimbo" can't bring him/herself to reveal a true identity, I have trouble listening to anything more, especially when couched in aggressive and even personal language. That's why I have always made it clear who I am and why I believe what I do--to be taken seriously even if I am wrong.

tommy said...

you are correct. again. /sniffle

Seth said...

Intardweb trolls... gotta love'em.

They always make for good entertainment.
(at least for the first day, and then they're just annoying).

It's your blog Peter, do with it what you will. IP ban is always a good place to start if you don't want his kind lurking around here.

Odub said...

I have some words for these anonymous trolls in my next Deadpoint Magazine song... you should check it out!