Stef (firecat) wrote,

Pseudonymity and flaming

Bonnie L. Nadri on pseudonyms (the post is public so you don't have to be on G+ to read it):
Large excerpt:
The practice of pseudonymous communication is a foundational cornerstone upon which much of American history and culture rests; it was and remains one of the chief mechanisms by which dissent and civic protest occur, and it is integral to the activity of engaging civically as well as socially in our country.

During the days of separation and independence from England, the founding fathers of our country engaged in the use of pseudonyms to communicate dissent and to both arrange and conduct activities central to the establishment of our country; chief among their goals was to assure "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for themselves and their descendants.

Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, collectively writing under the pseudonym "Publius", are credited with authorship of The Federalist Papers; they were far from alone in the recognition of the benefits and valid uses of the pseudonym; many of our major, political figures of the time engaged in this activity:

Did they do so because they were "disgusting, filthy, untoward, and prurient persons"?

Did they do so to engage in nefarious or otherwise detrimental causes?

Did they do so to trick or otherwise defraud people?

To a one, the answer, resoundingly, is, "No."

Throughout human history, the pseudonym has been a stoic banner under which all manner of discourse proceeded that would otherwise have be forcibly silenced. It has served artists, authors, musicians, and philosophers as well as it has politicians; and in every such case, it has provided the means by which a great many instances of beauty, literature, symphony, thought, and social evolution/progress proceeded.
"Removing anonymity won't stop the online flame wars" by Laura Marcus
Again and again we hear the suggestion that if only people would use their "real" names when commenting on blogs and sites such as the Guardian's, everything would be sweetness and light. Wouldn't it? New research suggests not, says psychology lecturer Dr Ros Dyer, who researched computer mediated communication for her PhD at Staffordshire University.

In fact, contrary to expectations, her experiments demonstrated that students who were familiar with each other took more liberties on screen, not fewer. "There was four times as much flaming when they knew each other than when they didn't," Dyer says. There was also - dating sites take note - more flirting when people used their own names.

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