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Quote of the day

From Randy Cohen, about the role of anonymous commenting on the Internet:

Has anonymous posting, though generally protected by law, become so toxic that it should be discouraged?

It has. To promote the social good of lively conversation and the exchange of ideas, transparency should be the default mode. And that goes both for lofty political discourse and casual comments on Amazon. “Says who?” is not a trivial question. It deepens the reader’s understanding to know who is speaking, from what perspective, with what (nutty?) history, and with what personal stake in the matter. It encourages civility and integrity in the writer to stand behind her words. There are times when anonymous posting is necessary, when disclosure is apt to bring harsh retribution — I’ll come to that — but more often, anonymous posting sustains a culture, or at least a hideous subculture, of calumny and malice so caustic as to inhibit the very discourse the Web can so admirably enable. Writers should not do it, and Web site hosts should not allow it.

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