Wednesday, April 19, 2006

I could never be an Ent . . .

. . . because I am too hasty. If Patterico's allegations against Michael Hiltzik (referenced below) can't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, then we will both look stupid. So watch this space.

Hiltzik emailed me to say I had this all wrong, and that I was giving undue emphasis to this anonymity issue. He pointed out that many of Patterico's commentators go under pseudonyms.

Here is my reply:

Hi Michael:

As you may know from my blog posting, I said that Independent Sources probably did violate its own privacy policy, and Nofan had a right to be pissed off. I should have made this clear on my comment on Independent Sources. But man o man, if what Patterico says is true, it doesn't look good for you. One of you will have egg on his face. (And me too, if Patterico can't back up what he said).

Tell you what: If Patterico can't prove his case, I'll profusely apologize to you in comments on Independent Sources and my blog AND condemn Patterico's allegation. This shouldn't take more than a few days to resolve.

Getting back to the privacy policy: If a Web site changes it policy, and announces the change, then people are warned. The big issue here is whether the site is obeying its rules, and whether posters are adequately informed.And there is a reasonable rationale for not allowing people to post both under their own name and a pseudonym: it can be deceptive.

"Fundamentally, this whole hue and cry about anonymity or pseudonyms on blogs is just ridiculous. Most of Patterico's commenters post anonymously. Is he saying they're all me? Or just the ones who contradict him?"

There is nothing at all wrong with anonymity per se. However, I can see where it can be used for deception. John Lott and his pseudonym "Mary Rosh" is an extreme example. NOT that I am saying this is like what happened here. In general, anyone who posts under multiple identities is in danger of being found out by easily available technology such as IP logging.

For the record, I agree that cable companies and telephone companies are acting in an unholy monopolistic manner, with at least one honorable exception (Cox Communications, which seems to be adhering to net neutrality). And I have written about my disdain for AT&T/SBC's monopolistic greed.

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