Kindergarten and the Anonymous Coward Rule

Last night I went to a parent-teacher conference at my son’s school. The teacher, who has thirty years experience as a teacher at all grade levels and has taught students who have smashed through their testing (especially in math…Jesus Christ), went through the curriculum to educate us parents on our kids’ progress. Even at the kindergarten level, the kids learn math, science, Chinese poetry, physical education, and reading/writing. “But,” she said, “the most important subject we teach is social studies. In social studies, they learn about world history, accepting different cultures, being open-minded to knowledge, and getting along with others. Working together is something that they’ll keep forever. In social studies, they learn to treat each other with respect and to take care of one another. This is the most important lesson I can teach them.” It reminded me of the title of that famous book: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

As I’ve learned through 5+ years of blogging, however, not everyone in the blogosphere went to the same kind of kindergarten. Or maybe certain people went to kindergarten but just found the lessons too difficult to learn. There are anonymous guys on this blog who think that it’s cool to dig shit up on women members and to attack them with sexist remarks. There are guys who pull up unsubstantiated statements about people, and there are men who harass women. Even after being called on it, some of these guys continue to act like anonymous tough guys. Here’s an anonymous dude right here who, safely behind his anonymous user name, attacked one of our longtime members with a comment on her looks, totally unprovoked and (really, by most people’s eyes) wrong. His quote:

Second if you are public and make such claims you are open for scrutiny.

Well, dude, where I come from, we espouse the values that King so eloquently describes:

My general rule of thumb is that a poster who cannot point us to his own Facebook page photos should not comment on the attractiveness of people who are brave enough to display their photos. If you want to complain about a woman’s looks, then show your own face first.

It’s general fair play, rules of conduct that most of us learn in kindergarten. I want people to come public. I want people/commenters, if they feel comfortable, to stand up and take ownership of their words. I don’t complain if people don’t want to do that–stuff you post online stays there forever, and I don’t expect people to necessarily want to claim their participation. Some of the best commenters here are anonymous. But I won’t stand silent while the cowards try to malign and harass those who are brave enough to display their photos with their real identity. I won’t stand silent while anonymous sexists try to silence good, strong Asian women.

After blogging 5+ years under the most tolerant kind of policy, I’m changing course. I’m invoking the Anonymous Coward Rule. I’m tired of people who don’t hold themselves to the same rule of conduct and respect that general Universal Morality holds as a given. I’m tired of it, and the valuable and good longtime commenters here are tired of it too. The valued and good members here know who they are. For the rest of you, if you get on our shit list by being a dick or by conducting yourself in a manner unbecoming of a general commenter, you don’t belong here. I’m sorry for all the anonymous jerks who enjoy attacking people behind the internet, but this is still an activist site where we share ideas and try to build people up, not a site where we smear the courageous while hiding behind an anonymous screen name. We’re raising the bar, and if you don’t meet the new standard, then you shouldn’t be commenting here.

31 thoughts on “Kindergarten and the Anonymous Coward Rule

  1. Wow another post dedicated to asking someone to leave within a month, your go to option when you don’t agree with something.

    Stick to your literature reviews if you don’t want any controversy, at least no one comments or cares about those posts.

    Should you continue to keep blogging about IR white guys with asian girls, HBD, PUA and I assume you will as these are the only posts where you get significant traffic your going to have to toughen up, or just keep banning people. Most likely you’ll choose the later.

    See ya

  2. WTF is going on here? Gone a few days and come back and read another past about asking someone to leave? In this case, while I don’t condone personal attacks, I can’t agree on this rule that a person cannot retain anonymity while making commentary. Granted, what I can see, this is about insulting another commentator’s looks, but the rule seems to be about that one cannot criticize without revealing one’s identity. There’s reasons why newspapers publish opinions anonymously. To my understanding of fair play, ad hominem personal attacks are wrong, anonymous commentary is not. Not willing to reveal one’s identity is not wrong and is not unfair play.

  3. I think there is a usual modicum of web etiquette that is generally accepted.

    Now, if a person posts a photo of themselves ON A PARTICULAR BLOG, then they are “out and identified” on that blog. It’s probably still in poor taste to insult their looks, but since they have posted their picture there, they must accept some of what comes with that.

    On the other hand, if a person has not posted a photo on a particular blog, then it is assumed that that person doesn’t want to be identified openly in that space—that is the most common level of courtesy. If someone doesn’t post pictures of their wife and minor children on a particular blog, then OBVIOUSLY you should have enough damn sense not to go digging them up from Facebook and posting them, complete with triumphant critique.

    This isn’t rocket science.

    As for running down women, based on their looks, I’m not sure what to say. Maybe I was just raised old fashioned, but for me such actions dishonor the disparager far more than the disparaged. If you feel that someone has spoken out of turn, then by all means, point it out, but there really is no need to refer to photos posted elsewhere on the web.

  4. I agree with everything Dreamer and King said.

    Anonymous commentary has its place. However, the blog moderator should reserve the right to block individual comments if they violate whatever guidelines he/she has in place. Maybe objectionable commenters need to be put on notice that if they keep making comments in that vein they will be banned.

  5. Please permit me to tell a little story:

    When I started blogging in 2005, the Nigerian blogosphere was an exciting place to be. We were a country young in its democracy and so many young minds were engaged in intellectual discourse, many of whom were resident outside of the country and thus had access to the internet. An online community was formed and so many came together to share ideas, debate vigorously and comment on what new directions, we as young adults could help shape our nation towards.

    Everyone had a handle that led to a blog where we could see what your views were about. Your own voice and your own space. And while we did not know each other’s real names, these online identities that we assumed ensured we were accountable for our comments, just as we were free to indeed comment.

    Then suddenly, a new breed of commenters began to show up. There were no links embedded in their names and they began to go by ‘Anonymous 3:45pm’ or ‘Anonymous 6:25 am’. And what was their purpose: to cause chaos. They could not disagree without interjecting an insult. They could not argue without attacking people and their families; and for a culture where everything is tied to family, blogs were people were debating issues like polygamy, children’s rights, women’s rights, fashion, whatever would be turned upside its head for 48 hours while each person duked it out verbally. Each, giving as good as it gets.

    So, what happened? Gradually, the bloggers began to withdraw. Leaving these anonymous troublemakers to take center stage. Then came a crop of religious bloggers, defaulting to religion as protection against attack because no one ‘questions the holy book’. So in less than a year, the community was gone. A few of us remained to fight on but gradually found ourselves migrating to other forums from other cultures, seeking some intellectual stimulation in what was being presented and discussed. Today, the most popular Nigerian blogs cover societal gossip. We went from a ‘New York Times’-esque group to ‘OK Magazine’

    The whole thing played out like metaphor for the country’s demise when in the 1970s after the civil war and independence, the youth were filled with hope and plans. Then useless people came, introduced a military and like vagabonds, beat the light out of everything. And now, no one wants to think. It’s much easier to be fixated on stupid things like how much your slippers cost or who just bought a car. No one is creating anything.

    Now you can say, what the hell is this African talking about? We are here arguing about the right to say someone is ugly or get a chick as an Asian male and you are pulling for your first novel…

    I’ll say, this site is a good resource to have. It’s a place where you can mingle with your ‘peers’ and learn something new. No one is saying you have to agree with all that is said here. As someone who is neither Asian nor male, I find a lot of the discussions here, interesting. There are respectful ways to disagree.
    Don’t ruin it by fighting the coward fight. Speak if what you have to say is true, necessary or kind. Listen if what you are hearing is new, different and wide. And remember, if you don’t like it, there are so many other places, you could be.
    This is your own nation. Keep it.

  6. “Now you can say, what the hell is this African talking about?”

    She is talking about human nature, and also human choice.
    A word to the wise should be sufficient.

  7. Dreamer,

    “In this case, while I don’t condone personal attacks, I can’t agree on this rule that a person cannot retain anonymity while making commentary.”

    I agree with you.

    Above, I wrote, “I don’t complain if people don’t want to do that–stuff you post online stays there forever, and I don’t expect people to necessarily want to claim their participation. Some of the best commenters here are anonymous.”

    I’m not saying that anonymous people can’t comment or critique, or even throw jabs here and there, as people often do in debates. As Eurasian Sensation says, anonymous commentary has its place. Think of all the names here that are anonymous to the world: King, Eurasian Sensation, lingyai, urb4n, mojorider, leon, ricecakerabbit, am/af couple, catwalq, etc. Most people here are anonymous. But most also adhere to general guidelines of acceptable social behavior. Going after a guy’s family or attacking a woman’s look is not acceptable. You wouldn’t do it in real life. And it’s especially low when a person remains anonymous while doing it. It’s like a sneak attack.

    And yes, I had to do another post asking someone to leave. But it’s over the same infraction. Hopefully we won’t have to do this again now that it’s officially part of the comment policy.

    King/Eurasian/Catwalq,

    It’s like they actually take the EFFORT to go out of their way to smear women based on looks. I may be old fashioned too, because it ain’t what grandma taught me.

    Great story, Catlwalq. And yes, that was exactly what I was thinking, only you said it better! A place where people are afraid to post info about themselves because of the anonymous riff raff is not a fun place to be.

    There are definitely different kinds of communities out there. On 8Asians, if you’re a blogger, it’s REQUIRED that you have a public photo, and yet it’s against their comment policy to make disparaging remarks about a person’s looks. If you’re a NY Times columnist on nytimes.com (David Brooks, Tom Friedman, Maureen Dowd, etc.) , it’s the same deal–photo required, disparaging comments about looks not allowed.

    On the other hand, there are places where disparaging comments are allowed, even encouraged. Hotornot.com, for example: if you post up there, expect to hear both positive and negative remarks. Anything goes with reality shows and fashion celebrities: it’s comes with the territory if you’re in that industry. Models and actors rise or fall based on the way they look.

    For me, I’d like to think of this as a place where people can be anonymous or “real,” but that they would still interact as if it were a real life interaction. You can comment on a rich and famous celebrity, anonymously or not, because models, actors, and actresses are part of that industry. You can do it in a nice way–which I think most of us do. But to be anonymously pissing on other commenters’ looks or attacking the families of other commenters as a way to silence them–that’s where we gotta invoke the new rule because, as your example shows, it sucks when the community is bending over backward to accommodate people who just don’t have any respect for the community in the first place.

  8. I wanted to say this in the last thread, but it was closed before I had a chance.

    Tz is way prettier than Gong Li!

  9. B, you probably need tighter moderation of your site then. People might get the wrong message and think this place is a free for all since you allow some leniency on personal attacks from some posters. Attacking people for no reason isnt cool.

  10. You know, Chen, I hate moderating. And I’m not the only moderator who hates moderating. I think I banned maybe five people total in my tenure at the 44s. I just wish people would use some common decency–i.e. it’s not cool to launch sexist attacks on individual commenters by looking up their pictures and taking cheap shots. I don’t think I’ve ever allowed that from any poster.

    You see, I thought this new rule was common sense. King and others thought so too. Obviously it wasn’t. Hopefully the new rules (we now have three rules altogether) will provide some guidance on how this place ought to work.

    I do admit that I am sometimes too lenient. Hopefully we can get people set on track.

  11. People might get the wrong message when reason and empathy is continuously met with obstinate stupidity and arguments running pages long but going around in circles. If a malcontent can’t put forth a worthy perspective, can’t defend himself or his points with reason even when treated with respect and empathy, why not just run him out? Look at that Siegfried guy and just about every fragile white guy that comes in here and gets all offended, or thinks that a minority blog is a good place to get some laughs. They obviously want “rules” that they can cleave to in the letter while violating its spirit. Save time, just recognize them and run them all out.

    It’s just a suggestion, btw. I know that my ways don’t appeal to everybody.

  12. ok, good

    I’ll help you and call out any poster that attacks or disparages any other poster.

    Just tell me who your sock puppets are beforehand. lol j/k

  13. Chen,

    Understand that light jabs are perfectly okay, as it’s okay to question a person’s motives or undermine their logic based on his/her own words. Just about anything you would see in a televised political debate is fair game. We’ll also allow attacking anonymous short-term trolls who aren’t here for a discussion and introduce themselves with incendiary bs. You know who they are. Siggy posts because he likes us teasing him. That’s the nature of his relationship with us.

    If you look at the longtime commenters (and some more recent ones) here, they are perfect models for how debate should be carried out. For examples, look at commenters like kobukson, Hertsel, King, sohnsaengnim, Eurasian Sensation, lingyai, urb4n, N, mojorider, leon, ricecakerabbit, am/af couple, catwalq, tz, linda, larry, robert (the white Robert), alpha-asian, etain, chinesemom, mamanabi, P2H, nottyboy, danny lee, frank chow, jeff@8Asians, and others who’ve been here a long time. That’s how our online debate should take place.

    And yeah, don’t think of calling out any of the people I just mentioned. It would be like calling the police, and they ARE the police. BWAHAHAHAHA!

    But yeah, feel free to call out people who break the rules.

  14. Adding to that point, I’m thinking of posting a “street cred” list of members who are leaders of this site. The 44s had one with their black belts. This site should probably have one too. It helps to have some kind of discipline among the brand new trolls who like to piss all over the table. If anyone thinks this is a good idea or bad idea, feel free to sound off.

  15. “Look at that Siegfried guy and just about every fragile white guy that comes in here and gets all offended,

    Oh no!! NOT Seigfried!!
    He’s our comic relief!!!! We mustn’t ban his ridiculous antics!

  16. I’m actually starting to believe that Siegfried might be an undercover Asian hipster dude being “ironic”. No one can be that dumb in real life.

  17. ^ I’m already visualizing it, King. Trucker hat, converse sneakers, chain wallet, and typing on an Ipad.

  18. I think that it’s a bad idea. And back that reasoning based on that ideas should be judged by how logical, reasonable, and most of all – truthful the idea given. It takes a step towards ideas being judged by his/her status rather than the content of the statement or even the history of the commentator.

    Picking moderators is something I find more likable.

  19. Ah, I wish this place have edit comment…

    I forgot to bring up one more thing. I did read that line that you quoted, but I also noticed that the justification afterwards is the invocation of “the anonymous cowards rule” not the “trolling rule” or the “flaming rule” or the “personal attack rule.” Basically, the incorrect act is because it is done in bad faith, malice, or the ad hominem nature of something as insulting a person, but because he was anonymous. I cannot abide by that logic.

    Now, I just had an idea that just come to my head. This is definitely off topic and perhaps I should post this half on the “first move” thread, but I want to keep where I got this idea from and treat it more as direct statement to bigWowo than a new conversation point. I was about to type “ad hominen nature of something as insulting a person by looks ” rather than the above. This make me realize this is a good point I can make here on that debate that you probably not aware you just demonstrate. One more example of powers that women have that men don’t. Sympathy. Most of the time in society, when we see a women ruined or destitute, we are much more likely to be sympathetic and willing to come to aid that person. For a man, he is much more likely to be told that he deserved it or to own up to his mistakes. The natural social convention goes to the women, not to the men. The ability to approach a girl and make the first move is not the correct example. Because this is not a chess game, this is a salesmanship game. You did counter that a good salesman can make it his game, but it doesn’t make the market. What happens on average make it either a seller’s maker or a buyer’s market. I think I will copy and past this over to the other post.

  20. “Most of the time in society, when we see a women ruined or destitute, we are much more likely to be sympathetic and willing to come to aid that person. ”

    No need to post it twice; I see both threads.

    Yeah, that’s true. But does it overcome all the other advantages that men have?

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  22. I posted twice because I wanted this one to just show where I got the logic from. I don’t want to derail the thread. In this thread, I don’t like the anonymous coward’s rule because the rule is about being anonymous rather than trolling or personal attacks (AKA flaming). If it is about that, then rule to invoke is trolling or flaming.

  23. Actually, that thread have long moved on to talking about PUA and I don’t much much to add that isn’t already said. I’ll answer your question there. The example I put forward is a big example of privileges the “fairer sex” (words like that also is another privilege women enjoy, as if we’re the unfair sex). I disagree with your concept of first move as an advantage. As this is more of a game of salesmanship rather than chess. In fact, unlike chess, if she makes the first move (rare, but I seen some), it greatly helps than hurt.

  24. Flaming and trolling are already against the rules.

    But yeah, you get props if you’re willing to stand up and out yourself. If there’s a face behind the comments, we ought to protect that person, much the same way the American law system gives a person a right to face an accuser. It’s a matter of respect to those who are willing to step up and be heard and seen.

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