Friday, 13 March 2009

Trolls and anonymity

Mark at KitchenSlut pointed me to John Quiggin, a prominent academic ‘left wing’ economist, who is debating the way in which people comment and engage in debate on his blog.

He highlights Clive Hamilton's piece on Crikey attacking the state of discussion on the Internet, an interesting read.

Many times on CairnsBlog the subject has been raised by myself, Syd Walker, Andrew Griffiths, to name a few. And you couldn't get three more different commentators than us. I wonder what we would talk about if we ever got together for dinner?!

I have a comments policy on this blog, and encourage everyone to stick to the subject under debate, and also use their name, or at least a nickname. Many opponents of the subject I raise, rarely use their name. There's a clear pattern there.

As Hamilton says, maintaining a productive discussion isn’t easy, and a lot of blogs and other sites don’t even try. However, John Quiggin doesn’t think that’s enough to support the conclusion that...
  • If free speech means encouraging a free-flowing dialogue that draws the public into an exploration of alternative ideas and enriches civic culture, then the Internet is its enemy.

He says that anonymity is the central problem when making public commentary. Unlike Quiggin, my experience is the opposite in that the worst and most persistent trolls are those people posting under fake nic names.

I would encourage anyone, to engage in this forum provided, but stand up and be counted.

6 comments:

Syd Walker said...

I'm sad to say that Clive Hamilton, whom I used to know a little and respect a good deal, has lost the plot.

Over the years, while working at the Australia Institute, Clive did some proficient environmental advocacy.

But these days he seems to spend most of his time advocating Internet censorship and wagging a prudish finger against the wicked ways of the world.

His dogamtic, one-eyed promotion of compulsory government censorship of the Internet since 2003 has led me to question his motives, as well as his arguments.

I have written quite extensively on this - see Clive Hamilton & I: Getting Personal about Sex, Lies, Hate & Censorship for instance. To my knowledge, Clive has never offered any reply.

So much for "an exploration of alternative ideas".

The most serious response we've ever had from Clive on the central concern that the Rudd Government's censorship plans will ultimately be used for political and ideological censorship is his claim that the suggestion is a just a "red herring".

Academics may have been able to get away with that kind of trite, evasive put-down, before ideas were exposed to interactive critical readership through the web.

Not any more.

KitchenSlut said...

I don't think Clive has totally lost the plot although not someone I would be inclined to agree with naturally anyway.

However as an internet addict I would love to believe as many do the liberalising diversification of views and news now available.

However, i'm not convinced this happens. Particularly, as an amateur student of psychology I note the influence of the well researched concept of 'confirmation bias' whereby dear old Syd can google and confirm and spruik and promote any bias that he likes including links to promote that the Jews are responsible for all significant events over the last century?!

Certifiably weird?!

Syd Walker said...

You're at it again, Kitchenslut, Mark or whoever you are -misrepresenting my views to other readers. You are like a stuck record. Why behave in such a peevish way?

If people want to read what I write, they can. They can form their own view about my material and make their own comments if they wish.

Your sad attempts to simplify and distort my opinions are beneath contempt. You have an obsession. Get over it.

I do agree with you on one thing. You are an "amateur student of psychology".

I've written about Clive's latest article in a A Brutopia of Trolls and Ogres?.

Intelligent comments welcome, which probably excludes you, Mark.

Incidentally, there was a remarkable twist in the Internet censorship saga today - check out ACMA forces Whirlpool to remove link to banned anti-abortion web page.

Conroy's censorship plans have turned into extreme farce. How long do we have to put up with this utter incompetent as Communications Minister? The damage he's doing to the Rudd Government must concern anyone who cares to see it re-elected. I do hope Jim Turnour reads this blog. If Labor goes into the next election with the albatros of Web Censorship hanging round its neck, I do not fancy its chances.

Mark said...

Syd Walker, don't bring me into this one. Sounds like you're a bit rattled, but not me mate.

Clifton Ratbags Rule said...

You're a piece of work, Syd. It's one thing to disagree with Clive - but to suggest that you're "owed" a response to the drivel that you continually spew is really rich.

We liked you much better when you were shilling the impossible fantasy-world idea of a train from your front door to the rest of the world, that runs on YOUR schedule. Stick with one project at a time, to avoid taxing yourself too much.

Syd Walker said...

ACMA: Anti-Abortionists, or Idiots? gives an overview of the Whirpool story. My take, of course.

Ratbags... you are entitled to your opinions, which are well-suited to your handle.