Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What You Will

As of yesterday, I've opened up this blog's comments to users without Blogger accounts. That means that you can now place whatever you want to say on this site regardless of what service you use.

I have three concerns about this, actually. The first is that I don't know how one should properly deal with comments from anonymous sources. For that matter, I find it funny that some people go through all the trouble of posting their remarks, only to sign themselves with a name that discourages us from tracking them back. It's weird.

I suppose that there are some people who will argue that this is a practice in humility, something akin to the "my two cents" statements I discussed yesterday. I've observed, however, that it compromises one's credibility to a certain degree -- it's difficult to take unsolicited advice seriously if you have no idea who the source is, after all.

Besides that, there is also the possibility that an anonymous post implies a case of misrepresentation. What's stopping a construction worker from dispensing advanced medical advice, for example? Or, for that matter, what should we make of an anonymous comment that's supposed to be from somebody with an existing Blogger account? We can't invest the same amount of trust in messages like these.

A second concern would be the emergence of flames -- direct insults, personal attacks and disparaging remarks. I'm not worried about the general dissatisfaction, mind you, but a constant stream of these comments would be extremely irritating. It's actually easy enough to confirm a user's identity despite the anonymous nametag, and I'm perfectly willing to pass by a flamer's living quarters and proceed to wail on him. The catch is that I would prefer that things not come to that.

I believe that everything should be wide open on this blog, though, and therefore any person who wants to start trouble is still welcome to post as he wishes. These people have to realize that posting insults on a man's personal site really won't get them anywhere, but I suppose that it's their skin.

Finally, I've noticed a rise in "spam comments" in blogs recently. These are comments similar to what we see in our Bulk Mail folders: send-to-everyone forwards, crass advertisements, and random messages from oiks who really don't know any better. Unlike most comments, these things are simply not worth reading, and are definitely worth removing.

The problem with spam, as most people will probably attest, is not that it arrives in the first place. The problem with spam is that, once it starts coming in, it's hard to stop.

I suppose that, if worst comes to worst and I get inundated with spam, I can just institute the old comment controls all over again. At that point, it would probably a small price to pay for the sake of filtering our reading material.

On the other hand, I might only just be paranoid here. What's the possibility that I would actually be affected by all these concerns when I'm merely opening things up to a large circle of readers? Will the presence of more unknown comments change anything? Or am I just feeling high-and-mighty again?

I guess we'll find out soon enough.

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