Rachel Cooke and I debated the anonymity question for Comment is Free in The Observer in April 2010.

She: yes

…people are inclined to be a lot meaner when no one knows who they are.

As for the effect that this behaviour has on life in the real world – on our manners, on what remains of our sense of decency and propriety – it cannot, surely, be benign.

Me: no

Here’s a little secret that anyone who’s been involved with the internet for more than five minutes has known for decades: there is no such thing as anonymity online.

In time and with more contribution, people – now associated with their pseudonyms – accrue enough social capital to open up (or close down) opportunities for better access to things valued by the community.


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