Living In Public Doesn't Have To Be Destructive
Jason Calcanis has a very interesting post up at Calacanis.com about life in public and the costs associated with it. He starts out with the story of Josh Harris which is told in the Sundance winning documentary We Live In Public. And then he goes on to discuss the very real tragedies that have occurred to people who have taken online life, social networking, and lifestreaming too far. He discusses some laws of human behavior he's observed:
At some point, a participant, or more typically his or her thinking, will be compared to the Nazis.
At some point, all humanity in an online community is lost, and the
goal becomes to inflict as much psychological suffering as possible on
This disease affects people when their communication moves to digital,
and the emotional cues of face-to-face interaction–including tone,
facial expression and the so called “blush response”–are lost.
And then Jason goes on to explain one of the reasons he moved from blogging to an email list:
comments under every blog post I wrote started wearing me down. I’d
write for an hour and the immediate reward was four people, under 12
different accounts, slamming me.
And then Jason drops this bomb:
the ’90s. We’re harvesting our lives and putting them online. We’re
addicted to gaining followers and friends (or email subscribers, as the
case may be), and reading comments we get in return. As we look for
validation and our daily 15 minutes of fame, we do so at the cost of
I'll plead guilty to the addicted to comments part. The conversation that develops after I post is the greatest reward I get from writing it. But "harvesting our lives" at the "cost of our humanity" is not my experience.
Jason is right that too many people hid behind anonymity when they participate online and that leads to rude and agressive behavior. Most of the nasty comments we get on this blog are from people posting anonymously. With the advent of comment profile systems like disqus and now Facebook connect, I think we are slowly building real accountability into the commenting process. And that's a very good thing.
But I reject the idea that you give up your humanity when you choose to put your life online. I've been doing it for over five years and I've not experienced that very much. But I think you need to have some rules. Here are some I've developed.
1) Keep your family out of it until they want to be in it
2) Be nice.
3) Demand that others are nice back.
4) Encourage the community to police the comments. Early on Jackson was my "bouncer" and now Kid Mercury has assumed that role.
5) Take the nasty comments lightly and use humor to defuse them.
6) Do not delete comments unless they are hateful to others, porn, or spam.
7) Ignore the trolls even though it kills you
8) Be careful with photos. They greatest lesson I got was when I posted a photo of me on vacation looking smug. Bad move that I learned a lot from.
9) Give more than you take.
10) Enjoy yourself. Talking, discussing, and debating is fun. Keep it that way.
Jason ends his post talking about empathy and the need for more of it on the Internet. I'll second that request. But I think what we need more of on the Internet is mutual respect and authenticity. And unlike Jason, I don't see things getting worse. I think they are getting much better these days as more and more of our society moves online and brings with them the manners they have in their offline life.
Just want to add: – Keep in mind that we are all human…this explains almost everything.- God has created a zoo with lots of different creaturesCheers, Thomas
The rules described in the above article are tremendous.Everyone should follow those rules.
As the great Peter Lynch used to say, it’s much easier to tear up someone else’s idea than proffer your own.The hate mungers should always remember that.
Great post. I think Jason is right to point this out, and to show how bad the excesses can get. But I agree with your point that things are getting better.Also I think that, especially with Facebook and LinkedIn and other social networks, our real identities are going to be online more and more, and we’re going to use them more and more to interact with each other, with our real faces and our real names. I think this will bring a little more civility to online conversations, and I think in a few years, we’ll look at the days when people used usernames and pseudonyms online as quaint and weird.
Very reasonable set of rules.Probably on photos its beter submit photos of others than self?? At least that is my variation on the above rules.Just more reasons why OpenID and etc should be adopted faster by the industry at large.
#5 and #6 are hugely important rules IMO, #5 for the blogger’s own psychological health and #6 for community building; deleting comments is one of the best ways to get people to leave the community, and i seen lots of publishers who get caught up in their emotions delete comments from haters or tactless disagreers. i would add “be honest” as rule #11, while dishonesty always catches up to you in life it happens particularly quickly online when everything is out there.jdawg is right about a lot of what is saying, though IMO the solution the market will offer will be niche communities with a more regulated membership. i think “restricted communities” will be the defining theme of the post-nation state world, and i’m expecting things like the stock exchanges of the future to have a more regulated membership (even just to trade on it).the empathy issue will take care of itself as people get poorer. material poverty is good fodder for psychological growth and spiritual wealth; as america gets poorer, we will become more empathetic with the rest of the world, and will learn to see things like 9/11 being an inside job as being intolerable for a wide variety of reasons. but right now we are too afraid; fear always blocks empathy, as well as most other positive emotions/psychological experiences.
I don’t let trolls use my space.I delete or don’t approve comments that attack personally anyone who is present or likely to read the comment or if I think it will require a defensive response. People can, if they’re willing to try, find a way to make their point without getting personal..Works great. I’ve been able to address some issues that used to result in huge festivals of abuse at an adult even intellectual manner.Fred, we are not running for office and our communities are not Tim Russert. I don’t like it that our political leaders have to repeatedly be subject to “gotchas” I won’t subject my readers or myself to them.
Not to disqualify the points made, HOWEVER, there are valid counterpoints as well:1. Taking the human element out has its advantage of discussing ideas/concepts for what they are. I have huge reservations to tell people what I think when they bombard me with “emotional cues”. Not so much on the Web, where I can focus on the argument itself and speak my mind freely.2. With respect to political discourse: Goodwin Law is terrible, BDS is not! (that is Bush Derangement Syndrome). The beauty of language is that it has a calibrated scale of expressiveness. Obviously, we are experiencing a colossal historic f&*k up. The right tone is to be outraged; the people who brought us here need to be exposed. Non-abrasive cliches castrate the language. Use the language calibration appropriately: calling people Nazis is inappropriate, but so is the phony outrage when defending the Bushies, the pro-torturers and the Madoff-ists in the financial sector against “disparagement”.3. Let’s not overdramatize the power of words on a screen. I have been involved in heated discussions, called names, (including “Kassam Dimitrov”; it took the latest MidEast war to figure out what that was)…Never took more than a run in the park to shake it off. There is real suffering by millions in the world, including the first-world countries. Reading mean words on a screen is not. (added: that excludes teenagers, though; that’s a special category…)4. What did you expect? I mean, really? If you are in a crowd and everyone is talking, how do you get heard?? Screaming, yelling, hollering. You give everyone the power to express themselves, people naturally want to draw in audiences. I consider myself a person with deep attention span, yet even I find myself drawn towards the bloggers with the more aggressive style. This is not a University where we have captive and attentive audiences…Again, these points are just to consider the counterargument. The proper behaviour is likely somewhere between being too aggressive and too meek…
Your counterpoints actually prove the original argument, Krassen. In all four examples you describe a cold and emotionally detached experience, which is precisely (I think) what Jason means by dehumanization. Unfortunately, what’s even worse, is that nobody is ever really and truly emotionally detached, even on the Internet, so the result is not even dehumanizing… but worse.Jeez, Fred, your article this morning is really bringing me down.
Interesting. I didn’t read it this way, I thought dehumanizing was meant as social detachment, not emotional. As in becoming cruel, aggressive and anti-social. Or, in other words, I thought the problem was that people sitting isolated in front of a screen is the 21-century equivalent of “Hearth of Darkness” (Joseph Conrad’s novel about how people from civilized countries turn into animals once they move to the outposts, away from social structure)…That’s how I read it and what I disagreed with. If it was meant as emotional detachment, he is probably right with respect to the behaviours that we discuss but that’s not all that is out there. I have read some heartbreaking blog entries recently, where people who are going through hard times (losing a job, losing a house, diagnosed with cancer) are finding enormous support from the comments, that would not have been possible before. The good that comes out of this type of therapy far outweighs (IMO) the badness of being “mean” online. (again, teenagers are excluded)
The WSJ has a good story today on the role of online games and online communities in the lives of the unemployedI’d drop a link but I’m on my mobile
online conversations are just like real conversations. you need to listen and be opened and genuinely be interested in the other person’s point of view and who they really are, else the conversation can turn “destructive”. one more thing that does intrigue me. in real life i have developed a keen sense of gauging others very fast – a sort of blink intuition based on experience. online, i think i need to develop the same skill maybe with different tools? which gets back to your point #7, ignore the trolls, or its positive counterpart, figure out the “real” people online. fascinating and great post. thank you.
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.– William Shakespeare, “Macbeth”, c.1607
nicely done Steve. that’s a great one.
whenever i hear Godwin’s law i always think of this xkcd comic:http://xkcd.com/261/In all seriousness though, a lot has to do with the age/maturity of the community. You can’t compare the propensity to get in a flame war between the readership of AVC vs a WoW blog
I bought servers/PCs, etc… from one of Josh’s early ventures Pseudo after it closed, and followed what he did in future, including We Live in Public. I believe there was a bit more online civility in that early-stage era.It was draining doing an online show due to the extreme, constant barrage of nasty, scary, insane comments posted by anonymous trolls which drained the joy of doing all the work required to produce new original content daily. I believe the trolls’ barrage also limited the positive comments we received. My theory being many intelligent thoughtful commenters don’t bother formulating a thoughtful post after seeing 41 deranged posts maligning your mother.We installed a registration requiring a valid email be verified before comments could be posted and that was nothing short of a miracle; perhaps the same 4 anonymous trolls who posted profane insane attacks 12x/day visited my site after they left Jason’s. The only violent personal attacks we continued to receive were if we ever said anything negative about apple. Their fanboys seem to be singularly vicious/ psychotic, but other than that, the vast majority of trolls went away or at least haunted somewhere else, perhaps another site not requiring verified email registration.Recently we redesigned the site and feature a miniblog, but shifted focus to a twitter feed which people can reply to using twitter and it’s become not only more civil, but both more thoughtful and immediate.
That’s great feedback
Fred, Can you expand on the lesson you learned from posting the vacation pic?
I wish I could find the photo because it would tell most of the story by itselfBefore I sarted using my avatar on the upper left of this blog, I used to put a photo of me or me and my family thereAnd I’d rotate the photo every few monthsWhile I was on vacation something like four years ago, one of my kids took a photo of me lounging in a chair by the pool with a grin on my faceI put it on that upper left slot of the blog and started getting flamed for it right awayIt was sending all the wrong messages and I just didn’t see thatI took it down and everyone chilled out.Lesson learned
My simple rule is never say something online that you would not say face to face. Tends to keep me out of trouble most of the time.
bang on. This is the digital gap that is exploited.
Social Media is like a big mirror. How you engage with it, and how it makes you feel about yourself, say more about you than it says about everyone else. We’re all people behind these userIDs… technology doesn’t change that.I’ve followed both Fred and Jason Calcanis since dotcom times. I met Calcanis briefly at a dotcom boom party, and have yet to meet you Fred, but look forward to it some day. But based purely on public personnas, I have to say I’m not surprised by the perspectives of either of them.
The Internet is a ‘cold’ medium – great for facts, not so great for human emotionsSome smart and successful people are in fact egotistical wankers, and they don’t get called out for it very often inside their own little worlds. But when they project it to the world and expect adulation, they may be disappointed.Maybe that’s a side benefit.A lot of people out there are indeed jealous of the more successful, some are malcontents, a few psychotic, and the Internet anonymity lets them give sway to their pathologies.Maybe giving them free therapy is another side benefit.
I love your name curmudgeonly troll but why post with an anonymous email address?
Great post for someone thinking about getting more involved online. I once heard someone say that 70% of the worlds population is verifiably insane. Tempering negative comments with the above in mind seems to do the trick.In any event, a musical clip that really brightened up my Monday!http://ca.youtube.com/watch…
Couldn’t agree more with your closing point that you don’t see things getting worse.I have sort of seen a maturation in myself including blogging/commenting etiquette, restraint, and mediation. I think it took me a while to fully get a grasp on the fact that what I do online is, in fact, an extension of my real life and that the people on the other end of things are, in fact, real people. I didn’t instinctively process it like that at first, but “growing-up” on the internet is a lot like “growing-up” in life. So I don’t think it will get worse. The key is people understanding that online actions and communications have real world implications. A little online maturation is all that has to take place. Ultimately, I think the web facilitates understanding WAY more than it facilitates inhumanness.
interesting. i assume a lot of this is somewhat related to michael arrington’s situation as well. here’s the thing: both arrington and calacanis draw huge audiences, readership, and following because they say or do bold and outlandish things. they say things that create some level of controversy. i suspect in real life they are not quite as extreme as their online persona’s, but they are very smart people and i assume they do it because they know it draws attention, discussion, interaction and buzz. it works and it’s good for their blogs/persona. but when you create a lot of excitement and noise, you also bring out the crazies who just want to be around all the noise in case something goes down. and if you think about it, the nicest people in the world are willing to act like complete lunatics because they’re in the safe anonymity of their car. the reality is they’re only separated by sheet metal and glass. so one can only imagine the crazies that come out when you’re behind the veil of a not-so-clever screen name and the internet.
Excellent post.I’ve found that there is no shortage of assholes online, but that’s true offline as well. If you treat others like crap offline, the consequences can vary. Online, however, it leads to flaming and a boldness that you won’t generally find offline. When you’re outside somebody’s swing, you’ll say things that you wouldn’t otherwise. Fists (or a gun) have a, shall we say, quieting influence.Blogging assholes have a few things in common. One, they don’t think they’re assholes. Two, they want impunity for their own rude behavior, for which they generally have excuses galore. Three, they believe the First Amendment was written for them and not necessarily others. Four, each as a doctorate in whining.There are no failures of talent, only character. If you want a one-way stage, then adopt a one-way strategy.The law you forgot to mention, Fred, is the Golden Rule. If you want fewer assholes commenting on your blog, stop being such an asshole yourself.
I can’t stop being a little bit of an asshole Terry!
I hope you’re kidding, Fred…One of the reasons you are so popular, both online and offline, is that you are incredibly gracious in how you handle feedback to your posts.I don’t always agree with them, but it always feels like you appreciate the input and the complexity of any argument.Contrast that with some other much-disliked blogging celebrities/entrepreneurs: “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” – Matthew 26:52
I am not kidding with this post. People need to be nicer and have better manners online
He’s a wolf in sheep clothing… That’s what people are saying, anyway:”However, Wilson came gunning. On his person blog at the time he wrote an attack post that targeted me personally, including (if memory serves me right) calling me a liar. He was however caught out, because originally he didn’t disclose a vital fact, one I wasn’t aware of initially when he wrote that post, that he was on the board of comScore. He subsequently updated the post. What struck me about the man was that he was a hard arse, a man who went for the jugular in defending his financial interests, and certainly no benevolent fluffy bunny that we see in the New York Times today.”Fred, what is this about? Misrepresentation? “youthful indiscretion”? Certainly doesn’t jive with your “points”…
OK, never mind. I saw now your response under:”you got it right Duncan, we are not angels or gods and we do not walk on water. we make a lot of mistakes and i apparently made one back in that comscore episode. i will go pretty far to defend the companies we invest in when mis-impressions are being spread. maybe i went too far that time. sorry about that. i bet we’ve both done that a few times.”I guess that falls under Glenn Kelman’s corollary, then…
He still hates me for it
I also think this is his view of the facts and if you go back and read all the posts, you may come to a different conclusion than he did
I’ll take your word for it, Fred, don’t have the time to go back. Your blog is very stimulating, to the point that it is starting to take too much of my time… I also have a lot to say about your post on the VC IRRs, but will pass at this juncture (no time for it). I just hope that you didn’t unleash that rant against Ms. Claire for not putting you on the Midas List:))) She has nothing to do with it since moving to NYT. And say what will about this Duncan guy, but he is right that her article about you was a bit “fluffy” and extra-complimentary…(Seriously, I’d feel bad if my bringing up this Midas BS made you dog her. She seems very nice and I trust you’re better than that…)
Fred – anyone who has read Jason and you knows why he gets treated differently. I am in no way excusing the poor behavior that comes with disguised identity however people respect what you write and I think therein lies the difference of how you guys get treated. Your rules are pretty spot on IMO as well.
I have been saddened by the binary nature of far too much online communication, particularly in blog posts. Too high a percentage falls into “You suck, here’s why” or non-value-added “That’s Great!” with no elaboration or further development.I find a ‘For Times Two’ approach is really helpful – find the nugget(s) in any communication that you like or at least in which you see some potential – what you’re truly “for” and then consider the concerns you have/the deficiencies you see there and come back with what you “wish for” to point a way forward/way out.Building on what you’re “for” and suggesting additional directions with what you “wish for” helps you to glean so much more from any post, clarifies your thinking, helpfully provokes additional thought, etc.Out-and-out slamming or sycophancy contributes nothing to the conversation.
Great approach. Thanks for sharing it
spent some time debating these points and posts with people in person. that alone is why the online world, as much as we all love it, does have a small cost to humanity.
Don’t numbers 7 and 6 conflict? Isn’t deleting/not approving trolls’ comments the best way to ignore them? If someone demonstrates to you that they don’t deserve a voice on your blog, why do you give them a voice? I admire the sentiment of #6, I really do; but I have no problem with not approving trolls’ comments when they come through moderation.
I don’t moderate the comments on this blog and I think “troll” is in the eye of the beholder. Plus I think their bad behavior should be witnessed by everyone
This is why I think it’s nothing short of a miracle that the nextNY listserv, with 2000+ people on it, has remained so positive and high quality.I think it has to do with setting the tone. Jason wants followers at all costs and has no quality filters for who surrounds him, so that’s why he gets the backlash and negativity that he does.
It’s the same thing with Hacker News from Ycombinator. I’m astounded by the signal/noise on those boards.
Why are we beating around the bush? Vish almost says it above but is too polite. The online persona that Jason actively cultivates is “not very nice,” and the waves of antagonism reflect back strongly.Please note that I believe Jason is just acting to get attention. He’s perfectly enjoyable one-on-one.
He’s a lot of fun to hang with
Agreed. Analog Jason is much more pleasant than digital Jason.
As I mentioned in my latest blog post, I too gave up blogging a while back because of vicious and relentless trolls who were obviously working to drive me and my ideas about the future of the Web away. They succeeded for a time, but I’m not going to let it happen again. There is too much at stake.Now that the hatefulness of the election season is over and there is a psychological sentiment that we’re all in a sinking ship together, I think a lot of the rats have abandoned ship, and once again civil and productive discourse is possibe via blogging. I think “public life” will be easier, at least for a time. I hope so.
Fred, what a beautiful post, and I couldn’t agree more about authentication systems like Disqus bringing more accountability to the blogosphere. I also can attest that your tone in responding to my comments has prompted me to be more thoughtful and less provocative myself, resulting in a more civil dialog here and eventually elsewhere (the GothamGal also shamed me into writing more thank-you notes, but that’s another story).I would add just one more rule: apologize when you are wrong.Redfin generated an enormous amount of antagonism among traditional Realtors because of statements I had made about the industry’s being corrupt, in blogs, on 60 Minutes, in newspapers.Then one day I was tired of feeling tense about everything I wrote and just apologized in a blog post for my tone, without changing Redfin’s advoacy for sharing more data with the public.I figured all the real estate folks who blogged so much about hating Redfin would be insufferable.The response was, instead, overwhelmingly gracious, and many of these folks have become my friends. Life is much better for Redfin, for me, for our agents and customers who work with other agents.I am saying as a tribute not to Redfin but to all the people who gave us another hearing.It isn’t too late for things to get better.
Great story about the value of an aplologySorry works really well when you mean it
I didn’t get this one… Were you wrong that they were corrupt? Because, then, you know, you should have apologized not because you were tired, but because you had to.On the other hand, if you were right that they were corrupt, I think it was very wrong to apologize. What’s the point of apologizing to corrupt people for calling them out? Of course they would be gracious, you were becoming one of them and they were feeling safer. What happened to the “idealists” and “pragmatists” business?
Corrupt is a very strong word and I doubt it applies to most people in business no matter what their profession
Fred, this was a terrific post and the distinctions you began to draw between online life, social networking, and lifestreaming are not lost on me; they are not the same. I choose to follow certain people on Twitter because they are friends or I am interested in their lives. I read many blogs because I am interested in opinions, insights, and I want to learn. I participate in social networks because I am either following the lives of my friends or groups of similar interests.Not all of these online connections deserve or require commentary, but some do, and in that vein, we should expect different quality and different types of commentary.Some bloggers/social networkers/lifestreamers may need to evolve what seems like obvious segregation between these different forms of communication. If you post something controversial in your blog, you might expect somewhat aerobic responses. On the other hand, if you tweet something, I think you have every right to expect responses with a different flavor. If you co-mingle your posts across these vehicles, you may find that the responses don’t segregate neatly and unfortunately a post meant for one purpose, too easily carries over to other forms of communication.Thanks again for keeping your head about you when so many seem to be losing theirs.
Have to agree with you on the comments thing. I’m reluctant to use my real name wherever I leave comments, even though they’re not bad comments, because you never know who’s reading it. All part of managing your online brand I guess, and not wanting to do or say anything that’s going to come back and haunt you later on.We do need more mutual respect on the internet, and until we get that, there’s not going to be any authenticity. There’s far too many weirdos out there. Just look at what happened with Michael Arrington from TechCrunch, who’s been getting death threats against himself, his family, and employees.He’s not the first (if I recall correctly, the same sort of thing happened to Kathy Sierra), and he won’t be the last. Live and public and say the wrong thing, and bad things can happen. It’s much safer to participate from behind the curtain, regardless of what you’re saying.
I don’t know enough about the kathy story to talk about that oneBut mike should be more careful with what he says and how he says itThat’s my whole pointBe Nice!!!!!
You forgot a very important concept.John Gabriel’s Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory:http://www.penny-arcade.com…
That’s a great one!
Heh, that’s brilliant! 🙂
Does it make me a bad person that my initial thought was to post a totally unhinged, totally obscene comment, ripping into your second rule (“Be Nice”)? As a joke, I mean?What am I saying? Of course it makes me a bad person.But the reason I didn’t is because tone and irony and even facial expressions are hard to convey in text. Things can easily get misunderstood. We’ve all had that weird feeling, reading (or writing) an email, that maybe we shouldn’t have said something exactly the way we said it.Which is why some person invented those awful emoticons, which are necessary (I guess) but still pretty irritating. Last year, during the writers strike in Hollywood, I got an email from a studio executive telling me that in one week I was going to be “force majeure’d” — ie, my production deal was going to be terminated — and he finished his email with this::(One of the things that keeps us from saying every stupid, thoughtless, or mean thing that’s in our heads is the look on the face of the person we’re talking to. Take away that, and it’s easy to go overboard. (And in the end, it undermines the argument: the most convincing people tend to be the most soft-spoken.)I agree with Fred, though — I think things are getting better. And not just because of excellent tools like Disqus, but because we’re getting used to this new, limitless way of communicating. We all now interact with a much larger circle of people — people beyond our family and friends and immediate colleagues. So we’re relearning things about reputation and good manners. 18th and 19th century society knew a lot about how to handle these things — in goods ways and bad. They were acutely aware of the penalties of rudeness.Like, you get ignored. You get tuned out. You pay the social price.Communities like this one are sort of self-selecting anyway. I’m careful about what I say here and post here because for the most part, the discourse here is on a pretty high level, and I’d hate to get tuned out. To which there’s not much to add except::)
Great comment as usual rob, but now can you bring the ‘totally unhinged’ comment???
Well, you’ll have to wait for that. I’ve been doing a lot of yoga lately and it’s kind of ruined my ability to go off on a really unhinged rant.
Good for you and your health but bad for our entertainment value
It is dangerous to ‘live in public’ if you act like a jerk, a lot. You don’t. You are a fount of good sense.
Living in Public as Digital Natives
Seems Jason is disparaging his audience, and demonstrating the qualities he ascribes to others. As you write and demonstrate on a daily basis, the golden rule of blogging is to engage your community in a positive way. If you’re a rock star, pointing out to your audience that they’re basement-dwelling losers isn’t a good audience-building strategy. Might as well just plant subliminal messages telling them to kill themselves.Can you think of any great writer, tackling things that matter, challenging people to think outside their comfort zone, who didn’t generate haters? If getting people riled up is a problem, thought leadership may not be your style.The biggest problems I have with blogging as a medium…it gravitates more toward NY Post than The New Yorker… short items that generate heat but little light, like -ahem- drama-queen pronouncements. (ummh, maybe that’s what Jason was driving at, and illustrating)The blog medium actually increases herd behavior. Readers of a given blog will have a smaller sphere of acceptable discussion than a newspaper. The more a group of people talks, the more they think and act alike. Even the writer of the blog ends up having trouble writing something that might alienate the community that has coalesced around that blog. Kudos to Jason for not falling into that particular trap.
you’re a fuckhead.
I could not agree more with the idea that “… we are slowly building real accountability into the commenting process” as well as “…there is still a ton of opportunity out there to provide services in and around what Facebook and others are doing.” In fact we started BeenVerified on that exact principle.DISCUS does a great job of adding a layer of credibility and increased accountability within the blogoshpere. However, without knowing the actual identity of the person’s DISCUS profile, commentors can still hide behind the safety of anonymity. Fred, I have been reading your blog for quit some time and while your posts are not as “outspoken” as say Jason Calcanis for example, there are still the occasional outlier comments that need the validation of knowing who the person actually is.What if we gave commentors the option to have their actual identities verified by a trusted third party within the DISCUS platform? And then also give bloggers the option to accept only “verified comments” on a post-by-post basis. For example, Michael Arrington occasionally shuts off the ability to comment on certain posts. I would bet that if he had the ability to turn on “verified comments” only, he would surely keep the discussion flowing.Fred, keep in mind the word “option,” as we strongly believe verifications should always remain “Opt-In.” There are certain conversations that call for identity verification and certain conversations that do not. This should be decided by the blogger (or community) on a case-by-case basis.Verifying actual human identities in commenting systems like DISCUS will take accountability one step further as we slowly make our way toward a better social web. For example if the discussion was based around education and a commentator claimed they’re a teacher, she could have a profile attached to her DISQUS account that proved her bachelors in education and her employment with an elementary school. Further down the road we believe that with the adoption of verified profiles, a commenter could now have the ability to keep their identity anonymous, but still share their University of Harvard verification. Now we are getting somewhere!
Such an important issue. Thanks for the brain-jog.