Real Names (cont)

Real names fake names


Comments (Archived):

  1. David Noël

    And @JLM:disqus , another legend. 

    1. fredwilson

      yes, of course. but the question about JLM is “is it a pseudonym or just an acronym?”

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Acronym.  He shared once in the comments that he’s been using his acronym for quite some time in a number of settings — or something like that.JLM is pretty open.  Have you read his tweets?

        1. CliffElam

          I’ve used the same acronym for 10+ years – it started when I was living as an expat in London so I used X (expat) plus my first name, thus XC.I’ve probably left a trail of things I’d rather not have said on one particular political site, but otherwise I try to treat the internet like a cocktail party where (1<drinks<5). -xc=””>

          1. fredwilson

            I’ve left a trail of things I’d have rather not said on this site. AVC makes me forever unelectable. That’s a feature not a bug

          2. markslater

            sais more about electability than it does about you. 

          3. JamesHRH

            George W did the best job of handling ‘prior acts of unelectablity.’If I ever run for office (unlikely), I will absolute start out with ‘You don’t learn without making mistakes. Made some – personally and professionally. Learned from them though. Next question.’

          4. William Carleton


          5. leigh

            you could immigrate to Canada  and run here –  apparently what you say and do gets completely erased away with the proper marketing and PR Team 🙂

          6. JLM

            A majority of morons means………………………..nothing.The respect and admiration of ONE honorable person……………..priceless.The greatest compliment I have received was a comment my now 93 year old Father recently said to the Perfect Daughter: “Your Father is a “clever” and “lucky” man with a real talent for getting others to do his bidding. He is careful about rewarding them but his greatest talent is that when gives his word or makes a commitment, you can count on it.”So now my children call me “Clever Daddy” and I bask in the glory.Fred, I’d vote for you in a second.

          7. fredwilson

            i’m a huge fan of following through on commitments, verbal or otherwise

          8. Donna Brewington White

            I’ve wondered about your signature.  Cool.  Thanks for sharing that.Reminds me of something in Greek letters but I can’t remember what.Yeah, I’ve been fairly closed about  politics and religion online — too much room for misunderstanding and misinterpretation — but the one thing I am most concerned about is being stereotyped/pigeon-holed.   Although nothing I believe about either should be too much of a surprise.

          9. CliffElam

            I am with you on politics/religion, and my leanings are probably wholly predictable as well.  But unsaid is best, I think.The “X” also serves to remind me that it is my eXternal voice.-XC

        2. JamesHRH

          He has said that it is his initials – I think he used to sign memos that way?Wen people communicated via hard copy most of the time!

          1. JLM

            For longer than some folks on this blog have been alive, I have signified that I have read something, have sent a hand written note or have provided direction by simply affixing my initials and circling them.My most personal and intimate notes and responses have simply been initialed.That is the way I feel about the AVC community — personal, intimate and comfortable and not necessary to hold back or filter anything.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            How can you be this profound, this early?

          3. JLM

            Been at the beach for a couple of weeks recharging my batteries and eating a whole lot of fish. Lots of walking.Totally unrelated but worthy of note nonetheless.I was in a wonderful restaurant in Wilmington NC — right next to Wrightsville Beach — Circa 1922 a tapas restaurant.Simultaneously within five feet of me, two steroid muscle bound bikers fighting and a guy on bender knee proposing marriage. She said yes. The circle of life anyone?Been a very entertaining vacation. Hell, I may propose a jobs plan. Maybe not.

          4. Aaron Klein

            I just hope you didn’t fly a corporate jet to your vacation because the President has just declared that double taxing the job creators is the solution to unemployment. 🙂

          5. fredwilson

            And the defecit. Count me in for those who don’t mind paying more if it goes to defecit reduction

        3. fredwilson

          Yes. I follow the secretary of offense on twitter

          1. markslater

            Jlm had a coming out party a little while back. I only like to engage with real names (except for Fake G) – i’m out here in the open – come sit at the table and lets chat. i’m not going to respond if you show up in a digital burka.

          2. JLM

            Digital burkha, love it! Well played.

          3. Donna Brewington White

            You never have to wonder where he stands.  I want to be like him when I grow up.

        4. JamesHRH

          can’t find him? handle? Thx in advance Donna.

          1. Dale Allyn

            => @jlm73tx

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Looks like Dale covered you.  Didn’t want you to think I ignored you.  Except JLM seems like someone else in lower case, even though Twitter doesn’t care.Which goes to show all the subtle things that go into shaping our online identity.

          3. Dale Allyn

            Good catch re. the case, Donna. I simply copied what JLM had posted here in the past, into my address book, and grabbed it for James. 

          4. Donna Brewington White

            My guess is that he will respond to any case (meaning upper or lower). 😉

  2. Vitomir Jevremovic

    Google+ dodge that

    1. fredwilson

      dodgy that!

  3. Julien

    I was always impressed by David Karp’s explaination of why there are no comments on Tumblr. He tells that it’s because on most blogging platforms comments are “second class” citizens… and since they are second class citizens, people tend to not take care of them as much as they would when publishing actual posts. This is why tumblr has reshare and stuff like Quotes that allow participation, without making comments 2nd class.I think this is a key lesson for Google+. We all understand why they think they need real names : they expect it to prevent a lot of mis-behavior. However, I am afraid one can’t just force people to behave. Many will just not use the product. The best approach is tumblr’s : promote good behavior and make sure users are accountable for what they do…

    1. fredwilson

      i argued with david for years about that choice. he was right and i was wrong. the best entrepreneurs know their product better.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        But I get frustrated on Tumblr when someone doesn’t have Disqus attached and I can’t comment.  I keep clicking on things trying to find a way in.Obviously not a logged out user here.

        1. Aaron Klein

          Agree completely. Tumblr blogs without Disqus frustrate me. I’d never have one myself….but such is freedom of choice.

          1. markslater

            i agree. no commenting, no visiting from me.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            I do make an occasional exception for @bhorowitz:twitter   (Ben Horowitz) 

          3. Dave Pinsen

            Or any blogs without comments enabled. Such as, for example, James Fallows’s and Jeffrey Goldberg’s blogs on The Atlantic’s site (Fallows occasionally posts selected e-mail responses on his blog, sort of like a new media analog of letters to the editor.). It just seems lame to blog and not allow comments. 

          4. Aaron Klein

            Have to agree. Seth Godin’s blog is another engagement fail that I can’t understand.(Disqus hasn’t been posting my email replies. Not sure why. Sent this an hour ago.)

          5. truth_power

            ta-nehisi coates has super smart commenters; there’s been a civil war seminar going on there for months now.

          6. leigh

            I’ve always thought that reblog and comment within on Tumblr was a visual conversation — different maybe – but a conversation nevertheless 

          7. Aaron Klein

            I’ve never had someone reblog my reblog to answer a question or acknowledge a point.I’ve had tons of people reply to me on Disqus or Twitter…true engagement.(Disqus hasn’t been posting my email replies. Not sure why. Sent this an hour ago.)

          8. leigh

            re: reblog – i meant if you look under the dashboard comments, likes etc. often pple make their own comments – to me it’s a conversation of sorts but not the traditional kind.  Reminds me of filepile back in the day.   

          9. Pete Griffiths

            The comments capability feels pretty weak to me.  Is there something I’m missing?

        2. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Tumblr still just frustrates me in general – it’s about the first contemporary web/app that’s got traction that I haven’t really ‘got’ as yet… to me it’s like entering a (aesthetically pleasing, albeit) re-jigged MySpace(!).I’ll keep on trying… 😉

          1. Guest

            My take on tumblr is “Rich Media Twitter”.

          2. JamesHRH

            Thx – I am going to try and use it like that.

          3. JamesHRH

            I agree – even if I don’t like to use something, I can usually get why other people like it. But, I don’t have a Tumblr experience as a user. I have an account, I can’t find anybody I know, I am not sure I would want to follow them (but I would think so) but it just isn’t happening for me.This makes me feel old……. 😉

          4. falicon

            I think of Tumblr much more as a publishing platform than anything else…it makes blogging with style easy (some would say, even fun).If you are a pure content consumer, Tumblr will probably not ‘click’ with you other than an occasional spot you end up in your journey (often without even knowing you actually *are* on Tumblr).

          5. leigh

            I always say that my blog tells pple how i think, and my tumblr is closer to what i love … i use it as a digital scrap book for quotes i love, images that I connect to – the other cool thing is the dashboard – i know almost no one on my tumblr – it’s mostly pple who love design, weird things and for some reason, i have a huge group of people in Korea and Japan who follow me – following them gives me an amazing sense of their cultures and collages of what’s relevant to them

          6. fredwilson

            that’s it!!!!that is exactly how i think about avc and

          7. Carl Rahn Griffith

            Lol, ditto! 😉

          8. fredwilson

            it’s about following the right people and using the dashboard frequently

          9. Carl Rahn Griffith

            I’ll persist. But, I see huge parallels to MySpace…

        3. Pete Griffiths

          Tumblr is a very interesting phenomenon.  I use it as a publishing medium.  But I am a little unclear where, if anywhere, it is going socially.  I know you can share the content of others, but the process of finding content feels so random.  It took a while for us to find a use paradigm for Twitter.  Can anyone explain the paradigmatic social use of Tumblr to me?  

          1. Donna Brewington White

            I am a fairly amateur user, so not the best person to ask.  I do enjoy it even though certainly not using it to the full potential.  I don’t do a lot of social interacting on Tumblr itself but use it in conjunction with other platforms — referring people to Tumblr from FB and Twitter and generally people respond to me from the referring platform.  The ones who do respond on Tumblr via Disqus seem to be other Tumblr users. @fredwilson:disqus is a power user. @awaldstein:disqus  is another who seems to be maximizing Tumblr.

          2. Pete Griffiths

            Thanks Donna.I guess I’ll figure it out sooner or later. 🙂

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Couldn’t respond below to your last comment due to disqus limits — but wondered if you saw some of the other comments here on Tumblr.

    2. JamesHRH

      Not blowing sunshine up the bartender’s skirt here, but Fred has a very strong ability to instigate conversation. It makes comments a first class citizenship here.And, I don’t know why as I was not an AVCer back in the early days, but there is a strong self-policing aspect to the community that most comments functions just don’t have….

      1. Julien

        I think the simple fact that @fredwilson:disqus and most of the “regulars” take the time to reply to comments and follow up is a facilitator. That works well because it’s a single community. This couldn’t have been enforced for a platform like Tumblr and/or Google+

        1. JamesHRH

          Makes sense.

      2. fredwilson

        The culture of the bar starts with the bartender. You have to walk the walk

        1. Carl Rahn Griffith

          Sometimes it’s got the vibe of a quintessentially cool Manhattan bar, sometimes it’s like a quaint English village pub, sometimes it’s like a chic Italian al fresco cafe. That’s the beauty of this place, the lexicon and vibe always develops naturally, reflecting a thread’s participants and the nature of the topic (and many tangents, often!) 🙂

          1. awaldstein

            Personalities are the pulse of the comment stream.Topical context focuses them. Interest footprints broadens them. Leadership gives it free reign but forward moving. Disqus platforms and connects. And persistent personalities makes it real.Community dynamics at it’s best.

          2. Donna Brewington White

            Aptly put, Carl.  

  4. tyronerubin

    JLM would have his own intentions. Many people use acronym’s for anonymity reasons or just to make it easier to type out. I think the clear distinction is in the conversations.I am sure 99% of the hateful comments one sees on youtube is venting & done from pseudonym’s.Here we have discussions and conversations that hopefully result in positive outcomes and learning. Here I feel its better and easier to just use real names. Or use acronym’s to make it even easier to type out and not to hide.   With tumblr though I have been getting replies and have been noticising a lot of comments. and questions which is very interesting.

    1. JLM

      Through the years I have gotten to know JLM just a bit. One notch removed from a simpleton. Refreshingly so?Totally natural and without an ulterior motive or even a whiff of guile. At times.Sometimes just the slightest suggestion of animal cunning if properly aroused. Seems to like a dust up and intellectual wrestling match — ideas wrestling.Sadly shallow fellow really. Not one to over think things and totally lacking GAS or other filters. Quite liberating in some ways.JLM is just his initials and nothing more.Resist the temptation to over think things.Do what works for you.

      1. leigh

        “Resist the temptation to over think things.” omg story of my life 🙂

      2. Mark Essel

        Sounds like a good guy.You forgot to add “delights in rebuking weak comment criticism”

        1. JLM

          Just the tiniest whiff of perfume administered to what is an admitted character flaw.

    2. Brandon Burns

      “I am sure that 99% of the hateful comments… [are] from pseudonyms.””I feel its better and easier to just use real names.”You’re entitled to your feeling, but real fact-based knowledge (or just open eyes attached to an open mind) will quickly show you that the first point is incorrect, which may lead you to see the positive potential in changing that feeling of yours. 

    3. Emeri Gent [Em]

      Youtube has its particular conversation style, slashdot has it’s style, AVC has its own community form.  I think the key is to stand back and look at the bigger picture and recognize that one is looking at a broad spectrum of the face of social discourse.  Thankfully we have a diverse continuum and it is easy to pick on comments in youtube as examples, but it is so much more a different experience to look at the diversity of conversation.  The world does not revolve around us but at times if someone unfollows, or someone dislikes something, things are taken personally because we get too close examining the hue of the human condition.  We sort of do that with our political, religious and even philosophical and scientific beliefs – but we generally don’t pull back far enough to see the wider horizon of humanity.I already know through my use of the internet how prejudice manifests itself and it is always the other guy or gal who is prejudiced and not us.  Yet if we sink our identity into something too close, our takeaway is the stuff that maybe hurt us, rather than test our equanimity.  Our expectations about positive outcomes does not necessarily mean we are learning.  We all are going to have moments of hurt or shock when things get too close and personal.  Sometimes it is regret which is the best learning vehicle of all, or at least it is wholly character building and I look for those times when I am the one who is wrong, where I have been silenced into appreciating that the way I look at the world is self-limiting.We don’t notice those moments until we are vulnerable to them, and as much as what I have expressed above is also a reminder of the importance of resilience, so what I am alluding to is that just the surface appearance of comments is an interesting moment, but it is not a personal experience.  The words that matter most IMHO are in relationship to the transformation of our own.  Watching ourselves change is like watching grass grow, but it is the feelings we walk away with, which often contain the clues to the direction of change.I do agree that hiding for the sake of hiding is a cowards game, but there is a different track, which is thoughtfulness and in that track, the hidden is a virtue – because then we are not hiding identity, but the truth that simmers in our own consciousness, a truth which has the power to raise our own capability, our empathy, our wisdom.  How can that truth be of any worth if it expresses who we like other people to think we are, rather than challenges us to think differently?That challenge IMHO is our own.  The most intrinsic truth is that we all hide, but the impressions we get from a photograph, from a cool sounding name or a well-edited expression, all these impressions still hide something.  Now everything I have said here is fresh out of my head and it is not a response to Tyrone Rubin.  It’s me thinking out aloud in parallel to the words that I have read by Tyrone Rubin.  There is no right or wrong here, but there is learning – and the kind of learning that is profound for me, is when I remove myself from the mass stereotype, and instead of relating my behaviour as a commonality, I appreciate the things I didn’t see, but awoke to.In this regard, I drew value from reading what you Tyrone Rubin has written, because of something not akin to the group, it made me think.  If that thinking is then thrown back in the tumble-dryer of human opinion, then who needs a real name that is a rinse and a wash.[Em]

      1. Mark Essel

        If I ponder too long about what I’m missing (on or offline), I’m apt to miss even more.

        1. Emeri Gent [Em]

          What we figure out in this generation shouldn’t just be a sacrifice or the fruits for another generation, as we participate in a great transitional moment – the past is as I see it one huge exercise in sacrificial living. The challenge of the 21st Century is how to make the most of the 21st Century.  There is so much there, that if we are preoccupied with filling for our fill rather than flowing with our flow, then the biggest miss is being a bystander to our own existence.If we can’t find something, just one thing that excites us in this kind of world, then there isn’t any other kind of world that will excite, so then it is pure vanity to trying to create a new order or a new way or a new society.  If we are creating something that is dead on arrival, then my life becomes nothing more than the warning that I read in the Book of Ecclesiastes – “meaningless, meaningless, meaningless”.If we focus on the gory rather than the glory, we wake everyday already tied in a million knots.  Untangling ourselves should be a freedom exercise rather than a painful one.  If I go back to the idea of the spectrum, we know that life exists not in the broad spectrum but in a narrow “visible light”.  So I recognize that the existence of the Earth is an incredibly fine balancing act and much to the chagrin of the human condition, we are finding out that we are not separate from it.Even the development of potential intelligence in machines, if I think about whether the collective fiddling with life’s progamming can lead to a conscious machine.  If that conscious machine is intelligent, it will also know that the best way forward is not a separation but an integration.  An intelligently conscious machine will only eventually merge with the same life force we are already a part of.Which IMHO means that for me, it is one part enjoying the show and another part observing the best in us.  We are all fully capable of looking at the crappy end of life but that only serves us to be conscious about crap.  Every morning we all have to pee, advances in technology don’t change that fact, and if I think about it, collective consciousness maybe more akin to plumbing.  I think we have all the plumbing we ever needed, and life for me isn’;t about trying to figure out how to be great plumbers.Yes, I am in violent agreement with your remark, enjoy it my friend, especially the challenge of being awake to our own existence.  You are right, don’t ponder or pander, for there is really nothing to miss, if we have already missed it :-)[Em]

          1. Mark Essel

            It is a fine balancing act between pondering and action to realize “flowing with our flow”, and I’m far from knowing it cold.I become overwhelmed thinking about how much I will never know, but am comforted by reminders of how much I’ve already forgotten.

          2. Emeri Gent [Em]

            The reality of forgetting is an important consideration and no more so as a testament to our closest relationships, than the curse of Alzheimer’s.When forgetting is physiological, it reminds me how fragile relationships can be, especially the ones that are core – those dyadic relationships between two close people.  Alzheimer’s is a reminder of valuing that closeness while we can remember it.  One of my more annoying qualities in the sphere of social media is my personal arrogance not to invite the whole world in.  It is not that I don’t have a big living room, but I deliberately want my living room to accomodate my cerebral capacity.My response to “Mark Essel” is a dyadic relationship in this web of conversations.  The first thing we might forget in these conversations is that the title of this post is “real names” – yet the mind focuses on “fake names”.   Forgetting a name is one thing, forgetting is a totally different dynamic.  It is a dynamic which in the case of alzheimer’s is very bad, but it also has a very good dynamic also, which is articulated by the words “comforted by reminders of how much I’ve already forgotten”.Forgetting as a physiological aspect also includes this, our attention ability simply reminds us yet again, that which is important or central to our own given lives.  Then there is the spiritual aspect of forgetting and this can also be either viewed through a negative or a positive lens.  The negative of course is repressed memories but the positive is the acquired acumen of letting go.  Unlike alzheimer’s neuroscientists have shown how we can “overwrite” our memories, while meditation practices can reveal how one can “let go”.How much we don’t know that we do know and how much we know that we don’t know comes to the fore in difficult situations – it is our protagnist or a moment of pressure, or a circumstance that puts us into touch with our uncertainty – that becomes prima facia evidence of how much we can surprise ourselves.  Surprising others depends on how much stock we have put into what others think of us.  This is why I use the word “arrogance” because I don’t want to be a predictable person – how can I draw out what is unknown within, if I operate to a fixed conception or self-defining limitation of how others see me?There is only one real name that we all have, and it is the most forgotten (it seems), that real name is “humanity”.  Call me by that name and I will consider the humanity that is so called, but dress me up in brand, or a status, or an impression, value judgement etc and I squirm and struggle – yet the one thing that a regretable impulse for rebellion does not alter is the act of remembering our closest ties.  Not that weak and strong tie for those who see the capital in networks – but the network that should be unforgetable, until we realize how something like Alzheimer’s steals life while we are still alive.This is not a case to remember or to try to forget, but getting in touch with our real name – maybe there are others whose personalities are suited to growing in a growing network, but for me the forgetting is a reminder of that which is deeply important.  If my network includes people I no longer remember – then what is the point of the network to begin with?There reality is that there are too many of us, just as their are countless stars in the sky, then the act of forgetting is a bliss – to be free to be filled with new things and new life – that is perhaps the most supreme aspect of forgetting.[Em]

  5. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    This post reminds me of “Six Slides, Three Slides, Or No Slides” you posted a week back.You have followed the no slides (no blog writing) on explaining why real names are not important here.

    1. fredwilson

      they say that a picture tells a thousand wordsso i decided to try that approach today

      1. Jan Schultink

        Maybe Disqus can get a feature to promote a sub-discussion to an entirely new blog post (and link to it in the original discussion). Many discussion here are very rich and RSS readers might be interested in them.

        1. Adrian Palacios

          that would be awesome if i could get a disqus conversation as an RSS feed…makes sense if you just want to keep up on 400+ comments on, or if you want to quote something.

          1. Jan Schultink

            Yes, but it will be hard to preserve the hierarchical structure

          2. Tyler Hayes

            Is this something different than the RSS link at the bottom of the embed? cc @JanSchultink:disqus 

          3. Adrian Palacios

            Oh, duh, didn’t even see that there…honestly, I hardly make it to the bottom of the comment threads anyways. It’s a struggle to find the time to make it through even part of the comments…

        2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. Jan Schultink

            Good idea

  6. awaldstein

    Point made well.Conversations are the key here for value in and out.You don’t need a real name to have a conversation but persistence of that ‘name’ and personalizing  of that name beyond ‘guest’, does makes a differences.I don’t need to see your birth certificate to have an interesting chat but it makes it easier if I can see your ‘face’.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      or talk to the hand as in @kagilandam:disqus ‘s case…

      1. leigh

        I tried to get rid of the little girl icon about a month ago on Facebook  and put a real picture of myself (thought i was going to change all my networks when i launch newco) – omg – they freaked out on me.  Where’s the little skipping rope girl.  Bring her back.  You’d think I’d killed her… Pple love consistency and hate change (unless of course your consistency is change 🙂

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Ha! Somehow the avatar fits — in spite of the wisdom and intelligence that comes through — there is something whimsical, curious, very honest — maybe a bit impetuous — that comes through as well. I know that you are not the little girl but I bet it’s not far off in some way.Re change — one of my favorite things to write in a company profile when doing a search is “change is the only constant.” Love that.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Guess I should have “the doctor is in” for my badge today if I am going to psychoanalyze everyone!

          2. Donna Brewington White

            @leigh:disqus I replied to myself but the above comment was supposed to go to you!

          3. William Mougayar

            You’re on a roll, Donna. Are you up early or on the east coat?

          4. Donna Brewington White

            Up late. West Coast. 😉

          5. leigh

            wow.  somehow i feel like i owe you $120 

          6. Mark Essel

            😀 I like the avatar as well.

        2. fredwilson

          Nooooo. Don’t do that here

      2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

        ha…ha… sorry about that. That was the first image (my own hand) from the prototype x-ray detector i made. I loved it so much and I wanted my avatar to represent my research and work interest.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          No worries. It works!

  7. Matt A. Myers

    You’re actually safer posting as Guest if you want anonimity – but people won’t be able to pre-qualify posts value based on the username if at minimum not using a nickname.More importantly – what’s the value lost when a person’s ideas aren’t included in a conversation? Huge I would say, detrimental to society even. Even, for example, if an anonymous person makes a racist comment – what value is there in that? The value is in that it tells us there are still some people with racist tendencies / that there’s some racism in society still.

  8. Donna Brewington White

    What I’m really curious to know is how people’s behavior here reflects their behavior in RL.  For instance, at a party, is “Guest” the person standing outside the cluster, listening in, observing, not sure if he/she wants to display his/her thoughts for scrutiny?  When Guest says “needless to say, I really enjoy commenting…” I want to say, “That’s not true!  It’s not ‘needless to say’ — because that would mean that it is obvious and we don’t need to hear you say it to know it.”  Fake Grimlock is a persona.  Funny thing is even though I know something about his alter ego, when Fake Grimlock is speaking, that is who I hear, not the “other guy.”  But even with the persona, I get the sense at all times that I am interacting with someone real.  Same with Kid.  They are not hiding.Guest is hiding.  Or so it seems.

    1. awaldstein

      Very true.Persistence and a face make you real. (See my comment below.)

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Did see.  Yes!

      2. fredwilson

        Post every day and use a memorable avatar

        1. JamesHRH

          Speaking of which, my avatar is on the blink. Any ideas anybody?

          1. Donna Brewington White

            You’re back!

        2. awaldstein

          Avatars are amazingly powerful.We key off of them for recognition and familiarity, the big building blocks for social connections.

          1. fredwilson

            AVC was an accidentmy avatar was an accidentdisqus was an accident (sort of)i didn’t make any of those choices intentionally. i just adopted what was in front of me. that’s pretty much my investing strategy too. i’m a lucky guy.

          2. awaldstein

            Yeah…lucky you are. And you deserve it.But luck is just a little piece of it. Innate intuition and massive amounts of smart hard work make it happen. And lucky for all of us to have avc and Disqus as our sandbox.(Would of course love to know the Disqus story.)I like the idea of ‘haphazard occurrence’ from the surrealists. Less about accidental and more about just following your nose and instincts and rolling forward into value.Directed stumbling forward. Life is kinda like that.

          3. fredwilson

            “directed stumbling” is exactly right to describe how i use the web, how i invest in the web, and how i write this blogdaniel and jason hacked together the first version of disqus for the summer y combinator demo day when it was still in boston the summer of 2007 (when we invested in zynga, twitter, and tumblr in succession over three months, the golden summer of social media)paul graham emailed me and said “these two young hackers want to use AVC to demo their new comment system, will you let them into your typepad account?” i said, “sure”so daniel logged into AVC’s command central and swapped out typepad’s native comment system for disqus. i flew up to Boston and watched them demo disqus v 0.25 on AVC. it was great.afterwards, we were mingling with the teams and daniel came up to me and said “what do you think?” i said “it’s great but can you email me every comment and let me reply to the email and have it post as a reply?”. he turned to Jason and said “can we do that?” jason said “hmm, i think so” that was a thursday i thinkon monday, daniel emailed me and said “the email thing is working” i said “ok. disqus stays. you guys rock”that’s how the first close went. it took daniel three months more to get meto write a check. chapter two tomorrow.

          4. awaldstein

            Thanks much for sharing the Disqus story below Fred. I use the term sandbox for avc a lot as it’s a community development platform for ideas and products.The Disqus story is a case in point.

    2. Cam MacRae

      Kinda mirrors the workplace, doesn’t it? Or at least a certain kind of workplace.The key to running a good meeting, or being a great bartender it seems, is to cultivate a culture where the “Guest” types feel safe. What I love about this place is that scrutiny doesn’t ever amount to ridicule. Still anonymity is a necessity for a lot of people: I once knew a CIO (of a mid cap, no less) with a paranoia that ran so deep he’d trawl the internet looking from comments of all kinds from employees, very often putting 2 and 2 together to make 7 and a half. Although it’s as ludicrous as it is extreme, there’s an awful lot of people towards that end of the curve. Me? I’d probably hide too.I hope guest gets an alias sorted and joins in soon.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I don’t think I’d make a good bartender.  Although being married to an introvert has helped.I have to remember that what looks like hiding to me, may be necessary anonymity for someone or just someone being quiet.  I always wanted to be one of those quiet people. Very true what you said about AVC:  “scrutiny doesn’t ever amount to ridicule.”  Reminds me of something I reblogged  that @awaldstein:disqus posted in a comment about this community.

        1. Cam MacRae

          And you’re back! I suppose it sat in a spam bucket for a bit.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        I replied to you and it disappeared.  Let’s see if it turns up.  Happening a lot to me lately.

        1. Cam MacRae

          I saw it, went and read the post, came back and it disappeared! I didn’t want to reply in case you killed it.What I love about a certain class of quiet people is that not much gets past them, so when they do speak up it’s something profound.Edit: Thought I should clarify “a certain class” – I mean quiet listeners.

          1. Donna Brewington White

            Maybe because I included a link?  Oh well.

          2. Aaron Klein

            I had the same thing happen the other day with a comment from awaldstein. Got the Disqus email, clicked through and the comment wasn’t there. Replied to the email but neither comment ever showed up.

          3. fredwilson

            The spammers are attacking disqus with a vengeance. What you are witnessing are false positives. Same happens with emails. Spammers suck

          4. awaldstein

            Yesterday I was designated as ‘spam’ and couldn’t comment for most of the day, Daniel and Tyler and the team are there watching our backs.

          5. Donna Brewington White

            @awaldstein:disqus To designate you as SPAM is a loss to us all!

      3. fredwilson

        I love debate and hate ridicule. Everyone has an opinion and is entitled to voice it

        1. ShanaC

          Are there opinions we should just throw out though as total junk.  I keep thinking about Michelle Bachmann and her opinion that Gardasi(HPV vaccine) l means we approve of promiscuity.How open should we be?

          1. fredwilson

            Listen, think about it, reject it as nonsense

          2. Dale Allyn

            But to qualify as “critical thinking” one must take care not to draw conclusions (or over-weight the value) from sound bites, or sources with an agenda. (Referring to current events generally.) I find too many take information from one type of source and form opinions based on biased input. I wish more people would consider points raised by various sources and apply critical thinking before pulling the voting lever. It’s much more “work”, but worthwhile. 

          3. JamesHRH

            You should zazzle this into a T

          4. ShanaC

            How do we do that en mass as a society online?

          5. Cam MacRae

            Hear and evaluate until your junk threshold is reached, but don’t set your threshold too low – even the raving mad make sense some of the time.

          6. Ashish Tomar

            hmmm..How to Disagree?Here is a great essay by Paul Graham…Now Michelle Bachmann is a ^%$#@ 🙂

          7. JamesHRH

            Great link Ashish!My wife leads large teams. She uses a model that is up another layer from PG’s DH:1) easy to solve level – factual disagreement2) hard to solve – interpretation disagreement3) very hard to solve – values disagreementIn startup land, if you get 3) – say, b/t an investor and a founding team – you’ve got a four act Shakespearean tragedy on your hands…….

        2. Cam MacRae

          It’s a good attitude to take. It amazes me how many people who have a modicum of success in the tech develop smartest guy in the room syndrome. Everyone is smarter than you about something.

      4. Donna Brewington White

        Well the main thing I wanted to say in the lost comment is that your statement that “scrutiny doesn’t ever amount to ridicule” here really resonated.  I’m learning a lot from Fred about people tending.  (although he calls it bartending)



      1. Donna Brewington White

        That is so scary.  But good scary.

      2. JamesHRH

        I had a girlfriend who was from away say that about beer and my closest circle of friends.One of the best compliments I have received.

    4. ShanaC

      I think Guest is developing a voice.And to answer your question: my behavior has affected my life fairly positively.  I think you knew that one though.

    5. guest

      I’m guest and I have a strong voice. Yes, I’m hiding. Maybe I want to run for office one day. Do I want comments that I made when I was 29 years old come back to haunt me?

      1. tuyenvo

        I can sympathize with this sentiment.  I do believe that the political landscape is so screwed up that people will nitpick at the smallest things a candidate has done or said versus looking at a person’s overall record.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        Are you the same “guest” in Fred’s post? You are now a celebrity.  Hiding is your perogative and it sounds like you have some thoughtful reasons for doing so.  Political aspirations would certainly be a reason.  Especially depending on which country you are in.Thanks, guest.  I’m honored.

  9. leigh

    The generation that has grown up with the network will not see anonymity as a driver of polite behaviour.  It will become less and less important and things will rarely come back to haunt anyone bc even the bosses will have had a photo of themselves drunk on Facebook as a Teenager.

    1. ShanaC

      I’m not so sure.  Enough young people are disgusted in that “can’t look away from a carcrash way” with reality show lifestyles.

      1. JamesHRH

        On a plane recently, asked a 25yo finance guy if he watched reality TV (I don’t). Yes, was the answer. But not ……., which he then disparaged!There are probably 7 categories of reality TV. Survivor founder quoted somewhere as “I am not creating a show, I am creating an entirely new category of shows.’ He was right.Maybe, in 2025, not being able to scrub your online faux pas will be a indicator that you are not that serious about your career?

      2. leigh

        I just mean that worrying about comments “biting them in the ass” in the future will be less of a concern when everyone has the same issue…….

        1. ShanaC

          I honestly don’t see that happening.  I wonder, often, if some of my comments online can cause discrimination in say hiring/firing.  Comments about my health, for example.

          1. Cam MacRae

            Let’s flip that on its head: you really don’t want to work for someone who would discriminate against you because of something you said online.

          2. ShanaC

            Probably, but things like medical….

          3. Cam MacRae

            Probably, but things like medical….Well… I’m fortunate right now to live in a country where discrimination on the basis of a chronic health problem is illegal  (within limitations of course, you can’t captain a passenger jet with a dicky heart etc.).Anyway, I think my comment still stands.

    2. William Mougayar

      There could be a variety of reasons for anonymity…could be a fun thing to amplify a part of one’s identity to any other kind. I would be interesting to understand the various reasons.

      1. leigh

        Multiplicity is a big shift — we won’t start seeing the good research on how the network effect is changing identity within culture for a while.  I keep my ears and eyes open but academic research while it rocks, it does so bc it takes time.  

        1. Cam MacRae

          danah boyd’s PhD dissertation makes for interesting reading. Google: danah boyd. (2008). Taken Out of Context: American Teen Sociality in Networked Publics 

    3. andyidsinga

      It certainly is quickly balancing out to ‘be careful about the pics’ and ‘that was just a youthful indescretion’. Now i just need my teenager to stay on the be careful side :)Anonymity is still both useful and fun. Fake Grimlock reminds me of that person who shows up to a halloween party with the most amazng costume and act to go along with it …and nobody can guess who it is.

      1. JamesHRH

        Great analogy for GRIM – dull, uninteresting people don’t pull off a high quality schtick.



    4. raycote

      I’d love to believe that the future holds a networked culture of political openness and idealogical tolerancebut I can’t purge the echo in my head”FOOLS RUSH IN WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD”I’m probably just old and paranoid!

  10. JimHirshfield

    Like Fred, I use a concatenym.Hard to believe identity stopped the above mentioned person from commenting more. I think most people prefer to spectate, as if watching TV.

    1. fredwilson

      New word for me. I like it

  11. Donna Brewington White

    Couple of ideas.  Would be interesting if we all commented using SoundCloud for one post — say it and then post the link as a comment or with our comment.  Could that even be pulled off?Would be interesting to see a day in which no regulars or instigators commented.  We’d have to be logged out users and listen in.Or maybe just wild thoughts coming from a sleep-deprived brain.

    1. William Mougayar

      It would be an interested experiment, as it offers another data point behind the identity. Almost like peeling the layers of the onion.First, comments.Second, picture.Third, voice.Fourth, knowing the person in real?That said, a 30-sec voice clip could be an optional add-on to someone’s profile. “Hello, my name is so and so, and this is what my voice sounds like….”

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I’ve been thinking about how to add voice to the online experience.  SoundCloud opens up possibilities that I frankly just haven’t had time to explore yet.I remember the first time I heard @Tereza:disqus ‘s voice on the phone and I thought “I recognize this person!”  Same with you!  Now when I “see” you on AVC, I also “hear” you and it makes the experience richer for me.    Even before I knew @JLM:disqus  was from Texas, I was reading him with a Texas accent.  Funny.  And it will be really disappointing when I finally meet @FakeGrimlock:disqus  and he doesn’t sound like cookie monster.But, I digress.  Point is, while some are wanting anonymity, I am wanting even more texture to the online identities…to know and be known, as it were. 

        1. FAKE GRIMLOCK


          1. William Mougayar

            Put it in a Soundcloud link and let us hear 🙂

          2. Donna Brewington White

            YES!!! haha!What are you waiting for FG?@FakeGrimlock:disqus 

          3. Donna Brewington White

            Just a hunch, FG, just a hunch.

  12. andyswan

    @andyswan:disqus does not exist.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      edit: silly comment removed

    2. fredwilson

      You are now the body guard. I just have to find out how to assign you that rank

  13. Kunashe

    I have a tendency to look for insights in comments & get disapponted when they turn out to be just comments.How could you efficiently curate comment sections?

  14. Avi Deitcher

    Ha! I love how you used a slice of comment thread on a prior post to make a new post. What is  the average number of comments per thread? 250? 300? This is one seriously active community.The very idea behind our Freedom of Speech clause is that in openness the best ideas will eventually win out, “best” defined as those that work best, not those that are politically correct at the time. In those days, government (and society, a la Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter”) regularly  used its power to suppress dissent, ostensibly for the “good of the people” or for the “good of society,” although really for the good of those with actual power. In our days, that happens less, mainly because we are so vigilant about it, but societal suppression of a subtler form – blacklisting, cutting out of opportunities – happens regularly, as a natural (if insidious) form of group self-selection. With the rise of the Internet, access to what people say has become more widespread and long-lasting. Whatever I say here will be seen by far more people and last, essentially, forever.Anonymity, or at least some veil, gives far more freedom without concern about reactions, as Anonymous posted in the pasted clip. In many ways, Anonymity extends Freedom of Speech’s  intent further into the Internet.

    1. JLM

      I agree with you more than you agree with yourself.Well played.

      1. peter wolf crier

        you really need to come up with a new catch phrase. that one is pretty stupid.

        1. fredwilson

          i like it better than facebook’s “like”it has more character

        2. JLM

          Pete, it really is stupid.Perhaps not so stupid as lame and trite, don’t you think?Maybe not so stupid and lame and trite as much as sophomoric and maybe a bit childish.Thanks so much for what is really and ultimately a great charitable kindness on your point, well almost rising to the level of a humanitarian gesture.  Saint like reallyYes, saintly.Mother Theresa, saint like don’t you think?Wait, not so much kind and humanitarian but perhaps just wise, wise and telling.Thanks for taking your valuable time to share your kind and humanitarian and wise and telling views with me.Please know that this is a sincere and honest expression of gratitude for you and your helpful insights.Pete, old boy, there are, I am sure, many who would be tempted to simply say — who gives a shit what you think about anything?  Or to dismiss you as just another self importunated little dipshit.But that would be mean spirited and destroy the comity and helpfulness — and really the nobility — that is surely at the root of your comment.  The generosity of your spirit in sharing your keenly insightful words of wisdom.  The helpfulness, don’t you know.But certainly not me.Well played, old boy, really!  And, sincerely, thanks.

          1. Dale Allyn

            ^^ I’ll have what he (JLM) is having! Cheers!

          2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            JLM,  I want to work for you!  I promise to work very hard to push all the right buttons just to see how creative you could be in responding!I would desire nothing more than the opportunity to drive you to even better poetry.A tongue lashing never felt so good!  🙂

          3. JLM

            If I didn’t know better I would almost suspect you thought I was being either insincere or sarcastic!Please know otherwise, friend.

          4. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Nothing that well said, could ever be insincere or sarcastic….

          5. Peter Beddows

            A perfect repartee. In sincerity and authenticity, I could not have put that better myself. Just the ticket; it hit the wicket. Now time for tea.

        3. Donna Brewington White

          Apparently, you have never received a “Well played” from @JLM:disqus Then you’d understand.(I mean a real one.)

          1. JLM

            Donna, darling, they’re all real just some moreso than others!

  15. Cima

    I thought the reason behind using pseudonyms or nicknames was to hide the fact that you were wasting time on the internet from your bosses. Haha! But seriously, @awaldstein:disqus  makes a good point of how a “face” or name makes it easier for people to chat with each other. It’s unwieldy to  refer to someone as Guest or Anon. And so I guess that’s why people sign up for services like Disqus or Gravatar. It’s still a way to insulate your identity from others but it gives you an easier way to get you comments out.By the way, as you can guess, I’m a first time commenter here.  

    1. fredwilson

      Welcome. Please don’t make it the last time

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Impressed that as a first time commenter you know how to use the disqus name feature — as you did for @awaldstein.  

      1. Cima

        Thanks @fredwilson:disqus and @donnawhite:disqus ! It was actually Disqus that led me to this blog. It was featured in their What’s Trending section. I think Twitter and Facebook have the same feature as the @mentions of Disqus. Or is it the other way around? Anyway, it’s still a neat feature.  

  16. Ryan Stephens

    In addition to aliases, I love Richard Millington’s perspective on trolls sometimes being instrumental in the community…”Provocative members perform an interesting role within a community. They unite the community against them. They establish traditions within the community. They create common goals and a stronger sense of community amongst members. The provocative member may be good for the community. This is true for many things the community dislikes. The unity in disliking may be a great solidifier for the community. You remove remove the provocative member and find that activity and the sense of community amongst members drops.”Any instances where you’ve found this to be true on AVC?

    1. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      On dot on provocative comments. But they are just the subset of trolls. Trolls also include totally irrelevant and un-related comment, using bad words, personally insulting someone, and ON TOP OF ALL THAT A COMMENT BECOMES A TROLL ONLY AND ONLY IF WE DON’T KNOW THAT PESONA.I have made some stupid comments in this blog … since few us know my commenting style for the last 2-3 years… they just ignored my stupid comments as “going through a bad phase …get well soon”.

    2. fredwilson

      I initially thought prokofy was a troll. Then I met her.

      1. David Semeria

        …and now you’re sure ! j/k

        1. fredwilson

          Not true. She just violently disagrees with my world view. That’s cool with me

          1. David Semeria

            j/k means joke, Fred.

          2. fredwilson

            Oh. I didn’t know that. Sorry about that

      2. ShanaC

        What is she like in person?

        1. fredwilson

          Same as here but face to face is a different dynamic

          1. matthughes

            I admit that I’ve never actually met someone face to face that I initially met online.I need to do that.(email notwithstanding – not sure if that counts?)

          2. awaldstein

            The ofline/online connection is part of the dynamic that makes this community work.This is not ‘virtual’ reality. It’s connected reality,To me, that’s part of the power and value.

          3. matthughes

            ‘Connected reality’ – I totally agree.

          4. Cam MacRae

            I do all the time. I even married one!

          5. matthughes

            Wow – meeting online, the gift that keeps on giving.

          6. fredwilson

            when i get into a spat with someone online, i almost always ask them to coffee. we often leave as friends

          7. matthughes

            That’s wisdom right there.

          8. ShanaC

            Honestly, having done so multiple times, it is extremely interesting to see how in person dynamics, can change things a lot.

          9. matthughes

            People more dis-armed? More cordial? Less?

          10. Donna Brewington White

            I cannot tell you how fun it is!

          11. ShanaC

            She seems really interesting.  I wonder what she is like…

  17. Harry DeMott

    Do you know the real identities of FAKE GRIMLOCK and  Kid Mercury? (I don’t want to know – just wondering if you do?) and if so, did they ou thtemselves to you – or did you see them through the back end of the blog?

    1. fredwilson

      I’ve met the kid. Super interesting guyThe grimster is still masked to me

      1. Rohan

        I’ve got to start charge royalty for every use of the grimster..  Maybe THAT will get me close to my first million.. 

        1. Matt A. Myers

          His response would be something like:PEOPLE NO PAY. GRIMLOCK EAT YOU INSTEAD.

          1. Rohan

            OF COURSE. WHAT ELSE COULD BE GRIMLOCK ANSWER. AND DONT SAY WHAT I SAY.. GRIMLOCK EATS YOU ALSO (He must be flattered. Imitation is the sincerest form..)

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Nope, I’m his adopted son.. He can’t eat me…….

      2. JamesHRH

        He is not secretive. We have a loose plan to get together and eat some people in the next couple of months…

    2. Mark Essel

      I feel compelled to “meet” the person behind a voice I respect. It’s how I’m wired, and so far I’ve never been disappointed.Without exception the true identity is far more powerful and awesome than the persona. The persona is a fragment, the true identity is the sum of a thousand voices.

    3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      My goal is to meet Fake Grimlock one of these days and he better be about 7 feet tall and weigh in at about 400 lbs!  Or I will have a “Wizard of Oz” moment

      1. Dave W Baldwin

        You just may have to sell him a pajama shirt.

        1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

          …Come out of hiding Fake Grimlock I got a nice big gift for you!  Just what every dinosaur needs, his very own 8X tee shirt!  (which can also act as a tent for a family of 4!)

  18. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    The best quote i know for anonymity is” Man is least himself when talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Been thinking about this one and also @FakeGrimlock:disqus ‘s comment at the top and am uncomfortable with these comments.But I am not sure whether it is only in principle that I am uncomfortable with these.  I guess my goal is to be most myself when in my own person.  Whether I am successful at this is another question. In any event, it is a lifetime goal and I am not willing to cut myself any slack or justify not being authentic — even when I don’t succeed at being so and I cannot say that I always succeed.In my experience, the mask allows me to be less truthful, not more.  And taking the mask off is what allows me to be most truthful.  So, there, I’ve said it.

      1. Peter Beddows

        What particularly struck me about this Donna was that you are a Mother.Do not Mother’s continually have to deal with children who have a tendency to develop imaginary friends and live in their imagination, thus needing to be reminded to “tell the truth” and to “be real”?Of course, Father’s also have a responsibility here but even today in our ever gradual move towards greater shared parental responsibility for upbringing, still the Mother bears the brunt of that responsibility. So perhaps this plays into your unconscious desire for overall authenticity in how you appear to the world?

    2. James Colgan

      I’ve seen tequila work as well 😉



    1. Nick Grossman

      Grim, you are one of my favorites as well.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Careful, he might eat you.

        1. CJ

          Only if @nickgrossman:disqus  is one of HIS favorites! 🙂

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Tasty tasty humans.. I mean ……

    2. raycote

      Some examples could be a lot fun here !I’d toss some examples in here but I’d need an alias to unloose any real fun.

    3. Jon Atrides


      1. Dale Allyn

        @FakeGrimlock:disqus said: “SOME TRUTH ONLY WORK WHEN NOT CHAINED TO IDENTITY”. This rings very true for me.Critical thinkers separate the message from the messenger before dismissing it or accepting it. Sadly, U.S. politics doesn’t embrace this practice.

        1. Donna Brewington White

          Call me “slow” but I’ve been struggling with those statements by @FakeGrimlock:disqus  — your comment helps put it in perspective.  Now I get it.   That feels better.  

        2. Jon Atrides

          Yes, in politics, sometimes a 2D caricature identity will get you further than dealing with anything real or tangible.

        3. Peter Beddows

          “Critical thinkers separate the message from the messenger before dismissing it or accepting it.” <= True that.”Sadly, U.S. politics doesn’t embrace this practice.” <= actually, Pol’s have no awareness of either the practice or the concept with, perhaps, sole exception of Elizabeth Warren!

  20. ShanaC

    Why does it take us so much time to become ourselves on the internet?And do we all need pseudoanonymous alter-egos some days?  Somewhere were we can try out new ideas, were our main “internet personality” won’t get hurt….

    1. William Mougayar

      Good points, but not everybody is expressive (like you are). Some are more reflective, analytical,- others are drivers and want to make their point of view. And others are amiable and sociable (like most of us are). I think the social style of someone is not necessarily related to their desire for anonymity (or lack of).

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I wonder about that.  I wonder how many anonymous extroverts there are and if introverts tend to be more private on the web?

        1. William Mougayar

          There could be a study made to determine how the 4 Social styles (driver, analytical, expressive, amiable) translate into social media behavior & online commentaries. I’ve always thought that traditional expressive personalities took social media like duck to water and thrived in it first. The rest were followers.  

          1. Donna Brewington White

            My guess is that you are right about expressive personalities. Social media feels like coming home.Re your first point, I imagine something like this has been done. Someone did an interesting post once on how DiSC profiles translate to Twitter communication styles.

  21. William Mougayar

    There could be a number of reasons why someone doesn’t use their real names. The variety of answers might be very interesting. To those not using their real names: The “real” reason I choose not use my “real” name, because (fill in the blank)…

    1. LE

      When going into a new situation it’s good to know the lay of the land before you open your mouth and say something you might regret.As an example I remember a reply from someone where they toldFake Grimlock that what he was doing annoyed them. Someone replied very nicely saying that Grimlock was “much loved” etc. and I think to “lay off Grimlock”.Now my first reaction to Grimlock wasn’t positive.But the more I read his comments I found that I actually liked what he had to say and how much I agreed with him most of the time. And how much work it takes to boil something down to a few sentences.In a sense Grimlock actually benefited by the contrast principleby starting out in a negative position. If his handle had beenMensa185 I’m not sure he could have lived up to that. (I’d onlygive him a 180). 

      1. fredwilson

        i loved the grimster from the minute he showed up. in fact, i was blown away that someone could be that cool in a blog comment

  22. Danial J

    Lol great post, I have been reading this blog and bothsidesofthetable just as long. First ever comment :DJust never felt the need to comment, so much to learn. You guys pretty much were my fifth course at university lol keep writing and thanks again, ppl from other countries owe you a lot!Cheers.DJ

    1. Donna Brewington White

      That is very nice.

    2. fredwilson

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment

    3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Same here. I view this blog as a Room which extends across continents filled with Wranglers.

    4. ShanaC

      You know, it was like that for me too in school.  I say comment more – I learned a lot more by getting involved (you know how there are those classes in university where you get the most out the class when you have classroom debates…it can be like that here sometimes.)

  23. Brandon Burns

    glad to see mostly positive feedback. observation on the negative feedback: the commenters usually use unsubstantiated “facts” and tangental anecdotes to support their case which, to me, are biased gut feelings masked as a real argument. look who’s hiding now…  

  24. Nathan Hangen

    This is interesting…reminds me of the old mIRC days when some of the best discussions I’ve ever had took place under the veil of anonymity. It works the same on message boards too.I don’t know what it is about blog comments that I feel the need to use real names or nothing at all. Perhaps it started with backlinks and now I’m too lazy to create a fake profile or invest in a new anon identify. 

  25. Guest

    If you want to create a Cheers, how can I know Norm without truly knowing his name?  What if Cliff the mailman was really Lance the system admin?  Only the truth will set you free.

    1. fredwilson

      does it matter that Norm is his real name?

      1. JamesHRH

        Not if he’s funny….

      2. Guest

        Of course!  ” Man is least himself when talks in his own person.  Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar WildeIs that really the truth if he is wearing a mask during his revelation?  It is easy for someone to make far reaching and bold statements under the guise of a false identity.  It’s much harder to put your true name on the line and genuinely make those same strong claims.In a business climate where we value transparency, are those same principles congruent with actions that applaud anonymity?

        1. fredwilson

          i love nicknames, they add personality

          1. Dale Allyn

            Like “Jimmy the Weasel” and “Machine Gun Kelly”?   ;)

          2. fredwilson

            yes, but i think ours are better

          3. JamesHRH

            Joey ‘Bagadonuts’?

    2. Luke Chamberlin

      Using a nickname or pseudonym is different than telling lies.

  26. Tom Labus

    So what happens if we have a President who doesn’t believe in science or the Net and his financial backers don’t think it would be a good idea to be “anonymous” online or maybe there are too many people speaking out online?They may think it’s a good idea to contact you after your last rant.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      You mean if we have a President who sets up a website to report when someone “talks out of school” about him or his policies? That would be bad, no?

      1. Tom Labus

        No question on that one, Dave.  That was bad move.My concern is more a calculated menace that would go after the Net on a large scale.

  27. Carl J. Mistlebauer

    I think the most fascinating aspect of AVC is the fact that people actually do comment; that they actually do interact.Regardless of whether they do so under an alias or under their name, they do share and involve themselves.  That is not the norm.Of course most of the folks who comment here are in the “innovation” industry and that makes a difference.  Obviously, sharing is a trait that benefits everyone in this industry.  I started blogging a couple of months ago, because its one of those things that everyone says you have to do and I wanted to personally experience the “who, why, what, when, and how” of blogging before I committed to it.I am surprised at the number of people that read my blog, but all of the interaction, outside of AVC readers, has been via email, phone, or commenting when meeting me in person.  There still seems to be a big hurdle to overcome, and that is the concept that the internet is about participation and that participation is a two way street.  The vast majority of people seem to view communication as a poker game.I never learned to play poker or golf for that matter, and I always failed the “…need to know” test that is prevalent in some industries and or companies, but I do hope that the AVC community does represent the future.

    1. fredwilson

      me too

      1. Kieffer Sutherland

        me three

    2. JamesHRH

      I doubt that will change Carl. Poker comes with politics. Politics shows up when people have something to lose…..

      1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

        James, sadly I agree with you! But the reality is communication and knowledge is NOT a zero sum game. If it was I would have had to fold 2 decades ago.Honestly, I feel guilty in the fact that I believe I take more from AVC then I put in….but then again one of my motto’s (I have two) is that if you do not bring anything to the table you do not eat.But I have to acknowledge that folks love their politics and their intrigue.

      2. ShanaC

        How about for gain

    3. Carl Rahn Griffith

      Conversation/debate/(civil) arguments are vital to ensure our old grey matter remains necessarily stimulated and our viewpoints (if we’re open enough) are questioned, analysed, iterated. That’s how we learn – and better understand others.For all the talk of Social Media there is – it seems to me – all too often the stance of “listen to me!” which is not very social, at all. No interaction, civility or debate.Environments such as this stimulate, even if it’s just one small comment from each thread – doesn’t have to be a life-changing bit of prose or theoretical analysis.Curiosity is one of the most wonderful things in the world, along with altruism – and I witness plenty of that here – and have been lucky enough to benefit greatly from the latter, recently, which has helped me greatly during a difficult past few weeks.

      1. Peter Beddows

        As we would respond in the UK to this observation Carl: “Hear, hear!”. You are so right on (as we would say in America. 🙂 )

    4. CJ

      Life with two young kids (both under two) is that I no longer have enough time to play poker as much as I’d like.  /tangent

    5. Peter Beddows

      Well said Carl. I totally agree with you and I’m very glad you’ve started blogging.

  28. Jan Cifra

    I am just curious – what do you guys think about the identity question in the context of in contrast to identity providers like Google or Facebook? I understand the annonymity here – we are here all to discuss and learn from each other. But on social networks – I want to know who is who. The recent issues Google+ had with identity underscores this. Opinions?

    1. leigh

      I think that the term social network is too broad to determine the dynamic when it comes to identity of one vs. the other.  Facebook, i have lots of pics of my kids and my life so knowing someone’s identity is key.  Twitter, not so much.  Here not at all.  long way to say, it just depends 🙂

  29. ShanaC

    Meanwhile, an article on the front page of the NYTimes is now discussing when anonymity goes badly in rural american:

  30. Mark Birch

    The reason this blog works is because it is community that has been nurtured over several years by Fred and it core contributors.  The best way I can describe it is the late night college philosophy sessions.  People come and go and the debates ebb and flow, but it is free and open and almost everyone contributes greatly to the conversation.  And no offense to Fred, but I frankly learn more in the comments than in the posts.The problem is that this is one of the few places online for that.  I tend not to comment too much, mainly because I personally dislike engaging with anonymous personalities.  Very few people that post anonymously have anything to add to the conversation, except here.  I think it comes down to what type of community you want and the values you espouse.I wrote a bit about that this morning before I saw Fred’s post, but the discussion here really brings to the forefront some of my own thoughts on the subject

    1. Anne Johnson

      Another blog with a deep bench of intelligent commenters, astutely moderated, belongs to Charles Stross, writer ..…His most recent post “What would you like me to write about next” has unusually many comments, at 500+. Unlike Fred, Charlie doesn’t show up anywhere else at all – no Twitter, Facebook, G+. Many of the commenters are anonymous. Like this one, and as in old time Usenet news, one should spend some time (at least weeks) reading the blog before commenting, if one is not to make a complete idiot of oneself … 

      1. Mark Birch

        That looks like a great blog, and I will take the advice of reading for a while before commenting.BTW, is your twitter background a pic of Hong Kong? I was just curious.

        1. Anne Johnson

          It is Hong Kong – taken just off Cyberport Rd. Well spotted.Anne

      2. fredwilson

        old school

    2. fredwilson

      if the posts were more valuable than the comments, then i’d be giving more value than i’m getting. that might be unsustainable

  31. panterosa,

    Interesting how the internet has created a new sense of entitlement – in terms of knowing everything about people. As an anonymous poster I value my privacy, but also others’ privacy as well. Well, at least for those who would like to have some privacy.My mother is English and came to this country in her 20’s. She said the most interesting thing about meeting Americans was when their ability to figure out where you were from, where you went to school, and who you knew, were flummoxed in her case that they had to take her at face value of who she was without all that info. People in the US ask me the same questions and try to connect me to something they know. As if that info could replace actually having a conversation. Europeans where I lived did not know, much less care, who I knew or or where I summered or prepped etc.  We often have a false sense of Knowing people, which the internet has not solved.

    1. ShanaC

      Why do you think we’ve developed this kind of entitlement?

      1. panterosa,

        Many people’s internet reliance on information, but personal information in particular, has led us to take for granted the things we can find there.The ease and speed of this information deceives us into thinking we can reliably, and quickly, form a remote picture of a person, and so we use it as a shorthand almost. Within few clicks we have a hasty collage of someone’s facebook, linkedin, twitter, disqus, and you name it links, which then lulls us into thinking we know something about this person. We become lazy when in fact we think we are becoming smarter by ‘knowing more’. It is the antithesis of the AVC vibe, where developing relationships through discussion of issues on a regular basis leads to online and offline community and individual bonds.

  32. Mark Birch

    And for the record, I think FAKE GRIMLOCK is the best anonymous personality currently on the Internet, even though I still believe it is simply Fred’s alter-ego…

    1. fredwilson


  33. RacerRick

    Mr. Guest has only a couple hundred comments to go before he can make it from “newcomer” to “regular”.  

    1. guest

      Mr. Guest here. I’m not a status seeker. Thanks for the encouragement though 🙂

  34. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

    Yep, plenty of awesome characters around here. 

  35. Eric Leebow

    It’s fine for a blog to use a fake name, yet when it causes problems you got to take action when you’re trying to make a real social experience. I just disabled an account on FreezeCrowd (the social networking site I launched) for signing up as Bat Man, and he posted some distasteful pictures and comments, only with attempts to be a trolling user.  If the Internet is the future, and our future school yearbooks and school connections are through social networking sites such as the one I started.  We don’t want to encourage this behavior.  If you don’t want to sign up for a service, or sign up only to do something wrong, such as attack your ex, or say bad things about the service, then it’s a different story.  You must realize that Disqus is a service for blogs on the Web, whereas some other social networking services might not leverage the Web right away and serve a different purpose.  “Guest Name” or “John Doe” (not a real John Doe) on a social network is not someone who is interested in using the service, they are just signing up to play around, or possibly they could be causing some harm to someone else, etc.

    1. JamesHRH

      As long as they play nice…..who cares?

    2. Emeri Gent [Em]

      I always wondered whether Lewis Carroll’s writing would be improved if we insisted that only his real name could be printed, or I think of J.D. Salinger who did use his real name and once he became “known”, locked himself away from society because he was adamant about retaining his privacy.Just because terms like Facebook conjures up warm feelings of the school yearbook, does not mean that what kids do with their yearbooks after they buy one makes absolute sense.  Indeed in the world of apps, I am thankful that I have lots of kids in my home to show me the ways of the up and coming generation.  I have to be clever though because their lives are their lives and I only get to see some of the apps, not all.  As a parent demanding that I see everything is simply thought police singing in the rain of the downpouring fear – after all, even if I allowed myself to utilize the mechanisms of distrust – it will only send my kids further underground.One of the apps I know one of my daughters likes is FML.  I was absolutely astonished what those initials mean, I must surely be out of touch with the sign of the times feeling rather old school even thinking about what those initials mean.FML Website best I can do is gain an appreciation why the kids in her school dig this app, the best I can do is recognize that it is a phase or a moment a kid has.  I sure had my non-digital moments as a kid in school, the difference now is that all those moments can get whisked into a digital life recording.  I don’t have to go to FML because it does nothing for me, but it is a part of the lay of the land and I am not going to stick my head in the ground and pretend that political correctness turned all adults into thoughtful, tidy and upright people. (It didn’t, it turned adults IMHO into awful, chidy and uptight people).We cannot make things disappear if we are uncomfortable about them, but we can always examine the underlying nature of the fear we are experiencing and then ask ourselves whether being riskless and harmless is actually possible – the moment we express something that previously used to be locked inside our head, how it lands and what others think of it is out of our control.  What is in our control is recognizing that if we would rather be good and decent and honourable and operate at our best virtue – that much we do control, and I say kudos to all those who succeed (but I know that is the road less travelled).I read a piece by JLM in an earlier part of the thread here, where he was guns blazing at a comment that was based on him saying “Well Played”.  Others might respond with silence, or even kindness but what JLM’s response reminded me again, is that while the immature do need guiding – we are not “one size fits all” – no one has to like what comes out of my mind, this is only my opinion and/or observation – and it is mine to deal with and learn from, now that I have expressed it in this moment.[Em]

      1. JLM

        Never underestimate the power or impact of boredom. Oft times I find myself responding to something that would otherwise never get a rise out of me just because I am waiting for something to happen.Right now I am waiting for a thunderstorm to clear KILM so I can dart back to my preferred life.Boredom and a fast set of fingers have caused more mischief than other things in my life.For which I abjectly apologize, friend. No real harm meant, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

        1. Emeri Gent [Em]

          Don’t quite see what the apology is for JLM, fast fingers that come with a great heart is usually a recipe for an authentic moment.As far as I can see, I saw a remark directed at you, and you stood up for yourself.  As far as my reading of your response was, you made it clear that you are not a guy who is going to be messed around by anyone, and so I applaud that. Candor in the hands of people who speak from the heart is a rare thing these days and yours was exercised with applomb.  In other words your words expressed as they were, were one of defined character. What I was saying was that one size does not fit all.  In other words we all have our own unique ways that we can respond to those who trash a community up.  Eric Leebow is right that we can’t passively sit by but I believe that one should not create a policy to subvert the subversive or isolate a specific group who operate differently.  It needs community members like yourself to stand up where it is necessary to stand up for oneself. It is not a crime of passion to do that, and that is why one size does not fit all.  A community of intelligent people tend to get more things right than a community that labels it’s trangressors.  Misunderstandings and mistakes are disruptions I learn from – it simply reminds me that I can do a better job of communicating.  Yet the disruptive moment also is a great learning moment.  An act of vandalism is an act of vandalism, but a personal attack, that can be readdressed. I do believe that intelligence has this great self-organizing capacity.  When we reflect on something (even an awful thing) we can be refreshed through our actions.  Since one size does not fit all, I find it instructive how individual people respond to a similiar situation, and here I enjoy the diversity of choices exercised.  To appreciate that is to watch individuality in action, and sometimes when we get stuck in talking about a group norm or in defense of the realm – we forget that we are all human, and we all err.  A perfect human is a machine.[Em]

  36. Aaron Klein

    Fred, Disqus isn’t posting my email replies again…I’ll ping them about it but in response to the tax comment you made here:, I replied two hours ago:And I respect that. But the President saying that Warren Buffett pays lower taxes than his secretary, just because his income isn’t double taxed, is disingenuous.

    1. Cam MacRae

      And if a word of that were true I hereby put my hand up to be Warren Buffett’s secretary.

      1. Aaron Klein


      2. JamesHRH

        Cam – didn’t Buffet say he pays tax at a lower rate than his secretary?

        1. Aaron Klein

          I think @cammacrae:disqus is saying that if it is true, it means Buffett’s secretary is actually making more income than Buffett and thus he wants the job.Gains on capital invested is NOT income. You paid income taxes on the money when you earned it, then you invested it, and millions of us (especially entrepreneurs) have jobs because we convinced you to put it at risk.Double taxing job creation capital as income is ridiculous.

          1. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Does capital create jobs or does demand?  Is capital gains tax actually double taxation?  

          2. Aaron Klein

            The capital that Fred manages has most definitely facilitated the creation of jobs, and often before the demand materialized. :)I don’t consider investment gains income. We’re asking people who often have already paid 45% of their income out in taxes to take the other 55% and risk it to create jobs. That investment can, and often does, go to zero and the investor gets NOTHING.So yeah, taxing the result of that investment that you made with post-income tax money feels a lot like double taxation to me. At the very least, we’re rewriting a compact that we made with the job creators, which recent turbulence notwithstanding, has built a pretty incredible country over the last 235 years.The President should try being honest and just call for quadrupling the capital gains tax.

          3. Carl J. Mistlebauer

            Yes, Fred is a gambler, but even he hopes and prays that what he invests in gains traction and market acceptance (aka “demand”) so that someone will buy one of these companies and he scores a home run.Anybody who pays 45% taxes needs to shoot their CPA!Capital gains is calculated based on subtracting the original investment from the gain and taxing only the gain….not the original investment, then you can also write off your losses.The reality is, for 235 years we have had duties and tariffs, not open markets and corporate taxes and capital gain taxes were double what they are now….in fact we even taxed dividends twice.

          4. guest

            No, Fred is not a gambler, he’s a service provider. He invests other’s money and is paid a service fee and an incentive fee.-Mr. guest

        2. Cam MacRae

          Sorry, I could have worded that better. @aaronklein:disqus has my meaning.

    2. Dave Pinsen

      The credulity of the media surprises me sometime. Have they asked Buffett to provide his and his secretary’s tax returns so an objective third party could calculate their effective tax rates? I wrote about this on my old blog a few years ago (in a post that’s been getting more hits after Obama’s speech, “Does Warren Buffett’s Secretary Have a Higher Effective Tax Rate than Him?”). I suppose it’s possible that Buffett’s secretary has a higher effective tax rate than him, but it seems unlikely.In any case, tweaking the income tax rate — or even the capital gains rate — won’t have much affect on what Buffett pays. For that, you’d need a wealth tax (something an FT editorial mooted a few weeks ago, in response to Buffett’s NYT op/ed).

      1. Aaron Klein

        The key word is effective.I’m just glad the President is laying this all out on the table. We have long understood in this country that once you earn money and pay income taxes on it, we want to encourage you to put it at risk to create jobs, and if you’ll do that, you’ll pay a lower rate on your gains you enjoy in exchange.The President seems to think that the best way to free up capital and create jobs is to double tax it at income tax rates.Who does he think creates jobs? The war on prosperity continues unabated.

      2. JLM

        It is time for Warren to give his secretary a “carried interest” in his deals.  Cheapskate.

        1. Mark Essel

          Hehehe, good morning laugh. And honest!I wouldn’t mind a lower tax rate on my income, in truth I invest my time just as another invests their dollars. Of course I cash in on my time before capital gains would kick in.

    3. Dave W Baldwin

      @daveinhackensack:disqus more amazing is how the opposition to Obama cannot seem to make a simple understandable counter argument…. then repeat it.Get much more from you two (ok, throw in Grim) than from those that are paid to do the job.

    4. Nicholas Kneuper

      Yes, they are basing this off the assumption that most millionaires pay a lower taxe rate because most of their income is taxed as capital gains… which simply isn’t true:The president proposed the rule after Buffett complained he was paying taxes at a lower rate than his secretary. Democrats said he’s not the only one — according to Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid’s office, 22,000 people who make over $1 million a year pay taxes at a rate of less than 15 percent. According to the IRS, nearly 1,500 households reporting more than $1 million in income paid no federal income taxes in 2009. That’s out of about 236,000 returns for income above $1 million, most of which belong to households paying taxes at a higher rate. And, as would be expected, they contribute a disproportionate share of tax toward federal coffers. Link:…Total Returns for Income > $1 million a year.6% = # of returns that paid no income tax9% = # of returns that paid 15% tax (capital gains)90% = Paid 29% tax on averageBasically, Obama is basing his argument on a tax loophole that only 9% of top earners benefit from. Yet, he wants to raise taxes on 100% of top earners.

      1. Aaron Klein

        And my point is that it isn’t a loophole – it’s the foundation upon which this country’s prosperity has been built.Earn your money. The federal, state and local governments will take 45% of it if you’re a top earner.And then, if you’re willing to risk losing the other 55% post-tax money for the sake of creating jobs and economic growth that helps everyone, we won’t tax you again at income rates for the upside potential you have a small chance to see.If the President really thinks he can create jobs by effectively quadrupling the capital gains tax, he is far less intelligent than I’ve always thought.

        1. Mark Essel

          Desperate folks make poor decisions.

      2. Mark Essel

        Thanks Nicholas, appreciate the info in this comment as my current events tracking for political decisions is close to zero.

    5. not shana c

      wait, aren’t you on, like, a four hour car ride in which you’re communicating with all of your various and sundry stackholders? how do you even have time to comment on current events?!?!?!?! you’re such a fucking tool.

      1. Aaron Klein

        Fred, I think it’s time for a new category here at Cheers. 🙂

        1. not shana c

          I’ve been commenting on this blog since 2006. I’d be a “regular” if i didn’t get so annoyed by sycophants.

          1. K_Berger

            Interesting that the result of your being annoyed since 2006 is that you post anonymously.  Are you afraid that people would like you too much and then have to deal with all of us sucking up?

        2. fredwilson

          its called dickhead

      2. fredwilson

        tempted to delete this onethoughts everyone?

        1. Dale Allyn

          I was going to suggest it. It could have stayed if only a difference of opinion, but name calling is never acceptable IMO.

        2. Aaron Klein

          For what it’s worth, it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been called worse. :)And thank you for making me startle everyone on my flight by laughing out loud upon receiving your suggestion of the new ranking…

        3. ShanaC

          i’m going to take it as a weird complement

        4. guest

          AVC is monarchy, not a democracy. Send him to The Clink!!-Mr. guest

        5. Donna Brewington White

          Do it!

      3. Tom Labus

        Come on buddy, you need to get real.

      4. ShanaC

        news to me….

      5. ShanaC

        also, if you have a problem with me, email me…

  37. Luke Toland

    I like comments for their insight. But often times I feel as though sometimes the post is self explanatory or perhaps I just don’t have anything of value to add, so don’t. Hence I lurk in the shadows. From time to time though, I can be nudged into submission (pardon the pun).I love that AVC is a proponent of anonymous discussion. The discourse is almost always polite, respectful and insightful. That’s more a function of the topic matter and the user base though. The signal to noise ratio deteriorates on other sites so I can’t blame them for attempting to impose real identities on comments.

  38. Guest

    How do we know for sure that those comments were made by the same person?You can check by their email, obviously, but the community can’t.I’d say that’s the problem with allowing guest posting. I agree that not forcing people to post with their real name is of benefit though. By the way, this is my first post, and I’m posting because I’ve just realised I can post as a guest.Funny old world.

    1. guest

      they were…it’s me 🙂

    2. JamesHRH

      How can you tell that this isn’t my wife typing? Easily, by the tone and style.

      1. Guest

        Very true when there is a user that I regularly read comments from, but when there are so many Guests, picking tone of voice from one paragraph isn’t easy, as you suggest it is.What’s interesting is that I prefer to post anonymously, but I prefer to read comments from users that I know post comments generally of interest. Guests are mostly noise to me.Still, this post generated two comments, so I guess it’s not just noise to everyone.

  39. Mysportwagon

    Real names have real consequences. is a great resource,  with its vibrant community, challenging topics and its presentation and promotion of many differing opinions. This site is great for search engines and their spiders with all of it’s regular updating and relevant topics.Five years ago (at which was 3 or 4 prior iterations of this blog), I posted a comment using my real name to the site.  Those comments now come up in the top 10 when you search my name, which is cool until you have a reporter at local business journal rag find those comments to make disparaging comments about you based on those old comments.P.S. my comments in my post were dead on, just replace the nouns.

  40. kenberger

    Respect it, totally fine with it, but I just don’t get it. Life’s too short. If it’s worth saying, then it’s worth attaching to my real name.When I was a radio DJ at college, there too I was the only one who used a name rather than a handle. Truth is stranger than fiction. Masks just make the face sweat.

    1. JamesHRH

      Ken you likely have an interesting backstory. But I can’t make jokes about eating people for dinner with it.

      1. kenberger

        hmm. ok that’s helpful to see how others find utility in this way.

  41. kenberger

    Dear Disqus: very cool progress on the score/placement badge.Now, I want to take some of my points to spend here on virtual goods.I’d buy a vanity badge to list me as an AVC “irregular”. (Of course it would be even cooler if that just magically happened.)

  42. MartinEdic

    I may be the odd man out here but I am only interested in the comments of those using real names, whether it is here, on Facebook, Twitter or anywhere else. The only reasons I can think of for hiding behind an avatar is a lack of faith in your own thinking, fear of retribution or of having something you say come back to haunt you. Using your real identity tells me you have confidence in your own logic and have thought through the consequences of having a public stance.

    1. guest

      Your overestimation of your intellect and logic just may come back to haunt you.On a different note, if you’re member of the establishment (business, politics, higher ed, etc) and you criticize the establishment…see what happens.  

      1. MartinEdic

        ‘Guest’, you are a perfect example of what I’m talking about. Do I catch a whiff of paranoia?

        1. guest

          Not paranoid. For example, in 2006 I blogged about my staunch support for GW Bush’s policies. I would feel like an idiot today if that blog was still available to the public. 

          1. guest

            Let me take that back…not an idiot, but it’s not reflective of what I believe today.

    2. Dale Allyn

      I read every comment, whether attributed to a “real name” or not, then weigh the content on its own merit. If the comment happens to be from a named individual whose previous posts have been insightful to me, then that contributes to the weight. So, in my view, the anonymous nature doesn’t really lower value for me, but lowers value (or leverage) for the commenter himself/herself, because it may lack context. A pseudonym which is used consistently is not the same as “anon” to me, because I have an opportunity to develop an understanding of that person’s personality and presented values. However, I prefer that there is a link with the name (or pseudonym) to a blog or company website, etc. because I visit every one to learn about who is behind the labels.

    3. JamesHRH

      If you don’t read GRIM’s comments you miss out on one of the sharpest startup minds online. Your loss.His logic holds together over time and he has thought through the consequence of having a public stance (so he does not take one).Plus, its a great schtick.

    4. Pete Griffiths

      It seems to me that ‘fear of retribution’ is an extremely good reason for anonymity.  there are MANY cases where such fear is absolutely legitimate.  To rule out the comments of those driven to anonymity will rule a great deal of potentially revealing information out for anyone who does it.

      1. MartinEdic

        Agreed Pete. When we’re talking about life and death issues like the uprisings of the Arab Spring your point is well taken. However many of these topics on blogs like Fred’s are about subjects that are unlikely to be so controversial, hence my feelings about anonymity.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          I understand.  But I can imagine some people having good reason to be nervous even on a blog like this.  They may have legitimate professional reasons.I think the key point is that whilst it is easy to have a general preference for clear identity it is much harder to pin down all the legitimate counter examples.  They tend to come in many different shapes and sizes and are hard to ‘legislate’ for.  So my preference is to let the audience choose and moderate trolls and losers out of the community.

    5. ShanaC

      go somewhere like – a lot of the comments are anonymous because of the fear of being kicked out of schools, synagogues. And it isn’t a real fear either (has happened to people I know)

  43. AVCoholic

    I’ve also always been a consumer of AVC and have yet to comment. Since you’re the bartender and I’m fairly addicted to it, I guess I’m AVC Alcoholic

    1. William Mougayar

      Aha..we’re all addicted to AVC. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here.

    2. fredwilson

      you’ve commented now!

      1. AVCoholic

        And hopefully many more. Gotta feed my addiction somehow!

  44. Jim Provost

    Hmm, sounds like a good time to join the thread as a first-poster.  🙂

    1. fredwilson


    2. Mark Essel

      Perfect timing.Although I do fear that Fred’s wishes will come to fruition, and thousands of commenters will speak up per post. Sadly that’s beyond my reading queue for blogs.So far so good though 🙂

  45. falicon

    For what it’s worth “regular” is a horrible label…nobody wants to be “regular”…how about “friend” or “crew” or “veteran” or “active”…something with a little more personality.  Also, at the moment the grouping is worthless as the board is flooded with ‘regular’…you need to break that group up a bit more so that there are levels to aspire to (or away from) otherwise it’s a novelty that wears off after day one…

    1. JamesHRH

      -1.I like being a regular. Fred knows my drink, I have a spot at the bar that I like. Its a name that indicates commitment and community.

    2. fredwilson

      i tried to flatten the hierachies so that we could reduce the gaming/competitioni kind of like veteran but don’t love it

      1. Donna Brewington White

        I understand the thinking.  It’s fine the way it is, but seems like there should be one more division in there without it becoming hierarchical.  Personally, like crew better than veteran. I also like knowing (due to the larger groupings) that when I can’t frequent AVC as often and my score slips, I am not going to come back in a completely different category after a couple of weeks of travel.Also, like the frequent visitor category.

    3. K_Berger

      I’m good with Regular.

  46. tuyenvo

    I’m all for anonymous commenting even though I use my real name.  I wonder though about what behavioral changes occur when you know you can comment without fear of it being attached to your real identity.  Do the quality of comments go up or down?

  47. LE

    One of the great things about the Internet, is, in a waythe great thing about living in a big city vs. a small town.Anonymity which can lead to creativity and innovation.In a small town you have to be careful with whatyou say and do because everyone knows your business.You can’t take risks and chances because you haveto depend more on others and you can’t riskoffending anyone. And your failures are all public. (To the younger people reading this – the majority ofthe world doesn’t celebrate failure the way thetech industry does. And this is a recent phenomena likepeople turning down harvard for ycombinator.)In a big city (or a really big city like NYC) you canbe yourself because you are anonymous and if youpiss some people off you can always find newpeople to associate with.And the entire town doesn’t know your failures.I think the ability to be yourself adds to creativityand is a benefit.

    1. JamesHRH

      Big city analogy is very true.Much harder to move from big to small (where everyone knows your business).

      1. ShanaC

        If you grew up in very small, it can be as difficult to move to big.  Big is overwhelming, and the rules are much less clear and varied

    2. Carl J. Mistlebauer

      LE, Gossip is what makes small towns run and gossip was social media long before the internet ever came into being.We love to see the positive of community and we love to promote the idea of sharing and openness as the end goal of this innovation revolution, but the reality is social media via the internet can achieve other results, like conformity.I have folks all the time trying to sell me on “facebook” and the benefits to my brand but the reality is 40% of Americans are obese and yet the two biggest retailers for big and tall/plus sizes, who spend millions annually advertising have less than 20,000 people each who like them on Facebook.That is conformity.  I think in the case of Facebook it has reinforced conformity; and I think marketers need to think seriously about the benefits of Facebook and what a “Like” really means!  It might mean nothing more than someone trying to fit in.  

  48. Jon Atrides

    Pretty forceful point Fred.Guest has  been following the blog for 4 years and enjoys commenting, yet has never commented due to wanting to protect his real identity. It just shows that the real names vs aliases debate has some real weight behind it.

    1. fredwilson


  49. SubstrateUndertow


  50. Scott Yates

    Now _this_ is meta: a huge comment stream commenting about a blog post made up of a comment stream.

    1. fredwilson


    2. Donna Brewington White

      AVC is an amazing experiment.

  51. Jon Knight

    Anonymous doesn’t necessarily mean “unknown”. Looks like I use my real name, right? It’s not the name on my birth certificate, but it IS the name I use to file taxes. Legal name? What’s that?Regardless, when I show up on my favorite sites and make a comment, it’s accepted as coming from the guy who uses that avatar and that name. You know me, maybe not as well as you know GRIM and Kid Mercury, but in the same ways.our names don’t actually matter.

  52. Jon Knight

    I would even argue that the believably unreal monicker of “Fake Grimlock” is indeed not anonymous. Search it on the web and there’s an abundance of links. Fake Grimlock exists!

  53. 911 Was An Inside Job

    pretty hilarious that the twitter headline for this post is “A picture says a thousand words…” cuz, like, as far as I can tell, the entire blog post is a picture of words. Am I missing something? Or am I just, like, too, literal?

    1. guest

      I’ll be literal. It’s a picture of ~100 words with meaning far beyond the mere 100 words :)-Mr guest

  54. guest

    I’m Mr. guest. I thought 200+ comments were a lot…500+ is overwhelming (# of comments a few days ago). This will further encourage my habit of “Ctrl-F Fred” in the comment section.

    1. William Mougayar

      Is this a joke? Your comments are borderline spammy. Anyone who creates a new profile to grind an axe and run is not really contributing to the conversation. 

      1. guest

        No not a joke. I don’t have the time to read though all the comments when there are 500+ comments so I rely on Fred’s judgment (i.e. when he comments on others) as to what other commentators have made interesting points.

        1. guest

          The point of the comment is that by encouraging more commentators it may in fact turn away people because there’s simply too much information.

          1. ShanaC

            That seems to be the nature of the web.

          2. guest

            I don’t have Disqus account, so not familiar with its functions. Is it possible to filter AVCs comment feed like Facebook (e.g. block users we find distasteful, etc.)? Thanks.-Mr. guest

          3. fredwilson

            no, it is notyou have to eat the carrots with the steak here

          4. ShanaC

            @877c2f48bc47a355e288b4274a5ea888:disqus Mr. Guest-nope, I can’t filter out people I find distasteful here.  It is probably a good thing too – just because I don’t always agree with someone, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t listen…

  55. Youssef Rahoui

    That says it all: Let people be who they want to be.

  56. Rich Ullman

    Great post (picture).Rambling conversation in the comments = A community.This is still one of the few places where I see that “anonymity” works and people are cordial.  Perhaps there are others, but far too often, I prefer people to put their real names behind things and “man up.”  Nevertheless, your points are all well noted.

    1. laurie kalmanson

      i think the community here is like a retreat where everyone values the relationships, the conversation and the venuethe places where people behave badly (big city newspaper comments sections and youtube are among the worst) are mass, and the comments are drivebys, where those who shout the loudest get the most attentionpeople aren’t here to drop bombs … people are here to have a few drinks with friends and friends they haven’t met yet

  57. lauradaly

    I really enjoy this blog and one of the things I enjoy the most is your fair and clear treatment of all of us lesser mortals. I enjoy how you interact with everyone. I don’t comment very often as I feel I am not qualified in most cases. I do learn lots and I respect your respect for your readers, it’s unlike others who tend to run away with their own importance.  

    1. fredwilson

      you are not a lesser mortal. i reject that notion entirely

  58. Michael Sinanian

    Fred, I don’t understand exactly where you stand on the online identity/real names issue.You’re against Google+ and Facebook’s imposition of real names, yet two years ago, you were adamantly in support of a solution to the “big issue” of online identity.In February 2009, you said:”Online identity is a big issue and a big opportunity for entrepreneurs on the web. It seems like Facebook is quickly becoming a major provider of online identity authentication and that’s a smart move for them and a good thing for the web as a whole. But there is still a ton of opportunity out there to provide services in and around what Facebook and others are doing. Because online identity is powerful and becoming more intertwined with offline identity every day. My avatar is a good representation of that.”Now it’s like you never even said that. Is there something that’s changed between 2009 and now for you to be on this crusade?Note: I actually don’t have a fully developed position on whether anonymity is 100% good for the Internet and the discussions and debates it supports.I just wanted to know how you reconciled your past and present stances.

    1. Michael Sinanian

      Forgot to source your quote, it’s from this post:…

      1. Michael Sinanian

        Well that seems to reconcile your view on this, thanks!

  59. Drew Meyers

    wow..409 comments on one post in 24 hours. On this specific post, the post was zero real characters — which means the comments are 100% of the textual content of this page. I’m actually writing an article right now on blog commenting as part of your marketing strategy (targeted at real estate agents and brokers since that’s the industry I work in). This post certainly proves beyond a doubt that comments = content.

  60. MeetingWave

    There are benefits and disadvantages to the anonymity that’s allowed online.  Likely allows for more “honest” comments and questions, etc.  On the other hand, for some sharing/collaboration sites (e.g., airbnb, neighborrow, ride sharing, etc.), doesn’t work as well as you’d like to know a little more about the other person.  For example, I’m much more comfortable getting a VRBO rental inquiry from someone using a email address, although understand why many respond with @gmail or @yahoo email addresses to maintain some anonymity. helps people leverage their or email without disclosing their email address by providing simple verified profiles.  Not a complete solution, but a piece.

  61. Lloyd Fassett

    There’s a whole lot going on here.I bet the commentor is a harbinger that participation will double around the net from what 10% to 20%?  He thinks it’s his choice, but really other things are pushing everyone that way.The other is that comment systems / approaches won’t scale.  It seems like it’s been years since Fred published his Unique’s, but I’d guess it’s only growing linearly and because his fame is rising, not because of the interaction and ‘work’ that’s going on in the comments.What scales are a purpose where the data is separated from the commentor.  A blog is about the author.  I scan the posts and sometimes dip into the comments.  I used to read a lot of comments, but at 400+ for this one post, that doesn’t work now.  Sometimes what is being discussed is more quantifiable and you end up with Wikipedia.Long story short, the purpose will drive the tools.  Anonymous, real name, whatever….they are about reducing spam and bringing forward something worth bringing forward.  Map that to the post and if there’s a process that can help ‘guest’ learn more, he’ll start using that.

  62. laurie kalmanson

    off topic but community related: @fakegrimlock is on about #grimoween so i made a userflow for what to wear

  63. Russell Killgo

    I just read the post on Mark Suster’s blog about this topic and wanted to chime in.  I think anonymity is fine for larger broad scale topics.  But when it comes to things that are very personal to people, I think one’s real identity should accompany any posts or comments.  This is one of the reasons that Facebook works as well as it does; it’s self regulated by the fact that you have to put your name to any comment you make.  It’s very difficult for most people to say anything derogatory to someone they know when others that know this person see the comments and who is saying it.  I believe this is the main reason any more comments than the first 5 on any YouTube post turns to racial or sexual in nature.  Yet on Facebook and for the most part of Twitter, comments can go back and forth without any problem. This is why most social polling sites don’t work very well either. The general public’s opinion is not personal enough the people that post questions there. Think about who you ask opinions of in your everyday life… your friends, co-workers, colleagues… people that matter to you. When you put your name on something, you make it very personal. Personal only matters to those that matter to you. You can debate the newest cloud service with Bob in Montana all day, but you will ask your friends where you should go eat.

  64. nongye27

  65. fredwilson

    I own

  66. ShanaC

    I’m still not totally sure if he isn’t the other Fred Wilson.(… This could just be a long running hoax by the guys at Eyebeam….

  67. leigh

    See, i’ll have to get used to it!  Mcuh better then the real estate agents – they always have pics from their twenties, and then you meet them….. 🙂

  68. Donna Brewington White

    Using “old” and “gray” in the same phrase, Charlie, you’re setting yourself up!But actually gray becomes you.  Especially along with a description as founder, hacker, mover, shaker. 

  69. ShanaC

    Distinguished…though I miss your dog

  70. Aaron Klein

    It’s so funny how powerful the avatar is for recognizing comments. My brain said “someone new” because it saw orange + goatee instead of the dog in front of you…took me a second to realize who it was!

  71. Donna Brewington White

    AVC: Home of the comment bloggers

  72. Peter Beddows

    And now Charlie is sporting a “real picture” of himself in support of his own “authentic identity” 🙂 ~ not that Charlie has ever been anything but authentic; I just wanted to throw in a little light-hearted humour.BTW: Hope the dog is still OK?

  73. raycote

    You’re right!They are REAL FUN !They are REAL SUBSTANCE !

  74. ShanaC

    I have other screennames across the web.  Which one is the realest version of me?  What makes an identity real- and can you have multiple real ones?

  75. raycote

    Yes – Democracy may need both wings to fly ?transparency / accountability+safe harbour for unpopular ideas

  76. Donna Brewington White

    What do you think you want to do differently?  Or can you say?

  77. ShanaC

    so that is what happened

  78. sventured

    Wow — you really do have foresight :)I’m another one of those readers that has probably read every post for the past several years, but rarely comments (and only sometimes clicks through from RSS). Don’t know where you’ve landed on the Disqus term for “our kind”… but I for one don’t like the negative connotations of being a “lurker”. Others suggested “observer” or “wallflower”, which I like more.



  80. Donna Brewington White

    Did you do that on Twitter too?  There is one.

  81. Rohan

    Hi Charlie, I think so. I could be wrong of course.. 🙂 I guess Fred will tell us.. Either way, I’ll make sure I’m the first to copyright it.. haha

  82. JamesHRH

    I think its called Path….. :-0

  83. Donna Brewington White

    Although I haven’t fully tested Jawaya, many of my work related internet searches have an element of stealth — so that has been a drawback.  

  84. JamesHRH

    @fredwilson:disqus great random topic: what is your favourite drink (alcohol or non) & why?

  85. fredwilson

    I don’t have a favorite but I drink beer, white wine, red wine, vodka, scotch, tequila, and, thanks to andy swan, pappy

  86. fredwilson

    maybe there too. i can’t recall

  87. fredwilson

    i will change that. it’s too negative. thanks for joining the discussion

  88. Mark Essel

    Almost pissed myself laughing at that.

  89. Peter Beddows

    Hee hee! Perhaps if more folks were inclined to read my own blog, I would be less inclined to expound my opinions in detail here and could just point to my dissertations with a link instead. :)Of course, other options for comment blogging are Both Sides of The Table and Arnold Waldstein’s blog along with Mark Essel’s and Carl Mistlebauer’s blogs amongst a few others.Thing is that the folks I’ve just mentioned post such very interesting ideas that demand a response: What else is someone who has strong opinions to do except perhaps find a good shrink? :)Of course, some of this is tongue in cheek Donna: I remember how you felt obliged to say that yourself in replying to someone recently.

  90. Peter Beddows

    I also commented earlier about that, including missing the dog! 🙂

  91. Peter Beddows

    Charlie’s new “old” and “gray” avatar represents a person of distinction with “Wisdom of the Ages”!

  92. MarilynCraig

    I have been playing with this idea for a while…I have had (like many people) different avatars throughout the years, mostly expressed as email names. Some are pretty old (like my AOL handle from the early 90s) and from my youth. Doesn’t really reflect the grown up, mature, serious adult I’ve become (or not) :-)But…it is me, still. Just a different “me” or part of “me” that I want to show at different times. So call me multiple-personalitied. It’s true…and real.Another thought, there are times when I don’t want my opinions, thoughts, typos from too quick a response, etc. to reflect on those associated with me – my employer, my family, and so on. Using my “non-real” name (and is it really not real? what’s the definition of real?) protects them.But I have to say, the vibe here supports using the real name given to me by my mother (and the general practice of a woman taking her husband’s last name). Just don’t blame either of them for anything silly or boneheaded I might say.

  93. ShanaC

    Honestly, I this this question gets harder once you transpose them to Day to Day life.I have a friend whose genderqueer and changed his name.  I don’t think it was changed legally.I have other friends who legally changed their name because they felt the names they were born with were too religious and unpronounceable   (Hell, I’ve thought of legally changing my name to stop confusion over how to pronounce it.  I think I’m finally comfortable enough to not be thinking about it.)Which identity then is the realest?  Time matters…