Anonymity: The good, the bad and the ugly | March 27, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Perspective - March 27, 2009

Anonymity: The good, the bad and the ugly

The Town Square forum at allows people to post comments anonymously. We prefer that people register as users and then post under their real names because we think it gives their comments credibility. But apparently a lot of people either don't want to take the time to register or prefer to remain anonymous.

The bad aspect of anonymous postings is that it allows people to say ugly things without being accountable. The story titled "Danville man among slain Oakland officers" that ran online last Sunday is a good example of this. No sooner was the story put online than a few people commented with racial slurs that we promptly removed.

Town Square was designed as a friendly place for the community to connect, commenting on stories we run or anything in the community or the world that they want. When anonymous people - or even some who sign their names - post racist comments, shrill and extreme ideas they drive others away, which is one reason we remove them.

Other times we remove comments because people bash others who have posted their opinions. Not everyone will agree with where we choose to draw the line, but we do so in the interest of preserving a forum where everyone feels comfortable participating without being exposed to disrespectful treatment.

Now a good thing about anonymity is that it might give insight as to how people will act in that other great anonymous forum: the voting booth. On Town Square you can read people's concerns about money in the schools, such as that the district is wasting energy and money with field lights and air conditioning, and whether the Teacher's Union is part of the budget problem. Other posters have stepped forward to address those concerns online, but these anonymous comments regarding school funding provide an insight as to why people might be inclined to vote against continuing a parcel tax. They could be helpful to those campaigning to pass Measure C.


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Posted by Community courtesy
a resident of another community
on Mar 27, 2009 at 6:35 am

Dear Dolores,

TDW's points are well-taken, well-presented and requiring important consideration by FORUM participants. The issues of prejudice and "defamously-speaking" should clearly be edited from TDW's FORUM so the discourse on our politics and lifestyles can proceed.

Among this TDW author's message is the reality of CONTENT, or the lack thereof, in commentary posted to the FORUM. Most often content is absent in the stream of commentary with the Courtyard Cafe being a good example. Individual forums should be considered for their subject with each comment on subject with position and rationale for such position.

It is reality, in my final thought, that on-line commentary should be protected by an on-line name because of the real danger of personal attack by others participating on the forum or translation of that personal attack into community relationships. TDW's FORUM has reach beyond its website and printed pages with FORUM comments being basis for social response in the community, and among governments, against individuals and their positions.

I would suggest that we should all be on a first name basis on the FORUM with our family names a matter of privacy. In humor, many names have been used to highlight commentary for consideration. Alamo Ron, Forest Warn, Informed Resident, Spike Marvel and more are humorous presentators of thoughts for sincere consideration. A consistent use of a first name or nickname is all that is needed to keep CONTENT, Position, and a friendly exchange a part of the Town Square Forum.

Hal, as a community courtesy

Harald Paul Arthur Balle
dba Harald A. Bailey
aka Hal Bailey
In the Alamo region as "another community"

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Posted by Community courtesy
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2009 at 8:48 am

Dear Dolores, comment from the Alamo region as "another community"

In e-exchange, Alamo region neighbors are seeing the growing impact of the Danville Weekly’s rules for their forum (blog) further reduce identity of participants. It seems obvious that such rules have reduced the overall participation to less than 100 readers. Could it be that there are no issues that warrant commentary?

E-exchange participants have concluded that there is more needed commentary on lesser issues, mostly related to lifestyle, and few real comments on critical political and planning issues. Major issues are critical now and yet few receive comment. School parcel tax measure, county budget crisis, retail businesses in deep financial trouble, and candidates for our US Representative seat are immediate issues that deserve commentary

What is the result? More than 70 comments on who runs a café in a small retail complex in Alamo.

That’s amazing,

**Commentary by Beth, Alamo regional counsel committee, Alamo region community of neighborhoods**

Hal, as a community courtesy

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Posted by Southern Boy
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Mar 31, 2009 at 3:57 am

Perhaps the racial slurs are a commentary about a region that claims to be so tolerant. I lived in the South my entire life until I moved here in 2002 and I must tell you that the Bay Area is THE most segregated area in which I've ever lived. My hometown had one elementary school, one jr. high, and one sr. high school. So, everybody attended the same school regardless of race. The closest private school was 45 minutes so that wasn't an option. Very, very, very few parts of Atlanta were segregated. I had more African Americans living on my block in a typical, suburban, middle class neighborhood than probably live in ALL of towns like Lafayette or Orinda. I see so few African Americans in my community that I felt like I'd moved to another planet when I relocated to the East Bay from Atlanta. The Bay Area is a highly segregated region and it makes me wonder if that is contributing to a race relations problem in an area that is supposedly so tolerant and open. Perhaps, the death of these officers will lead us to have an open and honest discussion about race and bigotry and personal responsibility. Their deaths seem so senseless and certainly indicate a rift in how various races throughout the Bay Area view police officers. Perhaps, we will use their deaths as a stepping stone to working on this problem.