Sunday, August 14, 2005

On the subject of anonymous comments

On the subject of anonymous comments, "the demise of the blog", etc., I want to share my thoughts.

First, I became tired of being this blog's garbage collector. Increasingly over the past few months, vicious, mean-spirited, cowardly anonymous comments had been appearing which I simply deleted. The final straw, of course, was the recent tastless attack on Todd Kaupilla.

I initially created this blog with the capability to post anonymous comments turned on because of the real atmosphere of fear and retaliation that existed at LANL in January, 2004. I acknowledge that to an extent, that atmosphere still exists in locations throughout the lab. However, the mechanism of anonymous comments were increasingly not being used for that purpose. Rather, they were more often being used "get back at" somebody the submitter did not like. Fear of retaliation was not an issue.

Emailed anonymous submissions are still a supported mechanism for interested participants to present information on this blog. Admittedly, now that anonymous comments are no longer supported, the free flow of discussion is somewhat impeded. Given the number of email messages that I have received expressing concern that the lack of an anonymous comment capability will limit the blog's usefulness, I am willing to reconsider returning that option to this blog.

But with the following understanding:

  1. I have installed a logging system. The IP address of every machine that connects to the blog is recorded, with a time stamp. Perhaps the knowledge that abuses of the privilege of submitting comments anonymously can now be attributed to the submitter will be all that is necessary to stem the flow of poison pen letters.
  2. I would prefer that people use their own names when submitting comments, unless there is a real reason not to. If, in the opinion of the poster, anonymity is essential to avoid damaging one's work environment, I would like to see a pseudonym used, to make it easier for readers follow discussions.
To allow those who are interested to supply feedback on this topic, I will turn on anonymous comments for this post.

--Doug

Comments:
For the record, I would like to see anonymous posting turned back on in the comments, warts and all. I believe it is essential for the vitality of the dialog.
 
Anonymous comments have allowed some sick people to say some disgusting things without fear. Anonymous comments have allowed some people with fear to make important statements. We should hear both and make our own decisions. Please restore anonymous comments.
 
I agree, with Bill, Larry, and Sara. I know people who were openly threatened for supporting Todd and me, and for writing to this blog. Anonymous comments are the only way these people can safely express themselves. We can filter the garbage for ourselves.

John Horne
 
I think that anonymous postings and comments should be allowed.

BUT, a blog manager should read the blog comments a few times per day and remove the postings and comments that are offensive.
 
Without the ability to post anonymous comments this blog will continue to fade into insignificance. What is there to fear from anonymous comments? The readers are able to judge what comments have merit and which do not.
 
Doug,
How can we be sure that the negative comments were not written by Nanos or some pro-Nanos manager seeking the demise of this BLOG? The managers in my division have made it clear that we employees had better not get caught using this BLOG. They must be very worried is all I can say. Please do not let them prevail!
 
8/14/2005 04:55:28 PM said:
"Doug,
How can we be sure that the negative comments were not written by Nanos or some pro-Nanos manager seeking the demise of this BLOG? The managers in my division have made it clear that we employees had better not get caught using this BLOG. They must be very worried is all I can say. Please do not let them prevail!"

There are some, or is it one, who think Nanos did a great service to the Lab, although the result is not obvious.

Don't let management catch you looking at the blog when you are supposed to be working, if they have made it clear to you that such action is unacceptable. Wait until you are home and blog all you want and keep them worrying.
 
Well our group leader reads this BLOG just looking for names. Of course, we have to be anonymous. He mentioned that he did know one regular poster personally.
 
I cannot post via any other means than truly anonymously. To do otherwise would bring an end to my career. I assure you that retaliation is alive and well in the Laboratory...even after all that has happened, and what yet is to happen to the bitter end.

I love my work at the Lab. I have been told that to even touch this Blog from a lanl.gov domain would be self-destructive to my career.

Unfortunately, I need anonymity in posting...warts and all.
 
It took a long time to get the blog readership up to the point that it was. Turning off anonymous comments has already shown a marked decrease in activity. People will just not bother to logon anymore with the current lack of information. It will take a long time for word to get around if and when the anonymous feature is turned back on. By then it might be too late. This has been an invaluable tool. Todd and I would never have been able to tell our story without a media filter without the blog and there is still much to discuss.

John N. Horne
 
Doug,

While I understand your decision to restrict posting to names-only, this decision will result in many (myself included) deciding not to participate in the only venue offering open dialogue. Please know that retaliation comes in many forms; blatant action against individuals and then the more sinister denial of opportunities. Since the blog has been critical of senior management – correctly in my opinion – I am concerned that employees willing to offer personal association with their views will suffer career limiting actions.

I would ask you to consider reinstating the anonymous posting with a stricter set of guidelines along with rigorous enforcement. Unless the incoming managers understand the breadth and depth of employee discontent and concerns, many of the long-standing (and Nanos-vintage) problems will be left unaddressed. No organization can flourish with a management culture that views the workforce as the source of all the problems. Sadly, that is (in large measure) the case here today. Unless fundamental management attitudes reverse, the punitive nature of the Lab won’t improve and the organization will continue its slide into mediocrity.

This blog offers the only means for employees to really say what they think without the career damaging side effects. Like it or not, management cannot improve without employee feedback. The current senior managers (along with many, but not all, Division Leaders) are not likely to change or want feedback; however, the incoming team might be open to input. For the sake of the new management team, and for the employees who chose to stay, I’d encourage you to allow anonymous input once again under stricter control.
 
Doug,
Thanks for reinstating annonymous posting. And feel free to delete the venom - it's your blog and you can run it anyway you want to.

Don't let the pukes get on your case about censorship - every publication is censored to the extent that it is edited. If a posting isn't fit to be read - delete it and let the nasty people take their hatred elsewhere.

Perhaps there is a mechanism in the software for a Blacklist - people who are banned from posting to the blog by their IP address. That would also be useful in cutting down on the drivel.
-Dawn-
 
I agree with Bill and Larry. Anonymous comments are the only way these people can safely express themselves.

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I agree with Bill and Larry. Anonymous comments are the only way these people can safely express themselves.

Donate to hurricane katrina response Funds.
Help our citizens.
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