December 19, 2009

Yes comment

Sting like a sharp B.So 72 per cent of pipes|drums readers feel that those who post comments to articles should put their true name to them. I’d guess that most of those who make up that 72 per cent are people who don’t generally post comments, since everyone can provide their real name.

Online publications struggle with this. I haven’t seen any newspaper or magazines sites that allow comments also require that commenters provide their real name. It’s interesting, though, that major newspapers and magazines diligently check to ensure that the writer of a letter-to-the-editor in their printed version is truly the author, and would rarely allow a “name held by request,” much less a pseudonym.

It’s a quandary. It’s still all about dialogue, but it’s also about credibility. Some would say that they don’t pay attention to comments made by people who don’t include their true name, but what about a public meeting? Unknown people stand up to make valid comments all the time, and folks still listen, don’t they?

It’s all about the subject matter and the delivery. Piping and drumming used to shout down or ignore dissenting or unpopular views by sweeping them under the rug until they went away. That’s changed, mainly due to new mechanism to exchange ideas without fear of reprisal.

I’d love to authenticate every comment to every pipes|drums story before enabling them, but would wonder whether 1) it would dissuade people from commenting, and 2) take too much time for too little return.

Also, I haven’t studied it, but have a feeling that a much higher proportion of pipes|drums commenters put their name to their post than is true of forums. I’m pleased every time that highly credible people like Bill Livingstone, Alistair Dunn, Donald MacPhee, Duncan Millar, Jim Kilpatrick, Bruce Gandy and many other famous folks have no trouble backing their frequent comments with their name.

Just like more mortal pipers and drummers try to imitate their playing, I’d hope that people also emulate their sense of integrity.


  1. Comparing freedom of speech in the American press to the world of competitive piping and drumming is a bit of a stretch. Where so little is on the line in the grand scale in piping, so much really is within the idiom itself. That is why people who are unhappy about the status quo or dissatisfied with a decision by a judge or society feel the need to sometimes conceal their identity when making statements that are potentially inflammatory. One person’s pen and clipboard can ruin a day, season or band. Let’s not pretend it hasn’t happened in the past; that ship has sailed many times and we all know the result. So people who post in response to hot topics here and elsewhere are probably more appropriately compared to Iranian reform protesters who mask their faces and identity to avoid paying the ultimate consequence at the hands of their government. I’m not saying that every topic is a divide of opinion, but Ann Landers this is not. Is it that hard to understand the distinction?

  2. Sirs:
    RE: “Yes Comment”
    I don’t see what all of the fuss is about when it comes to the anonimity of an author posting on-line comments. As long as the posts aren’t eligible for Libel and Slander Law suits and aren’t of a malicous nature, then why does the reader HAVE to know who wrote them?
    Additionally, by allow the use of pen names, people who wouldn’t normally post a comment for various reasons feel free to do so, the content of which may well be of unique value to the readers.
    I would also suspect (as the editor has pointed out) that the 70 or so % of people who voted for full disclosure very rarely, if ever post anything on this website. I mean, you can’t tell me that 10-15 people represent 72% of a survey……..
    Besides, it’s fun to create a persona and build a personality around an on line nick-name or pen name.
    Name Withheld
    (Not because I have to, or because I need to, but because I want to…)

  3. Gaining insight into people’s perceptions in this new electronic, instant messaging world I find quite interesting, thanks for raising this Andrew.

    A question really, when one of the “highly credibles” put their name to a response is it akin to an on-line trump card?

  4. I have signed my name on most everything I’ve done on this site or in anything I do mainly to “say” I back up this of which I wrote. On the other hand, the people demanding to have names be put at the bottom of everycomment usually want someone to directly attack, blame, or throw under the bus.

    As far as the “big names” signing, they usually say something that is honest, and solves most debates, and this is because of their knowledge and then they probably feel very comfortable about signing off, due to the assurance in themselves. Clearly those that do not sign may have some hesitations about their own knowledge on the issue at hand or maybe they just don’t feel like it.

    We also don’t want to run into the issue of people using false names or worse yet, other peoples names.

    Lets keep this site what it is. Well moderated, and truly free for all of our community to obtain information and feedback.

    Jamie Everett (seriously)

  5. I think its true to say that I pay more attention to posts where the person uses their real name, or where I know the real name and identity of the person behind the user name. I wonder if this is generally true. It’s interesting to note too, that many people seem afraid to post anything on topics they have something to say about, even under a user name. That always surprises me. It’s as if they’re scared somebody’s going to leap out of the screen and grab them.

  6. I use my name, but it probably doesn’t matter. I really like to see Bill, Jim, Donald, Duncan, etc use their real names because I respect them & they’ve got “street” cred. I also understand the downside of the cyberspace Pipe Band world , where honest comments can hound one for a lifetime. But as we’ve seen in the past, anonymous posters have wrecked havoc with really cruel and inappropriate coments. I really depend on Andrew here. He knows the email addresses and the IP’s. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s Christmas and Andrew knows whose been naughty and whose been nice and that’s good enough for me.
    Cheers, Doc
    Kent Argubright

  7. I’m often one of those that gets upset when people don’t sign their name but reading this is making me think twice. I think the reasons are two fold. When people sign their name, it does make more of a statement, but often, I’ve read comments where I’ve thought ” what a great post, why doesn’t that person sign their name ” This is because there have been times where I have read stuff here and thought, I would like to actually contact this person more personally and ask them a question separately myself.

    I do think though that our ( I say that collectively) biggest gripe with the non signers, is when a point is made by Andrew on the blog here and a couple of people take it right out of context and then proceed to just bitch away at everything causing no good for anyone. It’s not really slanderous or libel it’s just useless dribble.

    Good honest opinions are all that anyone wants and if they can be helpful, all the better. I think in my thoughts, I don’t want to know who the person is that complains about everything Andrew tries to bring up and for those guys that do write very wise stuff, I want to more about them, that’s all.
    Bruce Gandy



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