Post of the Day
September 24, 1998

From our
Amazon.com Folder

Posts selected for this feature rarely stand alone. They are usually a part of an ongoing thread, and are out of context when presented here. The material should be read in that light.


Go To: Post |  Folder

Subject: Anonymity as Weapon.
Author: DavidGardner

When I refer to anonymity, it has little do with whether someone is in fact anonymous. I'm not sure any of us is anonymous -- if it came down to it, just about anybody can be tracked down in today's networked world.

When I refer to it, I refer to the anonymity within the context of conversation.

I believe that everyone posting should put their name at the bottom of each of their posts. First off, I just consider this polite (I know, I'm old-fashioned). It's just like putting your name at the bottom of any letter you write. If not that, then you should have filled out your Foolish profile with your name, at least.

  "Many negative things are posted by people who would never do that if they had to say their names, or say it in public... if they had to put their reputation on the line."

Second, it speaks of personal responsibility and heedfulness of reputation, but more importantly, also exerts a natural check on each of us which is healthy. Many negative things are posted by people who would never do that if they had to say their names, or say it in public... if they had to put their reputation on the line. I know this to be true; it's quite simple to prove it: Just ask anyone who's said a gratuitously mean or hurtful thing in this message board -- or who has made a bad prediction -- to print his name in his posts (most don't and will of course decline).

Many of the brash price predictions, or personal attacks, if done by a person whose face we saw and name we know, would cause that person (quite rightly) to lose face with everyone else and be ignored in future. How frequently is it that I see someone come in and say, "Hey, you clowns, this stock is going to get killed today -- my analysis shows it's going to drop $10." If it happens that person returns (and often gloats -- though how often does this happen? -- not often -- and why does the person gloat? -- usually because he/she isn't accustomed to being correct). If it does not happen (the vast majority of the time), the person almost never acknowledges it, and usually doesn't return -- for a while, anyway. He has used anonymity as a weapon, and now undertakes to use it as a shield to protect himself... possibly returning again later on, to use the same tactics.

That's cowardly and weak, and I have no admiration for it.

The nice thing is, there's no hiding it -- no having to guess at who is indulging in this activity and who is not. We each can clearly see every day who is being open and Foolish, and who is using anonymity in bad faith, as a weapon. And it really has nothing to do with whether one is bullish or bearish. (I think of JohnKe, a clear Amazon bear -- God love him -- who has always printed his full name in his profile and whose comments -- again, bullish or bearish -- are always well-intended, respectful of others, and interesting to read.)

  "I think of JohnKe, a clear Amazon bear -- God love him -- who has always printed his full name in his profile and whose comments -- again, bullish or bearish -- are always well-intended, respectful of others, and interesting to read."

One final thing to make crystal clear: People who are polite, well-meaning, and contribute good information -- I don't care whether they're anonymous or not. No "anonymity as weapon," there. They are Foolishly looking to benefit others, both in their efforts and their deportment. On the other hand, people who remain anonymous and consistently attack others, belittle them, or make frequent and emphatic predictions, who are generally looking to fill a lack of attention in their own lives -- none of us should want that behavoir in the Fool Community, just as you wouldn't on your sports team or among your friends.

As always, these opinions are my own. Feel free to disagree. Please note that I'm not saying anyone or everyone HAS to include their names. I'm just explaining the conclusions I draw from it, and that I encourage others to draw.

Fool on,

David Gardner


The Post of the Day may be edited for readability or length, but never for content. The opinions expressed in the Posts are those of their authors, and not necessarily The Motley Fool. We make no claim or warranty as to the veracity or accuracy of any post, and present this feature only as an example of what may be found on our message boards. Don't take the Post of the Day, or anything else here, as gospel and, as our seventh grade English teacher, Mrs. Peacock, used to say, do your own homework, and avoid run-on sentences.