Lunchtime Links: Drop the Cloak of Anonymity

Why anonymous comments bring out the worst in people—and why one newspaper might move away from them for good. Also: the value of cultivating an audience—before engaging.

It’s way easier to call someone a name if people can’t see yours.

The value of real-name commenting, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

Time to drop the anonymous comments? Recently, Patrick Pexton stepped down from his role as The Washington Post’s ombudsman—quite likely, the last one the newspaper will ever have. In his parting note, he suggested that one of the things The Post should do is drop the anonymity from its comment system, as it has lowered the quality of comments significantly. “I don’t think comments like those should be within 10 miles of The Washington Post’s masthead. And readers agree; those who wrote in said it hurts the publication’s brand and reputation,” he wrote. MMG’s Maggie McGary agrees with Pexton, though not with his solution of using Facebook-based comments, suggesting Google’s single sign-in is a better option. But, nonetheless, she agrees with his point: “If there’s one thing worse than a hater, it’s an anonymous hater; taking away the anonymity would go a long ways towards curbing it, IMO.” Does your association allow anonymous commenters? If so, how’s it working?

To engage an audience, cultivate first: According to Idea Architects’ Jeffrey Cufaude, any effort to engage an audience means nothing if that audience hasn’t been cultivated ahead of time. He asks: “Are we really at the point where we just flailingly grasp any hand that starts to go up in the air, grab on to it, and drag the person into a full-blown relationship on our terms with little consideration for the damage it might do to our reputation, to the long-term potential of what we might have been able to create with that person?” It takes time to create an audience that’s ready to be engaged, and Cufaude, in a new series, will remind folks how it works. “We’re going back to driver’s ed to revisit the fundamentals of relationship management,” he says. Do you have advice from your own efforts to cultivate?

A boss is not a leader: You may be at the top of the food chain for your department, but are you a leader? Not necessarily, according to SOBCon co-founder Terry Starbucker. A leader offers opportunities for flexibility in how work gets done; a boss creates an environment where things have to be done specifically as asked. When a leader starts acting like a boss, Starbucker writes, “the leader becomes a not-so-pleasant person that creates a not-so-enjoyable work environment, and brings progress to a screeching halt.” Are your leadership skills closer to the boss side of the spectrum, and if they are, how can you fix that? (ht Plexus Consulting’s Virgil R. Carter)

What’s on your radar today? Tell us all about it in the comments!


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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