“You are Welcome to Post Anonymously by Entering a Nickname with No Password”: the Battle Cry of Internet Anonymity

By Arthur Newell on 09/29/2012

With each passing day more people get their news from, and comment on hot topics, within the blogosphere. Over-commercialized and packaged network stories are boring, scripted, and no longer satisfy the human urge to be in on and contribute to the current events of the day. However, increasingly, the sentence “You are welcome to post anonymously by entering a nickname with no password,” is becoming the golden chalice that brings throngs of commenters rushing to toss in their two cents.

These days it doesn’t matter if a famous personality or an average Joe says something publically online, it’s risky for everyone. This is especially the case when it comes to touchy topics on sites with a tremendous amount of traffic and social media exposure.
For example, look at what’s happened to people that watch their comments go viral; they’re targeted by a worldwide audience and hacked, ridiculed, or even end up on national news defending their position. One can go quickly from a nobody just typing out a few passionate remarks, to possibly the center of an emerging political drama.

Privacy at a Price

The words, “You are welcome to post anonymously by entering a nickname with no password,” aren’t always welcome. For those trying to harness the commercial powers of social media or the blogosphere, leaving a back link to a landing or product page is a really big deal. Increasingly, sites are foregoing the options of identification and preferring anonymous posting. This is a thorn in the side of already established web marketing tools.

The phrase “You are welcome to post anonymously by entering a nickname with no password,” increases spam, but also invites the army of shy readers to join in on the conversation. Additionally, it means that authoritative sites are going to have to employ moderators. Under the veil of anonymity, serious discussions can degrade into slug fests, hate speeches, and offensive remark parties very quickly. In order to maintain the quality of a site, in essence, restriction of speech is a must. It’s a tough balance, and another example of how internet free speech is a myth.

Free Reign vs. Personal Representation

When it comes to quality online discussion forums, most often the words, “You are welcome to post anonymously by entering a nickname with no password,” are nowhere to be found. This is because there’s too much traffic for any number of moderators to handle, and the web masters would like commenters to be responsible for what they say. Of course, all this means is that a user is forced to go through the loops of creating a profile, but that profile itself can be anonymous.

At the end of the day, the people who take part in the identity-cloaking invitation “You are welcome to post anonymously by entering a nickname with no password” are allowed to speak their mind freely, but will not receive any credit for it. The struggle between personal online privacy and web freedom still hangs in the balance.

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