Friday, June 7, 2013

Why does nobody trust FreeThoughtBlogs?

PZ posts his thoughts about anonymity, in a post titled "I support your right to post anonymously"
There are very good reasons to use a pseudonym on a blog. Perhaps you have opinions that are contrary to the majority in your region, and you face serious consequences if your identity gets out; Lord knows, many atheists have that particular problem. Or perhaps you just want to use the internet to have a conversation, and would rather it not lead to greater and more intrusive involvement; I know women who’d rather not see an escalation of an interaction from people who don’t know how to graciously accept a “no.” Sometimes people sensibly try to limit their commitment to the internet and the often too agressive efforts by the internet to commit to them. All things in moderation and all that.
But there are also bad reasons to use a pseudonym on a blog. The very worst? Some people use anonymity to empower their ability to be a shithead. They snipe and sneer, they hide behind fake names, they use multiple sock puppets to generate the illusion that more people support their hatred, and also to prevent people from blocking them — they want to force you to read their venom.
I do not support shitheads.
I ban them. I am announcing now that if you persist in being a shithead on my blog, I won’t hesitate to expose your IP address and email. There have just been too many of you lately, and I’m spending too much time cleaning up the smears of shit you leave everywhere you go. I am aware that you’ll spend more effort now trying to cover your tracks, because that’s what you do: you’re a shithead and a coward. But I don’t care, and if I find you are using an anonymizer, or a fake email address, or are using multiple identities, that will be sufficient grounds to ban you.
On a related note, I’ve noticed that prominent shitheads tend to have absolutist opinions about their “rights”. They have a right to free speech, they declare; they can say any damn thing they want, and it is their privilege. They also shriek in outrage about “dropping dox” — how dare anyone reveal their identities to the world? I have seen enough of this black and white nonsense about an unqualified support for free speech and an unqualified opposition to “dropping dox”, and I’m here to tell you…you don’t get to hold both positions. They’re incompatible. If you want to be free to say anything, I expect you to have the courage of your convictions and be willing to stand up for what you believe.
I have absolutely no respect for someone who insists on the privilege of simultaneously being a shithead and being free of any responsibility for what they say.
So post anonymously if you want, but realize that I expect responsible and reasonable behavior if you do so.
The commenters rage about free speech "absolutists".

Wowbagger (#10) hits on the potential of this to spiral out of control:

About the only downside to this is that those few posters who do go to the Slymepit to challenge the scumbags there will face the equivalent outing.

Nerd of Redhead (#11) bashes the "absolutists":
PZ hit the nail on the head. There is huge tendency of freeze peach absolutists not to take responsibility for what they say, and how they say it. You can be a shit, but don’t expect folks to treat you and what you say like they aren’t shit. That is hypocrisy that they usually decry—in someone else, usually those they disagree with.
It is the internet, no one is truly anonymous, not without a LOT of work and forethought. It still shocks me that the MRAtheists seem to think that being bullies is somehow a protected right. If you are afraid that your RL identity will become known, or that your on-line antics will tarnish your IRL reputation and cost you prestige, reputation or business, perhaps you should rethink your behavior.
Someone links to Richard Carrier's position on anonymity:
Never post a comment on my blog again. If you do, I will publish your email address and all personal information I have about you. You have been warned.
spandrel (#25) makes a good point:
It’s becoming clear to me that pseudonymity is possible only in the context of a community with a certain baseline level of trust.
"rorschach" (#28) is, of course, the dark knight:
Slymer-types are anonymous to be able to harass and bully without repercussions for their real life personae, while I and many others aim to remain anonymous on the net to prevent slymer-types from harassing and bullying us and our families. These things are not the same, as PZ says.
And I don’t know if a warning or “reading of the riot act” is really needed. It would be a good thing if it became part of internet nettiquette and protocol that shitheads have to know that their anonymity may be removed if they use it to engage in harassment, threats, bullying or abusive behaviour.

PZ (#88) expands on the possible definition of "shithead":
If you’re citing slymer’s reactions, rethink what you’re doing. Guess how many fucks I give for what a slymer thinks? They’re ALL shitheads over there. It’s a forum by and for shitheads.
And more at #110:
Whoever is practicing that fine art of hyperskepticism, while hiding behind a disposable email address. Keep it up — you’re almost at that state of shitheadedness, and then you’ll know it.
And again at #123:
Right. The ‘pitters are sleazy that way.
And if they don’t “dox” (jeez, but I hate that stupid word), it’s only because the people they hate most — Rebecca, Ophelia, Stephanie, me — are open about our identities, so they harass and lie and fling shit instead. If a pseudonymous FtBer annoyed them, they’d be all over it with blatant efforts to expose their names. Haven’t you noticed that almost all our bloggers are working openly under their own names? There wouldn’t be much point to me ever having gone under a pseudonym, would there? All anyone would have to do is divert 1/10th of the effort they put into photoshops and slander to dig up the real names of any bloggers.

FreeThoughtBlogs is a factory of dramatic garbage.

To recap, here are the general themes:

  1. FTB supports anonymity, unless you are a "shithead"
  2. The punishment that fits the crime of being a "shithead" is publishing personal information so people can do something absolutely undefined with it.
  3. FTB critics are "free speech absolutists" that demand to publish everyone's social security number just after yelling fire in a crowded theater.
  4. One should not say things online that they don't want their grandmother and employer to read immediately.
  5. FTB people use their real names, while opponents of FTB do not.
  6. The anonymous pro-FTB heroes (rorschach, oolon, etc) are anonymous to protect their lives and families from the evildoers. Meanwhile, the anti-FTB evildoers are presumably unemployed sex offenders.
Utter nonsense.

But we should repeat spandrel's point:
It’s becoming clear to me that pseudonymity is possible only in the context of a community with a certain baseline level of trust.

The question then becomes:

Why does nobody trust FreeThoughtBlogs?

The FreeThoughtBloggers state their detractors are nefarious actors with no qualms about what they say about anybody. They use profane language, they photoshop images with malicious intent, and they are "shitheads".

Let's try a simple thought exercise - who might FreeThoughtBlogs 'dox' if they didn't already have their full names?

It's clear that no one can trust that their criticism of FreeThoughtBlogs doesn't fetch a response that is long winded character assassination from the FreeThoughtBlogs cabal.

Therefore it is only rational to not use one's real name to say anything about FTB.

FreeThoughtBlogs treats people with real names with unrelenting douchebaggery, only to immediately act surprised and offended when faced with a wall of criticism from pseudonyms.

Instead of seeing any fault in themselves, this "freethought" crowd just spouts ridiculous bile about their opponents being serial killers that can't get laid.

Yeah, that'll help.


  1. What the anointed one fails to mention is the greatest reason to post anonymously (assuming you want to soil yourself by participating at all) is the rampant comment tampering that PZ and cohorts indulge in to make posters who pose difficult questions look incoherent and/or stupid. It's the only way they can win really.

    This is important to note - if you use a real credential, you do leave a fingerprint. Your comments can then be mutilated to say whatever they want and your fingerprint is still attached pointing at you.

    I penned a "survival guide" for folks that still insist on wading into these buffoons territory. I recommend taking ALL steps included. No, this is not paranoia. It is harsh reality. You are dealing with malicious, amoral human vacuums that are not beneath any act of assholery.

  2. "You can be anonymous as long as you nod in agreement with everything I say". -PZ Myers

  3. It's remarkable how alike the wooists Myers is acting. If we didn't know he was once on our side, we wouldn't be able to tell the difference ....