The Real “Authenticity Killer” (and an aside about how bad the Yahoo brand has gotten)

Thank you Facebook, the protester's sign reads

Steve Cheney has never written something that so pissed me off than the blog he wrote today stating that Techcrunch’s switch to Facebook comments has killed authenticity.

Here’s the rub. He used his real name.

Strike one about why he’s wrong.

But then he wrote this line “Face it, authenticity goes way down when people know their 700 friends, grandma, and 5 ex-girlfriends are tuning in each time they post something on the web.”

Hello! Name one person on the web that doesn’t use Google or Bing. One. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Hint, your 700 friends are on Google. Your grandma is on google. Your five ex-girlfriends are on Google. My ex-wife is on Google.

Thinking back over my 46-year life I’ve only read something more wrong a few times.

Not to mention I worked with an executive at NEC who got fired for something he anonymously wrote on a forum (a racist post). Someone figured out where the IP address came from and sent the post to his boss, who quickly fired him. Being truly anonymous and untrackable on the Web is very difficult.

So, what’s going on here? Why is it causing people to lose all perspective on EVERYTHING?

These “authenticity is dead” people are cowards.

See, where I ONLY post opinions I’m willing to sign my name to, lots of people are actually cowards and just not willing to sign their names to their mealy-mouthed attacks.

Don’t give me that horseshit that you won’t be able to whistle blow at work.

I once took on Microsoft WHILE I WORKED THERE because of an injustice I felt was happening at every level. The execs had decided to pull support for an anti-discrimination bill due to pressure from a local church. I thought that was horseshit and wrote about it continually for a few days. Within a week Ballmer had reversed himself and within a year that bill passed for the first time in eight years of tries.

What you didn’t know back in 2005 was that my boss was a member of that church. Every day I went to work that week I knew it could have been my last day at Microsoft. In my discussions with my wife I told her that I could get fired at any moment for what I was writing. She knew my boss at the time belonged to that church. She knew I was calling Steve Ballmer a coward. She knew I was behaving in a way that would be seen as really nasty by nearly everyone at work.

Did that stop my authenticity? No way. I didn’t stand on the shoulders of 200 years of free speech struggles to fumble the ball and be a coward. It is amazing that everything worked out and that Jeff Sandquist is today someone I’d call if I was in trouble and that that bill passed. If the church had simply not tried to push its weight around that bill probably still would be struggling to pass.

Where did my authenticity come from? I knew that REAL change comes from people putting their necks on the line. I couldn’t remember a time when an anonymous person really enacted change in, well, anything. It’s why I sign my name to everything, even stuff that could get me fired. Hell, I live in an “at will” state. THIS post could get me fired! My boss could wake up tomorrow and decide he doesn’t like the shirt I’m wearing and fire me. People have been fired in Silicon Valley for less you know.

Look at all the images from Egypt (and I hope you don’t think I’m comparing myself to those heroes who sacrificed their lives there) but they put their necks on the line and they signed their name to the ultimate sacrifice. They were NOT cowards. THEY LOVE FACEBOOK AND THE VOICE IT GIVES THEM!

So, let’s step back again and look at what the real authenticity killer is: cowardice.

If you want to change something, or get MG Siegler to stop writing about Apple so much, freaking sign your name to your opinion.

Now, let’s head over to Techcrunch and discuss some other issues.

Over on Techcrunch MG Siegler is asking an interesting question: “Facebook comments have silenced the trolls but is it too quiet?”

First of all, some observations on my part:

1. The flow has gone down.
2. The quality has gone way up (some, who were there for the food-throwing entertainment disagree).
3. Where there is real content now we can ascribe it to a real person which gives the lower flow MUCH MORE VALUE.
4. Yahoo has seen more advertising (some good, because at least it’s being seen again on Techcrunch, but much bad, because it’s brand is already being associated with cowards who want to throw food but don’t want to sign their real name).

I’m going to focus on one point. Why does a comment with a real name have so much more value? And why are systems like Yobongo, Quora, and Facebook forcing users to use their real names?

Because if you say something and I know where it’s coming from I can make more use of it.

For instance, the same information has different value depending on where it comes from. Here, let’s try it out:

Anonymous person says “Android sales have doubled in past year.”
Google engineer says that.
Google’s CEO says that.

It can be the same information, but it’s more credible, more POWERFUL coming from someone who uses their real name. Even the Google engineer is 1000x more powerful than the anonymous person.

That’s why I’m cheering on Techcrunch’s experiment.

Yes, the food fight is gone.
Yes, the flow is down.

But the trickle of comments that are there now are 1000x more useful and are easier to find because I don’t need to dig through the food fight to find them.

I do note, too, that that Techcrunch post has almost 200 comments so the flow hasn’t gone down all that much.

I’m seriously considering this change myself. You’re lucky because I’m just too busy this month to take on something disruptive like this. SXSW is next week and after that I have a TEDx speech to prepare (if you live in Silicon Valley, you should come!).

UPDATE: One other reason I think the quality has gotten better: no astroturfing! What’s that? Well, it’s where a bunch of Microsoft employees start posting anonymously about how crappy the new Android OS is. They’ve been caught doing that in the past, so I’ll use them as an example. It’s really hard to astroturf when you have to use your real Facebook identity and social graph to back up what you’re posting, isn’t it? Why yes it is.


197 thoughts on “The Real “Authenticity Killer” (and an aside about how bad the Yahoo brand has gotten)

  1. The only drawback I do see is people that don’t have Facebook can’t post on TC anymore. I remember Ashton Kutcher posted on a TC article on disqus but didn’t use Facebook….people like him who probably don’t use Facebook and just have a Facebook page will be a problem I think. I do like knowing the real names and identity on who is posting and agree it’s way more credible if someone from Google states something and you can actually see they work at Google.


      1. I have Facebook ad-blocked, because I don’t want them tracking everything I do (in particular, sending off my cookie for every Like button I download). I only interact with Facebook in my secondary browser. TC pages end in the text “Leave Comments” – but there are no comments visible. Everything is gone.


      2. Same here. I have Facebook servers blocked. Does’t matter how you authenticate. Publications that let Facebook hold all their comment data are cutting themselves short in the long run. There is more to this issue than privacy and anonymity even though I think those are important issues too.

        Anyone that wants to let Facebook be their only co-publisher, go to it. I just won’t participate. I’ll survive.


      3. One more thing: the “(Facebook) Disconnect” extensions on Chrome and Firefox block Facebook commenting entirely. I had to unblock Facebook just to write a comment on Siegler’s article.


      4. Anonymity has existed in media for as long as it has existed, and it works quite well. The problem with anonymity is the existing power establishment doesn’t really like it. This is universally true no matter where you live and are. One example of this is the Federalist Papers. There are numerous examples. Anonymity is IMPORTANT. To suggest otherwise is to either not be thinking about it or to be purposefully helping the existing establishment that abhors anonymity. Which of those are you, Robert?


      5. Just FYI:

        Scoble wrote:

        “I couldn’t remember a time when an anonymous person really enacted change in, well, anything.”

        Boston Tea Party, 1773.

        Took me all of 2 seconds to come up with it. Sorry for the wait, but I rarely read your stuff. Oh, and it was a bunch of persons, not just one, but then the participants’ anonymity was on conspicuous display (pun intended). Hope I still get an ‘A’.

        By the way, in the way you’ve used it here the choice of ‘enact’ kinda sucks. Enacting is pretty much limited to legislative bodies (or, if we kindly allow some license, performance artists), which are – by their very nature – not anonymous.


    1. I give the TechCrunch experiment one week. BTW, I think you’re muddling the issue here. If TechCrunch wanted to cut down on the trollish/anonymous comments they could easily require commenters to authenticate via Facebook, Twitter, or Disqus. This isn’t about authenticity, it’s about user choice and self-determination.

      I think the real reason that most people are pissed off is: 1) How (again) Facebook manipulates user behavior to benefit publishers and marketers at the expense of its users, and 2) That Facebook has taken it upon themselves to decide that I’m interested in sharing my comment(s) with my FB graph, or that my FB graph even cares to read them.

      Publishers are going to realize over time that ceding control over another aspect of their community penny-wise pound-foolish.

      Geoff Livingston’s excellent piece highlights some of these issues: “The Facebook Empire Ends Here” Facebook is feeling more and more like AOL circa 1997


      1. + anonymous doesn’t equal : troll + astroturf : eg, i may have a relevant comment to make on a personal matter but don’t wish to disclose my id – and it’s in no way related to cowardice


      2. Should have said “trollish and/or anonymous”. My point was that it’s ultimately it’s up to the publisher to determine if they choose to allow anonymous commenting.


  2. There is no drawback. This completely avoids useless confrontation unless you want to back your thoughts up. It allows for legitimate opinions backed by real knowledgeable people.


    1. I don’t see why backing a comment with a person’s real name suddenly makes their point more worthy. Certainly I can see why requiring one’s name would preclude one from trolling, but anonymous posts are not inherently bad. Backing a comment with a “real identity” does NOT make its points more legitimate.

      Ideas are ideas, no matter who comes up with them. If my idea isn’t a good one, show me why I’m wrong, debate me. My identity should play ZERO part in the arguments being made. Otherwise, it’s just an appeal to authority. If I ended this post with “Steve Jobs”, would you suddenly start accepting my argument more?

      Anonymity allows ideas to not be constrained by the individual making the statement and allows individuals to be free from the statements they make. Yes, it may lead to trolls, but it allows for more open discourse. Anonymity makes the internet strong. Let’s keep it that way.


      1. You are ABSOLUTELY WRONG. It’s very clear in the post why.

        If an anonymous person tells me a rumor about Google it TOTALLY MEANS SOMETHING DIFFERENT than if, say, Vic Gundotra, who is a VP there, tells me THE EXACT SAME INFO.

        WHO says something is often MORE IMPORTANT than what they say!


      2. I don’t care if you’re Robert Scoble. I am not “ABSOLUTELY WRONG” and you’ve proven ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

        You’re talking about rumors here, where I was talking about ideas. In general, people posting comments on a blog are discussing ideas and making arguments and not spreading rumors.

        By the way, you are a prominent blogger, so your comment does carry with it some importance in people’s minds, but that doesn’t mean what your comment itself has any merit.


      3. If Bill Gates or Steve Jobs tells me an idea it has a much different meaning than if an anonymous person tells me the exact same idea.

        Sorry, you are totally wrong, even though you think you’re right.

        Now, if Barack Obama told me you were right I’d have to consider that for a moment. 😉


      4. I normally don’t comment on your blog and just read it casually, but I have to disagree with this entirely. Someone’s identity doesn’t discredit their argument at all. If someone says something about some topic, and they’re some nobody, what do I do?

        I evaluate their argument, compare it to my current knowledge and either seek more information as to why they take that stance, or perhaps integrate it into my current knowledge. Now if Matz says something about Ruby, I’m probably going to give his ideas a lot more credit then some random guy, but that doesn’t discredit some random guy’s opinion automatically, nor does it automatically make Matz correct.

        Thinking that simply because someone is more public or has some experience in it is automatically right is closed minded and dangerous thinking. Evaluation of the ideas or arguments is far more important then the name.

        If you, personally, want to blindly believe anything that Gates or Jobs says, then more power to you. But keep in mind they have been wrong in the past, and they will be wrong in the future. They are only humans and they make mistakes. However your opinion that their ideas are more then someone else, even if the opinion is identical, is simply your opinion and shouldn’t be presented as fact.


      5. I get what you’re trying to say, but I still disagree.

        I’m not saying to blindly follow someone, but, sorry, everyone is NOT equal in this game.

        I’ll listen to golf tips from Tiger Woods a lot more than I’d listen to them from you and no amount of protesting will change the fact that he knows a lot more about golf than you do.

        If he gives me a tip and you disagree with it, I’m going with him, sorry.


      6. I mentioned that point in my response. A piece of advice concerning golf from Tiger Woods will have more of a weight on if you should listen to it or not then me. (as it should, given I don’t play golf.) That said, that doesn’t mean he can not be incorrect, nor does that mean you should automatically discredit people’s stances simply because they are -not- Tiger Woods.

        Your original point was basically saying to only pay attention to the big names. And yeah. You should pay attention to them.

        But that doesn’t mean the small guy’s idea is wrong simply because of their name.

        You will have and retain your opinion, but I will continue on evaluating the content of an idea or argument, rather then people’s names of who said it.

        After all, breakthroughs in technology can come from crazy people that no one pay any attention to because they’re nobodies as much as they can from from Jobs or Gates. Especially in the time we live in, with information widely spread and easily accessed.


      7. >But that doesn’t mean the small guy’s idea is wrong simply because of their name.

        In life you’ll learn that past behavior is the best predictor of future results. But it’s not absolute. It’s why startups kick the behinds of older more powerful companies, et al.

        That said, OVERALL you’re wrong. If you go with the big name 1000 times you’ll win 990. After all, Tiger Woods didn’t get where he is today in golf by making lots of mistakes. At least not on the field. 😉

        And I think you’re totally misreading me.

        I want to know who you are so I can judge your advice better. I want to know how many years of experience went into that advice. How successful you’ve been, etc etc.

        I also want access to your social network and know who is influencing you.

        I note that over on Techcrunch astro turfing has totally disappeared due to this change. Why? Because if you are an employee of a company no longer can you go into the comments and cheer your product on and jeer your competitor’s products. You’ve gotta be straight. Overal the quality has increased 1000x over there.

        Using a real name matters.
        Showing your social graph matters.

        I love it.


      8. It’s not about the identity. It’s about how the idea or rumor is backed up. Being able to say ‘I’ve hit millions of golf balls and I think x’ is what matters. Similarly, an ‘unknown’ could point at academic literature to back up a point. Saying ‘I’m Tiger Woods’ is simply a quick way to convey the experience we all know he has…but it’s still the experience that matters and not the identity. An anonymous poster can do the same but is just forced to do it the long way.


      9. Listen, dude. Having an identity attached to a comment or whatever can add credibility. Not having an identity attached shouldn’t automatically discredit.

        Also, face it: lots of very smart people are cowards and are fearful of repercussions of what they say. You’re saying those people don’t deserve to spread their thoughts on the internet?

        I personally just think you’re an idiot with polarizing opinions who just likes to stir up controversy by trying to seem smart. You’re a troll too whether you actually believe what you say or not. And isn’t that what the internet is for?


      10. I have to agree with the anonymous poster.

        Partly because there’s this idea of the ad hominem attack.

        If ideas are the point of comments, great ideas can come from a teenaged kid, a grandma, or someone off the beaten track.


      11. Your logic is so flawed.

        So if Bill Gates or Steve jobs anonymously posts about an idea on your blog, does it have less or more value than if a nobody posts the same idea (still anonymously) on your blog ?


      12. Scoble, you are wrong. If Barack Obama told you idea X and I told you idea X, it’s still idea X. You may attach meaning to idea X that is separate from its intended meaning, but that’s YOUR FAULT.


      13. Oh, cool, glad to know I have the same power to tell you something as the President of the freaking USofA. Geesh.

        Sorry, but I watch real people’s behavior and I can tell you that they will attach much more meaning to anything Barack Obama tells them than if you tell them.


      14. Your point here seems to be that only famous people are worth hearing from. Your point above seems to be that, since famous people already post using their own name, the authenticity of what they have to say is clear (I find it hard to believe you actually believe that, though).

        I get those 2 points, even though I don’t agree. What I DON’T get is this: “Hello! Name one person on the web that doesn’t use Google or Bing.” That appears to have nothing to do with the surrounding argument or text. I’m sure it made sense in your head, but you should reread, or get a proofer.


      15. Robert, the type of ‘extreme commenting’ you demonstrate above may be the exact reason why most people prefer to post anonymously. And why I believe the greater volume of comments will continue to be anonymous.


      16. I’d hate to use it as an example because we’ve been flooded with them, but Quora is a great example of why who’s saying it matters. Someone who has knowledge/area expertise is more likely to give a quality answer to a question.

        However, it begs the question: Were these people (who are posting now) not posting or posting anon on TC before? I find that hard to believe.


      17. “I don’t see why backing a comment with a person’s real name suddenly makes their point more worthy. ”

        You haven’t been on many political blogs lately have you? Anything that can be done to get people to act online as they might offline, in person, is a good thing when you consider how rampant trolling is and how aggravating it is to weed through the junk to get to the good.

        My thing is, a ton of people who say really, incredibly stupid and offensive things just “for fun” are completely shut down when they have to put their names to it.

        And that, for me, smacks of a much, MUCH better online world.


  3. I am glad you still have Disqus – as an entrepreneur with a passion for design looking at facebook comments is visually painful in comparison to Disqus.

    In addition, I would like to see people supporting a startup rather than switching to another copy-cat facebook product – it really is quite sad leveraging the power of scale, when you accept that power, in my opinion you start to turn your back on the startup community.

    If there were things they needed to do better – the people who care about startups and entrepreneurs, like yourself, should look to help them improve rather than abandoning them.


    1. I see the appeal of Facebook and having a commenting system tied back to people’s news feeds but overall I agree with ccarter.

      In general, smaller companies tend to be more innovative and move quicker. Facebook might be the exception (for now) but I really liked what Disqus was doing.


  4. Woah. I think he was just implying that people want their worlds to be separate. I don’t melt my Facebook world together with my Twitter/Blog world cause my friends don’t care in the real world. Same with daily conversations. If I was going to the Kynetx Impact Conference as I planned, I would talk about a lot more nerdy stuff with nerdy people, other than when I am at home, where my best friend really could give a damn. Instead, he’d rather discuss with me how many hot chicks I saw on campus today. There is no such separation on Facebook.


    1. That I can agree with. I’m actually totally in agreement that we need more control of the distribution of our info, but I really don’t buy into this “authenticity” horseshit. Wrong argument.

      Now, if he said “I don’t want to waste my grandma’s time with my arcane discussions of the A5 processor vs. NVidia” well then I’d agree and have gone on with my life.


      1. I think Holden’s point is dead on, which you appear to also agree with Robert. But I’d also say that the authenticity issue comes into play legitimately as well. It’s not that someone can’t go out there and search for things I’ve said after the fact and read all the times I cursed or had strong opinions. However, the real-time (or near real-time) scrutiny of everything I say by close relations or friends can be frustrating for both me and them if they haven’t followed the context of my discussions or the reputation I’ve developed over these topics. In some cases it’s simply their lack of understanding. If I know that they’re constantly seeing these comments, and I know how they react to them, then I may begin to respond differently in order to avoid what might seem offensive to them at times.

        Let’s also not forget that while it’s easy for anyone to go out and search for everything you’ve said online, those who know you don’t spend all their time doing this every day (well, perhaps your family and friends do this w/you because you’re such a big celebrity, but for us little people it just doesn’t happen that frequently). Sure, it’s easy to do, and sure they can see it all, but for all of my family who uses Google, they don’t spend their time Googling the whole family just to see what they said.

        You seem to be taking a real techie perspective here and the fact is that even something as easy as Googling provides sufficient practical obscurity from those who are frequently friends from different contexts.

        Note, the issue is not about anonymity which I personally don’t like. Let’s me keep my persona on blogs separate from my Facebook persona that I use to keep up with friends and family that don’t care about these issues.


      2. Robert,
        Your comment that we need more control of the distribution of our information and content is a perfect summary of Steve’s point. And that point, taken to the extreme, may have a direct impact on one’s authenticity: as all of the networks one is involved in collide into one public [and publicly broadcast] forum, there is the risk that authenticity is muted and replaced by personal PR.

        Suddenly, political stances, religious viewpoints, business relationships and social activity get merged and are broadcast. Someone doesn’t have to have an evil, secret private life for them to not want their view on abortion, or god, or the public education system, or dating, or the [college football] bcs system to effect business relationships (or any similar combination). To manage for this, people may feel the need to “control” their honest opinions. The challenge that has long been faced by public figures (politicians, actors, etc.) now becomes a real challenge for individuals.

        Generally, I believe the Facebook commenting system is a powerful tool. But it also creates risk of muted authenticity or, worse, contrived public personas. There is definitely an opportunity for innovation around control of personal info distribution.


      3. Scoble. I think your bravery in light of adversity is admirable. But I disagree that it’s “horseshit” that people who want to comment anonymous are cowards.

        I don’t find fault on people who genuinely have much to lose and have difficulty in putting their jobs, family and livelihood at risk. This is why one of the important tenets to journalism is that journalists can’t be forced to reveal sources that remain anonymous.

        I have yet to see this sort of leaker role play as big a part in tech news as it has in other parts of society such as Wikileaks. But it could happen, say, with VC collusion, insider trading, stolen identity/password loss, selling of personal data, etc.

        Yes, people have been fired for much less but that doesn’t discount the real fear and consequences employees face by employers. Companies are democracies, they are basically dictatorships (perhaps authoritarian is a better word to use).

        Maybe in one case you spoke to power and it worked out. You weren’t fired, your life wasn’t made miserable, your career wasn’t stifled, and you were ostracized. But in most cases this is what happens.

        Speaking less generally, I agree there are high quality comments tied to names. But is this really the result of forcing user’s to use these names? Are the people who are writing high quality comments, trolls before? Or were they writing anon comments? What’s changed with respect to them? I suspect not much.

        Yes, there may be less trolling comments but that never bothered me. Comments seemed to be sorted by rating on TC (well, under Disqus they were). So much like I only go through the first page of results on a Google search that returns 1MM matches, I typically go through the first set of comments until quality drops off beyond my liking. I never scroll through 10 pages of comments looking for quality.

        Also, the majority of the trolls I did not like but very often I found a troll making a sarcastic / witty / snarky remark saying something more insightful than anyone else commenting.


    2. Holden has it exactly right. Almost none of my friends care to read every post about my deep thoughts on iOS and Android development, open standards or any other such geeky talk. Either Facebook learns they are wrong and people don’t want a single online identity, or we push to use Twitter for business/public identity and Facebook (or some alternative) for personal.


  5. Agree completely that non-anonymous comments improve signal-to-noise ratio and are the right way to go, ethically and technically. What I don’t like is that identify is owned by a single entity, which functions as both a social graph maintainer and a provider of services atop that graph. In addition to conflicts of interest, we end up with the FB id/graph, the twitter version, linked in, quora and on and on. Every time I join another network, I need to create a new id and re-build another network. Why can’t we have a social graph layer that all services are built on top of? Here’s a more elaborate blog post I wrote about this idea:


    1. And I don’t like paying taxes. But I do. It all works out.

      If I designed the world it would be different too. But I didn’t. So we gotta live in Zuckerberg’s world for the moment. He won BECAUSE he forced real identity. That was a HUGE differentiator over MySpace.

      The world has decided. Facebook has won. We all need to live with it or build a better system and get everyone onto it.


      1. Imagine if you had to fill out one tax return for the military, one for the state dept, one for the dept of agriculture, etc. Aren’t you glad you only have to do one tax return? Right now, every social service forces you to file its own return, so to speak.


      2. I’m not disputing that facebook won round 1 (and with 500M users there may be no other rounds). It just seems so obviously architecturally flawed on so many levels. I have lots of ideas about how to build a better mousetrap but I know I’m tilting at windmills. I do wonder whether it would be viable for google and other FB rivals to form a consortium to establish a common id/graph infrastructure but they would have to sign up one of the biggies (basically, FB or twitter) and I don’t see anything in it for them to open up their graphs.


      3. That’s what they said about Google before Facebook and I’m sure that’s what will be said about the platform that follows Facebook 😉


      4. “That was a HUGE differentiator over MySpace.”

        Richard Rosenblatt hosed MySpace when he sold it out to NewsCorp. MySpace could have easily been where Facebook is now. Most of the MySpace community were Left wingers and they sold it to Rupert Murdoch for legal protection on an Eliot Spitzer spyware case against Intermix as well as heat by the federal government over minors being endangered?

        That’s what Greenspan explained in his court complaint.

        Facebook won because it had it’s hand held by Peter Thiel. Just like Dave McClure(who frankly never did anything[simplyhired] but is still loaded with cash), Ried Hoffman, Chad Hurley and the rest of the Paypal team.

        He pulled all the strings for them. Before him they were nothing.


      5. Facebook doesn’t validate the identity of any of its members.

        Go onto Facebook and do a search for Ima Fakir. There are quite a number. And these are obviously fake accounts. It’s really not that hard to create an account for Robert Smith and find a bunch of people (like bloggers) who accept all friend requests.

        It’s only a matter of time before a few persistent trolls go and do this.

        But the net result will be that probably the kind of trolls that comment multiple times in a single thread with different one-off user names will dwindle.



    101,454 users – Weekly installs: 4,106

    Over 100k users can no longer read TechCrunch comments because they have Facebook Disconnect installed.
    If you want a similar feature for Firefox, please check out my article about it.

    Brian Kennish used to be the office hours guy for Google Wave, now he has saved an entire generation from web based XHR spyware.

    Thanks Brian Kennish.


      1. No. Its not a choice. I didn’t have the option to get an iPad with Flash. I have an iPad and I wish it has Flash.
        There was no “something else”. The XOOM has only been out for a week.


      2. No. Its not a choice. I didn’t have the option to get an iPad with Flash. I have an iPad and I wish it has Flash.
        There was no “something else”. The XOOM has only been out for a week.


  7. I totally agree, anonymous comments are not always worth the read, when it comes to posting via your own identity it does matter alot to that person.

    Talking about Steve Chen’s post, if you really know how to use Facebook you know how not to post things/ appear on your wall.

    And why so much of fuss, you can always have anonymous Facebook profile if you really want one.

    Having Disqus and other commenting systems gives the freedom to user to choose which identity they would want to use ( Disable Anonymous though )

    On drawback w/ Facebook Commenting system is, freedom of choice, Facebook commenting does snatch that off from us actually. ( Facebook + yahoo, thats it! 😦 )


    1. That’s basically my problem with FB comments. Not that it is Facebook, just a lack of choice. Yahoo! is a none player, Twitter is my nerd page, and FB is where I upload my random college “experience” pictures. Being able to control would be nice.


      1. Exactly my point and same situation for me, thats why i prefer adding my details manually on blogs or use Disqus wherever possible. That much more sense for me.
        Yahoo being literally of no use, we have to use Facebook.


  8. I’m with ccarter and Vidyesh above, it’s the fact I HAVE to use Facebook/Yahoo to comment that irritates me. I have a FB account, but I don’t get on with it as well as I do Twitter. Similarly I don’t want my comments turning up in peoples’ news feeds; if I then promote the same post because I enjoyed it they’ll get another message from me, which seems daft and just adds to the noise.

    And as I wrote in a recent post, FB comments are so bloody tiny they make reading comments a chore, rather than an opportunity to learn from others.


      1. Fair comment. For me personally it adds a layer of extra mouse clicks that I didn’t have before. I don’t have ‘normal’ hands, so what may seem simple to you is more difficult for me.

        (I hate the word normal, but saying disabled hands sounds worse! Anyway, all I mean is I’ve got problems with my hands because they’re not like yours.)


  9. I couldn’t agree more. I rarely pay any attention to anonymous or obviously pseudonymous comments, because on the occasions when I do, I find the vast majority of them worthless. They’re full of personal invective and sweeping assertions without evidence or argument. In other words, they’re rude and lazy. Anyone who thinks rudeness and laziness are the better part of authenticity has some developmental catching up to do.


    1. Corey, you’re right. And I say the same goes for elections. Next time you sign in at your local polling spot, what do you say we pull down all those pesky privacy curtains so we can see exactly who’s voting for whom? After all, if you can’t put your name and your face behind your _vote_ then what good is it?

      In fact, I bet all the local politicians, the top ten employers, and business owners of all stripes would love to get a good look at those freedom-lovin’ voters…do they vote the party line or split? Who’s a closet Greenie? Who’s a godless Commie? I bet we could get those bigwigs to pay for a live feed, plus glossy prints.

      But why stop there? Let’s get _everybody_ in on it — your friends, your neighbors, and your co-workers, too. Might turn out to be just water cooler material for cubicle monkeys, but I smell top-notch entertainment for the poor slobs who work in union shops! Boy howdy, I’d pay to see that, myself. 🙂


  10. Interesting perspective but I have to wonder at the implication for people such as those in the picture used for this post. When the cause that you are passionate about involves the very right to fundamental freedoms in life and death situations, tying everything you say and do on line to a real, totally verifiable identity (something facebook does not do by the way) surly can not be ideal. The potential for abuse is immense. So, should we as individuals give up the right to freedom of expression because it keeps the fan boy troll fest down. I don’t think it as black and white as many are painting it.

    On a more personal note, when commenting on tech blogs etc. I have no problem who knows it is me posting but I don’t necessarily want all my comments tied to the facebook social graph and I don’t want to have to remember to opt out from spamming my friends and family with a truck load of comments they would have no interest in. I don’t live in a country where my very survival may depend on anonymity though, so my issues are very first world ones.


  11. Brilliant post.. But just want to state something a bit off topic on something to do with FB commenting…

    I have no problems with the FB commenting system.. Just like Disqus more 😦 . I like seeing how many comments and how many likes because it makes me more careful about my post because I like to see more likes than posts since that indicates that people appreciate what I write.

    I just hope FB makes a similar iteration soon enough. 😦


  12. Robert,

    I agree with Steve 100%. I separate my personal life from my professional. Facebook is my personal life of family and friends. When I”m commenting, that’s my professional life. If I use FB comment system, I will not be authentic because it’s my personal life identity. I will never use FB commenting because of this.

    FYI – The Steve Chen you referenced in your article name is Steve Cheney. I think Steve Chen is youtube co-founder.


  13. My Mum told me to laugh at the schoolkids who wanted to hurt me – I did that, and they stopped hassling me.

    Even more absurd, they then wanted to be friends…

    I knew there was a point to this comment….. just trying to remember it…. 🙂

    Oh yes!

    The more authentic you are, the further you’ll go. Lying, cheating (sounds like a Led Zeppelin song!), being anonymous, lets you vent and gain short term advantage, but I’d much rather cultivate long-term relationships etc.

    Thanks Robert for a brilliant, enlightening post.


  14. Admire your voice and enthusiasm, Robert. That said, there are plenty of ‘people’ on FB who are not who and sometimes what they appear to be. Such widespread adoption of FB commenting could end up eroding confidence in the ‘authenticity’ of a FB identity.


  15. Robert,

    Steve Cheney was probably pointing to the fact that we behave different in various social circles and this melding of an identities means that people will think twice in posting something controversial. I think it causes dissonance to a lot of people, especially those who are used to the anonymous potshots.

    While I think he went overboard in saying that it kills authenticity, it’s merely a speed bump.

    Then again, not all people have the guts to speak their minds because of different reasons (fear of getting fired, fear of angering other people, etc.). You can’t expect people to have the same guts as you when it comes to expressing online.


    1. I think that’s wacked. No one I know is different in private than in public. What we DO WANT is the ability to control distribution of info. I want my dad to see medical research on kidney transplant issues, a few new iPad apps a week, and pictures of his grandkid. I don’t need to waste his time with discussions about arcane tech or social network arguments, like this one. But that has nothing to do with authenticity.

      Yeah, I know some people live secret lives and want to keep their work and home lives separate. I find those kinds of people to be wacked out and not very authentic at all.


      1. Because you know people, what Robert Scoble experiences reflects EVERYTHING that people are experiencing. If no one Robert Scoble knows is different in private than in public it MUST mean that the same goes for EVERYONE on this planet.

        You’re clueless and shortisighted, what you’re calling for led in its most extreme way to Stalinism, you know that guy who’s responsible for 50M dead people and who got bested by that little chinese dude Mao Zedong (he did twice as best FYI)

        That’s pathetic.


      2. Actually Robert, you’re just reacting and not even listening to his post.

        In a lot of ways you are doing precisely what that user is stating. You are projecting your world view upon others. (Note I didn’t say forcing, I said projecting.)

        Our view of the world is just that, OUR view.

        The way that you believe the world to be is a subjective experience based upon the emotions & memories you have gathered over the course of your life.

        If you truly believe that people are the same in their public and private lives then to be honest I feel somewhat sad for you. I don’t mean that as an insult, but as an observation.

        Some of the most interesting and worthwhile people I have met are at their most interesting when they can drop the facade they must use for every day life.

        I’m somewhat fortunate that with the career path I am in I still get to show a large portion of myself, but even then I am still very careful about revealing certain aspects of my life.

        Now, having said all this, this is the way I’ve personally experienced the world.

        I’ve found that when the people I know are the same person in all situations that usually means there’s something about me they don’t trust enough to let me really know them.


      3. Fair enough. I don’t usually trapse out my cigars on my blog either. So, I guess even I have some private things that I know might create a negative image in some people’s heads.

        I’ll just leave it with this: the comments over on Techcrunch have improved 1000x since they went Facebook. How do you explain that?


      4. They’ve improved 1000x for what type of content YOU want to see 😉

        It’s the same way I explain how it is that 30 Seconds to Mars to me is 1000x better of a band than Steely Dan…it’s all in what a person prefers to see.

        While trolls aren’t necessarily a great thing they have as much right (or as George Carlin put it ‘privilege’) to post as anyone else.

        The only things I’ll ever agree to the outright censoring of (or non-inclusion of) are people who are very specifically trolling for the entire and sole purpose of having something to do. Someone who doesn’t actually care or have an opinion on the matter and are ONLY trying to start a fight or post something completely unrelated. That, and spam.


      5. You almost had me going there. But now you lost me.

        Sorry, NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT to post on my blog. That’s where this nonsense has to stop.


      6. That’s why I added the Carlin line in there. It’s most definitely not a right (I don’t believe rights exist), but that’s the commonly used word for a privilege that should only be revoked in cases where it is being abused in an egregious manner.

        Sort of how things work for online gaming communities…games are still fun for the most part even though there are tons of griefers and usually only the most egregious are ever dealt with 😉

        However I think that arguments, even extremely intense downright ugly totally rip someone apart style arguments have their place as long as they do not delve into specific directions.

        Call someone stupid, call them a moron, call them an f-ing idiot who wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground, but at least tell them why, don’t go racist, keep the your mom jokes above the belt (where I pretend my mother has always existed in all social situations), and FFS /b/ does not exist.

        I mean think about it…you reacted with perfect aplomb to my ‘douche’ comment down below, but only because of the prior content of my post. It’s all about context.

        Now…one of the only things I consistently hate about the internet (sometimes :P)…carrying on conversations in multiple threads, all on the same page.


      7. I didn’t know it was possible to nest this deeply using Disqus. Robert Scobleizer is pushing the technology envelope in ways that he (perhaps) wasn’t even aware.


      8. Do the ends justify the means?

        I like Disqus and every blog I get to that uses Disqus, I smile because I can track my comments more easily across a variety of topics and sites.

        Facebook, on the other hand, can be very annoying with every single business and non-profit and blog conniving to use default or opt-out settings to make contact with them viral.

        I installed Facebook Disconnect in Chrome ages agoand forgot, so TechCrunch has ZERO comments right now, except the archived trolling ones before the change.


      9. You are being unnecessarily forceful and bitter in your argument. You are 46 yrs old – where is the maturity and cool-headedness which one would expect from a person of your level of experience.

        Opinions aside, let me give you a simple example to counter your view on revealing identities in comments. I am an MBA student in a top 10 B-school in US. I am passionate about the technology industry. Now, let us say TC did a post on Samsung Galaxy S phones and how the newer versions are so feature rich etc. I know, from personal experience, that Samsung’s customer experience is pathetic – they just launched Froyo on my Captivate (9 months after it was officially launched by Google and months after 2010 yr end promises they were giving out back in July when the phone was officially launched in US). So, I would naturally want others to know how bad my experience with Samsung has been and how they shouldn’t follow Samsung’s claims on Android updates. I would use TC comments for this. Now, I will be graduating this yr. Since it is still a recessionary economy and I don’t have many companies to play around with, I would still apply for Samsung – they make great feature rich mobile devices and I feel that if they get their customer service right (ala HTC), they can enjoy great success in this field and form long term positive relationships with their customers. Let us assume that I get the call and clear my interviews. Now, while conducting my background check they find this message on TC by me (since it is linked to FB id) criticizing Samsung for their ordinary customer service and broken promises. Companies are eccentric – that message could be enough for me to be taken out from consideration for that position in spite of the fact (since I have experienced it first hand and know that is their major weakness) that I would have really worked hard to improve the customer service at Samsung. Now, why would I take this risk. Why would I expose my name? The aim in comments is not to reveal your identity but your reasoned opinions. By telling everyone how I have suffered with the likes Samsung customer service, I will be educating others who are considering this phone and let them know about its pitfalls. And Disqus has likes, you can rank-order the comments based on that – so if more people agree with me the more higher my comment will show. If you force me to use Facebook, I will not do this – it is harmful for career and growth if I criticize companies. I am no Robert Scoble or MG Siegler who can afford to do that – I am just a 26 yr old who is passionate about technology and wants to build his career around it. I think that the thing you and MG are missing in your posts is empathy – you are looking at this from your (a famous blogger’s) point of view rather than a average consumer (which will be me) point of view. Sure, it helps you get rid of trolls but it also restricts us from having posting our argument. Internet was supposed to be a medium where average people like us can get their voices heard without being scared that someone will get back to bite us. No-one is force you to read our opinions – you can ignore them but at least give me a chance to post it. By using FB, you are transferring your work of keeping the trolls out to the blogs’ commenters (who often are the most zealous readers). However, there is a cost to that still – you loose out on the honest opinions and commentary on how someone truly feels about a topic which is far more important than filtering trolls.

        And you see – how I posted this message as anonymous. It helps – I do not want to pick any row with you. This is another use case – since I don’t know you personally I do not know how you would react to my message. It would serve me no purpose whatsoever to be in your bad books – hence anonymity helps. If you had implemented FB comments here, I wouldn’t have posted this comment. You are a very well respected person in the web industry and believe me, I truly like reading your views on it. You are a great source of knowledge and insights for many of us and we truly appreciate you for that.

        I hope you understand where I am coming from – whether you agree or not is a different matter.

        PS: Regarding Samsung Captivate Froyo update, some people have argued that it is an AT&T fault and not Samsung’s as Samsung released their international Froyo update for Galaxy S phones back in December. However, I would still maintain it is Samsung’s fault here. Samsung Fascinate (Verizon’s Galaxy S variant) still hasn’t got Froyo despite Verizon being the most active carrier to push out Android updates. Howcome, HTC and Motorola phones in US get Froyo so quickly (through the same carriers) and Samsung does not?


      10. Why do you need to attack my maturity? That totally weakened your argument.

        But, anyway, you might have missed my history. I regularly attacked Microsoft before I worked there. I regularly attacked them while I worked there. And I regularly attack them now. Didn’t stop me from getting a job.

        Again, this stuff is all cowardice.

        I know many people in the industry who got their jobs because they wrote something critical of the company and they were hired to come and fix the problems.

        My world view is DIFFERENT than yours is. That’s cool.

        If I were so scared I just wouldn’t write anything on the Internet. But having some critical opinions WITH YOUR NAME ON THEM might actually bring some valuable opportunities your way.


      11. I’d agree to some extent about honesty even when you work for a company, but the point is that you were able to choose. Removing any other commenting option removes that choice for people.

        Plus you may wish to comment on something more important than a company – for instance, a politicial regime, which may carry more implications than just career limitation


      12. If you are commenting on a political regime there are far better ways to take on that regime than commenting snarkily in some comment section. I’ll send you over to Huffington Post, for instance, where they would run a blog anonymously.

        I just have noticed that the quality of the comments has increased 1000x with this change. So, maybe removing the choice is a good thing.

        After all, we don’t let people drive 150mph on our freeways. I’m sure there’s a few people who hate that lack of choice too, but overall it improves the experience for everyone.


      13. I agree with your maturity point — I thought I had deleted that. That was my initial reaction after reading your previous comment and it did not deserve to be posted there. I will edit it after posting this comment.

        Unfortunately, I still disagree with you on your broader point. You might know many people who have attacked a company and still got the job with the same company – I know companies who have denied jobs to people based on their habits on the web. Are you saying that all companies take criticisms by potential future employees within their stride and welcome them with both their arms. If no, then there is the point which I am pushing here. Why give anyone a chance to come back to you later through these digital evidences?

        Also, besides companies there is another use case of people. Many times when you disagree with a blogger or another commenter (online comments can get bitter), you can risk future friendships/networking opportunities as people will already have an opinion about you based on a arbitrary discussion even before meeting you. There is a thin line between being brave and being foolish. Not everything that isn’t brave is cowardice. Many times you look at the trade offs –> is this comment important enough for me to put my career or future relationships with important people in possible jeopardy? Sometimes it is – like what we witnessed in Egypt and are witnessing in Libya. But other times, such as finding faults in a startup idea posted at TC, it is not.

        Also, there are times when you would want to reveal your identity and you should be perfectly be allowed to do that. That could be something as simple as allowing Disqus to post a comment using your FB Id. My point is not that one should always be allowed to post anonymously – the choice should be left to the users. Thinking this in black or white (either anonymous or with identity) is where, I think, you are missing the point.


      14. Exactly my point. Your post started out unnecessarily rudely with no constructive or actionable criticism. You would NOT behave like this in either private or public. So, the anonymity of the comments encourages you to be an asshole.

        Personally, I think it’s great not to give people systems where they can be assholes to one another.


      15. Indeed, so where do the systems exist for assholes to be themselves?

        You also missed the point that they DID behave like this while maintaining their privacy (hence in private).

        It’s sort of like using systems that only have a like function, but no dislike.

        It makes you feel good to have 5 likes, too bad there’s 200 dislikes that WOULD have gone with it if they were an option.

        Having an avenue for only positive modes of communication is worthless since it means you only hear the good.

        What good is a feedback system if you only hear what a awesome god of a tech rockstar you are, and not how sometimes you totally miss the mark and can be a douche about it?

        Oh, and as you can see from my Twitter (which is what I’ve used to post here I’m not anonymous…real name, real city, real easy to find.

        Edit (no I haven’t changed any of the above, just adding a note) –

        I wanted to add that I’m not saying that you’re a douche, but that in some instances you have behaved like one in how you’ve responded to people in a high-handed manner.


      16. Right…so what if you had a live in 3rd party moderator (that you can’t control) who all of a sudden felt that your wife or the comments from your bosses weren’t worthy of being seen?

        Would you want to turn over that level of control just for the sake less to read?


      17. I have edited out the assholish part of my comment. I hope you do not focus on that as the main part of my argument but rather look at what I was implying in my later paragraphs. I gave you huge credits as a great blogger and sources of knowledge/insights in the web industry and even regarded myself as an “average” web user. I respect you and hope that you see my point the way I want you to rather than than the way you want to perceive it. Cheers 🙂


      18. I think that’s wacked. No one I know is different in private than in public

        That has to be one of the most absurd things I’ve ever read. Only a deeply shallow person could believe such a thing.

        I recommend the works of Erving Goffman, a sociologist who studied and wrote in great detail about the difference between public and private spaces.
        Here’s a good summary:

        Goffman is justly famous for his analysis of “frontstage” and “backstage”, for his picture of how the confidence man is not merely a picturesque criminal, but is an aspect of all of us. But although this has given Goffman the reputation of being a Machiavellian, an ultra-sophisticated analyst of the arts by which people negotiate their social identities, Goffman’s own theoretical claim was always the opposite kind. It is society that forces people to present a certain image of themselves, to appear to be truthful, selfconsistent, and honorable, when in fact the same social system, because it forces us to switch back and forth between many complicated roles, is also making us always somewhat untruthful, inconsistent, and dishonorable-in short to be actors rather than spontaneously the roles that we appear to be at any single moment.


      19. I know you are using hyperbole for effect here Robert, but I can think of a half-dozen people off hand who are different in private than in public that I know you know. Im fairly certain you dont think any of them are really ‘wacked out’ – judging by how you treat them. Not everyone lives as boldly as you, although I know many wish they could. Maybe it’s a weak spot in the worldview of the brave that they neither see cowardice in those they admire, nor understand it?


  16. I don’t understand how people seem to think Facebook login will help with authenticity. What’s to stop people creating and using fake Facebook profiles – I for one have three different profiles for various reasons.

    Second, I can buy the argument that forcing people to use ‘real Facebook’ names increases signal to noise ratio, in the same way that chemotherapy kills cancer cells, but also at the expense of healthy cells. If signal to noise ratio is all you value, then sure, forcing real names is the way to go – if encouraging wider more open discussions is the objective, then no that won’t happen as much.

    Third, I think Scoble shows the prejudice that comes from having an attitude of ‘I live my life this way, everyone else should live their lives like I do and if they don’t there is something wrong with them’. Absolutely there are many reasons why I might want to comment on something and not have my name associated with it – as an example, as a hiring manager, I often post advice explaining how companies evaluate and hire staff – the good and the bad reasons. That’s absolutely not the stuff I want associated to my real name. For Scoble to not even acknowledge those kind of scenarios – or think that the ‘everyday’ person can wear the risk of losing their job by being that open – is amazingly arrogant and disconnected to the real world.


    1. Well, for one, if you are on Facebook you can have everything you do deleted if you break the rules. Using fake names is against the rules. Yeah, you might never get caught, but if you do, they will delete your account.

      Second, yes, signal to noise is what I value. We have enough noise now. We need less ALL ACROSS THE BOARD.

      I haven’t seen an open discussion that’s gotten better because of anonymity. All I see is a lot of heat and fury. Even on Techcrunch, go and look at just that one post. The jerks are all the anonymous folks using Yahoo accounts.

      Hiring managers SHOULD BE TRANSPARENT! It gets you better candidates! We learned that at Microsoft.

      After doing this interview with the hiring folks at Microsoft we got thousands more resumes:

      You should try sharing industry info openly sometime. It usually leads to better companies, better relationships, and better jobs. If you are forced to hide your face when you share something that’s probably a good indicator you’re a coward and are doing something wrong.


      1. “…if you are on Facebook you can have everything you do deleted if you break the rules.” I know that statement was in response to having fake names on facebook, but it also highlights one of the key areas of unease that I have about a pervasive adoption of facebook commenting.

        Facebook are not a democratic state which can in some way be held to account in terms of the transparency of the implementation of rules and guidelines and their enforcement of them. Sites like TechCrunch are ceding control over the access to participation in discussions of their blog entries. How that power and control will be exercised over time will be interesting to watch.


  17. “I couldn’t remember a time when an anonymous person really enacted change in, well, anything.”



    1. OK, but Deep Throat didn’t even TRY to publish. He just went to someone who already had a publishing distribution system. Which even backs me up further. When you are anonymous you need someone with real credibility to say “this guy is real and what he is screaming about is real.”


      1. It doesn’t actually back up your position at all – it exactly the opposite. Deep throat had no wish for the publicity by being revealed so he went with the (at the time) version of anonymous – ie a journalist. Deep throats actions where the ‘comment’ and the journalist was the ‘commenting system’ – two different things.

        You assume that people only have one persona – most people have several – one they share with family, one they share with friends, a professional one etc … it’s not a coward or even inconsistent to have these. Facebook logins ends up assuming you only have one which is the problem I have with it.


      2. Deep Throat was NOT anonymous. He was known to one person and now he’s been outted. Truely anonymous won’t have any way for anyone to figure out who he/she is.


      3. Neither are people making comments on the internet. At some point everything traces back to a source.

        Now you’re just nitpicking to nitpick.

        To behave like you have been doing to a large number of users:

        I now declare that this post of yours is without merit since the point you make is without merit. If you were on the facebook commenting system….oh wait…we’d still have been forced to read it since you’d be in control…

        It’s a good thing to have the illusion of control or at least the illusion of the ability to make yourself heard.


      4. Heheh.

        I know I’m not in control. I’ll end up in a box someday. So, any sense of control is temporary at best.

        Anyway, have a good one, I’m going to sleep. The Internet is yours!


      5. No worries Robert. I need to sleep at some point too. I’m just doing my catch up reading and commenting before I too must give up control and lose consciousness for several hours 😛


  18. My family aren’t very public on the internet, to the point that I rarely refer to my partner by name, or share images of my son etc. And although I know that anything which is online can be seen if someone tries hard enough, the idea is that by assigning a little bit of privacy to them, it’ll cut down on most of problems which could arise from casual users, in the same way that even a cheap lock for your car or bike will deter casual thieves, and they’ll go for the easier target next door.

    So the last thing I want to do is to end up getting flamed or harrassed on Facebook because I might disagree with anyone on Techcrunch, and also have my network highlighted as a route for people to potentially get at me.

    The alternative is a Yahoo system. The same Yahoo that have killed the likes of MyBlogLog, Delicious etc, etc. That seems like a good plan…

    One single ID is a terrible idea for a number of reasons:
    A barrier to valid anonymous information or whisteblowing.
    A barrier to a good idea being validated because it didn’t come from someone prominent (As Robert half-acknowledge earlier).
    The desire to seperate areas for legitimate reasons – there are things I might want private from certain elements of my network. As a very basic example, what about the loving husband and father who might indulge in ‘adult’ entertainment, and then finds it’s logged next to his Google profile or Facebook id?
    Beacon. That went well for the same type of reason. I don’t want presents I buy to auto-alert the person I want to surprise.

    I’m a big believer in authenticity – I’m extremely public about a lot of things, and believe that if a client decides I’m not the right fit for them based on my openness, that actually it’s a good thing that saved us both a lot of time and pain. That’s why my comments on every site are with my own name or my nickname and all are linked to my website.

    But I also think there’s a lot of rubbish being posted here by Robert who seems to refuse to allow for differences of opinions about authenticity.

    Examples of people who want to seperate home and work lives? A lot of people. Government workers, bank employees, healthcare professionals etc…
    I know several medical professionals who have to use fake online personas simply to avoid patients pestering them 24/7 for medical diagnosis over Facebook, to avoid stalkers, etc etc.

    And finally – blogging is based a lot around exchanging links – if I make a brilliant comment and people want to find out more about me, I’d like them to be able to go to my website and see the collection of thoughts and information I’ve put together to hopefully provide a decent summary and overview. And that traffic may result in some advertising or affiliate revenue which might help me to avoid bankruptcy whilst growing my own business and constantly experimenting with online publishing/advertising/monetisation.

    Or they can end up at the mishmash of personal chat and interactions I have on Facebook which rarely involve professional discussions (I use Twitter and LinkedIn for those, and find them far more effective).

    Here’s an easy solution.

    Give everyone the choice of how they want to comment.
    Give everyone the choice of what comments they want to view.

    If Robert just wants Facebook comments, then let him set a preference for that.
    If I would rather see all comments, then let me see that.

    And let everyone create a VRM-friendly profile which can be verified, but then distributes whichever bits of my profile to various locations, without meaning I have to show everything to everyone at the choice of the whoever is providing the site/app for interaction.


  19. I am pro facebook comments and I agree with Scoble. Additionally I think people are focusing to much in the “authenticity” part and not on the “social” part. The capabilities to know immediately what your friend have comment on the same post is powerful! Specially for eCommerce!
    This is great and curated stop, done by us users, not some anonymous guy out there we don’t know and trust.


  20. If I need marriage advice I’ll go with someone who has had a long marriage over someone who has had a short one.

    Oh, would I go to Tiger for marriage advice? Um, no. 😉


  21. Why not simply disable anonymous comments and restrict commenting to accounts that have their Facebook linked?

    Poor Disqus. Comments is the only thing they do, and they do it well.


  22. Have you seen FB comments on CNN? Plenty of folks posting vitriol from their personal FB accounts (along with $2K/day work from home schemes). I’m betting the TC anonymous trolls are just smarter and don’t want to be posting from their personal profiles and are busy creating fake FB accounts quickly so they can go back on TC.

    The civility won’t last.


    1. The switch to FB is just an inconvenience that will not change anything in the long term. Just as I use a fake name in my Diqus account, I may create a dedicated fake-name account in FB, if I wanted to comment on TC. But I don’t think I will bother. Having to log-off/log-in from fake/real accounts just makes too much work to be worth it.
      TC has evolved from being a serious technology blog into being just entertainment. I am reading it less each day since the switch. On the other hand, I am reading Engadget more, so for AOL there is no loss.


  23. Here here Robert! I’m for attribution and authenticity, not useless anonymity.

    Thanks for fighting the good fight. Here’s to kicking the cowardly lions out into the open!


  24. For whatever it’s worth, I agree with your stance. And to those who crap on about the importance of anonymity under repressive regimes etc., get a life. We’re talking about Techcrunch here, not political dissent in Syria.

    And for my part, I stopped reading the comments on Techcrunch and similar sites a long time ago, because life is too short to wade through garbage looking for gold. Maybe now it will be worth revisiting.

    Finally, what irks me even more than anonymous trolls is the admins who fail to moderate and delete. If you allow comments, you have, IMO, a duty to your followers to clean up when someone shits on your porch.


  25. Per the commented line, “Face it, authenticity goes way down when people know their 700 friends, grandma, and 5 ex-girlfriends are tuning in each time they post something on the web.”

    I actually agree with this. When I post something on Facebook, or that goes to Facebook, it gets noticed by my Facebook friends — all of whom are family and friends (no pure business contacts, although there’s always some overlap). When I post something on the rest of the web (somewhere that’s not connected to Facebook) none of my Facebook friends notice.

    Thus, I completely disagree with the point of, “Hello! Name one person on the web that doesn’t use Google or Bing. One. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Hint, your 700 friends are on Google. Your grandma is on google. Your five ex-girlfriends are on Google. My ex-wife is on Google.”

    Yes, they are all on Google. But they don’t sit there and search on me — or their 699 other friends — daily or even weekly. They almost exclusively keep up with those friends on Facebook and are oblivious to their other actions online. In fact, most of my Facebook friends would be bored (and lost) by most of what I write away from Facebook.

    They _could_ find the other stuff. But they don’t. And if they did regularly, it would be considered stalking. So, I don’t think my experience is all that different from the norm for the other 500 million that use Facebook every month. Perhaps some tiny subset, maybe several million people, have a different experience.

    The point is: Based on where I know my writing is going, I have a different [intended] audience. Therefore, my writing is different. Do the lines blur occasionally? Sure. But surprisingly rarely — given that everyone is, indeed, on Google.


  26. from my post at TC story: “There’s 2 design reasons why you’re (TC) not getting as many comments/trolls:

    1) You now have to click the “Add a Comment” link to get the form to type in your comment — this drops the number you’ll get.

    2) The font size of comments is now smaller, meaning there’s less visibility of comments. This’ll cut down on responses.

    I was regularly reading the comments before, now I don’t even pay attention to them. Makes me less likely to comment. Makes TechCrunch feel less like a community.

    It’d be interesting to do an A/B test of fb vs disqus without these usability/design changes.”


  27. Scoble, I beg to differ.

    I wouldn’t use the term ‘authenticity’ as Steve has done. Because the truth is, humans are fundamentally inauthentic. However, his udnerlying point was spot on: we are different people depending on the context.

    We are not the same person with our colleagues, kids, lovers, parents or golfing buddies. You certainly don;t want grandma to see the side of you that your wife does. You don;t want your kids to see the side of you that your old college drinking buddies do. This is what Steve meant by emotional intelligence: we sense what is appropriate to the situation and adapt accordingly.

    This is why people have different profiles on Facebook and LInkedin. We are almost two different people on both. You’d post your wild party pics on Facebook, but not Linkedin. This is human nature. This is what the real social graph looks like, and Facebook foolishly doesn’t realise it. One identity to rule them all will fail.

    You use the word cowards to describe people who are more circumspect than you. I’ll ignore the value judgment and simply say: the world is what it is, not what you think it should be. Most people are emotionally intelligent enough not to risk their jobs, livelihood and family welfare for the emotional satisfaction of publicly insulting their bosses.

    This is why the TC comments have fallen off a cliff. People want to be a diffrent persona on TC than they are on Facebook. By forcing them to use their FB profile, TC is denying their fundamental human nature- just like Facebook is. Both will pay a price.


  28. Absolutely, anonymity should always be possible but its over use has been a fundamental flaw in the Internet. I wrote a rant about this a few years back ( My suggestion was that by running network access through your real life social network you enable shame (a social mechanism which has evolved to play a key role in all human societies) to do a lot of the moderation work for you. It trades unfettered (but still almost always obtainable) access for a rock solid safeguard of network quality.

    The idea in this case would be that in order for me to comment here on Robert’s blog, I would have to have access via my social network. This isn’t hard to do, the six degrees of separation effect works pretty well. What this enables is a traceable chain from Robert to me. If I start griefing in this context, everyone can follow that chain back to me, and each node passed along the way can participate in the reaction. My reputation and theirs are intertwined (in a manner correlated by closeness to me, not to Robert) so the social mechanisms that society has already evolved are leveraged.


  29. Scoble,

    I rarely outright disagree with you on topics – but on this on you are way off. I think your are using techcrunch comments to make a small reasonable argument and then taking the rest and making it wrong. Some basic thoughts:

    1. Being anonymous on the Internet is incredibly difficult
    2. For the pleasure of posting a comment on Techcruch, I think it’s reasonable that they ask you use your real identity – there is little on that blog that would require anonymity in my opinion
    3. Telling people they can’t do something, makes them want to do it more
    4. Creating fake Facebook accounts is easy. If I was a troll who created a Facebook account to flame the comments of a Techcrunch post, would I really be worried about that Facebook account being deleted? No.
    5. Free speech is a human right
    6. We don’t speak to Grama at church the same way we speak to our buddy Joe at a club

    So, the bigger picture of how important anonymity is, and perhaps not true anonymity – but At least some assurance that if you reported a rape… That the simple fact of reporting it wouldn’t be seen by the rapist and see you targeted. In many ways, the large crowd of protesters in Egypt created some level of anonymity for them… This was never more prevalent last summer here in Toronto during the G20 protests… The people vandalizing the stores were mixed into the crowd (anonymous) before they started the havoc, and then they mixed right back into the croud (anonymous) after they were done. The truth is though, it’s also hard to stay anonymous in real life too.. They were caught on camera, etc.

    But, anonymity is essential for all of us no matter what we do. It allows us to report bad things have happened, it allows us to bitch and moan about our partners to friends without fear of our partner hearing that. It allows us sometimes to speak our minds without the the baggage that may come with attaching an identity to our words. Anonymity, even in small amounts, should exist for everyone just as easy as it should be for us all to speak our minds.


  30. I am not sure you are totally authentic about authenticity. Haven’t you blocked people on twitter for expressing things about you in an authentic fashion?

    I must say that you do express many opinions about products and people, so I am not saying that you are inauthentic, just saying that you are not completely authentic, or for that matter open to every form of criticism.

    I think that is completely natural and part of the human condition.


  31. All said and done, it looks as if you are sold into this idea. Reasoning and use cases aren’t helping us illustrate our point to you. Let us see how this goes. If you are right then in the future web, comments with associated identities (such as FB) will rule. If some of us are right than an option for posting comments anonymous will always be there. You might want to harp on as much as you want – you will never be bigger than your users. They will speak and you will have to follow.

    I guess the ultimate irony will be if Facebook allows you to post comments anonymously. I hope, as a web user, that day comes soon. And I hope, that day you would be here again still defending your viewpoint! 🙂


  32. With all due respect, this is simplistic claptrap. Scobleizer is your professional identity, and Facebook is a professional identity platform, started at a college. TechCrunch is not a professional site. What you’re saying is wearing name tags works at McDonalds, it ought to work in a public park or nightclub.

    And wow, Scobleizer, you are a white American heterosexual with professional education, and probably the same religion as 90% of the people on your country. The risk you take in an at-will state is nothing compared to being gay or black or a Wiccan or even just a sexy 20-something woman. You were fighting for an anti-discrimination law? Very commendable. I guess now that law has passed there is no more discrimination in the world? I have a friend who is a little tiny woman, gentle as can be, would never hurt anyone, and she has been put in jail 4 or 5 times for a night each time, never charged with anything, and by some strange coincidence, she and everyone else in the holding cell were black. And that is in NYC, not even Georgia. I have another gentle friend who has a United Nations passport because her original one was revoked because she is lesbian. But your brave new world is safe for them, huh? In San Francisco, perhaps the most gay-positive city in the world, we still have to patrol the streets to protect against lynch mobs. Why wouldn’t we all stop being “cowards” and put all our personal information into Facebook and thus into the databases of every government agency in the world and every hate group? I mean, there are free tools that will query Facebook like a huge database.

    Half of the people in jail in the US are there for smoking cannabis. The government takes your children away and puts you in jail with a murderer. After a recent privacy-reducing update, the web was treated to a photo of Zuckerberg smoking a bong. But somehow, as a member of the rich, white, Harvard-educated ruling class, Zuckerberg was not treated to a pre-dawn raid where cops shot his dog and then locked him up. Weird, huh? So it’s easy for him to say give up your identity to Facebook. He has never lived in the real world.

    What are the names of the common people who forced the King of England to sign the Magna Carta? How can you not know? Nobody who ever changed anything was anonymous. Most of the people who changed the world are anonymous! There are figureheads who inspire change, but the change doesn’t come from them.

    Facebook was a private place on the Web, then a not private place on the Web, and now we’re saying it’s the Web? That is a lot of context switches.

    Your argument about Google and Bing is an argument for anonymity. The idea that Google has a right to record everything is already pretty weak, but the idea that I’m going to stamp that with enough identifying information that what I say in a social context can be read out to me in a professional meeting is crazy. I run sites that block Google with robots.txt for the same reason the best nightclubs don’t have signs.

    The totalitarian Web that Google and Facebook dream of is as bad as Windows Everywhere or Manifest Destiny. The Web is NOT one thing, it is many things joined together. Giving your real name on the Web is like wearing your driver’s license and social security card as a name badge in public. Sure, YOU might actually do that because you are an attention whore, but saying everyone should do that is brutally insensitive.

    The Google CEO has said people should change their real names to regain privacy if they suffer from what is now called “a Google problem.” In that case, our real names are just handles.

    Finally, we have all always had multiple identities. At work we are “Mr. McMillan,” at a club we are “Stan,” to the government we are “Stanley McMillan 165-98-6333,” and to our friends we are “Mac.” If Google and Facebook can’t deal with that complexity and nuance, then back to the drawing boards, nerds! Don’t balme me if I don’t want to be part of your little computer game of global domination.


    1. And, JohnDoey, who I often disagree with on Digital Daily, your name and my name here are as real as anything on Facebook. When I had a Facebook ID, guess what my name was… it’s not hard. I even had it right in my profile that is was a fake name.

      This entire argument is (probably) about generating hits, because the logic (to the extent there is any) of it doesn’t stand up to the reality. It’s also about control. I dont’t want to give up control of my identity to a single company, especially one with a track record like Facebook’s. If they wanted to allow ANY OpenID authentication to be used, that would be fine, and then let Techcrunch be lazy/cheap and let Facebook host the data for them. But the identity belongs to me, not to the anointed one Mr. Z. Sorry, not negotiable. I can live without any of these smalltime blogs.

      On this we agree JohnDoey.


  33. Here’s the problem. Now I can’t comment on TC at all, because FB is blocked at work, at my kids’ school, etc. So I just read TC in Google Reader and never click through. How is that good for TC?


    1. Agreed. I thought their comment system was broken, but it was just my corporate network.


    1. Amen!
      *Before* this post, I wrote on my site why I would *not* comment on a TechCrunch article as it requires my Facebook identity.

      Guess what — it has *zero* to do with any “cowardice”, which is just bullshit.

      Two reasons:
      1. I don’t want Facebook to have *prime*, unfettered access to all my web comments.
      2. My Facebook friends are close, personal friends and family members and I like to share family photos and the like. *Not* a comment I may leave on TechCrunch (and not here, however, which uses Disqus, thankfully).

      Full post below but my comment here basically sums it up:


      1. I could not agree more. I just deleted TechCrunch from my Bookmarks Bar in Chrome and unless they product good articles (which the likes of TechMeme or Hacker News recommend), I will no longer be going their daily to check out what is happening. I, for one, do not want to contribute in their confirmation biased Facebook commenting experiment.


  34. Wrong. Even the unknown people have their name and title posted next to their names. If they wanted to post something about their company, they’d be cannon fodder.


  35. This is the real issue: Protections for anonymous speech are vital to democratic discourse. Allowing dissenters to shield their identities frees them to express critical, minority views . . . Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights, and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society. – 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission

    Forcing the usage of Facebook does reduce authenticity of comments for these reasons. It discourages the expression critical, minority views and therefore, authenticity. Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. In my own little world my friends and family may be the tyrannical majority that I wish to shield myself from. Using Facebook for commenting destroys this right.


    1. This is a key consideration, and doesn’t even include the non-political implications of enforced identity. Sometimes it’s highly desirable to comment anonymously–because you don’t want to reveal a medical condition (but want to talk about it), because you want to remark on your employer without getting fired, and so forth.


    2. No, it doesn’t. It just makes it more inconvenient. You can have a fake FB account too.


  36. Robert, love your passion, but you appear to not have closely read and digested Steve’s post. The point isn’t about Anonymity vs. Authenticity, it’s about the nature of social discourse and sharing. Where you are right is in talking about the value of having people be themselves – that’s super important to a higher level of discourse. While that is important, Steve’s point is that as social beings, we crave nuanced communication and the ability to aim our thoughts and opinions. His argument is about the fact that bringing your Facebook audience with you everywhere is what breaks the authenticity. When you know that all of your FB friends are going to be watching/reading/exposed to your comments and opinions, largely without your control (remember, FB has proven to the casual observer that you can not rely upon today’s rules being tomorrow’s rules), you will censor yourself and change how you share information and opinions. THAT is the crux of Steve’s argument, not anything having to do with anonymity.


  37. Agree with you on the anonymous commenting part, but in a way Facebook commenting on TechCrunch has killed authenticity for me. I prefer to use my Twitter identity for all professional/tech related conversations. If I’m commenting on a puppy blog (I got a new puppy too, Zuck) I’d use my Facebook identity.

    Although no one wants to be George in Seinfeld, here’s a clip that puts a part of this issue in perspective:!/shyamster/status/42822859965472768


  38. “Hello! Name one person on the web that doesn’t use Google or Bing. One. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Hint, your 700 friends are on Google. Your grandma is on google. Your five ex-girlfriends are on Google. My ex-wife is on Google.”

    So how do all these people read your comments using a Google sign in ? Oh right they can’t.


  39. Authenticity…huhh…try invisibility. Facebook is blocked by many organisations…when I am at the office not only can I not comment, I cannot even see any comments! They are authentically not there.

    I will will be voting with my keyboard…no more comments for Techcrunch.


  40. The problem isn’t using your real name on TechCrunch. It’s that your grandmother doesn’t give a flying shit about what anyone has to say about the latest WooZee funding rumours, and she doesn’t want to have to mute you when she does.

    Tying this system into Facebook means that we’re forced to deal with each others’ complex identities. There are no psychological boundaries, and that fails to map to real experience. There’s a reason a whole ton of young people are posting things on Tumblr, and it’s not because it allows them to share on Facebook.

    It’s ironic you’re so upset about this, because you are the canonical example I use when arguing for more discrete forums for social interaction online. To see your posts up against my friends’ and family members’ posts is the worst form of cognitive dissonance I can imagine.

    Again, since your main point seems to be about real names, agreed. For the most part, people want to be able to use their real names, and that’s good. But there are more subtle things at play here – President Obama sure as fuck isn’t going to say some things when you’re in the room versus when Hilary Clinton, or versus when Michelle Obama is in the room.

    If our online tools don’t allow for that diversity of privacy, then we’ve failed as technologists. We’re failing ourselves and everyone. Public is easy. Private is hard. Both matter.


    1. That’s different than authenticity. If Steve had just said “it messes with my control of distribution of information and makes my grandma cry” I’d totally agree with him. But he said it makes him less authentic. I think that’s horseshit.


      1. Fair enough. 🙂

        It’s worth calling out that they’re different, because people will conflate the two issues, and that would be unfortunate for the web.


      2. I totally get you Robert, but you’re overstepping in the same way Steve did; speaking for others.
        It may indeed make *him* (and others) less authentic. But likely won’t affect, you.
        I constantly call out trolls for being ‘anonymous’ cowards, when it’s just to flame others over fairly mundane subjects.

        But TechCrunch using FaceBook instead of their own, hand-moderated
        comments, reduces them from a once-great tech news destination to a less descript destination.
        A great blog would own their own comments.
        What would a moderator cost, really?


  41. Ugh. Please stick with Disqus Robert.
    Authenticity it one thing – I have no problem signing my name to my words – but sharing them intentionally with people I went to high school with? Not such an appealing idea.
    Not that I mind if that person from high school has a reason to see my comment wherever it might be – but that would mean s/he sought me out for a reason, or came here b/c something you wrote resonated with him/her.
    Not a matter of authentic or inauthentic – more a matter of making me drag around the *same* social graph everywhere I go.
    To be candid – I wouldn’t tell everyone at my PTA that they should all come to my favorite watering hole every time I went – because it would make it not-so-favorite pretty quickly if they were all there all the time. I might mention that’s where I’m headed once in awhile – which is kinda the equivalent of tweeting the link to here or TechCrunch, but force me to connect the two and I’m not so thrilled.


  42. Wow, Mr. Scoble, you’re sOoOoOo courageous. That story about how you stood up to mean ol’ Microsoft is so pertinent to this topic, and it has so much to do with this topic. It’s like you took the original posts point – that some people want to say things without notifying their entire social graph, and it’s in those comments (when people can write freely) that you often get the most intelligent responses – and totally proved it completely wrong.

    And you also pointed out how everyone uses Google, because when someone posts a comment using their Google ID, that comment shows up on all of their friends’ news feeds whenever those friends use the Google. So it’s totally the same thing when someone comments using their Google ID and their Facebook account. Brilliant!

    You’re so smart, and have the ability to put together such logically consistent arguments and coherent reasoning. I salute you!


  43. With almost 600 Million + people on Facebook, theres more than enough using Facebook. If people have something of value to add to any comment stream, Joining Facebook to get involved doesnt seem like such a barrier to entry. I also feel as though the cowardice level just rises and rises day by day, we live in an age where everyone is a pundit.But even experts on TV give their name. Like in the real world lets all be accountable for what we say and do. -Curtiss Pope


  44. I remember in 5th grade, some kid said “why does it matter if the government knows everything we do, as long as you are always obeying the law?” This is the kind of thinking that leads to a police state or Utah… Just because you are OK with or brave enough (during your employ at MSFT) to share something with your FB identity, does not mean that the best world is to encourage that.


  45. There is some authenticity lost—not all of it, but some, because when we’re looking at a Yahoo! or Facebook or other “profile” we’re not necessarily looking at the profile of a real person, but the “person” that the profile writer wants viewers to see. There’s a lot that doesn’t get disclosed in a profile, much of it intentionally.


  46. Your post reminds me a lot of arguments made along the lines of “if you’re really innocent, you shouldn’t have a problem with the invasion of privacy”.

    Robert, using yourself as an example is a mistake. This is because your career has been made on your ability to spew forth opinions. Can you do that and attract an audience? Yes, and then you’re hired.

    Most people however will find that the nature of their thoughts and opinions could cost them their jobs, or anything that they may apply for (from school to an apartment, mortgage, club membership, etc…).

    I’d much rather be part of a community where everyone would feel free to express themselves without fear of real-world retribution or discrimination.

    I have no problem looking at a comment and evaluating it on its own merit.

    Just wondering what name could I sign to this comment that would give it any more authenticity than signing it anonymously?


  47. Your gardener is trimming the hedges, and accidentally with his shears, takes a nick out of your Lexus rear bumper trim. Your gardener speaks english well, and you yell, “Hey WTF man? Can you not fuck up my car while you trim the hedges?????!”

    Your wife who is washing the dishes in the kitchen looking out the front window sees this, and runs out to tell you, “Bob please dont yell at the gardener!”, you reply “But he just nicked my 60 thousand dollar car with his trimmer!”.

    Your wife comes out to look at the damage and says, “oh a lady bumped into it with a grocery cart at Safeway on Saturday”.

    So you see, context is everything, and using Facebook for comments is wrong because it puts you in a position of explaining yourself to people who, first off dont give a fuck, and second off, dont know the context, and third off will ONLY judge you as a result.

    Thats why your wrong mang.


  48. Another thought on anonymous commenting. It is like the way Americans vs the French deal with alcohol.

    In France, people are exposed to alcohol younger and there is no taboo. This cuts down on binge drinking of college students and adults, its not new and their culture has steered them to a more mature understanding of the notion and consequences of drunkenness.

    However, in the US where we live 21 years (albeit imperfectly) without alcohol we imbibe to quiet the taboo, and make a misery of learning what the French know nearly instinctively.

    Anonymous commenting is partially inflamed because so few sites actually permit it. People who are inclined to abuse the comment stream, will simply get tired of it as they mature into the process.

    But when its available on so few sites, it encourages bad behavior because its “an out” from the signup.

    If every site allowed anon commenting, people would flame yes, but they would also eventually mature and use it as a useful tool as they realize, “hey Im accepted into this whether I flame or not, so why not write what I really think?”, versus acting out in public.

    With the path the net is on, we will never get there.
    And lets remember, this facebook commenting thing is about one thing: profit.
    So good job on the corporate newspeak.


  49. Something a lot of people seem to have missed is the fact that together with your name is a link to your profile. Now, I don’t mind putting my name on the comment. In fact, my Disqus profile links to my twitter, etc. However, I have always wanted to keep my FB page as private as possible and this is now virtually impossible. I still limit the content visible on my public profile, but before this page would be completely hidden. Unless you were my friend on FB or I had shared a link to my profile with you, you would be unable to reach my profile page. This is a little troubling for me.


  50. You are confusing two things: Steve, and you (and me) are OK with signing at least some of our statements. That doesn’t mean that everyone wants to, or can: “most Japanese” (to take the largest group that we can summarize in two words) don’t. They are not coward, mean or lame: they just prefer to keep things separate.

    Please stop considering your personal experience as representative of everyone’s moral. This is a almost constant drawback of your reporting: your plaster your value system over everyone whom you come across.


  51. You are confusing two things: Steve, and you (and me) are OK with signing at least some of our statements. That doesn’t mean that everyone wants to, or can: “most Japanese” (to take the largest group that we can summarize in two words) don’t. They are not coward, mean or lame: they just prefer to keep things separate.

    Please stop considering your personal experience as representative of everyone’s moral. This is a almost constant drawback of your reporting: your plaster your value system over everyone whom you come across.


  52. I disagree with your statement that it matters more WHO says something, versus WHAT is said. Whether or not it matters who is saying what, at the end of the day shit is still shit and gold is still gold. Like Robert Gates says, let’s just call a spade a spade.

    While it does help when someone prominent puts their name behind an opinion, your follow up contention that anonymous should be automatically discredited and don’t have authenticity is going to the extreme and is categorically untrue.

    Robert, it’s hard to be truly authentic in everything you say (state your true opinions no matter way) unless you:
    1. Have fuck you money (most people are not able to say fuck you to anything or anyone because it will come back to bite them in the ass)
    2. Ready to go for broke (like those Egyptian protestors. For these people who previously did not have a voice, Facebook gave it to them — ok, but that’s not the case here)
    3. Are a prominent and controversial blogger like yourself or Arrington
    4. Don’t have an existing network (in this case the tech crowd) in which what you say could lose friends
    5. Recklessly ballsy

    It seems that you contend people should ONLY post opinions they’re willing to sign their names to (just as you would), but if that really becomes the case, most controversial discussions would become sterile in a small world like the tech world, where everyone knows each other and friends can be lost quickly.

    I agree with Facebook, Quora and Yobongo forcing people to use their real names, because those are services where verification of one’s identity is a driver to maintaining their platforms (although Quora DOES allow anonymity), but enforcing Facebook comments on a site like TechCrunch can only ruin the comments/discussions. You say the quality has gone way up… I must disagree. I don’t even read the comments anymore because they are so sterile and boring. Even MG agrees with me.

    And Robert, the only reason that TC post got 200 comments is because there were so many people who hated the new commenting system and wanted to weigh in. Some people liked it but they appear to be the minority. For me personally, that TC article was the first one I’d actually read since the change was implemented.


  53. I disagree with your statement that it matters more WHO says something, versus WHAT is said. Whether or not it matters who is saying what, at the end of the day shit is still shit and gold is still gold. Like Robert Gates says, let’s just call a spade a spade.

    While it does add authority when someone prominent puts their name behind an opinion, your follow up contention that anonymous should be automatically discredited and don’t have authenticity is going to the extreme and is categorically untrue.

    Robert, it’s hard to be truly authentic in everything you say (state your true opinions no matter way) unless you:
    1. Have fuck you money (most people are not able to public take a controversial position because it will come back to bite them in the ass)
    2. Ready to go for broke (like those Egyptian protestors. For these people who previously did not have a voice, Facebook gave it to them — ok, but that’s not the case here)
    3. Are a prominent and controversial blogger like yourself or Arrington
    4. Don’t have a close knit PROFESSIONAL (not social) network who are connected to the people in the article
    5. Are recklessly ballsy

    It seems that you contend people should ONLY post opinions they’re willing to sign their names to (just as you would), but if that really becomes the case, most controversial discussions would become sterile in a small world like the tech world, where everyone knows each other and friends can be lost quickly.

    I agree with Facebook, Quora and Yobongo forcing people to use their real names, because those are services where verification of one’s identity is a driver to maintaining their platforms (although Quora DOES allow anonymity, for the exact reason why people need anonymity. Not all people can state their true opinions under their real names for fear of backlash), but enforcing Facebook comments on a site like TechCrunch can only ruin the comments/discussions. You say the quality has gone way up… I must disagree. I don’t even read the comments anymore because they are so sterile and boring. Even MG agrees with me.

    And Robert, the only reason that TC post got 200 comments is because there were so many people who hated the new commenting system and wanted to weigh in. Some people liked it but they appear to be the minority. For me personally, that TC article was the first one I’d actually read since the change was implemented.


  54. Scobleizer has it wrong. So very wrong. I disagree with your assessment entirely. I sincerely feel that anonymity is something valuable and useful to the discourse. It’s a powerful tool that allows people to hone their world view by pushing the envelope in ways that may be subject to harsh public condemnation.

    More important than that is context. Context is the most important reason for anonymity, the context of who I am, what I am feeling in a given moment, and what my real intentions are. The problem with google et al is that they take things out of context. People’s arguments, wherein they might *hypothetically postulate* something, could, in the context of a search result, be seen as a horrendously uncouth and offensive piece of writing that in no way represents the writers true feelings.

    For instance, I believe the Mormon political agenda is a serious danger to free thinking Americans and feel that Mitt Romney + Glenn Beck is recipe for civil war, can I vocalize this on Facebook where my BOSS (CFO) is a mormon? CAN I REALLY?

    Socially speaking, anonymity is required in the modern age.


    1. heres the irony, Robert Scoble could’ve used another identity to put across the view that using a different identity is a sign of cowardice and he would still have got you as the customer lol


  55. Robert, when I see your name, I associate it with knowledge, insight, and a clear understanding of how the tech world works. And yet, here I am, actually reading what you wrote, and, despite the fact that your name is on it, it’s still totally insane.

    I know you’d like to see a world in which everything that anyone posted on the entire Internet had to be under their own name. Thus, every comment by one person could be linked back to all of their comments on every other website.

    Now, I, personally, wouldn’t be that ashamed if, say, after leaving a comment on TechCrunch, MG Siegler would be able to effortlessly find out that I also enjoyed looking at a picture of jockstrap-clad bodybuilders having a gay orgy in a locker room shower. Other people, however, would want to be a bit more private about such things.

    This will not change. Ever.


  56. dude, I use a different identity(call it fake if you will) and I am proud of it, I don’t want my personal and professional lives mixed up, I don’t want my manager/relatives/friends to know how much I comment or what I comment and even if my comment is indexed by either facebook or google, they can never guess it’s me. So I am a coward according to you. What a piece of bullcrap


  57. I think the real issue here is that Disqus comments are failing for large communities, including yours. I want Disqus to innovate in how it handles commenting – more granular controls over what types of posters are allowed would be one step, but another would be a Slashdot-style importance / value of comments system. This is all about upping the noise-to-signal ratio, and I want some way of extracting the best comments only; Facebook comments on TC helped by reducing volume and some of the chaff, but I’d rather have the community designate the best comments instead.


    1. facebook comments are now like mutual admiration society of yes men/women, it is unbearably cloying. It is a totally artificial world.


  58. +1000. It’s funny. I’ve read discussions of this topic on Engadget, Lifehacker, Chen’s blog and here. In over 1000 comments, I don’t remember seeing a single female who actually approved of stripping anonymity.


  59. I fail to see where I’m incorrect. I never said that there aren’t excellent, anon comments on Quora. I said that there are a large number of great comments on Quora that are given by people who are self-identified and that their profile gives credence to their answer.

    They aren’t mutually exclusive.


  60. Man, I just want them to make the font bigger! Why am I having to zoom in to read comments. It’s not like they’re running out of webspace, so what’s with using Ariel 4?


  61. I know this is sort of a side issue to your authenticity argument, but: whilst TechCrunch comment quality may be 1000x better I’m wondering if the posts are now 100x less interesting? Much like Digg in the early days, often the most entertaining part of a post was the comments section. Trolls and all (well, some of them anyway!).


  62. i think the relationship between anonymity and stalking is a relevant point to explore but I’d just like to caution that its not just women who have stalkers, men too –


  63. trolls are traffic too. no idea what the heck TC is thinking. They dun even care about the quality of their posts, and they care about the quality of the comments?? This is about users profiles and targeted ads.


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  65. I’m not on Facebook, Aol or Yahoo, what am I supposed to do? The comment system over at techcruch alienates folks like me.

    The Internet was once a diverse place, now it is increasingly becoming a monopoly and I can’t support that.


  66. the problem is more than just authenticity, it’s a problem with the way Facebook insist on flattening the social graph which is a very unnatural situation. People have complex, multi-layered relationships with each other (and the places they want to comment) but the “one size fits all” approach FB are enforcing at the moment is flawed because it doesn’t improve on the real world –


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