I'm standing in the street, having a conversation with some friends, and I express an opinion
on a given topic. Some random stranger then walks up, having clearly been eavesdropping, and tells
me that I'm wrong. I ask him who he is, but he just walks away without another word.
That never happened, but I'd find it bloody annoying if it did. It's for a similar reason, I think,
that I dislike those who post comments on blogs without even leaving their real name - much less
any contact info.
Now, I don't pretend that I wouldn't be much <em>less</em> annoyed if the person had said "hey, you're absolutely correct!" -
I'm human after all - but the principle <strong>should be</strong> the same. Why wouldn't you leave even your real
name, if you're contributing to a debate and expressing your own opinion for the evaluation of others?
There are valid reasons for not leaving your email address (avoiding spam, wanting to keep your address
private, forcing any response to be equally public, and so on), and that's fair enough. Similarly, I could
accept a few of those reasons as justification for not leaving an URL, together with extenuating circumstances
such as you simply
not having a site, or being ashamed at its utter lack of major updates in quite a while (ahem). I can't,
however, think of any compelling reasons for not even leaving your genuine forename - except, of course,
Is it fair to dismiss out of hand the opinion of someone who refuses to share their name or contact info?
Warning bells are ringing at the thought of that, but such people certainly aren't on equal footing to those
who at least offer up their basic identity in support of their views. I know that, in the fictional real-life
situation I mentioned earlier, I'd very likely dismiss the opinion of the anonymous eavesdropper, and likely
remark unfavourably on their character in the process!
Case in point: "ScrollMaker" posted a
on my recent
<a href="http://www.scotlandsoftware.com/blog/?post=/personal/life_on_earth.html">Life on Earth</a> post. He
or she left no email address or URL, and self-evidently left no real name. The comment was slightly negative,
so perhaps that was their primary reason. The problem with that thinking is that it reveals a lack of confidence
in either your own opinion, or a lack of willingness to place yourself behind your words; a lack of <strong>conviction</strong>.
I can understand lack of confidence to some extent, but I can't accept lack of conviction as an excuse - especially
if the comment was negative. If you lack willingness to accept personal responsibility for a comment, you
should not post it in the first place. If you post anyway, you are most certainly a coward, and should be aware
that your thoughts will likely be viewed accordingly.