The increase of new blogs on kottu has, unsurprisingly, resulted in a few posts about the quality of the content of blogs, as well as the phenomenon of the ‘anonymous’ commentor. As usual, and obviously, the views expressed are based on the writers’ values and prejudices. However, I did find myself in agreement with some of the sentiments articulated – particularly with regard to the ‘anonymous’ commentor.

I’ll try for quick assessment, bearing in mind that I’m not a voracious reader of many of the blogs that fail to arouse my interest in the opening paragraph. The exception would be previous experience, which allows me to ignore the opening if I find the particular blogger worth spending time on. I have, however, found that the listing of ‘Popular Posts’ on kottu is worth checking out, as these posts are usually chock full of comments. But here too, I spend time only on the subject matter that either contains some intellectually stimulating subject that I find worth my while responding to – either to present an alternative point of view and to (hopefully) shed some light on aspects that the author or commentor may have missed.

The hostile commentors – most often ‘anonymous’ – and the ones that use the forum to spew venom, or launch personal attacks, or fill the space with profane invective, must fulfill an inner urge that results in some amount of personal satisfaction. And this, I guess, is perfectly valid – given our liberal values and the freedom of expression that we treasure, although it does get tiresome after a while.

Another category is that of the of ‘anonymous’ commentor, consisting of those that are clearly reluctant to identify themselves (either directly or obliquely) due to the subject matter at which their comments are directed. In these times, when ‘patriotism’, ‘separatism’, even ‘peace’, elicit such emotionally charged responses, it is understandable that some individuals prefer to remain ‘anonymous’ and express their views under cover of anonymity. The more recent fear of being labeled a ‘traitor’, or of being carted away in the reportedly ubiquitous ‘white van’ is another major constraint for commentors opposing the alleged human rights abuses by the government or commenting on what they perceive to be rampant corruption and mismanagement in general.

So in the end, it does appear that there are extremely valid reasons for the ‘anonymous’ commentor, although hiding behind anonymity to launch personal attacks smacks more or cowardice than of anything else.

But then it takes all types, doesn’t it?