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More on Online Anonymity: Trolling

Way back in April, I put up an "open thread" post seeking thoughts on best practices to deal with comment spam and the general notion of anonymity in blog comments. Appropriately, as recently as two days ago, that post was still generating informative comments like this one, from someone or something calling itself "personal injury ireland":

The general principle of personal injury compensation is that an award should restore the injured party to the economic position they occupied prior to sustaining their injuries. This also takes into account potential future losses due to the injury, for example loss of earnings

Also on Monday, the New York Times ran an op-ed by Facebook product design manager Julie Zhou, discussing the wisdom, or lack thereof, of anonymous commenting policies in light of some particularly egregious examples of "trolling," which Zhou defines as "the act of posting inflammatory, derogatory or provocative messages in public forums."

She notes that all 50 states now have laws against cyberstalking and/or cyberbullying, but calls on websites that host comments to take steps toward banning, or at least discouraging, anonymous commenting.

Lots of bloggers have weighed in on Zhou's piece, including Mike Barthel at The Awl ("Denying the ability of different online communities to respond to disruptive or contrary commenters in a way that reflects the values of that community ultimately denies the wonderful cornucopia of microcultures that is the fantastic, awful Internet we all know and (mostly) love.") and "Big Tent Democrat" at TalkLeft ("For people who care about such things, I have a suggestion - don't read comments sections of blogs.")

Blawgers and readers: what say you? When does a troll cross the line from entertaining to annoying? The next line from annoying to threatening? Talk to us.

Posted by Eric Lipman on December 1, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

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