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The Real Name Fallacy (coralproject.net)
318 points by maxt on Jan 4, 2017 | hide | past | favorite | 309 comments



The real name discussion is as old as the Usenet, maybe even older. I find it strange to see it re-appearing again and again every few years for almost decades.

Back then, the consensus was roughly:

1. If a community accepts pseudonyms, it is polite to use either your realname or an obvious pseudonym.

2. If a community places high value on realnames, either use your realname or a realname-sounding (i.e. non-obvious) pseudonym.

3. Unmasking someone's nonpublic realname, or other private information, is generally considered impolite if not aggressive, regardless whether the community places high value on realnames or not.

Has anything substantially changed since then?


The problem was that back then you didn't have service providers with lock-in on a market, like today's Facebook and the Internet was only a thing for techies, whereas nowadays more than half of the world's population has access to the Internet.

Can you just not use Facebook? There are obviously only 3 choices: (1) not use it, but then you won't have an account where all of your friends are; (2) use it with your real name and lose your privacy, with obvious risks, like your employer or relatives being able to find you on Facebook or (3) use Facebook with a fake name and risk being banned for breach of contract, with all of your investments in it lost.

Lets not pretend that today's Internet is the same as the Internet from the eighties and nineties. Your father and grandma weren't on Usenet.


There's a fourth option: use Facebook with your real name, and separately with fake name(s). For the real-name account, carefully manage "friends" to avoid problems with family, friends, coworkers, etc. Make sure that there's no leakage between your real-name account and fake-name accounts, or among fake-name accounts. Practice good compartmentalization OpSec.


That is becoming harder and harder to do as Facebook increases their level of knowledge

Just the Facial Recognition alone has caused problems for people attempting to do this.

Further OpSec is not just on you, I know a couple of people that have tried this only to have OTHER people expose thier data or information by posting things on facebook and other sites about them.


One aspect of compartmentalization OpSec is not telling your meatspace friends about your fake-name accounts. And vice versa. And you wouldn't use real photos in fake accounts.


Oh for goodness' sake, not everyone wants to have to think like an espionage agent just to enjoy casual conversation on line. The people who suffer worst from harassment aren't opsec geniuses like you that screw up at critical moments, they're relatively clueless types who don't recognize the level of antagonism they might encounter - just as people in a new town are often ignorant of which neighborhoods are more or less safe (and for who, and why), and just as sheltered people may not be able to read subtle clues that a real-life situation is potentially dangerous.

I am so sick of this 'better security' argument - it's a roundabout way of saying you don't have a good answer. The whole 'better security' argument is based on the notion that conflict is inevitable so it should take priority over everything else (which might be why defense is such a large part of the US' discretionary budget). But taking that as your guide results in substantially worse quality of life. If crime goes up in my city, is the best response for everyone to put bars on their windows and dress in body armor etc. etc.? No, that would suggest we've given up on the idea of being able to reduce crime by any other method. Putting bars on my windows is near the bottom of my list of responses to crime, because it would make me feel like I'm living in prison - in which case, what's the point in being law-abiding, I might as well take up crime myself and hope I don't get caught than spend money on turning home into a fortress.

This isn't an argument against self-defense, but against security costs as a negative externality.


The problem comes in when/if you use your Alternate Identity (I dislike "fake" as it is no less real than your government approved Identity IMO), to attend events, meetups, or other real world activities.

I know many people are a part of Real Worlds clubs, attend conferences, or other events under Identities that do not match their government issued documents. They do this for a verity of reasons.


Yes, that is the downside. Miririr doesn't attend meatspace meetings :( But perhaps that will become possible as robotics develops. Snowden attends many meetings via robot. Of course, people help and accommodate that because he's famous. But maybe robotic-presence services will develop. Consider attendant reductions in global climate forcing! I like the vision of temporary bodies in Kevin MacArdry's Last Trumpet Project.[0]

[0] https://anarplex.net/hosted/files/last_trumpet/LTP.pdf


The problem is, for very good reasons, most public venues don't like masked people visiting.

Since you can't easily change your face there is a very substantial risk that some human you run across will recognize you, or that some computer algorithm will ask a human likely to to confirm it's tagging of you in a picture they have no context on.


Yeah that 'tag your friends' stuff was pure evil. Brilliant, but evil.


There's even a fifth option: see it for what it is, and apply social pressure. Sure, people are free to use Facebook while accepting it as it is, and I'm free to cut them off for that. It's not like I am not offering arguments, but at this point the burden isn't on me anymore. We're all adults, we all have internet access and history books. It's our choice whether we follow fools or digest the hard lessons of wise men and women, and I for one am not interested in arranging deck chairs or making friends on Titanics. For all things we could feel superior to the old greeks to, I think this is spot on:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idiot

> An idiot in Athenian democracy was someone who was characterized by self-centeredness and concerned almost exclusively with private—as opposed to public—affairs. Idiocy was the natural state of ignorance into which all persons were born and its opposite, citizenship, was effected through formalized education. In Athenian democracy, idiots were born and citizens were made through education (although citizenship was also largely hereditary). "Idiot" originally referred to "layman, person lacking professional skill", "person so mentally deficient as to be incapable of ordinary reasoning". Declining to take part in public life, such as democratic government of the polis (city state), was considered dishonorable. "Idiots" were seen as having bad judgment in public and political matters.

Step one is to recognize the problem, and that's compared to the seriousness we should have, we're all idiots. And we no longer can afford it, we have invented to many idiocy multipliers. If that hurts anyone's feelings I'm real sorry, but considering all those war profiteers we host I'd rather be able to look wise people and dead people in the eye, than the people who can't look those people in the eye. The world's a dirty, dark, and more than anything a foolish, petty and derpy place; but cleansing one's own "soul" is possible, to a degree.


Actually I would eventually consider re-opening a Facebook account should they introduce an alias/identity system so that I could manage easily and separately my différents circles.

Of course ads profiling of each identities should also be kept separated. And of course a strong privacy statement backed up by some technical information on the architecture should also be a part of that change (Apple iOS security guide is a good example to follow IMHO).

Unfortunately this look so far away from the current Facebook approach to new users "hey trust us type in your IMAP credentials so we can scrape all your acquaintances by snooping all your mails!"


Google requires phone or text verification on new accounts. I'm not sure about Facebook, but they do require an email address, and that has to come from somewhere. Eventually, you will require verification via phone or text, and that's when it gets harder to prevent these services from linking back to you. I'm not sure what it takes to create a burner phone number not linked to you these days.

None of that really matters if you just want to maintain an anonymous persona aside from your real identity. However, you're still only a subpoena away from the government tracking you down. I haven't even given it that much thought, but it seems really hard to cover your tracks these days.

A few months ago, worrying about such things seemed kind of silly to me. Now, I think I understand the need better.


> A few months ago, worrying about such things seemed kind of silly to me. Now, I think I understand the need better

I am assuming you are now concerned because of the incoming administration. I find this puzzling.

Do you remember this character? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Ashcroft


GP might not be old enough for John Ashcroft to be relevant to them. I, on the other hand, remember Ed Meese. We all become aware when we are ready to become aware.


I remember the name and face but had forgotten the details. Here is a nice quote courtesy of Ed Meese's wiki page:

    Suspects who are innocent of a crime should [have Miranda rights]. 
    But the thing is, you don't have many suspects who are innocent of 
    a crime. That's contradictory. If a person is innocent of a crime,
    then he is not a suspect.


For those too lazy to parse this claptrap, the quote logically reduces to "all suspects are guilty".


Yes, it's a pain. So it's simplest to just buy fake-name accounts. Just as spammers do ;) But there's no point, unless you have a pressing need.

If your OpSec is adequate, subpoenas aren't an issue.


> I'm not sure what it takes to create a burner phone number not linked to you these days.

Cash transaction for a prepaid phone. Pretty easy, if not a little inconvenient.


But wouldn't your fake profile start showing up in 'People you may know' section? I've heard Facebook uses IP adresses to link accounts.

So suddenly you have to explain to your real friends/family/coworkers why you have a fake account.


If your compartmentalization OpSec is adequate, there will be not more linkage between your real-name and fake-name accounts than there is between them and my accounts.


That's just a special case of (3). Essentially you're saying 'spend a lot of time and effort on security, much of which may be arbitrarily zeroed by your counterparty.' That's a shitty proposition, because it's basically offloading the cost of doing that onto someone who is at a comparative disadvantage, and allowing FB to exploit the resulting economic gap - indeed, this is their business model.

Naturally people want to use FB because it's convenient to be able to communicate with and make new friends through a consistent convenient interface. FB has a comparative advantage in terms of privacy protection, anonymity etc., simply because it has the data centers and the database and the developers - there's little additional technical cost to going with one policy over another (although there may be a substantial business cost). There's a relatively high technical cost for the individual user in doing all this compartmentalization etc. so most people don't bother - partly because they don't want to pay it and partly because they don't know the business value of the information they are giving out about themselves, and can't easily estimate the economic impact of their decisions.


I'm not saying that maintaining fake-name Facebook accounts makes any sense for most people. As you say, it's too much work, and there's too much risk of losing accounts. But if you need fake accounts, for whatever reason, it's doable.

I don't think that it's a special case of (3). It's rather a combination of (2) and (3).


Or just have a mostly unused real-name account that you use for contacting your friends, when you can't reach them otherwise.

Why even have a fake facebook account? Facebook will know it's you. The government will too.

If you don't want the whole world to be privy to what you post, then why even use Facebook? Just post your green frogs and political opinions on forums and websites that do not base their revenue around tracking you 24/7.


You're saying that the network effect benefits of Facebook (making new friends or staying in contact with existing ones) are exactly equal to the costs (loss of privacy). They're not; FB chooses what that cost:benefit ratio is by how they set their terms of service and (naturally) puts its economic advantage first. Competitors can't deliver the same network effects as FB so the benefits they can offer are very limited by comparison.

that, in a nutshell, s why we could really use a good social networking protocol rather than a platform. Platforms are like land, land has landlords, and landlords want rents.


Yes. Unless you have a reason to need other Facebook accounts. To get anonymous logins on other sites. Or whatever.


I think anonymous logins and Facebook accounts just do not combine very well.


No, they don't. But there are use cases where it's worth it.


> Lets not pretend that today's Internet is the same as the Internet from the eighties and nineties. Your father and grandma weren't on Usenet.

This is an important point. This entire infrastructure was designed, and initially used, by academics and engineers. I remember thinking about the SPAM problem in '95 and reaching the conclusion that given its provenance, little if any thought was given to addressing anti-social behavior by users by its designers.


Yes.

People using real names on Usenet did not usually face a serious risk of being harassed and endangered in real life by an army of trolls: E.g. having their address, phone number and other private details stolen and publicly disseminated. Having armed police raid their house because someone has made a bogus 911 call. Having their utilities and back accounts cancelled because someone rang up using their details. Having the same harassment happen to their friends, relatives and colleagues. Etc.

And this is without considering people living in countries with oppressive governments, where using their real name could see them arrested, beaten and imprisoned.

Basically, the stakes are a lot higher for a lot of people. For many, preserving anonymity isn't a matter of "politeness" — it's a matter of personal security. It can literally be a matter of life and death.


I can attest that there was a disturbed individual who lived not nearly far enough away for my comfort who came to the conclusion that I was evil and should die based on online interactions (MUDs) in ~1991.

As concerning as that was, it in no way compares to what women in particular face today online.


> "that I was evil and should die based on online interactions (MUDs) in ~1991"

Trade Wars players can be aggressive at times.


> Yes.

I see the issues you are stating, but not so much a qualitative change.

> serious risk of being harassed and endangered in real life by an army of trolls

This type of trolls (aka "stalkers") have already existed decades ago. Back then I had no trouble finding such cases documented in the Usenet archives. Of course, these happened to fewer people, but then, the net was a lot smaller, too.

> For many, preserving anonymity isn't a matter of "politeness" — it's a matter of personal security

How does this differ from what I wrote? "... is considered impolite, if not aggressive ..."

> And this is without considering people living in countries with oppressive governments, where using their real name could see them arrested, beaten and imprisoned.

This may really have changed, considering that those countries joined the internet relatively lately. Yet, it still seems that this is covered by point 3) "... is considered impolite, if not aggressive ..."


You asked whether something had substantially changed, not qualitatively. A change in degree can still be a substantial change.

It's the difference between living in a city with one murder a year, and one hundred murders a day. To the individual killed, the distinction is irrelevant, but in terms of the effect on others, and on the measures taken by the society as a whole, it's everything.

But I would also argue there has been a qualitative change, from harassment conducted by isolated individuals, to large scale, organised harassment, as well as an escalation in the tactics used. A malicious Usenet user could not call on an army of globally distributed 4chan trolls to endlessly pursue a particular vendetta. And the much greater integration of technology into institutions means the available methods to harass someone and remotely disrupt their life is far greater.


If the second city has ~36500 times the population, then it's not a change in degree at all. City A is no more or less safe than City B, nor is the police force any more or less effective, etc.

There are billions of people on the internet now. How many were using it in the days of Usenet?


By a frequentist analysis, which omits complicating factors and may lead to inaccurate conclusions. One obvious thing that a frequentist analysis misses is that the larger the population, the bigger the size of the gang you can summon to harass someone. Getting trolled by 3 or 4 people on Usenet was annoying, but today someone can find their Twitter feed flooded by hundreds of people. The frequency of the harassing activity in the population as a whole may be the same, but the potential impact on a single individual is very different (and don't go trying to tell me it's better because the number of trolls is rising slower than the general population in this made-up example).


What you're saying is right (in general, but not in reference to the specific analogy), but I'm not sure what it has to do with a frequentist analysis. Rather, it's a simplistic linear analysis of a higher-order system. Instead of multiplying the number of murders (which is an output, not an input), just multiply the number of potential murderers, with some percentage chance of being triggered to desire to murder a particular individual if encountered. If that chance averages 1%, in a town of 101 people you would have a 50% chance of having at least one person who would want to murder you. In a town of 10,001, you would have a 99.5% chance of having at least one person who would want to murder you. [edit: and in a town of 101, there would be no chance of having more than 100 people who wanted to murder you. In a town of 10,001, you'd be as likely as not to have 100 people would would murder you.]

If everyone is exposed to everyone at all times, then everyone is endangered in large groups (seems obvious) even if no one is consistently looking for trouble more than anyone else. If that the qualities that inspire that 1% reaction have a clumpy distribution (either in perpetrator or victim), the experiences that individuals have will be vastly different in an average forum, and when holding the tolerance for danger constant, the least targeted will feel comfortable in far larger towns than the most targeted.

Of course, in real life, the larger the town, the higher the level of anonymity. In the case of internet forums, however, 1) smaller groups are being eliminated in favor of larger groups due to finance and economies of scale and 2) there is a profit motive in de-anonymizing users. There's absolutely no degree of moderation that can make it work. Anonymity simply makes the problem disappear. What you said can be targeted, you yourself cannot be.


Yeah, all of this I agree with. I don't think quality of social interaction depends on identifiability, although FB certainly leveraged its real-name policy as a quality signal from the outset - it made the platform seem more official/professional to the initial target demo.


With the qualifier that I am someone who never participated in Usenet, I'd imagine the scale of the problem is a substantial change. As you point out, certain types of trolls almost always existed, but now instead of a single person performing the harassment it can often be thousands. The larger userbase also seems to have created a more diverse set of believes, which in turn creates more opportunities for conflicts, and more likely that someone will escalate these conflicts into harassment.


> Back then I had no trouble finding such cases documented in the Usenet archives.

Curious to see a specimen or two if you can dig it up. Not challenging the statement, just mostly interested in which specific era of usenet you are referencing. I couldn't dig up anything earlier than 1999 for "usenet stalking".



Besides the point about oppressive governments, everything else seems to be old news - it's not that this generation invented stalking and swatting along with bloated JS frameworks. Nor is it new that anonymity on-line can be a matter of "personal security" for someone; this is pretty much as old as public Internet, with obvious parallels to any older medium of communication.

It's not that pseudonyms are a new thing either.


> Having armed police raid their house because someone has made a bogus 911 call.

This seems to be mostly an american problem, not an online problem. Which means maybe it's not something that should be fixed by online communities but by the nation.


+ with child safety and whatnot, maybe it should be illegal to use your real id publicly online?


If you could die using your real name on an internet service, you are much better off not using that service at all, especially if they require that you use your real name.

Use of a particular service or website is not a human right. If your particular situation is such that it's unsafe or you need to violate TOS/regulations/laws by using a service... don't.


> If you could die using your real name on an internet service, you are much better off not using that service at all

Classic. "I'm not at risk, so we need not change anything. Your behavior is therefore at fault."

> Use of a particular service or website is not a human right.

Of course not. Would you say that being able to freely live your life without threat of death (as you most likely already do) should be?

Allow me to extend your conclusion:

- People harass me at the laundromat because of my appearance, to the point where I fear for my life. "Don't go to that laundromat ever again." OK, I'll now have to go 30 minutes out of my way every time I need to do laundry. And suppose that this other laundromat is no different?

- People shout threats at me at the grocery store. "Don't go to that grocery store." Or, better yet, maybe I should just perfectly change the color of my skin and facial features to match theirs, so that the problem is solved!

I know you guys are going to hate this, but this attitude is precisely what is meant by "white privilege." Please let me know if I am misunderstanding your attitude, or what you think about this.


> Classic. "I'm not at risk, so we need not change anything. Your behavior is therefore at fault."

I'm sure you meant to say "Classic strawman:" because that's not at all what I said, or meant. Please actually respond to what I said and not whatever argument you heard other people make.

I think it's demonstrably true that if using Facebook is an acute risk to your life, you are better off not using. That doesn't mean you're at fault if you use it and someone kills you. But it doesn't mean that Facebook needs to change its real name policy. It means you need to weight the pros and cons of why you want to use Facebook and why using it could get you killed, and whether you're willing to risk that.

> Would you say that being able to freely live your life without threat of death (as you most likely already do) should be?

Yes.

But that doesn't mean that it's a right to do things that could engender threats to your life. A Tutsi has an inalienable right to live in Rwanda without fear of persecution or death. A Tutsi does not have an inalienable right to use Facebook (nor does anyone). If you're a Rwandan Tutsi, and you use Facebook, you should understand the risks. You should be able to use Facebook without fear or persecution or death but it's not a right any more than it's a right to have an email address or drive a particular type of car or eat a certain food on a certain day.

They're separate issues and it's Facebook's decision whether or not they want to require real names. To make that the issue ignores the fact that people are being killed because of their beliefs, or because they're transgender, or whatever the actual problem is.

> People harass me at the laundromat because of my appearance, to the point where I fear for my life. "Don't go to that laundromat ever again."

Well no, my response would be "Call the police." There are a lot of things that could happen from there. If it's actually harassment and the police address it, potentially problem solved. If it's actually harassment and police do nothing, that's a related but separate issue, and yes I would say that not going there again is the smart move. You have a right not to be killed and you have a right to wash your clothes but you don't have a right to wash your clothes in that specific laundromat at that specific time.

If it's not actually harassment then it depends what's actually happening. A group of teenagers pointing at laughing at you is uncomfortable and wrong but probably not harassment. A group of rough looking guys in a bad part of town staring at you will make most people feel uncomfortable but is also not harassment.

> People shout threats at me at the grocery store. "Don't go to that grocery store."

Call the police.

> this attitude is precisely what is meant by "white privilege."

I know you are going to hate this, but why is it the first person to bring up race is usually someone saying that something is offensive or privilege? I tend to agree that a certain level of privilege exists in the world and some of it has to do with race but Facebook's real name policy is a piss poor example of it.


Actually I think Facebook's real name policy is a good example of a kind of subtle privilege. Specifically, if you don't have a western or "white" naming scheme than you are literally not considered to have a "real name" according to Facebook's algorithm. This has stirred up controversy before with Native American groups, LGBTQ people(the person who helped implement the Facebook genders had their own account suspended for "fake name"!), and and other groups. Facebook still hasn't put in place a policy for these people and for access to a significant social media to be denied due to assuming you have a "fake name" for not fitting in with a very narrow, very western white ideal(wasp?) of a name, is a pretty good example of a phenomenon that almost exclusively excludes minority demographics from a majority service or culture. Sure, it isn't something that will kill someone, but it kind of sucks and kind of leaves a demographic of people out in the cold and unable to participate in a big social media medium without faking or modifying their presented identity to fit in the conventions of a majority culture.


Does FB allow Arabic text in names? I have several middle eastern friends (people born there and some who still live there, not middle eastern Americans) so see it in comments a fairly often but it comes to mind that I've never seen an Arabic name.

How does one's LGBTQ status affect their legal name?


LGBTQ people can legally change their name to match their new identity or adopt a pseudonym to avoid harassment from people who know them offline. LGBTQ people who legally change their name(s) to something less conventional are often pinged by facebook as not having a real name. For example, Zoe Cat, a transwoman who worked at Facebook with that name and helped develop the gender options on Facebook had their account suspended for having a "fake name". [1]

According to another anonymous source, Facebook refused their name despite presenting government-issued documents.[2]

[1]https://medium.com/@zip/my-name-is-only-real-enough-to-work-... [2]http://www.dailydot.com/via/facebook-real-names-cracking-dow...


Nitpick: "trans" (short for "transgender") is an adjective which modifies the noun "woman" (or another noun, of course!); hence, "trans woman" (or "trans man", or "trans person") should be written as two words.


I assume that the parent was referring to the odds of someone LGBTQ being "in the closet", and hiding their status to avoid social penalties (in repressive areas / with family / etc), while still wanting to have a pseudonym-account which in a fairly valid way represents the "real them".


You've dug into the meaning of "rights" and I'm with you. No one has the "right" to use Facebook. But, you lose me when you don't draw the connection to "privilege." While I don't have the "right" to use Facebook I have the "privilege" of using it, and at no point feeling unwelcome or un-catered to. That feeling comes not because of my merit or choices, but because I'm a "check all the boxes" white dude.


[flagged]


I think this idea that the concept of privilege only exists in the West is a disservice to the struggle of activists around the world. There are professors in Japan discussing Japans racism and xenophobia, and privilege structures unique to their culture. There are discussions in South Africa over how apartheid has affected the culture there and structures of privilege and racism there. China's literary scene has exploded in examining structures of privilege along class lines[1].

There are activists internationally examining and discussing how privilege and systems of oppression affect their individual cultures. It would make sense that a primarily English-speaking site would explore privilege in context of English-speaking cultures, usually described as "western". This may look like there is no discussion outside of "western" spheres when this is incorrect. This is the kind of not-realizing-the-greater-context in which I believe privilege thrives in.

[1]'Folding Beijing' by Hao Jingfang, translated by Ken Liu, and winner for Hugo 2016 Best Novelette http://uncannymagazine.com/article/folding-beijing-2/


I do still think that you are comparing apples and oranges here. Racism, xenophobia and apartheid are things that exist on totally different level from "subtle privilege of having western-sounding name on facebook" or other perceived micro-oppressions. I am not saying that "privilege" is a thing that exists and is discussed only in the west, rather I am saying that the things that do exist in the west are not worth the amount of attention they are getting.


Actually, many of these discussions also look into microaggressions. Consider when a half-Brazilian woman earned miss Japan. There was discussion on what mucroaggressions she faced in the media and in her childhood such as pointing out how she may not he truly Japanese due to her ancestry and implications that she doesn't deserve awards. Facebook in a way of managing who is discerned to have a real name and excluding people from different cultures because the way they identify themselves are unacceptable is part of a larger problem in when identities are questioned purely for not fitting into the majority or "white" ideal of what is considered an acceptable identity, and demanding those who have unacceptable identities to change to fit the "white" ideal in order to participate in a significant social media platform.


I do not agree with your interpretation of the Facebook naming policy - in my opinion people of non-majority cultures experience problems simply due to limited resources and maybe negligence, not evil intent or societal demand to "fit in".

Nonetheless, I did no know of Japanese discussions on "microagressions", that's curious. You do agree, that Japan is often thought of as belonging to the "Western" countries, don't you?


The thing about micro aggression is that there doesn't need to be ill intent behind it to have a hurtful effect. In this case minority cultures are forced to edit their presented identity to fit into a scheme that the majority culture didn't even think about as having any other alternatives!

I find it interesting that you honed in on Japan and ascribed with rhetoric Japan's discussion of its own xenophobia as a "western" influence. You could with some mental twisting ascribe any such discussion with "western" influence due to the phenomenon of globalization. But in doing so there isn't room for another culture to develop their own capability to analyze and discuss potential problems within their own culture as people of that culture- in other words it is a rhetoric that denies any non-western culture agency. To say Japan's examination of its own cultural xenophobic tendencies is due to "western ownership" denies the Japanese their agency to look at their own culture and think critically about systems of oppression in Japan for themselves. It also presents Japan as a culture that is not itself, it "belongs" to another system, which of itself is a kind of unpleasant view of other cultures given you are of a "western" culture and benefit by presenting other cultures as "belonging to" your culture.


Commenting on social media is a far cry from activism, but it's an adequate form of dialog. How do you propose I make the argument, "I think I've got some unearned advantages" without being written of as virtue signalling or what have you? And "self-flagellation"? Really? By my reckoning I won the 'veil of ignorance' lottery. I won't apologize for that or feel bad about it, but that doesn't mean I'm going to hide from reality. Your point about "people outside the West" seems like further evidence of exactly my point. How lucky was it that I was born where I don't have to worry about my basic needs? Isn't a reasonable response to that luck to look for ways to back up people who didn't get the "be born a white dude in the US" memo? Maybe support some charities, try to see things from uncomfortable perspectives, do some civic duties, maybe chime in on a post or two to acknowledge that people who think that social media isn't always friendly to them aren't crazy, and as a consumer I'd prefer it if products would treat them better? (See! I was getting back to the topic!) Have I really gone off the "SJW" deep end? If you think I have feel free to add trigger warnings to your posts, maybe it will cushion the blow... ;-)


> Call the police.

The quality of this advice is very dependent on the quality of the police you are calling.

For instance, someone in Kern County (incl. Bakersfield), California, should probably not call upon the police for anything less severe than "someone is already dead".

If you truly fear for your life at the laundromat, save your quarters for a few weeks and buy a washtub, scrub board, wringer, and clothesline. Or use a drop-off service. You do not need a laundromat or your own washing machine to do laundry. It is counterproductive to feel like you're going to soil your pants when trying to get another pair clean.

But the grocery store... food is a necessity. You can't really decide not to eat, or to grow everything you will eat at home. There, you're going to need to carry the most effective weapon for self-defense that the state will allow you to keep, keep your shoelaces tied properly, and be hyper-vigilant of your surroundings, potential threats, and escape routes.

The police aren't there to protect you, specifically. They are paid to enforce the law, as directed by their superiors. If you wind up dead, it is likely that no cop will ever be held even partially responsible for it, regardless of the circumstances. If you take appropriate and ethical measures to protect your own safety, police may treat you as just another part of the problem when they arrive (if they decide to show up at all).

In any case, the danger is not Facebook, or the laundromat, or the grocery store: the danger is the person who wants to harm you. The danger is that you cannot effectively defend yourself from such people in your everyday life, regardless of whether some business or other is passively enabling their threatening behavior. If someone is using Facebook to make you fear, complaining to Facebook is the wrong thing to do first. Depending on your means, build a wall, hire a bodyguard, buy a weapon, get security monitoring, join the neighborhood watch, or install surveillance cameras--whatever it takes to make you feel safe from unknown assailants. Then you can complain to Facebook.


Call the police.

Call the police? You don't have enough proof, and shouting death threats at people isn't "harassment" anyway, it's just "free speech", so just grow a thicker skin already, and stop encouraging the death threats to be sent to you by being out in public like that!

You have a right not to be killed and you have a right to wash your clothes but you don't have a right to wash your clothes in that specific laundromat at that specific time.

Nice how you seem to have started to realize your logical conclusion was "but you don't have a right to wash your clothes without the threat of being killed", but tried to avoid it.

I know you are going to hate this, but why is it the first person to bring up race is usually someone saying that something is offensive or privilege?

A while back I criticized the "politics" "detox" on HN by saying that there are a lot of people who don't have the luxury of just saying "I'm tired of all this, I'll take a week off from it". They don't have that luxury because they're going to be bombarded with hate, and probably harassment and threats, no matter what they do.

Meanwhile there are a lot of other people who can simply take a week off: they don't face that constant bombardment, nobody will try to follow them around and keep forcibly exposing them to it, etc. This is what's meant by "privilege"; the people who can treat this as just something tiresome which can be safely ignored for a week are fundamentally living in a different world than the people who will be followed and threatened by it no matter what (because, let's face it, there are dedicated ragemobs out there which don't care if somebody stops reading one site, or going to one laundromat -- they'll track down phone numbers and home addresses and keep coming).

Getting the people who "take a week off" to understand that this is something unique to them as a class, something that others can't just do whenever they want, something that really is a luxury compared to the way others are forced by our society to live, is often very difficult, because when you live in that protected bubble you often are completely unaware of its existence. You don't face that kind of treatment, after all, and you think of yourself as average, so on average that kind of thing must be very rare or perhaps greatly exaggerated. Dragging people out of that bubble and making them confront the fact that no, it's not rare and no, it's not exaggerated (if anything, it's often understated), and yes, there are very clear patterns, based heavily in race and gender, which consistently appear to determine who gets the luxury of the bubble and who doesn't, is very hard, but necessary.


I'd say that everybody has a natural right to not fear malicious harm while engaging in any form of everyday commerce or public discourse.

In situations like the hypotheticals described, I would also say that the local authorities have lost their mandate to govern, and that those subject to the adverse conditions are ethically justified in securing their own safety by any means at their disposal, including against those (former) local authorities, if necessary, while still engaging in everyday commerce and public discourse. Making everyone stay home to stay safe is not an acceptable option. Living your life is more than just avoiding an untimely death.

You do have the right to do business at a laundromat without the threat of being killed, but it is not the owner of the laundromat that has the ultimate duty to provide the illusion of physical security there. If a state exists, it is the state's duty to make you feel safe anywhere in public, provided that you do not yourself act unlawfully.

No government upholds that duty perfectly, however, so a certain measure of responsibility for one's personal safety will always fall upon the individual. And in order to safeguard the benefits of trade, a certain measure will always fall upon the business owner who wishes to keep their customers (and unpurchased property).

Facebook has chosen, perhaps wrongly, to implement its policies such that it is easier (and cheaper) to hold misbehaving individuals accountable after the fact than to protect innocents from misbehavior before it happens. This is a business decision, and it reveals by its failures that state authorities are not effectively investigating and prosecuting criminal harassment to the extent necessary to make people feel safe, and in the worst cases, it is the state authorities themselves that are harassing identifiable individuals.


In fact, in the United States of America, the Supreme Court has ruled several times that police do not have a duty to protect citizens from crimes. For instance: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/28/politics/justices-rule-pol...


Quoting from a cousin post that I wrote:

> The police aren't there to protect you, specifically. They are paid to enforce the law, as directed by their superiors.

Those people who say "Just call the police." have likely never actually called the police (in the US).


Yup. Agreed. Wasn't specifically replying to you, but to the "call the police" people.


I like the way you frame privilege. I've heard it expressed in almost the same terms before, but maybe it's a combination of you expressing it less emotionally and me being more receptive to the message in the first place.

And this segues into my response to you: as you said, it is very hard for some people to just "up and ignore politics for a while".

What I feel you are missing however is that there is a very perverse mirror effect: as a white guy (which I assume from your comment you are not), drinking from the social justice firehose is like basking in anti-white male hate (remember that just like not every white male is a racist and a sexist, not every advocate for social justice is immune from similar hateful beliefs targeted at the former group).

One difference is that you're supposed to like it. Or at least a white male who's a "good person" is.

Now, I don't know to what extent both situations are similar or different, I've only ever experienced one side of it (and all the minority friends I ever asked couldn't relay experiences that approach the level of severity people imply on the Internet. But maybe that's because Québec/Ontario is a very different place than wherever you live, or maybe I just don't know the right people).

> something that others can't just do whenever they want, something that really is a luxury compared to the way others are forced by our society to live

I don't really know how to frame this, but I think it's worth noting that in fact, no matter what you've experienced, you still live a luxurious life yourself by today's world standards.

Indeed, if you make just 18k $/year, you're part of the world's richest 10%.

If you have Internet, then you're part of the 40% of people lucky enough to do so.

In many countries today, female foeticides (that is, killing babies because they are not males) is a reality. In other places, young boys are used as sex toys. In a few Islamic countries in Africa (Sudan and Chad are the 2 I remember offhand), actual chattel slavery is still a thing today.

I guess the point I am trying to make is that probably all of us who can comment on HN live in a bubble (certainly some bubbles are inside others however).

And I think it's easy for all of us to look at bubbles inside our own and "take a week off" from problems which do not affect us directly. Heck, I've seen videos of crazy stuff and I'm writing about it here and I still don't really grasp that people actually get stoned to death for adultery.

In perspective, it feels to me like the plight of marginalized people in western countries is akin to a rich lawyer complaining to Bill Gates about how unfair it is that he can't afford a small island himself while ordering a burger from a minimum wage cashier.


In perspective, it feels to me like the plight of marginalized people in western countries is akin to a rich lawyer complaining to Bill Gates about how unfair it is that he can't afford a small island himself while ordering a burger from a minimum wage cashier.

Sure, there are awful things happening around the world. But your response is classic "whataboutism"[1]. At some point you have to start prioritizing problems to solve, and problems which are closer to home will, psychologically, impact people in ways different from problems that are distant. Plus, bringing up conditions in developed countries probably creates the opportunity to marshal more resources to do things about other places (since newly-empowered people will have greater capital and technological resources to bring to bear on eradicating trouble around the world).

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism


I don't know if it is whataboutism. If the rich lawyer complains, is it whataboutism to point out worse suffering? It seems to me that Warren Buffett could refuse to do philanthropy on the grounds that he has much less money than Gates and any argument against his position could be said to be whataboutism if you are right on this.

My understanding of whataboutism is that it must be an attempt to deflect from some problem that the user doesn't want to address. Like if one is a racist and say 'oh but what about children in country X'. And even then, there are ways to interpret what I just wrote unfavorably due to the plethora of possible definitions of the * isms (is it subtle bias or is it fear/hate of, or etc.).

Anyway, the point I would make is that I think your argument about what to prioritize is shaped around the conclusion you want to reach. Consider this: why should I prioritize my fellow countrymen/westerners of another race over my fellow human beings from another country?

Because they are closer or more akin to me? If so, why not care about people even closer to me: my family and my 'tribe'?

What I'm describing is what is generally seen as conservatism and I expect that it is even seen as either actual bigotry/racism/etc or at least related to it, yet your argument for the 'opposite side' is very similar. Or, if you prefer, what might be said to be racist about an argument against caring for other races could be said to be xenophobic about yours, in a way (I'm not trying to insult you, but rather trying to point out a case of repugnant conclusion).

But anyway, the whole topic is vast and I realize that I've contradicted my own recommendation of emphasizing solutions, so here is my attempt at that: it could be that there are ways to improve race relations that are either the most effective ways to improve the world or that also happen to benefit everyone's ingroup and if those exist then I encourage people to focus on sharing those.

As for more contentious solutions, I have no idea yet. I have seen too many life skill assessment surveys and such to believe that pure 'system 2' solutions (to use Kanehman's nomenclature) will ever work: most people are what Kahneman would call 'lazy thinkers' and I'm fairly convinced that the *isms are merely consequences of such cognitive biases. Short of genetic engineering or separating groups into nations based on their group identity, I don't know what could work.


Today, not using the Internet at all is not really an option. Not using a particular service may not help, harassers on one service/site/social network often organize to attack someone outside.


Sure, that's one answer. But it may not be the best. Another possibility is to not allow TOS terms that require real names be used.

It's our government. We should write the best rules. If the company doesn't like it they can go to a different country.


> Another possibility is to not allow TOS terms that require real names be used.

The problem with rules is that they are "one-size fits all". Very binary. Instead of telling people what they can and can not do, why don't we simply require full disclosure?

> We should write the best rules. If the company doesn't like it they can go to a different country.

That's easier for companies than citizens. But the determination of "best rules" in a (representative) democracy depends on which mob is in charge this week...


It is a human right to be able to go about your business without having your safety threatened. If that business requires use of some internet services as a matter of basic economic survival, then you do have a right to use them safely and people who interfere with that are infringing upon your rights.


I have a human right not to have my life threatened when going about my business, but if my business requires me to fly a plane or be on Facebook that doesn't mean it's a human right for me to fly a plane or be on Facebook.

Using the word right for something should be reserved only for those specific, first-order activities which are so inalienable as to suggest the inability to do them is reprehensible to and an affront to basic humanity.

Being safe is a right. Speaking your mind (with certain reasonable limitations) is a right, even if your opinions are garbage to 99% of the world. Using the laundromat at Whittaker and 8th is not a right, nor is using Facebook or even the internet.


You should read this article about Internet use in Saudi Arabia: http://theconcourse.deadspin.com/your-app-isnt-helping-the-p...


Same rules apply as always: don't share your real name and address online outside very very small and personable communities.

People often ask me why i still haven't changed my name to Swizec legally. This is why.

You never know who out of the thousands of people you interact with online could get crazy ideas. With a pseudonym they can still identify you and know who you are, but they can't call your bank and do something silly.


I've shared by real name on Usenet for decades, nobody got crazy ideas (though I've encountered quite a few crazy people). "Calling my bank and doing something silly" doesn't work in the country in live in. There's not a lot people can do with just my name.


I wonder about treating home address as such a secret. If someone wants to kill/kidnap me, they could always find me at my workplace or on a conference or sth. So what else are people going to do with my home address? Send me a postcard?

In the good ol' days, we had this thing called "a phonebook", which was basically a big printed book of alphabetically sorted mappings of surname to phone number and home address...


> So what else are people going to do with my home address? Send me a postcard?

I had a friend who got brigaded by 4chan in high school (I think she posted nudes and got doxxed, don't entirely remember, and I didn't ask for too many details).

Long story short: hundreds of letters over about a year addressed to her house, her parents' workplaces, our school, all with really fucked up messages. Telling her to kill herself and other terrible things about her or her family. Letters listing everyone in her family or including pictures of her family from myspace (this was just before everyone was on Facebook) with names, phone numbers, and other details. Phone calls to her parents insulting their daughter.

No "real harm" ever came from it aside from the threats, and her parents handled it very well, but still...

It's not so much one person knowing "your" address. It's an unknown number of people knowing you and your family's address.


> So what else are people going to do with my home address?

Send the police to save your (non-existent) hostages: http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/03/the-world-has-no-room-for...

Or to arrest you for the drugs you ordered (or were sent to you): http://krebsonsecurity.com/2013/07/mail-from-the-velvet-cybe...


> I wonder about treating home address as such a secret.

One of the searches for my name results in my parents' current address. If I'm a sufficiently flagrant asshole online, there could be reprecussions, anything from a glitterbomb[1] to being swatted[2]. (And what worries me that I don't even have to be a sufficiently flagrant asshole, I just have to run into one.)

[1] https://www.ruindays.com/collections/all/products/glitter-ev...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swatting_(hoaxing)


And as the internet and the possibilities grew, many people started to feel uneasy about it and requested their deletion (or did not register again after changing address and/or ISP). Nowadays, nobody uses the phonebook anymore, the demand vanished and so the supply.


I also never had such problems, but others did have these problems, and that's what counts. (Everything else would be victim blaming.)


It also matters if it's likely. I mean, it wasn't João Maria de Souza's fault that a cow fell on top of him, but I'm not going to live my life in fear of falling cows.


One thing that has really changed is the ability to search for someone by their real name in public records online. There were public before but they were WAY more difficult to search, as anyone who's scoured a city hall or county records archive 20 years ago can attest.


That was before Usenet, wasn't it? In the time of Usenet it was already possible to either search within your local Usenet archive, or, slightly later, to type in someone's name into a search engine.


> In the time of Usenet it was already possible to either search within your local Usenet archive

The reactions to Kibo suggest that was unusual at first.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Parry


I'm forgetting something that /has/ changed since then.

How apt to use critical thinking the average / many users of the Internet are.

"Real names" on Facebook profiles are also problematic since they are not actually authenticated in any meaningful way.

If users had to use a credit card to buy some type of service and the name on that card became their public identity name then at least in that respect it would be ///a/// Firstname Lastname that was an owner of the account. There would still be namespace collision issues (there are billions on this planet).


I think this is probably the key takeaway from the article here:

> Designers need to acknowledge that design cannot solve harassment and other social problems on its own.

Trying to remove anonymity will not 'fix' trolling and harassment. After all, a lot of people simply don't care what others think of them, know they're too far away to be affected (in most cases) or just have nothing to lose to begin with.

What can 'fix' trolling is evenhanded, firm moderation of a community site. There are tons of forums and wikis and other such sites out there which do well here, because they simply lay out clear rules for participation and ban people for being scumbags and breaking said rules.

Facebook and Twitter struggle with this, partly because it's impractical to manually moderate a site with so many users and partly because their model doesn't really allow it. And maybe in part because they're very clearly inconsistent with who gets banned for saying what (like say, banning more conservative accounts than liberal accounts for trolling). Which itself undermines confidence in the site's rules.

So yeah, the key to an online community without harassment isn't removing anonymity, it's having clear rules in that place and enforcing them equally regardless of a member's status or political views.


>Trying to remove anonymity will not 'fix' trolling and harassment. After all, a lot of people simply don't care what others think of them, know they're too far away to be affected (in most cases) or just have nothing to lose to begin with.

While that is true, many times what person A considers to be harassment, the person that is harassing them does not consider it to be harassment at all.

This is not to say the person is not being harassed, although I have seen many examples of people claiming to have been "harassed" but when I view the twitter history for example I do not consider it to be harassment. That said often abusers do not self identify as abusers for example a Wife beater does not believe they are abusing their victim.

>>Facebook and Twitter struggle with this, partly because it's impractical to manually moderate a site with so many users and partly because their model doesn't really allow it.

Facebook and Twitter struggle with this because they refuse to create the clear rules for participation you stated other sites do. They proclaim to be "Free Speech" platforms welcome to "All Ideas and discussion" while creating mushy and lose rules that are highly subjective and makes enforcing those rules problematic.

Where as the sites you describe are normally subject matter sites so it is somewhat easier to define a more ridged rule set.

Facebook, twitter, and to a lesser extent Reddits problem is it impossible to be both a "Free Speech" platform and a censor... These are mutually exclusive concepts


Reddit definitely suffers from the free speech and social acceptableness clash. That's in part because the site was founded specifically on the assumption that it would allow freedom of speech, without realising that 'true' freedom of speech is basically 'anything goes if it's legal, social norms and rules be damned'.

It's why they're struggling with communities like The Donald and had a lot of previous issues with the likes of Fat People Hate. Because they realised that their original philosophy doesn't really scale well and puts off more 'moderate' users, yet also realise a large portion of their audience joined on the promise of freedom of speech and go ballistic if things get censored.


Reddit suffers because people in general do not believe freedom of speech is a right.

I disliked the Fat People Hate subreddit, you know what I did... I did not visit the Fat People Hate subreddit.

The communities I join and participate in on Reddit are moderated well and do not suffer from the problem, if you do not like what is talked about on The Donald, don't go there, not that hard.

The problem is people do go, get "offended" then complain or raise hell because the mere existence of speech they dislike is what they want to end. This is not Freedom of Speech, but censorship.

Reddits Original model is the correct one, Allow Communities to form on the platform, and if people do not like the content of those communities they can unsubscribe, or avoid them.


I agree with you here.

However, Reddit and similar platforms usually can't operate under this logic. Why? Because they need to make money to stay online/keep operating. And unfortunately, that means content that alienates advertisers (like a lot of the more controversial subreddits) ends up actively hurting their revenue stream.

They could try and get round this by monetising in other ways (micropayments, subscriptions, purely donations, etc) or by looking for ad networks with real low standards, but those methods likely wouldn't pay enough to keep them afloat.

It's why in the long run, I suspect the answer to the problem isn't a centralised platform that hosts a lot of different communities, but a system that connects individually hosted communities into a 'network' of sorts with similar features to Reddit.

That way, you can have both controversial and non controversial 'subreddits', with the latter paying their own hosting bills and the former either doing the same thing or getting subsidised hosting by the network owner.

It also shuts down any future attempts at censorship by not giving the company running the service any way to edit what happens on any one community.


This is one of the problems with Standards vs Platforms

Usenet vs Reddit

IRC vs Slack/Twitter

etc

I believe the internet is harmed by these Platforms in general and we should go back to Decentralized Standards for communications vs For profit Platforms


> It's why in the long run, I suspect the answer to the problem isn't a centralised platform that hosts a lot of different communities, but a system that connects individually hosted communities into a 'network' of sorts with similar features to Reddit.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this just a protocol?


That's all well and good when it was subs like FPH that were easily ignored. The thing that threatened to chase me off of reddit was the_donald. Not because I was "offended"(the new code word for calling someone a pussy), but because it was shitty content that pissed me off. And they figured out how to jack the algorithm to make their sub the most prominent content. I joined reddit for the science and tech, not to be a hit count on some shill's advert campaign.

Losing your target audience is a problem for any company. Free speech is a right insofar as the government cannot ban speech. Private property is a right. Reddit cannot ban me from saying what I want in real life, but they totally have the right to not allow me to say it on their property.


There has never been a single post from the_donald on the default frontpage of reddit, which only includes the default subscriptions, or whatever you change your subscriptions to. According to Reddit admins, almost no one even browses r/all, the only place where there were a lot of the_donald posts. And that isn't even the case anymore, since reddit adjusted their algorithm.


spez talked about how a lot of users(myself included) do in fact browse r/all. And yes, it has been fixed which is a good thing.


Only if you are using /r/all, and if you using that to find good content you are using reddit wrong.

/r/all has always been and will always be trash.


I have 3 modes of redditing in order of importance/frequency: 1. custom fp with many defaults removed, 2. r/all, 3. rarely, but sometimes default fp.

I find that it works. r/all is a lot of memes and time wasters, but can be fun for a quick look at what's going on outside of my bubble. I've found things(like rick and morty) that I wouldn't have found if I hadn't punched up r/all once in a while.


The problem is a bit more structural or philosophical. I don't visit subreddit foo, because it is objectively hate speech. Fine, except that reddit's profitability model depends on that subreddit existing and gold being passed around and so on.

By not clamping down on trash content, reddit is monetizing hate speech.

And that's why I avoid reddit entirely. Not because I'm worried my feelings will be hurt by some shitposter, but because that shitposter gets reddit gold and ad impressions that make money for reddit inc. I'm just not interested in participating in that business - in my mind they're not seperable, you can't just ignore r/the_donald or any of the other hives when they're all part of the business plan.


>> objectively hate speech.

Doubtful, Hate Speech is subjective, what is "hate" to person A is not hate to person B.

as an example

>you can't just ignore r/the_donald

You find the_donald filled with Hate Speech, but as a Libertarian I see all kinds of Social Justice, Statist, and other Posts to be "hate filled" that I bet you do not.


That whole "don't go to that section if you don't like it" works just fine if those things stay in their section. The problem is that they weren't staying in their section. Fat People Hate was known for going into other subreddits and shitposting all the time. The Donald famously abused the rules to get their crap spamming /r/all constantly.

So tell me again how "don't go to those subreddits" is the solution?


>>So tell me again how "don't go to those subreddits" is the solution?

OK, Dont go to those subreddits.

>Fat People Hate was known for going into other subreddits and shitposting all the time.

I was no aware that subreddit's could post anything. Now users that happened to subscribed or vist FPH may also visit other communities, it is up to those communities to then moderator their subreddits,

As to /r/all, reddit should just really remove that "feature" /r/all has never worked, and will never work, that is a non-issue.


No, it's not a non-issue. And once again, if the behavior that would normally be contained within the subreddit leaks out into other subreddits, what happens then? Cause your advice of "don't go there" fails.


many times what person A considers to be harassment, the person that is harassing them does not consider it to be harassment at all.

To expand on that: "I disagree" is not and should not be a valid defense when someone is accusing you of harassment. Harassment is a violation of personal space and only one person gets to define the limits of that personal space; it is not the aggressor that sets the limits.

In a way, it is the same discussion as with privacy: the only authority on what personal information to share with whom is the person themselves.

Yes, this premise is easily abused, and yes, in US' adversarial society a discussion on this topic carries a lot more weight (because legal) than it probably should, but the fundamental premise is still the same: personal stuff is personal.

As for the false dichotomy between free speech and censorship: that is the same as arguing that freedom can only exist in anarchy; they both rely on a very narrow definition of freedom: that each person exists foremost as a singular entity, and that every interpersonal exchange is governed by mutual negotiation. I think that's a very myopic view, because it implies that every relationship starts adversarial.


>To expand on that: "I disagree" is not and should not be a valid defense when someone is accusing you of harassment. Harassment is a violation of personal space and only one person gets to define the limits of that personal space; it is not the aggressor that sets the limits.

I disagree completely on this. Using this definition of harassment, in combination with a prohibition on said harassment is ripe for abuse. I have seen many many many people claim others are "harassing" them simply because the other person expressed a dissenting opinion from their own. Harassment must have an objective definition, not a subjective one. At-least if it is going to enforced as a part of over all rules for a platform like Twitter.

Further under this definition of Harassment no one can be harassed online, since you can not violate a persons PERSONAL space if you have no physical proximity to the person

>>they both rely on a very narrow definition of freedom: that each person exists foremost as a singular entity, and that every interpersonal exchange is governed by mutual negotiation. I think that's a very myopic view, because it implies that every relationship starts adversarial.

What is your definition of freedom then. I do believe every person is a singular entity, with self agency, and that every interaction with other people is a mutual negotiation where by both parties should voluntary agree to interact and at any time for any reason either party can choose to end the interaction. With out the ability to chose whom you interact with, and for what reason you can not have freedom. That is far from myopic


> Further under this definition of Harassment no one can be harassed online, since you can not violate a persons PERSONAL space if you have no physical proximity to the person

If I falsely and maliciously accuse you of being a paedophile that can cause you to undergo intrusive investigation, possibly leading to you losing work; it can cause people to physically assault you, perhaps even kill you. I have no physical proximity to you, but I have intruded on your personal space.

But even if none of that happens: it will affect you. These types of actions cause actual, measurable, harm.


You've just identified a form of harassment that is objective, and probably would be agreed upon by the wider community. That's ok because it doesn't rely on a single person's definition of harassment.


There are plenty of people on HN who are horrified by the UK definition of harassment.

See, for example, how people react when they read the sentencing remarks or Mr Justice Spencer in Regina vs Joshua Bonehill-Paine

https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/judgments/sentencing-remarks-of...

There are people who'll try to deny that this was antisemitism; that it was actually harassment; that she wasn't harmed by it etc.


> See, for example, how people react

Where? How do they react?


>>I have no physical proximity to you, but I have intruded on your personal space.

I disagree, you have caused other people to violate my personal space, but you did not.

>But even if none of that happens: it will affect you. These types of actions cause actual, measurable, harm.

This is true, that does not make it a violation of "personal space" nor does it have to be a violation of person space to have liability for actions attached to it


Using this definition of harassment, in combination with a prohibition on said harassment

Hence why I said that the discussion is needlessly complicated. But a single bad implementation does not prove a bad design.

I have seen many many many people claim others are "harassing" them simply because the other person expressed a dissenting opinion from their own.

So? The only problem with that claim is that it automically converts into a legal threat. Otherwise: stop asssociating with them. People who cry harassment are not interested in your argument anyway, whether their claim is justified or not.

I am a little puzzled though how my definition can be both "ripe for abuse" and cause that "no one can be harassed online"?

What is your definition of freedom then

My view on life is that every person is an amalgamation of the role they play in a multitude of social circles. Each circle may have its own norms and customs, and each person assumes those norms and customs to a degree each is comfortable with. For my definition of freedom it therefore follows that I don't think it is useful to consider a person in the singular, as everything we are is informed by the context of the roles we choose. A person in the singular is just that: a person, and a pretty uninteresting one at that.

The agency we have is to choose the circles we move in, and the degree to which we let each role subsume us. Interaction within a chosen circle is not always optional though: we can choose the circles but not directly its members. Freedom then, to me, is the ability to choose our roles and circles without fear of reprisal from other circles.

both parties should voluntary agree to interact and at any time for any reason either party can choose to end the interaction

Either party can choose? Yes, that surely matches all documented cases of harassment, both online and offline. It also perfectly matches the online model, where my browser is happily associating with tens of tracking networks for each single page I visit, and where my interaction with those trackers ends as soon as I close the page :/

To be more clear: I think it is myopic is because a) it assumes that all interactions are voluntary, and b) it assumes that all interactees have equal footing for negotiation.


There is always censorship on every platform. Always. If the platform itself is not moderating, then the abuse and harassment that naturally evolves will. People from marginalized communities will stay silent or avoid the platform out of fear of being harassed. That too, is a form of censorship.

So when debating whether these platforms should have moderation policies, and how far they should go, one needs to ask if they value diverse points of view more, or harassment and hate speech more.


A troll can still troll after a ban, if they have a real-name. Even national law enforcement have limited powers across borders.


Thing is, if I had to guess, I would say Facebook doesn't attempt to make you use your real name to make the community better in the first place. That's almost certainly just its pretext for everyone who's willing to fall for it. Most likely, it does that to make sure it can identify you globally and uniquely for commercial/advertising purposes. Think about how much more valuable your online identity is if you go solely by Jon Doe rather than by foolover123, bar456fudger, and nighthowler789?


Regardless of whether Facebook enforces the real name policy or not, simply assuming it internally can be damaging.

There is a person on Facebook using my exact (very rare) name, going to my exact university, living in my exact city, also happening to be gay like me.

However unlikely that this is just one gigantic coincidence, I would have been willing to let it slide if their public Facebook timeline wasn't filled with desperate pleads and public invitations to be sexually pleased in every possible bodily orifice.

Me and a dozen other friends reported the profile as impersonating me and it was denied literally 3 minutes later, which, I guess, is completely understandable considering I use a pseudonym on Facebook.

So what would be the solution? Changing my Facebook name to my real name and uploading a scan of some document to prove to Facebook that it is really me? Seems like too much to lose and practically nothing to gain (I'm not overly upset about the impersonator but I wouldn't mind them gone)


I think you should be upset and do something about it. You never know if it is going to cost you missed career opportunities because some employer looked you up on facebook, found the impersonator and decided to decline your job application.

> So what would be the solution? Changing my Facebook name to my real name and uploading a scan of some document to prove to Facebook that it is really me?

Close your FB account, write a blog post and/or magazine articles about it, contact facebook and demand to remove this impersonator for slander and defamation.


Honestly? The only recourse you have here (as you already asked nicely and were denied, for obvious reasons) is to sue. Your suit's path is probably to compel Facebook to reveal the contact info of the person defaming your name and identity; which will then be served with the actual suit.

Worse it'll probably be some punk kid (no money, no real consequences, etc) and you'll be left with nothing but giant legal fees.

If anything this is a clear indication that //allowing// real names online is insanity. The polar opposite of current policy should be in effect.


> I would say Facebook doesn't attempt to make you use your real name to make the community better in the first place.

They're not even allowed to enforce it in Germany [1]: "Facebook may not prevent its users from using fake names, a German privacy watchdog said on Tuesday, in the latest privacy setback for the U.S. company in Europe." Note that said authority is part of the government (unlike, say, EFF).

[1] http://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-germany-pseudonym...


Facebook won't care. Worst case, they'll get a fine of <1mln after a year long process.

Similar to the right of getting all your data in the EU. They stopped answering requests and the government representative in Ireland (who is responsible) also stopped replying to emails. They'll give you all your data if you sue them, otherwise they just ignore the laws. With Dublin on their side, there's little the EU can do.


That's bad, worse than I thought. Sounds like someone needs to start collective legal proceedings. Maybe edri.org can help?


Would you have any links to articles about this? I'd like to read more.


Targeted advertising to pseudonyms would be no less targeted, because it is based on what I do with the logged-in browser, not on the sequence of characters in the name field. I really don't think I get spillover ads targeted at the dozen or so people who share my firstname lastname.

But what I do with the logged-in browser is influenced a lot by wether it is a community with a real name expectation our wether it is a pseudonym playground. The virtual place where we connect with people we meet while parenting our enjoying an expensive outdoor hobby provides infinitely more valuable targeting opportunities than the places we go to indulge in shamefully inappropriate jokes. Making the community better is not a pretext for pro-advertising features, it is a key pro-advertising feature itself.


Real names are the difference between Facebook and MySpace. I'm not friends on FB with anybody I haven't met in real life.


Most of the people I would consider friends are people I haven't met in real life.

And for many years a majority of my friend circle were people I probably never even knew the "real" name of - people in the demo/cracking scene where it was often common for people to introduce you by handle and group (e.g. say Strider of Fairlight, to take a "well known" example from the scene that I spoke to on the phone but back in the day but never met, who I can't for the life of me remember the real name of). Some of these people I'd meet in person regularly and still not use the real name of because their real name was not what people around us would know them by in that context.

My ex goes by three different names: Her "real" name from her passport. An Anglicized name that her immediate family and childhoold school friends uses, and a different Anglicized name that most of her work colleagues and newer friends uses. Many of them don't know the other names.

A lot of people have different names that are used in different contexts that are just as real as the others, just not legally recognised.


I just wanted to say that as someone who never really had much access to computers during my teens and early 20's due to financial reasons, and subsequently missed out on the kind of online friendships you're describing, they have always seemed extraordinarily cool to me.


> Most of the people I would consider friends are people I haven't met in real life.

You are likely in a small minority. This is the difference between a social network meant for the general populace and one specific for tech folk.


I am sure I am. But that is not the point. I gave other examples too, and the point is that requiring "real" names breaks down in all kinds of different cases, most of which by themselves are probably not that common, but that adds up to affecting millions of people.

E.g. which name for my ex is most "real"? Her legal name? Using that would prevent most of her friends from finding her - it's not the name she uses. This is common for vast numbers of immigrants with names that are hard to pronounce.

> This is the difference between a social network meant for the general populace and one specific for tech folk.

Facebook is trying to be the one to decide how we should interact with our friends, and fails to understand even how names are used in real life, not just for "tech folk".


> You are likely in a small minority.

Agreed. I'm a fairly introverted person and participate in a lot of online communities, but I rarely consider people I haven't met to be my friends. That just seems strange to me. I'd even venture to say that in the tech folk world that is a minority position. Most of the people I know need some sort of tangible validation to form a real friendship.


How does their display name affect that relationship? You can meet people in meatspace, and even know their name, without FB knowing their name.


Because the opposite case of adding a random stranger might be different when everyone is using real names and you feel that you should know them irl to add them.


Facebook doesn't need you to give your name to figure out who you are. They don't sell advertising based on your name.

Also, I think it's unfair to pretend that real names don't make a difference. They're a big part of what makes Facebook different than MySpace, Twitter, or other social networks.


> Facebook doesn't need you to give your name to figure out who you are. They don't sell advertising based on your name.

Well, they do need your name to link and correlate it with other data sources (like address books uploaded by people, offline data sources like data brokers, etc.) and use that to show "better ads" and make more money. The value lies in identifying related information with attributes like name, age, sex, location, preferences, check-ins, etc.

> Also, I think it's unfair to pretend that real names don't make a difference. They're a big part of what makes Facebook different than MySpace, Twitter, or other social networks.

Nobody is pretending. There are millions of people, not just a few exceptions, who use their real names and still engage in horrible behavior on Facebook. It's a misconception that "real names" makes people behave better or brings in accountability. It doesn't for the ones who harass others. On the other hand, using a real name exposes people to plenty of abuse online, like getting their profiles reported and deactivated because of Facebook's nonsensical rules and utter lack of any consideration for users, while bullies just go around shutting down people. Facebook is a great tool to shut people down whom one may disagree with.

Reading EFF and other sites' articles on Facebook's "real name policy" and the later rechristened "authentic name policy" would show the dark side of using real names online.


With the wealth of data that Facebook has on you, I'm confident they could figure out your name even if they didn't enforce a real name policy.

> Nobody is pretending.

Just because some people are willing to still troll under their real names does not mean it doesn't have a substantive impact on people's behavior.

Heck, I personally have seen the difference in my own activity on Reddit (where I'm anonymous) and HN (where I'm not). I definitely hold myself to a higher standard here, even when arguments get heated, because this is part of my professional profile (and Reddit is not).


> With the wealth of data that Facebook has on you, I'm confident they could figure out your name even if they didn't enforce a real name policy.

You seem to be making assumptions based on how you operate in the world and attributing superpowers to Facebook where there are none. I know people with Facebook accounts where their real name is not listed anywhere on the profile or in communications they have with others. These people do not fill in things like email address, phone number, place of work and other data that can be linked with address book uploads by other users. The people in these people's friends list are ok with communicating with the "non-real name" and haven't snitched even when Facebook tried to get them to.

> Just because some people are willing to still troll under their real names does not mean it doesn't have a substantive impact on people's behavior. Heck, I personally have seen the difference in my own activity on Reddit (where I'm anonymous) and HN (where I'm not). I definitely hold myself to a higher standard here, even when arguments get heated, because this is part of my professional profile (and Reddit is not).

It's not just some people. I never said that all people who use real names behave badly on social names. But many do (as I said above, not just a few exceptions). Real names is a facade that Facebook uses to get more information about people, and does not influence bad behavior negatively in many cases. And your behavior and how you conduct yourself with respect to the use of real name or otherwise on different platforms is your choice. It has no bearing on what others do.


> Think about how much more valuable your online identity is if you go solely by Jon Doe rather than by foolover123, bar456fudger, and nighthowler789?

Not very. Assuming the demographic infomation is still accurate, that's the part they can sell.


>I would say Facebook doesn't attempt to make you use your real name to make the community better in the first place.

Believing the line of reasoning that real names lead to better communities is like believing a blog post explaining why open office plans are uniformly better for worker productivity/morale/whatever.

At the end of the day there are probably some true believers, but they're just useful idiots to people with ulterior motives.


Your online identity is also more valuable if Facebook can link your profile in with data brokers such as Acxiom.


I doubt this, since Facebook doesn't seem to care much about fantasy names.

They get most interest data about you from within FB (what pages and posts you like etc.) and from pages across the internet you visit through like buttons embedded there (even without clicking them). So there's a lot of relevant meta data directly linked to your account and no need for them to know your real name.


There was a good article on pro publica [0] (who I trust very much) about facebook's use of offline data source, and that presumably needs to be linked by real name

[0] https://www.propublica.org/article/facebook-doesnt-tell-user...


Does use of this [1] information not include attempting to match up the user's real-life name with his/her Facebook name?

[1] https://www.facebook.com/help/494750870625830


Last time I tried to create an alt account they insisted on a phone number, though.


That's more about uniqueness than using your real name.

Spam and fraud accounts are a rather big problem, and this is one way of raising the barrier for creating those. And yeah, Facebook surely has other motivation too, like not having your metadata scattered across multiple accounts.

But I still don't see how knowing your real name would make a strong difference to them. I have quite a few FB friends that use obvious fantasy names (mostly for privacy reasons I think), and they don't seem to be banned or forced to change it.


As other people and myself have said elsewhere, they buy information from many personal information brokers, and this data (presumably) wants a real name to be linked. They can't know that fake names are fake in all instances (and have gotten a lot of backlash by trying to do so), but there real name policy would have a real effect on their ability to link offline data to your online profile so they can better sell your eyeballs to advertisers.


My whole real life is already on Facebook under my real name. But sometimes I wish I could say things on Facebook for a different group of people without my professors or my boss knowing.


I think that this overall push towards eliminating anonimity and trolls from the internet can only have negative outcomes. Sure, nobody will ever be offended again, but at what cost? And who are these easily offended people for whom we're sacrificing freedom of speech?

It baffles me how nobody sees a parallel with 1984, here, and it's not the usual cliche claim. From: >do not say anything against someone To: >do not think anything against someone The step is incredibly short.

Moreover, how are we supposed to have true bipartisan information if we can only see one side of the coin because the other one would require to talk bad about someone?

I can see every dictator of the world smiling, as proposals like this are being considered throughout the world.


Nobody's claiming that nobody will ever be offended again (straw man); the idea / theory is that by using real name, there'd be less anonymous trolling.

Offense might become even worse when it's not done anonymously though. Then it becomes a real person kicking a target's shins. Can be good (the argument improving, becoming more of a critique than just brainless insulting), can be bad (the offender not giving a fuck).

Linus has been offending people for a long time without using a pseudonym. But he knows what he's talking about, and is not ashamed of himself for the language he uses / has used.


> the idea / theory is that by using real name, there'd be less anonymous trolling.

> Offense might become even worse when it's not done anonymously though. Then it becomes a real person kicking a target's shins.

If you completely ban pseudonyms, the trolls will just impersonate other people. The effect is that it will be even more harmful for personal well-being for both those who get trolled and those who get to be impersonated.


And the theory is apparently contradicted by the evidence. As the article points out, people are actually more sensitive to group norms when they are anonymous than when they are whatever the opposite is (nonymous? eunonymous?).

The problem isn't the anonymity, it's the norms.


Linus is effectively a celebrity within his field. That status makes him exempt from some things and more vulnerable to others. He is effectively already a respected public figure and already exposed to much of the attack face that most individuals are better off trying to avoid.


>I think that this overall push towards eliminating anonimity and trolls from the internet can only have negative outcomes. Sure, nobody will ever be offended again, but at what cost? And who are these easily offended people for whom we're sacrificing freedom of speech?

The problem here is that "freedom of speech" has come to somehow include, "freedom to incite violence or threaten murder." Just this New Year's weekend, I had to connect two IRL friends over Facebook, because Friend X knew someone in Friend Y's region of the state who had been doxxed and was being threatened with guns. I tried to put them in contact so Friend X's harassment and threat victim could stay on Friend Y's couch, since their own home wasn't safe anymore.


One of the great benefits from an online alias is being able to build relationships in a community while retaining the ability to cease (and resume) that contact at any time. The alias may as well represent its own individual, with minimal risk to the underlying user(s) as to its reputation. It's a huge relief and a boon to expression to be able to communicate without worrying about the reputation of a sole "real name".


And this is actually even more reflecting of real life interactions. In all the activity circles you go IRL most of your acquaintances know only your first name.

Only people you really bond with usually known your last name.

So why on earth should every person you talk to online should be provided your full name and possibly start stalking you?


Taken even further, even in real life you are likely to have different circles of friends and colleagues - it is likely that you behave differently for each group (knowingly or unknowingly), because they each have an established way of behaving, mannerisms, etc. Just think of an inappropriate joke that one group might find hilarious and another would be appalled by.

The internet is no different, except we are now expected to behave in a singular way in a group conversation of 500 people.


The internet was better when we were all anonymous. It felt like we could do anything, be anyone. The world was ours.

Then social media came and destroyed that dream.

Consider the difference in mood between the idea of creating a metaverse in the 90s/00s to creating one now.

One is the freeing experience of Second Life or Active Worlds and the other is that widely circulated image of a large crowd, all wearing GearVR headsets while Mark Zuckerberg strolls past[1].

[1] http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2016/02/22/16/3173A1BA0000057...


The Real Name Fallacy is social nostalgia- if we all could go back to the village, then everything would be good?

The solution for this and fake news, would be chains of trust. I do not trust my government, i do not trust my media, but i know two or three guys, i would trust too know. If these guys vouched for the guys vouching for the knowledge i see to be true, i would trust that.

In return, i can fade the crack-pots opinions with a filter, based upon a similar chain of trust.

But this system would need to be decentralized, it would need to allow to withdraw this trust in an instant. Centralize this, and the inherent distrust breaks free time after time again.


> But this system would need to be decentralized

Back in the times of Usenet, this already existed: The client-side (hence decentral) "Scorefile" and "Killfile".


I so often wish that web fora, social media, etc., all worked on a common protocol like a modernized Usenet so that we could use our choice of clients and have useful features like scorefiles.

So much ink has been spilled about how Facebook's algorithm chooses what to show you, but imagine having complete control on the client side over both the algorithm, and the parameters tuning it. We used to have this, the only thing stopping it now is bad incentives.


That's RSS.

Too bad it was a mess of half-articles, intro paragraphs, fake submissions, and a very rare full article mixed in there somewhere.


Although there is some truth in this, this is not the full picture.

I believe that Usenet has been replaced mainly by mailing lists, not by blogs.

Having long-text conversations through blogs is possible, but mailing lists and (what's left of the) Usenet are better suited - the same way as IRC and instant messangers are better suited for chats than email, although you could chat via email as well.


No, RSS implement only a fraction of the features of usenet.


The problem is a lot of people are in social circles full of crackpots, so their friends are the crackpots that trust crackpots and spread misinformation.

A lot of these anti-reality movements only function because they have the critical mass of participation to not easily be ignored or sidelined. Once you have millions of willing participants in a lie, by that fact alone, it is given legitimacy.


Is it just a lie then- or already starting to form a ideology?


Thought about this some more- such reputation systems, suppress anonymous dissent, unless it is lend legitimacy- and they favor self-censorship..


Been at this battle for a few years. Check out https://nymrights.org/ (and https://nymrights.org/nymrights-info-flyer/ for the info flyer)


Facebook hate groups are real (anti-immigrant, anti-lgbt, ...). They're getting better at skirting the rules, so there's no way to disband them. I'm seeing dozens of such groups form for a country with a population of ~2 million (Slovenia). I think the mentality those bubbles breed is even more dangerous than Twitter harassment. Instead of manifesting itself in bullying and conflict, it's nurturing the different flavours of toxicity in nicely compartmentalised jars.

I can't agree with the author's statement, that design itself is not primarily responsible for a solution, as it is instrumental in enabling such an environment in the first place.


And being anti-immigrant or anti-LGBT is their right; it's freedom of speech, which extends to freedom to hate. Lots of people hate Trump, that's their right to have. There's a line drawn when it becomes harassment or incitement to violence (then they veer towards becoming a terrorist organization).


I feel like today this freedom profits more to awful people than to the good of society.


Well not really. Freedom of speech is meant to protect all views, including those other people might find wrong, abhorrent or against social norms. This can easily be both a 'good' (in the case of say, a pro gays right campaigner in a conservative theocracy) or 'bad' (in the case of a Neo Nazi in Germany) thing.

But your view kind of sums up in a nutshell why freedom of speech is a hard battle. Because it's all too easy to only see 'horrible' people and views benefiting due to them being the type of views people would want to ban if freedom of speech didn't exist.

It's the same kind of problem Tor advocates have when arguing that privacy and anonymity are rights people should have. Because people only see the drugs, crime and illegal porn and think that privacy is only something 'bad' people need.

Either way, both freedom of speech and privacy benefit everywhere, yet get a bad rep due to people only seeing the negatives they allow rather than the people and rights they may save.


I completely agree with you. It doesn't change the feeling I have.


> Freedom of speech is meant to protect all views,

Too often one person's freedom of speech is a megaphone used to drown out some marginalised group.

http://imgur.com/a/LKiRU


Freedom of speech concerns censorship, it doesn't guarantee an audience, and doesn't mean anyone can be forced to listen.

Do you have examples of freedom of speech used to disproportionately drown out opposing views, i.e. "marginalis[ation]"?


That depends on what you consider to be the alternative to free speech. If you take it as "no speaking allowed ever", than freedom of speech benefits all equally. If you take the alternative to be "everyone I don't like isn't allowed to speak" then free speech disproportionately aids those you dislike.


I don't consider any alternative…


Here's a data point: I was working at JPL when it instituted an internal usenet newsgroup (this was the mid-90s) for discussing work-related issues. It was initially anonymous to encourage people to speak frankly. Almost immediately it devolved into a cesspool of insults and epithets. It was my first experience with this phenomenon, and at the time I was shocked by it. (Nowadays, of course, this sort of thing is just business and usual on the internet.)

After a month or two it got so bad that management decided to remove the anonymity. The tone of the group changed literally overnight, and people started behaving in a civil manner. The sad fact of the matter is that if you want human beings to behave, you have to be able to hold them accountable.


There is also a difference between anonymity where no profile or pseudo-identity is created and one where you have an identity that you carry with you as you use a service or forum.


True. The JPL forum was anonymous, not pseudonymous (which made it very confusing in addition to being a civility train wreck). Pseudonyms offer some limited accountability because it allows people to ignore postings from a particular source. But you still need some enforcement. For example, there has to be some sort of cost associated with creating a new pseudonym, otherwise trolls will just keep creating new ones.


and people also became afraid to express themselves candidly. the solution is moderation and leadership, not forcing identity. but that is expensive, so owners don't want it.



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The list does include it: “Anyone with political views (however mild) that may be unpopular or discriminated against”.


Oh man, I thought I searched that list fully before posting. Thanks! I edited my post to be an expansion of that item, rather than a new addition.


[flagged]


[flagged]


His speeches had a /lot/ of barking, and very little in the way of actually saying how he'd bite (tackle the issue).

Trump as a politicization reminds me of one of the Foundation series books that Azimov wrote. A politician of sorts visited the foundation, and after someone there actually took the time to look at everything he'd said they realized that effectively only puffery and no actual promises had been made.


It was a diplomat, not a politician.


Thank you for a more accurate recall of this memory, though I feel that a diplomat is but one specific sub-class of politician.


I sort of see what you mean, but I can’t really agree: A politician is elected, but a diplomat is a civil servant, and is employed. Furthermore, a politician makes decisions and sets policy, while a civil servant obeys decisions and enforces policy.


I'll make this reply (and it may be down-voted; I'll accept that) and nothing more on this subject, as it seems to be going off-topic; respond if you want:

> Fair enough, the man says some things that make polite society cringe

His words reflect thoughts that should cause any human being with a shred of humanity to recoil in horror, not merely cause "polite society" to cringe; as a society, we should be over all of this by now - it is disheartening to find that for a large segment of our American society, that we haven't progressed much beyond the 1950s when it comes to certain social issues.

> His position on illegal immigration, while couched often in racist terms

Again with the above. While he might not have gotten my vote had he spoke otherwise, there was absolutely no reason, as a politician and businessman seeking to obtain the highest office in the land, that he had to speak about these issues in terms which were bigoted, racist, sexist and derogatory to people both within and outside of our borders. He could have - and should have - easily explained them in a professional, rational, and clear-headed manner which we could all find commendable, even if we didn't actually support the proposals.

Instead, he chose to speak differently, in a style of language which perhaps pandered to his supporters. Those supporters should have supported him regardless of how he spoke, professionally or otherwise. That he felt that he had to speak in a more base manner in order to gain their support says much about him and his supporters.

> But he's at least talking about things that are important to a very large part of the population, which is largely invisible to those of us in media-savvy urban settings. And those things are important enough to people that they are willing to look past some of the vile things he's said and done.

Those people aren't ignorant - they as much as anybody should be able to see that historically, supporting a person for highest office who says and does "vile things" rarely reflects well upon them. Indeed, sometimes such a person causes great strife or worse, both among his supporters and his detractors - which could easily be predicted had they cared to look and understand. I guess we'll see how things work this time around. I hope I am wrong. I fear otherwise.

> Hillary Clinton was the definition of establishment status quo; the Clinton Foundation's dealings with foreign governments created at the very least the appearance of impropriety; and while her husband's foibles are not her own, Bill Clinton's past behavior can be seen in a modern context as sexual assault, and the fact that she remained with him was a matter of genuine concern even to some feminists.

While perhaps of concern for a potential presidential candidate, all of it pales in comparison to what we know of our current President-elect. Hillary's decision to stay within the bonds of marriage and support her husband, while perhaps being something that would concern feminists, should have been seen as commendable by the conservative/evangelical right - yet it wasn't. Regardless, all of it was and is very minor to what we know of Trump's past and present.

It is my opinion that when given the choice of the "lesser of two evils" - the choice was to elect the greater of the two. We'll see how well that plays out, I guess.

> Trump can legitimately say he has enough money that no-one can bribe him to do something he doesn't already want to do, and while there were allegations of assault, they do not seem to have been very convincing, as the conversation around them quieted down fairly quickly.

Conversation on such allegations can indeed quiet down fairly quickly when one has enough money; maybe nobody can bribe him, but the inverse also applies - especially in this case. Of course, this is merely idle speculation and opinion on my part - I nor anyone else has any proof.


Real Names on the internet only create problems and the things it intends to solve get shoved into a backroom and forgotten about.

Moderating the content is far more effective if done right. It's probably a bit like IT security and should be thought of as such.

Real names are something you can do but it's most likely on the same level as whitelisting programs and hotglue-ing all unused ports shut. Even with all that, a determined hacker will just use the office copier and the installed OCR Text Recognition to infiltrate a microsoft office script. (DEFCON talk that I recommend to watch).

There is no 100% safety from trolls and every defense measure also hurts legit users in some way.

TL;DR Know your threat level. Real Names are not necessarily the thing you want and most likely are very rarely and still won't be 100%.


I really don't want to say this but, the real names policy does help in terms of trolling behavior for certain communities. When TechCrunch switched over from Disqus to Facebook comments, the amount of trash and trolling was immediately reduced and stayed at a minimum permanently. A lot of the media outlets (Motherboard, Vice, NPR) who've disabled commenting altogether were using Disqus. I've noticed media outlets that use Facebook comments seem to still have commenting turned on.

I know anonymity in comment systems is as touchy a subject for internet freedom lovers as gun rights are for people in high crime neighborhoods. Those that hate them have already made up their mind and won't look at contradicting evidence, those that love them have already made up their mind and won't look at contradicting evidence. The truth seems to lies somewhere in the middle.

So "Real Names Policy" definitely has it's place. Maybe not everywhere, but definitely in some communities.


I voted you up in order to remove some of the downvotes you're getting, because there's nothing wrong with the tone or level of documentation in your comment.

However, you are also completely wrong. I'll produce two anecdata points.

Look at the Facebook comments on a local newspaper that uses them (e.g., thestate.com). Note that on any article that touches on a partisan issue or a scandal, the tone and contents of the comments are vicious, personal, and frequently harassing.

I admin a large-ish meme page on Facebook. The comments section is a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

From what I can tell, some communities have better norms than others, in terms of promoting civility, but the use of real names doesn't make a significant difference.


Perhaps the common cause here was disqus, rather than anonymity per se? Does anyone know if there any features of disqus that might encourage trolling?

Also, I've certainly seen plenty of flaming in FB comments on news sites.


>>those that love them have already made up their mind and won't look at contradicting evidence.

Like you are doing here...

>>TechCrunch switched over from Disqus to Facebook comments,

I stopped commenting, Did the level of comments drop as well because I do not have today, nor will I ever have a Facebook account, any site that uses Facebook as a comment system does not want nor will get my feedback or participation


In my experience it eliminates a particular kind of drive-by trolling, but leaves the other kinds unaffected. Only constant moderation really keeps it out.


Probably. I've definitely never seen a good Facebook comments section on any site. Nasty arguments and low-grade garbage. Real names simply don't stop most people from being vile on the internet.


Public Facebook comment sections on third party sites have the ugly effect of self-selecting users to those who either really don't care at all about appearances or who have that special level of righteousness that makes them believe that any opinion they might voice would be universally applauded. Those with a more balanced opinion tend to not put out their flag in a place like that. It's a recipe for the perfect storm. Real names do stop most people from being nasty on the internet, but that also makes them invisible, so that only the unstoppable minority remains.


My scummy dad has a fake Facebook account he uses solely to troll the comments section of sites.


My real name doesn't uniquely identify me, because there are more people in the world with the same name. According to some web searching, I have already died a long time ago, I am a technical illustrator, I collect model trains, etc. So a "real name" could be compromising even if totally unjust


I am in the opposite situation. My real name is so rare that it uniquely identifies me globally, as far as I know. I have angered a religious group which is known for intimidation and even physical threats to critics. This makes me very uncomfortable in using sites that demands "real names". I would never sign up for Facebook, for example.


My girlfriend has a name so unique that I put it into google images along with my town name (a capital city), and her picture shows up...


This is a very good point. Using real names doesn't 'reduce anonymity'. It 'reduces anonymity' for people with rare names and leaves those with common names nearly as anonymous as before.


A person's name is one of the strongest identifying factors there is. Even for people with common names, combining their name with other easily deduced information about them could easily lead to a unique identification.

For instance, if you looked through my HN or reddit comments, you could easily figure out roughly what area I live in, my occupation, my approximate age and many other pieces of information that would link back to my real identity. That information combined with my real name would uniquely identify me even if I had an extremely common name.


One of my relatives uses a pseudonym on Facebook because they were harassed at school under their real name because they're gay.


If harassment is a social and cultural problem, then in my view, so is the desire for anonymity, which is a natural byproduct that aids both sides. Banning anonymity would negatively impact both sides. But who is harmed more? And who is harmed more in the other scenario? The article just focuses on one side of the former. Sure certain individuals need more protection if a real name policy is enforced, but at least it's easier to identify and punish the bigots.

That said, I don't think pseudonyms should be banned in order to prevent harassment, but where people go to discuss complex and sensitive topics, I would expect to see more thoughtful responses from a Real Name vs. a_guy_with_nothing_to_lose, barring a decent karma system.


Step -1.) Demand real name's to protect the childrens.

Step 0.) We did it! Everyone has to use real names now! Equality unlocked!

Step 1.) Put in someone else's real name instead of your own.

Step 2.) Troll as that person or use that real name to infiltrate that person's social network

Step lulz.) Doxx brigade/morality police now target the wrong person.

Step 3.) Congratulations, not only did you not solve the problem you were trying to solve, now your rules are a robust breeding ground to cause actual social and economic damage to people YOU ALREADY AGREE WITH because "pixels are feelings, too".

Step 4.) Hang your head in shame for such short-term thinking.

Step 5.) Downvote me because of tone.


so, make them prove their id. Sure it doesn't scale but now you would have to actually steal someone's identity rather than just use a fake name.


Sometimes, I can't tell if the newer generation understands that Photoshop is a thing or not.

Also, I'm pretty sure they have no idea that when you create a massive repository of identities to try and protect the childrens, you're just painting a huge bullseye on the back of it's database.

It's like people believe Russians hacked the election, but no one could EVER hack a central repository of identities! Why, it's protected by good intentions and saving the childrens! Oh hey, another 1 billion Yahoo! identities got leaked...


Many "real names" cannot even be used in the "real world" because systems don't support it.


I think it largely depends on the specific community and people in it. While some try to use online anonymity as an outlet to say and do things they wouldn't dare on Facebook or IRL, others seem to want a reality-like reputation around their username/account. A large portion is probably caused simply by community rules; just see /b/ and HN...

And to be fair, I've hardly ever seen serious insults on Facebook, but been called dipshit on anonymous platforms regularly. But again, this could be due to community standards.


>I've hardly ever seen serious insults on Facebook

Every once in a while curiosity and boredom get the better of me and I visit ESPN or some other mainstream news site that uses FB profiles for the comments section and I almost always walk away shocked at the kind of comments people are willing to post while directly linking to their real name and profile, often containing their place of employment. Respectfully, if you haven't seen serious insults on FB, or at least on sites using FB profile logins, you haven't been looking hard enough.


I've seen similar and can't help but wonder if at least some of those people don't realise that's happening. Maybe they see the "login with Facebook" as a convenience without knowing their names, jobs etc. will be visible. The rest probably just don't care.


Ok, I was thinking of conversations among people who know each other (i.e. met at least once). Yes, I've seen bad language, heavily racist rants and such, but always from people who would do the same thing in real life, and mainly against third parties (politicians, celebrities, religions, ...).

But I'm not extremely active though and hardly ever see large comment threads, like from ESPN.


I honestly don't see this on Facebook. I have made very few connections there but I am routinely surprised by the stuff that comes out of people I went to high school with. Not usually because I find it personally offensive, but because I cannot believe someone is okay with having that out there linked to their real name.


People get death threats on Facebook.


Those norms are correlated heavily with anonymity though.

For example, while HN has no real name policy, HN users are generally substantially less anonymous than accounts on Reddit (for example). Many people openly list their personal identity in their profile.


I casually link my profile to my "identity" here because the discussions I'm involved in here carefully stick to things I'm happy to have linked to my name. That is partially because the culture here frowns upon a whole lot of types of discussions that would lead to comments I'd be unhappy to have come up when searching for my name.

To some extent of course that means people can afford to be ruder on Reddit than here. But for my part at least I've "invested" as much in my Reddit username as I have in my username here, probably more. Just in different aspects of my life. What I say on Reddit has less effect on my work life, but just as much or more on my social life (most people around me are not on HN; most of them are on Reddit), and so I'm not about to "burn" my Reddit account.

The greater difference here I think is the same as you see on smaller subreddits: A relatiely large proportion of the comments come from a small pool of heavily invested long term users.

It doesn't matter if you know who we are in real life as much as it matters that newcomers that don't settle in to the culture here will be quickly pushed away (often after a number of downvotes and "this isn't reddit" comments) by longtime users that outnumber the newcomers. That happens on many subreddits too. But when you go to the bigger ones, the turnover is huge and it becomes impossible to police without very dedicated moderator teams which many subreddits lack, and the trolls congregate where they can get away with their trolling.

There are plenty of subreddits where I'd be happy to go by my legal name. The reason I don't is more down to already having an established identity over the course of many years and no reason to.


The problem isn't just discrimination/harassment (though that's huge - I used to use a male pseudonym on my github & stackoverflow accounts, and still do on medium.) It's also just pragmatically impossible.

I have changed my first name legally three times.

I have changed my last name once.

I currently have different legal names in three countries, on my undergraduate & masters degrees, and on my 401k, and none of those are the name I am known by to my colleagues & friends.

What is my "real name"?


Your GIN (Government Issued Number), be it an SSN, SIN, or anything else.

At least, as far as the one most easy to use against you.


Frank Abagnale?


Hah - if I'd changed my name so often for malicious intent, instead of family & marriage reasons, it'd probably be much more rationally arranged.

Not having a canonical "real name" is a giant PITA.


While I agree that expecting users to use real names is a bad thing, this knocked the air out of me:

> In societies including the US where violence and mistreatment of women, people of color, and marginalized people is common, we can expect similar problems in people’s digital interactions [1] > [1] Sarah Banet-Weiser and Kate M. Miltner. #MasculinitySoFragile: culture, structure, and networked misogyny. Feminist Media Studies, 16(1):171-174, January 2016.

I reject the assertion that these issues are "common" in the US, even if "violence and mistreatment" is broadly defined as people acting rudely on the internet. A post by ESR was even flagged off HN because its message was that he expected evidence to back claims of harassment, which is a microcosm of the trend of "feelings > reality". This is absolutely ludicrous and I'm surprised Mozilla is funding this junk.

Further, it's getting rather tiring that the US is always listed as an example when countries/societies exist without legal protection for all races/genders and where slavery and forced labor is still legal.


A post by ESR was even flagged off HN because its message was that he expected evidence to back claims of harassment

There's at least one other reason users may have flagged it, and in line with the site guidelines: it doesn't sufficiently satisfy intellectual curiosity, and at the same time has a high likelihood of producing little to no constructive discussion while also being very susceptible to flamewars. That doesn't mean that the topic shouldn't be discussed, just that it's unlikely to be constructively and civilly discussed on HN.


That's fair, but the article was creating (mostly) civil discussion and it was on the topic of perceived bias in open source software communities. I can't not think that it was shot down by someone to defend an ideology.


> I reject the assertion that these issues are "common" in the US

On what grounds do you reject that? Do you have hard evidence that women and ethnic/sexual minorities in the US are not at increased risk of violence and mistreatment? Or are you basing this on "feelings > reality", as you put it?

> Further, it's getting rather tiring that the US is always listed as an example when countries/societies exist without legal protection for all races/genders and where slavery and forced labor is still legal.

The "I can't be bad as long as someone, somewhere, is worse" argument is a classic excuse to get out of ever having to improve anything.


> The "I can't be bad as long as someone, somewhere, is worse" argument is a classic excuse to get out of ever having to improve anything.

Recently learned the awesome names for this fallacy. "Tu quoque"[1] is the general name. Whataboutism[2] is the awesome term for its use in soviet propeganda.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tu_quoque [2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whataboutism


I don't think I was committing a logical fallacy -- I took exception to the article author's attempt at establishing alleged certainty, especially using relativistic terms.

In any case, based on your mention of learning new fallacy names, you'll probably like this site: https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/


I vouched for this comment as I didn't see anything particularly egregious: looks like the included URI triggers some automatic down-voting behavior (perhaps to encourage better discourse rather than calling out fallacies?) Regardless, it's probably not worth including that link in the future :)


> encourage better discourse rather than calling out fallacies?

How is calling out fallacies not the best kind of discourse??


I agree with you that identifying weaknesses or fallacies in an argument is a good thing. What I am trying to express is that it can sometimes be reduced to little more than name calling if not done well. Say, for example, I identify what I believe to be a straw man. If my response is only "That's a straw man", while it may be accurate, it's not very useful to the discourse. It should include at least why I believe the argument to be building a straw man.

It can also lead to a desire to score points rather than to reach some kind of mutual understanding (if not agreement), which also doesn't lend itself to constructive discussion.

I hope it's clear that my explanation as to why that particular URI is banned is just speculation, and not very strong at that. I can't think of a better explanation, however.

For what it's worth, it looks like I'm not alone in thinking along these lines:

citing a logical fallacy is often employed by those who are lazy and aren't genuinely addressing a given argument.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7195076

For reference, a couple of other HN threads where this URI has been discussed:

- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5391743

- https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5660078


The context in that first link is:

https://web.archive.org/web/20140404202911/http://plover.net...

This adds a little more nuance:

1) LOGICAL FALLACIES ARE USUALLY IRRELEVANT OR CITED INCORRECTLY...

2) CITING LOGICAL FALLACIES IS USUALLY COWARDLY AND LAZY ... " Rather than engage with the ideas in a text, it's much easier to skim through it trying to spot a quick fallacy; and once a fallacy is found, a baloney detector can safely ignore everything else. "

I wouldn't say this at all demonstrates the weakness in identifying fallacies. Falsely identifying fallacies is not identifying fallacies (the fallacy fallacy?); and nothing says that one fallacy invalidates an entire text; also, I find there argument there weak, e.g "these people seem to have no other opinions on the text" - so what?


I'll admit to being a little confused by your response. I understand you to be arguing that

(a) identifying fallacies is good; and

(b) pointing out the fallacy and nothing more is fine.

As for (a), we're in agreement, and I believe I was clear in saying so above (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13320712):

I agree with you that identifying weaknesses or fallacies in an argument is a good thing.

As for (b), if pointing out the fallacy is limited only to identifying the fallacy by name, I disagree, and also expressed this in the same comment. In short (and I repeat myself), I think it lends itself to point scoring rather than cooperative, constructive discussion. If it includes explaining how the argument is an instance of the fallacy, I think that's better.

I appreciate your taking the time to provide the reference to "Your Baloney Detection Kit Sucks". However, while it's related, I'm don't believe I'm making the arguments you cite (though the second is similar in spirit) and argue against.

I'm fine with our possible disagreement on (b). I can understand why some people may think that identifying and naming the logical fallacy is sufficient. I just don't agree, as I want more out of the discussion. If I've misrepresented or misinterpreted what you've written or intended, please forgive me as this is not my intent, and I would appreciate you pointing it out. Otherwise, I thank you for the discussion and take my leave.


I think some fallacies are to vague too identify without more detail. Some are easily mis-identified, or mis-applied, esp those such as "Appeal to Authority".

However, I think most are not so.

I don't think anyone can ask for more engagement. Being made aware of a fallacy is like being made aware of a spelling mistake - it is just a note of something to be fixed, no further engagement is needed from whoever identifies it.

There is also another issue: there is a lot to read on the web, all competing for attention. I think there is a greater burden on a writer to produce fallacy-free text than there is on the many potential readers to read any one text despite its flaws. A fallacy is a common falsehood, so common it can be easily identified without further discussion of the topic. The nature of fallacies, to me, seem to be quick, efficient identification of logical flaws i.e. the low hanging fruit.

As such, maybe a text with such flaws shouldn't be engaged, if such basic flaws exist? People pointing out these flaws both help you fix them, and hinder by warning off readers until they are fixed.


Also, I just read the section about the sexist skeptic. I find it deeply flawed, many of the arguments are sound, and just because the author thinks they are inappropriate doesn't mean they are - that's just the authors subjective, emotive opinion.


I'm sorry, but I don't understand how this relates to pointing out logical fallacies, which I understand to be the subject at hand in this branch of the thread.

Are you perhaps responding to something (much further) upthread, such as here?

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13316770

If so, please respond there.


No, I'm referring to the content of the link above, https://web.archive.org/web/20140404202911/http://plover.net...


'Respond like this, and you couldn't be more offensive if you said "You're too emotional, my dear: let me correct you with the firm hand of reason." In throwing around accusations of logical fallacy in such a sensitive context, you're being an asshole. And furthermore, you're excluding a voice from your privileged in-group.'

You have just entirely illustrated the truth of this paragraph.


What sensitive context is there to my comments? This is a conversation about another conversation - the context of the first conversation isn't the same.

I disagree with the author, so I don't believe there is any truth to it, illustrated or not. But in any case, the reason I describe it as 'emotive', is the name-calling ("asshole") and and things like "you're excluding a voice from your privileged in-group"; why is this an issue if on the basis of merit - Because it's an offended woman, as opposed to an offended man?

the context here is:

> By way of illustration, suppose you are a guy who identifies as a skeptic. And then suppose you encounter a woman who tells you that because of the insults she has received from guys in the skeptic community, she has decided that the skeptic movement is fundamentally sexist

So, talking to a male skeptic that has presumably perpetrated no act of sexism, but is being accused of it in this context, and is as such defending the movement. Is this interpretation wrong?

Let me alter the proposition a little:

> suppose you are a Muslim. And then suppose you encounter someone who tells you that because of the sexism they have encountered from other Muslims, they have decided that Islam is fundamentally sexist.

Would it still be as offensive to say:

"These people are not assholes because they are skeptics, they're assholes who happen to be skeptics"

And in the case, it's more likely that religious beliefs could lead to sexist ones, compared to skepticism.


Oh, sorry, didn't even think of that. Thank you for vouching for it.


> On what grounds do you reject that? Do you have hard evidence that women and ethnic/sexual minorities in the US are not at increased risk of violence and mistreatment? Or are you basing this on "feelings > reality", as you put it?

That's beside the point of what the parent comment actually said.

To illustrate: Certainly, national park rangers are at increased risk of being struck by lightning during the course of their work (as compared to, say, software developers). However, it would be silly to claim that lightning strikes of rangers are common.

What your parent comment basically did (in the analogy) is state that lightning strikes are not common for park rangers. You try to counter that by saying that lightning strikes are more common for park rangers than for others. That makes no sense.

You're engaged in a discussion that is purely about the definition of fuzzy words. What is "common"? It's about trying to get the upper hand rhetorically by defining words (from both of you). Not a particularly enlightening debate.


> You're engaged in a discussion that is purely about the definition of fuzzy words. What is "common"? It's about trying to get the upper hand rhetorically by defining words (from both of you). Not a particularly enlightening debate.

Good catch and I considered that as well, but decided it was worth commenting on for discussion as I took the use of "common" with the context of a named country/society to be a claim of happening with increased frequency relative to other countries/societies or to mean "likely for one in that country to experience" (while also noting the author was casually asserting something quite bold).

I quite strongly believe in online anonymity, and as such, I don't want the argument for it to become weakened against debate.


> On what grounds do you reject that? Do you have hard evidence that women and ethnic/sexual minorities in the US are not at increased risk of violence and mistreatment?

The burden of proof is usually on those who state that something is a problem. So .. are there reliable sources for that claim?


> On what grounds do you reject that? Do you have evidence that women and ethnic and sexual minorities are not at increased risk of violence and mistreatment?

The FBI gathers data on bias in crimes[0]; I reject that the issues are specifically "common" in the US because they constitute a small number of the total crimes committed[1] and are taken very seriously (harsher sentences and being racist/sexist has severe social stigma). The article's use of "common" is an attempt at alleged certainty, much like saying "we all know that developers.." to avoid having to actually back the claim.

> The "I can't be bad as long as someone, somewhere, is worse" argument is a classic excuse to get out of ever having to improve anything.

That's not the argument here. It's stating that it's tiring that the US is always singled out as if it's somehow _specifically_ bad. Strong people fought for equal protection of people under the law in the US, so why is it consistently picked as an example over, say, Pakistan or Mauritania? Even if I was to concede that calling someone a "bitch" on Twitter falls under "violence and mistreatment" (as is suggested by the Coral Project's cited source), why should US shoulder all of the blame for the global site?

[0] https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015-hate-crime-statistics-... [1] https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-release...


>That's not the argument here. It's stating that it's tiring that the US is always singled out as if it's somehow _specifically_ bad.

And that isn't the case in the original quote. The US isn't listed as specifically bad, it is included as a member of a list where the author contends mistreatment of some groups is common:

"In societies including the US where violence.."

Nothing special or notably different there. Additionally, usually the kind of articles you are alluding to are addressing a US, or at the very least a Western/Anglophone audience, so if the US or UK are pointedly included, the intent may be read as "'we' are not any better at this thing than we imagine 'other' countries are".


> And that isn't the case in the original quote. The US isn't listed as specifically bad, it is included as a member of a list where the author contends mistreatment of some groups is common:

I contend that the US doesn't belong in that list, and also that a generalization with a single enumeration is almost comical to defend as not attempting to identify as a specific case.

e.g. "Software pirates, including 7Z7, often..."

> the intent may be read as "'we' are not any better at this thing than we imagine 'other' countries are".

Except that the UK and the US is quite good about these things to the extent that the author had to cite something written about _Twitter_ (with a title mocking a perception of men, no less) to make a point about violence.


>I contend that the US doesn't belong in that list..

I'm not engaging with that, as I said "the author contends".

However, the single enumeration stands as it is addressing a US audience. It isn't a special case on the list, it is a special case to that audience.

>"Software pirates, including 7Z7, often..."

If the article that included the above sentence was addressing an audience of people to whom I was particularly special (ie. the 7Z7 Fan Club), then this is completely appropriate, even if I am not a particularly rabid example amongst other software pirates.

>Except that the UK and the US is quite good about these things..

The point then, is that despite patting ourselves on the back, we are not yet as good as we could be, nor as good as we apparently think we are - despite there being worse examples in the world.


> A post by ESR was even flagged off HN because its message was that he expected evidence to back claims of harassment,

No. People flag ESR posts because he's a pathological arsehole and his threads contain some deeply unpleasant posts.

>I reject the assertion that these issues are "common" in the US

Interesting that you complained about people not bothering to support their claims, and then immediately make a claim with no support.


"citation needed" does not need a citation.

The bar is higher for an article, than a comment.


Who is ESR?


Eric S Raymond, author of some important and influential software related books (Cathedral and Bazaar, for example), but also a mysogynistic, homophobic, conspiracy theorist

It's hard to pick one example because there are so many, but read what he says about the Catholic abuse scandal: http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=26

There are so many errors scattered through that piece that there's no point rebutting them. It's best to just flag anything (not related to computing) about ESR.


> It's best to just flag anything (not related to computing) about ESR.

That doesn't mean that he's incapable of making a coherent or interesting argument. Don't flag just because you expect to be offended, as the flag mechanism prevents others from being exposed to content that they may be interested in, if even just to sharpen their sword for use on someone trying to put what you see as harmful/dangerous thoughts into actions.


ESR is Eric S Raymond, a troll that made his fame from writing about/antagonizing the Free Software community. His "accomplishments" include starting the "Open Source vs Free Software" naming controversy and ruining The Hacker's Dictionary.


Same here. The US definitely has a lot of problems, but the criticisms are often devoid of any context and only serve to further some narrow agenda.

> In societies including the US...

Oh, so the other unnamed "decent" societies must have figured it (their social and cultural problems) out then. And you've chosen to focus on "digital interactions"... why??


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