Thursday, February 18, 2010

No more anonymity

As of 12:00 noon Central time today, A Commonplace Blog will accept no more anonymous comments. They will be rejected without further consideration. If you do not have the courage to stand up publicly for your ideas and feelings, you can express them elsewhere. From the start, the author of this blog has identified himself, and has been willing to take his lumps in the naked public square. It does not seem unfair to ask the same of those who would leave comments here.


D. G. Myers said...

This morning at 4:43 the following comment to my policy announcement was received:

“A great article indeed and a very detailed, realistic and superb analysis of the scenarios. I would like to thank the author of this article for contributing such a lovely and mind-opening article.”

The comment originated from a term-paper mill. You’ve got to love the heartfelt praise of my “detailed, realistic and superb analysis”—all in eighty-four words!

Does anyone actually fall for such spam? Does anyone click the author’s link, find himself at a term-paper factory, and say, “Wow! Here is the ultimate source for detailed, realistic, and superb analysis“? Would anyone who is that stupid be reading the annoucement of a new policy against anonymous comments at a book blog?

ghostofelberry said...

i get about half a dozen emails a day offering me discounts on Viagra at varying rates, usually between 70 and 80%. They all come from the same address. i realise it's computer generated but it is nonetheless weird to think of someone or something sending me an offer of Viagra at a 76% discount at 0900, then at a 71% discount at 1100, then at 75% at noon, and so on, as if one of these percentages might "hit the spot".

Someone suggested on another blog that Literary Theory prose is akin to the subject lines on Spam emails (e.g. "moribund anxieties at the generational nexus!"), computer-generated gibberish designed to pass for human.

On the subject of Anonymouses, i've found any comment under that name will almost always be ill-conceived rubbish by an intellectual bully lacking any basic courtesy or cojones. A pox on them.

R. T. said...

It baffles me that so many people are apparently so hard at work (but so inept in so many ways) in the paper-mill industry! Paper-mills are a pernicious plague.

I am always baffled about and stunned by students in my classes (and perhaps you are bothered by some in your classes) who turn so readily to the paper-mills for "help" with writing assignments. The paper-mill problem, along with more clever and harder to detect forms of plagiarism and cheating, leads me to consider assigning nothing but in-class writing assignments and giving up on out-of-class projects in my English composition courses. As for the literature courses, I wish knew of a fool-proof way of keeping students honest (and away from plagiarism) in their writing assignments.

With respect to the problem of plagiarism and paper-mills, do you have any tried-and-true strategies? I'm open to suggestions from you and others.

So far, I have not heard about the "very detailed, realistic and superb analysis of the scenarios" at my site. But who knows what the future brings!

Regards from a harried teacher of composition and literature at Novels, Stories, and More.

Øystein H-O said...

Comments like the paper-mill linking one aren't intended to be read by humans. They're essentially spam aimed at search engines.

Google ranks pages based in large part on the number of links to them that look "real", so the spammers hope that a great number of innocuous blog comments linking to their site will make them one of the top hits for the relevant search queries.

A lot of these messages are posted automatically by computer programs, but there are apparently people out there whose job is essentially to comment on blogs, for no other reason than to plug this or that website in the process.

-An ex-anonymous commenter (albeit not of the pugilistic sort)

hq;W;DKQW90 said...

A perspective from outside the sunny groves of academic tenure:

There are 14 million unemployed Americans today, presumably including a few like me who read your blog. Most employers include a cursory Google search in their evaluation of job candidates. I've been told by interviewers at several large corporations that blog comments under one's own name can dilute professional citations and make a candidate seem 'unserious'. I'm not part of the academic or literary world, so even a well-reasoned, carefully-written comment is considered a frivolous use of my time by prospective employers. It's not a matter of lacking "... the courage to stand up publicly for [my] ideas...", but rather the need to put several children through college that forces me to comment anonymously (or pseudonymously).

D. G. Myers said...

Why would you want to work for anyone who considered good reasoning and careful writing a frivolous use of your time?

I’m serious. The literary and academic worlds are moving online; I assume the business world is too. An employer who doesn’t understand that is a self-identified dinosaur.

Besides, all sorts of writers online use consistent pseudonyms that enable readers to identify their literary personae if not their practical selves.