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Let's Talk About Why People Act the Way They Do Online

On Tuesday night I'll lead a "Wine and Conversation" discussion about the topic.

How many people would act in person the way they do online?

My guess is, not many. But why is that, and should we maintain the same etiquette on the Internet that we employ in "real life" encounters?

At 8p.m. on Tuesday, May 22, I will moderate 's monthly Wine and Conversation event, and we'll be discussing, face to face, these questions and more. 

Online etiquette is a quandary everywhere, but one need not look any further than this publication to see evidence of it. The first thing that comes to my mind is the issue of anonymous commenters.

I've heard countless arguments for and against allowing anonymous commenting. Those opposed to it say that it leads to food fights and a general degradation of potentially constructive discussion among commenters using their real names. Those in favor of it believe that it permits a greater flow of true information. Commenters need not worry about personal persecution for speaking the truth, in other words. 

I see merit in both sides of this argument, and as an editor I've dealt with "bad" commenters using real and fake names. 

Some questions that I still wrestle with: Is anonymity on the Internet a right? Should websites, especially news sites, allow anonymous commenting? Does allowing it make the conversation worse, or better? Does it allow for a greater freedom of speech?

Let's talk about it.

Let's also talk about Internet etiquette generally. Do you think people act differently online than they do in person, and is that a problem? Is it akin to road rage? If so, what, if anything, should be done about it?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on Tuesday, May 22 at A Grape In The Fog, 400 Old County Road Pacifica, CA.

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Beth Lemke May 22, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Looking forward to the discussion tonight - fascinating!
Erin Macias May 23, 2012 at 05:16 AM
Dagnabbit! I always miss the good topics! I am very much against anonymous posting because I strongly feel people are less likely to use the appropriate social filters that seem to be disappearing from our culture. So many anon comments are inappropriate, hurtful and negate productive dialogue on important topics. It's synonymous with gossip in my opinion. If you have something to say... own it.
Gabriela Segovia-McGahan May 25, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Just saw this one today and thought I'd share: http://www.animalnewyork.com/2012/why-trolling-needs-to-be-legal/

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