NBR publisher to NetHui: comments will stay anonymous

KeallHauled

Chris Keall

The NetHui 2011 kicked off yesterday at the Sky City Convention Centre.

Several hundred are attending this three-day InternetNZ event, which features Steven Joyce, Bill English, Chris Finlayson and David Cunliffe on its speaker list, plus the likes of Lawrence Lessig (the rockstar of IP legal wonks) over from the US. It’s a great line-up (though it could also have been called Middle Class White Guys 2011; "NetHui" from the conference’s open, consensual style, its organisers say).

I got a number of Where-are-you? messages. I had to stay close to the farm, but several people alerted me to a couple of mentions of NBR.

I won’t return to the paywall. We’ve been round-and-round the mulberry bush on that one.

But there was a new NBR flashpoint: anonymous comments.

Opening speaker Rod Drury canvassed a number of topics, and at one put up this slide (snapped by Lance Wiggs):

(I'm told FFS means "for flip's sake".)

Earlier, Rod sent me an email outlining his stance on anonymous comments after stories:

It read, in part:

I don't agree with NBR's policy of allowing anonymous comments. I hate to think of young people being put off doing public companies as the NBR has now become the Wild West. I don't see how that is good for NZ business.

Until the NBR policy changes I won't be commenting there anymore. It's a shame because I'm very pro CEO's engaging in dialogue.

The Xero boss’s comments at NetHui provoked a minor Twitter storm.

Initially, sentiment ran strongly in favour of Rod. Common themes: if people are willing to make a comment, they should put their name to it; low-brow anonymous comments make NBR look; companies can’t engage with anonymous comments [I’d argue they can still respond to a question or viewpoint, even if they don’t know who’s made it]; there’s too much “trolling” (mindlessly provocative comments, which people would presumably be less likely to leave if they didn’t have the cover of anonymity).

But then the tide started to turn. Some on Twitter pointed out that an anonymous comment facility encourages whistleblowers. And also that many New Zealand companies might punish an employee who speaks out about their own employer, or a rival (and while Rod was commenting on what he sees as an aggressive, low-brow environment overall, and he didn’t single out any individual comment – but his reaction did coincide with an anonymous comment after a Xero story that was verified, and lead to an interesting follow-up; read: Xero responds to questions over narrowed loss)

Public Address’s Russell Brown pointed out that his site allows anonymous comments, but only from registered users.

I put a quick summary of events to NBR publisher Barry Colman.

He responded:

“Our comments will remain free and uncensored so long as they pass decency and defamation guidelines. It's interesting how freedom of speech always horrifies The Establishment when it is freely practised.”


15 · Got a question about this story? Leave it in Comments & Questions below.

This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags

Post Comment

15 Comments & Questions

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

Good on you Barry. This is The Right Thing To Do.

Rod - you have better things to do than complaining about website comments. Get on and hit break even. You have significantly higher value things to do and success will speak loader than any anonymous comment.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Yes – we need the ability to leave anonymous comments.

I for one want to tell the world how rotten to the core I find the Labour Party and their policies and tactics – as they themselves have proven through the actions of their “Stars of the future” and their “leaders”.. and their policies and low-brow attempted smear tactics – that always backfire.

Back when Auntie Helen dictated to us all, I would think twice about leaving any comments about Labour – for fear of them using their government powers to somehow silently quieten a voice against the government – but thanks to NBR – we have a venue for our outrage where comments can be left without fear of retribution!

Think I’m being overly cautious/exaggerating?

Remember – Labour have their roots in socialist / communist style philosophies – and one only has to look at how Auntie treated anyone who got in her way or disagreed – let alone wrote publicly about how appalling they are. The Labour Party are two-faced, hypocrites that even steal from the tax payer in an election year to use the funds “inappropriately” on electioneering, then when found out, not only do they plead ignorance of the laws they created and were supposed to abide by – they retrospectively backdated laws to avoid having to prosecute themselves for the theft of almost $900K of tax payer money.

Have they paid that money back yet? Can anyone comment on that issue please?

Please leave us the ability to leave comments on the NBR website – thank you! Besides – even though there’s often deliberately inflaming comments to provoke replies – it’s kinda interesting to note the flawed thinking and rationale from the left leaning.

[NBR Head of Digital Chris Keall replies: FFS, as Rod would say]

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Just harden up Rod. If it is an idiotic comment it just reflects on the commenter, not the target.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I agree.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

And I disagree.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I think this is a wise decision - although good to disallow profanity and defamation, there is a place for free and anonymous comment in a small and unduly intimate country. If it starts to get like the comment sections of the Telegraph UK though, you might need to revisit the idea - quite a few "nutters" hog those spaces.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

As they do here.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Companies like PGG Wrightson activley hunt down people who comment about them and run witch hunts internally.
That is whay people choose to use another name or be anonymous.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Keep it anonymous, I come to NBR in spite of the paywalled items because of the anonymous comments.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Nome de plumes hide the poster's real name.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

When the fawning, uncritical adulation stops Rod Drury takes his ball and goes home. I don't remember him being subjected to any abuse when he took part in a discussion after the Xero announcement.

The one-note posters harping on the "show me the money" theme were tiresome but could easily be shrugged off or ignored. It wasn't like a grilling on Campbell Live from a hostile and intimidating interviewer out to do a hatchet job, then showing the "best bits" to a salivating mob of anti-capitalist nutters.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Anonymous means people are allowed to speak without fear of being personally attacked for their opinions.

Anonymous means people can make mistakes, which means they are more likely to engage in discussion.

Anonymous means people's experiences can be judged on their merits rather than by preconceptions and biases.

Anonymous means people can express personal opinions that may not be suited to their work.

Anonymous means people can blow the whistle without retribution.

Anonymous is a fundamental right, and freedom of speech does not exist without it.

Bravo NBR.

Those who can't handle trolls should not cross the bridge.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Email registration means keeping the benefits of anonymity while making it easier to manage the trolls. Kiwiblog does a good job managing the extreme and ad hominen commentors, and gets a lot more responses than here. Trade Me is even better.

But ultimately the best solution, in my mind is to bring the forum technology up to date, and include nested comments, the ability to vote up great comments and the ability to flag inappropriate comments.

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

I could put my name to this if I wanted to but then again being anonymous means I like many other readers can really speak (type) my mind

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Tell Rod that there's no "e" in Colman
Pat

Reply
Share
  • 0
  • 0

Post New comment or question

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

NZ Market Snapshot

Forex

Sym Price Change
USD 0.6720 0.0016 0.24%
AUD 0.9315 -0.0017 -0.18%
EUR 0.6008 -0.0005 -0.08%
GBP 0.4566 0.0004 0.09%
HKD 5.2179 0.0130 0.25%
JPY 73.7020 -0.1240 -0.17%

Commods

Commodity Price Change Time
Gold Index 1223.8 -3.140 2016-05-25T00:
Oil Brent 50.2 1.960 2016-05-25T00:
Oil Nymex 49.6 0.910 2016-05-25T00:
Silver Index 16.3 0.010 2016-05-25T00:

Indices

Symbol Open High Last %
NZX 50 6915.7 6943.8 6908.0 0.43%
NASDAQ 4877.2 4905.4 4861.1 0.70%
DAX 10143.4 10233.1 10057.3 1.47%
DJI 17735.1 17891.7 17706.0 0.82%
FTSE 6219.3 6270.2 6219.3 0.70%
HKSE 20373.5 20385.0 20368.0 -0.26%
NI225 16927.7 16957.6 16757.3 0.52%
ASX 5372.5 5402.7 5372.5 0.27%