Tuesday, November 15, 2005

are anonymouses the scum of the earth, or 'shit stirring 101'*

i just know this will offend our anonymous friends. but it's time to step up, and be counted. have your voice heard for real, put up or shut up.

i woke up the other morning wondering about it. do anonymous commenters have a different psychology to others on blogger and other blog forums?

then I got to thinking about all of us. how we operate as a group, as a community.

i’m interested in the idea of the connections we make, beyond the self-expression, the self-indulgence, the spew of ideas onto screen. for me, this is a way to write every day. i’m hooked, i’m addicted, i really am. i don’t think i’m alone. the moment when i start to go through my blogroll and check in on people, it’s a feeling like i’m a teacher and i am checking my world. there is a certain order in the way i visit. i go to mine first, then i work upwards from my saved favourites. i start at the bottom, and depending on how much time i have, usually not much, i skip people who i have saved. but there are guaranteed visits to most of the people who i have linked to.

once i’ve completed the cycle, i may re-visit a couple, because it can take over an hour to make my tour.

i’m interested in identity too. i’ve noticed that lots of americans use photos of themselves. then there are the people who have used pics of real people, but it’s not them. (jess? i’m right, aren’t i?) then there are the ones who have chosen completely out-of-context pics (fluffy, for example). then there are the ones who cross-gender (monsieur maze) with their pictorial self-representations.

some people write in a non-gendered way, so that it takes a while to figure out whether they are male or female. i wonder whether this is on purpose too, or some sort of unconscious act.

others log in simply as anonymous, without even a made-up name. what does this mean, psychologically speaking? are these people ones who need to really disassociate from their thoughts, ideas and comments from even a semblance of a person? what i mean is, why can’t they create a name, even one that is meaningless, and then comment? do they need the freedom of being anonymous to comment without reserve? do they still hold back?

holding back
i know that i hold back, a lot. but it doesn't affect the content, if that makes sense. what i hold back is the minutiae (sometimes, not always) and the truly intimate (also, not always.) so even though i am virtually anonymous, by using a pseudonym i have created an identity for myself, and this identity i don’t want to sully, beyond silly postings about driving turbo cars etc. i don't want people to think badly of melbournegirl. how fucked is that? well, that is me, after all.

writing styles
some people write purely from the impersonal stance. i have to admit, i don’t visit these people often. i need the personal, because for me it is mostly about connection, and that human experience. other qualities that attract me to certain blogs are their entertainment value, whether they make me laugh, whether there is a dialogue going on about something I care about, or whether there is just a shooting-the-breeze conversation that is amusing. it can be politics, or base humour, or chou-chou frippery. it's hard to define what attracts me. it's like a personal scent, an odour. it's a very individual thing.

i try not to over-comment. i feel that you can become annoying and boring and like a person that you are sick of at school, always popping up. and by saying you, i mean me. i feel that some bloggers create exclusivity well by simply not commenting heaps. not that i want to be exclusive, but i also want to avoid being ubiquitous. it’s so dull and predictable.

responding to comments
i want to say that i don't always respond to comments. it depends how i feel, how i react, and how much time i've got. usually not much. and as i see the hours stretching out, like right now, when i want to be in bed, or writing my thesis, and i'm fucking here, spewing out this shit, well. what can i say. i do want to say i don't do the everyone's equal thing, like responding to everyone equally in turn. i can see that it's courteous. and i like to be well-mannered. (i was about to write well-manned there) (yes, please) however, it just ruins the flow. for me it's an aesthetic thing. a visual thing. nothing more. so don't be offended if i don't point out that your comment was terrif!

with these i just do whatever takes my fancy. this is the freedom i love. whenever i have had to write for work things, it’s always been prescribed, always to a brief. technical writing, for someone like me, is DEATH to the juices that do just flow naturally, if only i let them. as my life has crowded in on me, and i’ve become a groan-up, i don’t have the opportunity to work on my own creative babies. they are tucked away, and haven’t been brought out for several years. but i will return to them. in the meantime, i can write what i like here. or pretty much what i like.

talking about other people
once i wrote here about a friend whose husband was having an affair. i haven’t updated this, because it’s very personal. there have been major developments, but i haven’t gone there. i tried to be careful about identity. anyone who knows the people concerned reading this would work it out easily. my reason for talking about it in the first place was as way to vent my angst. certainly not to hurt her in any way. but if she knew it was here in public, it would hurt her to the core. should i remove it? i feel it’s buried now, in my archives. and no one will find it. but still it is my one concern. what do you think?

i'm thinking i should change the gigi's name to frou frou or bijoux or chi chi. she is the only one whose name has appeared truthfully.

before i started my blog i told my boyfriend. i felt it would be somehow a betrayal to write here without him knowing. i had looked at a couple of blogs, and they were so intimate, so free. i felt this was something i couldn’t keep from him, so i told him. he established a couple of blog personas and i’d be surprised if none of you have twigged. i’ve thought about starting another one, one where absolutely no one knows who i am, and then i can write down my deepest, darkest thoughts. but i am enjoying this warm family, right here, as melbournegirl, and so will not stray to the dark side. if i do, i’ll let you all know. ha.

at first i told also my brother and sister about this. we are close as a family and i thought i wouldn’t be writing anything that i wouldn’t want them to know. anything that my boyfriend can read, they can too. but as time went on, and i knew they hadn’t bothered to look it up (originally i wanted them to make a few comments as strangers, so i wouldn’t look like a total no-comment loser) then my content started to become a little freer, i have to admit. though i wouldn’t care that much if they read what i write, i admit that knowing that no one who knows me, other than my most intimate partner reads it, is liberating.

i feel i’ve learnt a lot. in the beginning, i would stick my nose in to places where it didn’t belong. i have learnt some restraint, and will delete written comments before posting them.

i have only ever once commented anonymously, and that was on the blog of a dickhead (no i won't link him here, he doesn't deserve any traffic) who was basically bragging about his real/imagined conquests. it was terribly hateful and misogynistic. him, not my comments. i knew he would be the type to play nasty, and so i didn’t want to lead him back to melbournegirl.

but back to the anonymouses
are you mice? are you chicken? what is is that makes you be an anonymous? i would love to know your motivations and your reasons for having no identity.

and why are we all here?

i'd also love to know how many people read this blog, beyond the people who comment. i don’t hold with all the fancy-schmancy technology counter type things where i can check who’s visisted. or their urls. or their isps blah de blah. i want to do this the old-fashioned way.

can everyone reading this please say so, if you are a regular reader, please just indicate. or an occasional reader. or any reader. or commenter. anonymously is fine. you don’t need to comment on the content, just a hand up is fine.

[takes off sociologist hat and goes to bed to read nw]

ps. i would like to say that ms fits was the site that i broke my cherry on [comme une vrai americaine.] what a site to start at. what a precedent. any other cherries to be offered would be most appreciated too.

* hello there!


BEVIS said...

Hello. I have never been to this blogsite before. What is a blog? How does it work? Who are you and what is a 'gigi'?


Um, ha! Yes. I, er, ... I try not to, er ... comment too much either. Er ...


Yeahhhhh ...

[sheepish grin]

[runs away, embarrassed]

[runs back quickly]

I feel like I've been politely reprimanded, but that's OK. I know you love me. :) I read your blog every day. I can't afford the time to check everyone's blog every day, but yours is one of the eight or so that have this 'honour'.

And I will continue to do so, even though you didn't mention me by name in this post and I am greatly offended and might do something drastic and I'm only kidding so you can stop rolling your eyes.

[takes deep breath]

Whoa, that was a long sentence.

I'm rambling again, so I'm going now.

PS - Or maybe not just yet.

[twiddles thumbs]

Also, I agree that people should use realistic bio pics of themselves, just like I do.

[runs away again, still kinda embarrassed]

Christine said...

Very interesting,as u wanna know i just came to your blog using tat random button on d top....Btw u forgot to mention abt a group of ppl using d same name....Like us lol

Clokeeeey! said...

Yep, read it all.

I vote for frou frou.

I suggest you switch off anon comments if they piss you off, I'd be concerned if you wake up and the first thing you think about is anon commenters.

Essentially, I want to be entertained. The posts have to be interesting and a topic I can relate to. eg Bevis and the TV stuff. Other sports blogs (but these are rare).

Sometimes the banter within the comments can make it entertaining, but you have to be drawn in, in the first place.

Pomgirl said...


i am an occasional reader (my, doesn't that sound flattering?)and came across your blog after doing a search for Melbourne blogs.
thought your comments were interesting, they made me think about the whole blogging thing and what I like in a blog/why I read certain ones etc.

Decided that I am probably just nosy.


Gianluca Di Milano said...

I'm agree melbourne girl. Why there are so many peoples in england, usa, austria etc with the name anonymous. In Italy is similar with Paulo or Stefano or Tatty Roger. May peoples are have this name. Also is intresting you was say your boyfriend is make some blogs wiht the pretend name. I'm think is the voice of your unconscous that is want that I am your boyfriend, no? xx

Sarlaughalot said...

I like reading witty blogs that aren't too long. And are strong. You know, full of searing emotion, honesty, good art that invites you in. I have the attention span of a stapler.

Sarlaughalot said...

I like reading witty blogs that aren't too long. And are strong. You know, full of searing emotion, honesty, good art that invites you in. I have the attention span of a stapler.

Sarlaughalot said...

I like reading witty blogs that aren't too long. And are strong. You know, full of searing emotion, honesty, good art that invites you in. I have the attention span of a stapler.

Sarlaughalot said...

I also like to repeat myself. Be my own dopplganger. Fuck up. Unco you know. Big time.

fluffy said...

Long time reader, 18th time commenter. (No I didn't count - just a guess). To be perfectly honest (and I rarely am), I wondered immediately 'Is this a reaction to Cotton's post?' and therefore a questioning of why we blog and the question of whether there is a responsibility to your readers. No answers, all opinions valid.

Interesting what you say about a "scent". The funny thing about meeting the people you associate with on the blogs is that suddenly the physical scent overrides the intellectual one and you find you just can't speak to the blogger/commenter in question like you could in a blog/comments context. Very weird. Of course it can happen the other way as well; you are drawn to people you didn't pay much attention to blogwise. Ironically you then get a sense of the way we're biological animals at the whim of our instincts. Who would have thought! Us highly evolved technocratic types!

PS it's Fluffyasacat's 1st birthday today :)

Janet said...

Heya petal!
You're on the list of blogs I check daily.
I love the thrill of noticing a new post. I love that they can vary in tone and length. I love that I feel I have an extended community, whom have access to my daily thoughts, yet hardly know me, as there's always experiences that one keeps for themselves.
And yes, I have restricted comments to Bloggers only, it helps to avoid the negative comments one may feel freer sharing without an identity. Especially since my image is there!

Magical_M said...

Yours is one of the first blogs I started reading regularly... I think because of a comment you'd put on Cotton's blog which made me laugh.

Funnily enough the reason I started blogging was because I wanted to comment on something on Cotton's blog, so set up my own, as I didn't want to be 'Anonymous'. There's something about anonymous comments that I don't quite trust, which is why I don't allow them on my blog. Either say what you have to say as 'yourself' or don't say it at all.


That's a really long comment I've just written.

I think I'd better stop now before I get a reputation.

PS - I really enjoy your blog. And I think you're spot on with the scent thing too.

Dxxxx said...

You know I love you MG. I love that you are honest and real and that makes you 'know-able' I guess. I have my 'posse' of blogs that I visit daily and the great thing is that many of them are inter-linked with each other, all commenting on one another's blogs, so it really does feel like a mini-community. I can't remember how I initally found you... i think it was through cottonsox too.....who i got to through rogue...i don't remember where he popped up on the scene (but those early posts where he thought noone was reading - and maybe they weren't - were gold). Anyway, I think my cherry was either MsFits or Knifey... so there ya go...
Anonymouses ??? Who cares if they are offended? Who are they anyway? Precisely, we don't know... if they cared enough they would unmask (even just a little).

So yeah, I'm here pretty much everyday, trolling around the traps for news, gossip, entertainment and connections, wherever they may be found and in whatever form.



Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

Actually there may be a very good and simple reason why people blog anonymously; they mightn't be able to sign up a name on their computer. For a long time I commented anonymously because my computer hated (and still does) the blogger website and wouldn't allow me to sign up a name. I had to use somebody else's computer to eventually do this.

As for why I blog and read other people's blogs, mainly as a way of taking a short break at work; I don't own a computer at home, so I only blog and read blog's at work. Oh, and because I like to be a self-righteous bastard.

MelbourneGirl said...

aleks i take your point, but even if you can't login with a blogger name, you can write "susan" or "derek" or "knightrider" in the text, can you not? i'm not necessarily being altogether damning of anons. just really curious. i can't fathom existing online as an anonymous. i feel my voice is stronger with a pseudonym. it's strange.

i love you all. i really do.

[puts on cheesecloth top and puts hair in plaits]


DJ said...

I read you each and every time you post, but I live by the adage that if you can't say something nice then shut the fuck up. Also that other one - best be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove any doubt. Combined sees me comment less that some of my contemporaries..

And right now my eyes are stinging from watching too much soccer, burying dead relatives (On the Mrs side of the family tree) and probably too much pollen, therefore I'll apply adage #1 from here on in and shut up until I have something meaningful to add.

Gianluca Di Milano said...

sorry for interup but I'm want to say Mr Cleckeeeeeey a question because I'm not can post a coment in his blog. I'm not know why.
Mr Clockeeeey, you are expert in the sports, no. And you are an austrian, no? May be can you explain me. What is croquet? I'm know is a very popular game in your country. is true that the austria was lose to the england and the england was win an ash tray and the england peoples was go craze like they was win the war again? is a true?

BEVIS said...


Great question! Clokeeeey?


LadyCracker said...

Hi there MG, long time reader and regular commenter Ladycracker here. I think you are ace and that was a ripping post. All the questions I ask myself about blogging are mentioned.

Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

Actually, my computer wouldn't even allow me to even me to write in a name. So if a lot of people have a crappy old Mac they may be in a similar situation.

Dxxxx said...

Aleks, surely if you can write an anon comment such as
"yo, you suck", then you can write
"yo, you suck. Love dickhead/George/whatever name of pseudonym you choose"

No matter what sort of crappy computer you have, if you can write a comment, you can sign it off. The end.

sublime-ation said...

oh damn I want to give a long thought out comment, v interesting post loved it but French boyf. here wants to use the computer...will come back soon!

Riss said...

My other half started blogging a while back, but then he has about fifty different websites on the go and I have trouble keeping up with them all. (I think he does as well.)

I created my blog identity when BEVIS started blogging so that, like magical_m, I could comment as a blogger. The blogsite led on from there.

I've had websites in the past but they were tiresome to maintain when I had to write all the HTML myself so this is a lot easier to update.

I started checking your blog after reading some of your comments on BEVIS' blog and I've linked to you as someone I like to read on a regular basis.

I may not comment often because I have limited time (hence my blogging is sporadic) or get interrupted (as I do some of this at work).

I also like your outlook, your wordiness, down-to-earth-ed-ness, randomness, and other words ending in -ness.

I also love that you call your Princess, Princess.


Anonymous said...

Hey there Melbourne Girl. Believe it or not, yours is usually the first blog I visit on my rounds. Though I rarely comment as I get kind of shy around people that seem to have a far stronger blog-bond than we share.

As for why I blog? I always liked the idea of having a diary, but thought that it was a waste of time if no-one was ever going to read it. Also, I'm one of those retiring-exhibitionist types and this gives me a chance to feel the warm glow of other peoples attention without having to face them in an actual real social situation.

Uh oh.

This comment is making me look like some kind of nerd. Ummm... I started reading blogs cuz I reckon it's an awesome way to meet chicks and shit.

ps. Perhaps you could call Gigi Dog-Dog? Or something like Turtle? Very post-modern. So 'in' right now.

Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

Yes Dxxxx, but anybody can then use "your name". Did you think about that? In these circumstances I would rather be still totally anonymous than have somebody co-opt "my name."

Which brings me to a something I was thinking about when I initially read this post, but decided not to initially say, but your "the end" Dxxxx has made me realise how true it is. If you desperately want to know the identity of a commenter, then there is an option; don't allow anonymous comments. It is thus slightly hypocritcal to allow anonymous commenting and then criticise people who do it.

What is scary however is that John Howard's scare-mongering seems to be working; this "distrust" of anonymous commenters is irrational and has an undertone of xenophobia about it; a fear of the unknown. What follows next; an "outing" of anonymous commenters?

Clokeeeey! said...

Hey Gianluca, I can't understand why you can't comment on my page. How about I post an answer for you about croquet and the ash trays. Check it out in the next couple of days.

elaine said...

hi mg,

regular reader... ok addicted reader.

I leave anonymous comments on because I like to hear what everyone has to say.

I, clearly, didn't have imagination enough to create a pseudonym for myself. I guess another reason is that I would tell people in my life most of the stuff that I write on my blog anyway so anonymity isn't such a big deal for me.

Mostly, I couldn't think of a pseudonym.

Locket said...

melbournegirl, or mumgirl as I may or may not refer to you when you're not around (do the princess and the gigi know they share you?)

I come by everytime I'm on the lappy. As I've said before, you are like family.

I actually started another blog to share my deepest darkest secrets. I wrote one post and all these strangers commented on it and weirded me out, so I bailed.

gun street girl said...

I really enjoy your blog, but don't comment because I seldom feel that I have anything substantial to say.
I don't come here often but I'm always glad when I do, you write in such an acessable way that reading it is like having a conversation with an old friend {very familiar I mean, not ancient}. Anyway, good work.
Gold star!

sublime-ation said...

ok I've thought about it and Frenchy is out buying me cheese and baguettes so I have time : I hate anonymous commentators when they are troll- like nasty commentors. I don't care if they say something nice or interesting anonomously. I think it can be kinda wussy to leave anon comments that are nasty or to stir up trouble.
I read your blog along with 8 or so others everyday...is cool...
As to why I blog see Surlyboy haha retiring-exhibitionist: me to!

Tuppence said...

I comment when I have something to contribute (such as news of the Neighbours survey - get thee to the website, quick!).

I still love reading blogs, though. I may not always comment, but I do read them.

Except when I have exams. Like the one tomorrow. Eep. I really should go and do some work.

PS - I vote for Chi Chi.

BEVIS said...

I comment early; I comment often. And I comment a lot.

Just like how I vote.

And how I ejaculate.


I think you've gone AWOL, and I hope you're doing okay.

I answered your comments in my post entitled "My Addiction - Part 2" the other day, including posting a link I thought you'd be interested in, but so far ... nothing.

Maybe you read it and weren't impressed enough to comment. That's possible, I guess. But the way you were going on about it beforehand, I expected something.

So that leads me to assume that you haven't been back, and your status over here tends to add weight to that assumption.

Hope you're all good. I look forward to reading a new post from you here, and I trust you'll read my comments in Part 2 on my blog when you can.

Peace. (And apologies for that earlier gag. It was tasteless.)

Ewww ...

Gianluca Di Milano said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Interesting ... you've addressed the points about the anonymous masses , but to me the more perplexing issue is those people who do not allow comments from anonymous writers. I mean, what the fuck is that about? Is your opinion only truly worthy if you too eat at the high table of bloggers inc. As if the world of blogging isn't incestuous enough
already. The thing was always meant to be about a world without geographical boundaries, so why is every blogger I come across from Melbourne, Australia. I've recently come across bloggers using their page to invite each other to their barbies? Is that not just a complete contadiction of all blogging stands for? Don't you have phones in Australia? I concede that many people only allow comments from other bloggers to avoid those horrible "hey you've got a really nice site, check out mine" junk posts, but I can't help feeling others do it out of a fear that they may be mercilessly attacked and have no way to trace and take revenge on that fucker who dared to question their artistic pretentions. Anon (Gianluca's older brother)

Chai said...

Technically speaking, if you have commented before non-anonymously, and the comment anonymously (order of events not important), there is fighting chance you can work out who it is (assuming you have access to the weblogs and have a bit of free time).
I blog for myself but it sort of got out of hand.
I comment because of some personality flaw.

Justine said...

I'm anon when I want to tell them something, but I don't want them to come visit me. I was scrolling through blogs the other day and came across one with a picture of a woman bound and gagged in the boot/trunk of a car.

It was generally a blog about sexual fantasies, and did anyone have a problem with this photo? (Like if you hav to fucken ask...)

I commented: told them about someone I knew who this had happened to.

I wouldn't want them particularly
to come visit my blog, although I also wanted to identify my blog self so they'd know the story was genuine.

Justine said...

and as for my 'photo' (painting), i knew as soon as I saw it it was what I wanted. I identify with it, although I neither have persian rugs in my house, nor a tambourine, nor colourful flowing garments. mustha been a previous life as a middle eastern musician.

Russell Allen said...

I don't get the anon thing either. On my blog I don't get many anons as it is not Blogger driven. If they want to be anon they still have to be arsed to type it in.

I also spend time just following links so I find some cool obscure ones from iceland or something

MelbourneGirl said...

wow everyone

here amst i

have been busy, but now am reading all this wonderful stuff

i want to respond to a few commenters, but thanks to everyone for making the effort

fluffy - you asked whether this posting was a response to cotton's recent one? i actually started this earlier, before that happened. but i think cotton's response to my bagging him, ie his statement of why he blogs, just reinforced my interest. wondering why we all do it. and how people make comments. it's something i've been thinking about for ages actually, and i had wondered about how some sites gets heaps of anon commenters, and others not many (ie mine)

thanks to people who voted re the gigi. i think she might now be henceforth known as chi chi. because she is a bit large to be a frou frou. i don't know, chi chi is pretty petite?

about dj's point, not saying anything if you can't say something nice. i guess i generally agree with this, ie i don't like to be nasty and stir people up without reason. but at the same time, i don't like complacency and too much yessing. i like to have some sort of texture.

i like the idea of the retiring exhibitionist, surly. i am one of those too i think.

aleks about your equating anon commenters with xenophobia. that's a bit of a stretch. i welcome the different, just have a fucking name is what i say. not swearing at you aleks, just being emphatic here. because for me it's mostly about engagement and connections, and i can't do that with an anon. to me there is something sinister about the anons, beyond any sort of technological "incompetence."

BEVIS you make me laugh. will be over to yours soon to read up.

anon - older bro of gianluca. what you say about the supposed boundary-less world of blogging. humans can't do that. so while we can "talk" across the oceans, and sometimes it takes a while to work out whether you are from milan or melbourne, we still have the urge to huddle into our clusters of ghettos. and as for us austrians and bbqs, well we just have to get the word out however we can sometimes.

Swifty said...

I doubt if you'll find a "psychology" of why people prefer to remain anonymous. At a guess, I would say the reasons are too varied, and unrelated. Nevertheless it's good fun speculating, especially when the "culprit" is a flamer - obviously single, unloved, under-acheived, and possessing either a tiny penis, or a dried-up vagina.

On a personal note, I always comment openly. Prior to having a site of my own I used to leave some means of "redress" for the site's author, usually an email address. But I'm not about to get self-righteous about this, it's just me. I spent too many years of my life unsure of my identity to want to go back again. Now I'm tenaciously holding on to who I am.

I find it interesting that this topic of "anonymity" seems to be a perennial in the Blogosphere. Time and time again, it's written about in depth. And each time I see it, I feel compelled to offer my three-penneth. Which leads me to think we ought to be looking at why we blog, and why we get so concerned, wasting time and energy trying to fathom out the minds of a relatively small group of "faceless people".

In my estimation all bloggers crave readers and approval. I have no doubt about that. I take with a pinch of salt assertions to the contrary. Anyone who wants to write purely for themselves can do it simply by keeping a journal in a Word document. Why go to the trouble to open a blog account? It's bullshit to claim otherwise.

This approval, this quest for the public gaze can only be accomplished in a social situation (obviously). And 'social' is the operative word in the blogsohpere. So the bottom line is, we have to do a little work, putting ourselves about the blogosphere, doing our rounds so to speak, if we wish to maintain a modest readership. Nobody is so good their posts, and their post's alone, pull in the punters. We're all, to a degree, sycophantic. But isn't this the way it works in the 'real world'? We have to oil the social wheels in order to get the validation we require. And in my case, and probably for a lot of others, this has to come from "real", fleshed out people. By this I mean someone who has a blog of their own, who has a history, personal opinions, a personality. If they're anonymous they have none of these things, and I find it unsettling to say the least.

So to cut this overlong comment short, it will suffice to say, as bloggers we're naricssistic and needy, so anonymity drives us to distraction.

For your records, I'm an occasional reader and commentor. I'll probably drop in again.