Brian Edwards follow-up

So, I’ve ventured forth once more into the comments at Brian Edwards’ post, where much amusement may be had at Pete George wanking on about his perma-ban at The Standard.

Brian, in response to many comments along the same lines as my own, has this to say:

I said in the blog that if someone commenting on a post had reason to fear that giving their real name could lead to them, their families or associates suffering distress or harm, then it was entirely resonable for them to use an alias. I’ve now repeated that half a dozen times in reply to comments citing examples of discrimination by employers, various authorities or the state.

Fair enough, I suppose.  But this only begs one question for me:  um, what the fuck were you complaining about then, Brian?

It seems that, post posto, Brian and various commenters want to now act like “the problem” is the abusiveness, the trolling, the unconstructive shit that I know we’ve all seen derailing comment threads since the dawn of net-time.

But that’s not what Brian Edwards blogged about.

Brian Edwards said:

But, whatever my faults, I have at least always put my name to my opinions.

the commonest reason for not putting one’s name to one’s opinions is … cowardice.

But [anonymous commenting on blogs] is, in my submission, a democracy of the gutless whose commonest weapon is abuse hurled from behind the ramparts of their anonymity.

More contemptible by far than the anonymous correspondent is the anonymous blogger, particularly in a democracy like New Zealand

A few brave souls write under their real names.

If that post – and by all means go read the whole thing to establish I’m not quoting out of context, that’s the joy of links – is about anything other than “anonymous* bloggers are gutless cowards” I implore some helpful commenter – anonymous or otherwise – to explain exactly how.

So here’s the upshot:  Brian Edwards totally doesn’t think all anonymity is bad, he totally understands that some people have good reasons for remaining anonymous (or, you know, PSEUDONYMOUS).

He just thinks he gets to be the person who decides whether or not your reasons are good enough, because obviously, as an anonymous coward, you can’t be trusted to have made that decision for yourself or anything.

So, everyone, please line up by Mr Edwards’ desk to out yourself and justify your previous use of a cowardly, contemptible pseudonym.  He’ll let you know if your own reasons for your own choices are valid.  He’s a respectable old white heterosexual middle-class dude who writes under his real name, you know.


There’s another theme emerging, which Farrar helpfully parrots:  that pseudonymous bloggers are less polite, less restrained, less rational.  I merely refer that entire argument to Wh*l* O*l.




  1. Pete George

    If you read the comments on Edwards’ post properly (or commented honestly about them) you would see that it was lprent who wanked about his banning prowess. At 21:42:
    “Ah PG. Another unsatisfied person permanently banned from The Standard.”

    Are you claiming that the Wh*l* O*l defence excuses anything and everything?

    • QoT

      HOW DOES READING WORK. HOW DOES BABBY MAKE POINT. (Seriously, people, I’ve been graced with a Pete George comment. Screw reaching 150,000 pageviews, I’m in the big time now!)

  2. Rhinocrates

    I’ve now repeated that half a dozen times in reply to comments citing examples of discrimination by employers, various authorities or the state.

    My God (OK, I know it hates being called that), the hypocrisy and downright dishonesty of the man! In his initial post, it’s only justifiable if those powers are totalitarian regimes, then he calls the suggestion that people might suffer discrimination “absurd” and glibly declares that taking legal action for unfair treatment in the workplace is easy, then he unpleasantly attacks and dismisses a woman who relates her experience of abuse when she used a name that identified her as female… and now supposedly he’s always been on their side and still irritated that the filthy, ungrateful and bad-mannered peasants dare to contradict him.

    • QoT

      Of course, he would never criticised justified things! Only unjustified things! So reading what Brian actually, you know, wrote, and make assumptions on the basis of that is TOTALLY UNFAIR. Also apparently my reaction is that of a “cornered rat” according to The Grand Doctor Edwards on Twitter.

  3. weka


    Edwards obviously hasn’t thought about the issues if one isn’t famous. If I go to his blog and start posting as Jane Smith, how the hell would anyone know if that was my real name or not? And if I didn’t share any personal, RL information, surely with a name like that I could be just as rude as if I was called tr*ll602. Or is Edwards suggesting that along with a name we have to provide a RL ID?

    The other point, which is obvious to anyone who has spent time communicating on the internets, is that trolling, abusiveness, whatever, is under the control of the person who owns the blog, not the commenters. If the owner wants to let it be a free for all, then they generally find that they don’t have a very good commentariat. Which is why most blogs have a comments policy (including Edwards’ blog itself).

    I hang out at places on the internet where the overwhelming norm is pseudonyms, and the behaviour is mostly very polite. I also hang out at places like the Standard, where likewise most people use pseudonyms, because I value the more robust debate that comes with a culture that isn’t afraid of rudeness. The point being, pseudonymity isn’t the crucial factor. A good comments policy and moderation process is.

    If Edwards thinks the internet is a bastion of bad behaviour he needs to start looking at the people who own blogs, not the people who comment on them.

    btw, Edwards, and some other commentators, look like they’re speaking well outside of their experience.

    • weka

      ooops, unfinished thought there… Has Edwards spent much time in the blogosphere or wider internet outside his own blog? Because he comes across as someone who has found the cool toy to play with and doesn’t realise that other people have been playing with it for years and know a hell of a more about how it works than he does.

      • QoT

        Exactly. His assumption that there may be “a” Trevor Kingswood who objects to someone using that name is a case in point. There are lots of people on the internet, Brian, and many of them have the same “real” name.

  4. V (verbscape)

    “Well, I think your anonymous comment demonstrates my point very well, since it is characterised by rudeness and abuse and contains no argument of any sort. I think we can do without you, peterpaysan.”

    …I’m pretty sure Brian doesn’t actually know what ‘anonymous’ means.

      • Rhinocrates

        I’m also led to wonder how much use Edwards is to his clients as a media trainer if he makes it so public that he’d rather complain about how the world is versus how it “should” be instead of advising on how they should work in that changing environment. Surely the first rule of PR is “Never act as if the world is as you would want it to be, instead act as it is.” If he can’t say that, then he’s of no worth to his clients.