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Is It Really the "Anonymity"?

So I was reading IWTBF today, and saw the post about Movers and Shakers (which I know I’ll never be because I don’t like to move and I never shake). For some reason, I clicked through to the list, to see who some of these M&Ss have been. One of the names is Gene Ambaum, the, um, "anonymous" (or, for those of you not so sloppy in your use of language, pseudonymous) co-author of Unshelved. Funny how I never see anyone protesting about the "anonymous" writer of Unshelved. No, that "anonymity" never seems to bother anyone. Very curious, indeed, since librarians have been carping for a long time that it’s the so-called "anonymity" of the AL that bothers them so much. Uh huh.

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Comments

  1. confused says:

    So not only do the same haters read AL every day despite all the issues they have with it, they also don’t seem to have much grasp of the English language. Since when do the comments shared by the poster above represent a ‘clear and open mind’? Are these people under the impression that LJ will read the comments and stop the blog? Please, they finally have people coming to their site every day.

  2. AL says:

    I fear your readers may be even more confused, because there is no comment above you. Unfortunately, since moving to LJ, I’ve picked up a much lower class of critic, the kind who are incapable of, for example, reading 1500 words at a time. I welcome criticism and will be happy to respond, but from now on any commenters who have absolutely nothing of substance or wit to say, will probably be deleted. “Haters” are fine. Stupid and irrelevant comments are not. If you have a substantive criticism, please leave it. But if you’re incapable of coming up with anything more intelligent than comments of the “plz rit short u suk” variety, I’m afraid you’ll have to find another blog to haunt.

  3. sometimes annoyed says:

    People don’t complain about Ambaum because Unshelved never criticizes particular librarians. It might be that some critics focus on the anonymity when they mean to criticize something else, but pointing that out doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem with what you do.

  4. The Dave says:

    Anonymous, you are confused. It is her blog, not yours. It is no different than any other site that is “moderated” (or is that a new take on censorship too?). You can go and blog all you want, and no one will censor you, not, at least, until the fairness doctrine returns and is applied to the internet…

    I look at the web less and less because of the kind of useless comments and vitriol I have to wade through. I’m glad she is moderating the stupid semi-literate textspeak of the “plz u suck” variety — which more and more serves to reduce all of us to the level of 6th graders. (are we soon to devolve to communicating with pictograms?)

    Censorship?

    Hardly. I call it good customer service for her readership, which you have the choice not to be a part of if you feel you’re being repressed…

  5. AL says:

    Sorry, The Dave, I’ve already deleted that comment. Anyone who claims that moderating irrelevant comments on my own blog is “censorship” is obviously an idiot and deserves to be deleted. They can start their own anti-AL blog, and as long as the government doesn’t suppress it, it’s not “censorship.”

    As for “sometimes annoyed,” just what is the problem with what I do? Point out the silliness around me? Ridicule the ridiculous. I’m not sure I’ve ever criticized any particular people, only the writings they put out into the public domain. If someone wants to publish silly ideas, they deserve to be mocked.

  6. hotlanta says:

    The AL said: “as long as the government doesn’t suppress it, it’s not censorship.”

    So the government has to be involved in order for something to be labelled censorship?

  7. AL says:

    By George, I think you’ve got it!

  8. anonymous says:

    And we won’t ever know what you’ve deleted or whether it is relevant or not if you don’t tell us. Sweet.

  9. anonymous says:

    “Sorry, The Dave, I’ve already deleted that comment.”

    The comment you deleted only noted that you are censoring messages on your new blog. How long do you think you’ll get away with that?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Hey AL = do you want WANT to be nominated as a mover and shaker? Just say the word and I will nominate you. Who is on the M&S selection committee?

  11. Forever Anon says:

    The gist of the comment that The Dave was referring to was that censorship was going on at LJ. First, why delete a comment that, in all fairness, should have stayed? (I know, you’ll tell me life isn’t fair, it’s your blog and you can do what you want, etc.) But, this argument over what censorship is or isn’t goes on all the time, almost in every post or at least in the comment section. Are you going to delete every comment like that? Also, I don’t remember many instances of you deleting comments on your old blog. At least none that were possibly relevant, no matter if you agreed with the comment or not. I’ve noticed you “patrolling” the comments more frequently. Is that an LJ requirement, or is that you settling in to the new place? While it is nice to have you comment, one of the things I liked most about your old blog was that the comments could just play out and we would see you pop in every now and then. Now, it seems like you have a comeback for every single detractor. On the defensive? (And no, I’m not a detractor. I love the blog and enjoy it.)

  12. hotlanta says:

    Censorship doesn’t require government involvement. The AL is currently censoring her detractors by removing their comments and I don’t think she is employed by a governmental organization.

  13. patronly says:

    Remember the title of AL’s second post – Some Censorship is Good – why shouldn’t that apply to blogs as well?

  14. AL says:

    Except, obviously, I’m not “censoring” my detractors. I’m moderating the comments section because of the low and irrelevant quality of a lot of the comments. That does go on, if you didn’t know. The AL is one of the few library blogs that lets anonymous people rant. Detract on, but if your detraction doesn’t rise above the level of “i don’t like you you suck,” then you’ll be deleted. If you have anything intelligent or relevant to add to the discussion, it will stay. One could only call that censorship if one has the expansive and almost incoherent definition of the ALA. I guess many of you do. It’s an indefensible position, but I’m sure it makes you feel better.

  15. librarydude says:

    Since the definition of “intelligent or relevant” varies greatly, you are therefore choosing to remove comments that don’t fall within your definition but might fall within others. That is censorship in a nutshell.

  16. Morse says:

    I’m not sure I like the idea of deleting comments, but I do think the AL has a point. Any comment that could be addressed by the response, “so if you don’t like it, don’t read it,” is probably an irrelevant comment. Last week, especially, there seemed to be several commenters who weren’t even reading, but were coming only to leave comments along the lines of, “i don’t like this.” That’s not a criticism or a detraction, merely an expression that commenters emotional state. Also, since when is the widespread practice of moderating comments on blogs considered “censorship”? So if spam is deleted, is that “censorship”? I don’t know what the deleted comments said, but if they didn’t say much more than “i don’t like you” and have nothing to do with the content of the post, are they much above the level of spam? Comments like that are a way of stopping conversation, not contributing to it. Speaking of, it looks like almost none of the comments have to do with the content of the post. Another typical diversion in the comments section of the AL.

  17. longtimereader says:

    does it ever occur to anyone that the al does this stuff just to get you frothing? she’s only predictable in her unpredictability.

  18. anonymous says:

    I would say at this point, there is frothing on both ends.

  19. Forever Anon says:

    I know AL probably has to deal with a ton of spam. I do know that goes on in blogs. I’m not an idiot or novice to blogging. But spam and the really irrelevant comments are one thing. The censorship comment, at least in my view, didn’t fall in this category. But, hey, it’s not my blog. It’s AL’s, or should I say, Library Journal’s. I just find it amusing that the comment attacked Library Journal and it was deleted. I don’t mean just a criticism of them hosting AL’s blog, but a censorship criticism. Do I agree with that comment? No, but I don’t think it should have been deleted. AL, you opened up the possibility of the censorship comparison by talking of comment moderation. Surely you know your audience enough to know some would pounce on that as censorship. I think the commenting has declined drastically since your blog move, so do what you need to in order to make it better. I hate the “plz writ shrtr” comments too.

  20. anon nun says:

    Silencing the critics is indeed one of the benefits of censorship.

  21. AL says:

    Deleting the yahoos is indeed one of the benefits of moderation.

  22. Happily Anonymous says:

    I for one have noticed a number of spam comments along the lines of ‘global warming is a myth’ and other totally irrelevant weirdnesses whilst I have been commenting myself, although they may have been deleted since the advent of moderation, so I can see the potential need for moderation. I for one am also sick to death of the ‘ooh I hate this blog’ and ‘oh no she is anonymous’ and ‘don’t write such long posts’ comments, so I can’t say i’ll miss them if they are deleted.

  23. Happily Anonymous says:

    And in relation to the actual post, I have long thought that it was largely the fact that they didn’t like what the AL was saying that made them carp on about the ‘anonymity’ issue. That and of course that the AL periodically does discuss specific writings which leads some to get antsy about the theoretical difference in footing regarding some pseudonymous person criticising someone who has put their name to their work. I would hope that being a pseudonymous entity would allow the AL to deal entirely with the content of these works but sadly it leads some to get all caught up with the idea that they don’t know what her qualifications etc are instead of looking at what she is actually saying. Add into the mix that this is a satirical blog and some people lose their heads entirely. Apparently some people just can’t understand the idea that not every word every written was done so with earnest intent and represented as unassailable truth. The AL is meant to generate thought and discussion, not be quotable as though it came from the mouth of deity.

  24. Dan Kleinman of SafeLibraries.org says:

    The AL cuts out some comments under the circumstances she describes and she is berated and called a censor.

    Contrast the AL with the Free Range Librarian [KGS]. KGS has a blog post entitled, “Join Me in Voting Early for Obama!” She says, “On October 20 I’m going to vote for Barack Obama, exercising my right to vote early in Florida.” I asked a simple question about Mickey Mouse being registered to vote in Florida, entirely relevant to the post subject, and KGS makes one of the most vicious attacks on me I have ever seen. I responded online to that attack but KGS just cut it right out. Gone. She gets to make what may be defamatory statements, then gets to cut out my detailed response to the defamation.

    Compare and contrast the AL’s claimed censorship with KGS’s removal of my response to her possibly defamatory statements. I’ll republish my response here if requested.

    Why is “censorship” by the KGS’s in the world okay but not by the AL’s in the world? Isn’t that part of what the AL writes about and perhaps why she gets attacked?

  25. Mr. Kat says:

    If people could just focus on the issues and stop with the schoolyard bickering, then maybe they won’t get deleted.

    One of the first rules I learned about using the internet is that you never use your real name. this rule may seem silly to those with little knowledge abotu the real world, but out here anonymity and pseudo anonymity is direly necessary to protect one’s position and person.

    The fact of the matter is that while we believe in freedom and the freedom of thought, there is a very large contingency that believes that freedom is the freedom to think like them. And those people who do not think like them are to be singled out, ostracized, and reduced as much as possible to minimize their impact on intellectual freedom.

    Some people will demand a name so that the person’s name will come up on a random Google search in connection to the controversial posts. This is an automatic black X in our current professional world. Further, by knowing a name people have a target for attack.
    Other’s will demand a place of employment – not so they can judge the quality of the person, but rather so they can run off to the employer with an email or a call about how their employee is blogging on company time, or how their employee engages in thoughts that are not congruent to how the company thinks. In short, the goal is to reduce the commentor as much as possible as an effort to change their mind by showing them what happens to people who Think Wrong.

    So I can understand why AL is Pseudo Anonymous. Such action is very necessary for personal defense, and I fully support such a stance. Maybe someday we will be able to say anything we want without fear of retribution, but then again, I think that day may neve come, and if it does, it will be very short indeed.

  26. hotlanta says:

    The day will be short, as in less than 24 hours?

  27. Kat says:

    A short day is a quick day, and has nothing to do with the hours – but rather how those hours pass. Then again, it may have to do with the hours, if the day indeed ends at 1 PM, which sometimes workdays DO end at 1:00PM!! My Bank’s Saturday is very short, for example, I once wondered why they even go in!! So the point of the matter is, the day will be short. As in quick. A blink of the eye. It will pass far too soon. I hope you get the point by now.

  28. hotlanta says:

    So when the day comes that we can say anything without fear of retribution, that day will end quickly? That doesn’t make any sense.

  29. Kat says:

    Sure it does. The day will end quickly. You will be able to say anything without retribution for only a little while, and then the day will end. Because all the time after that, you will have to fear that everything you say will be used against you. And in short, the Day will be over. Expressions and figurative language seem to go a bit over your head…

  30. hotlanta says:

    So why do you assume that this period of free speech will end after one short day? If the forces against free speech are so strong to keep it from lasting more than one short day, then we would never attain free speech in the first place. And try to make a comment without adding an insult. Or are you practicing retribution?

  31. Mr. Kat says:

    Oh no, I was practicing restraint. It confounds me how this short day could be such an issue. I assume that this day of truely free speech will be very short because it will end quickly once free speech is openly practiced by all. The forces against open free speech are strong already, but if they rested enough to completley allow open free speech to occur, it would be only a moment’s time before people would relearn the ethics fo the schoolyard, AKAm how to use your speech against you all over again. In a shorter amount of time, new rules would go into effect defining what and when free speech is allowed and who may speak it and what may be said without fear of retribution. My retribution was a polite request to sit back a bit and analyze this statement yourself a while longer. This thought process may be futile, however, if your mind is only filled with one way to think about things. So sit back and think about it: How might the day in which Free Speech is finally practiced without fear of retribution by every single human prematurely end? You are aware that this country is not original, no? Before this country there was its ugly big brother, presided over by The Articles of Confederation. That ended. The U.S. Constitution can still end too. There are no definitive answers to these queries, truth be told!

  32. hotlanta says:

    It will take longer than one day to end the Constitution.

  33. annoyed more often then not says:

    I’m not allowed to post the link to the Movers and Shakers nomination page, so let’s try this:

    http://www.libraryjournal.com/info/CA606274.html

    Given that the AL “works” for LJ, however, I think it would be a conflict of interest for the AL to be nominated and/or win.

  34. Privateer6 says:

    in reference to a breif period of free speach, just remember that Chairman Mao allowed ”

  35. Privateer6 says:

    WOW I need to save what I type as LJ just lost the bulk of my comment. I stated that Mao allowed free speach for a period before the Cultural Revolution. Basically this allowed him to fid the ‘dissidents” and destroy them in the Cultural Revolution.

  36. Privateer6 says:

    I also stated that people will go out of their way to destroy people whot ehy disagree with, so it very important to keep your identy private. Look at david Durant who published a letter on conservative librarians and the blog he had. There were others as well who were attacked publically and had letters sent to their employers demanding the termination of employment. And these were from people who suppsoedly supported freedom of speech.

  37. enough already! says:

    Oh my God, are we whining about anonymity and censorship AGAIN? I am so bored of these topics! Can’t anyone find something new to be annoyed about?

  38. soren faust says:

    enough already, why don’t you suggest something to discuss since you seem to be the one whining the loudest?

  39. enough already says:

    Public libraries that resemble prisons, with their cinderblock walls, harsh flourescent lighting, and industrial grade carpet of an indeterminate color. Why do they look like this? Was this the fashion when the libraries were built, and the atrocity was never undone? Or did the person heading up the interior design committee just have a penchant for correctional facilities? Discuss.

  40. jmo, mls says:

    Public libraries look like mental hospitals for a variety of reasons. One of them, obviously, is to make the patrons feel right at home.

    Colors and carpets are dingy like that in most places because it helps camouflage the dirt that doesn’t get cleaned up nearly often enough.

  41. jmo, mls says:

    *I asked a simple question about Mickey Mouse being registered to vote in Florida, entirely relevant to the post subject, and KGS makes one of the most vicious attacks on me I have ever seen. *

    The internet–becoming a vast series of tiny echo chambers, one deleted blog comment at a time!

  42. soren faust says:

    jmo, in light of your critique of the public, I suggest we take it a step further and recommend ridding the public library of the undesirables you describe; however it must be accomplished, so be it.

  43. Alaska Hottie says:

    Is this satire, sarcasm, parody, or allegory?

  44. anonymous says:

    So, we see “global warming is a myth” still up, a note from AL that moderating the yahoos is a joy of life, and the only confirmed deletion to date is a post from “anonymous” commenting merely that AL posted in the one of the comments that “..from now on any commenters who have absolutely nothing of substance or wit to say, will probably be deleted” and that might just be, according to any number of dictionary-supported definitions, censorship. Yet we have the unfortunately not pseudonymous Safe Libraries along with the overly loquacious Kat rambling on off-topic and relatively untrammeled.It’s pretty clear what AL thinks is censorship and what AL thinks is moderation.

  45. AL says:

    Global warming? What are you talking about?

  46. Kat says:

    That Yellow Global warming banner would have been your indicator that AL simply hadn’t viewed the comments section in a while – or at least, since it was posted. Notice it is gone now.

    And I am quitre trammeled here. First, there is that nasty little 7,000 character limit. But that one pales in comparison trammel power of the LJ Blog Addin. Type in the three letters, hit submit, and your post EVAPORATES! Absolutely frustrating.

    If you can’t tell already, one of my hobbies is sharing human experience and pursuing intellectual analysis – that is, sitting around and discussing important and even trivial aspects of humanity.

    You cannot accomplish that if all you do is read the blog, shout “HAH YOU STINK!” or “RIGHT ON MAN!” and then do whatever it is that you one-liners do all day. I haven’t figured it out yet, to be honest. I work all day, but I still have time to write…well, loquaciously!!!

  47. Kat says:

    [darm LJ Blog Apllication...]

    You cannot accomplish that if all you do is read the blog, shout “HAH YOU STINK!” or “RIGHT ON MAN!” and then do whatever it is that you one-liners do all day. I haven’t figured it out yet, to be honest. I work all day, but I still have time to write…well, loquaciously!!!

  48. bluebelle says:

    AL, go back to your own blog. LJ has “issues” of its own, declining circ., one-sided or uniformed journalism, strange commentors with deluded opinions, etc. No need to sully yourself. The martinis are probably warm and the glasses full of fingerprints. The advertisements don’t even lead to valid websites. Too weird. Bad vibes. Get out now, please. You’re needed at home.

  49. jmo, mls says:

    *soren faust commented:

    jmo, in light of your critique of the public,*

    Soren, you need to work on your reading comprehension. I did not critique “the public”. I did imply, however, that public library patrons trend towards the mentally ill. Anyone who has ever worked at a public library can confirm this.

  50. Anonymous says:

    I’m sure people tracking comments will be puzzled by the number of deletions that have taken place. They might also wonder what those messages you have deleted contain. They might be suprised to learn that some of them are legitimate, on topic comments that reflect directly on the topic and do not violate any forum posting guidelines save disagreement with the host.

  51. AL says:

    Oh yes, “I’m sure”! No “on topic” comments have been deleted, and several off-topic comments have been retained, such as yours. Perhaps you would care to leave a topical comment sometime. It would be a nice change.

  52. Anonymous says:

    The topic for this particular thread, which you devised and published, is anonymity and censorship, and you posted in an early clarification of the topic you developed that you would delete messages based on certain unspecified (other than you might not like it) criteria. You have now deleted at least two messages that were directly reflective of these topics you introduced including one that addressed the issue of your definition of censorship and one that directly addressed comments you made about what would be deleted and what wouldn’t. If you don’t want to see comments about censorship and anonymity, relevance and your curious ideas about them, then don’t publish columns reflecting those subjects and invite feedback.

  53. AL says:

    The topic of the post was anonymity. Perhaps you should reread.

  54. Anonymous says:

    re: The topic of the post was anonymity. Perhaps you should reread.<< The topic of your riposte reprised censorship. Perhaps you should reread.

  55. Anonymous says:

    Of course, if you continue to change history with selective deletes, we’ll never really know what the topics and issues really are. Oops, nevermind. Emily Litella would be proud

  56. Kat says:

    Anonymous, before you blame anyone fore censorship, take a good look at what you post right after you post it – becasue LJ is rather fiesty when it comes to actually positing the content. It’s not the humans, it the code.

    In other news, why be so concerend with what was deleted? Let it go and discuss what is left to discuss, becasue if I see right there is one long blog and over 55 comments still here. So that means there’s PLENTY to still discuss!!!

  57. soren faust says:

    jmo, I work in an urban public library and know that a small percentage of the patrons are mentally ill, however a large percentage of the patrons are not. I suppose my response to your comment is due to the fact that whenever the public library is mentioned it’s made out to be a haven for the scum of the earth and no normal citizen uses it anymore. That’s simply not my experience. Of course, there may be public libraries whose sole population served is the mentally ill. In that case, perhaps they do need to build a sanitorium style library, which really means, that the mentally ill really need to be re-institutionalized.

  58. jmo, mls says:

    * whenever the public library is mentioned it’s made out to be a haven for the scum of the earth and no normal citizen uses it anymore. That’s simply not my experience.*

    Small side-question: Do people who consistently argue with you about 20 cents worth of overdue fines–until they are literally blue in the face–count as mentally ill?

  59. soren faust says:

    Sadly, the 20 cents person does not have the excuse of mental illness. I’d like to call him insane; but really, he’s an arsehole and they are a dime a dozen. Luckily, I work in a library that is big enough where I don’t have to interface with people concerning their debts. However, I can imagine that in a smaller public library or in one of our branches, for instance, that it would be just another one of the irritating issues that I’d have to deal with.

    There’s no doubt that working a public library can be challenging, especially in regards to the wide variety of personalities one faces. Still, even if I don’t stay in this for the rest of my working life (which, being a librarian, is probably until I die) I think the experience with the public on this level has been nothing but fascinating. I would say that working with the public is certainly not for everyone; maybe I’m a masochist.

  60. mc213 says:

    What I don’t understand is why people get so offended by other people’s comments. Why does it matter who is criticizing your work or your profession? If it was a man in a suit would it be more valid than a sweatpants-wearing fellow? A name and a face mean nothing. The ideas are there, should be free, and as some of you mentioned, the majority of things on the internet are written by people who never use their real name to begin with. It’s egos getting hurt, plain and simple. But the profession is not about us. It is about the user. How can we best help the user? How can we best serve them? How can we help ourselves to help them?–but not about how we can just help ourselves. We need to stop thinking about ourselves and how we can get ahead and focus that energy on how we can improve the institution where we are and the users we serve.

  61. librarydude says:

    My local public library is full of users, that’s for sure.

  62. anonymous says:

    re: Anonymous, before you blame anyone fore censorship< <


    For pity’s sake, get a spell checker and review grammar before posting. At some point, even AL is going to have a word with you.

    As for the rest of your comment, how would you know what was deleted if deleted messages simply disappear? Trust me, they’re gone.

    And one more thing — people really don’t much like cheerleaders. Some people like AL and some people like cogent detractors (even if AL doesn’t think they’re particularly cogent). It’s why LJ decided to spiff AL for recycled posts.

    But cheerleaders are just, well, lame. Wordy cheerleaders are even lamer and should consider whether the host really didn’t cover it sufficiently in the top blog. Sorry, but you need to know.

  63. Mr.Kat says:

    mc213, there are some people who prefer political assassination to intellectual debate because for one, it’s easier and because two they are good at it.

    Sacrificial Selfless Service is a mark of socialism, and in a capitalist society such thinking will get yourself lost or forgotten. I do believe this is one place where librarinship has gone ary: we expect the librarians to completely sacrifice themselves in the process. Librarians themselves go one step further by contributing to the support of the selfless, nameless role. As nice as this unflavored entity may seem, it’s an inhuman role.

    anonyous, I can work on it. Some days are better then others. In the meanwhile, I only ask that you spend a little time thinking creatively and can come up with a name for yourself that separates you from the unwashed masses.

  64. elderlibrarian says:

    Dear AL

    Life is not fair.