March 20, 2008

Some thoughts on Pseudonyms

Simon Vincent   posted 28 Jun 2007, 09:55 AM / edited 28 Jun 2007, 10:04 AM

I have been an avid viewer of this site since its inception and have been distressed to note its increasing degeneration into name-calling and cowardly attacks on both reviewers and productions. I believe this is largely aided by people being able to hide behind pseudonyms.

I believe theatre is the pursuit of truth, practitioners sometimes don’t succeed but in every case in undertaking it, they put themselves on the line, I’m talking about writers, actors, directors, technical people, producers, publicists, reviewers and funders. They have beliefs about whether the play should be funded, how the play should be staged and marketed, how the set should be lit, how the character should be played, and in the case of the reviewer: whether the play achieved these goals. These practitioners stand up for these beliefs in the face of public opinion and there is no way they can hide because in every case they put their name to their work.

Anyone is entitled to their opinion about the work these practitioners do, it is a subjective artform after all, but all I ask is that the contributors to this site show a similar level of heroism by simply putting their names to their statements. Then this site might fulfil its potential and become a forum for the pursuit of truth undertaken by people who show respect for each other and the artform they are commenting on.

Paul McLaughlin               posted 28 Jun 2007, 01:09 PM

I couldn’t agree more Simon. Bring on the comments, be they good or bad; but if you’re gonna have a go at us have the guts to back your thoughts with your real name.

stephen gallagher            posted 28 Jun 2007, 01:11 PM


t opiate                posted 28 Jun 2007, 02:01 PM / edited 28 Jun 2007, 02:02 PM

Well, here I am posting under a fake name, and defending the practice. Sure, theatre is the search for truth, but to argue that truth cannot be found in anything other than full disclosure just ain’t cutting it with me. Everything (with a few exceptions so rare and few they’re not worth considering) we see on stage is a simulacrum of the truth, a construct that aims to represent, not to become, a truth.

I don’t think it is a prerequisite for honesty to use your real name. I mean, Bob Dylan doesn’t. I advocate choice in the matter of pseudonyms (obviously), and another reason for this is that the damn ‘community’ is so small. Using false names can give people involved more freedom to discuss things; to complain, to skewer, to praise and to lament. I place a higher value on that than the idea that you should have the guts to attach your name to everything you say.

So I’m going to keep posting under ‘t opiate’ for a while, at least as long as it takes for people to work out who I am and reassess my comments in light of that knowledge. (‘Ah, she only said that because…’)

The talk’s the thing, not the talker. I do agree that some posters would serve themselves and the site well by cleaning up their acts.

John Smythe      posted 28 Jun 2007, 03:45 PM / edited 28 Jun 2007, 05:15 PM

To respect (thanks Stephen), may I add empathy please – precisely because “the damn ‘community’ is so small” (thanks ‘t opiate’). ‘Do as you would be done by’ pulsates at the heart of all civilised societies, so why not this one?

Kicking Hollywood ‘stars’ around for sport may seem okay where commentators and their readers see them as manufactured commodities dislocated from reality, but that’s not how it is in the NZ theatre community. Thank goodness. 

While I agree people should therefore have no fear of posting under their real names, I confess I do use the odd pseudonym occasionally, either to focus on the issue and keep my name out of it or to exercise a viewpoint I may not necessarily be fully convinced of, but which could contribute to the debate at hand.

Playwrights invent characters for similar purposes so it seems legitimate here – and as in most dramas, written, devised or improvised, such characters may expect to be treated according to their deserts.

“God’s bodikins, man, much better!” quoth Hamlet, regarding the Players (whom he describes as “the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time”). “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.”

Now there’s a thought!

Never Me            posted 28 Jun 2007, 03:46 PM / edited 28 Jun 2007, 08:05 PM

I fully agree with all points, t opiate. The only other theatre site I keep an eye on, the Guardian theatre blog, never uses pseudonyms (at least it doesn’t look like it) and what’s good enough for them is good enough for me; and they have great discussions. (E.g. ) Why bother arguing about it? People have all sorts of reasons for preferring anonymity – one of them being the bagging that Thomas La Hood has been getting for ‘having the guts’ to use his real name! You can’t police it, so just ignore it, and respect everybody’s post whatever they call themselves.

P             posted 1 Jul 2007, 12:44 AM / edited 1 Jul 2007, 12:45 AM

Sometimes people might not want to put their name to something because they are shy and indecisive and will worry about it for weeks later.  That’s just the way some people such as me are.

I agree that people shouldn’t be cowards and take potshots, though I don’t think it has actually happened on here yet.

Never me            posted 1 Jul 2007, 07:58 AM / edited 1 Jul 2007, 07:58 AM

Damn – previous post I (of course) meant “ALWAYS” uses pseudonyms, not “never”!

nik smythe          posted 3 Jul 2007, 07:59 PM

i’m not above pseudonyms, and if i was more fashion conscious i would probably always use them, as i do on the couple of other forums i have engaged in where it is more common practice. but i’m generally egotistical enough to want people to know it’s me offering the gems of wisdom that my posts invariably are. given there will be no ruling on this practice, at least i hope not since ‘too many rules spoil the troth’ (that’s mine you can keep it), the most significant point raised in the infamous ‘who owns devised theatre’ thread is that our discussions are best held at face value. while some decorum is essential (in defence of John’s occasions to call foul on people’s levels of abuse), if the only way you can defend your argument is to complain about people’s lack of diplomacy or anonymity or what have you, then you need to reassess the strength of said argument.

Zia          posted 3 Jul 2007, 08:53 PM

(So convoluted Nik!) I would like to know if there are other people out there like me who are regularly startled to find postings they thought were harmlessly witty and entertaining described as ‘abuse’ and ‘invective’? I really think that much of the stuff deemed offensive (usually by those who want to ban pseudonyms!) is just simply really funny, not intended to hurt, and we shouldn’ t be so thin skinned.

So convoluted Nik’          posted 3 Jul 2007, 09:35 PM

essentially i agree. of course, whether or not something is in fact funny is another issue that can’t really be policed, just debated. most people here aren’t looking to offend or be offended, and anyone who is that’s pretty much their problem. the question of john’s mediation isn’t the mooted topic here, but i happen to respect his integrity. i don’t always agree with his decisions, and of course he’s open to being challenged, but i know his decisions are always to all intents and purposes professional… not that he’s paid or anything.

Polly A posted 3 Jul 2007, 10:10 PM

Personally I find Nik’s posts “witty and entertaining”, not to mention intelligent and perceptive. There’s clearly a brain at work there. Don’t be put off by ‘Zia’, Nik – it’s either past her bed time or past the last drink that’s mushed her tiny mind somewhat. (Oooh isn’t it fun being bitchy, secure in the knowledge she is not one to take offence!)

Jamie     posted 3 Jul 2007, 10:54 PM

Naughty Polly! You’ve gone off your medication again, haven’t you!

Zia          posted 3 Jul 2007, 11:03 PM

But Nik, John is one of the worst – he seems to take offence more easily than most and often with little reason in my view. I get worried sometimes that he thinks people are getting at him when it seems quite clear to me that they aren’t, not really.

nik smythe          posted 4 Jul 2007, 11:31 AM / edited 4 Jul 2007, 11:32 AM

firstly, i wasn’t put off by Zia and i agree that the issue of undue censorship is one to discuss. his/her observation of my convolutedness is just that, an observation. a truism if you will, for what it’s worth. secondly, i maintain that john’s mediation is considered and professional, not reactionary and defensive. i imagine he can’t be too worried about couching his words so as to prove this is the case; that would be more defensive. but if you disagree perhaps you’d like the job? while the suggestion has been mooted to ban pseudonyms, you will find that john has, whilst challenging the cowardice of certain particularly vitriolic punter(s), has actually consistently spoken in defence of the right itself. he was the first to point it out, but has never once stated any intention to even consider a ban.

Dane Giraud       posted 31 Jul 2007, 01:25 PM / edited 31 Jul 2007, 05:55 PM      

I am always suspect of actors and directors who get up in arms about such matters. To call for such transparency is another way of saying “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all…”  We do not have the right to challenge criticism. When writers, actors and directors start to challenge criticism our craft disintegrates. We start to hate the audience. We start to call them stupid. I say harden up. We all get slammed on occasion. It’s funny. Don’t cry about it. It’s only theatre…

[This has provoked a new Forum called ‘Should criticism be challenged?’

Aaron Alexander              posted 15 Aug 2007, 09:30 AM

Interesting thoughts Simon.

While I’ve read reviews on the site frequently, I’m new to the forum itself, so can’t comment on the tone of posts. But in terms of pseudonyms, I could go either way, truth be told. On one hand, there is a level of honesty enabled by the use of pseudonyms. If my honest reaction to a show you were in (hypothetical, naturally), was that it was dull, dumb and a waste of my time, I’m going to disguise that truth when posting it, if indeed I post it at all, in order to preserve my relationship with you. So if you’re after a pure pursuit of truth, then real names are counter-productive.

On the other hand, using pseudonyms can also allow people to be unnecessarily nasty, and make comments they aren’t prepared to back up, safe, as you say, behind their wall.

Fact is, I fully intended to register under a pseudonym – as that’s just habit when joining internet forums – but was surprised when I found the site didn’t use my entered ‘username’ next to my posts!! Ah, well, I’m happy, on balance, to be myself. I think the community is small enough to make it worthwhile.

To each his own, but be civil.

Lou         posted 15 Aug 2007, 12:38 PM

Aaron wants people to ‘be civil’ but personally I don’ t care how people behave – if they want to be angry and insulting I don’t mind, I enjoy looking behind the bluster and teasing out the real concerns. It’s just good that people have a go at expressing themselves, and saying what they really think, especially in an industry where hardly anyone does (TWO Toi students at last count!?) The most tedious thing is when people avoid addressing the point and get personal, such a waste of time. The second most tedious thing is when people tell people how to behave – e.g. ‘be civil’. Just let people be whatever they want, let’s just get their views however they want to present them, there’s all sorts of discussion cultures out there.

Aaron Alexander              posted 15 Aug 2007, 01:34 PM

Lou, by ‘civil’ I mean simply don’t let it get personal. Attack the post, not the poster. Express yourself however you see fit. Just don’t expect bluster, anger and insults to make arguments more convincing. Quite the opposite, as far as I’m concerned.

Lou         posted 15 Aug 2007, 02:18 PM

Aaron totally agree; but let’s just give those who can’t express themselves easily a break, is all I’m saying. They may have very good points behind what others regard as ‘incivility’ and we’re the poorer if we don’t make the effort to hunt for them. Let’s not get sidetracked by getting wussy about people’s ‘manners’.

John Smythe      posted 15 Aug 2007, 05:42 PM / edited 15 Aug 2007, 09:57 PM 

Just to point out, Aaron, you can overwrite your name with a nom-de-web as you post a reply (just don’t use someone else’s real name or it will all be deleted).  We’ve put a message to that effect in the Comments dilague box – and I’ve asked Emily to add it to the Forum dialogue too.  Thanks for alerting us to it.  That said, it’s good to know that’s you who is adding value to the various streams …

Dane Giraud       posted 16 Aug 2007, 09:01 AM / edited 16 Aug 2007, 12:07 PM

“Be civil” and by that you mean “don’t be personal”… I’m sorry, but it cannot be anything other than personal. How can you comment on an actor who uses their voice, body and psychology as their trade tools without being personal? How can you comment on a writer who uses their fears. concerns, fantasies without being personal? And so on and so on…

“Just don’t expect bluster, anger and insults to make arguments more convincing.”

What is this? The Oprah Winfrey show!

Where is it written in the book of life that bluster, anger and insults can’t make a point? 

Lou         posted 16 Aug 2007, 09:48 AM

Agree Dane entirely with your last remark (“Where is it written in the book of life that bluster, anger and insults can’t make a point? “) but not with your first. It IS possible to make an entirely professional appraisal of an actor’s performance without being remotely personal. This doesn’t mean that you won’t be ACCUSED of being personal of course; by those criticised, and by those who disagree with you. It’s easier for people to do this than to engage in a mature discussion of your views. Actors feel less hurt, and professional critics less humiliated, if they can dismiss your critique by claiming you have some personal agenda!

Thirsty Boots      posted 16 Aug 2007, 10:56 AM

… and the best current example of that can be found in the comments for the ‘Second Take’ of Falling Petals on the Lumiere site.

Aaron Alexander              posted 16 Aug 2007, 11:16 AM / edited 16 Aug 2007, 12:06 PM

Dane, the only point bluster, anger and insults make to me is that someone is speaking from their emotions. And in a discussion context I just don’t find emotional venting convincing, is all. I’m not laying down some law from the ‘Book of Life’ or however you put it, I’m just giving my opinion. As I said, you should feel free to express yourself however you see fit.

And yes, the ‘personal’ thing; surely you can see the difference between saying ‘Sorry Actor X your show left me cold when I thought I was supposed to be emotionally connected to the story, and to be honest, I found you hard to understand on the night I went,’ and saying ‘ Hey, Actor X! Your play sucked and so did you. You sounded like a retard. Are you a retard?’

But hey, free speech ‘n’ all. Say what you want and handle the consequences.

Dane Giraud       posted 16 Aug 2007, 12:49 PM / edited 16 Aug 2007, 12:53 PM

I assume that you are saying that speaking from ones emotions is less worthy than speaking from the intellect but don’t we want to affect people on an emotional level? Isn’t the emotional response what we are after? Don’t we want to make people froth at the mouth? Don’t we want people spitting venom after watching a production, or weeping, or laughing? We are so concerned with protecting our feelings and our little patch that we have put up all these checks and balances on how we can be criticised. A sincere person wouldn’t care. I really believe that.

Aaron Alexander              posted 16 Aug 2007, 01:17 PM / edited 16 Aug 2007, 01:18 PM

That’s a big assumption to make! What I’m saying is that personally, if someone can’t channel their emotional response through civil rational English, but instead rants and raves, they stand less chance of bringing me around to their point of view. That’s just me.

If they want to share their emotional response to something with me – fantastic! I’m as excited by people’s gut reactions to things as the next guy. It’s the difference between a sharing discussion and an argument.

I mean if you come straight from a performance and write a post about it, it’s bound to be full of the emotions the show has generated, and naturally that’s as worthy as it gets. But that’s different to wading into a discussion on some industry issue and exploding with righteous anger all over it. Sure, if you just want to let everyone know that this issue pisses you off – mission accomplished. If you want to change people’s minds, well, I for one, might be a bit put off your argument if it’s full of emotional rhetoric. Again: just a personal thing.

I’m sorry if I’m labouring the point, but it seems like you misunderstood me.

And actually, this has probably got a little off topic now. Sorry.

Lopez    posted 16 Aug 2007, 01:30 PM

This is so refreshing! There’ve been far too many presbyterian ex headmasters on this site telling us to behave or else! rapping people over the knuckles and declaiming sour little lists of what we can and can’t do; refusing to listen to us or take us seriously unless we do things their way. So I agree, let’s have a little more respect for the exuberant, frothing, passionate comments please!

who? who who who?     posted 23 Aug 2007, 12:26 PM

it’s all down to intention innit.

you can post forums to contribute to an engaged topic of discussion, with the intention of expanding the horizons of the discourse and enriching everyone’s perspectives on the issue.

or you can post forums to indulge spite, cut down tall poppies and generally impose your bullyish personality, with the intention of trying to crap up the efforts of someone or ones whom you’ve decided you don’t like.

and you can do either of those with or without a pseudonym.

and ultimately, only the poster themselves will really know which of these intentions their comments fit with the most.

Kelly Kilgour       posted 27 Aug 2007, 02:10 PM / edited 27 Aug 2007, 02:13 PM

Hey Simon, I’m a first time poster. 🙂 You’ve caused some constructive debate which lets face it, is always healthy. Some good points have already been established from both sides, but I’d like to add this. The fact that people feel the need to use a pseudonym is disappointing. It’s nevertheless a reflection of the small and guarded community of artists we live in. The theatre community has a maximum of three degrees of separation so why would you want to antagonize the same people you may eventually work with, or could be working with now. So I understand the motivation to use a pseudonym, as people inevitably are reluctant to rock the boat. Smart practitioners will naturally shrug off criticism, no matter how it’s intended and take what they can from it for next time. Yet someone may write a scathing post that maintains valid criticism, and if you or your friends are on the receiving end of it, you can’t tell me a part of you won’t grow a wee bit defensive. Perhaps casting your eye a little more disparagingly the next time you see them. And this has a ripple effect. People want to express themselves but don’t want to be condemned for doing so. Naturally I’m not talking about the losers who log in just to make character assassinations. Although I sympathise with those who feel the need, I personally find the act of using a pseudonym a cowardly one. If artists are brave enough to express themselves in a public forum, that demands the same respect in return; especially if your comments are also in the public forum. Sometimes all a person has is their name. Pseudonym users don’t even have that. So I ask you, what kind of person are they? It is kind of amusing though, thinking of them sitting there for hours trying to come up with a cool and witty name to sign in with. Like they are some kind of superhero or something. You’re not Batman guys, hiding behind your little pseudonym mask thinking you can make a difference. Although I don’t blame you. Cause Batman is way cooler than you probably are. Chur. Kelly Kilgour

Billy Pilborough                 posted 27 Aug 2007, 02:34 PM

Congrats Kelly Kilgour, you seem to have managed to agree with everybody at once – perhaps wise in this small guarded community as you say. However, as a consequence, I can’t help thinking that had you used a pseudonym you would have been a lot less mealymouthed. Personally I’m far more interested in your honestly expressed opinions than in who you are; I’m far more wary of opinions posted under a real name than those under a pseudonym. Let’s live in the world of bravely expressed ideas for a bit, and stop demanding identities!

Dane Giraud       posted 27 Aug 2007, 03:36 PM

I agree

Kelly Kilgour       posted 27 Aug 2007, 05:16 PM / edited 27 Aug 2007, 07:19 PM

Oh well, you can’t please ’em all. Thanks for your feedback Billy. I find it a little odd that you’d be more wary of opinions posted under a real name than those under a pseudonym. Weird. And although I seemed to have rallied for both sides, I guess that’s because I’m able to view the discussion objectively. The difficulty of this debate and why it’s created so much discussion is that both sides are right. Which only leaves opinion, and I’ve been happy to make mine very clear. But anyway, your post raised an interesting point for me. It’s important to know the identity of the person making a post because that can inform the reader as to where opinion is coming from and how we receive it. I know, I know, I can hear you already “it shouldn’t matter who is saying it, just what is being said that matters!” However, when someone logs on under an assumed name and says he didn’t find a play funny etc, that’s taken at face value. But if we know that he’s an 85 year old man, we understand that he may not have been the target audience and are therefore better informed by where his thoughts are coming from. I’m not saying that he wouldn’t be able to provide constructive criticism. But knowing the source of information helps us to make informed and regarded judgements on the feedback we receive. We’re a strange breed and everyone brings something different to the table, meaning our identity informs our opinions and expression of ideas. All I’m saying is, let it inform us (the reader) as well. I know not everyone’s going to come on and give their vital statistics before every post, but I think a name is the least we can do. But I do understand for some people it’s a confidence thing too.

wet ones              posted 27 Aug 2007, 07:10 PM  

I’ve got an opinion. Billy pilborough is an idiot!! And umm.. he poo’s his pants…. and um… lives with his mum who monitors his comments while he plays on the computer and helps him spell big words. Would you rather i used my real name or not when it gets personal? Does it make you wary??

Billy        posted 27 Aug 2007, 07:55 PM

Yep and I agree with you, but we can have that sort of exchange every day, knowing who each other is and taking that into account, etc. But a site like this (esp in such a small community) offers the possibilities of a different exchange, where we can speak up without risk of damaging working relationships etc. as you said earlier. Sure, we also don’t have some basic info that might inform our response, but we don’t bring prejudices to the table either! Different potential; and potentially very valuable I think.

John Smythe      posted 27 Aug 2007, 09:45 PM

What really interests me here is that ‘Billy’ posts via the same email as ‘Richard M.T.’, ‘Anon’, ‘Never Me’ and ‘AL’, to name but a few of his 37-odd pseudonyms, and I conclude he is one and the same person. In his latest bursts of invective he calls Pig Hunt an “abhorrent excuse for a play” and castigates the actors for choosing to be in it, calls The Venetian Bride “tedious and dated”, and castigates BATS for putting both of them on, and he calls my reviews in general “fawning”, “limp” and “craven”.

Now, I assert he has not seen the above-named productions, that his statements therefore lack credibility and that his claim that pseudonyms allow for greater honesty is deeply hollow. Please, one or some of you, correct me if I’m wrong. I sincerely hope I am.

Watson                posted 27 Aug 2007, 10:10 PM / edited 27 Aug 2007, 10:11 PM

So what you’re saying Holmes is that pseudonyms are perfectly valid for all the good reasons discussed throughout these boards and beyond, but we need to take heed that some people – this: Richard ‘Billy’ M.T aka, aka Anon, aka Never Me aka AL ak etc, for instance, – are just greasy stinky odious little monsters bullying innocent billygoats from under a public bridge?

Dane Giraud       posted 28 Aug 2007, 10:37 AM

John. Why are you asserting he has not seen the productions? This seemed to me a strange comment.

John Smythe      posted 28 Aug 2007, 12:58 PM / edited 28 Aug 2007, 01:02 PM

I have very good reason to believe he has not seen them, Dane, and it goes to the credibility of his comments. His silence so far in response to my challenge seems to suggest I am right – although I would rather not be.

BP           posted 28 Aug 2007, 04:08 PM

Thanks Dane – yes, very strange, I agree.

Sam Snedden    posted 28 Aug 2007, 06:43 PM

Dear John

If someone is abusing the forums to simply take the piss can’t you just boot them?  If you are sure  that they are crapping on plays they have not seen it seem like a reasonable course of action don’t you think?

John Smythe      posted 28 Aug 2007, 07:00 PM / edited 20 Mar 2008, 10:14 PM

Thanks, Sam.  I think the views expressed are sincere, or a sincere attempt to stir and provoke, and now I also think they come with – or from – an agenda that allows the contributor to rationalise they are entitled to judge, even in absentia.

I have only just gained the capacity to discover their source. And yes, if my assertion is right, there is definitely an integrity issue.  Even so, I am loath to start moderating in a way that borders on censorship …

Still thinking it through. What do others think?

ask anyone         posted 28 Aug 2007, 07:08 PM

it would be perfectly standard internet forum site mediation procedure to block him.

Kelly Kilgour       posted 28 Aug 2007, 10:34 PM / edited 28 Aug 2007, 10:44 PM

It would be a disappointing and unfortunate precedent to set John. Besides, don’t underestimate the audience. I think the majority of people that monitor this forum are educated enough to distinguish between genuine and ignorant feedback. If someone lacks credibility like you say, people will figure that out. Who knows, perhaps there’s a mild sense of satisfaction lingering throughout the industry watching you receive a few serves? (Kidding John) All I’m saying is sometimes discussion can arise from the strangest of sources. Personally I’d prefer you named and shamed if you were to do anything, but I suppose that may go against the trust of people signing on that use pseudonyms and you would lose some valuable contributors. Also there may be legality issues. However, doesn’t banning someone because they raise a few hairs go against the core ideology of a public forum? I understand certain behaviour and decorum should be expected, so I wouldn’t blame you if you took action. But its not hard for someone so inclined, to set up a new email and log back in under new – and hopefully improved – pseudonym. Good luck with your decision.

Dane Giraud       posted 29 Aug 2007, 11:27 AM / edited 29 Aug 2007, 01:12 PM

I’m blown away by this. Were the comments he made that strong? Look, even if the guy was being provocative he hasn’t pulled these terms (fawning) (limp) out of the air. He must have at least thought the review pointed in that direction. I haven’t seen the play so I can’t qualify the review but it sounds to me this guy (or gal!) is an opinionated person who would like others to be just as strong in their views. A lot of it is provocative – sure – I can see that – but it’s not without some merit.

I think it would be a shame to start banning people John. That’s my two cents anyway… 

Sam Snedden    posted 29 Aug 2007, 11:31 AM / edited 29 Aug 2007, 01:11 PM

Having your work bagged, and i speak from experience, is uncomfortable to say the least but it can also be helpful and push you in the right direction.  However, posting comments on things that you have not seen is not provocative, clever or likely to incite worthwhile debate, it is thoughtless and malicious. Boot the bastard.

Dane Giraud       posted 29 Aug 2007, 02:08 PM  

Yes, but there is no proof here he didn’t see it is there? I thought that was an assumption…

Sam Snedden    posted 29 Aug 2007, 02:51 PM

My understanding is that it was based on deduction, which is a different thing altogether…

John Smythe      posted 29 Aug 2007, 03:26 PM

All I can say categorically is this: 37-odd noms-de-web have been tracked back to the one membership log-on.  But I cannot be certain that just one person has been the author of all the comments thus posted. Meanwhile ‘moral dilemma’ is one of my favourite theatrical elements so I can’t say I’m not enjoying all this.

Oliver Driver       posted 5 Sep 2007, 08:09 PM

Surely the actions of Mr/Mrs 37 names prove the point that using a false name or names allow for abuse of a site like this. For all we know you are reading conversations and arguments between the same person. I personally have no interest in what the anonymous have to say and never read any comments from anyone on this site who cannot or will not put a name to them.

t opiate                posted 5 Sep 2007, 08:55 PM

Fair enough, ‘Oliver Driver’, if that is your real name…

Oliver Driver       posted 5 Sep 2007, 09:06 PM

Damn, you whoever you are, your short reply meant that i accidentally read it!

Milky     posted 14 Sep 2007, 05:16 PM

I wish I could say what a really think sometimes but because of the nature of my job, I simply can’t.

I find this difficult because I have been involved in theatre for waaaaay longer than I have been doing this job but because of what the job entails, I would risk serious professional repercussions for speaking my mind.

So, if I want a serious discussion based on fact and truth – incongruously and ironically – I have to use a pseudonym, otherwise I can only really trot out the party line.

And I don’t think quitting my job so I can write under my real name is the answer…

I did a study on website forums at Uni and I can categorically say that some people want to argue and some people want to discuss issues which are important to them and as with ANY community, online communities have the ability to oust/exclude/IGNORE members who don’t meaningfully contribute to that community.

If someone says something stupid, just ignore them, if they say something that stirs you to respond, isn’t that good, regardless of whether the instigator actually has background on the subject? I mean, in formal debating, people don’t get caught up with the person who has issued the topic do they. It’s the content of the actual debate that is important…isn’t it?

John Smythe      posted 14 Sep 2007, 06:01 PM

All excellent points ‘Milky’. Given the dramatic truism that it is often easier to get to the ‘truth’ via fiction than documentary fact, the same could be true with fictional characters posting comments. I’ve been to many industry forums and symposiums and have often felt they are both badly attended and poorly utilised because of that very fear of speaking out – which really is much less fearsome than it seems.

On the matter of the foreshadowed poll, that’s on hold while the web-techie is crook.  More anon. Meanwhile I will continue to remove posting filed under someone else’s name, be they real or assumed.  Even a fictional character is entitled not to be misrepresented.

Anon     posted 14 Sep 2007, 09:49 PM

What a great point Milky makes. By insisting on ‘real’ names you risk being deprived of the views of some of the most expereinced and involved theatre people, the people most likely to bring informed arguments and important information to this site.

who i say who!?                posted 14 Sep 2007, 10:17 PM

as i said earlier under a similar fake name: it’s all down to intention innit. you can post forums to contribute to an engaged topic of discussion, with the intention of expanding the horizons of the discourse and enriching everyone’s perspectives on the issue. or you can post forums to indulge spite, cut down tall poppies and generally impose your bullyish personality, with the intention of trying to crap up the efforts of someone or ones whom you’ve decided you don’t like. and you can do either of those with or without a pseudonym. and ultimately, only the poster themselves will really know which of these intentions their comments fit with the most.

John Smythe      posted 14 Sep 2007, 10:53 PM / edited 14 Sep 2007, 11:16 PM


The following contributions have been moved from a Forum called ‘Who is fooling who’.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Mick Rose   posted 12 Sep 2007, 03:12 PM / edited 12 Sep 2007, 04:51 PM

John, as many others have suggested (Simon, Paul, Oliver etc. etc.) I reckon it’s high time you ditched the use of pseudonyms for contributors. I know you enjoy the cloak and dagger aspect of working out who’s lurking behind the mask; I don’t – it’s wearisome and continually shifts focus towards the bullshit end of the spectrum.

The quality of debate on the site seems to have slumped and many of your more thoughtful contributors have either decamped or at least no longer bother posting. I can’t see any compelling reasons for anonymous posting in this business. We’re not dealing with issues of grave public safety that require protection for whistle-blowers; the main hazards we face are grandiosity and paranoia. There aren’t any all-controlling oligarchies to be afraid of; by and large we’re free and able to initiate/launch theatrical ventures of our choosing and it’s good to encourage people in that idea and possibility.

While it’s true, sadly, that the most boring posts tend to be written under real names, the nastiest and most venal are almost without exception tucked safely behind pseudonyms. You’ve had too much of that shit on stream recently and I contend that those posts are buggering up the potential for your site. As to your own, late, justification for using pseudonyms – that it allows you to test an opinion that might otherwise not get airtime or to try out an idea that you’re still thrashing out – I reckon that’s absurd. If a viewpoint doesn’t get airtime, it likely that no-one thought it worth the airing and if you’re still thinking about something, that’s fine – breathe again and keep thinking – rather that than we all bear witness to you in conversation with yourself.

Good on ya, still impressed that you took it upon yourself to launch this strange ship, Mick.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

nik smythe   posted 12 Sep 2007, 05:25 PM / edited 13 Sep 2007, 12:05 AM

without encouraging the the pseudonym debate to be dragged into yet another unrelated forum, i prefer face value discussion and as such who’s hedging bets or hiding or whatever behind a nom-de-plume is irrelevant.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

John Smythe   posted 13 Sep 2007, 12:18 AM / edited 13 Sep 2007, 07:39 AM

What can I say, Mick? I’m investigating if there is a way I can insist all members use real names but frankly I doubt it can be done. Meanwhile I am hugely grateful to those who step up to tell the toxins where to get off. And I think there is value in letting this stuff rise to the surface because it is out there whether we like it or not and lancing it is better than letting it fester.

As I have noted before, by far the greatest volume of nasty stuff comes from the one source, whose pseudonyms must exceed 40 now. I have no idea if it is one or a number of people who is/are using this login.

My challenge – and plea – to everyone else is (re)claim the space. Nil illegitimus carborundum!

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

martyn roberts   posted 13 Sep 2007, 09:56 AM

Having abandoned this site for a while due to the turgid members from Whangarei and their shoulder chips I would like to suggest John that you are right on one hand that ‘its good to get this stuff out to the surface’ or whatever but when you are witnessing slander as we see above perhaps you are opening yourself up to being taken to court for libel? Do us all a favour and simply attach the spam filter to the ‘James Clemsons’ of the world as well as the small Members of Whangarei and be done with it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Paul McLaughlin   posted 13 Sep 2007, 10:59 AM

Good thinking Marty, Mick.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Devise & Destroy Theatre   posted 13 Sep 2007, 01:18 PM / edited 13 Sep 2007, 02:12 PM

John – What about having a separate forum where you have to have your email as your nom-de-web. Take out everything after the @. There must be some sort of software that could manage something like that. Keep the other forums going, but have that as an option. Just a thought.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sam Snedden   posted 13 Sep 2007, 11:20 PM / edited 14 Sep 2007, 07:38 AM

Cheers to all who have waded in on the nom-de-web debate. I agree with Mick, Oliver et al. It seems to me that there is an awful lot of backbiting and bullshit that goes on in this business and while it is true that jealousy and envy are probably inevitable by-products of an industry where day in and day out you compete with people you know and love for work, it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m not suggesting that we all sit in a field making daisy chains and singing hymns but a little good will goes a fucking long way. By all means speak openly and honestly, we are all adults and accepting criticism and looking at your own work dispassionately is part of being a professional, but please dont use this site to anonymously vent spleen. It’s unhelpful and it tells us more about you then it does about the work and people you are shitting on

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

John Smythe   posted 14 Sep 2007, 07:48 AM / edited 14 Sep 2007, 10:32 AM

I am working on a credible way of running a members’ poll on the pseudonym question.

Tamati Patuwai                 posted 15 Sep 2007, 09:49 AM / edited 17 Sep 2007, 10:50 AM

Kia Ora John..Phew! I don’t envy your situation. I think it’s a great effort however and I think I understand what you are working towards. I just have one concern though in the latest shifting of posts and commentaries. Your ability to move these korero in such a way has potential to change the initial thread of conversation when you select forums to place them into. This particular change with the Auck scene and Pseudonyms has not done so, however I have to now agree with a previous question: where does it stop? Unless the management is consistent it could be a bit of a runaway train. It does seem to reflect the common problem of many blogging/open forum sites which is that of the ‘saboteurs’. How do we allow for open debate when we feel we have to censor certain approaches? According to what code do we make these decisions? We could just throw our hands up in apathy and leave it up to you. I don’t believe however that you have constructed this site to be an expose’ of your own ideas. Which is what could be perceived if you were to become the ‘law enforcer’ of the korero having the ability to move our contributions around.

If this strategy of censoring and ‘re-aligning’ of conversation works for the purposes of monitoring the site then with respect I would prefer that my comments were deleted completely. This would be so that my ideas or words could not be misconstrued with the selected ‘new’ placements. I am not being pessimistic and do believe things in the forum can be managed and that again you’re doing a good job. Kia Ora for that because this Theatreview forum is very interesting.

I for one am into the open forum and can simply ignore korero as I wish. It is clear that many of you in this Theatreview site are understandably distracted by the threads of certain conversation. How about this for a far flung suggestion?: You may be aware of sites that can only be entered into by invitation. I am familiar with this in terms of certain subjects or interests from particular groups. This is done to ensure that the integrity of the objectives of the site are protected. The public can still view certain aspects of the forum but they cannot enter without invitation. Once inside there is no law enforcer. It is the common understanding and respect amongst known peers that keeps the conversation/contribution on track. Invitation also ensures that the monitoring responsibility is done by the already invited and does not sit on one persons shoulders. This could be a solution for you. I think you could connect it onto this already established Theatreview site.

Let the open korero continue and set up an exclusive (ka pai with me) branch as it suits you.

But once again if the shifting continues and works for you please delete my comments from any such move. Kia Ora John.

John Smythe      posted 17 Sep 2007, 11:23 AM / edited 17 Sep 2007, 05:14 PM  

Kia ora Tamati – and Lizzie. I truly appreciate your thoughtful feedback.

Please be clear I too believe in the ideal of open discussion, warts and all, and I am loath to censor these forums in any way. My interventions have been extremely rare. But the posts in question were arguably libellous. I doubt the ‘joke’ about ‘P’ meaning Palmerston North would stand up as a defence and given this whole site remains an un-funded labour of love paid for by me, I have to reserve the right to protect myself from legal action.

Since the malicious post was the genesis of that whole ‘Who is fooling who?’ forum stream, it made no sense to remove the offending items and leave the others there. Because they address the wider issues of pseudonyms and the state of Auckland theatre, and such forums were already running, I felt it made sense to move them accordingly. By explaining clearly what I had done, I trust I have not misrepresented any contributor. (It certainly seemed fairer than obliterating the entire contents of the forum.)

Rest assured I will not be messing about with people’s freedom of speech in any clandestine way. (We have introduced a spam trap to capture porn site links posted by spam robots, mostly originating in Russia, and from time to time – as with your latest one, Tamati – legitimate posting get caught until I got in and manually release them. We’re working on that but meanwhile I have to say I’m pleased those dodgy links no longer appear.)

Lizzie Broughton               posted 17 Sep 2007, 10:01 PM

Yea, John, respect! One thing, though. I hate to take you up on “messing about with peoples freedom of speech in any clandestine way” but I was talking to Moya Bannermasn last night and said I noticed she’d stopped contributing to the Theatreview Forum and she said she was in fact posting about the use of pseudonyms but her postings were being deleted.

John Smythe      posted 17 Sep 2007, 10:45 PM

Yes well only one person can use a given name, Lizzie, and Moya Bannerman was already a member. I have previously made it clear than when I am made aware that someone is over-writing someone else’s name, that posting will be removed.  Have you voted?

Lizzie Broughton               posted 17 Sep 2007, 11:04 PM

More to the point, has Moya voted? Can you tell us, John?

Anon     posted 17 Sep 2007, 11:32 PM

Yes John, tell us, tell us …

John Smythe      posted 18 Sep 2007, 07:41 AM / edited 18 Sep 2007, 07:42 AM

Given Moya Bannerman is a pseudonym I’m sure we could guess what her vote would be. My vote has been against noms-de-web. I have asked Moya not to vote because a) it would cancel my vote out, and b) she’s not real so morally it would not be right. She agrees.

I trust the umpteen Anons, Tugol et al will not mind that they, too, get only one vote.

Free Speech       posted 19 Sep 2007, 09:43 AM

Wow i’m surprised to see that this little debate has come to a vote!! It seems a rather conservative action to me.

I wonder why we are so fearful of not knowing who said what. If anything  i think it will create earnest and unadventurous posts. I for one am a supporter of pseudonyms purely for the fact that they mean i can provoke a debate about something and not have it become personal. Not have people judge or make assumptions about what i have written because of who i am. But i guess not all posters have this view.

Every other forum site i have been on uses pseudonyms. Why in NZ which is so small, are we often missing the point of them? It’s interesting that in a culture that so rarely speaks it’s mind face to face we get over excited and go too far sometimes when the curtain is down.

Like anything as soon as people try to control such a structure the thing with die because it’s like trying to control people, you can’t if you want the truth.

(And the thing is there is no way to ever stop someone creating an email address and false identity and logging on as that)

t opiate                posted 19 Sep 2007, 10:00 AM

Quite agree. I see the call for the banning of pseudonyms as capitulation to the ‘argument from authority’ fallacy. But this site is a private enterprise, and JS should feel free to lay down the law as he sees fit.

Nic Farra              posted 19 Sep 2007, 10:17 AM / edited 19 Sep 2007, 10:35 AM

Free Speech writes:

I wonder why we are so fearful of not knowing who said what. If anything i think it will create earnest and unadventurous posts.

And what is the fear about knowing who said what? That you may have to stand by your opinion and justify it? That it may not stand up to scrutiny?

I for one am a supporter of pseudonyms purely for the fact that they mean i can provoke a debate about something and not have it become personal. Not have people judge or make assumptions about what i have written because of who i am. But i guess not all posters have this view.

It is the content of a post that will provoke a debate. I tend to look askance at pseudonyms, wondering why the poster needs to hide. I don’t fear things getting personal because I have confidence in myself and my opinions. I can take a challenge, but like you say not all posters have that view. Perhaps they can either remove the pseudonymous jersey if the kitchen becomes too hot, or simply leave!

Every other forum site i have been on uses pseudonyms. Why in NZ which is so small, are we often missing the point of them? It’s interesting that in a culture that so rarely speaks it’s mind face to face we get over excited and go too far sometimes when the curtain is down.

I think encouraging people to speak their minds face to face is a good thing. Surely being honest is nothing to be feared? Stand up, be counted! Are other people’s opinions really so fearsome? I for one don’t see the point of pseudonyms.

Like anything as soon as people try to control such a structure the thing with die because it’s like trying to control people, you can’t if you want the truth.

By all means, let’s have the truth! What is your name, Free Speech? Or does truth have limitations?

(And the thing is there is no way to ever stop someone creating an email address and false identity and logging on as that)

Sounds like so much effort just to have the comforter of a pseud. Why not just take the simplest route? Uses far less energy.

Anyone who thinks that people in theatre get worried about being personal has obviously not spent much time with actors. How many people have witnessed screaming meltdowns in rehearsal rooms? They tend to get a little (say it quietly now)… personal and, believe it or don’t, people know who you are!

t opiate                posted 19 Sep 2007, 11:05 AM / edited 19 Sep 2007, 11:10 AM

Nic F writes…

It is the content of a post that will provoke a debate.

Awesome, so it doesn’t matter who’s saying it eh?

I tend to look askance at pseudonyms, wondering why the poster needs to hide.

Oh, so now you’re reading stuff in to anonymous posts. Just read what the person is saying. Didn’t you just say…? Oh never mind.

I don’t fear things getting personal because I have confidence in myself and my opinions.

Good on you.

 I can take a challenge, but like you say not all posters have that view. Perhaps they can either remove the pseudonymous jersey if the kitchen becomes too hot, or simply leave!

This argument of yours isn’t really logical is it? First you say the content of the post is the important thing, then you say you’re suspicious of people posting under fake names. Now you’re talking about kitchens.

I think encouraging people to speak their minds face to face is a good thing. Surely being honest is nothing to be feared? Stand up, be counted! Are other people’s opinions really so fearsome? I for one don’t see the point of pseudonyms.

OK, don’t use a pseudonym then. But why impose your value system on the rest of us? ‘I think’ indeed. Back it up! Even if it is a good thing, is it requisite? And if it’s not, why regulate? I don’t care who says it, I care what’s said.  I’m not scared of other people’s opinions, in fact I’m commenting on yours at the moment. I don’t think using my real name would turn me in to some sort of hero. If you’re in to the idea of standing up and being counted, fine. But I don’t see this as abelligerent thing. I don’t have to prove anything. I’d like to have a discussion please, and have ideas and comments rise and fall on their own merits. Sure the ‘James Clemsons’ of this world can hide behind pseudonyms, but if the content of their posts are shabby they’ll be exposed.

The only argument I can see being made for compulsory use of real names (which theatre itself hasn’t seen fit to universally adopt, I might add) is that those who already use their real names see the practice as possessing some intrinsic moral worth, and think people like me are cheating in some way. It’s an illogical and petulant stance to maintain.

Ms. Katurian       posted 19 Sep 2007, 11:19 AM / edited 19 Sep 2007, 11:41 AM  

To begin – I can list a number of the leading arts blogs internationally, which all allow pseudonyms and yet don’t seem to fall into the kind of slanging that goes on here.  So, when one variable is eliminated, clearly there is something else at play.  Perhaps the way that many people, locally, have been contributing?  Or the local environment?  I don’t know – all I am meaning to point to is that I don’t believe pseudonyms are in fact the cause so much as a related symptom of something else.

In specific response, watching a discussion take place –


there’s an overarching assumption in your entire post that people use pseudonyms because they are people who lack faith, are somehow immature or lacking in some skill – hence your heat and kitchen metaphor.   Thanks, but I’d welcome you to my argumentative kitchen any time.  You also show a remarkable faith in the value of ‘honesty’ and ‘face to face’ discussion.  Well, taking the metaphor of the rehearsal room, there’s often a lot of ‘personal honesty’ (“I am very angry, I am wanting to be angry and hold up the entire rehearsal to grandstand rather than look for why I might be angry!”) but that whether an exchange is face-to-face and whether it is fruitful are two quite different matters that often, sadly, don’t overlap.  Apply that to the kinds of bitchinesses that happen between actual names and you’ll see there’s no reason for why using your name necessarily leads to anything good.

I’m not, by the way, defending pseudonyms as something that necessarily liberate discussion by some magical property.  Still, I don’t think that using your own name is some wonderful panacea for free, frank and most of all, productive exchange.  So, I would pose the following to people:

1.   This is not a battle between the awful forces of pseudonymous darkness and the remarkably enlightened who use their own names and are so open to new voices and other perspectives and have good, honest, wonderfully informed discussions.  I wish people would stop trying to portray it as such because it’s clearly evident in the postings that this is not the case.

2.  The people who speak most vocally against pseudonyms are often the  ones with some standing in the community.  To put the boot on the foot, how many of them would go out of their way to talk to new practitioners?  If you wish to eliminate new voices here, feel free.   And yes, in free speech, some people have more freedom than others.  If you can’t see why people might be intimidated, maybe you need to at least try to see why they might be: ESPECIALLY if you think it’s silly.  It’s called looking at other people’s perspectives.

3.  Yes, some bilge has been spewed by people using pseudonyms.  And I don’t approve of it.  But I’m sure that you can think of many times when people have, face to face, said things about you that could even be actionable in law.  Gosh, that made for  an honest exchange, and it didn’t even need a computer.

John Smythe      posted 19 Sep 2007, 11:41 AM

You may notice the introduction to the poll in the feature box says “To discourage the use of pseudonyms, it is proposed …”

As has been noted, people could still register under false names, and as many times as they have email addresses.  The proposed changes would simply make it more difficult for individuals to masquerade as multiple personalities in order to give a false impression of widespread opinion.

Not that I have anything against a good masquerade. And role-playing is in our bloods; it lies at the heart of all drama. Personally I remain ambivalent on this question, but a growing number of respected professionals pushed for some action to be taken and I thought, hey, why not give democracy a go?

With the voting running fairly consistently around 80% against noms-de-web (i.e. against overwriting to allow multiple voices from a single source) and 20% for them (i.e. for overwriting …), the pro-pseudonym lobby is going to have to sway many more people to their point of view, and convince them to vote.

Meanwhile thank you all for keeping the discussion alive. It clearly matters.

Mick Rose            posted 19 Sep 2007, 11:56 AM / edited 19 Sep 2007, 01:36 PM

John, I’m struck by how strong the divide is on this question and how little sway arguments from one side of the fence seem to have on those on the other.

This isn’t an ideal solution, and might be technically cumbersome, but following on from Tamati’s suggestion, would it be possible to have two categories of thread: “named” and “all-comers” – the category choice being up to the thread initiator?

That way we’d all know what type of thread we were reading/posting-to and those who are offended by the use of pseudonyms could choose to bypass those threads. It might also give us all the opportunity over time to assess for ourselves which category of thread lends itself better to energetic and creative debate.

t opiate                posted 19 Sep 2007, 12:23 PM

So the proposed change is simply one name per email address? That sounds fine to me. And Mick, thanks for making it down to Dunedin (great job!), but I have to disagree with your classist take on the pseudonym situation.

Aaron Alexander              posted 19 Sep 2007, 12:40 PM

Oh, what a storm in a teacup…

The actions of a few idiots using pseudonyms have riled a lot of people and fired up this debate. Personally, I don’t know why you’d go to the trouble of actively overwriting your name, unless you wanted the freedom to say things you wouldn’t put your name to. But hey, if it floats your boat to give yourself a dj name, whatever…doesn’t really bother me, I’ve decided.

Personally I blame Simon Vincent for bringing up the subject in the first place! 😉

Anon     posted 19 Sep 2007, 03:23 PM

Yes, good idea, lets have a forum called “gossip and pseudonyms” and all the cowardly dregs’ postings can be put there and all the Named and Venerable can range free everywhere else

Free Speech       posted 19 Sep 2007, 03:50 PM

Thank you Ms Katurian for your words ;

To begin – I can list a number of the leading arts blogs internationally, which all allow  and yet don’t seem to fall into the kind of slanging that goes on here.  So, when one variable is eliminated, clearly there is something else at play.  Perhaps the way that many people, locally, have been contributing?  Or the local environment?  I don’t know – all I am meaning to point to is that I don’t believe pseudonyms are in fact the cause so much as a related symptom of something else.

That was what i was trying to say- that i am curious as to why in this culture we cannot have a healthy debate via pseudonyms like most web forums do. What is it that leads some people to abuse it and why are others so offended by it?

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Lets leave the for’s and against’s for a while and think about it on a bigger scale.

John Smythe      posted 19 Sep 2007, 04:14 PM / edited 19 Sep 2007, 04:15 PM

It may help to answer you in part, ‘Free Speech’, if we remind ourselves that the vast majority of offensive postings have come from just one source under 40-odd different pseudonyms (although not all the postings from there have been offensive – in fact one, posted under a real name, would rate as one of the most constructive contributions to date!).

The poll result will not be the only factor in determining any changes that may eventuate from all this. Em (the web-tech) and I are investigating what’s possible based on the various suggestions being made – so keep ’em coming.  (Her time does cost, however, so very time-consuming options are less likely to win the day.)

Meanwhile it occurs to me that live theatre actors are required more and more, these days, to play multiple roles in a given show. And playwrights, of course, have always represented all sides of the arguments. Does this have any bearing on our inclinations when it comes to participating in a forum?

I also find myself wondering if actors proficient in theatresports are also those who are happy to step out under their real names. It strikes me that the braveness, openness, risk factors and ebullient gamesmanship are common to both domains – not to mention the entertainment pay-offs.

nik smythe          posted 19 Sep 2007, 04:51 PM / edited 19 Sep 2007, 04:56 PM

i have voted pro nom-de-webs. i usually don’t use one, but now and then do.

one purely dilettantist reason to allow them are those occasional times when a direct famous quote is employed, or a post can in some other way be enhanced with a well chosen one-off moniker. it’s trite, yet pinches of such garnish really give shape to what would otherwise become a less dynamic read as Free Speech suggests.

sometimes it’s even helpful when someone’s a ranting blowhard troll or whatever. they can still bring light to valid issues that can be discussed from there (as in the Who is fooling who thread), and if nothing else we can enjoy believing we’re more onto it than those dicks.

but i feel the real point is that banning pseudonyms will not prevent people flexing their egos and throwing their weight around. or indeed registering with a fake identity to begin with.

Mick Rose            posted 20 Sep 2007, 09:52 AM

Hey t opiate, you’re welcome – Dunedin was cool, we had a great time there. A “classist” solution? Yeah, sure – but it’s a class issue: 2 groups of people, each clearly mistrustful of the others intentions and behaviour. The good news is that everyone here gets to choose their own class (which sort of robs the term of any moral one-upmanship).

Thomas LaHood                posted 20 Sep 2007, 12:45 PM  

I think it’s sad, this poll.  I don’t see the benefit of establishing the majority opinion.  Surely if you’re ‘mature’ enough to use your own name you’d be mature enough to live and let live, to accept the opinions of others no matter how ill-informed you deem them to be?

I’ve been slagged pretty harshly on this site by pseudo-folk, who have exploited my use of my own name to make personal attacks, but my vote has to go with the side of open communication lines and ‘encouraging’ diversity of expression.

I agree with t opiate – if we must be restricted to one username per email address, so be it, but banning pseudonyms outright is an outrageously uptight thing to do within the parameters of the online medium.

John Smythe      posted 20 Sep 2007, 02:52 PM

Thomas, I have already made it clear (19/9, am) that it is impossible to ban pseudonyms outright, so please untwist your undies. I also said (19/9, pm), “The poll result will not be the only factor in determining any changes that may eventuate from all this. [We] … are investigating what’s possible based on the various suggestions being made – so keep ’em coming.” Did I really need to add “but please review the thread before adding your bit?”

Barnaby Fredric                posted 20 Sep 2007, 03:37 PM / edited 20 Sep 2007, 04:24 PM

Hi Simon, John and all the rest. I’ll happily post this under my real name, though I am in favour of pseudonyms on the whole.

I think restricting accounts to one per email address is a good idea for a start, it’s just common sense. I do however think that the option to anonymously comment is very important, because as much as we may not like to admit it, honesty sometimes doesn’t go down too well. Telling someone your controversial opinion face-to-face is one thing, having it preserved for all eternity on a computer screen for people to read is another. If you don’t feel safe you can’t be honest, and honesty is another thing I am very keen on. It seems to me the real issue is not the fact that people post under pseudonyms, but WHAT they post, the quality of their contribution. If that could be fixed I’m sure “Namies” and “Pseudies” could co-exist harmoniously.

Here is a suggestion – On another internet forum I frequent, they have a good system to keep out the real idiots and trolls, the scum of the internet.

They charge $10 for an account. Now before everyone gets up in arms about PAYING for something on this “world wide interwebs”, let me assure you that it works. The forum is well-moderated, and while honesty is encouraged, posts with no content, trolling, or causing too much drama will get you banned. As a result of this the standard of discussion is much higher than your average internet forum. If you mess up and get banned re-registering your account will cost you another 10 bucks, which is plenty enough to discourage trolls or encourage newbies to behave or learn from their mistakes

Now I’m not saying that John should set up a cover charge here, it’s just a suggestion. But hypothetically, if accounts cost 1 dollar….. while most of us could find that amount under the cushions at home with no problem, registering 37 accounts ($37 worth) begins to become a lot less enticing to a budding troll with multiple personalities. You could charge anything you like really, its not a money making venture so much as a filter on your clientele. Its comparable to chipping in for a bouncer at a party to keep undesirables out.

It’s an idea that goes against the internets “everything free for everyone all the time” mentality. on the other hand, I believe that very attitude is what makes the internet such a primitive place at times.

Thanks John for setting up this great site and I hope it continues to grow and prosper.

(edited for clarity 20/9)

VVV Anon, “drama” in this context means making a big deal out of something unnecessarily. Oh the irony. VVV

Anon     posted 20 Sep 2007, 04:15 PM

Yes Barnaby, god forbid that we accept posts that cause “too much drama”!! Can’t have that! And I can also do without the unnecessarily snappy tone of JS’s reply to TLaHood. There seems to be agreement that we deal in some way to the toxic posts, fair enough; but by the same token when we get straightforward generous offerings like La Hood’s let’s accept them a little more graciously than that, eh??? Especially given the flak he’s had because of using his real name, poor guy!

Thomas LaHood                posted 20 Sep 2007, 05:24 PM

Thanks Anon!  You’ve always got my back, it seems.

Mick Rose            posted 21 Sep 2007, 11:26 AM / edited 21 Sep 2007, 12:25 PM

Thomas, you’re more generous than me. Personal attacks are crappy at the best of times, but if someone is prepared to stand behind them, well so be it – they can wear the consequences down the track. Delivering personal attacks from behind a pseudonym is just plain scungy.

This is something many pseudo’s either don’t acknowledge or don’t seem to get – that if you’re going to lurk behind a mask then you have a greater responsibility to deal well with others.

In fact, grotesquely, the attraction for some pseudo’s seems to be the dark side of this equation – that they get to throw shit at (named) individuals without risking any exposure themselves. I think that creates an unlikely environment for respectful or creative debate – and this, lest we forget, is what prompted Simon to initiate this thread in the first place.

claire van beek posted 29 Sep 2007, 07:55 PM / edited 30 Sep 2007, 09:13 PM

Here here Simon! Or if need be one nom-de-web per person. But then I always have been an idealist!

Moya Bannerman            posted 30 Sep 2007, 09:15 PM

I think you mean “hear hear,” Claire. But then I’ve always been a pendant.

claire van beek posted 30 Sep 2007, 09:26 PM

ha ha yeah I know. I went back to edit it but forgot. I guess I’m an idealist but not a perfectionist!

Barnaby Fredric                posted 30 Sep 2007, 09:32 PM / edited 30 Sep 2007, 09:33 PM

Moya, perhaps “pedant” was the word you were looking for? Or are you in fact, a chain-mounted piece of jewellery? 😉

Gary Henderson               posted 5 Oct 2007, 09:00 AM    

I think Moya was being iconic.

John Smythe      posted 20 Mar 2008, 11:24 PM

Moya Bannerman, R.I.P.

Just for the record – and because she has caused a furore on the Comment stream for The Trial of the Cannibal Dog (where I am about to own up) – I thought I should share how Moya Bannerman was born.

A bit over a couple of decades ago, in Sydney, having had some success with a couple of radio plays for ABC Radio Drama, I was commissioned to write another. Its central character was a 45 year-old woman who had moved from being an interior decorator to an interior designer and was now a fully qualified architect, including of her own destiny. But she was still susceptible to romantic fantasy.

It was rejected for production, I was bewildered and a couple of radio drama insiders suggested it was simply because their boss was a rampant misogynist.  Keen to salve my creative self-esteem by getting another opinion, I thought: if I was a woman I’d send this to the Women’s Theatre Group. But of course I was (and still am) a man. Then I thought, that’s not fair …

So I retyped the cover page to attribute authorship to Moya Bannerman, because the more y’ ban a man the more he’ll resort to tricks like this. A woman keen to get radio drama happening at Macquarie University responded with enthusiasm. I fielded a number of phone calls on behalf of ‘Moya’ before ‘fessing up to the ruse, whereupon the would-be producer was highly amused. She saw it as the flipside of women writers in previous generations having to take male names to get published (Miles Franklin, George Eliot, etc).

Meanwhile I’d grown quite fond of Moya, and over the years I have engaged her services in various arenas, rationalising the practice in the ways traversed above in this forum. But now she has been diagnosed with Terminal Credibility Syndrome and we have to let her go.

Farewell Moya. It’s been unreal.

Share on social


Make a comment