A call for segregation in online community: Accountable or anonymous?

Part 2…

For a digital news- and information-based community to be credible, it will have to demonstrate clearly the principle of accountability. This applies to both the “host” – the local media company that provides the platform and the news/info base – and to the individuals who participate in and populate the community.

How is the host accountable?

One example: As others have noted, technology is such that documentary sources of information from which journalists sometimes draw their information can easily be published in their entirety for examination by the general public. If the information is already online, stories can easily link to those sources.

Citizens who question the accuracy of a story or disagree with its conclusions should be able to:

  • review the raw information themselves (say, minutes of a city council meeting).
  • question the host’s presentation of facts or dispute its conclusions.
  • add information.
  • expect the host to engage, respond and revise.

Such availability of more information than is provided in a daily newspaper, coupled with an involved citizenry that contributes still more news/info, can help add the context missing from a one-way, static page of newsprint.

How can community members be accountable?

Simple: Use their real names (yes, technology can help with this). As much as I abhor the idea of a class-based society, I would suggest that our online community be segregated.

Those who are willing to be identified with the views they express or the news/info they provide would be rewarded and encouraged – with more prominent placement and other visual/graphic indicators of their status. They would have a higher expectation of response and respect of peers and host alike.

Those in the community who would prefer to comment anonymously for whatever reason would still be able to do so. They would simply find their comments somewhere farther down page, and maybe in a readily identifiable different font and color.

* * *

OK, I ran a little beyond my 200-word target. I’ll try again in a few days with the next key word on the list: Customizable.

Thanks for your attention.

(Comments are encouraged and welcome, but if your name is “blogaroony38” or something else that doesn’t look like real, don’t be surprised if I kill it.)

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