Anonymous commenting: Where to draw the line

Leigh Jacobson


When we first opened our site over a year ago, we were all enthralled by the idea of making articles more accessible to the student body by enabling comments. Taking a cue from major news sites, we wanted the passionate voice of our readers, not just our writers, to be heard. What we never expected, however, were the multitude of anonymous rude comments that were directed as personal attacks to our staff.

When Jake Davidson ’13 and JJ Friedman ’12 posted an article regarding etiquette on Facebook back in October (article can be read here), our site received many barbed comments in response, plenty of which were insults directed at the authors.

One commentator, posting under the guise of “student,” wrote the following:

Comment 1

By resorting to the absurd notion that writers of The Roar promote underage pornography, this student promulgates not only completely unfounded claims, but also slander. By slandering peers and potentially close friends, “student” serves as a prime example of Lashon Harah behavior that we have all been drilled to avoid. Talk about “disgusting”…

Another student, choosing not to disclose their name and hiding under “anonymous,” wrote this comment:

Comment 2

While this student initially begins by making a somewhat relevant statement to the article, the commenter ends by bringing up a personal matter of the author’s that is in no way the business of the Milken community. It completely oversteps the bounds of online commenting, and is a blatant attack on one of our staff.

The following student, concealing their identity behind the name “Milken Student,” continues the theme.

Comment 3

While this student is most certainly entitled to their beliefs, labeling our institution as a “sleazy publication” without writers who “can actually write” crosses the line. There is a way to impart upon the general public one’s opinions, and insulting not just the authors but the entire publication as a whole (which, by the way, is endorsed by the administration, who I have a hard time believing would allow it to act “sleazy”) is not the way to go about it. If you’re really that passionate about this topic, write an article about it and actually contribute to the quality of our paper, rather than diminishing it with your scathing scorn. Take some initiative – it’s easy to criticize, but it’s hard to actually do something yourself.

Additional affronts are addressed to the people about whom articles are written. In addition to the variety of lovely comments we’ve accumulated this year addressed personally to our staff members, some comments have been insults directed at the people mentioned in our articles. I fail to understand why people at our school find it in any way appropriate to comment things such as “Spotlighting this person is boring, get someone else” or “This person sucks.” It’s one thing to harangue the staff, who take full responsibility for the work they do in public – but attacking someone whose only crime has been to be skilled enough to merit an article is another. Show some decency.

Another point – If you’re brave enough to criticize the Roar, you should be brave enough to post under your real name. All of our writers and editors publish under their full names because they aren’t ashamed of what they put out there. Are you?

Simply put, The Roar isn’t Honesty Box. The derogatory comments you once anonymously posted on someone’s account, or anything of that style, have no place in a school newspaper. If you don’t respect our publication, or the people who run the publication, enough to stop, at least respect the school who sponsors it.

The Roar will never curtail public opinion; we will never hinder the Milken student body from posting their opinions on our articles. We simply implore you, as our peers, our friends, to deliberate over whether or not your comment could be a little more respectful when you post it. We are, on a daily basis, reminded that Milken is, above all, a pluralistic, community-centric high school. How can we continue to function as such when classmates resort to cyber-harassment?

And one last thought: If you’re not brave enough to comment under your real name, at least spell “Anonymous” correctly. Seriously.

Comment 4