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Among extremists, jerks and trolls in the blogosphere

A week ago Timothy Garton Ash asked a question on the comment and debate page of the Guardian. The piece was headed: “Between cheese-eating surrender monkeys and fire-eating war junkies” and this was the question:

Having just returned to America after a year’s absence, I’m pondering this question: Why is it that the United States, which has not suffered a major terrorist attack at home for more than four years, thinks it’s at war, while the United Kingdom, which was hit by a major terrorist attack just a year ago, does not?

Today Garton Ash writes about the 353 comments posted in response under the heading: “Mugged by the blogosphere — or how to find nuggets in a cyberswamp.”

He suggests the trek trough this swamp would be eased if commenters could star rate previous entries saying:

[Star rating] would, at the very least, test the assumption – which Wikipedia seems to bear out – that there is a community of voluntary cybernates who are interested in accuracy and quality of debate, can tell sense from nonsense, and outnumber the minority of extremists, jerks and trolls who tend (it seems to me) to be over-represented in an unedited, open-access blogging thread.

He also supports the idea of people posting comments using their own names, while accepting that some have good reason for anonymity. Individual profiles where people could place more information about themselves is another proposal.

Personally, I think it is a pity that the Guardian system does not allow you to use your full name. AndrewGA was as close as I could get to my full name. And no, I am not one of the 353.

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