My View: Time to Re-Think Vanguard Anonymous Posting Policy?



This week the Vanguard Editorial Board had a lengthy discussion on the possibility of eliminating anonymous comments.  As our longtime readers know, this is a topic that has come up from time to time and we have often contemplated making a change, but for a variety of reasons we have never done so.

The sentiment of the board was overwhelmingly that we should make the change. I am still a bit reluctant for a variety of reasons.

When the Vanguard was founded in 2006, one of the reasons that it was created with anonymous commenters (at the time we did not even require registration), was to create a safe space where people could comment on critical issues facing our community without fear of retribution.

However, by the end of 2009, it was clear that things were going to have to change as we had a very contentious Measure R vote on Wild Horse and the comment section had become toxic.  First we imposed required registration which, for the most part, ended the practice of people posting under multiple names in the same article.  We also brought on Don Shor to act as moderator, which has greatly improved the climate.

So why are we contemplating change?

Increasingly, my belief is that many people hide behind that veil of secrecy to attack people by name, under the cloak of anonymity.  We have seen this play out recently in an egregious way where, in two articles at least, anonymous posters were able to criticize in a public forum people by name without the real ability of those people to respond.

In one case, the result is that the individual who submitted the article will never do so again.  In the other case, it may have chased other people from coming forward on complaints against the school district – to the detriment of the mission of the Vanguard and the determent of community input, in my view.

Supporters of anonymous comments believe that the practice has allowed the Vanguard to remain a vital forum, and they point to the decrease in participation on the Enterprise since they went to Facebook log ins.  That is certainly an area of concern for me.

However, there are two arguments against that.  The first is that it may be the Facebook interface itself that has caused the problem.  The other is that there wasn’t a huge commenting community on the Enterprise to begin with, and Vanguard articles may be more conducive to eliciting feedback than Enterprise articles.

Furthermore, while the number of comments is generally robust, the number of regular commenters is low.  There are a core of posters who have well over 1000 comments, another group have between 100 and 1000, and finally there is a group of infrequent commenters.  But we are talking about less than 50, and in most articles less than 20 commenters overall.

I heard at the meeting on Wednesday from several board members that their circle of contacts were reluctant to get involved in discussions because they believe that a small number of anonymous posters will attack them without their having the ability to respond in kind.

When we solicited comments through the Vanguard Morning Newsletter, there were similar comments.  We are hearing over and over again that people are reluctant to engage on the Vanguard due to attacks or fear of attacks from anonymous posts.

As one person put it to me, they feel that if someone attacks them under their real name, they can respond.  If someone attacks them behind a cloak of anonymity, they cannot.  As a result they have chosen to no longer participate.  A view of the variety of commenters from a few years ago finds a large and growing number of people who have simply chosen not to participate.

This comment to us seems to sum up that view quite nicely: “I was initially very supportive of anonymous comments on the Vanguard, and I still support the idea in general. But it seems as though the Vanguard has attracted a small and dedicated group of commenters who make a lot of personal attacks and otherwise contribute very little of substance. It’s really unpleasant dealing with an onslaught of that, and I do find myself commenting less and/or being less inclined to send things to the Vanguard.”

Another person: “I don’t participate now. One reason is the nastiness of several anonymous posters. Yes, I would be more likely to join in if real names were used.”

Will there be more participation if we eliminate anonymous posters?  I have a degree of skepticism.  I see the nature of the comments on the Enterprise and I’m not clear that they are less attacking.  There does seem to be an inherent aversion to the idea of an anonymous attack and I am increasingly dismayed when I see anonymous posters using personal information about non-anonymous people to carry out their attacks.

Want to save anonymous posting?  Some have suggested filters and other devices to crack down harder on violations of comment policy.  Others have suggested that people simply grow a thicker skin.  The latter is a non-starter, the former puts the burden on us.

At this point it is going to take a workable proposal to save anonymous posting because I believe the mission of the Vanguard is being harmed by the content of anonymous people’s postings.

I’m still willing to hear people out.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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185 thoughts on “My View: Time to Re-Think Vanguard Anonymous Posting Policy?”

  1. Barack Palin

    David, do you sometimes post under an anonymous name?  There are commenters who believe you do.

    Does some of your editorial board post under anonymous names or multiple aliases?

    Does some of your staff do the same thing?

    What’s to keep someone from posting under a fake name from one of their many email addresses?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      The last point you made is a concern and we would have to figure out a way to deal with that. But if you are wanting to keep anonymous posting the only real question is how to address the concerns I laid out there.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            Board is:
            Tia – she only posts under her name
            Leanna – I don’t think she’s posted
            Bob Fung – only posted a few times and under his name
            Rob White – only posts under his name, hasn’t posted since election (wasn’t on board until after the election)
            Cecilia – only posted a few times, only under her name
            Alan Hirsh – only posted a few times, only under his name
            Anya McCann – hasn’t posted that I’m aware of

            Staff: Miranda, just hired her, don’t think she’s posted

            Matt Williams is no longer on the board and hasn’t been since he announced his candidacy.

  2. South of Davis

    First David needs to realize if “he” posts an article saying a guy is a sex abuser/creepy hugger he is going to get comments that agree with him as well as coments that say he is a great guy and the person who is bashing him is just mad about having to teach a different class.

    Second it will be the end of the Vanguard if anonymous comments end.  Most people I know (that never post) log on to read what hpierce, Frankly and Davis Progressive have to say more than David…

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      You’ve missed the point, I don’t have a problem with criticism – it’s type, style and manner.

      More than 5000 people log on daily, I’ve heard from a bunch of people this week that they’ve stopped reading because of the anonymous comments and tone of them.

      Like BP, I am more interested in your fix, I’m convinced something is broken. You’re not going to convince m that it’s not broken

      1. Tia Will


        “David, do you sometimes post under an anonymous name?  There are commenters who believe you do.

        Does some of your editorial board post under anonymous names or multiple aliases?

        Does some of your staff do the same thing?”


        I believe that these questions are pertinent to the topic. So while I am not David, and have no special access to administrative functions and am speaking only for myself, I will answer to the best of my knowledge from five years on the editorial board. If I am in error, I accept full responsibility for that in advance if someone knows me to be incorrect and cares to state as much.

        1. There may be commenters who believe so. I believe that there may have been a time in the past when this occurred. I do not believe that this is common or ongoing practice.

        2. There was one previous member of the editorial board  ( no longer on the board)who chose to do this during one particularly contentious issue. This was an isolated case and was addressed at the board as being inappropriate in the context in which it was occurring.

        3. I am not sure what staff you might be referring to. Don Shor as moderator posts exclusively under his own name. Our volunteer “copy editor, Highbeam” posts rarely and has never launched a personal attack on anyone. The single member of the administrative staff has been with us about one week, so obviously the answer is “no”. Did you have anyone else in mind ?

      2. Michael Harrington

        David, I don’t have a problem with most of the anonymous postings.  It serves to promote privacy when whistleblowers wish to tell the real story, for example.  I would hope that city and school board staff feel free to post under hidden name, for example.


        My problem, and has been since you started the Blog, is that when hidden posters are allowed to trash and defame others, with no accountability, it wrecks the good DV experience for others.


        I think there are only 5-10 regular abusive hidden posters … so why doesn’t the DV privately warn them (and I am confident you personally agree with me as what an abusive post looks and feels like …)?  Give them a clear policy, and then a 30 day ban, then 60, or something, and then they are toast, and banned.


        An example of a hidden poster who sometimes goes a bit off the rails is my good neighbor Dear Frankly.  I actually agree with much of what he writes about (but not the social issues so much), and he usually keeps it pretty clean and direct and polite (as he is cleverly tearing a new one on someone’s butt).   So even though I am often subject to his comments, I don’t feel abused or put off. (I deserve it, sometimes!)

        But that one new poster trashing Dr. Cusi yesterday is an extreme poster, and one who should be banned for good.  What a weasel!  Basically calling Dr. Cusi a criminal, the DV left those posts there, and he/she/it was allowed to post that garbage without owning up to it by name.  (Everyone, I got all over David yesterday for allowing it.)  It this THOSE kinds of posters, and posts, that should be subject to immediate and extreme enforcement action.  Now, that said, I did provide my personal opinion yesterday based on my personal experience with Dr. Cusi, but I did not, and cannot, say that Weasel (my nickname for the scumbag) was incorrect or correct as the so called factual assertions made …

        So I think there are many posters who provide candid analysis under a hidden name, and those kinds of productive posts are welcome.  (Many of them trash me, but that’s ok too!)


        But an extreme example is the scumbag, moretothestory , who attacked Dr. Cusi yesterday;  those kinds of posts, and posters, should be immediately taken down, and warned, and banned if there is any repeating of the trash.


        So even though I always use my name, and many of the hidden posters do come after me, most of it is all in good fun with good intentions.  I would not ban the practice;  I would go after and train or ban the ones like that chicken weasel scumbag yesterday, moretothestory .




  3. PhillipColeman

    We all were given a name. We are named to be identifiable from any other person.

    As we march through life under our identified name, each of us acquire a reputation. Others who know us will form a judgment of our character, how fair, how honest, the ability to reason, intelligence, your associates, and life experience. Using your name as an identifier, others will share their judgment of you with each other. Your overall reputation is solidified and then distributed by use of your name.

    To me, you can’t be allowed to be two people simultaneously. When a person becomes a second person, with an untraceable name, we who read the comments and opinions can only judge the credibility of the comments from what that second person chooses to tell us. And that could be distorted or false. There’s really no way to know, because that second person doesn’t even exist.

  4. Barack Palin

    As one person put it to me, they feel that if someone attacks them under their real name, they can respond.  If someone attacks them behind a cloak of anonymity, they cannot. 

    And why is that?  They can still respond.

  5. Delia .

    I have a legal pen name, which I would use. But I would not post any comments re law enforcement in the future, due to a real danger of retaliation. Since those comments would stop, I’d probably post less often. That would probably make BP veryhappy.)

    This policy may help the tone. Currently, certain posters have more bravado with their obnoxiousness, since they don’t have to identify themselves. Perhaps this would lead to more pleasant discourse.

      1. Grok

        Just how the vanguard implements a real name policy is  a real challenge. I have seen posters on the enterprise occasionally that are from Facebook profiles that seem to have been set up to be an anonymous login. I appreciate that the board is having the discussion.

        1. Barack Palin

          Exactly, anyone can create a fake FB account just as anyone can also use an alternative email to sign up with using a fake name.  I’m leaning towards using the name Dirk Digler myself.

          1. Don Shor

            One of the entertaining aspects of anonymous commenters is how wildly inaccurate people are when they try to guess the identities.

        2. Barack Palin

          One of the entertaining aspects of anonymous commenters is how wildly inaccurate people are when they try to guess the identities.

          I’ll bet you I could name three or four if I was so inclined.

      2. South of Davis

        Unless David requires everyone to come to the Vanguard office with ID people will just start posting under “names” like Dirk Digler, Hortense Pierce, Peter Nortn and Scott Peterson (I actually know a guy named Scott Peterson that now has just his middle name and last name on his business cards and ID since the “did you kill your wife” jokes never stopped)…

    1. Barack Palin

      I post anonymously but only under one sign-on, I’ve never used multiple aliases at the same time.  Just wondering if David can honestly say the same thing about him, his editorial board or his staff.

  6. Tia Will


    And why is that?  They can still respond.”

    This is a viewpoint that I share with you. I do not like it when the tone of comments ( yes, including my own) becomes nasty or accusatory, but I honestly do not understand why one would feel they could respond to a commenter that they know any more than to a commenter that they do know ?  Can someone who understands this perspective help me out with an explanation.

    1. darelldd


      I’m trying to figure this out for myself. I’m mostly in the camp of wanting real names, though of course I don’t want that to somehow ruin the Vanguard comments. In fact I want this to make those comments better. Will it? I have no idea. I absolutely did not like the FB situation for the Enterprise, for the record. When I post on the Enterprise, I’m far too often the only one there, and it seems like I’ve wasted my time.

      To the question: Yes, we can obviously still respond to people with pen names. But it’s not the same. And I don’t think anybody is saying they “can’t” respond. They’re saying that the response will necessarily be weak without ID knowledge. Those of us using real names are often known by our real-life actions in the community. What commissions we may be on, what boards we may sit on, our education, who we’re married to, what we say at council, what hobbies we have, what we do to earn a living, our positions on other things. I have seen most of this used against a “real name” poster at some point or another. And the person making the attack is far too often anonymous. The dialog cannot be the same in this situation as when both parties are, or can be, aware of the other’s situation.

      It’s a tough one for me. I agree with Phil about the whole being proud of who you are, and creating a reputation. I feel that I’m responsible for what I write. I own it. There have been too many times when a pen-name poster has written things to avoid taking responsibility for the content of the post.

      And here are the two kickers:

      1. There *have* been a few times when I would have liked to become anonymous to post something that I didn’t want anybody else to know about me.

      2. And there *have* been times that I have avoided posting on a topic because of the abuse of the system by anonymous posters.

      3. And this is a bonus kicker for those who have read this far:  I can’t count the number of times when I really, really wanted to know who was behind the fake name. And in the few instances when I could figure it out, my responses and thus the dialog changed permanently. And for the better.

      You can see that I’m torn. If I had to sum up my feelings, I guess I’d go with:

      If you wish to be a jackass, at least have the decency to use your real name.

      1. Tia Will

        Hi darelldd

        Thanks for the thoughtful, and like mine, somewhat conflicted comment. I would like to ask one question for clarification.

        The dialog cannot be the same in this situation as when both parties are, or can be, aware of the other’s situation.”

        Why do you believe that this is the case ? When I post ( except perhaps when I get in my tiffs with Frankly, who I happen to know casually ) the conversation is not, at least on my part any different, whether or not I know the identity of the other poster. That is because I am addressing the point being made, not the person making it. Ideas have power of their own regardless of the political, theologic, or social ideology of their author. It is their and my ideas that I want to promote completely separate from our private identities.

        1. darelldd

          I wish I had time to better respond, but have to run.

          VERY quickly – Yes, addressing only the point being made is often a stand-alone situation. Unless the point being made is one of character or past record. All I can say for sure is that my conversations are quite often different when I know who I’m talking to. It is much like when I’m presenting an idea to a group. I want to know about the group so I can present in the most effective way.


          Gah. I didn’t make my point, but have to go. I’ll try and come back to flesh it out.

    2. Delia .

      I think law enforcement like to I.D. people and like to hound people accused of misdemeanors or felonies. Once one is arrested, not even convicted, one is under their radar for the rest of eternity.

  7. Grok

    I fully endorse this rethink.

    For a long time I chose not to participate because of the tone of the comments section. Then when I did decide to participate I chose to do it under a pseudonym because of the imbalance of power between the anonymous and the named favored the anonymous. It was never my hope to exploit that so much as to not fall victim to it. The trade off of course is anonymous posts have an inherent credibility challenge.

    If/when the vanguard changes it’s policy I will gladly post under my own name and occasionally submit stories.

    1. darelldd

      Grok – this is powerful, and well put. It is this “imbalance of power” that annoys and frustrates some of us who are “out there.” Information is power, and anonymous posters deny some quite powerful information.

      And it is the inherent credibility that leads me to always post under my “real” name. (And btw, it amuses me that in similar discussion in the past, I’ve been accused of “nobody names their kid darelldd” – Uh, yeah. Clearly I’m hiding behind my top-secret pseudonym.)

      1. MrsW

        I think the imbalance of power has more to do with time. Some posters have much more time than others and get to repeat their opinions more freqently.

        I post anonymously. I am not abusive. I do not put people down for any of their choices, even for posting under their real names 🙂

    2. Michael Harrington

      Grok:  if you ever have anything really controversial to post, or an article, send it to me, and I will post under my name!  I like to stir the pot.  My Grandma said that of all the many siblings and cousins, I was the one who kept the backyard stirred up and interesting!  A little slow today?  Hey, let’s go file something at the courthouse and give it to the media!

        1. DT Businessman

          Don Shor responding to Colin/Grok 4:41pm, 8/16/16:

          “I would think it would be obvious by now. I urge Grok to re-register and post under his or her own name.”

        2. DT Businessman

          Davis Progressive commenting on Colin Grok 2:37, 8/17/16:

          “the other thing that concerns me is the conduct of grok – who seems to be taking the art of character insinuation.”

          DP apparently meant to say “taking the art of character assassination behind a cloak of  anonymity to a new level.”

        3. DT Businessman

          Don Shor in response to Colin/Grok’s denials of unfounded anonymous accusations, 5:04pm, 8/27/16:

          “There is no universe in which that is not an accusation.”

        4. Ron

          DT Businessman:

          Rather than simply posting what Don said to Grok, perhaps you should also post what Grok actually stated.  (I recall that Grok was simply asking about Bill Habicht’s experience, regarding his participation on the development team for the Hyatt proposal.)

        5. Ron


          Thanks for posting the links, but I’m not so interested to search for all of the postings.  In any case, it was “DT Businessman” that brought it up in a “vacuum”, without including the actual postings from Grok.

          I’ve had my own concerns (with you), regarding this.  You’ll probably recall that I brought up some issues (that you specifically mentioned, on the Vanguard).  My intent was to point out a “conflict” in your arguments, given your frequent advocacy for large-scale apartment complexes (and related challenges whenever I posted something regarding that subject that you didn’t agree with).  And again, it’s not something that I “searched for”, outside of your own statements on the Vanguard.  However, in response, you seemed to take it quite personally, and stated that I was violating some type of policy (which wasn’t specifically referenced).  In any case, I grew uncomfortable with the situation, and didn’t want to make an “enemy”.

          In the past, I recall that “Misanthrop” suggested that a moderator should (perhaps) not be participating in this blog, via comments.  I found that comment interesting, but not sure if it’s necessary.

          In any case, I suspect that the Vanguard’s policies are not universally applied.  (It’s always going to be subjective to some degree, regardless of intent.)

          I also don’t particularly want my name “searchable” via my postings, on the Internet.

          Lately, I’ve lost some interest in participating in endless arguments, on the Vanguard.  Not sure what good comes of it.

  8. Grok

    At this point it is going to take a workable proposal to save anonymous posting because I believe the mission of the Vanguard is being harmed by the content of anonymous people’s postings.

    This is an important paragraph from the article. If there are anonymous posters who have suggestions of how to improve the tone and retain anonymity they should post their ideas.

    1. MrsW

      I dont think the people you are trying to reach will see themselves. I think we need to live with it.

      Maybe there could be a few more rules of engagement? Including something about using the editing feature to take out personal attacks if they slip into a first response?  Making an effort to stay on topic and express an idea once?

  9. Tia Will


    For a long time I chose not to participate because of the tone of the comments section”

    As someone who first participated under the pseudonym “medwoman” ( because I thought that was what we were supposed to do…..this was the very first on line discussion forum I had ever used and was naive) and then, with the permission of those who I thought might be affected ( partner, children, and Medical Director) I have never really understood what it is exactly that makes people not participate because of “tone”. I hear this comment fairly regularly.

    What I have not heard an explanation for is why people would continue to read if they found the content too objectionable, but would not comment because of the “tone”. Can you explain how it made you feel to read these comments ?  Impatient ?  Angry ? Fearful ( as in Delia’s post ) ? Like commenting would be futile ?

    1. Grok

      I am under the impression that some of the anonymous posters take a very different tone and are more willing to attack people because they will not have real world repercussions.

      I have several friends that have said they wont post because they do not want to be attacked by the anonymous posters.

      As to your question to the difference of reading vs. participating in a discussion with a negative tone. I think the best way I can describe it, and forgive me the description is a little over the top, is that it is like a car wreck. When you drive by an accident, it is hard not to want to look, but you would not want to actually be in a car wreck.

      I suspect that there are many who don’t want to participate because they are afraid that they will be attacked by any number of a regular cadre of mean spirited anonymous posters. For me personally, it is more about the imbalance of power between named and anonymous posters as I have written about in other places on this story.


      1. Tia Will


        “I suspect that there are many who don’t want to participate because they are afraid that they will be attacked by any number of a regular cadre of mean spirited anonymous posters. For me personally, it is more about the imbalance of power between named and anonymous posters as I have written about in other places on this story.”

        And I suspect that you are right. As a doctor, I am frequently confronted with people who are afraid. It is very helpful in shaping a course of action to help them, to understand what their fear is. Often I have to ask them directly, “What are you afraid this may be ?( usually, but not always, cancer), or “What do you fear will happen?” in order to get to their real concern. Only with this understanding can I fully present them with all of the management options that will address their concerns.

        This is where I find myself now. What is it that the people who share this concern with you believe will be the result of such an “attack” from “mean spirited anonymous posters” ?  Is the fear of retaliation such as Delia has expressed ?  If so, this in my mind would be an argument for, not against,  anonymous posting. Is it just the feeling of unpleasantness associated with someone arguing against you forcibly ?  If this is the case, you will still know that the attack was directed at you, so unless you are planning retaliation, it really doesn’t seem important to me whether or not you know the identity of the attacker.

        While I agree with the “imbalance of power” idea since information is power, I would again ask, what real world significance does knowing the identity of the “attacker” have. The words, ideas and perspectives are the same. So what is the tangible difference ? Would you, for example, back down, or worse yet stop presenting your own ideas if the poster were someone that you felt intimidated by in real life ?  Because if this were the case, again, I see it as a stronger argument for anonymity than against it.

        Please understand that I am not attempting to be obtuse or argumentative. As a member of the editorial board, I am genuinely attempting to understand all points of view so as to make an informed decision about my ongoing input into this decision.

  10. Misanthrop

    The Federalist Papers, Gravity’s Rainbow, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Huckleberry Finn were all written using Nom de Plumes. Sometimes pen names are used to protect anonymity other times to protect from retaliation. Often people will say things they wouldn’t otherwise say when protected by anonymity much for the same reasons executioners historically wore masks. If you do away with anonymous postings, some will quit, some will join and others will recreate themselves with less obvious pseudonyms. How would you know the difference?


    1. Barack Palin

      Exactly, if the V does away with anonymous names it has to be across the board and can’t allow some to use pen names or fake real sounding names.  Otherwise they need to keep the policy as it is.  We’ve had our differences in the past but I now feel the moderator does a good job in being fair and keeping the conversations civil.

        1. Barack Palin

          I or anyone else can make up a pen name and still remain anonymous.  Does that really lead to having non-anonymous commenting or does it keep it right where it is today?

  11. MrsW

    I am interested in DJUSD issues and dont post under my own name as to avoid embarrasing my children or having a DJUSD employee respnd in some manner that would be harmful to my child. I work very hard so my posts are not personal and to manage my own responses, so as to not take others’ posts personally.

    Where I think this group has benefited from my posts has been when I have proved factual information. I beleive there are anonymous posters who provide facts that benefit the conversations.

    1. MrsW

      In my mind, having one’s ideas attacked is different than being personally attacked.  Also, when people care about their ideas, they are often not perfect communicators. When I enter those conversations, I try to allow for that.

      The times I have felt bullied on the Vanguard have been when I feel I am discussing an idea and another poster redirects the conversation to political parties or anaonymous posters. I like the Vanguard best when ideas are being discussed.

      If posting is no longer anonymous, I will watch the changes with interest. My hypothesis is that the gems of truth than come out of the current process will be lost, but obviously I dont know.

  12. Roberta Millstein

    One possible solution:  regular anonymous posters could self regulate. New anonymous posters could be informed of the policy. Those who continue to violate could  have their IPs banned. But first line of defense has to be the willingness of people to change their behavior if they want to retain the privilege of anonymous posting.

    1. Tia Will


      I think that self regulation would be ideal. However, when we have put out guidelines previously, it seemed to have little impact. Don does a good job, but sometimes takes quite a bit of flack for doing so. I will put these ideas onto our list of suggestions.

      1. Roberta Millstein

        Tia, hope you see this late response… thank you for bring this to the Vanguard board.  To be clear, my suggestion is that the guidelines be reiterated when there is a violation, and that there be consequences for subsequent violations.  It’s no use to have guidelines that people forget about and that lack teeth.  Perhaps in the face of this practice anonymous posters would be motivated to self-regulate.

        1. Roberta Millstein

          And comments giving Don flack should be removed as being off topic.  If there is a policy and people don’t like it, there are other avenues for complaint, and Don should not have to be the one to field them.

    1. Tia Will

      Hi Matt

      I would like to point out one possible answer to your question, “How hard is that ?”

      Very, very difficult for some people. You obviously, by having stepped so completely into the public realm have no difficulty in attaching your real world identity to your ideas. There are many members of our community who do not share this kind of self confidence or bravery.

      I deeply respect your attitude, but am keenly aware that most people do not have this ability to the same extent that you do. It is my feeling that the voices of all, not just those who have the qualities which allow them to share themselves publicly,  should have a place where they can express themselves freely. I envision the Vanguard as such a space and am currently struggling on how best to accommodate as many voices as possible.

    2. Sam

      It is easy, if 85-90% of the people believe that same things that you do. It is hard if you are part of the 10-15% don’t agree and are worried about retaliation.

      I can make a sign saying “Help poor people and raise the minimum wage to $25 per hour!” and stand out on Russell Blvd. I am sure that tons of people will smile and honk their horns in support. However, if I made a sign “Don’t raise the minimum wage to $15 it can actually hurt poor people.” I would spend the day dodging hybrid cars.

      If you don’t what to hear opposing views or reasons why some ideas might not be the best way to solve certain problems then have everyone use their real names. I agree that the comments will be more civil, but they will also be homogeneous.


      1. Barack Palin

        Sam, so true.  As I’ve stated before, my wife is involved with some Davis schools and she prefers that I post anonymously as to not have to have any flashback from local liberal parents. If my views were inline with the other 85% of Davis liberals there would be no problem.

        1. Barack Palin

          Not blaming my wife, I post anonymously because she asks me to so I respect that.  I’ve posted this on here many times, where have you been?

          You seem to be shadowing my every comment.  I find it kind of creepy.

          And no, you’re never snarky, are you?


        2. Tia Will

          BP and Sam

          You seem to believe that this is a one sided phenomenon. If you have read conversations between myself and certain other posters here on the Vanguard, it might be readily apparent that I represent a commonly held set of beliefs here in town ( albeit further out than many).  And yet I have been called many names, been told that I have no morals, had assertive ( although not physically aggressive) comments made to me in public by those who do not share my views. I do not believe that these behaviors are limited to the liberals in our community. Jerks are jerks regardless of their political affiliation and it is very difficult for me to see how anyone could honestly portray this as a solely liberal set of actions.

        3. Sam

          Tia- I have never said that it is a “liberal set of actions”. I could take the same two signs to another town and I would get the opposite reaction.

  13. Eric Gelber

    My view is that commenters should be willing to personally stand by their views. Anonymity encourages irresponsibility, negativity, and misrepresentation. If I were to believe expressing my views on a topic would potentially have negative ramifications for me or are on a subject for which I should abstain for professional reasons, then I wouldn’t comment on that topic. I don’t feel the need to be heard on virtually every subject.

    I don’t comment on sites that use Facebook logins because they identify my employer. While that’s not something I don’t want revealed, my comments and opinions are always my own and should not in any way be associated with my employer.

    1. Frankly

      If I were to believe expressing my views on a topic would potentially have negative ramifications for me or are on a subject for which I should abstain for professional reasons, then I wouldn’t comment on that topic.

      Very Orwellian of you.  Very communist too.  Speak your mind as long as your views support the collective, else you have been warned.

      1. Eric Gelber

        Frankly –

        Once again, you are the best example of why commenters shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind anonymity. I said nothing of the kind. I have no problem expressing views that go against “the collective.” That’s your constant fear, not mine. I merely said that if, like you, someone is concerned about expressing their opinion,   or doesn’t think it would be appropriate to speak out on a specific topic, the solution is either to not comment or, as I subsequently proposed, to request anonymity on that topic based on good cause. In either case, blanket anonymity to enable individuals to continually misrepresent and disparage others without any personal responsibility or accountability is not a sound policy.

        1. South of Davis

          Eric wrote:

          > I have no problem expressing views that

          > go against “the collective”

          Will you share a view that you have that goes against “the collective” and makes Davis liberals upset?

          Many people in town get very upset at those that go against the the collective and will work to punish the person as well as their wife and kids for having “unacceptable” views.

          As Sam mentioned the people that live in majority right wing bible thumping towns are just as bad (or worse)…


    2. Miwok

      I had that too, working for UC, and they scour these sites to fire people with different points of views. On FB. I have been insulted by David, either questioning my view, or my mental state , so I am not inclined to participate or read this column much the last few months.

      Since I have retired and am not interested in working for them I no longer have to prove to them I am LGBTQIA, or liberal enough to work there. As proved by the recent Katehi scandals, she still employs the nepotism they are famous for. I have also left any County committees I worked for so my name would not taint them.

      I hope I have never insulted or demeaned anyone on this, tried to keep on topic, as hard as it is.

      With all due respect,

      Tim Gilbert
      Woodland CA

  14. Tia Will


    The issue of my employer and colleagues was a potential sticking point for me too. This is why I addressed it with the Medical Director of my facility prior to posting under my own name. During the four or so years that I have used my own name, other than the flack I have taken here on the Vanguard, there have been no repercussions at all for my colleagues, my employer, or my family members who also gave their consent for me to share our stories when they illustrated a point I was making using my own name.

  15. Eric Gelber

    I would add that there are circumstances where anonymity would be justified. Legitimate whistleblower matters, for example. But those should be done through submissions to the Vanguard that are carefully vetted and edited so that care is taken not to state obvious misleading or incomplete facts, or to unnecessarily include personally identifiable information about non-elected officials, for example. On the rare occasion that a commenter, as opposed to article author, wants to post anonymously, that can be handled similarly–with submissions initially to the administrator along with a rationale for anonymity.

    As to people getting around a non-anonymity policy by using pen names, etc., the Vanguard can only do what it can do. No system is foolproof.

    1. Don Shor

      As to people getting around a non-anonymity policy by using pen names, etc., the Vanguard can only do what it can do. No system is foolproof.

      We need a valid, verifiable email with every registration. That would make it possible to deal with problems.

      1. Barack Palin

        I have several email accounts.  In fact anyone could easily create one then delete it right after signing up under a fake name.  If you were looking at IP addresses one could create it from another source and still sign on from another computer and/or IP address.  There’s no way that the V can easily keep anyone or everyone from being anonymous.  Now notice I said ‘easily’.

        1. Don Shor

          In fact anyone could easily create one then delete it right after signing up under a fake name.

          If we can’t reach you about a problem, we can just block you.

        2. Frankly

          Don Shor – I think in the WordPress administrative panel you can block an IP address.  And with cheap website tools you can see the IP address of the poster despite his/her many email attempts.  The only way to mask the IP address is to use a proxy server.  Not easy.

    2. Tia Will


      On the rare occasion that a commenter, as opposed to article author, wants to post anonymously, that can be handled similarly–with submissions initially to the administrator along with a rationale for anonymity.”

      In this suggestion, I see the basis for a very reasonable policy to meet special circumstances. It would however, require an amount of trust that takes a very long time to establish.

  16. Tia Will


    I want to know about the group so I can present in the most effective way.”

    Wow ! Thanks. You may not have made your point yet, but you win my “I hadn’t thought of it that way before” award of the day.

    This point really resonates for me. As a teacher of patients ( at all different levels of medical sophistication), medical students, residents, and junior doctors early in their careers, of course I will adjust my comments to fit the level of knowledge of my audience.

    1. darelldd

      Oh man. The little free time I have is spent (wasted?) just trying to track down comments/replies that are relevant. This system we use really does a poor job of thread continuity. I’d so love a way to be notified if somebody responds to a post of mine. Having to check through a huge comment section is no fun.

      Sadly, I’ve now burned up all my time for participation! But… I’m glad that something I said resonated with you. There certainly are real differences in conversation that are controlled by knowledge of the audience.

  17. Bill Habicht

    I fully support the idea of not permitting anonymous posting. I’ve certainly experienced the personal attacks from anonymous posters and would participate more fully if the issue were taken care of.

  18. lotaspark

    I personally think that being allowed to decide whether to stay anonymous or not is an important reason people post their real feelings on the Vanguard and not on the Enterprise. I have only ever commented on issues regarding the Davis schools. This is because I am allowed to have my free speech without worry that my kids will be punished by the district for it. I do think you should limit how many times a week and a post people can comment. That will help get people to be more thoughtful in their responses because they can’t keep rehashing the same things over and over again. You guys have about 5 people that feel like no story is complete without their commentary. That is what does prevent people from posting because people get tired of hearing what these same individuals have to say about everything. Limiting the number of posts will also minimize this issue.

    1. DavisAnon

      I agree that discussion of DJUSD is problematic when you have children who are students. The politics and potential for retaliation that hurts your child is very real. There is a large imbalance of power and lack of respect for parents and students (and likely teachers) whose views differ from those who control the power (Board majority/administration). My frustration with that situation is the main reason I began reading VG. I understand the concerns around inappropriate posts and think they are valid, but I think the voice of the (usually silent) minority will be lost if anonymous posting is abolished, and that would be very unfortunate.

    2. Tia Will



      “That is what does prevent people from posting because people get tired of hearing what these same individuals have to say about everything. Limiting the number of posts will also minimize this issue.”

      Since I am doubtless one of the posters of whom you speak, and one of the editorial board members, I am very curious about this point. I do not understand how “getting tired of hearing what these same individuals have to say” would cause one to avoid adding new perspectives to the conversation. Since it is an easy matter to simply not read the posts of those contributors that you dislike or are tired of. Since I am currently compiling a list of unique points for editorial board consideration, I am wondering if you could clarify ?

      1. Barack Palin

        This is something that always makes me scratch my head.  If someone doesn’t like a certain commenter’s remarks or feels some commenters post too much then don’t read their comments.  How effin’ hard is that to comprehend?

      2. lotaspark

        Tia, that is exactly what we do not get which is “new perspectives”. Just the same people yelling at and disrespecting each other. For instance, I wrote down my opinion without name calling or swearing and I get “Barack Palin” speaking to me like I am a child saying I shouldn’t read the comments, “how effin’ hard is that to comprehend?” That is exactly the point he/she is missing. I want to be able to read the comments to see other people’s perspective and post my opinion without seeing people degrade themselves and others by swearing at them and resort to name calling. People do not want to have to filter through mud slinging to see how people in the community are feeling. So Barack Palin, I should be allowed to read the comments and respond without being disrespected “how hard is that to comprehend?”

        1. Tia Will


          I needed to give your 1:37 am post some thought. Like you, I prefer not to deal with obscenity and “mud slinging”. However, we seem to have adopted a different strategy for dealing with this.Instead of avoidance, I have chosen to attempt ( albeit sometimes imperfectly) to try to present my views in civil fashion. My hope is that if I use de-escalation in my posts, that others may adopt this less aggressive form of communication as well. I do better than some posters, and less well than others ( Mrs.W for example) but I am always hoping to demonstrate that one does not have to be rude or obnoxious in order to share one’s perspective.

          From my point of view, the best way to increase the number of thoughtful and civil posters, is to participate in that fashion to the best of our ability to do so.

        2. MrsW

          From my point of view, the best way to increase the number of thoughtful and civil posters, is to participate in that fashion to the best of our ability to do so.

          I think this warrants highlighting.

    3. Miwok


      Since I don’t participate on School Board articles, I have not seen your posts, but limiting posters is not the way. The “report comment” button is nice, but I don’t know who does what with that. Don Shor  has straightened out a few with disrespectful comments. Tempers seem to fly and that is nothing but bullying, if only someone would identify it as that.

      Be Well.


      The “report comment” button is nice, but I don’t know who does what with that.

      I see it when it gets used, and it’s very helpful. It brings potential problems to my attention more quickly. — Don

  19. Tia Will

    Hi Bill

    I have had very personal attacks from both those who post anonymously and those who post under their own names. In the interest of helping to design a better process, I am interested in how specifically you would feel better if the personal attack came from a known poster vs from an unknown poster ?

    1. Bill Habicht

      I would say, specifically:

      If a person’s name is public, then s/he will be more measured (and hopefully more courteous) in their interactions. If the person’s name is not public, s/he can say just about anything they want. While there are guidelines and moderation to curtail inappropriate comments, people simply use innuendo and indirect accusation to get around that. I think Don Shor pointed this out quite clearly in the comments section of some Hyatt House articles.
      If a person’s name is public, I can approach him/her to ask for an in-person meeting.  Without a name, there’s little chance for an in-person meeting/discussion (b/c they’d have to disclose who they are).
      With a person’s name posted next to his/her comments, there is no question who the person is representing… they are representing themselves and their viewpoints.  Without a person’s name, the community if left speculating (often unfairly) as to who the poster is and who they represent.


  20. Frankly

    This is f_ _ _ing stupid that the VG is accepting this argument from people saying they cannot respond to what they feel is a personal attack because the poster is anonymous.  It makes no rational sense.

    Really folks.   You don’t get it.  The moniker IS the person.  Change the rules to eliminate anonymous posting and you are NOT going to magically make posters’ language style change.. you are just doing what Davis elites like to do…make sure their communication bubble remains exclusive to people that think like them.

    Change the rules and kiss my participation and support good by.

    And you all can kiss my A  _ _ too.

    1. DavisAnon

      Agreed, 100%. I think that’s likely the preferred outcome of the Davis “elite” as most are not interested in acknowledging that there are worthy views that differ from their own

      1. Tia Will


        I need clarification. I honestly do not know who you consider the Davis “elite” to be. I also do not know how, once you have identified them, you would know how interested they were or were not in acknowledging the value of opposing views.  Are we talking economic elite, social elite, political elite ?  Can you help me out with this?

        1. DavisAnon

          Tia, yes to each of those groups. I’m referring to the tendency of those who are either in a position of power (social, economic, or political) or in the majority who refuse to acknowledge that there are other opinions/views at all, let alone give them real consideration

          Reading the Davis Enterprise I often wonder how it’s possible I was at the same meeting the reporting is so twisted and skewed to a certain perspective (it’s often the opposite of unbiased and panders to specific interests), which is why I really appreciate the open discussion of VG. Here I learn about differing perspectives of life in our town. I especially like gaining an understanding of viewpoints different from my own and learning why people see things as they do. It has made me so much more aware of the spectrum of experiences of others who live here and the multiple sides to a story I would otherwise be completely unaware of.

    2. Tia Will


      This is f_ _ _ing stupid that the VG is accepting this argument from people saying they cannot respond to what they feel is a personal attack because the poster is anonymous.”

      Acceptance of a post containing an argument does not necessarily mean that the Vanguard or any of us affiliated with the Vanguard are in agreement with the sentiment. If that were the case, many of your posts would disappear almost as fast as you could enter them. Mine likewise, since virtually no one agrees with some of my ideas. The Vanguard tries very hard not to censor and it is dependent upon each of us who choses to participate to make free communication easier or more difficult for Don in his role as moderator.  For those of you who strongly desire to maintain anonymity, probably the best way to ensure that is to stop posting needless expletives and obnoxious name calling.

  21. Frankly

    Previoulsy, posting as a private citizen with my real name, my company was harmed by a sitting politician over dislike of something I posted.  I also had my place of business threatened by a VG reader from something I posted.  These things I posted were not personal attacks.  They were simply opinions – directly stated – that someone did not like and felt that they were justified in materially and even physically attacking, not only me, but my business and my employees.

    The complaints of those claiming personal attacks on the VG are de minimis in comparison to the real risks people would face posting with their real name.

    Grow freakin’ thicker skin.  Maybe some people have not developed enough emotionally to handle participation on a blog.

    1. Biddlin

      “Grow freakin’ thicker skin.  Maybe some people have not developed enough emotionally to handle participation on a blog.”

      I am largely in agreement, here. Frankly, my given and surname are so common that it took me much longer to find myself by that name than by the stage name I have used for forty-five years. I don’t think that “anonymity” is the problem. I think the fact that the current comment policies are enforced at the moderator’s discretion, allowing some commenters to work entirely outside the lines while holding others to parochial, unpublished standards is a bigger issue. Having seen no good examples of “real name” posting improving a comment section and many where it has killed them, I would be surprised if the Vanguard bucked the trend.

  22. Michael Harrington

    It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon …. Trump’s candidacy is dead, the sky is blue.  Why are we sitting here arguing over posting policies?  Gotta love Davis!

  23. cornford

    If stopping people posting anonymously would put an end to all Frankly’s contributions then I am all for it–it’s a tiebreaker and a real boon.

  24. Jim Frame

    There are good arguments to be made on each side of the issue, but if I had a vote it’d be for requiring real names.  I believe that more harm is done by allowing user anonymity than would be done by forbidding it.  Implementation would be a challenge, but that’s another matter.

  25. SODA

    I am torn. I find I can be more honest in my postings and perhaps more critical because I am anonymous however I do not enjoy the nastiness.

    The posters who seemed to surface during the Chancellor investigation were particularly vicious and hurtful and I was glad my name was not put there to be vilified by them. Call me thin skinned but that’s how I felt.

  26. Frankly

    If I was retired, I would post with my real name.

    If I only had my own job to worry about and had my union and/or employee group protecting my job security, I would probably be more apt to post with my real name.

    If my professional life was connected with politics I would post with my own name.

    If my personal life was significantly connected with politics, I would post with my own name.

    If my job was in journalism I would use my own name.

    However to sit there in righteous judgment of others telling them they should basically shut-up or suffer the personal harm that comes from posting opinions not popular in the Davis liberal bubble or that anger someone with political power that, by the way if they are liberal the hopelessly liberal-biased press does not do their job to reign in their abuses, is much more hostile and uglier than almost anything I have read posted on the VG.

    1. Miwok

      After a couple of cross country trips the last two years, I agree wholeheartedly with the  “Davis Liberal Bubble” effect. They really have no concept of real life. How nice. The Air pressure literally goes down the further you are away.

      I even tried to join the party years ago, yet when I reported some of them stealing from the University, all the rhetoric about “whistleblowers” and protection from retaliation were only “Press Releases”, mere fantasies. No more reindeer games for me.

  27. Marina Kalugin

    I agree David…. only a pansy would post anonymously…

    as one who always uses my real name and gets bashed for being open  and honest….though sometimes mistaken…

    I have a feeling those who hide behind false names will not be quite so vocal any more….

    as someone of the liberal bent, who is actually on many conservative sides of issues, if you have something to hide, and cannot take the heat under the real name…..perhaps you should move along where someone else may welcome your rabble rousing…

    or stop hiding…….

    PS> Ha ha …only in Davis will one continue to be asked, “show me the research to support that” in response to obvious opinions…some of which may also be facts….

  28. Alan Miller

    Increasingly, my belief is that many people hide behind that veil of secrecy to attack people by name, under the cloak of anonymity.

    No S–t, Sherlock.  I’ve been saying that for years.

    It’s been a nice run, but most people who don’t post here consider this space a toxic joke.  It’s time for the Vanguard to grow up.

    If you adopt this new policy, it will get slightly duller around here, and then it will pick back up.  Good.  We’ll adapt, the Vangaurd will adapt.

    As for Frank Lee, your argument falls shallow because you aren’t really anonymous — everyone knows who you are!  When you post under your real name (when you’ve written articles), your tone is more civil, what is the downside to the Vanguard audience for a more civil Frank Lee — nothing! You will have a choice, if your anonymity is more important, you can stop posting.  Davis will survive.

    Seeing this as a step towards a more civil and professional Vanguard, I pledge $50 upon the change. Anyone (anonymous or not) care to join me? If you believe in the “New Vanguard Comments Section”, put up!



    1. Frankly

      When you post under your real name (when you’ve written articles), your tone is more civil

      1. Depends on the topic and what I am responding to.

      2. But when I have posted an article, I have a different role and a different accountability.  It has noting to do with a thought “oh, I am using my own name now and so I need to be more civil.”  Irritate me with nonsense and I will demonstrate that same irritation in my response.  However, if from an article I would not respond as much and would rely on others to post their opinions on the topic.

      3. Before I changed to a moniker I was just as direct and acerbic (again depending on the topic and what I was responding to)… and that led to the damage done to my business and the threats against it.

      You are 100% wrong here.  You and others with views more apt to be in sync with the collective are privileged to post without similar risk of retribution harm.

      I will admit though that you are a bit of an outlyer here… refreshingly cheeky, sarcastic and direct while generally being very thoughtful.   I do tip my hat to you for that and will say a prayer for you that it never comes back to bite you in the ass.


      Most of you in support of eliminating anonymous posting either are part of the liberal collective or else do not have business and family relationships at risk.

      Really, this argument for eliminating anonymous posting is similar to the BS we see on college campuses… stifle opposing opinion because it makes some of the more hyper-sensitive members of the collective feel bad.  They need constant reassurance and “safe places”.

      But in the end the VG will have to put on its big boy pants or its big girl skirt and decide what type of blog it wants to be.

      And Mrs. Frankly opined to me that she wants the VG to eliminate anonymous posting because she thinks I waste my valuable time debating things in this town outside the bubble.  So there is that.

      1. Biddlin

        “stifle opposing opinion because it makes some of the more hyper-sensitive members of the collective feel bad.  They need constant reassurance and ‘safe places’.”

        While we no doubt disagree about which specific members that might include, I have a similar “feeling.” Mrs. Biddlin is also less than respectful of the time I spend on the blog.

      2. Jim Frame


        Concerns for business and family are legitimate, but overall the I think the likelihood of realistic threats against either are rare.  Frankly is an example — and the only example of which I’m aware — in which one materialized.  He’s understandably gun-shy about posting under his real name as a result, but his experience is an outlier.  I advise the Vanguard to base its decision on the net benefit to the Vanguard community rather than on the worst-case potential.

      3. darelldd

        A challenge that I have in a situation like yours:

        You post an article under your real name. And then you comment on it with a screen name. For folks that can’t link the two, it’s an awkward situation. If things really are different (role and accountability) when an article is posted under your real name, why not respond to it also under your real name?

        1. Frankly

          When I post an article with my real name (required) I respond with my real name.  I have made a mistake now and then in failing to logout and thus use my screen name.  However, I ask Don to delete those posts so I can re-post them correctly.

        2. darelldd

          Ah, I’m glad to hear that is occurring. In one particular instance that I can recall vividly, what you say here was most definitely not the case. You every, and numerous comments on your own article were by Frankly. I never saw them changed, but maybe they did.

          And no, I can no longer recall what the article was about. But I think it had something to do with crazy extremist liberals, if I had to guess.  🙂

  29. Sam

    From the comments today I can see that Davis is a town that is open to everyone’s thoughts and beliefs but if they do not conform with popular belief then we are going to need your name and address so we can run you out of town. How accepting is that?

    How brave are those willing to use their names to post comments that almost everyone else in town agrees with while belittling people who choose not to? I could point to any historical time in which this happened, but I would be bashed for it and everyone would miss my point.


    1. Matt Williams

      Sam, you are applying an across the board labeling that I do not believe is supported by the evidence at hand.

      There are a number of regular posters here on the Vanguard who use their real names who have no hesitation stepping up and stating unpopular thoughts and beliefs.  They are absolutely willing to use their names to post comments that lots and lots of people in town disagree with.  They know their comments do not conform to popular belief, but they still step up and put those comments into the community dialogue . . . using their real names.

      1. South of Davis

        Matt wrote:

        > There are a number of regular posters here on the

        > Vanguard who use their real names who have no

        > hesitation stepping up and stating unpopular

        > thoughts and beliefs.

        Can you let us know if you or anyone else you know) have ever posted something “unpopular” aka something over half of Davis liberals would not support to the Vanguard?  I asked Eric a similar question yesterday and was not surprised when he ignored it.

        1. Matt Williams

          SoD, that is easy.

          — Anyone who came out in support of the Nishi Project (Measure A).

          — Anyone who came out in opposition to the Nishi Project (Measure A).

          — Anyone who came out in support of 3 on a Truck staffing for the Fire Department.

          — Anyone who came out in favor of live-work housing at MRIC.

          — My doing the math and pointing out that our City has $655 million of unfunded liabilities over the next 20 years.

          — The Trackside partnership putting forward a 6-story redevelopment proposal.

          — Anyone who opposed the Soda Tax.

          — Anyone who stated support of UCD’s plan for housing south of Russell between LaRue and A Street.

          — A whole litany of comments by Alan Miller where he doesn’t give a shit if any of the Davis liberals take exception to what he has said.

          — A whole litany of comments by Frankly where he wants the Davis liberals to take exception to what he has said.

          — Many comments by Mark West

        2. South of Davis

          Matt wrote:

          > Many comments by Mark West

          Mark is the only person I can think of that actually posts under his name that get’s people on the left upset.

          Pointing out that Davis has $655 million of unfunded liabilities over the next 20 years does not get many people on the left upset (just like pointing out to them that the US national debt and unfunded liabilities have almost doubled since Obama was elected)…

        3. Matt Williams

          SoD, it upset people within the Democratic Party enough that during the endorsement interview process I was accused of “not having Democratic party values.”  The message was clearly that knowing about the level of our unfunded liabilities was okay, but talking about them and formulating a plan for proactivly dealing with them was not.

  30. tribeUSA

    Absolutely anonymous posters have an ethical obligation to refrain from posting personal attacks (or even serious criticism) of other Davis residents or non-public figures. I’ve stuck to this fairly well, though I have strongly attacked other ideas or points of view (for people who hold their views close to themselves, perhaps this may feel like a personal attack).

    Anonymous posting is justified when the poster is expressing unpopular opinions (or bringing to light facts that are taboo to mainstream discussion) that could compromise the job of the anonymous poster, or make one or more of their personal relations (e.g. with in-laws) awkward. I post anonymously because I am still in the job market–expressing unpopular opinions freely under my own name is a luxury that I plan to enjoy upon retirement.

    I think you will find the comments sections to more resemble an echo-chamber, and vigorous discussion and more diverse points of view will be reduced if you phase out anonymous posting.

    How about if anonymous posters are formally warned (by  Vanguard policy posted at sign-up page) that they will be held to stricter standards re: personal attacks/allegations than those posting under real names? I would accept that, since I agree that it is dishonorable to launch personal attacks under the cloak of anonymity. Vanguard staff can e-mail warning letters (that their Vanguard sign-in may be terminated) to anonymous posters that engage in personal attacks/allegations (though non-local politicians and other public figures should remain fair game).

      1. Biddlin

        Such as allowing certain posters abysmally long, off-topic, factually questionable, undocumented and ungrammatical personal attacks to continue ad nauseum.

  31. Alan Miller

    Some have asked why one can’t respond just as easily to an anonymous poster as a known one.  I don’t think the question is quite correct.  However, in response, I am going to share my experience with two prominent and real Vanguard posters, who I will call here Anonymous and Realname.

    Realname one time took a very low blow potshot at me.  They did so on a Vanguard column long after most people stopped looking at the article, and I was unaware for weeks they had even made the comments until I went back to the article.  I was shocked the Vanguard allowed the comments to stand they were so obnoxious, but stand they did.

    As a result, I tell friends in Davis what a lying a–hole this person is.  Conversations with this person are done with caution, knowing they are a lying prick.  They receive my wrath as a result of their actions.  In other words, they are known and therefore are taking responsibility for their words and actions.  And for that I respect them.  And for no other reason do I respect them.

    Anonymous, on the other hand, has on repeated occasions made personal insults about my appearance, dress, writings and public statements.  They may already recognize themselves as they read the last sentence, gloating in their own personal glory.  I am not the only person they do this to in Vaguard comments.  They are both a coward and an a–hole.  Despite Vanguard policy or suggestions to posters, the Vanguard does nothing to this poster (who is often in agreement with Vanguard stances), and the insults are allowed to stand.

    From their comments, it is clear they know me and have been at public meetings and public places with me.  This is creepy.  They are creepy.  Creepy should be stamped out.  As I don’t know who they are, I cannot take normal precautions (such as with Realname, above) in using great caution when interacting with them, and warning everyone about how sh—y they are.  This is what is meant by a power imbalance.

    (What is hilarious is that many of you know from my descriptions exactly who Realname and Anonymous are.  Are they capable of recognizing themselves?)

    1. Biddlin

      Despite Vanguard policy or suggestions to posters, the Vanguard does nothing to this poster (who is often in agreement with Vanguard stances), and the insults are allowed to stand.

      One of the protected class.

  32. Eileen Samitz

    On the policy of anonymity, I like Roberta’s idea of self-regulation by anonymous post-ers, but that as soon as vulgar language is being used or implied (for example, f_ _ _ _ _ _ g) or obvious character attacks, that post-er is blocked. Perhaps for at least a month. Then given a second chance. If they learn to be civil and play by the rules fine, they can continue to post. If they violate the rules a third time they are permanently blocked. Now if they try to re-register, and the Vanguard cannot recognize this, it will not take long before they basically reveal themselves if and when they start violating the rules again.

    Personally, I stopped posting recently because like Tia, I am pretty fed up with personal attacks and insults which primarily come from anonymous post-ers. She and I, as well as Marina, tend to get way more than others and my sense, given the aggressiveness and tone of these condescending comments, these attacks sound pretty male-based. So all of these “tough guys” need to lighten up and stop being such bullies with their condescension and insults and stick to the issue and the discussion.

    I don’t mind debate but I am fed up with the insults and mean-spiritedness that has evolved on the Vanguard primarily from some of the anonymous post-ers.

  33. Jim Frame

    It occurred to me that any change in policy is going to have to be determined not just by what’s desirable, but by what’s feasible as well.  The current policy is sort of no policy:  to paraphrase the Davis Food Co-op, “Everyone can join.  Anyone can post.”  There is no vetting of credentials beyond the verification of an email address (maybe — I don’t recall anything about the signup procedure).

    If, however, the Vanguard decides that everyone has to post under their real names, then it’s going to have to implement a process by which it validates those names.  And if it can figure out how to do that, then it can figure out how to allow exceptions, kind of like a concealed-carry permit:  you apply for anonymous posting privileges, demonstrate a legitimate need according to specified criteria, and you get to post under an anonymous handle instead of your real name.  Frankly would essentially be grandfathered in, as he’s not only well-known to Vanguard principals, he has also established a credible need for anonymity.

    I think the Vanguard needs to figure out whether or not it has or can acquire the capability of validating member identities before it considers changing to a real-name posting policy.

  34. darelldd

    Here’s one of the elephants in the room for me:

    Does everybody who uses a screen name wish to be “hidden” and unidentified? That’s not the case on many other forums in which I participate. What happens when we learn the real identity of various anonymous posters? Is it acceptable to share that information? Is it acceptable to address comments to the person’s real name? Would doing so be considered some odd form of privacy violation? Who would make that determination?

    I have been chastised before for using a poster’s real name. What’s the collective thought on this? The anonymous poster may have decided to hide behind a screen name, but I didn’t agree to ignore the person’s real identity.

    And finally to those who are in full support of keeping anonymity: Are you OK with me signing up with two accounts – one as Darell, and one anonymous – and using them at my discretion? Is the editorial staff OK with me doing this?



  35. Odin

    Allow anonymity and restrict the amount someone can post on a single topic.

    Some folks, mostly regulars, post ad nauseum despite letting others know their point on the issue in their first post.  It gets tedious browsing through someone saying the same thing over and over again as if that’s the way to get their point across.  Restrict their word count for each thread and they will have to more thoroughly get their point across without wasting space to denigrate others.

    It also appears regulars get more leeway than intermittent posters.   It’s as if there is some unwritten rule that thou shall not offend a regular.

    I also wholeheartedly disagree with local politicians posting up on the DV.   Special interests have found a way to manipulate the internet, and nothing less should be expected here.

  36. commonsence

    Don’t you all find it intersting that David Greenwald is on the human services Comission who’s function pasted below:

    Promotes mutual respect, understanding and tolerance among all persons. Seeks to build a community where relationships among diverse peoples are valued by all, discrimination and hate are not tolerated, the voices of the voiceless are heard, and citizens can address issues dealing with hatred, discrimination and alienation through education, outreach, studies and recommendations to the City Council.


    I feel like the VG promotes the opposite.

    I posted in the past not under my real name – was verbally attacked and the cause. I was supporting was attacked even more. I reached out to the VG to ask for assistance and was not satisfied in the “assistance” David provided.

    if you are not happy with the policy or what is said here STOP reading and posting.  This is a blog not a newspaper.

  37. Napoleon Pig IV

    Eliminating anonymous posting is a cop out.

    Either you want to encourage broad community participation and also hear more of the truth or you don’t. A few insulting comments should not be too high a price to pay to also hear truth. Why should anyone give a rolling donut’s concern for insults from an anonymous poster anyway?

    Isn’t it a bit hypocritical to continue Yolo-Leaks (or whatever the correct name for that is) and discontinue anonymous posting? I support both.

    If real names are required, you won’t hear from me anymore (perhaps to the delight of some of your thinner-skinned readers and to the dismay of the ghost of George Orwell), and I’ll probably lose interest in reading very often. Yes, I’m one of your readers who finds the comments to be at least as enlightening as the articles that stimulate them.

    Frankly made a number of excellent points above. I won’t repeat them, but I certainly endorse them (and my endorsement is a hell of lot more important and wisdom-filled than an endorsement from the local rag called “enterprise” (what a misnomer!).


  38. Paul Thober

    I would prefer that the Vanguard disallow anonymous posting and sockpuppet usage. I think that would foster more civil and courteous discourse. The assymetry of the anonymous spewers and we that post with our true identity is troubling to me. We are guaranteed freedom of speech, but not freedom from the consequences of our speech. If you fear expressing your opinion, then don’t. Registration could require a verifiable physical address and phone number to ensure that people are who they say they are. My $.02.

    1. Barack Palin

      sockpuppet usage

      This has been one of my biggest gripes because there’s definately some sock puppet aliases on here that are used to back one’s own comments.

    1. Paul Thober

      When a commenter registers more than once the additional user name is a sockpuppet. You all too frequently see this in discussion groups. Usually the sockpuppet(s) will agree with and support the positions of the original poster. The most obvious one on the Vanguard is Jeff Boone/Frankly. I suspect David Greenwald has done this also based on his non-answer above.

        1. Paul Thober

          I said “most obvious” because you have never denied having two user names, I think you admit to that above, and you have commented on your own writing using your alternate user name. Perhaps I should have said,”most obvious to me”.

        2. Matt Williams

          Paul, as a person old enough to remember Kukla, Fran and Ollie, I’ve always believed an additional user name is only a sock puppet when the multiple identities actively conduct a dialogue with one another . . . and in so doing create a false sense of concurrence within the community.  He/she says something and the sock puppet swears to it.  One could argue that sock puppeting is a form of schizophrenia.

          Many people would argue that Frankly is crazy, but I don’t think anyone would label his particular brand of insanity as schizophrenia.


      1. Matt Williams

        Paul Thober said . . . “The most obvious one on the Vanguard is Jeff Boone/Frankly.”

        Paul, to the best of my knowledge Jeff Boone has never responded to a Frankly comment, and Frankly has almost never responded to a Jeff Boone comment.  As was noted earlier Jeff’s appearances usually happen when Jeff Boone is the author of one of the day’s articles.  Otherwise it is pretty much all Frankly All the Time.

        1. Frankly

          Paul, to Matt’s points.  I have two accounts so that I can comply with VG policy for articles.  I don’t abuse these two accounts to play “sock puppet” games, but I have in rare cases made a mistake and posted something under the wrong account.  But Don Shor is typically very responsive to delete those mistakes when I discover them and ask him to.

          It was a surprise to me that my employer was harmed by my private posting.   If not for that, I have no problem standing behind what I post with my actual name.

        2. darelldd

          Frankly – Clearly we don’t agree on …. much. I’d like to thank you for spelling out your reasoning and intentions for using a screen name. Something I had not known before. The only part I’ll take you to task on is the bit about how if you didn’t have business/family concerns, that you’d merely say the same thing under your real name. When I have seen posts from your real name, they have been… shall we say… much less annoying than the ones posted as Frankly. So I’m not sure that I fully buy the concept of why and how your screen name is used. From my perspective, your situation makes the case that using real names *does* lead to more civil conversation.

          Cheers, and thanks for keeping things interesting.

      2. South of Davis

        Paul wrote:

        > The most obvious one on the Vanguard is Jeff Boone/Frankly

        This is a bad example, I don’t always agree with Frankly (or Jeff) but he (they) are not “sock puppets” in any way.  For a “local” spin on what a sock puppet is clink the link below.

        P.S. The “most obvious” example of a sock puppet are the young political staffers who create hundreds of screen names a day to post everywhere they can defending the guy (or gal) they work for (and PR staffers who do the same thing promoting the business that hired them)…

        P.P.S. Any time I read a blog comment or Yelp review that seems to be written by an English major or PR person I assume it is from a sock puppet…

  39. Marina Kalugin

    A sock puppet, is when one sets up email addresses on various IP addresses under phoney names to get around the moderator, owner and whoever does their tech support, from recognizing that there are folks with many aliases chatting away.

    Of course, one can often start recognizing the language, tone, demeanor and can recognize those folks even though they think no one is onto them….

  40. Marina Kalugin

    interesting that some who use aliases, bash away at unpopular viewpoints by those of us who try to shake up their little so very PC and so very tiny and selfabsorbed little worlds…some of the worst, are those who think their PhDs and their MDs  excuse their totally dense posts…

    some of them are once again here 24/7 and don’t even know what a sock puppet is and cannot even look it up in a dictionary.

    Don’t they even teach that in schools any more?

    One doesn’t even need to be an old techie to have heard that word bounced around…for some decades now.

    Some of these most beligerent of folks who in their little worlds couldn’t figure out what is on topic or off topic if their life would depend on it….

    Some DO use their own names…others do not… I care….nahh….why should I ….the most dense are so sure the world is still flat and may even find many  publications which Proved it….

  41. Tia Will

    My apologies for having thoughtlessly created “sock puppet gate”. Unfortunately the second part of my post seems to have been widely ignored. The one candidate that has been proposed, namely Frankly and his alter ego, turns out not to fit the definitions provided. Can anyone else provide examples, or should I just consider this to be an urban legend ?

    1. Barack Palin

      Can anyone else provide examples, or should I just consider this to be an urban legend ?

      One can never really know with 100% positivity but imo it’s fairly obvious.  Either way I’m not going to out anyone.  I’ve brought this up before, why does the Vanguard have a policy that commenters can have more than one account?  To me that says a lot right there.

  42. darelldd

    Tia – because my last comment/question has been skipped over, and because it relates to your question, I’ll put the summary here:

    1. Do anonymous posters and/or the editorial staff mind if I also register with a screen name that may or may not be used as a sock-puppet at my discretion?

    2. The bonus question that I didn’t hear back on: Is it considered OK to use an anonymous poster’s real name? (noting that some, like Michael B. have a screen name, and sign their real name)


    1. South of Davis

      dareldd wrote

      > 1. Do anonymous posters and/or the editorial staff mind

      > if I also register with a screen name that may or may not

      > be used as a sock-puppet at my discretion?

      I have never met anyone that likes sock puppets (even the people that post them all day know they are bad people for doing it, and they justify it by saying at least they are not sending e-mails in all caps trying to get people to believe they are an African prince to steal their money).  If we start to see posts from “Davis Biker” that says “dareldd not only has movie star good looks but makes some great points” I’ll wonder if you decided to give the sock puppet thing a try…

      > 2. The bonus question that I didn’t hear back on: Is it considered

      > OK to use an anonymous poster’s real name? (noting that some,

      > like Michael B. have a screen name, and sign their real name)

      Just like it is bad form to “out” the janitor of of the Southern Baptist church you should not “out” anyone on line.  People like Michael B. seem to not want to be keep their screen name anonymous, but others like Frankly do and you should should respect that.

      1. darelldd

        Thanks SoD.

        Properly respecting the desire of others is a bit tricky.

        My desire is to know who I am speaking with, and to address that person by name. Another’s desire is to remain anonymous and not be addressed by name. Who is more deserving of the respect?

  43. Tia Will


    Sorry for having missed your previous post ( which gets to the issue of thread continuity which I have put on the list). I will attempt to answer your  questions from my own perspective only.

    1. I think that using a “sock puppet” is suboptimal practice. I dislike deception under any guise and I consider this as defined here as a form of deception. The creation of an alter ego has two downsides that I can see. First, it creates the false illusion that there are more people in agreement with a given perspective than actually are willing to own that viewpoint. Secondly, it creates distrust since the idea is always in the back of the minds of some that it might be occurring and therefore they may come to doubt the sincerity of even the most sincere posters. I find both effects to be very destructive of an open, honest conversation.

    2. I believe that the answer to your second question is it depends. I think it is fine if the poster has already claimed the two identities. I have done so by clearly stating that early on I poster under the user name “medwoman”. If someone wants to site comments made by “medwoman’ as having come from me, I have no problem with that. I would say the same would apply to anyone who uses a pseudonym, but then signs with their own name. However, if a person is using only their pseudonym, and one happens to know or discover their true identity, I do not believe that it is ok to effectively “out” them without their permission. The one time I mistakenly did this, I belatedly recognized my error and apologized.

    Hope that clarifies one poster’s position.

    1. darelldd


      A huge thanks for putting thread continuity on your agenda. This drives me nuts, and just happened again. SoD replied inline, but your reply came left-justified, so not attached to my thread.

      It sounds like everybody agrees with the “sock puppet” situation. And according to David, this just doesn’t happen much, if at all. I sure have my suspicions on that, but I’ll take it at face value that it isn’t happening. And if HateGreenPilesintheBikeLane happens to start posting full support for Darell’s stellar ideas… well, that’s probably just coincidence.

      Now for point two. Here’s what I wrote to SoD in the thread I tried to start:

      Properly respecting the desire of others is a bit tricky. My desire is to know who I am speaking with, and to address that person by name. Another’s desire is to remain anonymous and not be addressed by name. Who is more deserving of the respect?

      1. Barack Palin

        And according to David, this just doesn’t happen much, if at all. 

        I asked David point blank if he posts or has posted under an alias and he hasn’t responded.  So according to David we really haven’t received an answer yet that I know of.

        1. Mark West

          “I asked David point blank if he posts or has posted under an alias…”

          A couple of years ago, David made the mistake of signing his name to a post that had been made under an alias. To my knowledge, he never admitted that he had been using the alias to post anonymously, but that poster ID disappeared soon after. I think this was the best example of how the ‘sock puppet’ approach has been used on the site. I don’t know for certain, but I suspect that David has repeated this practice at times when he found it useful.

      2. Mark West

        “A huge thanks for putting thread continuity on your agenda. This drives me nuts”

        The problem with thread continuity is not a function of the site function, but one of choice by certain posters. Instead of hitting the reply ‘button’ under the comment they are referencing, they start a new thread. In my experience, this behavior correlates with those posters who appear to enjoy the sound of their own voice and think everyone else should hold the same opinion. Tia is one of the worst offenders of this behavior on this site, so your ‘thanks’ are really unwarranted.


  44. Tia Will


    My desire is to know who I am speaking with, and to address that person by name. Another’s desire is to remain anonymous and not be addressed by name. Who is more deserving of the respect?”

    My answer would be neither. But since we ( as an editorial board) would not be able to meet both these expectations, I personally would error in favor of inclusivity rather than restriction. But that is just me.

  45. Mark West

    I prefer the use of real names, and see very few exceptions that might justify the need for anonymous postings. That said, I don’t really have a problem with someone posting information or opinions anonymously. What I find inappropriate, are those who attack named individuals while hiding behind an alias. Groc’s attacks on Bill H. are the most recent example of this abhorrent behavior (that I am aware of).

    In my opinion, the easiest way forward is not to require the use of real names, but for David or the Moderator to simply pull offending posts and warn the responsible party that the behavior is unacceptable. On a second offense, the poster’s email and IP address should be published on the site along with the poster’s real name if known. That action allows the victim the option of responding to the offending poster ‘in real life’ as Alan M. describes above.  The poster and the IP address should then be banned from the site.


  46. Justice4All

    As a board member I ought to lay out my reasoning on this issue. I often write articles for the Vanguard that encourage discussion of controversial issues. I like that aspect of the Vanguard. With that in mind, many comments made by anonymous posters on my articles can be toxic in nature, discouraging many from participating in the discussions, merely because they do not enjoy personal attacks and the maligning of character that routinely happens in the comments section by anonymous posters.

    I have many friends who will simply not engage because the “internet tough guy” attitude that is pervasive in some articles makes the environment so toxic, rational discussion of issues becomes difficult at best, impossible at worst. While I certainly value confidentiality, I cannot in good conscience support a policy that allows for anonymous posters to consistently derail threads, attack people personally, and create an environment that is not conducive to rational discussion of issues.

    For these reasons I would support changing of the anonymous commenting policy. I am not saying outright abolition of the anonymous posting, rather that those who are incapable of playing nice anonymously, ought to be either banned, or simply have their identity publicly revealed. Obviously, these guidelines ought to be laid out in clear terms, in advance. Simply put, the status quo is unacceptable. If you want to attack someone personally, at least have the guts to tell people who you are.

    Sean Raycraft

  47. Tia Will


    Don’t worry Tia.  It’s not just you who recognizes misogyny here on the DV.”

    I don’t worry. I can tell the difference between misogyny and personal dislike. With the poster to whom you responded it is definitely the latter. I have no idea whether or not the former plays a role. What puzzles me is that some users of this site do not seem to understand that not every post is followed by a “reply ” indicator thus necessitating the start of a new thread. Such as the one I am responding to now.


    1. Barack Palin

      Tia, you just have to hit the reply button above the post you want to reply to if you want your reply to fall in line.  For ex. to have your reply fall under Odin’s just hit the reply button under Mark’s post.


      1. Tia Will


        Thanks. And here I have missed that all this time. But this is great because it illustrates really well what we can assume about each others motivations when the real reason may be pure ignorance, or something equally as innocent.

      2. quielo

        BP, the software only supports three or four levels of replies while to moderator has an additional level not available to regular posters. So Tia is correct in situations where there has been a number of replies, you have to reply one level up or create a new thread.

        1. Barack Palin

          Agreed, when David or the moderator post to the 5th level your posts won’t fall in line if one wants to respond to them.  But that wasn’t the case here.

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