Devaluing anonymous political feedback

I was talking to Robert Winters this week at the Citizen Media Unconference and he mentioned talking to someone on the Cambridge (MA) school board who just tossed any anonymous messages about school board issues.

He admitted that he devalues any anonymous message. What if it’s from a political shill? Yes, but what if it’s from someone who feels chilling effects against expression?

Since I started working for Tor I’ve heard lots of stories about chilling effects. I can imagine a dozen reasons for people to want to give anonymous feedback to the school board. What if it gets back to my kid’s teacher and impacts her treatment? What if I have a contract with the city? What if I am involved in a private school, but my kid attends public schools — but if I comment, it could be taken to be sniping because of my job?

But even devaluing the feedback is better than tossing it. Go figure — the calculation still works. A political shill giving illegitimate feedback has their feedback devalued, which minimizes damage. But the chilled response gets heard, at least a little, which is better than if that person had never spoken out at all.

Ideally, as trust is built, perhaps the formerly chilled person will contact the school board member in person and say, “I sent you that anonymous message about [this issue], and I want to tell you, I’m glad I did because you did something about it.” It could help build the fabric of participation by allowing a trust-building phase.
Of course, this works for folks like Robert Winters, who would read but devalue the message, but not for the school board member using the round file.

23 Comments

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  2. Линукс

    January 13, 2008 @ 11:24 pm

    2

    I was talking to Robert Winters this week at the Citizen Media Unconference and he mentioned talking to someone on the Cambridge (MA) school board who just tossed any anonymous messages about school board issues.

  3. прокси чекер

    January 13, 2008 @ 11:26 pm

    3

    Ideally, as trust is built, perhaps the formerly chilled person will contact the school board member in person and say, “I sent you that anonymous message about [this issue], and I want to tell you, I’m glad I did because you did something about it.” It could help build the fabric of participation by allowing a trust-building phase.

  4. Sanyo

    February 12, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    4

    He admitted that he devalues any anonymous message. What if it’s from a political shill? Yes, but what if it’s from someone who feels chilling effects against expression?

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    January 3, 2012 @ 1:10 am

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    What if it’s from a political shill? Yes, but what if it’s from someone who feels chilling effects against expression?

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  19. gcse

    January 8, 2012 @ 11:00 am

    19

    You make a good point about the feedback getting back to the teachers at school.

  20. jonipopi

    September 27, 2012 @ 4:35 pm

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    It’s a complicated topic but you did it well.

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    December 22, 2012 @ 3:38 am

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    The value of anonymous feedback continues to fall as spiteful social media comment increases

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    December 22, 2012 @ 3:40 am

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    Just because a comment is anonymous doesen’t necessarily mean it is untrue

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