Learning from Joel Splosky’s Fallacy

In Learning from Dave Winer, Joel Spolsky writes:

The important thing to notice here is that Dave does not see blog comments as productive to the free exchange of ideas. They are a part of the problem, not the solution. You don’t have a right to post your thoughts at the bottom of someone else’s thoughts.

Thoughtless drivel written by some anonymous non-entity who really didn’t read the article very carefully and didn’t come close to understanding it and who has no ability whatsoever to control his typing diarrhea if the site’s software doesn’t physically prevent him from posting.

Dave is absolutely right. The way to give people freedom of expression is to give them a quiet place to post their ideas. If other people disagree, they’re welcome to do so… on their own blogs, where they have to take ownership of their words.

Joe is committing the Fallacy of Composition by inferring that blog comments are a bad thing because frequently anonymous blog comments are a bad thing. The problem here is anonymity, not blog comments.

So, what to do about that? Well, it just so happens that another new thing this week is that Atom is now done and one of its features is support for digital signitures. So, in the not-too-distant-future we can restrict blog comments to APP (I’m hoping they call it ‘Spin’ instead) clients (Atomic is one implemented as a Firefox plug-in) and you can either have the standard registered accounts thing, or, probably better, just scrap it and only allow comments that are signed by somebody to whom you can verify a chain of trust.

I’ve got a free x.509 certificate from the Thawte Web Of Trust, and I’m a notary now, so if you’re a friend let’s talk about getting you trusted. CACert has a similar trust network, and both are free.

Lord knows I could use some spam prevention around here and would love to see a Typo plug-in to handle Spin, errr…., APP, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater – he’s kind of cute.

P.S. I’m not sure I would have ever looked into APP signing if not for Joel’s post, nor would I have written as thorough a comment on his blog had it existed. So, just because we can be trusted to post doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always the right thing to do.