It may not be well known to the rest of the country, but here in Maine, we have a reputation for sticking together and helping our fellow citizens out. It troubles me, then, to see a fellow resident- and web developer- apparently harassing another Maine web developer.
I’m talking here about Rob Landry, owner of the Portland-based Pemaquid Communications, and his recent comments to and about Lance Dutson, the Maine blogger who just two weeks ago faced a multi-million-dollar lawsuit from Maine Office of Tourism contractor Warren Kremer Paino.
While Rob is certainly entitled to his opinion, I’m sure he’d agree there are more respectful and intelligent ways of expressing differing viewpoints- ways that do not involve leaving anonymous comments about a fellow Maine web developer across different blogs.
I believe that habit is wrong on a couple of levels. First, it’s professionally inappropriate to go around trashing another Maine web developer by hiding behind anonymous comments. Secondly, it’s in poor taste- and bad citizenship- as a commenter to intentionally muddy your identity. Obviously, it begs the questions: why hide behind a pseudonymn when making comments? Are you unable to support your own arguments? Or jealous of a fellow web professional? I’m not suggesting these are Rob’s motives- rather, I’m making the point that we can’t be sure, since he’s establishing a track record of obscuring his actions to the point of suspicion.
Maybe we should give Rob a pass. After all, by his own admission, he’s a newcomer to the whole world of blogging. I know because back in March, Rob emailed me asking for advice on what blogs are and how to set one up.
Now, I notice that he’s running what appears to be his own blog called foresider and located at http://foresider.com. Though his name appears in the registration info for the domain name, he’s curiously absent from any credit on the website. Rob has even gone so far as to intentionally mischaracterize his relationship to foresider.com, claiming that it’s a blog that he “advertises on.” While that is technically true- a link to his company, Pemaquid Communications appears on the blog- that would of course be an entirely disingenuous statement if he were also to own and publish the blog.
In the interest of fairness I emailed Rob asking for his take on both his questionable comments and his anonymous blog. Sadly, while Rob thanked me for the opportunity to comment, he nonetheless chose to continue his evasive maneuvers.
When I asked him why he left anonymous comments, he replied that he “Didn’t really think much of it,” so we’re in agreement there. Next he stated that he “wanted to add a comment that linked to the Foresider rather than Pemaquid Communications.” But of course, a comment’s link can point to anywhere- a commenter’s name is something entirely different. Again, he’s either woefully unfamiliar of common behavior standards online, or he’s intentionally ducking.
When I asked Rob why Foresider.com is an anonymous blog, he replied that he “[didn’t] understand the question.” He asked me to “elaborate”, so I wrote him a follow-up email and attempted to re-phrase my already direct questions in a more explicit manner. While he replied to my initial email within 12 hours, he has yet to reply to my follow-up. It’s been two days and counting, and given his record to date, I can’t say I expect a clear reply.
Rob, if you were to ask me for further advice, I’d let you know that anonymous blogging without a damn good reason is generally frowned upon in the blogosphere. If you have something to hide, by all means, hide it. I know of a couple of bloggers in Nepal who blogged anonymously for months to avoid imprisonment and murder. Their country’s radio and television lines had all been downed by the government, so in their case anonymity became essential to survival. You can understand then how it frustrates me to observe anonymity used for cowardly purposes.
So if you’re just trying to lay low, you might want to recognize that lurking both in comment sections, and on your very own blog, are two things that don’t exactly place you on the shortlist for the blogosphere citizen of the year award. And they certainly aren’t tactics that will foster a community among the ranks of the few, but growing, community of bloggers in Maine.