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Article: Post Anonymously?
Writer: Shindo
Date Posted: 15/08/01

The Internet has provided an excellent opportunity for the independent music. Many of the distribution and feedback problems that have plagued bands in the past can be avoided with cheap and easy communications. I'm happy to have participated in this as a writer for (shameless plug) Punknews.Org. The news engine we run provides a comment section after each piece of news we post. This has become a debate forum and feedback column. It's a great opportunity to get the readers involved and creates a community aspect on the site.

While there have been many insightful comments and heated debates, there have been just as many heartless insults. The problem with the Internet is that when anonymous, people feel no need to show anyone respect. Bands are made up of people who, especially in the independent world, do a lot of hard work. While many albums get bad reviews, there is usually an aspect of constructive criticism involved. Reviews, especially unpaid freelancers, obviously write because they love the music. Respectfulness brings credibility, and a reviewer will rarely viciously attack a band. However the anonymous feedback options allows everyone to voice an opinion, even if it is hurtful, insulting or ignorant. A scene that rallies around the cry of “Unity” has a lot to be ashamed about when it's supporters use the first chance they get to show their true colors. In a recent interview even Epitaph head Brett Gurewitz said that some fan reviews really do “get to him.” We forget that bands are made up of human beings and say things online we would never say to a persons face. Here are a few examples:

Example 1: In early July there was a rather incredible rumor that Microsoft's marketing department wanted to purchase the rights to Bad Religion's “21st Century Digital Boy” for 2 million dollars. This has obviously been proven false, but even when the rumor was fresh is didn't seem likely. “Digital Boy” does not paint a very positive image of the information revolution (not a wise marketing choice). Ignoring this obvious fact (as well as readable grammar) we received this reply “Ha, it will finally show how full of shit Bad Religion sucks.”

Example 2: This comment was so close to being intelligent, or at least comprehendible. There was an article in a Pittsburgh newspaper the “top 50 cultural forces of the year.” Pittsburgh political punkers Anti-Flag were ranked 22nd. Many of the comments expressed the opinion that Anti-Flag's politics are too vague and have no substance. While that is open to debate, it is at least an relevant idea. This comment was so close to redemption, “Anti-Flag sucks. They just yell out a bunch of buzz words to a generation that will rebel at anything. And to top it all off, their lead singer sounds like he will take a shit.”

Example 3: The route of this problem seems to be that the perpetrators think that their opinions will enlighten the rest of us. In May the Dropkick Murphys appeared on Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Our anonymous friend makes sure to remind us afterwards: “I still think the dropkicks suck balls.”

Example 4: American bands constantly have problems clearing customs to get into Canada while touring. Calgary Alberta's Chixdiggit had the reverse problem and could not get into the US. While too much red tape and a bookkeeping backlog were the cause, an American friend made this striking call for unity: “FUCK FOREIGNERS!!! ESPECIALLY CANADIANS!!!”

Example 5: We recently announced the title and release date of the new Agnostic Front record. This response is my favorite, it scores a 10 on the ignorance scale: “oh who gives a flying fuck?”