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From CodeAndOtherLawsOfCyberspace by LawrenceLessig.
A common posting board to which messages may be attached, on the condition that they are signed. The trick is that they need not be signed by the author.
- One extraordinary feature of the Yale Law School is "the Wall". The Wall is a place where people can post comments about whatever in the world they want to say. A letter can be posted about gay rights at Yale, or a protest about Yale's treatment of unionized workers. Political messages are posted as well as points about law. Each posting makes additional ones possible--either scribbled on the original post or appended underneath the post.
- ....One rule, however, governs this space. All postings must be signed; any posting without a signature is removed. Originally, no doubt, the rule meant that the posting be signed by the person who wrote it. But because this is Yale, where no rule can exist without a thousand questions raised, a custom has emerged whereby an anonymous post can be signed by someone not its author ("Signed but not written by X"). The signature gives the post the pedigree it needs to survive on the Wall.
(From COALOC, pp. 79-80)
What this provides is a compromise between anonymity and accountability. As Lessig notes, "Free speech is not speech without consequence". Without the imprimatur of a known authority, the anonymous comments cannot stand. I would like to see this used as the basis for an online messaging or discussion system.
-- Signed but not written by StephenGilbert
Who removes unsigned messages?
- The De-Signer, of course ;-)
See also WittenbergDoor.