Some while back (as in down the page) I posted Passion in the Age of Reason, in order to recount and hopefully stimulate additional discussion about a conversation that occurred on Glenn's blog on Salon. Follow the link on that post to read the original. I am, in first life, writing a paper, and would like to cite the entire conversation. Which leads to an interesting format, an interesting etiquette problem, and an interesting ethics problem.
Scholarly articles are supposed to be, in some sense, immutable. In recent years, there has been much debate about citing electronic sites -- they could disappear, links could go dead, material can be changed, it's all bits, after all. So what should be a format, and how does it establish its permanence? Personal communication is a catchall, and can always be used, but somehow public communication is a new one. Some blogs, like Salon, maintain archives, and so could be assumed to be permanent, I'll probably assume this.
The second problem is an etiquette problem: Can one go on a public space, and ask people to stand up and be cited? Doesn't asking people, in some domain like Salon, invite questions of whether or not you've overstepped familiarity? So I am writing here, where the domain is smaller -- but still uneasy about whether or not it is polite. On the other hand, what could be less polite than failing to give credit?
The third problem or pair of problems, is ethics. Anonymity is one of the defining factors of the comment environment, the right to a nom de plume. Asking people for their names is unethical, it is like outing them. I, for one, was once cited on the Internet, by name, in a derogatory fashion that I hope never to see again. But not asking is unethical, it is failure to give credit where credit is due.
Shall I cite by nom de plume then? Does a person's concept of anonymity change if credit is due? Please let me know your thoughts, I think it would be a shame if comments were only allowed to be cited by blogs and newspapers, and never in a proceedings. I give you fair warning that if the consensus is to cite by genuine name, I shall be contacting those authors by email to get permission, and I don't know what to do for those I don't know how to contact. If the decision is to use nom de plume, I will do that instead.
Note: Due to a privacy problem with blogspot, I had to delete and repost this entry. That's why the comments disappeared.
Note Update: Karen M was able to resurrect the comments for the original entry, they are amalgamated into one comment and attached. Thanks!