The Martinsburg Journal (Martinsburg, WV) was kind enough to give us a mention yesterday. I wanted to respond to a couple of reader comments about the article but was limited by the Journal’s 1000 character limit.
Our goal is not to provide users absolute anonymity or shield them from direct interaction with law enforcement. In fact, that would be counterproductive. Any good working relationship depends on mutual trust and it’s impossible to establish trust when one party is anonymous. That said, the internet does offer a certain degree of anonymity (though not absolute, as mentioned by the previous posters) and that means we have to decide if we trust a user posting an anonymous report on Nation of Neighbors enough to pass that report on to our members and law enforcement. Our report screening algorithm does just that.
We do offer a certain degree of anonymity in regard to other community members. We want members – and ‘anonymous’ users – to be able to report crime or suspicious activity without fearing reprisal so we don’t publish identifying information with reports – either to members or to the general public. We also don’t save IP data with reports and we randomize or offset the location as shown on our maps by a distance determined by report type and local density. We have had many instances where a report was sent directly to local law enforcement but never published because of the sensitive nature of what was reported or because the report could have hampered an ongoing or potential investigation.
NoN vs. 1984
Much of the infrequent criticism we receive involves a reference to Big Brother.
The watching done by ‘Big Brother’ in George Orwell’s 1984 is done to enforce conformity and silence political dissent. We’ve worked very hard to keep politics and mundane ‘my neighbor’s grass is too long’ issues out of Watch Jefferson County and we’ll continue to do so with Nation of Neighbors.