I had to put this comment here because my attempt to post it on the Psychiatric Times was unsuccessful. I tried to put this comment in response to an article by Ronald W. Pies, MD on anonymous posters that are abusive and in some cases threatening. He discusses situations where psychiatrists who are not anonymous are subjected to these tactics by anonymous posters. He goes on to say:
"It was therefore with great satisfaction that I learned of a new (6/27/12) policy on the popular medical Web site, Medscape; ie"we have removed the ability to post comments anonymously in our physician-only discussion forum, Medscape Connect, and in all Medscape blogs."
I am familiar with the discussion area on Medscape for quite a long time. There are anonymous posters there who are somewhat disagreeable. There are anonymous posters there who clearly have a lot of time on their hands. There are posters there whose main goal is to denigrate psychiatry and psychiatrists. Interestingly posts against psychiatrists and psychiatry have never been censored, no matter how off the wall they are. One psychiatrist fighting back, made several posts that were pulled. The abusive anonymous posters there usually fall back on "freedom of speech" as their right to say whatever they want about psychiatry. As far as I know only a psychiatrist was ever censored in that forum - but in that case an entire series of posts was pulled.
I have always advocated for physicians posting under their own name in any Internet discussion by physicians. When that does not happen there is always a predictable amount of rhetoric and name calling. At times the posts on Medscape were at such a level it was difficult to believe that they were made by physicians. Of all the specialty discussion boards on Medscape, it is probably no surprise that psychiatry was the only specialty under attack.
The problem currently is that despite their advertised policy, posting on Medscape's physician discussion forums really have not changed. I just looked at the forum and anonymous posting is alive and well. Bashing psychiatry is alive and well.
Old antipsychiatry habits die hard.
George Dawson, MD, DFAPA
Ronald W. Pies, MD. Is it time to stop anonymous (and abusive) posting on the Internet? Psychiatric Times; August 16, 2012.