Anonymous Ask Sites

What are they?

Sites like and Formspring are sites where users set up a profile page, follow other users and ask questions anonymously or as themselves, depending on their question.

Why are they dangerous?

Due to the anonymous nature of these questions, people are free to speak their minds on these sites, even if they are negative. Therefore they can be used as a form of cyber bullying. As teenagers, it can be very damaging to your self-esteem.

Why do we even use these sites?

Maybe it’s a sense of curiosity. The fact of the matter is, most teens and pre-teens do care what others think of them. Sites that allow anonymous questions enable others to freely state their opinions without fear of retribution or tension, so it’s a way to get a real idea of what people think of us. Maybe it’s a tiny bit of vanity – if you get a lot of questions, and even possibly some hate, it means people have taken time out of their day to write to you. To someone out there, you mattered enough to log on and type. It could be a lot of things, but unless you have a thick skin and an infallible self-esteem, words can hurt.

How can we use it safely?

If you are going to use these sites, the best thing to do would be to disable anonymous commenting or questions so as to avoid anonymous cyber bullying that you simply can’t address/do anything about. For sites like and tumblr, you don’t have to answer questions you don’t want to, so just ignore the ones that make you feel uncomfortable or that you don’t want to answer. In addition, remember, no one can see the questions you don’t answer, so no one but the asker will know that you have chosen to ignore it.

You need to feel responsible as a digital citizen to utilise the website purely for entertainment purposes. The sites which are sources of humour to you can become a harmful threat to someone else. Also, everyone should take care how they respond to these questions, anonymous or not, because they leave trace behind, which cannot be permanently deleted. This is dangerous, and perhaps it is most wise to ignore and delete (straight away) the “hate” comments to avoid conflicts, not make the situation bigger than it should be, and to prevent yourself from getting overly affected by these rude remarks.

So what should you do if you receive hate mail?

First of all, do not take it to heart. The fact of the matter is, if you receive hate, it could be entirely wrong and not affect you at all, or the person hiding behind a computer screen could have hit you right where it hurts. Unfortunately it is all too common for people to identify the weaknesses and sensitive spots of others and then proceed to exploit these for no discernible reason. That is why it is crucial to understand that you absolutely cannot listen to someone else’s thoughtless words. If what they had to say was really of any use or value to you, it would be worth saying to your face. As far as anonymous hate mail goes, indifference truly is the best response (or lack thereof). Don’t reply, even if you’re dying to right their wrong, because this is not about a flaw you have - it’s about a flaw they have. Use the skill every student in the history of time has developed: ignoring things until they go away.

Does that mean you should let them get away with it then? Not necessarily. If there is someone constantly harassing you online, talk to a trusted adult or mature, responsible friend. If they’re not anonymous, it can be dealt with in person. If they are anonymous, you can discuss possible solutions and put an end to the situation. But don’t suffer in silence - bullying is not okay, cyber cowardice is not okay, and bashing someone’s self-esteem is not okay. Chocolate is okay, as are friends and fluffy pets. Focus on those, not the opinion of an anonymous icon on a slightly dodgy website.


I guess the point of it all is this: the web is there at your disposal. If you want to open yourself up to judgement, just make sure you’re aware of the potential consequences. There’s nothing wrong with having an, or a Formspring, or even a Tumblr (where others may again leave anonymous comments). But if you do receive nasty remarks, perhaps disable anonymous commenting. Life’s too short to be verbally abused by people who probably know nothing about you.

This article was submitted by our Year 12 prefects