I am not saying anything groundbreaking with the assertion that every company who has entered the social media world has the perpetual problem of how to respond to critics, detractors, and plain ol' kooks. We have our share and then some. I am reminded of this almost daily as this thread on Lenovo Forums continues to update. For those who do not want to read through all 12 pages of the thread to understand what this blog post is about, here is a brief synopsis: A poster asked why we did not provide audio support over DisplayPort connections. I answered the question. People were not happy with that answer. Mark Hopkins kindly agreed to search again and spent a lot of time polling our engineers. He came up with essentially the same answer. Despite hours of diligent research, there are those who still think that Lenovo is not being truthful. Companies love the experts. We love when people go out of their way to provide specialized knowledge, comments, and insight to make the online world a better place. Even if you are online to report a problem, most of you eventually get your legitimate problems or complaints handled. Yes, companies mess up from time to time, but most have a genuine desire to make it right. It is good for the business. We're also human beings who are smart enough to realize when someone has been, if you'll pardon the slang, shafted. It sometimes takes a bit more prodding, but overall the model is successful. It is easy to be a jerk on the Internet. All you need is a blog or multiple forum accounts and a desire to spend your free hours posting wildly. These are the armchair quarterbacks. These are the people with strong opinions but no specialized knowledge or insight to offer other than to complain and think that every company out there is conspiring to cheat them. We all have people in groups that we just want to yell out "Oh shut up already!" For companies, these people are a quandary. Do we give in to their demands? They have the widespread reach. Some get media attention. Their comments can be disastrous to a company's image. I am convinced that these people thrive because there is nothing for them to lose. They have nothing at stake. They get away with shameful behavior because they hide securely behind the veil of anonymity. It's time to change that. Here's my answer to take a step in the right direction. Set up a centralized online ID registration and clearinghouse. To sign up, you must provide a driver's license or passport to prove you are who you say you are. At that point, you are assigned an online ID that has your name and picture (from your passport/driver's license) associated with your profile. The rest of your personally identifiable information is immediately destroyed. You use this common ID for ALL forums, boards, and blogs that you are a member of – whether it is a vendor's forum or a blog about coffee brewing methods during the Medieval time period. After your centralized online ID is created, you start to establish credibility. Using the Reddit "vote up/down" or Amazon 5 star model, following each post on any online forum, people have the opportunity to vote your credibility and helpfulness up or down. Using the wisdom of crowds, people quickly learn by looking at the rating by each post with your name on it as to whether you are someone who is worth listening to or not. Since your picture is by your name, you no longer have the ability to snipe at people while hiding behind a pseudonym. I believe that many companies as well as independent forum owners would sign up for this service and make it a requirement in order to post. All industries would be able to use this information and be able to determine those who are genuinely aggrieved and who is just blowing hot air. If the Internet age is about transparency, then individuals must be held to the same transparency standard that they demand from companies.