<blockquote>As long as nothing is said that hurts the stock price, it's cool. Vail, any company, has zero recourse. We're all protected under freedom of speech.
I agree that this should be the case. Unfortunately, it's not quite so anymore. Freedom of speech really doesn't apply in the corporate arena these days. It's not the government bringing these lawsuits, and what the government does is all that the 1st Amendment covers.
And we've all seen the 1st Amendment (and the 2nd, but don't get me going on that...) whittled down "for the children", for political correctness.
There have been numerous cases of high school kids stigmatized for just saying "I'd like to get that jerk" - when typically it's been that "jerk" who had been picking on the person for years. The government(school) then punishes the victim for "violent speech". There are many other types of restrictions against speech, campus speech codes, etc. that have severely rolled back what we (those of us from the USA) think of as our 1st Amendment rights. Just go to the "YRO (Your rights online)" section of http://www.slashdot.org
and check their archived stories for dozens of examples of web censorship.
If I was going to post about my employer, I would absolutely use an anonymizer service, not just a "handle" from yahoo or hotmail. Those are fine for the times you want to casually mask your identity from the readers of the web page. But they do nothing to actually hide your identity, your IP address, your ISP. And that means your identity is not under your control.
Before anyone asks "what do you have to hide", the correct question in a truly free country is rather, "why should I have to tell?"
Now personally, on epicski or PSL, or home theatre forums, I don't particularly care if somebody knows who I "really" am. I just tend not to use my primary e-mail address because I already get too much spam. But in other venues I might want to use a different identity, just so that I could have the freedom to not have the overall package of "Mark the Bostonian, Mark the programmer, Mark the skier, Mark the amateur radio operator", and so on. And maybe there's only so many of my interests and involvements that I want to be cross-edited and correlated by web spiders, search engines, and DejaNews (now Google groups). But that's just identity masking and playing different roles. Hey, I used to do some acting work, I like to play other roles. Oops, there's another correlation for the search engines.
For truly sensitive posting, or posting where someone else (one's employer or a company being criticized for example) might consider it sensitive, going through a true anonymizer is the only safe choice.
Even if "Freedom of Speech" is the ultimate defense, a company or person on a crusade (I almost said "on the warpath" and then realize that PC might make that inappropriate!) can devastate a target financially and personally from the cost of that defense.
Better to be safe than sorry. It's not like anyone is sending death threats, right?