Huffington Post Disables Anonymous Comments

Friday, September 13, 2013

Transcript

This week, The Huffington Post ended anonymous comments on its website in the hopes of engendering more civil discussions. Bob reflects on OTM's own issues with anonymous commenters, and speaks with Arianna Huffington about her site's new requirement to name names.

Guests:

Arianna Huffington

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [39]

silicon28

Just one more reason why so many of us have left Huff Post behind in the dust. This is more about Arianna's dreams of more riches than it is about civility in the comment universe. Their page views - which is their cash cow, golden calf - don't get added to from me anymore...

Mar. 10 2014 05:11 PM
tanddemand

They can try but it will enver happen.
www.RealAnon.tk

Feb. 15 2014 12:25 PM
Cullie

Hp is a joke. They are a democratic site, and post continually about the kasdash people. Pure trashy.

Feb. 10 2014 07:47 PM
Cypher

F-k HP & FB. I don't use Facebook & never will! Why should I have to sign up for FB just to post on HP?? Its absolutely absurd!!!

Feb. 06 2014 11:48 PM
vv

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SUPPORT THE GOVERNMENT TO CLEAR ILLEGAL PROBLEM OF COLORJEWELS AND BAD GUY
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Jan. 21 2014 10:26 PM
eric from NY

I CANCELLED MY HUFFINGTON POST. BEFORE YOU DO SEND THEM A NICE EMAIL THROUGHT 'CONTACT US' AT BOTTOM OF PAGE.

F THEM IF THEY THINK THEY CAN GET MY CELL.

Dec. 25 2013 08:51 PM
Logan Waters from metuchen nj

Absurd. First of all, anyone may create a fake FB account, and then use that for "verification" on HP.

But, commenting on HP is pointless anyway. I can tell you from personal experience that any comment left of HP's DNC Talking Points Paradigm are eliminated by tribalist "moderators", no matter how well-written or well-considered.

To hear Arianna justify all of this, while blathering about the importance of reader input is just pathetic.

Dec. 19 2013 09:20 AM
Logan Waters from metuchen nj

Absurd. First of all, anyone may create a fake FB account, and then use that for "verification" on HP.

But, commenting on HP is pointless anyway. I can tell you from personal experience that any comment left of HP's DNC Talking Points Paradigm are eliminated by tribalist "moderators", no matter how well-written or well-considered.

To hear Arianna justify all of this, while blathering about the importance of reader input is just pathetic.

Dec. 19 2013 08:58 AM

Don't believe for one minute that the changes at Huff Post are for "civility". One of the requirements for verification at Facebook is the demand for your cell phone number. How does that promote civility? Go back and read the negative articles published at HP about lack of privacy at Facebook. Now they want our cell phone numbers?? Deleted the HP account, there are more sites out there no need to give Arianna more $$.

Dec. 18 2013 02:34 AM
virginia rinehart

I don't do facebook. Period.

I have had several of my well written, well considered, carefully and diplomatically worded comments blocked by huffpost for no reason - they did not violate any of the policies stated.

Huffpost has now lost a commenter and a reader. First, I find much of their content completely un-newsworthy and rather reprehensible. Second- Adriana Huffington espouses one thing and does quite another- as may of her new writers are unfairly paid or NOT PAID.

I will find another viable outlet for my commentary- one that is private as my vote is private and allows discourse that does not impact my personal identity or safety.

Facebook is evil in my opinion and Huffpost has joined in the bullshit.

Dec. 18 2013 01:27 AM
Charlie from Withheld.

I deleted my profile on huffingtonpost.

Some years ago, I sent a letter to the editor of a newspaper. Someone read the letter, looked up my phone number and address and called my house with vulgar comments and threatened the life of me and my family. My letter was not anonymous, but that caller was.

By displaying my full name, huffingtonpost endangers me and my family. The understanding was always that my privacy would be protected. They have violated my trust. Frankly, if any class action suits ensue, I will gladly join, because I am afraid now.

We tell our kids not to reveal anything about themselves online, lest they be prey to predators. What are we supposed to do when our private profiles are made public for the world to see? How can we protect ourselves and our privacy?

Dec. 16 2013 01:35 PM

I see some familiar names here. Names that became recognizable because I read HP several times a day for years. Names that I've had discourse with and some that were friends on HP. Summertown is no more on HP and there may or may not be some that miss seeing that name.

I tried FB for a time a few years ago. I found it frightening and quit it just before all of the issues about privacy and hacking began to hit the news wires. And guess where I first read about that problem? You've got it. Huffington Post was the first to bring it to light.

Selling to AOL was bad enough. I am on limited band width since I live in the country but with all of the auto playing vids and flash advertising it was becoming more costly until I figured out how to shut them all off.

They made nothing on advertising from me since all advertising was blocked from my end. So, this trying to steal my personal information by forcing this FB linkage was a fail. And after reading so many other very intelligent commenters from HP, I'm certain the same is true.

Dec. 13 2013 10:23 AM
SolarPowerGuy from California

For a while, it looked like it wouldn't happen. Well, three months later, it's finally official. The Huffington Post now requires you to authenticate your posts with your real name (or Facebook account, which I don't have), and so I'm done with the site.

I'm not rude. I'm not a troll. I first went on-line in 1985, and have decades of practice in proper Netiquette. So, why am I leaving HuffPo?

First: I'm a member of the Green Party. It was only a few years ago that the TSA harassed several Green activists trying to get on airplanes (I'll bet you didn't hear about that story). I haven't seen much love from the Obama Administration for America's progressives. I do not trust them with my freedom of speech much more than I trusted Bush.

Second: the Huffington Post has already censored many quite reasonable comments that I have made. Here's the latest (and, because I no longer use HuffPo, the last) example. A few weeks ago, HuffPo posted an article from "24/7 Wall Street" which had a title something like: "The Worst-Run States In America." The article put California at the top of the list, because of its "high budget deficit."

Well, actually, a year ago, California ELIMINATED its budget deficit.

I tried to post a comment criticizing 24/7 Wall Street for its poor fact checking, and upbraiding HuffPo for accepting the article as-is. Wasn't it big news when Californians passed Proposition 30, raising taxes? Wasn't it noted that Jerry Brown and a super-majority of Democrats in the California legislature -- so often stereotyped as reckless spendthrifts -- did not run out and spend all the tax money on new programs, instead choosing to balance the budget? Was there no one on the HuffPo staff who remembered any of that?

Three times, I tried to post various versions of that comment. My language was forthright, but not rude. They wouldn't post a thing.

So now: putting reasons #1 and #2 together, I have reason to believe that both the government and Huffington Post dislike my opinions, though I believe them to be harmless and indeed quite fair-minded. If I am required to attach my name to my remarks, will I censor myself? Will people who have no business discriminating against me for my views -- employers, for example -- be able to find me? Will HuffPo help to expose me? I have no interest in finding out.

Dec. 12 2013 04:21 PM
demsd from USA

The claim that removing anonymity promotes "civility" is a sham. First of all, Huffington Post WAS moderated by the "community." Secondly, and more importantly, requiring an account with one of the most pervasive privacy abusers on the Internet is obscene -- just read the articles at Huffington Post on Facebook privacy issues. What is stopping anyone from creating a fake Facebook account? Anonymity is still there, but now Huffington Post has access to your friends list, and Facebook will have access to the mobile numbers of anyone who verifies an account.

Corporatism at its worst.

Dec. 10 2013 10:52 PM
Bob from Low and inside

Crowd sourcing Truth must hurt. Sure there'll be some dirt; how can there not be. Some of those posters are probably on their last mortgage payment and found a place to vent and a lot of that venting comes from way down where you might guess a person who's home is being foreclosed on or is in a job where the boss threatens him or her with existence itself might come from. Arianna doesn't have those sorts of problems. The wealthy and powerful have only so much stamina for their convictions on display. There is a niceness threshold that gets nudged and fouled somewhere somehow just by the shear numbers processed at Huffington. You can't just say anything you want because there's a civility that must be maintained, afterall we're not storming the Bastille anytime soon children -- behave. Is it any coincidence at all that when the goalposts are said to have moved they never seem to manage to move further left. (I feel like I haven't taken a bath in a week.) And some of the sensationalist filled stories at Huffington are enough to incite a prison riot anyway. Some of them are for real while others leave out any facts that distract from the desired effect. Cops killing pedestrians with multiple rounds daily, government misdeeds that almost make a liberal claim the government is too big. The front page news has the Presidents latest dealings sharing space with Miley Cyrus twerks and Beiber's latest haircut on a daily basis--its a madhouse and now she wants a prim and proper audience that behaves.
Huffington is not The Economist but it can put on airs as if its armies of writers have Pulitzers around their necks if it wants to because its privately owned. This ain't no collectivist disco. I hope I didn't breach any "Terms of Use" when I was there, that would be ghastly. Off with their heads.

Dec. 10 2013 10:24 PM
linda

While I completely agree with ending anonymity online, Huffington Post has very little credibility on this issue as they routinely censor posts without explanation or recourse, despite the fact that they are not in violation of the sites terms of use. And they will NOT identify who made that decision, nor allow you to appeal. Seems they are ok with just a little anonymity, as long as it is their own.
But anyway, the right to free speech does NOT include the right to anonymity. The right to freely express your ideas is a precious one, but it also involves a great responsibility. If your speech is indeed so important that you want to shout it to the world, then OWN those words! Defend them and show everyone how much thought you put into it.
But when I say that, many respond by saying "But people need to express themselves without fearing backlash and threats." Umm, no, they don't. Backlash, even threats, are all possible when you start exercising that first amendment right. That is because your audience ALSO has the right to free speech, and people may not LIKE what you have to say and wish to freely express this to YOU. If a particular threat becomes a real issue, then you pursue that through law enforcement. Which, btw, will have an easier time catching the threat if they aren't anonymous either...
And I've heard more than one say they need to be anonymous because they fear authorities may target them...Seriously? C'mon folks, get REAL! Most of you are NOT Julian Assange fighting for truth and transparency...you're sitting in front of your computers covered in Cheetoes dust making asses of yourselves on blogs, so spare me the melodrama! If you really DID value that first amendment right, you'd be PROUD to identify yourselves! In fact, you'd INSIST on it.
And think about it a minute...why would you even NEED a first amendment if you can just create some fake ID for expression? Does "assmaster 2011" need the Constitution's guarantee when he can become "nippletwistersRfun" in order to express a different view anytime he wants?
What anonymity proponents REALLY want is to be able to hit and run without consequences. They want to be able to hit at YOU all they want, while denying YOU any opportunity for self-defense. The First Amendment guarantees you the right to express your thoughts, but YOU are responsible for them! If anonymity is required in order that you nay speak freely, then maybe it's best if you just shut up, no?

Sep. 26 2013 10:12 PM
fred from usa

The excuse of "trolls" is just a cover.

What sites like that want is information, personal information, the more they can get people to post using their facebook accounts and the rest, the more they can track people for advertising and the rest.

Raucous anonymous comments are better than curated ones. On many topics, and in many cases, its better to have free flow of thought. Someone may have their life in danger if they comment against religion if their family is extremist or the country they live in is repressive in that area. Or more simply if you are a woman in the south, commenting on abortion and your boss is a rabid pro lifer, do you really want to put your job at risk like that by commenting with your real name? There are legitimate reasons for anonymity and the reasons against it tend to be based on business interests, the tracking, the better to sell you advertising.

On many "curated" hysteria link bait trolling sites like the gawkers and the rest, it becomes nothing more than group think in the comments section, especially if there is any community policing, only opinion acceptable by the clique of users on that site is found to be acceptable, anything else is shouted down or just never allowed to be shown at all. At that point you might as well just remove the comment section because its just people patting themselves on the back for agreeing with the article author/blogger.

Sep. 21 2013 03:57 AM
Jaleh from San Diego

I'm grateful for this show, I'm even grateful for the people who hate this show. I'm grateful that you allow the people who hate this show to comment. I may not agree with them, but their voice is just as important as anyone else.

Sep. 17 2013 03:11 AM
clopha deshotel from Bridgeport CT

The last time I commented it was in a story "Identity of Minors" about twitterpated teens in Torrington CT.

IT WAS Good to hear/see that some maturity is beginning to take shape in the online world, even in the mind of Huff Post.

Sep. 16 2013 06:03 PM

Andrew M of Santa Clara, CA,
If you intend on doing me the honor of quoting me, please do so accurately. I did not say NPR is left wing, just at least 1 censor. Did you happen to notice that immediately following the word “communist” was an editorial comment containing a smiley. This means that the writer is laughing about what he just wrote and that it is not to be taken seriously. I suspect you know that?

What we have here is a bowed up person extracting 1 word out of context, applying the most negative spin and most sinister intent he can think of in a feeble attempt to savage another. Your consummate Trollery [*] is impressive.

“force him as he suggests, to use his social security #”. The suggestion was to establish a “unique number” for each censor and poster in a database in order to look for patterns in the censorship. My SSN was only mentioned by you even though you state that I suggested it. It makes one look wholly Trolly to materially misrepresent another’s statements when the truth is written just a few inches below the fib. [Note my exact quote]

The name of the show on which Ms. Huffington was interview is “On The Media”. As the name suggests, the purpose of the show is to critique what the media are doing. Who better to examine than the organization distributing the current program. The article in question was about reducing obnoxious comments. The hypothesis was that NPR censors have a liberal bias shown in the comments they censor. The experiment suggested is to gather data on who is censoring which data and then to look for patterns which may expose a bias (or may not). This is an application of the Scientific Method intended to shed light “ON THE MEDIA”!

A hand typed idea germane to the discussion at hand is not the same as Spam: an advertisement spewed to millions of individuals in an effort to extract something of value from them. Your Trollerous use of this pejorative term in this context is both false and misleading.

You are really on a TROLL (get it? :) ;) :-) <:-) ROFLMAOYSST

Note [*] See Urban Dictionary, definition 1. Bullseye!

Sep. 16 2013 05:39 PM
Karen Kirtland from Riverside, CA

Regarding anonymous commenters. I abide by what my grandmother taught me. Never write anything you would be ashamed to put your name to, never say anything you would be ashamed to tell your grandmother about.

Sep. 16 2013 01:50 PM
Eliot S from Springfield MO

This is really a tough issue, I'd hate to give my name and have my political beliefs available to anyone with my name and a search engine.

That said, online forums quickly devolve into things like calling the interview subject an ugly vampire or a social climbing stewardess (keep scroling down). Comments that are useless/ugly/baseless or contain so many talking points they might as well be machine-generated tend to be the norm in small-scale online political discussions. It's not just the conservatives, either. Go look up any story that mentions Ann Coulter and buckle up.

Comment threads like this one have voting buttons, and allow flags, but when you have eleven comments and six of them are from people with very passionate "my team is good, and yours is evil" mindsets, democracy isn't going to work either. There just aren't enough visitors for the sensible, yet less passionate majority to drown out the kooks.

I'd suggest bringing in a larger commentary audience, like arranging each story to have a comment thread on Reddit, and directing commenters there. People can be anonymous, and Reddit's community and voting algorithms are exceptional at keeping the rubbish at the bottom of the bin. Pick a Huffpost story, read their comments, then look it up on Reddit or Facebook (if it's up there) and read theirs.

Sep. 16 2013 12:49 PM
ceolaf from New Haven. Ish.

What an odd framing of this piece by Bob.

Did I say "odd"? Oh, meant inaccurate.

There is a an enormous difference between anonymity and pseudonymity. In fact, that gap might be wider than the gap between pseudonymity and use of one's real name.

HP has banned anonymous comments. But it is has not banner pseudonymous comments. And the OTM commenter Bob described ins NOT an anonymous commenter. S/he is linking his/her comments together with the pseudonym "Listener," allowing OTM folks, readers and other commenters to recognize these comments and read them in light of his/her longer history of comments.

Anonymous? Hardly. Anonymity is about blending into the background, and lacking all identity. It is about putting comments in the context of all other anonymous comments, and therefore not allowing the reader to really connect them to any particular point of view, history or agenda. Pseudonymity is quite different.

If Listener is using the same form that I have access to, then s/he must enter an email address. It would be trivial for OTM to require authentication of those email addresses for each posted comment. And if Listener instead wrote John Smith or any number of other common names, the import of his/her comments would be unchanged.

The idea that a name and town provide sufficient identification to be substantively different than a consistently used pseudonym is based upon a mythological Letters to the Editor page drawn from the residents of small towns. In fact, in well chosen pseudonym can better identify an individual than a name and town. It is also male-centric, as so many women change their names upon marriage.

There are lots of Alexander Hoffman's out there, and I have lived in Alexandria, VA, three towns around Boston, two NYC boroughs and now near New Haven. But I am always ceolaf, and I'm the only one. So, which name should I use to provide the most help in the reader assessing where I am coming from?

Yes, anonymity online is a problem. But lack of use of one's REAL name really is not.

Sorry, Bob. I love you, but you've missed the point of this one.

Sep. 16 2013 12:13 PM
jccalhoun from bloomington, in

The story's stated problem (people who make anonymous comments are terrible evil trolls) is undone by the solution (eliminate anonymous comments and put in human moderators). If you have human moderators, then why eliminate anonymous comments? If just eliminating anonymous comments got rid of troll posts and flame wars then there wouldn't be any need for moderators. So obviously then anonymous comments are not the problem.

Sep. 16 2013 09:34 AM
Andrew M from Santa Rosa, CA

Brian from Austin makes a great point, not intentionally. And the point he brings is that there are legions of posters who come to bring a specific political agenda, and spam talking points ("NPR is left wing/communist" for example from Brian) that are false by facts. Should we censor Brian and make him unable to comment, or force him as he suggests, to use his social security #? NO, he should be allowed to roam free and troll his patently false 'points', which are really quite bullying in their sense of superiority. The best response is not censorship of his and other troll comments, it's to respond civilly. I don't bother to raise my level of civility though in Brian's case as he hasn't earned it. He hasn't earned it by showing civility and the most rudimentary level of knowledge to make a positive instead of coercive contribution. He deserves only factual ridicule. What makes America great is the freedom for legions of brainwashed Brians to come here with their bullying talking points spam, and for others to respond above his level. There's no point in trying to engage someone like Brian in civil dialog, when someone posts and calls people communists, what kind of response is expected? Either ignoring the commenter or ridicule, since discussing things from Brian's world view is like someone calling you a wife beater and asking you to prove you're not when the topic is astronomy. In that case, no one is going to play on his turf, because he hasn't earned the necessary bottom line for dialog. Censoring or tracking us by social security or other info is despicable, and unAmerican.

Sep. 16 2013 04:42 AM
Andrew M from Santa Rosa, CA

Guess what, removing anonymous commenting means that people who are therapists, doctors, teachers and ministers won't comment any more. I won't. I don't want my personal views involved with my professional duties. They don't mix, and also this is just a trick to make people more surveilled.

Sep. 16 2013 03:54 AM
Dead Rodent Typing from California

Deplorable & disgusting suck-up piece, but it did make for some hilarious comments. I can't say enough bad things about it or how revolted I am. NPR & APM appear to have one thing in mind: keeping their corporate sponsors. Well, really, who's going to pay them for this nonsense? The American people? God forbid.

And yes, Americans care more about rude people than any other topic. That and the best Californian wines. May Ceiling Cat have mercy on our souls--we're going to need it.

Sep. 15 2013 08:53 PM
derek (O negative) from Round Lake, IL

I am so excited to hear the blood sucking vampire of "volunteer" American journalism (Arianna) giving lessons on plasma donation. Make sure you have at least 12 oz of orange juice after listening to it. And cover up any mirrors in the room, while you at it.

Sep. 15 2013 07:13 PM
Ugly Gabor Sister from Up your ass

I'm so glad a social climbing stewardess is teaching us how to use the internet. Good luck with the trolls.

Sep. 15 2013 06:47 PM
David Hussey

What a load of nonsense. What Huffpost is proposing has absolutely nothing to do with civil discourse, its all about applying names to their membership so the value of the user data they can sell to marketers will increase. Nobody is suggesting that your name will be attached to your comments for all to see, its just proprietary information for Huffington to use. And since the new rules do not apply to existing accounts, their site will still be filled with 'trolls'..... the villagers who think the site belongs to themselves who trash anyone and everyone who doesn't agree with them.

IF, and its a big if, Huffpost has any desire to see civility in dialog, they will have to attach the peoples identity to their words for all to see. And the ones least willing to see their real name on what they spew, THEY are the worst offenders

Sep. 15 2013 04:22 PM
deserthackberry from Texas

Some of us can't openly comment because we live or work in places where our comments might affect our jobs or even our freedom.

Sep. 15 2013 03:44 PM
Charlie Smithee from Spain

Joke. Pay me the amount of money Arianna makes off the comments she gets with her aggregator and I'll post my 'real' name more often otherwise stuff it. When corporations openly tell about how decisions to control the minds of the population are openly discussed, when political deals about which countries are decided upon for war or military actions are openly discussed etc etc. Otherwise stuff it you prudes. Or maybe the ad monies pulled in BY the clicks and comments is REDISTRIBUTED to the commentors then we can talk trust. Other wise stuff it.

Sep. 15 2013 01:28 PM
Brian from Austin, Texas USA

Who is watching the watchers?

NPR appears to has left wing, liberal leaning, possibly totalitarian communist [ :)], anti-free-expression censors who delete with impunity anything they don't personally like. I have seen many reasonable, insightful posts suddenly disappear for no good reason with a note indicating deletion by some moderator.

Who is the moderator and why did they delete it? Who is a troll and who determines who is a troll? These censors must work transparently and should be be held to account for their actions. The BBC has the wisdom and common decency to record moderation decisions, “the reason given for the decision”, “send an email telling you why” and handles “complaints about moderation decisions”. NPR, in contrast, appears to have a black hole for comments some nameless, faceless zealot does not agree with and there is no “rest of the story”.

Proposal: Determine a finite and specific list of infractions and and report on the following data:
1) Censor ID - The censor's social security number (or other unique number)
2) Poster ID - Some unique, identifying number if possible. 0 for anonymous. I call dibs on #1!
3) ID of story commented on like 2013/sep/13/huffington-post-disables-anonymous-comments
4) Specific text of infraction.
5) Exact rule(s) broken. Ex: for rules a-z, rules m, and p were violated.

A simple censor interface could be written in 5 minutes to support this with little more than a text field containing the comment, the ability to highlight the offending section and check boxes for each rule, checking the ones violated.

Publish a summary report once per week and provide the raw data in some machine readable format (SQL table). Turn the microscope around and look at the censors and allow readers to find bias if it exists.

In the civilized world, we highly value freedom of expression and should only tolerate the suppression of comments which are clearly harsh, foul, threatening, illegal or abusive. This will provide transparency and will hold censors to account for depriving others of something we hold so dear.

And another suggestion: include with each comment the amount of time spent in moderation. Delaying a comment for hours until the discussion wanes is another, less severe form of censorship.

Unlimited power to censor with impunity corrupts absolutely.

Not a troll, really!

Brian
Austin, Texas USA

Sep. 15 2013 12:34 PM
jf from nyc

Let people say whatever they want to say. People will be less angry when the media will stop lying to us. letting the government do anything to us.People who disagree with you are Trolls. This is nothing but censorship. It's the only place you can see how people really think.

Sep. 15 2013 10:46 AM
Fake Namington from New York

Huffington Post deliberately went out of its way to attract trolls for ad revenue and now its back tracking? Hilarious.

At any rate for continuing anonymous comments you have a new listener in me so keep on keeping on On The Media.

Sep. 14 2013 03:15 PM
Joel Goldberg

It's sadly ironic that an institution which strongly defends the right to preserve the anonymity of its own sources would prevent people who comment on those stories from exercising the same right.

I wonder how members of the media would take to a court ruling that they could no longer protect identities of their own sources in the interest of furthering "civil discussions".

Sep. 14 2013 09:47 AM
clopha deshotel from Bridgeport CT

This was actually a refreshing story. I think the last time I commented it was in a story about twitterpated teens in Torrington CT. THUS IT WAS Good to hear/see that some maturity is beginning to take shape in the online world.

Sep. 14 2013 08:51 AM
chuck thompson from Homer, Alaska

I'm so ready for the 90% of erstwhile "anonymous" commentators to be identified.

I occasionally feel compelled to leave a remark on websites (mostly NPR, Marketplace radio, ADN (Anchorage Daily News), and Here and Now) and have discovered that, increasingly, they're relying more and more on the notoriously unreliable Disqus to keep comments from getting overly snarky and rude.

I don't want some Big Brother/Nurse Ratched to overlord everything said online but anyone who's visited YouTube's comment page lately knows that, unsupervised, the comments section quickly devolves into a raucous "Lord of the Flies" cacophony. One might hope that by reading critical comments, there would be something to be gained, but too often one would be wrong.

Sep. 14 2013 04:05 AM
Thatwood B. Telling from The Village

There are no doubt some sites that would benefit-- some *greatly* so-- from requiring commenters to use their actual names. If vitriolic, nasty comments are making your comments pages minefields of hate, then you should probably do so yourself. I've found that sites with this requirement are oases of ... well, not necessarily thoughtful comments, but at least civil ones. But any site that insists on real names won't get mine, or my comments. And I know they'll be just fine without them, just as I'll be just fine with not commenting there.

When I comment anonymously, I do so with the understanding that the price for anonymity is civility, at least in my book. No ad hominem attacks, disagreement expressed politely and only with ideas and actions. Why not use my name? Two reasons: 1) Why should I, as long as I abide by my strict rules of civility? What's the difference who's written this, as long as we're playing by the same rules?-- that is, you can accept my ideas or not, but you can also leave me out of it, thank you very much. (My identity might make a difference if I backed my comments with purported fact, because a known source could be more trustworthy than an anonymous one. But if I give citations for what I claim to be fact, then you can look it up and judge its credibility for yourself, completely independent of who I am. Bare opinions, however, are always best judged on their own merits [in my opinion]); and, 2) This is no longer the age of letters to the editor typed up on stationery, mailed in, printed by a newspaper, then immediately forgotten after publication. Do I want my digital comments harvested by some organization, stored and possibly used against me at some later date-- when I apply for a job, perhaps? I find even that prospect unacceptable.

So, OTM, you may feel it's time to put names to our comments and, if so, I hope it works out for you. I don't read many comments here, so I don't know what your troll situation is like or whether such a move would make a significantly positive change. As for myself, feel free to ask for my real name, but you won't get it. That would be telling.

Sep. 14 2013 12:35 AM

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