Paul Hughes: Require identities
May 12, 2010
Steamboat Springs — It's time for the Steamboat Pilot & Today to require an authenticated identity from anyone submitting an online comment to an article or letter appearing in the newspaper. I had been slowly coming around to that opinion, and the recent string of comments about Omar Campbell's letter to the editor ("Follow Arizona") put an end to any lingering uncertainties that I might have had. It was a sad, dismaying discussion of what could have been an important topic.
Requiring a commenter's identity won't eliminate the wing-nut comments or the personal attacks (the wing-nuts outnumber the rest of us), but knowing who is making a comment will at least give context to it — will allow the reader to place the comment in a setting that includes everything else he knows about that commenter. So let's apply the same standard to online comments that you have used for letters to the editor.
We should back up our lip-service admiration of "civil discourse" with an agreement that identifying ourselves when entering that discourse is fundamental to its being civil. In the meantime, I will not participate in any online discussion where even one commenter is anonymous, and I urge others to do the same.