July 10, 2007
I just have to say, I question the value of having anonymous comments on our Web sites. Is it positive is it community journalism is it benefiting and enriching our Web site? I say absolutely not. I think anyone who wants to comment/participate in any fashion should be a registered non-anonymous user. I think the discussions and posts will be much more thought-through, educated and thought provoking from non-anonymous users.
John Temple, publisher and editor of the Rocky Mountain News, does a good job in his Blog of explaining why newspapers offer this sort of anonymous bulletin board service.
I agree with John that anonymity fosters participation and that we distinguish between the credibility given anonymous web postings and say, letters to the editor or guest commentaries. I think readers definitely make such distinctions.
But I also am intrigued by Dan's suggestions. We already allow readers to adjust their anonymity settings and identify themselves. But I guess it says something that of 2,285 registered users, just 19 (including me) have adjusted their anonymity settings to identify themselves.
I agree with Dan that requiring registered users to identify themselves might raise the level of dialogue on the Web site and reduce the nastiness. But I also fear that it would drastically reduce participation. I admit - I have forsaken the former in order to encourage the latter.
Dan and I wonder what the rest of you think. Would you still post if your name was attached to your comments? Call, e-mail or post your response below.