By Steve Outing
To continue on my recent commenting theme, I noticed that the new Bay Citizen non-profit online news venture edited by Jonathan Weber is taking a no-anonymity line with its user comments. Here’s Weber in his editor’s blog yesterday:
“There are a number of ways in which people can be part of The Bay Citizen, and each has its own dynamics. There are comments on stories, and we decided to require real names for comments in the hope of engendering a more civilized and useful conversation than is often found in the discussion threads of news sites. Already, though, we have had people register under fake names, so we may have to spend more time policing that than we had hoped.“
This follows my preference for user comments on general-news websites: require real names; no payment required to post comments. Despite the people who will get around the policy by signing up with fake names in order to stay anonymous, this still will improve the quality of the comments discussion, and require much less policing than allowing anonymity.
If too many people register under fake names, Weber can always implement harsher measures, such as requiring a credit card number to confirm a person’s identity, or requiring people who want to comment to authenticate through a service like Truyoo.
Or take my earlier suggestion: Flag accounts that you can identify as people signing up with fake names to have their comments go through a moderation queue, while real-name users post directly to the comment threads.