So, just before making the last post, I discovered that HuffPost had changed their commenting policy, now requiring that people reveal and verify their real names. HuffPost had previously promised that they would grandfather older accounts out of this policy, but have apparently rescinded that promise. I understand why HuffPost is doing this, but I think it’s a mistake.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons why people may want to participate in discussions on the internet while remaining anonymous. Anyone who has ever changed their political or religious views, or discovered their sexual orientation or identity, or who wants to discuss anything that they’re not ready to get back to their friends, family, teachers, boss, or overall community, will now effectively be locked out.
I understand that civility is an issue. But there are lots of ways to handle that without forcing people out of anonymity. HuffPost has a faving system to recognize quality comments. Many other sites supplement this with a voting up and down system so that particularly poor or nasty comments get buried. None of these are perfect, but neither is requiring people to use their real names.
This isn’t a personal issue for me. My name is in the About document on this site and some of you already knew it anyway. But I do think it is a real issue for the internet and free and open discussion.
- Tim Mcdonald: Turning the Page on Anonymity: The Future of HuffPost Comments (huffingtonpost.com)
- Turning the Page on Anonymity: The Future of HuffPost Comments (halyardconsulting.com)