Anonymous Comments Are Crucial, HuffPo
Huffington Post's real name solution is misguided: Joanna Geary
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Aug 22, 2013 12:27 PM CDT
Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, delivers a keynote speech to those attending The Third Metric Conference at BAFTA, in London, on Tuesday, July 30, 2013.   (AP Photo / Jonathan Brady/PA)

(Newser) – In an effort to promote more positive (or, at the very least, fewer awful) comments on its articles, the Huffington Post announced yesterday it will no longer allow anonymous comments—but that's a bad move, writes Joanna Geary in the Guardian. Keep in mind places like Egypt and Brazil, where the ability to post online under a fake name has proved crucial. Even in the US, "providing an alias allows readers to post personal experiences that they otherwise would not be able to for fear of personal or career repercussions," Geary writes. "In some cases, it allows them to post without fear for their lives."

And then, of course, there's the fact that people may end up being just as mean when using their real names to comment: First of all, commenters still won't be able to see each other, and that "dissociative anonymity" likely has something to do with cruel comments. Secondly, well, just take a look at any of the mud-slinging that often appears beneath a Facebook status update, Geary suggests. Like it or not, anonymous commenting allows for many "rich and insightful discussions on emotive topics such as abortion, adoption, and depression." So what's the solution? "Social spaces online that highlight constructive interaction" and punish troublemakers; Geary notes Gawker and Reddit are heading in the right direction. Click for her full column.

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Aug 24, 2013 11:02 AM CDT
An interesting read: Let's keep 'em anonymous. NEWSER comments are the funniest...
Aug 23, 2013 7:17 PM CDT
Ms. Geary feels the Huff is wrong to vacate anonymous comments, and I must agree with her in some respects. However, I find myself in the Huff's corner for two reasons: 1) anonymity motivates negative behavior, e.g., 'no one's looking, the concrete is wet, I have always wanted to put my initials in wet concrete!"; 2) healthy commentary cannot be exchanged because of anonymous foul remarks hitting it like rocks being hurled. One gets tired of "ducking".***I was mentored to write clear, concise, and honest (not disrespectful). As for those of us who desperately want to make comments that may prove risky or dangerous, well, perhaps a comment board is not the place; there has to be another way. Some do write anonymous opeds.
Aug 22, 2013 9:40 PM CDT
This reminds me of the old joke where a guy couldn't get the vanity plates he wanted, so he changed his name to CS489U.