Monday, August 23, 2010

Should Blog Posters Have To Use Their Real Names?

I've been wondering why our local daily newspaper allows people to comment on online stories and blog posts using pseudonyms - nicknames and false identities (and I suspect some use more than one), while absolutely requiring a verifiable name, address and phone number to have a Letter to the Editor published. Is there a difference between these, except for the immediacy of the media, that I'm missing?

Many of those posters usually don't allow actual facts to get in the way of their “informed” opinions. The vitriolic comments from the story about the twin towers beams arriving in Silverdale are typical, with conversation quickly degenerating into cheap shot insults between posters. In my view, if these gutless wonders had to actually identify themselves, the level of discourse would be elevated to a much more civil level.


  1. Doña Keating1:14 PM

    As I wrote on Facebook, the issue isn't anonymity; it's behaviour. If a participant is respectful and on point, the name doesn't matter. If they're rude or abusive, that will be known no matter how that person is named.

    The belief that discourse would be elevated to a much more civil level if one had to post one's name is partially valid. The unspoken reason many say this is not just because of reputation, but the ability to get pay back.

    We've all seen more than our share of "real names" behaving badly in person or virtually. We've also seen people with real names harass or otherwise try to intimidate another named person when there was disagreement. One example was a poster who searched the county records, then posted that information to attack another blogger about the size of her home; she was making a point about living sustainably and the perpetrator didn't like "greenies". Another is a poster who culled information about another poster and their underaged child, then posted it to a child pornography site. Still another was a lawsuit filed against another blogger alleging physical danger, and the parties involved had a history of bad blood both on and off the blogs. A final example is a blogger's home which was toilet papered.

    The content, intellectual integrity and soundness of the point being made is more important than who is writing it. I participate on several other new forums where discussion is high level and civil, and both anonymous and non-anonymous posters are engaged. I don't care for the nastiness on the local blogs or comments sections any more than the next person, but creating policies and rules to cater to the lowest common denominator means we've all lost.

  2. Monty Mahan11:08 AM

    I agree with you Lary. Commentors on the Kitsap Sun blog often go way over the top in their personal attacks; I doubt they would behave so badly if their names were posted under their words.