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Some notes on my no anonymous' policy

As some of you may have noticed, I do not allow anonymous comments on this blog.

Yes, this is contrary to The Telegrams policy, which allows anonymous comments elsewhere on this site. However, they have given me control over this little corner of the page, and my policy is firm: I want your full name before I approve your comment.

My reasons for this are fairly obvious. Just probe the comments section elsewhere on this site, or at, to see what I mean. The discussion, especially on controversial stories, deteriorates into bitter, mean and nasty remarks that are intended to further any number of hidden agendas.

Yes, some are private citizens who just want to vent, and are shy about going public. But others are political operatives, looking to defend their party of choice by attacking the other side with all manner of scurrilous accusations.

My blog has demonstrated that this problem can be resolved by removing the cloak of anonymity. You will receive fewer comments, yes, but the level of debate rises to the point that issues are being discussed and debated fairly and intelligently (for the most part).

I mention this again because people persist in leaving anonymous comments. In every case, I send a note to the commenter, explaining my policy and asking if they are willing to identify themselves.

Quite often, they agree to do so. Other times, they politely decline. And a good deal dont reply at all because they have entered a false email address, and the message bounces back as undeliverable. Needless to say, those comments die on the vine.

Heres an example. On my To the Rescue item earlier this week, Mark left this comment:

I am disappointed to read what is supposed to a blog on media, only to read this drivel. Apple profits went through the roof this week and Windows 7 is being released tomorrow. More reality TV is being planned in both Canada and the US. These are areas you might consider applying your mind to. A touchy-feely pat-yourselves-on-the-back article is not an article on media, or the new media. It's a fan club for local amateur artists. Nothing more. Please focus on media next time.

I wrote the person, asking if they were willing to go on the record, but received no reply, so the comment did not appear. This person apparently expects me to go out there and tear savagely into all of his major issues, but doesnt have the gumption to leave his own name. (I dont mind the criticism, but I dont accept it for a moment. This blog will cover all kinds of media, from tough political angles to lighter human interest stories, with an emphasis on the local scene. So Marks suggestion to write about Windows or Apple or U.S. television wont gain much traction with me.)

Yesterday, my post about Paddy Daly drew more than double my usual number of readers. Many of them were obviously new, and thus anxious to soil the space with their anonymous comments. It took me most of an hour to write them all, explaining my policy and that was a copy-and-paste message!

Okay, heres an example of the kind of comment I received:

Well we all know that Roger's sucks A$$ anyways.

See, if people comment under their real names, and not saltydog123 or whatever, they are not going to talk like this. They are more inclined to say they dont like Rogers and give reasons why and thats all I ask.

Yesterdays post also generated a troll, for the first time ever. This person took exception to one of the other comments, and sent an Alert the Editor message, to myself and The Telegrams webmaster, that the comment was offensive. I take such complaints seriously and read, then re-read, the comment. It was not offensive. It was actually quite fair, and not anonymous.

However, it quickly became obvious that the complainer was out to lunch. They kept hitting the Alert the Editor key, spamming us with the same message a total of 53 times! (I recommend that The Telegram block this persons IP address and file a complaint with their Internet Service Provider.)

Here is the comment (complete with spelling errors) that the troll found so offensive:

Paddy gave the show a St. John's flavour that's going to be missed. Seems as if the annoying cbc culture avec aquired pronounciation has infiltrated and now dominates our local Rogers Cable. Pity.

Actually, this discussion is a valid one. The issue of Newfoundland accents in local media has been the subject of much discussion in recent years. There is nothing wrong with raising it here (even if the point probably doesnt apply in this case).

In fact, I will add it to my short list of stories to explore more thoroughly in a future blog post.

In the meantime, keep those comments coming.

But please... sign your name.

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Recent comments

  • Jay
    July 27, 2010 - 14:54


    I've asked on this blog before, and when Russell Wangersky did a similar column I asked there too.... but no response. Why *DOES* the Telegram allow such nonsense on its pages? Russell himself opined that there might be some legal liability if someone were to say something libelous. That seems to have been brushed aside in favor of letting the nuts ''take the place on their backs''.

    The comments, as here, are moderated, meaning someone has to read it and click ''approve'' before they appear on the site. However, whoever ''moderates'' the rest of the Tely site has let through some doozys, including this gem from one of the Paradise election stories: ''Barry from NL writes: Kurtis take your dinkies and tonka trucks and go home, its over, we don't want to play with you anymore. ''

    Really... what's the Telegram's justification for this? How do comments like that add to the debate?