In what will hopefully become the new normal for websites, the Huffington Post last week announced they would no longer be allowing anonymous comments on their website. This is a completely sensible move and one that will add civility (their main objective) as well as raise the quality of comments that are made. How is anyone supposed to properly evaluate a comment or opinion if it’s expressed without disclosing the commenter’s identity? It’s a basic element of public discourse and debate that who is saying something is relevant to what they are saying. The individual’s qualifications to hold an opinion as well as any potential for conflict of interest or inconsistency with past statements are all valid information for the reader. Many argue (always anonymously) that they are prevented from posting their identity because of restrictions imposed by their employer (in which case maybe they should just respect those restrictions). Others claim fear of harassment of some form. But an opinion uttered anonymously is not worth the time it takes to read. Anonymous comments are simply an indulgence to the commenter. I always ignore anonymous comments on anything I write, and only respond to those with a true identity attached. This is the standard that should prevail in the civilized areas of the internet. If you disagree, please don’t bother commenting anonymously.
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