Have a Comment? Identify Yourself First

For years, news sites have allowed the public to weigh in on just about anything that strikes their fancy, and still remain anonymous.  But journalists are rethinking this option, and the New York Times says, more and more news outlets are requiring responders to register before posting comments. William Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at Columbia’s journalism school, says that

… a lot of comment boards turn into the equivalent of a barroom brawl, with most of the participants having blood-alcohol levels of 0.10 or higher. People who might have something useful to say are less willing to participate in boards where the tomatoes are being thrown.

He said news organizations were willing to reconsider anonymity in part because comment pages brought in little revenue; advertisers generally do not like to buy space next to opinions, especially incendiary ones.

Some publications solve this problem by policing comments before they get online, although most do not have the resources to do so.  Some think that the mere fact of requiring registration will weed out the most egregious ranters. But requiring an identity before you comment may be an easy transition for people  who are used to being personally connected to their comments and outbursts on Facebook and Twitter.

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