I could not agree more:

I can’t speak for my bosses, who might feel differently than I do. But as a writer, my answer is no—I don’t want anonymous commenters. Everyone who works online knows that there’s a direct correlation between the hurdles a site puts up in front of potential commenters and the number and quality of the comments it receives. The harder a site makes it for someone to post a comment, the fewer comments it gets, and those comments are generally better.

I think Slate’s commenting requirements—and those of many other sites—aren’t stringent enough. Slate lets people log in with accounts from Google and Yahoo, which are essentially anonymous; if you want to be a jerk in Slate’s comments, create a Google account and knock yourself out. If I ruled the Web, I’d change this. I’d make all commenters log in with Facebook or some equivalent third-party site, meaning they’d have to reveal their real names to say something in a public forum. Facebook has just revamped its third-party commenting “plug-in,” making it easier for sites to outsource their commenting system to Facebook. Dozens of sites—including, most prominently, the blog TechCrunch—recently switched over to the Facebook system. Their results are encouraging: At TechCrunch, the movement to require real names has significantly reduced the number of trolls who tar the site with stupid comments.

Ultimately, the formula for a truly nasty comments section boils down to this:


Of course, the Virginia blogosphere has had its ups and downs with anonymous and pseudonymous commentary, until “macaca” changed the entire orbit from intelligent personalities sharing ideas… into people who first shied away from, then embraced the infamy that such attention brought them.  The comments section never improved.  Mainstream outlets simply copied the form and earned the same substance (or lack thereof).

So would the web be better off if you were forced to stick your name to every comment?  To some degree, this already happens… your IP is traceable, and the old adage “you are never anonymous on the web” is most assuredly true.  In a more up front matter, requiring a Facebook sign in that tracks back to your personal name and address?

After all, can anyone seriously argue that Facebook — because your name is stapled to everything you do — is not a more humane, intelligent, or cordial public square than your run-of-the-mill blog or MSM outlet?

I’ve long beat the drum on this.  It’s one of the many reason I blog, comment, and have persisted in using my real name to identify my web presence.  In purely ethical terms, it’s the right thing to do.

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