New York Times technology reporter Richard Pérez-Peña examines the problem of anonymous comments being widely permitted on news sites. With the Huffington Post and the Wall Street Journal announcing plans to revise their comment systems, will other mainstream news organisations begin to reconsider this well-established policy?
No one doubts that there is a legitimate value in letting people express opinions that may get them in trouble at work, or may even offend their neighbours, without having to give their names, said William Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at Columbia’s journalism school.
“But a lot of comment boards turn into the equivalent of a bar room brawl, with most of the participants having blood-alcohol levels of 0.10 or higher,” he said. “People who might have something useful to say are less willing to participate in boards where the tomatoes are being thrown.”