Home > Uncategorized > What did you say your name was?

What did you say your name was?


I don’t mean to call out these particular commenters, and I’m happy to see our readers taking the time to engage in robust discussion on Reuters.com. But I’m beginning to think our discussion would be even more robust and insightful if those making comments signed their real names.


News organizations have grappled with how to handle reader comments practically since the dawn of online media. When I was at MSNBC.com in the 1990s we had message boards that at first were heavily monitored (at a fairly high cost) and then were largely unmonitored. By 1998, no matter what the purported subject of the board, the discussion would be taken over by frenzied postings on the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.


Some organizations have taken a very laissez-faire approach to reader comments, allowing anything to be posted and taking down only the most egregiously offensive comments after the fact. Others have taken a much more labor-intensive–and expensive–approach, moderating all comments before they’re published. Some have banned anonymous comments. Most are somewhere in the middle.
I spoke with Reuters general manager for global consumer media, Keith McAllister, about the Reuters.com approach.


“We want our users to be as involved as possible in Reuters.com,” Keith said. “User comments, particularly, help us move stories beyond our own reporting and analysis to unpredictably interesting and valuable places. We learn from (users) and, we believe, (users) learn from each other.”


He added: “We are also zealous guardians of the quality of the Reuters.com community because so many of you rely on our site to be a place of serious and informed debate. That’s why we ask users to register to comment and why–in the near future–we’ll take the additional step of clearing each new user’s first comment.”


I think that’s a smart move that will make the debate in the comments sections even smarter. Still, I wonder if we should tackle the question of anonymity.


The Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten explored the subject of anonymous, vitriolic comments and asked in an online poll if readers who file comments should be required to identify themselves. As of this writing, about 46 percent say no and 41 percent say yes.


New technologies have offered more sophisticated and powerful monitoring and registration tools, but in the end it all comes down to how much news organizations are willing to spend and to whether we fundamentally believe that people should be allowed to comment anonymously or be required to identify themselves.


Print newspapers and magazines only publish signed letters to the editor and almost all verify the sender’s identity before publication. But again, this costs money and time.


Most news websites encourage comments and allow a great deal of freedom for commenters to say pretty much anything they want as long as it isn’t hate speech or obscene. The result is indeed a free-for-all of opinion, from right to left and, in some cases, well outside the generally accepted bounds of reality.


Isn’t this a good thing? the argument goes. Shouldn’t we encourage as much discussion as possible?


I’ve always thought so. But lately I wonder if the discussion is really serving the needs of our audience. As I read the comments on stories about the health care debate in the United States, so many seemed be little more than pre-cooked soundbites and talking points of the left and the right. There is little actual discussion as partisans on both sides fire salvos of invective at each other. And on stories that deal with Middle East, the divide is even more pronounced. Is this useful, or is it more like shouting at the television set–and just about as effective?


So what? I’ve been told. Is this really any different than Speaker’s Corner in London’s Hyde Park, where speakers can mount a soapbox and expound on pretty much anything they want to? Well, actually it is. In Hyde Park, you can see who’s doing the speaking.


Would the online debate among commenters be stifled by requiring commenters to sign their real names? I suspect some would be less likely to want to attach their names to their opinions and some would sign false names but I also believe we might get more thoughtful comments. And I believe commenters would be less likely to throw insults at an identifiable person than at an abstraction like johnny99gogo.


Of course, this may be an argument for the last century, anyway. Social media like Facebook and Twitter have changed the ways people share their thoughts with each other by promoting more selective communities. The comments section on stories and blogs may already be a dinosaur.


What do you think? Are there other ways to promote smarter, more civil discourse.


Chime in. But could you sign your real name?


Dean Wright
(formerly johnny99gogo)

Philips 52PFL5605H/12 132,1 cm (52 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz, DVB-T/-C) schwarz Grundlegende 3m High Speed HDMI Kabel mit Ethernet – (1.4a Version, 15.2Gbps) HDMI auf HDMI Kabel mit Et… Toshiba 32RL838G 81 cm (32 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz AMR, DVB-T/-C, CI+) silber Thomson 22FS5246C 55,9 cm (22 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, DVB-C/-T Tuner) schwarz Panasonic Viera TX-L32DT30E 80 cm (32 Zoll) 3D LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 400Hz bls, DVB-T/-C/-S,… Panasonic Viera TX-P50GT30E 127 cm (50 Zoll) 3D-NeoPlasma-Fernseher (Full-HD, 600Hz sfd, DVB-T/-C/-S, CI… Toshiba 32SL733G 81,3 cm (32 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz, DVB-T/-C) schwarz Philips 32PFL5605H/12 81,3 cm (32 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz, DVB-T/-C) schwarz CMX LED 8156 39,6 cm (15,6 Zoll) 16:9 HD-Ready LED-Backlight Fernseher mit integriertem DVB-T Tuner schwarz Wandhalterung 26-55 Zoll bzw. 66-140 cm LCD Monitor Schwenkarm Wandhalterung kipp/schwenk/rotierbar geeignet für 25-58cm (10-23″) Displays Philips 32PFL7605H/12 81,3 cm (32 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz, Ambilight Spectra 2, DV… Samsung UE 32 B 6000 VPXZG 81,3 cm (32 Zoll) 16:9 Full-HD LCD-Fernseher mit LED-Backlight mit integriert… Acer S221HQLBD 54,6 cm (21,5 Zoll) slim LED Monitor (DVI,VGA, Kontrast 12.000.000:1, 5ms Reaktionszeit) … Philips 53640945 Livingcolors MINI WEISS EMEA LED-Ambiente-Wohn- Leuchte weiss Acer AT2358MLW 58,4 cm (23 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, DVB-T/C, CI+, HDMI, USB) hochglanz weiss Philips Master LED Bulb 8W/220V E-27 dimmbar warmweiß Acer K330 3D LED Projektor (Kontrast 4000:1, WXGA, 500 ANSI Lumen, HDMI, USB-A) Thomson 26HS5246C 66 cm (26 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (HD-Ready, DVB-C/-T Tuner) schwarz LG LD15X740P2B.D00GWE0 LED Downlight 6 Zoll 15 W 4000K LG 42LV570S 107 cm (42 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 500Hz MCI, Smart TV, DVB-T/C/S ,CI+) schwarz Sony Bravia KDL-46EX720BAEP 117 cm (46 Zoll) 3D-LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, Motionflow XR 200Hz, D… Toshiba 46SL863G 117 cm (46 Zoll) LED-Backlight Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz, DVB-T/-C/-S/-S2, CI+) schwarz Auto-Subwoofer 25cm (10″) Crunch GPX10BP 600W LED Hama Lautstärkebegrenzer für TV Asus VE278Q 68,6 cm (27 Zoll) widescreen TFT Monitor (LED, HDMI,DVI,VGA, 2ms Reaktionszeit) schwarz LG 47LV5500 119 cm (47 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 500 Hz MCI, DVB-T/C, CI+, Smart TV) schwarz Acer C110 LED-Projektor (Kontrast 1000:1, 50 ANSI Lumen, WVGA 854×480) Philips 40PFL5806K/02 102 cm (40 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 200Hz PMR, DVB-T/C/S, Smart TV)… Panasonic DMP-BDT110EG 3D Blu-ray-Player (Upscaler 1080p, HDMI, Apple iPod touch fernbedienbar, WLAN rea… PLasma LCD LED TV Wandhalterung Doppelarm ausziehbar für 24” 26” 27” 30” 32” 37” passend für Samsu… LG LD25X730P2B.D00GWE0 LED Downlight 6 Zoll 23 W 3000K Samsung UE32D6510WSXZG 80 cm (32 Zoll) 3D-LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 200Hz, DVB-C/-T/-S2) weiß LG 37LV3550 93,9 cm (37 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz MCI, DVB-T/-C, CI+) schwarz Women Who Led the Way: Eight Pioneers for Equal Rights Toshiba 40VL748G 101,6 cm (40 Zoll) Slim LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz, DVB-T/-C/-S) klavierla… Wandhalterung 32-42 Zoll bzw.81-107 cm Philips LED Kerzen IMAGEO TeaLight 6ER LG M237WDP-PC 58,4 cm (23 Zoll) TFT Monitor (VGA, DVI, HMDI, Reaktionszeit 5ms, TV-Tuner) Toshiba 19DL834G 47 cm (19 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (HD-Ready, 50Hz, DVB-T/-C, CI+) weiß Samsung UE55C6700 139,7 cm (55 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz, DVB-T/-C/-S2) anthrazit-sc… Lunartec Alu-Schreibtisch-Lampe “Vélivole” mit 48 Power-LEDs (6.500K) – Die Designerlampe aus Leichtmeta… Sharp Aquos LC 46 LE 600 E 116,8 cm (46 Zoll) Full-HD LCD-Fernseher mit LED-Backlight mit integriertem D… Philips 37PFL8605K/02 94 cm (37 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 200Hz, Ambilight Spectra 2, DVB-… Acer AT2758ML 68,6 cm (27 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, DVB-T/C, CI+, HDMI, USB) hochglanz sch… Designer Habitat – Schwenkbare LCD Plasmafernseher Wandhalterung (13 – 37 Zoll) für alle VESA Lochabstän… Philips PTA01 WiFi Dongle für 7000er/8000er Serie 2010, Heimkino-Systeme HTS9520, 9140, 5220, Blu-ray Pl… Samsung UE 46 B 6000 VPXZG 116,8 cm (46 Zoll) 16:9 Full-HD LCD-Fernseher mit LED-Backlight mit integrier… LG 32LE5300 81 cm (32 Zoll) LED-Backlight-Fernseher (Full-HD, 100Hz MCI, DVB-T/-C) schwarz TV Das Original Tageslichtleuchte Daylight

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: