Anonymous Comments

Bermuda Blue’s Comments

Mr Deacon, over at Bermuda Blue, has a post up concerning the issue of anonymous comments.

In it he brings some insight of how the media see the comments, the role they may play in generating hits, that is, visits, to ones website.  From a media company’s perspective, that translates into advertising revenue (how much they can justify charging for online ad space), as I understand it.

And he makes the good point that comments are a popular feature – they attract visitors, novel and repeat.

And what is good for media sites is also true for blogs.

My Experience

The more commented posts tend to be the more popular, according to my stats.  And as commenting becomes less common on the blog, the stats for my total visitation drops.

The stats for this site are a fraction of what they were in the early years of this site (which launched in 2007).

I attribute the steep decline in views to a combination of occasional periods of dormancy, specifically when I was focusing on furthering my studies and put blogging on the back-burner, and my decision to enforce a rather strict moderating policy.

The two are, of course, related.  The less a priority the blog became to me, the less time I had to actively moderate comments, the more I felt the comments degenerated into personal attacks and cursing, the less inclined I became to post, the more likely I was to implement greater moderating controls, the less the site got visited, the less inclined I was to post, etc.

Currently I have to approve every comment, which leads to delays in posting (I get an email notification on my phone, but if I’m not near a computer I can’t release them), and if the comment goes to the spam filter I only see it if I check it.

This delay can put people off posting – sometimes they think I’ve censored them, or they just forget about it.  And that leads to less posting in the long-term.

Moderating comments is exhausting, and it’s a fine line knowing what would be okay and what isn’t.  One’s always wary of libel, or hate-speech.

As much as I appreciate comments, I’m actually quite happy with not having to deal with a huge influx of comments.  I much prefer cross-blog commenting, and encourage others to start blogs and then we can have a blog conversation – you post an article, I answer it in a post here, etc.

I think that leads to a better quality of discussion and understanding.

Back to Bermuda Blue

I would prefer people post with their real name, or at least be subject to account, somehow, should they engage in libel.

People genuinely at fear of repercussions, especially expat workers, I don’t mind them using false names, as long as they can somehow be held accountable.

When I was in the Regiment, and knew I couldn’t officially comment on certain things, I used a false name for those purposes, out of fear for an repercussions.  But I’ve used my real name otherwise (or with a ‘fun’ name, such as ‘Crimson Dynamo’, but never hiding my real name either).

I’m not in favour of using credit-card details to authenticate false names though, like the RG has mooted.  I just feel uneasy sharing such data.

But I’m not sure of an alternative either.


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