Starting this week, the Daily Post is changing its protocol for commenting on stories at www.gwinnettdailypost.com, eliminating the practice of making comments anonymously. Beginning with Monday’s stories, readers posting comments to online stories will do so by using their Facebook accounts.
It’s a big change, but one that has been made after much discussion — both internally and as an industry. The Huffington Post made the change from anonymous online posting this past week— joining other major outlets, such as ESPN.
The change in policy brings the online comments in line with what newspapers have always required of readers who commented through letters to the editor— a verified name to go with the contributed statements. The idea is not to prevent comments, but to promote a more civil forum for them.
Anonymous comments are rarely, if ever, used in the print version of the Daily Post. And if they are, the commenters are known to the writer and editor. The reporters have their names attributed to the stories they write, as do the columnists. But previously that same requirement has not been extended to online commenters.
With only pseudonyms attached, it’s easy for commenting threads to devolve into name calling and rudeness. Cruelty is an easy sport to master when practiced anonymously.
We want readers to continue commenting on the site, but it’s our hope that the new system, where a real name is associated with the comments, will result in higher-quality comments and more civil discourse. Let us be clear: You can still say what you want regarding the stories and the people in them (within reason), it’s just that now your name will go with them.
Again, it’s not as easy to be nasty if your comment has attribution.
It’s not a perfect system, and we expect that some will try to find a way around having their names attached to their comments. But comments will still be moderated and can be removed if deemed inappropriate, and it’s our belief that those things will happen less frequently.
There will certainly be an adjustment period as readers get used to the new system. We know it’s a major change, but we think it is one that creates a forum where ideas can be discussed and debated in a more civil and productive way.