Anonymous Commenters

In one of my recent posts, three people have commented anonymously with basically invented names and invented email addresses. I tracked two of them down to a certain extent, but there seemed to be no reason for their anonymity. I can understand taking the anonymous route in certain limited circumstances, but generally I don’t think it’s defensible. And if I thought the commenters were being libellous, I’d block their contributions anyway.

So – as I’ve asked in a comment on that post – do other bloggers have any thoughts or a particular policy on anonymous commenting? I’d be grateful for any thoughts, because I’m beginning to think I might need to formulate a policy, and at this stage I’m inclined towards banning them.

But maybe I’m just being reactionary and over the top. What do you think?

6 comments

  1. I post semi-anonymously on some blogs, and use my real name on others – especially Methodist ones. Once or twice, I’ve wished I’d used a nom-de-plume, because I started taking some heat from those who thought I was being a dangerous liberal (qui, moi?). In most situations, that’s no problem; after nearly 30 years of ministry, I have a thick enough skin to cope with that. However, as a minister, my address details are published, and it did make me wonder if a degree of anonymity would have helped protect my family if anyone decided to come my way.

    So I can see a good reason for anonymity, but I’d prefer if I were the blogger to have a real name (which would not be published). Apart from that, it would depend on the content of the post as to whether I accepted it.

    Much easier blogging on other people’s blogs!

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  2. My posting policy is here:

    My posting policy is here

    My first point is: “First of all, I reserve the right to be the supreme judge and Grand Poobah when it comes to making decisions about removing posts. No point arguing with me. This is my blog and I reserve editorial rights.”

    Sometimes you just have to make a qualitative decision. My view on my blog is that it’s mine and I’m not going to develop a set of ‘laws’ that someone else is going to argue with me about.

    I think transparency is better than anonymity, but I don’t mind anonymity as long as it isn’t used to abuse or harass. But some bullies are very good at manipulation – hence the reason I reserve the right to pull a post at the end of the day. For example, someone once posted a 3000-word comment that seemed to be nothing more than a copy-and-paste essay on his/her soapbox subject. I pulled it on my ‘I am the Grand Poobah’ principle and told the person to get their own blog.

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  3. formulating a policy sounds dangerously like a MCH thing to do -stay clear of it

    the way I do it is allow all comments (though do have an antispam thing running) and if someone does get pesky I will eventually block them – but I enjoy the engagement with others who think differently to me and when my blog was visited more (hint hint) it was the dialogue I enjoyed the most – much more than my own writing.

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    1. I like the dialogue too, and will allow a comment if I possibly can. There was nothing potentially libellous in any of the three anonymous comments that provoked this post, and hence I approved them, whether I agreed or not. As you know, Lorna, WordPress has the Akismet anti-spam built in, and I have it turned on. It tends to catch those where the content of the putative post are clearly dodgy. It seems less good on apparently manufactured email addresses, although I don’t know how any app could stop them.

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