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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?

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About Dave Faulkner

I'm a British Methodist minister, married with two children. I blog from a moderate evangelical-missional-charismatic perspective, with an interest in the 'missional' approach. My interests include Web 2.0, digital photography, contemporary music and watching football (Tottenham Hotspur) and cricket.

Posted on June 28, 2009, in Weblogs and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 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    So I can see a good reason for anonymity, but I’d prefer if I were the blogger to have a real name (which would not be published).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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    • Dave Faulkner

      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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