This has been a challenging couple of weeks for our town. Some of the op-ed’s and the comments that were attached to them have been offensive to some readers. Several have written in to request that anonymous comments be disallowed. There are two reasons this is not the case today.
- There is no technical way to do this. Anyone can sign up for any email account for free. Services like Gmail, Yahoo Mail, and Hotmail are widely available at no charge. Temporary (throw-away) email addresses are easy to create for anyone with an iPhone simply by clicking the “Hide my Email” button. While it is possible to force users to authenticate with Google, Facebook, Apple, etc., not everyone has those services, and all of those are free anyway, so it would make no difference. In short, it is not difficult to post anonymously, even if we tried to force users to prove they are “real”. Note that the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Boston Globe all allow anyone to create a free account and comment.
- While we do moderate comments, we typically only disallow them when they do not substantively add to the discussion. With rare exceptions, personal attacks, profanity, and off-topic comments are typically not published. We see our role as reporting the news and providing a forum for discussion, not policing speech.
In short, this is an all-or-nothing situation. Either comments are on or they are not.
And while this has been our policy, ultimately HopNews is about you, the reader, not us. So we’re offering you this opportunity to share your feedback.
The poll will close on May 29.
We welcome your feedback on this topic. Please send any additional thoughts to email@example.com, or leave them in the comment box below.