Saturday, January 10, 2009

Should this blog allow Anonymous Comments or not?

A question that has arisen several times as this blog grows and matures is what should be our policy about visitors posting comments. Some have suggested that requiring people to log in before leaving comments would be best. However, when this was briefly tried around December 23rd, 2008, there was a lot of unhappiness with this decision and it was reversed.

The difficulty is that many people have a lot of trouble logging in, or setting up an account. It can be extremely frustrating to try repeatedly to log in, when all one wants to do is to leave a quick comment. This is true of the blogger/blogspot comment system, as well as the js-kit Haloscan comment system we have currently implemented.

When this blog was started in the third week of November 2008, anonymous comments were not allowed. However, after about 2 weeks, anonymous comments were allowed to encourage more visitors and more comments and more blog activity. When this started getting out of hand, the js-kit Haloscan system was adopted, and anonymous comments were again disallowed. However, the displeasure that resulted was so extreme that this was quickly reversed and the current comment system was adopted.

There are several options for dealing with those making inappropriate or belligerent comments, including:

*Pre-moderation of comments, so that each comment must be explicitly allowed before it appears on the blog

*Voting on individual comments by users to identify problematic comments easier

*Assorted punitive measures against those who make problematic posts

*Restrictions of various degrees on who can post comments

I ask then, what would you favor? Is commenting important to you on this blog? What do you feel about logging in before leaving comments? Do you have an opinion about the difficulties that seem to be associated with user accounts on these blog comment systems?

I want to give visitors a chance to respond before unilaterally imposing some new restrictions, given the trouble that resulted the last time.

Thank you,

Robert Stevens

Addendum: Announcement of Removal of Anonymous Comment Option

At Orly's request and for the time being, I have removed the option of posting anonymous comments. I apologize to everyone that enjoyed this feature. 

Robert Stevens, January 12, 2009