At the start of this Blog, I made the decision to allow anonymous comments. In the beginning comments were very rare, and for the most part pretty civil. In all the time and at over 80,000 hits, I have deleted only one posting. That was deleted because I had a concern for someone mentioned in the comment and their safety since it listed the persons address.
Since then, I've never felt the need to delete another comment. None have been that severe that I felt they needed to be removed. Some are spineless , yes. Some are understandably "anonymous" because even though they are factual, the writer could have problems putting their name to it, especially those that refer to City Hall or the Administration.
Then tonight I received the attached e-mail that got me thinking again. Is it time to start moderating comments? Read the e-mail and let me know what you think, and hopefully not anonymously, but I'll understand if it is "anonymous".The other issue with moderating comments is the timeliness. Comments won't appear or be posted until I'm near a computer to approve them. The other point to consider is that even if I moderate, with gmail, and other services like that, it is a matter of seconds to make up a phony name. I could be e-mailing as Eddie Perez or Willie Nunes in a matter of minutes.
A couple of names have been "*******" out in the e-mail, just because I don't think it served any purpose leaving them in.
The e-mail read as follows:
Kevin: The first two postings on the “More trouble for Olga” post are merely more examples of baseless character assassination via anonymous posters.
Our society long ago determined that anyone convicted of a crime who satisfies the sentence imposed on him/her has paid their debt to society. Whatever happened to the principle of giving people a second chance? What is the intent of the reference to ********** conviction other than to slam him, and in the process also Jean, the Dem Town Committee, etc.? Hasn’t ********* beat this like a dead horse already? How does your blog benefit by allowing this to continue?
And how useful/truthful can unsubstantiated claims be, when put forth by people unwilling to take responsibility for them? (where is the substantiation that Lou Watkins is truly being investigated?) This debases the journalistic integrity of your product.
You have done plenty of fine reporting and garnered a superb following. Despite the justifications you previously made to me, you no longer need the flexibility of allowing anonymous posting so that your blog draws readership and followers. People read you every day because of what YOU are producing, not because of the titillating value of a bunch of mean spirited anonymous posts. Another way of saying this, is that there are a lot more readers than anonymous bloggers going to your site.
Don't sell yourself short any longer, raise it to the next level and go play with the literary big boys, where putting your money where your mouth is separates the men from the boys. You will still get plenty of posters I am sure, and the quality of your product will rise substantially. You are doing a great job, and really have the ability to create an even more respected journalistic vehicle, but I think it would stand out so much more as such if it was not populated with petty and not-so-hidden agendas by mystery writers hiding behind cheap anonymity.
If you tried the other avenue of requiring and confirming a writer’s true identity, your blog would instantly stand out from the rest of the blogosphere, which is filled with blowhards getting their kicks by anonymously backstabbing anyone and anything they can think of. Where does that get us? Is that really fulfilling the goals you set out when you started this blog? I think not.
If someone truly needs to remain anonymous, have them email you and you can then confirm the facts, etc. just like you do before you put something out there under your own name. This is what mainstream media journalists do every day, and so can you. Also, by doing so, you get the credit (and should) for the stories you develop. You are, in effect, giving away the credit when anonymous bloggers actually say things on your blog that are newsworthy (and if it’s not newsworthy what’s it doing there?). Put the info into your own writings just like other respected journalists do, and you will be on your way to having Colin, Helen, Kevin Rennie, Jon Lender and the rest of the Capitol City turning to you about Hartford.
I am deeply grateful for your efforts at trying to get this city back on track.