Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

February 28, 2007

My comments policy

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 10:51 am

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and thought now might be the time to address it, since, recently for some tech issue (probably on my ibook) comments seem harder to post in some cases, I thought I’d explain some guidelines. In the beginning I had no comments, then tried to post all comments aside from those with egregious obscenity, bigotry or stupidity.

The main new change: no anonymous posts. If you’re proud of your opinion enough to post it, you should be proud enough to have your (real) name attached. Fair? I’ll entertain some comments on comments.

Thanks. Ron



  1. I am with you on this – and wish I had the courage to do it on my blog. It comes to this – we know who you are; you should know who we are. An anonymous opinion is an opinion sin cojones.

    Comment by Roger L. Simon — February 28, 2007 @ 2:05 pm | Reply

  2. I’ve thought about this before.

    “Shmuel” is not my real name. (It’s close though.) But unlike say a person who makes his living as a controversial culture critic and writer, my profession is not as tolerant of weird perspectives. Not that this gives me the “right” of anonymity. But it is a privilige I appreciate.

    And anonymity has a value and history in the world of ideas. (Kierkegaard’s early pamphlets come to mind.) But I don’t see my opinions as things that I’m proud of per se. Rather I enjoy “arguing” over ideas as an activity with a benefical purpose…the pursuit of greater awareness.

    On the whole though, I see leaving comments on blogs as a obsessive compulsive syptom. I don’t think it should be encouraged, and I would probably welcome any change in policy!

    I can see some exceptions if there’s a reason beside being unwilling to take responsibility for one’s views r.r.

    Comment by Shmuel — February 28, 2007 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  3. Dear Sir:

    Consider and address the following scenario. I stress that my comments are for the sake of argument only. Let us say that an anonymous individual posts something on your site that could be construed as treason. He remarks that the Democrats have suceeded in pulling the rug from under our troops in the field. Our military will soon leave Iraq in humiliation and defeat. A left-wing demagogue has just won election as president. He/she pledges to dismember America’s armed forces in favor of “social justice” and the creation of a welfare state along European lines. Your blogger goes on to urge our returning vets to take matters in their own hands. It’s time for a military coup against the elected government of the United States. He’s calling for an Oliver Cromwell, a Cincinnatus, or a Franco to step forward and seize the reigns of government. Your blogger is urging an armed insurrection against those who have made common cause with our enemies, and suggests that civil liberties must be curtailed in the name of national survival. He’s suggesting out-and-out fascism. Again, I make these statements only for argument’s sake. But what do you do as editor? Publish anonymously? Demand a name even if it means an FBI investigation into the identity of the blogger? Delete the comments and hope you never hear from this individual again? It’s a tough call. When does a suggestion of treason become patriotism, as it did in the days of our founding fathers? Our nation is now clearly divided, nay, it is polarized, and the feelings wax more intense everday. Anonymity serves a purpose. I do not write under a pseudonym, but my comments are only conjecture, and carefully worded. What happens the day that someone suggests such a scenario in all seriousness? Would you publish sentiments from the hard right? Think well on my questions and answer with deep thoughts that might open the debate to a wider audience and a deeper philosophical context.

    Best regards,


    Comment by MarkP — February 28, 2007 @ 7:48 pm | Reply

  4. Sounds fair. I subscribe to an e-mail list that requires you to use your real name, and the discussion is always more rational, respectful, and decent than many other places you find on the net.

    Comment by R.W. Rasband — February 28, 2007 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  5. Let me disagree with the real-name thing. I have a job and a sufficiently differentiated name such that it would be all too easy for things that I say on-line to complicated my professional life. The alternative to posting under this pseudonym is something much more akin to silence. If everyone adopted your policy, perhaps I would switch my on-line presence over to my real name, but if I start to mix and match then I risk have the two put together, and I don’t want to do that.

    I have posted on various internet fora under the Slothrop name for something approaching ten years, although not quite that. I blog under that name, and I comment elsewhere. There do seem to be a few others using the Slothrop alias on-line, but they don’t seem to frequent the places I do, so it has yet to be a source of confusion. So it’s a different case than the people who make up one-time names for hit-and-run commenting.

    And now that I’ve written this, I looked up and see Shmuel’s post and your response. Myself, I wouldn’t put things as a question of rights. It’s your forum, and you should do what you think will produce a useful forum. There are a great many blogs where the comments are pointless, and I greatly appreciate the impetus to try something different. But I would suggest that requiring real names is not necessarily the way to go.

    Comment by Tyrone Slothrop — February 28, 2007 @ 9:44 pm | Reply

  6. The question is really how do you know if a name that person enters for a comment is actually a real name?

    I grant you that someone who signs himself Repuzwitx23hanting Schartzkleeg may well be operating under a pseudonym, but what about John H. Costello?

    Comment by John H. Costello — March 1, 2007 @ 5:26 am | Reply

  7. “The alternative to posting under this pseudonym is something much more akin to silence.”

    Another alternative would be starting your own blog and posting under whatever name you choose of course.
    But I agree, that if everyone adopted a ‘real name’ policy it would radically change the nature of online discussions. Certainly good things and bad things could be said of each policy. I know that if I had a blog, with my real name on it, I would not want to spend my time looking at/sorting out/deleting malicious or immature comments.

    Comment by Shmuel — March 1, 2007 @ 10:18 am | Reply

  8. Another alternative would be starting your own blog and posting under whatever name you choose of course.

    I already do this, as you’ll see if you click on my name. I was perhaps unclear. I don’t mean that I’ll be silenced from speaking on the interwebs, but rather that I won’t participate in this particular forum (a loss that our host may well be willing to bear). I try to avoid posting in various places under my real name and my alias. Mark Twain supposedly said, “Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.” For the same reason, I prefer to always post as Slothrop.

    Comment by Tyrone Slothrop — March 1, 2007 @ 3:56 pm | Reply

  9. Can we please distinguish between the anonymous and the pseudonymous (especially if, like me, they use one pseudonym, are readily available at an email address, and could probably be proved to be one person by, say, Professor Don Foster)?

    And can we acknowledge that most of the big bloggers are self-employed, tenured, or otherwise protected from the wrath (or worse) of colleagues, employers, etc., whereas many of their commenters (as well as many independent bloggers) are not?

    Good point. But how do i know this post isn’t by Don Foster? Whose record is not stellar (See The Shakespeare Wars).

    Comment by hepzeeba — March 2, 2007 @ 9:12 am | Reply

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