[show_avatar firstname.lastname@example.org]I have been for several years, and continue to be, seriously opposed to the Northfield News practice of allowing anonymous comments on their website.
You might ask, “Why? How seriously does anyone take comments to which a person does not care to attach their name?”
My answer is this: Some people take those anonymous comments seriously enough to bring some of that defamatory material, mis-representations of fact, outright lies, etc., to this opinion based community discussion, thereby convoluting the discussion in a way which, I believe, is a detriment to community relationships.
Griff gets angry with me if I refer to the Northfield News’s anonymous commenters, and says they are not relevant simply because of their anonymity and being “off-site” , even if they relate to a current subject thread on Locally Grown.
I disagree, strenuously.
There is no journalistic purpose served by allowing anonymous comments; the ‘gossip’ factor drives hits to their website, which then encourages advertising sales.
A good portion of their website comments do not deal with being for or against an issue brought forward by an article in the print version of the newspaper; instead they are personal attacks meant to harm, if not actually libel; they are often attached to an article to which there is no relevant content link.
Example: A few weeks ago a rash of escalating offensive comments were attached to various articles, including one to that week’s City Administrator’s Memo. The one attached to the administrator’s memo was removed, and an admonition (citing lack of relevance to the city memo as reason for removal) was posted from Jaci Smith, the Northfield News Editor; however, all the other comments were allowed to remain in place.
Anonymous comments allowed on newspaper websites have been the subject of some spirited debate. What do you think is their impact in our community?