In the past weeks, several readers have sent us notes telling us why they will no longer write letters to the editor or leave online comments: They’re unwilling to expose themselves to cruel, nasty and sometimes obscene comments by anonymous posters (and you know who you are).
I don’t blame them. My blog postings and editorials often get the same treatment, but hey – I’m paid to have a thick skin. Besides, if a comment goes way over the line, we can take it down. The most that readers can do is click the “report abuse” button and hope we agree with them.
We’ve talked about whether we should make commenters use their real names, but in the end decided it’s too easy for people to create e-mail accounts under fake names. It would be costly for us to verify every name before allowing people to comment.
Other news organizations face the same challenge. The New York Times recently wrote about what some in the industry are doing. Read it here.