The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

April 14, 2010
Poll: Are anonymous online comments worthwhile?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for 100119 ballot box.jpgA mini-debate is raging in the news industry over whether allowing anonymous comments is good policy. The New York Times recently ran this piece detailing how some news outlets are moving away from the practice.

When news sites, after years of hanging back, embraced the idea of allowing readers to post comments, the near-universal assumption was that anyone could weigh in and remain anonymous. But now, that idea is under attack from several directions, and journalists, more than ever, are questioning whether anonymity should be a given on news sites.

A week before that, Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander wrote this column about comments, leading with this:

Anonymous online commenting has always been rowdy and raucous, especially when public figures are the targets.

"Excellent!" exulted a Post commenter when conservative columnist Robert Novak died in August. "Hope he suffered."

When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy died a week later, a commenter wrote: "They are going to have to bury him in a secret location to stop people from defecating on his grave."

And after The Post reported last month that the wife and daughter of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had been badly injured when their car was hit by a tractor-trailer, a commenter applauded: "I would dearly LOVE to shake the hand of the driver of the other vehicle."

So now we bring the question here, to one of the most active blogs at sacbee.com when it comes to comments. What do you think?

IMAGE: www.freeclipart.com

On October 14, The Sacramento Bee will temporarily remove commenting from sacbee.com. While we design the upgrade, we encourage you to tell us what you like and don't like about commenting on sacbee.com and other websites. We've heard from hundreds of you already and we're listening. Please continue to add your thoughts and questions here. We also encourage you to write Letters to the Editor on this and other topics.



About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at jortiz@sacbee.com.

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