Update 4/4/11: I received this Direct Message on Twitter today. I'm happy to post this update and let my readers know that Tim Burke did not make the statement that they will no longer allow anonymous commenting. It was apparently a fake "Tim Burke" who left that comment.
It's unfortunate but not uncommon to read racist postings in the comment sections of articles on the Palm Beach Post. I've often struggled with wondering if these types of comments should be stopped or if allowing this type of "expression" might actually be healthy. If, for example, no comments are allowed at all, then there's no opportunity for discussion (good and bad).
If you delete "undesirable" comments, you are left with an unmanageable workflow; what constitutes and who gets to decide what is inappropriate?
Another option is apparently what Tim Burke, Executive Editor of the Palm Beach Post, has decided to institute. The Palm Beach Post will no longer allow anonymous commenting. I'm guessing folks will need to register an account using a verifiable email address.
Deep Throat, but I do think there is a place for people who have valid information to share and have good reason to want to conceal their identities.
Will requiring people to register accounts really yield the results Tim is seeking? Will people really self-moderate? Or will they quickly figure out how easy it is to create email addresses for this purpose?
What about the possibility that many people, anonymous or not, may simply stop commenting for not wanting to jump the extra hurdle of having to register?
I think this is something we all struggle with as educators who blog and may want to bring the blogging experience into our schools and classrooms. Is there value in anonymous commenting?
What are your thoughts?