I have modified the settings on this blog to no longer allow anonymous comments. The obvious inspiration for this move is Pat Dowd’s comments in the last couple of days. I know Jonathan Potts “The Conversation” blog does not allow anonymous comments (he says he set it up that way because he mistakenly thought it would limit spam), but for the life of me I can’t think of another blog with this setting, although I must have run into one or two over the last year. A couple of blogs have moderated comments, where I would have to approve every comment. That seems a little too much like I could censor views I disagreed with (although I can understand the need for Bob Mayo to moderate comments on his blog, for example). As a practical matter this new setting means commenter’s will have to sign up for a “Google” account. All you need for that is an email account (as far as I know; that’s all I needed) and it need not be a gmail account, it can be yahoo (what I use) or what have you. I suspect Google would frown on someone setting up multiple accounts, though it may be possible. And I don’t know what effect having a Google account has on your internet travels and whether Google or anyone can track your activities (we all know Google records your Google searches with your IP address, and is willing to turn that information over to the government).
Long time readers of this blog will remember the early days of the primary, when one (or more) anonymous commenter’s made multiple pro-Bodack (and anti-Dowd) comments on this blog. Now, this is a matter of opinion, but the comments seemed grammatically challenged, and I tended to think that spoke for itself, so I never felt the need to delete, ban or take away the right to comment anonymously. On the other hand, at some points there were several long, rambling comments that were hard to respond to (charitably or otherwise).
So this will be an experiment in the transparent democracy that Patrick spoke about in one of his comments (sorry there are so many comments this time, that is at least half my fault). (http://cognitivedissonancepittsburgh.blogspot.com/2007/07/ramifications.html) I argued with Patrick that blog anonymity is a fait accompli, something we can do nothing about. But I have to agree that by requiring at least “handles” (whatever nickname you might choose), commenter’s can take on a history, so that we can know where that person is coming from. Your handle can be gender neutral is that is important to you. And this will cut down on some of the waves of comments from anonymous posters that could be five people, ten people, or one tireless person (that is something I could probably check on now anyway, but exposing a set of anonymous posters as a fraud might risk retaliation of some sort). Patrick talks about building alliances, working on understandings, crafting policies. Wow. Maybe. I am (sort of) setting my blog apart (a little) with this new policy. And I would be absolutely pleased to facilitate such activities. But Jonathan Potts’ "Conversation" has been there all along, and we haven’t taken advantage of it.
On an entirely different note, there was a PG story about the records of the FBI agent who investigated Cyril Wecht being released (http://post-gazette.com/pg/07193/801128-85.stm). I have no dog in this issue, but I have to say, this story read like an unfunny version of The Office. This guy has nothing but my sympathy, but even I wouldn’t do some of this stuff.