Monday, March 30, 2009

Parish Notice: Should I Re-allow Anonymous Comments?

For the last four months I have had a system of comment registration, which means that anonymous commenters are not able to comment. In general it has worked well, with the threads being rather more coherent and calm than previously. There have been marginally fewer comments, but the level of debate seems to be higher.

However, I have been getting quite a few emails from people who previously commented regularly who no longer do so because they are either not willing to register an account with Google or are government employees worried about their identity being somehow compromised. I said HERE that I would give this experiment time to see what happened, and it has now been four months. Part of me thinks that if someone can't be bothered to register even an anonymous account, why should I bend over backwards to accommodate them. However, this blog has become a community and I want it to be as open as possible. So I am minded to open up the comments again for a trial period, but I thought I'd do a quick poll to see what you all think.

Click HERE to take part.

86 comments:

JuliaM said...

"...government employees worried about their identity being somehow compromised..."

How?

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

It's your blog isn't it? You write the main content, I would have said how you sort out comments is entirely up to you. Just as I don't allow anyone to tell me how to set the parameters for comments on my blog.

If there are people who are unhappy about your comments policy, It's dead easy to register a completely untraceable name at Google and comment that way. If they don't want to do that, they don't have to comment. Simple. As you say, why should you bend over backwards for them?

Andrew said...

Keep 'em locked to registered users - the ability to comment with moderation (after registration) more than makes up for either an awful free-for-all or comment moderation (which loses any spontanaeity).

Initially I didn't like your current scheme, but I've come to prefer it.

Those who are worried about their anonymity being compromised are at no greater risk, account or not. Such people really should use their own equipment on their own connections (rather than those of their employers).

And anyway, if what they have to say is so interesting they can email you - they're obviously not frit enough to refrain from that if they're emailing to plead their case!

Keep it locked (from anonymous users) and open (i.e. without pre-moderation), please.

Scary Biscuits said...

I agree. It's been much better without the astroturfers.

If they're too stupid/lazy to even setup an online name, then that's probably a good filter. Regarding govt employees, I'm not sure I want them reading let alone commenting on your blog when they're being paid by me.

denverthen said...

I don't like anon comments. They're just too impersonal and change the whole tone of a forum. Popular blogs which allows anon comments (there aren't many of them) tend to contain less thought-through contributions from what I've seen. No idea why.

(You've got a little typo in your piece, btw (2 ms)).

davidc said...

it's your bat and your ball - thanks for putting in the time to keep your admirers thinking (and amused)!

Plato said...

OT Just looked at your tiny url.

What a humourless fart.

Have bookmarked that swastika thread for future amusement.

Why do people get so uptight about people they have never met and probably never will do?

*clearly I make an exception for Mr Draper*

Fidothedog said...

Go for it, at least you publish most of the comments unless they have lots of sweary words.

I can think of several MP's blogs that censor anything they dislike, like a certain Tom Harris...

Alan Douglas said...

If there is only a small effort needed to register an "anon" anon name, then there is no reason to return to allowing anon comments.

I think the present system is much livelier than before.

Alan Douglas

Simon Gardner said...

“Should I Re-allow Anonymous Comments?”

NO

Chris Paul said...

Current arrangements are much better Iain. Even Guido is kinda moderating comments now. Going back would be wrong given the volume of comments you have and the rabid nature of some of the uncontrolled version.

John said...

This gets a "NO" vote from me too.

As it stands you have all but eliminated the trolls (except for Tim Ireland obviously). Allow anonymous comments again and you'll get more comments, but the extra comments will just be troll posts like they always were.

Keep things as they are IMHO.

Your blog your rules and your decision though :)

cb said...

I post and blog anonymously. I don't see any way my identity is compromised. It really isn't a big deal to make an account.

Span Ows said...

Leave it on, it's no "real" hassle.

Tim said...

Don't mind me; I'm just subscribing to this thread so I don't miss anything.

(subscribes)

Doug said...

No. Leave it as it is.

As for those people who require a bit of protection to air their views, they should make remarks directly to Iain that can be published without revealing their identities and then Iain can publish them under his own name or as rumours etc.

I think we all know that if the government really wants to find these people there is nothing you can do to stop them.

Unsworth said...

"Re-allow"? Absolutely not. Apart from the virtual impossibility of readers distinguishing one Anon troll from another, what the hell's the matter with these people who wish to remain 'anonymous'? If they're serious about decent debate why not help readers here to follow their argument? Why not put your name (or, a name) to an opinion? Is it really beyond the wit of these people to dream up a nom de plume or a nom de guerre? If it is they shouldn't be allowed to comment anyway - as they are clearly severely intellectually retarded. In fact I'd prefer to see them restrained in some sort of geographically remote medical establishment.

Frankly, moderation has been very helpful in reducing the amount of irritating and irrelevant garbage which these self-indulgent tossers have hitherto inflicted on us all. And I'd guess that's what led you to impose it in the first place. Why would anyone believe that things have somehow changed in the interim, and that the loonies have suddenly got sensible?

Little Black Sambo said...

I think things would be better left as they are. Is it because anons don't want you to know who they are? And does that, in turn, mean they are people whom you do know? Why else should they be worried?

Yak40 said...

How to stop Google Tracking.

Trouble is, if you do this then you can't log in to Blogger any more !

The Lakelander said...

Somewhat off-topic Iain, but have you ever run an analysis by www.genderanalyzer.com on the content of your blog?

It seems that this program works out whether the author of the blog is a man or a woman.

Go on....you know you want to find out what their rating is....

golden_balls said...

You say its a community and yet certain posters *not myself* ask direct questions and you don't reply

This is your blog you decide !

don't try to potray this as some kind of meeting place for like minded folk.

It's your slant on the days political news.

But after saying all that i prefer it as it is now.

IamNotAnonymous-honest said...

you allow openId, so you effectively allow anonymous posts anyway.

See places such as:
http://www.untrusted.ca/OpenID/

So it rather depends on what sort of anonymous posts you want to stop.

Jabba the Cat said...

Jabba suspects that the wannabe anonymous whingers want to do their comment posting on someone else's time, and therefore feels that, on principle, such people should not be accommodated.

King Athelstan said...

On balance I'd stick with the current arrangement, keeps things relatively troll free.

Plato said...

Mr Lakelander - golly that's a coincidence.

I posted about just that this morning to cheer myself up.

What sex are you?"

I appear to be confused.

Anton said...

Judging by the comments so far, I'd say go back to allowing anonymongs.

This has become too much of a cozy 'in' club.

If you want to become the blogging equivalent of Switzerland, just carry on as you are.

Weygand said...

I read Guido's blog every day, but now rarely read the comments, never mind bother to post one, due to the reams of rubbish.

Registration is the best way to discourage the vile and the stupid as well as to protect yourself from defamation actions.

Although no techie, I'm not sure that those posting from private computers run a greater risk of identification from a Google user name than from the details of their computer automatically attached to any communication they send.

Wayne and Waynetta Slob said...

I 'ave to say Iain, would I like to join any club that would 'ave us as members, or Simon Gardner for that matter?

Simon Gardner said...

Wayne and Waynetta Slob said... “I 'ave to say Iain, would I like to join any club that would 'ave us as members, or Simon Gardner for that matter?”

Ithangyeew.

Childprotector said...

How many of your "attributable" commentators do so in their real name? There's little difference between an anonymous posting and one under a pseudonym.

canvas said...

Your newer system works well. Leave it alone.

Most of the previous anon commenters left banal comments anyway.

Challenge your readers and reject the anons.

Iain, How do you feel about net neutrality?

Iain Dale said...

And what might that be then?

Weygand said...

PS

I'm sure readers recommend this blog, without a second thought, to acquaintances they feel might be interested by current events, but would hesitate to recommend Guido's, in case they might seem to endorse the mindless crudity of what passes for comment on his site.

Guido may riposte that more people read his blog than most others, but then more people read the Sun than serious newspapers. I would say that in assessing the influence of a blog a balance between quantity of site hits and the quality of participation is more significant than mere quantity alone.

This is not a pop at Guido, whose site (save comments), I enjoy.

canvas said...

Net neutrality, of course, is the idea that broadband operators shouldn't be allowed to block or degrade Internet content and services--or charge content providers an extra fee for speedier delivery or more favourable placement.

Just wondered how you felt about this issue. I know DC's views...

Maybe you could have a think a write a post? Maybe?

Sim-O said...

Iain, erm, did you delete a comment from Wireman, posted at 7.42pm?

Alex said...

Its not broken. Don't fix it.

Sim-O said...

and one from you @ 6.10pm, and another @ 7.47pm, both your comments this time?

Iain Dale said...

Simo, I know you are one of Ireland's little helpers, but what the **** are you on about? I have not deleted a single comment today.

Sim-O said...

ok. Thanx, Ian.

canvas said...

classic case of Sim-O reading the wrong post. doh.

Sim-O said...

classic case of Sim-O reading the wrong post. doh.

*blushes*

The Grim Reaper said...

Please don't re-allow anonymous comments. Don't you remember how threads turned out? They were being spammed by Dollybots from LabiaList, Tim Ireland's little helpers in the blogosphere and conspiracy basket cases. The current system works far better. So much so that I think other blogs should introduce it as well.

I would, however, suggest one small modification. Please, for the sake of sanity, give Tim Ireland a permanent ban from commenting on your blog. He can then go back to writing the usual crap on his own site - or alternatively, he can go find out where the nearest river to his house is.

Wayne and Waynetta Slob said...

Simon, or Simone as you used to be called, the door is still open luv; me and yer mum 'ave forgiven yer for becoming the insufferable little snob that you are today.

We 'ope you're still on that nice little earner dahn the Cross, and look forward to 'earing from you in eager anticipashun.

The Beast of Berkeley Hunt said...

Mr Dale, listening to this Rotary Club mentality of keeping out the oiks, I am grateful that you have allowed me entry to these hallowed pages. I sincerely hope that the 'nimby'(not in my blog y'all) attitude shown by the majority on this thread, sorely tempts you to let in some of my more 'lively' friends.

Believe me, this blog needs some livening up.

canvas said...

Beast - you're right on one count - this blog does need livening up!

I would hardly describe disallowing "anon's" as exclusive though ...since anyone can join Google blogger. ;)

and I mean anyoneeee........

Randy Brandy said...

You're dead right there canvas.

Fancy a night cap? And I'm not talking Bacardi Breezers here babe.

mrs slocombe said...

"FREDDIE STARR ATE MY PUSSY"

Tim said...

Grim Reaper: Perhaps Iain could point out (and prove) when and where I have ever sock-puppeted on this or any other site, or encouraged others to do so, or allowed it on my own.

In fact, a lot of the shit I get thrown at me in this place results from my complaining about Iain Dale's constant reliance on sock-puppetry (that - for now - remains mostly in the past).

Still, I suspect you know that, but you're merely pretending otherwise.

Oh, and I just caught a sock-puppet over at Justin's who knows an awful lot about emails that only Iain and I are supposed to know about.

Care to venture any guesses as to who it is, Iain? You'd know better than me.

Tim's sockpuppet said...

Guess who?

Tim said...

Uh-uh. Let's not forget our host. Iain was first in line;

Care to venture any guesses as to who this is, Iain? If you need a hint, it's probably someone you told about (or showed) that email conversation that you insisted remain confidential.

Iain Dale said...

Strange, you said you wouldn't be discussing that on here. Seeing as I have never shown anyone those emails or even discussed them with anyone, that only leaves one suspect doesn't it.

And I have no clue who that person is on Yoghurt Gone Bad. Presumably they saw the piece on your blog.

Harrimen Harminger said...

To be honest, I have used yoghurt before, and it did go quite minging.

Tim said...

So your guess is... me, a sidekick or a psychic? But at the same time you have no idea.

*bzzt*

Sorry, but that's a disqualification, I'm afraid; you're only allowed one answer.

(And again, I challenge you to point out - and prove - when and where I have ever sock-puppeted on this or any other site, or encouraged others to do so, or allowed it on my own.)

Whoever they were, they were not talking about details that I blogged or discussed with anyone, but somehow they knew about something that only you and I should have known about at that stage. Of course, they could have picked this up from you moaning about the situation as you saw it, rather than reading the email that you insist remains confidential, so I'll let you have the benefit of the doubt on that (even though you've tried to secretly share our private emails before).

Oh, and I said I wouldn't be discussing a certain issue on this site, and I still haven't. So GFY, girlfriend.

Like the issue I won't be discussing here, I'm sure that if you wish that sock-puppeting away, it'll be like it never happened.

Harrimen Harminger said...

"Like the issue I won't be discussing here, I'm sure that if you wish that sock-puppeting away, it'll be like it never happened.

March 28, 2009 10:46 PM"


You forgot, "Am I bovvered, whatevva.."

Tim said...

That's Iain's line... even though he constantly misinterprets it.

When Catherine Tate's character Lauren Cooper insists that she 'ain't bovvered', she usually goes through a lot of bovver to show how unbovvered she is. It's a very straightforward joke.

Still, I'm glad we've started off nice and early with a solid sock-puppeting from Iain's team and nothing but empty accusations to counter the discovery.

Any time you're ready to make do without sock-puppeting peeps and explain yourself, Iain, I'm waiting for you over at my place.

Simon Gardner said...

And why the hell don’t people use their names unless they are somehow ashamed of what they say?

(OK, I accept the civil-servant job problem.)

Wayne and Waynetta Slob said...

Simone luv, sorry Simon, remember...cash, not cheque.

The Grim Reaper said...

Simon Gardner said "And why the hell don’t people use their names unless they are somehow ashamed of what they say?"

But maybe The Grim Reaper really is my real name? Ever considered that idea?

Tim said...

Good news, Iain! You're off the hook!

Over a piffling matter, not the important one. Sorry to get your hopes up.

So:

- You've still got at least one sock-puppeting git on your side, even if he was talking shite about a years-old post, not current events.

- But there's no longer any indication that you've shared our private correspondence... this time.

- Sadly, there's still evidence of you trying to secretly share our private correspondence in the past.

- But I'll still wait for a bit before I do the same to you openly, because I want to see you try your currently-secret excuse in public; it's a classic to rival '1234'.

Iain Dale said...

God, you're tiresome. You're caught out but can't bring yourself to actually apologise. Do you realise what an idiot you make of yourself? But keep at it. It just goes to prove everything I have ever thought about you.

Window Licker said...

Tims mi frend

Thatsnews said...

Hang on. Why do they think that if they post anonymously on blogs from work that the government won't know who they are or what they said?

Tim said...

Thatsnews:

Becauase it's a bulldust excuse used by people who mainly adopt false names/identities to slag people off.

Iain:

As I said over at Justin's, I stand ready to apologise, the next time you pop by my site for a chat.

:o)

And what have I accused you of but something you've already done at leats once before, then denied*?

What am I supposed to think when it appears to happen again and you deny it again? Where am I suppose to talk to you about it when you have a policy of refusing to answer any email I might send you about it?

(*Until I offered you a chance to confess off the record, of course. And just before you start, it was Hendren that blabbed, not me.)

Can't you see the problems your constant lying and abuse of sock-puppetry cause you?

(There are two relatively harmless but obvious sock-puppets in this thread right now, and you're not cleaning them up. You know you've allowed worse when it's suited you.)

As for everything you ever thought about me, you were chasing me for sweet link love and praising my efforts until I dared to criticise you. It was only after then that you started taking every chance you could get to make me out to be a liar.

But the only proven liar between us is you, Iain.

And on that note, I await your pissweak excuses over at my site... I'll have an apology all warmed up for you.

Iain Dale said...

The day I give your site any legitimacy by posting on it will be a cold day in hell.

So you can keep emailing all you like (12 in the last 36 hours at the last count) and commenting all you like (must be at least 40 or 50 in the last 36 hours), and you can keep playing your childish games all you like, but this time, there ain't gonna be no war.

I'll leave it up to others to decide what kind of person repeatedly sends unwanted emails (commonly known as spam, or even possibly harrassment) containing all sorts of insults and worse.

As I have warned you on another thread, my rules state...

"Persistent abuse of me, the host of this blog by way of spurious allegations or name-calling is liable to result in a ban, either for a period of time or permanently. You may disagree with me, but there is a limit to my patience if my hospitality is abused."

One more transgression and you are banned.

Simon Gardner said...

The Grim Reaper said... “Simon Gardner said "And why the hell don’t people use their names unless they are somehow ashamed of what they say?" But maybe The Grim Reaper really is my real name? Ever considered that idea?”

No. Seriously. I obviously phrased it a bit brutally but I’d really, genuinely like to know. Why don’t they?

Clive said...

But keep at it. It just goes to prove everything I have ever thought about you.

Even when asking for link love way back in 2006?

http://www.theuktoday.co.uk/iain_dale/iain_dale_spammer.html

Iain Dale said...

By his criteria, what he is doing is spamming me. I don't ever want to hear from him again.

Randy Brandy said...

So what are you wearing Simon? I swing both ways.

Tim said...

More excuses.

And the same old implications of stalking/obsession/harassment again, which I find to be very amusing given the event at the centre of the latest stunt you pulled.

If you genuinely think you're being harassed or spammed, you can report me for either, so do that or STFU.

Over to mine to explain yourself, Iain, or we're going to have a problem.

Iain Dale said...

Tim Ireland,

It is you who has the problem.

For the avoidance of doubt. I do not wish to receive further emails from you. If you continue to persist in sending me emails I will consider them to be a form of harrassment.

How hilarious that you behave like the headmaster of the blogosphere by summoning me to your blog to explain myself.

Get a life, and disappear from this blog.

Tim said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Simon Gardner said...

So why don’t they..?

Simon Gardner said...

OK. So there’s a very obvious reason on another thread with large numbers of (presumably Tory members) advocating voting against the Conservative Party at the Euro-elections.

troymolloy said...

I am clearly a voice in the wilderness here, but personally I much preferred the non-registered sytem; I posted under the same name, it just felt like a lot less hassle; I also found the initial Google registration process a pain in the arse as it took about 5 attempts.

The only annoyance in the old system was not being able to force people to enter a name - so you'd get a dozen different people called 'anonymous' in the same thread, making discussion next-to-impossible. But personally I don't think the discussion is 'improved' just by making people sign up to a service that is, after all, completely Anonymous.

pop said...

Does this post allow non-registered comments?

If not - isn't it a bit of a stupid way to gauge responses?

The people who want to be unregistered won't be represented will they...

Patrick said...

Iain,

Your site should have comment registration. BUT...it should also immediately post the comments without waiting for moderation / approval. I think sites such Political Betting get a much higher hit rate and commenter community because you can have a live discussion with others. Mike Smithson over at PB auto filters out all the F and C words so it's pretty safe. Your site used to be more interactive when comment threads were 'live'.

Horlic said...

I will suggest re-allow anonymous comments as you want your blog to be as open as possible.

Thatsnews said...

Iain, you should keep it like it is.

Much easier to administrate and it stops people doing a parasitical meta-blog, using your site to run it through.

Werner Patels said...

It is your blog, of course, which puts you in the driver's seat. You're in charge and you call the shots.

I have tried different approaches to comments on my blogs over the years, and frankly, none really satisfies everyone. Someone will always be or feel left out, etc.

In some cases, as concerns any special comment widgets and such, commenters might be restricted to those who have javascript enabled, for example.

But I can also understand that people are reluctant to create user accounts. There are too many sites out there that require user registration (Blogger, Google, Typepad, Huffington Post, all the various online versions of newspapers, etc.), and people are getting a bit fed up with the sheer number of user names and passwords they're required to remember or save for all the many sites they comment on.

What is more, registration can often result in the user getting spammed down the road -- yes, including by Google/Blogger.

But overall I think there must be some kind of filter on comments and commenters. Allowing for Google/Blogger accounts as well as OpenID, Wordpress, Typepad, etc., I think, you're already offering a sufficient number of options.

As you say, if someone cannot be bothered to create an account (doesn't have to be Blogger; it can also be Wordpress, OpenID, etc.), then they're not serious anyway. If they are such avid blog users and commenters, then surely they must have an account with at least one of the services that Blogger recognises for log-in purposes.

I don't buy the "government employee excuse". A blogger account can be completely anonymous and can be created through a Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, etc. account from home first. No one at work will ever have to know that it's none other than David Miliband himself who's insulting you from within your own comments section. Right?

fgeegf said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Half The Story said...

To be fair anonymous comments dont stop trolling.

And the wars with Timbo do at least show greater comment interest.

T England said...

As, golden_balls said...
You say its a community and yet certain posters *not myself* ask direct questions and you don't reply

Iain, I only normally see you reply to anoymous posts that are running you or this blog down, why have the anon's back & create yourself extra work?
Anyhow!
Even when it's not posted by someone anon you still get things like what fgeegf posted & I don't think you want your site linking to porn!

I'd say keep the anons out & let those who worry about their identity find ways to cover their tracks.

troymolloy said...

"One more transgression and you are banned."

Thanks Iain.

Simon: I guess there are numerous reasons why people would avoid using their real name. I post across a wide range of subjects and websites, and one factor behind my posting under an assumed name is that I don't want a simple Google search on my name to provide a stranger with a complete summary of my hobbies, job, interests, political or religious views etc.. It's not that I don't "have nothing to hide".

Unsworth said...

Is Simon Gardner a real name?

Is Simon Gardner a real person?


How would anyone know?

Anonymous said...

http://www.ihateyoujulia.com/?id=d2783759f781bbe7f941a191499444ac

Anonymous said...

sorry about this... when u r reading this dont stop or something bad will happen! my name is summer i am 15 years old i have blonde hair ,many scars no nose or ears.. i am dead. if u dont copy this just like from the ring, copy n post this on 5 more sites.. or.. i will appear one dark quiet night when ur not expecting it by your bed with a knife and kill u. this is no joke something good will happen to u if you post this on 5 more pages