Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Commenting on Gossips

The Gossips of Rivertown is changing its commenting policy. Henceforward commenters must register, and no one will be allowed to comment anonymously.

Some posts in recent months have elicited strings of anonymous comments. Anonymous responds to Anonymous. Anonymous engages in extended debate with Anonymous. Anonymous challenges Anonymous to reveal his/her identity while continuing to conceal his/her own. Anonymous calls me out and demands an answer. It's surreal and absurd--not to mention uncivil. Most disturbing is that a regular reader who is registered to comment confided to me yesterday that he now comments as Anonymous because he is uncomfortable in a forum where he is the only participant willing to reveal his identity.

When Gossips started accepting anonymous comments several months ago, I made it my unofficial rule of thumb to reject comments that seemed more appropriate to the Voy Forum than The Gossips of Rivertown. Recently a reader suggested that the only difference between Voy and Gossips was that Gossips commenters used bigger words and tended to be better spellers. Enough is enough. Please register to comment and take credit for your contributions to the ongoing community conversation.


  1. I've commented on Gossips in the past, both anonymously and not, for various reasons. I'm glad you are making this change, Carole, and I think it will raise the "civility" of comments, though I hope it won't change the debate- one of the best things about blogs is that so many people can be given a voice. I've learned much by considering the varied perspectives of Gossips readers. I hope as many people will still be willing to comment; with as much insight, wit, passion and compassion, as when we could do so anonymously.

    Kristen Phillips

  2. Debby and Kristen--

    Thanks for your comments. Just for clarification, although I am requiring people to register to comment on Gossips, I am not necessarily insisting that people sign their posts. What I want to put an end to are the strings of comments in which everyone is “Anonymous,” and people have to refer to “Anonymous at 10:43 a.m.” or “Anonymous at 4:14 p.m.” You don't know which comments are coming from the same person, and you can't figure out the dynamic of the conversation.

    People can use or create a screen name when they register to comment. They don't have to reveal their full names if they're not comfortable with that. I am just prohibiting comments from people who won't register and choose to identify themselves only as "Anonymous."

    BTW, Kristen, you've commented several times as Reusethematerialgirl. Although I didn't know until just now that Reusethematerialgirl was you, I never in the past considered that an anonymous comment. It came from someone who had an identity and whose personality was emerging through what she had to say.

  3. Hi Carole,
    Woops! I hit post without intending. Here is my completed thought:
    I appreciate your clarification, but do want to say that just this once I signed my name so that anyone who wondered if Reusethematerialgirl is a mask of sorts for commenting, it's not. I also appreciate the forum you've created and the information you share on Gossips and am glad that, at times, I'm able to "voice" here along with others.