Express Times Editor Joe Owens cautions that "This world of blogging, posting, chatting, etc., can ... be scary. Anonymity gives people encouragement to say anything, which is very easy if you don’t have to put your name behind it." The Morning Call's Bill White says much the same thing. "[Y]ou're getting one person's take on things, often posted anonymously. It can make for irresponsible, even destructive misstatements or invasion of privacy, with no accountability. There's no editor, no professional constraints."
OK, these are valid criticisms. But when any form of media restrains comment, there's a very real danger we'll only be exposed to their truths. Some blogs, especially those on the dark side, frequently moderate comments. And guess what? My comments are never published. These bloggers manipulate public opinion. They're deciding what you see and what you don't.
Others play comment cop and delete anything that might insult someone, including mild humor. They fret that a lively and sometimes irreverent exchange will lessen the value of their site. I disagree. I may be wrong. But in my view, deleting these comments is just another, if less offensive, way to manipulate public opinion.
My approach has evolved (or perhaps devolved) to mirror the practice of most other bloggers. I let it all in. Anonymous, pseudonym and blogger comments are all welcome. I won't even use word verification, because it sometimes makes it hard to post a remark. I hand delete the spam.
Most comments are intelligent, well-written and entertaining. But there is the occasional personal attack or some scurrilous allegation, so what do I do about that?
Here's the way I look at it. We bloggers may be idiots, but most of our readers are not knuckleheads. They tend to be very well-read, and are looking for additional information and differing perspectives. Sometimes, they'll find that in one of the local blogs. And just like me or anyone else, they can spot horseshit. They already have enough information spoonfed to them.
I already know what I think. I'm interested in what YOU think, and enjoy the commentary on this blog more than my own posts. And some folks need to preserve their anonymity because of their employment. So here's my comment policy: I will delete spam or any comment that advocates physical harm against any individual, even a government official. Other than that, most of you have pretty good bullshit detectors. You spot it in me every time.
It's half the fun.