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One of the horrors of the internet is anonymous commenting. It can have its place but it's largely the thing that seems to contribute the most to terrible web interactions. So I would say that anything you do that could force people to be personally accountable for what they say would help. You're putting your name on this so anyone who wants to interact with you and have an opinion should be expected to do the same. This isn't the sort of site where I would expect someone to really need to anonymize their comment for some legitimate reason. (I signed in with Twitter to do this comment but you could do Facebook commenting which may or may not be a pain - I have no idea - but that seems to at least tie comments to an existing specific identity).

Also, maybe not everything needs commentary so maybe not opening everything up so it's not an ongoing time sink but maybe sometimes encouraging it could be good?


Have you considered Disqus? Reduces the anonymous drive-bys, because you need to go to the trouble of getting a pseudonym, but that way you don't need to use your full name. And so many sites use Disqus that lots of people already have an account.

Besides, does anyone actually use Google+, even if they have an account? I kind of keep forgetting it exists.


...and then there's needing to pick some other 3rd Party system to comment from. And those systems tend to be tied to social media. And if you're not sure whether you want to comment from a social media source then you're left to choose another option and it may be something you're unfamiliar with.

Anyway. I don't have a real good answer here but I agree with your whole post. And the comments at SFGate were HORRIBLE! I kept wanting to make a profile so I could jump in and defend your perfectly SANE and well-done articles but I was afraid to get locked in with that lot.

Glad you're posting again! I've missed your writing!


Becky, I could almost see Google+'s "wait, do I even have one of those?" nature as something of a plus (pardon the pun). There is a local news site that I frequently would love to comment on, but I don't, simply because you can ONLY comment on their stuff with your Facebook. I don't want every colleague I have ever had, or ever will have, potentially seeing my random musings on the poor decisions of Community Board 12; and I don't trust that Facebook will ever allow me to maintain in the future whatever privacy boundaries it allows me to maintain today. As someone who was in college when FB was first a (very private) "thing," and who didn't even share anything terrible but still felt kind of embarrassed to have jokey midnight comments about cute professors or obnoxious dorm-mates slowly become more and more public in front of people who have only ever known me as an adult professional, I can say: fool me once, shame on you.... I'd be way more comfortable using Google+, in part because fewer people would notice if all my comments were shared with all my connections but in part because I feel like there's some stability in how the policies of today will relate directly to the policies of tomorrow.

I do have a Twitter account. I rarely use it but I don't have any of the same ickiness about commenting from Twitter as I do about commenting from FB.

The SFGate comments could be atrocious. I think my favorites were the ones like on the storage-unit article, where the commenters had so clearly not read a word written but had just seen a lightning-bolt phrase and, as if by rote, typed out the same rant they've undoubtedly shared countless times before.

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