Around 5 years ago I wrote an article for a well known print magazine where I advocated the need to allow anonymous commenting.
I talked about the fact that allowing anonymous comments created greater good than the perceived harm that resulted. I talked about the fact that we had to put up with negative anonymous comments because of the liberty that anonymity affords.
I now put my hand up and admit I was wrong. I was very wrong.
I had a hope that people would use anonymity to enact positive change. I had hoped that in the 5 past years there would be countless examples of anonymous commentators making enduring contributions to society that they could otherwise not have made had their identities been known.
The truth is that this hasn’t happened. As a study in human behaviour, we can only conclude that given the option of having an anonymous voice, the negative vastly outweighs the positive. Quite simply, allowing anonymous commenting isn’t worth it.
Those that advocate the need to continue to allow anonymous comments, just have a look at your favourite sites over the past few years and compare the number of thoughtful, constructive anonymous posts with the number of negative ones. Insulting, negative, unjustified comments far outweigh their counterpart.
On balance, I can’t see how a factual argument to allow anonymous comments can be sustained without accepting that they achieve more harm than good. And I believe it is time for publishers to make a stand and enact change. All we need is a publisher to lead, to show that they care about the greater good, and I think, given the times we live in, that the rest will be inspired to follow. I still hold out for at least this positive aspect of humanity.