Would you dare to comment?

by Son Huynh

With all the latest stir of Greeks and sexism lately, I realized one thing: people love to express their opinions in the form of online comments. With the improved Daily site this year, we got rid of anonymous posting (you have to be a registered user on mndaily.com to comment). I was afraid that we would see a decline of discussion (and spam!) because let’s be honest, most people won’t bother to register. For the most part, I was right. However the latest issue about Greeks has brought us to a new ground. It seems that when people want to comment, boy they will comment.

However that brings us to another issue. A lot of comments were very opinionated, some might even say they were harsh or offensive. It’s certainly okay for people to express their feelings, especially if they feel strongly about something. But we must consider, does the fact that you get to hide behind a username affect what you say in a comment? I think it does. Some people brought up great points about anonymity and about how people aren’t afraid to speak their mind if they know it won’t be traced back to them.

So here’s my question: would people dare to comment if they could no longer remain anonymous? One of the things we were considering installing on the site is a thing called Disqus Comments. Disqus allows people to login with their Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking account to comment. We were thinking that this might increase commenting since people wouldn’t have to register on our site. But the more I think about it, the more it seems that it actually might decrease commenting. Sure it’s great, you don’t have to register an account, you don’t have to remember one more username and one more password (though we all know most people use the same username/password for everything right?). But this means that people are exposing themselves to the world, they now have to take responsibility for what they say. So again, I ask, would people dare to comment if they have to own up to their comments? If we had used Disqus Comments and you had to login with a Facebook, Twitter, or other social networking account, would we have seen such a huge discussion about Greeks? Remember that if you login with Facebook and your Facebook account is open, people can look at your profile.

My thoughts? I think for the most part, discussion won’t be hindered too much. Like I said before, when people want to comment, they will comment. Though I definitely think we would see a change in tone for most of the comments. Most people will think twice about what they write and they will choose their words more wisely.

Note: For those of you who have heard of Disqus Comments or took the time to look it up, I am aware that Disqus allows for anonymous commenting but for the point of this discussion, let’s assume that we would’ve had that turned off.