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On any given day, several thousand interlopers at keyboards fire off a comment to one of the stories or columns published here on Capitol Hill Blue.
Less than a handful of those comments, however, ever appear on the web site.
The failure comes not from any attempt by our editors to limit or wean out comments.
Instead, the vast majority fail to pass the security check of our automated filtering system and — in 99 percent of the cases — they fail because the email address provided by a poster doesn’t check out.
Most of these posts are anonymous, as are the vast majority of comments posted around the clock to stories on news sites such as ours. The Internet, sadly, is a teeming repository of those who lack the courage to use their names or who use some flimsy excuse for hiding behind an anonymous “handle.”
Ironically, those who themselves hide their identity, are the fastest to jump on sites like ours for using anonymous sources for stories. Such hypocrisy is also typical on the Internet.
Over the past 50 years, I’ve worked for a variety of news publications that require names and proof of identity for letters to the editor. Yet such fact-checking seldom exists in the online world.
Over the 18 plus years that this web site has been online, I’ve considered — from time to time — requiring those who post comments and opinions here to use their real names. Someone on the staff has always talked me out of it. We’ve compromised with a requirement that real email addresses be used to gain approval for a first posting but that really isn’t much of a check because of the widespread availability of free email services that don’t require any proof of identity.
Some of those who do post here use names that aren’t real. Others use only their first name and still others choose to hide who they are behind “handles.”
Often, those who try the hardest to hide their identity are those who also post the most vociferous remarks about the need to stand up and be recognized to “take the country back.”
Which makes us laugh. How can people who hide who they are have any real commitment to freedom or American rights?
Often, the anonymous posters who use handles like “American Patriot” or “Founding Father,” cite the founding fathers as their true heroes. That’s a crock because the founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence didn’t hide who they were. John Hancock signed his name in large script, declaring that he wanted King George III to be able to read his signature without the use of glasses.
I am often inclined to discount opinions posted by people who don’t use their real name or hide behind anonymous “handles.” I do know the real identities of some who post here regularly with “handles.” Some have good points to make. Some don’t. But I have a hard time taking seriously anything that is posted by someone who hides their name if I don’t have the foggiest idea who they are or what or who they represent.
Today’s America has many problems that require commitment by Americans who are willing to take a stand.
And as far as I’m concerned, those stands cannot be taken by those who hide behind anonymous handles or fake names.
For that reason, I’m considering — once again — requiring those who post comments to our stories and columns to use their real names.
Haven’t made up my mind yet and I’m willing to hear your thoughts on the subject.
You might try something unique — like telling us who you are and why your thoughts are worth publishing on this web site.