No, You Are Not Publius.

 Posted on July 14, 2009 in Uncategorized

Dan Hull is right.

Effective immediately, absent compelling reasons, this blog will join Dan's blog, What About {Clients / Paris}, in not publishing any comments of anonymous commenters. All comments must be accompanied by commenters' names (first and last) and real and verifiable email addresses.

I've fumed about anonymous commenters for years (I've been blogging for years?!?), but life is too short to fume about something I can fix. There's a lot wrong with the way we're using the internet to communicate, and I'm doing my part to clean up my little corner of it.

Too often today writers online replace precedent and logic with anonymity and sheer volume. Why? Because they can: if they shout that black is white or that ignorance is strength or that 2 + blue = house, it's not going to touch them in the real world. There is no accountability.

This may decimate my comments; am I tossing out the wheat with the chaff?

If the anonymous commenters wrote like Thomas Jefferson or Sam Adams or James Madison, their comments would be sorely missed. Madison and his fellow Federalists wrote anonymously so that their arguments would stand on their own merits. The typical anonymous comment, by contrast, is unsupported opinion, with no merit independent of its writer's identity. There is no wheat.

Maybe the commenters have life experiences that, if only we knew about them, would drive us to credit their opinions. But we don't know, because we can't know, because they choose not to permit us to know, and so we can presume the worst. Opinions unsupported by intellectual rigor are fine-everybody's got at least one-but if you're not willing to put your name on your opinions, I'm not interested in reading them or-more to the point-in helping you share them with the world.

If you think you have compelling reasons to comment anonymously (DA's Office whistleblowers? Honest cops?), email me at Tell me who you are (I won't reveal your identity) and explain why you think the world is better off reading your anonymous comments than not, and I'll consider allowing it here.

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