Overheard on another local blog:
When you make accusations, you should at least have the decency to let people know who you are. [Anonymous commenting] is a very cowardly approach. I do believe you have a right to your opinions and I also believe strongly that you have the right to express them, but to do it without revealing yourselves is the height of poor form.Me: Whenever I think about ways to improve discussions on my blog, anonymity is a central issue. In it's favor is my belief that the ideas matter much more than who said them. And when we weigh the value of an idea, it's source can affect our judgment. One of the reasons I remained anonymous as Hayduke for so long was that I didn't want other things about me (age, employment, other community activities) to influence others' assessments of my thoughts; I wanted my ideas to stand on their own, without my own personal baggage dragging them down (or, charitably, raising them up).
On the other hand, with anonymity comes a clear lack of accountability. This is usually not a concern, as most commenters -- anonymous or not -- conduct themselves with civility and respect for others -- as I think has been the case in the discussion that prompted the above comment. It is only on the rare occasions when comments become vile, insulting or simply unseemly that anonymity becomes a problem.
Regardless of where you stand on the anonymity continuum, I think you need to be consistent with your position and policing, regardless of the content of particular comments. Condemning those you disagree with while letting vile words from someone on your side slide, strikes me as transparent ploy to tilt the discussion in your favor.
So, what say you?