Better commenters use pseudonyms, and Facebook squashes discourse

I use Disqus for my blog comments management. It continues to improve and adds significant additional functionality to the site without a massive overhead of extra plugins.

Disqus has conducted some research that shows that commenters using pseudonyms are “the most important contributors to online communities.”

The service gives each user the option of commenting with a Disqus account, a social media identity or anonymously. It says 61 percent of commenters use pseudonyms, 35 percent choose to be anonymous and 4 percent use their “real identity” verified by Facebook. It also says those with pseudonyms post the best comments, while anonymous comments are lower quality. One theory: People don’t mind being accountable online, but they don’t want it to blow back on their work or personal lives by using a real identity. A pseudonym protects them while providing a measure of accountability.

Once people settle on a pseudonym I think they do take more ownership of their comments. The anonymous cowards tend to junk up the comments and their flame attempts become frustrating to those who are trying to engage properly.

TechCrunch rolled out Facebook Comments in a bid to rid themselves of trolls and abuse. Facebook Comments of course works on publishing, in most instances, the real credentials of a commenter. hOw did that work out for them…turns out not so well

It was early 2011 and TechCrunch’s comment section was overrun with trolls. Bullies and asshats were drowning out our smart commenters. We hated our commenters because, well, they hated us. So we rolled out Facebook Comments in an attempt to silence the trolls — by removing their anonymity.

But we eventually discovered that our anti-troll tactic worked too well; The bullies and asshats left our comments sections, but so did everyone else. Now, several years later, after dozens of endless meetings and conference calls, we’ve decided we’re going to try out Livefyre instead of Facebook Comments.

Frankly, our trial with Facebook Comments lasted way too long at too steep of a cost. Sure, Facebook Comments drove extra traffic to the site, but the vast majority of our readers clearly do not feel the system is worthy of their interaction.

And we want our commenters back.

People periodically email me with suggestions and comments about the site…they are not ignored…I add them to a spreadsheet of issues/challenges and I discuss them with my technical advisors and moderators…I am always looking for improvements.

I have toyed with the idea of requiring a real email address to verify commenters…but so far have shied away, preferring instead to rely on the vigilance of the army for outrageous attempts at hijacking and the up and down votes to encourage foolish trolls to improve their ways. Some learn and some don’t.

Anyway as always this is a work in progress…some new changes are coming, the blog will be refreshed, rejuvenated and continue on unabated.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.

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